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Thursday, July 12, 2012
Court stenographer dismissed for dishonesty in taking civil service exam
We agree that Aguam is indeed guilty of dishonesty.
The fact of impersonation was proven with certainty. Judge Balindong observed upon approaching Aguam during a hearing that she is not the person whose picture was attached to the Picture Seat Plan. This finding debunks Aguam's claim that she attached her high school picture on the Picture Seat Plan. The records also validate Judge Balindong’s finding that Aguam’s specimen signatures written on a piece of paper are starkly different from Aguam’s supposed signature on the Picture Seat Plan. Then there is the discernible difference in Aguam’s handwriting and signature on the Personal Data Sheetand the impersonator’s handwriting and signature on the Picture Seat Plan. Taken together, the evidence leads to no other conclusion than that somebody else took the examination using Aguam’s identity.
We also affirm Judge Balindong’s opinion that for Aguam to assert that she herself took and passed the examination when in fact somebody else took it for her constitutes dishonesty.
It must be stressed that every employee of the Judiciary should be an example of integrity, uprightness and honesty. Like any public servant, she must exhibit the highest sense of honesty and integrity not only in the performance of her official duties but also in her personal and private dealings with other people, to preserve the court’s good name and standing. The image of a court of justice is mirrored in the conduct, official and otherwise, of the personnel who work thereat, from the judge to the lowest of its personnel. Court personnel have been enjoined to adhere to the exacting standards of morality and decency in their professional and private conduct in order to preserve the good name and integrity of the courts of justice. Here, Aguam failed to meet these stringent standards set for a judicial employee and does not therefore deserve to remain with the Judiciary.
Relatedly, we have consistently held that the proper penalty to be imposed on employees found guilty of an offense of this nature is dismissal from the service. In Cruz v. Civil Service Commission,Civil Service Commission v. Sta. Ana, and Concerned Citizen v. Dominga Nawen Abad, we dismissed the employees found guilty of similar offenses. In Cruz, Zenaida Paitim masqueraded as Gilda Cruz and took the Civil Service examination in behalf of Cruz. We said that both Paitim and Cruz merited the penalty of dismissal. In Sta. Ana, somebody else took the Civil Service examination for Sta. Ana. We dismissed Sta. Ana for dishonesty. In Abad, the evidence disproved Abad’s claim that she personally took the examination. We held that for Abad to assert that she herself took the examination when in fact somebody else took it for her constitutes dishonesty. Thus, we dismissed Abad for her offense. We find no reason to deviate from our consistent rulings. Under Section 52(A)(1) of theUniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service, dishonesty is a grave offense punishable by dismissal for the first offense. Under Section 58(a) of the same rules, the penalty of dismissal carries with it cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits, and perpetual disqualification for reemployment in the government service. The OCA properly excluded forfeiture of accrued leave credits, pursuant to our ruling in Sta. Ana and Abad.