Nov 24, 2020 @ 13:17

SC slaps Negros clerk of court with P50K fine after returning court funds he took for family needs, hospitalization

The Supreme Court (SC) has imposed a P50,000 fine on Valladolid-San Enrique-Pulupandan, Negros Occidental, Municipal Circuit Trial Court (MCTC) clerk of court John Negroprado after he paid back the P542,016 in judiciary funds that he took to sustain his family’s needs and pay off the loans he incurred for the hospitalization of his dengue fever-stricken children.

In a recent 11-page en banc decision, the SC found Negroprado to have violated Administrative Circular Number 35-2004 and Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) Circular Number 113-2004 for failing to deposit the judiciary funds on time and submit monthly reports.

The SC opted to double the P25,000 fine recommended by the OCA. The fine would be deducted from the salaries which were withheld from Negroprado beginning April 24, 2009.

The cash shortages were uncovered by a financial audit conducted due to Negroprado’s failure to submit his monthly financial reports over the Fiduciary Fund (FF), Sheriff’s Trust Fund, Judiciary Development Fund (JDF), Special Allowance for the Judiciary Fund (SAJF), Mediation Fund (MF), and Clerk of Court General Fund-Old (COCGF-Old) and General Fund-New.

Records showed that he incurred shortages of P252,500.00 in FF collections from May 1, 2006 to April 30, 2013, P93,304.50 in JDF collections from May 2003 to April 2013, P152,105.50 in SAJF collections from April 1, 2004 to April 30, 2013, P44,000.00 in MF collections from October 1, 2005 to April 30, 2013.

Negroprado paid for these shortages on January 3, 2019. On July 19, 2019, he paid another P106.00 for the shortage in COCGF-Old collections from May 2003 to November 10, 2003.

He admitted that he was forced to use the court’s collections to sustain the needs of his family and pay off the loans he borrowed from the government for the hospitalization of his dengue fever-stricken children.

Although the shortages were paid for, the SC said Negroprado was “indubitably remiss in his duties as branch Clerk of Court II of the MCTC.”

Still, the SC opted to exercise its discretion “to temper the harshness of its judgment with mercy, especially in this time where employment and the economy face catastrophe because of the pandemic.”

It took into consideration Negroprado’s payment of the fund shortages and full cooperation with the audit team.

“To the Court’s mind, these acts amount to remorse and taking full responsibility for the infractions he committed, and thus, may be duly appreciated in imposing a penalty,” read the decision penned by Associate Justice Henri Jean Paul Inting.

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