SC scolds Duque for being unfair, downgrades penalty of accountant sacked over delayed reports

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The Supreme Court (SC) has downgraded the penalty of an accountant of the state-run Western Visayas Medical Center (WVMC), who was dismissed due to delays in submitting financial reports to the Commission on Audit (COA).

In a recent 14-page decision, the SC 2nd Division held Jerlinda Miranda liable for the lesser offense of simple misconduct, and modified the penalty to one-year suspension.

This was less severe than the penalty of dismissal imposed by Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on September 24, 2009 for the offense of grave misconduct.

Aside from downgrading Miranda’s offense, the SC rebuked Duque for continuing to take part in her case as chairman of the Civil Service Commission (CSC).

Duque signed the November 11, 2011 resolution denying Miranda’s appeal on the CSC decision to uphold the 2009 decision he issued himself.

The SC noted that Miranda was “effectively denied due process” when Duque reviewed his own decision.

“A sense of proportion and consideration for the fitness of things should have deterred Duque from reviewing his own decision… At the very start, he should have inhibited himself from the case and let the other Commissioners undertake the review,” read the decision penned by Associate Justice Jose Reyes, Jr.

Miranda’s case arose from the delay in submitting to the COA the financial reports covering the trial balance for the periods of March to December 1996, as well as 2001, 2002 and 2003.

She explained that she had to work on the backlog left by her predecessor in 1996, and had to contend with a change in the accounting system in 2001

The SC noted that the delay was “not entirely attributed to Miranda’s fault,” and was not caused by corruption or a willful intent to disregard the law and the rules.

Yet, it said she should still be held liable for simple misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, because of “her neglect in the performance of her duty as an accountant.”

“She disregarded the time element involved in submitting the required financial reports with the COA,” read the decision. “Indeed, she failed to exercise the necessary prudence to ensure that deadlines for submission must be met and complied with.”

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