SC fines ex-Nueva Ecija clerk of court over P1.6M fund shortage

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The Supreme Court (SC) has held a retired Nueva Ecija clerk of court liable for incurring a P1.62-million shortage in court funds.

In a recent 11-page en banc decision, the SC ordered Erlinda Patiag, who retired as clerk of court of the Gapan City Municipal Trial Court (MTC) in 2014, to pay a fine equivalent to six months’ salary.

The SC found her guilty of the administrative offenses of serious dishonesty, grave misconduct and gross neglect of duty.

Patiag was faulted for failing to submit monthly reports for the Judiciary Development Fund (JDF) from May to December 2007 and January 2008 up to the present; the Special Allowance for the Judiciary Fund (SAJF) from May 2007 up to the present; the Fiduciary Fund (FF) for the months of November to December 2006, January 2007, and March 2007 up to the present; and the Sheriff’s Trust Fund (STF) from October 2006 up to the present.

The audit team of the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) found that Patiag did not remit her collections on time. Eight booklets went missing, while questionable cash withdrawals totaling P1.02 million lacked authorization and were supported by blank vouchers bearing only the signatures of the claimants.

The SC said Patiag “showed carelessness or indifference in the performance of her duties” and found that she “offered no veritable explanation nor satisfactory reason to support the shortages that she incurred.”

The per curiam decision stressed that her shortcomings “undermine the public’s faith in the courts and in the administration of justice as a whole, and render her unfit for the position of clerk of court.”

Although Patiag was willing to pay for the shortages, the SC said it would not absolve her of administrative liability.

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