SC sacks Tanauan court sheriff for demanding payment in exchange for execution of ruling

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The Supreme Court (SC) has dismissed a Tanauan City, Batangas, Regional Trial Court (RTC) sheriff from service for extorting P60,000 from a litigant in exchange for the execution of a ruling in his favor.

In a recent 7-page en banc decision, the SC found Alan Javier guilty of grave misconduct, dishonesty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.

Javier’s dismissal would come with prejudice to his reemployment in any branch or instrumentality of the government. The SC also forfeited Javier’s retirement benefits.

The case concerned the execution of the November 2005 judgment of the Tanauan City Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC) ordering the defendants to vacate the property of complainant Roman Trinidad.

Trinidad alleged that Javier first demanded P50,000 as expenses for the execution of the judgment, saying it was needed to pay for the services of the assisting police officers. Trinidad gave the amount and the sheriff issued a receipt.

In two instances afterwards, Javier also allegedly demanded P30,000 supposedly to pay for the policemen’s food. Trinidad, however, said he could only give P5,000 those two times; he also recorded the transactions in a notebook and had the sheriff sign the entries.

But, in December 2009, Javier made a sheriff’s report requesting the resurvey of Trinidad’s property. This prompted the complainant to demand the return of his money.

The SC said Javier “did not successfully rebut” the testimonies of Trinidad and his witnesses, and merely denied the said accounts.

Although he disowned his signatures in the receipts, the SC pointed out that “changing the appearance of a signature in order to mislead others was too easy to do.” It also noted that he did not have his signatures examined to bolster his claim of forgery.

The SC faulted Javier not only for failing to observe the prescribed procedure regarding the collection of sheriff’s expenses, but also for directly demanding and receiving the sums.

It added that Javier’s failure to implement the writ of execution “caus[ed] prejudice to the complainant whose favorable judgment went to naught because of his inaction.”

The SC said Javier was presumed to have misappropriated the payments when he refused to return the money and even denied receiving it.

The SC disagreed with the Office of the Court Administrator’s (OCA) recommendation to suspend Javier for one year without pay, saying his actions merited the harsher penalty of dismissal.

It said the fact that this was Javier’s first offense and that he served for more than three decades could not be appreciated as mitigating circumstances under the 2017 Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service (RACCS), since the penalty was dismissal.

“The acts and actuations of the respondent should not be tolerated. He thereby tarnished the image of the Judiciary, and should be severely punished for having disregarded his sworn duty and responsibility to serve the Judiciary with honor and dignity, and to keep the people’s confidence in the Judiciary undiminished,” read the decision.

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