Published by rudy Date posted on December 9, 2010

“Loafing” during office hours is a grave offense under the Civil Service Rules. It is punishable by suspension of 6 months to one year for the first offense and dismissal for the second offense (Section 52 (A) (17) Rule IV). This is illustrated in this case of a Clerk of a Municipal Trial Court (Fred) who has been in the service of the Judiciary for 30 years already.

Fred’s case arose from a letter-complaint of an “informant” addressed to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court regarding alleged irregularities in the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) where Fred was the Clerk while his wife (Tita) was the stenographer and his brother-in-law (Orly) was the process server. Aside from Fred’s bias in favor of Tita and Orly in the performance ratings, Fred was also accused of going to cockfights even during office hours. Since the complainant wanted to keep her identity confidential, the Office of the Court Administrator just referred the matter to the RTC Executive Judge for discreet investigation.

In her investigation, the Judge summoned Fred himself and his wife Tita as well as other co-employees. Tita herself stated that once in a while Fred leaves the office for half an hour to go to the nearby police station to smoke or while away his sleepy feelings. Other employees testified that Fred would leave office and stay out for one, two to three hours. While they differed in the duration of his stay out of office all of them said that Fred indeed went out and stayed out of office during office hours. Where he went and stayed however was not established. Not one of the witnesses confirmed that he went out and attended cockfights during office hours.

Fred himself denied going to cockfights during office hours. He said that he went to cockfights on Saturdays and Sundays only although he admitted going out of his office during office hours to smoke, read newspapers in the library or communicate with the police on legal matters.

So after consideration of the various testimonies, the Judge found merit in the allegations that Fred had been “loafing on the job” but dismissed the other charges. This finding was confirmed by the OCA. Were the Judge and OCA correct?

Yes. Section 1, Canon IV of the Code of Conduct for Court Personnel, mandates that they shall commit themselves exclusively to the business and responsibilities of their office during working hours. Frequent unauthorized absences from duty during regular office hours constitute “loafing”. Loafing results in inefficiency and non-performance of duty which adversely affects the prompt delivery of justice.

In this case the charge of loafing was proven by substantial evidence consisting of the testimonies of Tita, Orly and other co-employees. While none of them saw Fred attend cockfights during office hours, there is sufficient basis to conclude that Fred had indeed been loafing during office hours in varying length of time. Fred himself admitted going out of his office during office hours. His explanation however is self-serving and unmeritorious. His claimed activities, even if true, would not consume as much as two hours. Beside any discussion of legal matters with the police should be upon the instruction of his judge. Finally, he should read newspapers and smoke only during break-time, not during office hours. So Fred should be suspended from office without pay for the minimum period of six months only considering his 30 years of service in the Judiciary (Roman vs. Fortaleza, A.M. P-10-2865, November 22, 2010). –Jose C. Sison (The Philippine Star)

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Note: Books containing compilation of my articles on Labor Law and Criminal Law (Vols. I and II) are now available. Call Tel. 7249445.

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E-mail at: jcson@pldtdsl.net

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