The dismissal of the criminal Complaint in this case for the crime of attempted rape did not necessarily foreclose the continuation of the administrative action or carry with it relief from administrative liability. Yet, as the Prosecutor’s Office has reconsidered its earlier findings with respect to acts of lasciviousness, the Court cannot help but be convinced that there was a breach in ethical standards committed by respondent when he kissed complainant. To be sure, this Court makes no finding whatsoever with respect to his criminal liability for acts of lasciviousness, which is properly lodged in the trial court proceedings. The Court’s pronouncements in this administrative case are simply limited to evaluating the conduct of respondent as a court personnel.
Simple misconduct has been defined as an unacceptable behavior that transgresses the established rules of conduct for public officers. Respondent’s actions transgressed the norms of civility expected of judicial officers, even in their private lives, and constitute simple misconduct that must be squarely penalized. Although beso-beso or air kissing may be considered a standard greeting between family members, what respondent did was he not merely greeted his sister-in-law, but encroached into the territory of unwarranted advances that offended acceptable standards of decency. Regardless of whether it reached the level of criminal malice or lewdness, his conduct was unbecoming a court personnel, upon whom is placed the heavy burden of moral uprightness. The Court held thus:
This Court has consistently underscored the heavy burden and responsibility that court personnel are saddled with in view of their exalted positions as keepers of the public faith. No position demands greater moral uprightness from its occupant than a judicial office. Indeed, the responsibilities of a public officer as enshrined in the Constitution are not mere rhetoric to be taken as idealistic sentiments. These are working standards and attainable goals that should be matched with actual deeds.
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, complainant Beatriz B. Oñate’s Motion for Reconsideration dated 22 August 2011 is GRANTED. The Court’s earlier Resolution dated 15 June 2011 is hereby SET ASIDE.
Respondent Severino G. Imatong is found guilty of SIMPLE MISCONDUCT andFINED
P10,000, with a WARNING that the repetition of the same or a similar offense shall be dealt with more severely.
x x x."