By Rey Panaligan
A trial court sheriff lay to waste his 22 years of government service, his retirement benefits and his chance for re-employment after the Supreme Court (SC) found him guilty of using for his personal gain the P10,000 intended for publication of a notice of extrajudicial foreclosure in 2011.
Since Manuel H. Gimeno, then sheriff IV of Branch 19 of the Cebu City regional trial court (RTC), had been dropped from the rolls due to absences without leave, the SC ordered his perpetual disqualification from public office.
Gimeno’s retirement and other benefits, except accrued leave credits, were ordered forfeited, the SC’s public information office (PIO) said in a statement issued on Wednesday (March 27).
Quoting from the SC decision, the PIO said: “Gimeno’s act of appropriating the money given to him by complainant puts the Judiciary and its processes in a bad light. This gives an impression to the public that the courts and its personnel would not hesitate to shun their public duties in exchange for personal gain.”
The PIO said “the case stemmed from the complaint filed by the Rural Bank of Talisay (Cebu), Inc., represented by its President Adele V. Villo, who sought Gimeno’s dismissal from service. In 2011, Gimeno received P10,000 from Villo as cost for publication of the notice of extrajudicial foreclosure in Cebu Daily News. However, Gimeno failed to remit payment despite repeated demands.”
It also said: “Gimeno did not deny receiving the P10,000 but claimed that he used it supposedly to pay for the hospital expenses of his mother. He also pleaded that in his 22 years of service, this was the first and only complaint against him.”
Citing the decision, the PIO said: “Gimeno’s actions were clearly tainted with corruption as he received money from complainant in his capacity as sheriff for the RTC…. Even if it were true that respondent only used it to pay for the hospital funds of his mother, it cannot be gainsaid that he used his position as sheriff to obtain funds from private persons for his own benefit and to the detriment of the latter.”
The PIO said the SC also ruled in its decision:
“Measured by the exacting standards imposed on court personnel, it is unquestionable that respondent severely failed to uphold what was expected of him. He readily admits that he appropriated for himself the money given to him by complainant as payment for publication costs. Respondent’s liability is indubitable and the only genuine issue to be resolved is the penalty to be imposed for his transgressions.
“Respondents length of service does not justify the imposition of a penalty lesser than dismissal from service. The length of service had been taken against the erring public official, even if it is for the first offense, in cases involving serious offense such as grave misconduct.”