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Digest: Paras v. Lofranco (355 SCRA 49, 2002)

Digest: Paras v. Lofranco (355 SCRA 49, 2002)

Facts: an administrative complaint filed on March 12, 1997 by Atty. Roel O. Paras against respondent Myrna F. Lofranco, Clerk III of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 20, Davao del Sur, for discourtesy and conduct unbecoming a court employee. Upon recommendation of the Office of the Court Administrator, 1 this matter was referred for investigation to the Executive Judge of the RTC, Digos, Davao del Sur who, in a report, dated September 25, 2000, recommended the suspension of respondent for fifteen (15) days with the warning that a stiffer penalty will be imposed in case of repetition of similar acts. Respondent MYRNA S. LOFRANCO was SUSPENDED for FIFTEEN (15) days with a warning of a stiffer penalty in case of repetition of similar acts.

Issue: whether or not the acts and/or utterances of respondent constitute discourtesy and/or conduct unbecoming a court employee

Ruling: Yes. It is the policy of the state to promote a high standard of ethics in the public service. Public officials and employees are under obligation to perform the duties of their offices honestly, faithfully, and to the best of their ability. They, as recipients of the public trust, should demonstrate courtesy, civility, and self-restraint in their official actuations to the public at all times even when confronted with rudeness and insulting behavior. Losing one’s temper by loudly uttering unsavory remarks and pointing a finger at a litigant or any other person for that matter exhibits a failure on the part of respondent to act with self-restraint and civility. High-strung and belligerent behavior has no place in the government service; especially when done at the workplace and during working hours, such conduct shows discourtesy and disrespect not only towards the public but to the court as well.

The court is looked upon by people with high respect and is regarded a sacred place where litigants are heard, rights and conflicts settled, and justice solemnly dispensed. Misbehavior within or around the vicinity diminishes its sanctity and dignity. The conduct and behavior required of every court personnel, from the presiding judge to the lowliest clerk, must always be beyond reproach and circumscribed with the heavy burden of responsibility. Their conduct must at all times be characterized by, among other things, propriety and decorum so as to earn and keep the public’s respect and confidence in the judicial service.

For the foregoing reasons, we find respondent guilty of discourtesy and conduct unbecoming to a court employee for which she should be reprimanded.

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