SC dismisses Davao RTC sheriff

By , on January 3, 2015

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MANILA — The Supreme Court (SC) has dismissed from the service a sheriff in a Davao City Regional Trial Court (RTC) for his failure to implement a writ of execution in 2012.

In a Nov. 11, 2014 ruling, the SC en banc found respondent Davao City RTC Branch 14 Sheriff IV Roberto C. Esguerra guilty of “dishonesty, gross neglect of duty and gross inefficiency in the performance of official duties.”

“Accordingly, he is dismissed from the service, with forfeiture of all his retirement benefits, except accrued leave credits, if any, and with prejudice to re-employment in any branch or instrumentality of the government, including government-owned or controlled corporations,” the SC ruling said.

“His being remiss in his duties was underscored by the fact that a year had passed without the writ being implemented,” it said.

Esguerra’s dismissal arose from the letter-complaint dated April 26, 2013 filed by Feliciano Francia.

Francia is the plaintiff in the Unlawful Detainer case filed before the Davao City Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC).

The MTCC rendered on Aug. 2, 2010 a ruling in favor of Francia and ordered the defendants and their heirs, assigns and those acting for and in their behalf to, among others, vacate the property subject matter of the case.

The defendants filed an appeal which was raffled to the Davao City RTC Branch 14.

In a ruling dated Jan. 31, 2011, the RTC upheld the ruling of the MTCC.

The motion for reconsideration (MR) filed by defendants was denied in an order dated July 2, 2012.

A writ of execution was issued by the RTC on April 26, 2012 ”commanding respondent sheriff to implement the dispositive portion of the affirmed MTCC Decision and to make a return within sixty (60) days from receipt thereof.”

The writ was received by respondent sheriff on May 2, 2012.

In his complaint, Francia alleged that respondent sheriff asked Php3,000 from him for expenses which he readily gave.

He even offered respondent sheriff another Php15,000 for the full satisfaction of the writ.

Despite the lapse of more than one year, however, the writ remained unimplemented.

This prompted Francia to file the administrative case against the sheriff.

The Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) found Esguerra guilty of gross neglect of duty.

The OCA recommended that the sheriff be dismissed from the service with forfeiture of retirement benefits except accrued leave credits and with prejudice to re-employment in any branch or instrumentality of the government, among others.

The SC agreed with the findings of the OCA that Esguerra is administratively liable.

“We, however, find him also liable for other offenses,” it said.

“Records reveal that this is not the first offense of respondent sheriff. In A.M. No. P-07-2370 dated 14 September 2007, he was suspended by the Court for one (1) month for dereliction of duty,” the SC said.

Records also show that another charge of neglect of duty is pending before the OCA Legal Office.

“As a final note, it cannot be over-emphasized that sheriffs are ranking officers of the court. They play an important part in the administration of justice – execution being the fruit and end of the suit, and the life of the law,” the SC said.

“In view of their exalted position as keepers of the faith, their conduct should be geared towards maintaining the prestige and integrity of the court. Respondent sheriff failed to live up to this standard. It is evident that he never learned from his previous infraction. Having tarnished the good image of the judiciary, he should not be allowed to stay a minute longer in the service,” the SC added.

“We have previously ruled that failure of the sheriff to carry out what is a purely ministerial duty, to follow well-established rules in the implementation of court orders and writs, to promptly undertake the execution of judgments, and to accomplish the required periodic reports, constitute gross neglect and gross inefficiency in the performance of official duties,” the SC said.