“Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth. - Oscar Wilde

Friday, October 5, 2012

Sinforoso P. Ang vs. Arniel E. Cruz

A.M. No. P-04-1822     February 6, 2006
Carpio, J.     Third Division


Sinforoso P. Ang ("complainant") stated that he filed a Petition for the Exercise of Substitute Parental Authority over Minor Roumeina Lyn Felize Sta. Maria ("Yza") against oppositors May Lyn G. Sta. Maria, Erlina Sta. Maria and Christopher Sta. Maria ("oppositors"). Presiding Judge Evelyn L. Dimaculangan-Querijero issued an Order directing Deputy Sheriff Angelito B. Annang ("Sheriff Annang") to take custody of Yza from her maternal grandmother Erlina Sta. Maria, and entrust her temporary custody to complainant.

Complainant and Sheriff Annang proceeded to the College of Immaculate Concepcion, the school of Yza, to implement the Order. Cristina De Guzman ("Ms. De Guzman"), Yza’s teacher, told them that Yza was fetched by her mother May Lyn Sta. Maria ("Ms. Sta. Maria"). Ms. Sta. Maria told Ms. De Guzman that she "will undertake to hide" Yza since they had been informed "by their relative" that the court would issue an order giving temporary custody of Yza to complainant.

At this point, Sheriff Annang informed complainant that he received a text message from respondent stating "Pre, pamangkin ko yung bata, baka puede mo gawan ng paraan, kawawa naman yung nanay." And so, despite serious efforts to locate Yza and implement the Order of the court, the Order was left unsatisfied. Complainant alleged that it was because of the "surreptitious relaying of advance information" by respondent to Ms. Sta. Maria that she was able to take away and hide Yza thus "circumventing" the Order of the court.

Respondent claimed that the Order "was dictated in open court, overheard by the intriguing ears of several people inside the courtroom during that time and highly susceptible of being leaked out by anybody who was present when the order was issued and dictated." 

About the text message, respondent did not deny sending the same to Sheriff Annang. He claimed that "there was no statement therein made to suggest that he had diffused to the oppositors the information regarding the tenor of the order thereby enabling the oppositors, specifically the biological mother, to hide the minor child Yza."

The Complaint was referred for investigation, report and recommendation.


Whether or not the test message is admissible in an administrative complaint against for Obstruction of Justice, and Conduct Unbecoming and Unfit for an Officer of the Court.


The OCA correctly noted that there is no direct evidence that respondent leaked to oppositors the Order of the court. Indeed, anyone present in the courtroom that morning could have informed the oppositors about the Order.

However, respondent does not deny sending the text message to Sheriff Annang. Neither does respondent dispute the contents of the message. By this act alone, respondent is administratively liable.

Parties seeking redress from the courts for grievances look on court personnel as part of the Judiciary. In performing their duties and responsibilities, court personnel serve as sentinels of justice and any act of impropriety on their part immeasurably affects the honor and dignity of the Judiciary and the people’s confidence in it.

The respondent’s relationship with oppositors made him take undue interest in the case. Being a court employee, respondent ought to have known that it was improper for him to communicate with Sheriff Annang on the pending Order of the court. Respondent tried to interfere with the duty of the sheriff in implementing the Order. In doing so, respondent undermined the faith of complainant and, ultimately, of the public in the court’s administration of justice.

WHEREFORE, we FIND respondent Arniel E. Cruz, Clerk III, Office of the Clerk of Court, Regional Trial Court, Cabanatuan City, GUILTY of Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service for which we FINE him P2,000.

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