This is an administrative complaint for mental incapacity against the brothers Arturo A. Alagaban, Clerk II, of the Office of the Clerk of Court and Eduardo A. Alagaban, Clerk III, of Branch 3, both of the Municipal Trial Court in Cities at Davao City.
The case originated from an anonymous letter received by the Office of the Court Administrator on July 14, 1993 which in part read:
Please include in your investigation the Clerk of Court of MTCC Branch VII in Davao City, by the name of Mrs. Adela Alfelor Geverola. Mrs. Geverola has under employ two of his nephews, sons of Judge Anita Alfelor Alagaban, who are both NOT mentally fit for the job, being drug addicts. These two nephews of hers are sometime admitted in rehabilitation centers but their DTRs have no absences, since these are all signed by Mrs. Geverola. The presence of this nephews, cause great demoralization to the other employees of this office.1
Accordingly, the Court Administrator directed Executive Judge Augusto Breva of the Regional Trial Court of Davao City to conduct a discreet investigation of the matter. On April 13, 1993, Judge Breva submitted his report,2 based on the testimonies of employees of the Davao court, in which he stated that the brothers are habitual absentees and known in the court to be drug addicts, have extremely poor concentration and displayed queer behavior. It is said that they could not carry on a normal conversation, avoided the gaze of the persons speaking to them, and sometimes drooled as they spoke. The witnesses also said there were rumors that the brother would periodically be confined in hospitals due to their addiction, which accounted for their frequent absences.
The witnesses said they had observed that Eduardo's case was milder than his brother's and had minimized his absences to three to five days a month unlike previously when he would be absent for weeks at a time. Judge Breva reported that Eduardo's absences were faithfully reflected in his daily time records. Eduardo also was more productive than Arturo, who was completely useless in the office. They believed that Eduardo had been rehabilitated, but relapsed whenever he drank or smoked and that he manifested this by staring blankly at the ceiling or "distorting" his face grotesquely at nobody." Judge Breva disclosed that Eduardo is assigned to Branch 3 of the MTCC, which is presided by Judge Edipolo Sarabia. On the other hand, Judge Sarabia's son, Edipolo, Jr., is assigned to the Clerk of Court's i.e., Atty. Adela Alfelor Geverola's office. However, Eduardo swapped places with Edipolo, Jr., with the result that Eduardo is now working under his aunt, Atty. Adela Alfelor Geverola, while Edipolo, Jr., is now working under his father, Judge Edipolo Sarabia.
Due to the seriousness of the charge, Judge Breva recommended that the NBI be made to investigate the matter further. Accordingly, the matter was indorsed on May 7, 1993 to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for investigation.
The NBI report disclosed that respondents are brothers, sons of Judge Anita Alagaban, RTC, Branch 13 of the same court. They were then both working under the direct supervision of Clerk of Court Adela Alfelor Geverola, who is the sister of Judge Alagaban.
Arturo was observed by the other employees of the court to have extremely poor concentration, that he had trouble accomplishing his DTR's which took him two days to finish, that he would talk and laugh by himself and pick fights with his officemates for no reason. The report affirmed Judge Breva's report that Arturo could not carry on a normal conversation and avoided looking into the eyes of other people and sometimes saliva drooled out of his mouth as he talked. He was irregular in reporting for work. Later, from February 5, 1993, he completely stopped going to work although he continued receiving his paychecks. Discreet inquiries disclosed that Arturo was at the time confined at the Dela Rosa Clinic along J.P. Laurel Avenue, Bajada, Davao City. He was diagnosed to be suffering from schizophrenia, a mental disorder characterized by "loss of contact with reality, personality disintegration, and often hallucination."3
This was not the first time he had been confined in the clinic, as, in fact, he was released only April 14, 1993 after being confined there for about two months.
As for Eduardo, the NBI found that he also reported for work irregularly, averaging three to five absences a month. The NBI agent said that he personally spoke with Eduardo and found him to be "loquacious, energetic and at times incoherent."4
The NBI found no evidence of drug addiction apart from the rumors among the employees of the court, and the fact that the Dela Rosa Clinic is a known rehabilitation center for drug addicts, but suggested that the brothers' behavior could be indicative of drug addiction.
On September 7, 1993, Deputy Court Administrator Juanito A. Bernad filed a formal complaint against respondents, attaching thereto the anonymous letter and the reports of Judge Augusto Breva and the NBI.
On September 29, 1993, the Court issued a Resolution referring the case to Second Vice Executive Judge of the RTC of Davao City Jesus Quitain (Branch 15) for investigation, report and recommendation, in lieu of the First Vice Executive Judge who is the mother of respondents.
On January 14, 1994, Judge Quitain submitted a report stating that there is no documentary evidence that the brothers are drug addicts. There were likewise no records in the NARCOM and government hospitals of previous arrests or hospitalization of the brothers relating to prohibited drugs. Dr. Nicolas Dela Rosa of the Dela Rosa Psychiatric Clinic denied that the brothers are drug addicts. He confirmed, however, that the two had been going to the clinic for psychiatric treatment; that they "are not permanently insane, but their capacity to withstand pressures, stresses and problems are very much lower than the ordinary person."5 They became moody ("sumpungin" in the vernacular) whenever they were under stress or had problems in the home or in the office because of their low threshold for pressure. These were, therefore, not signs of drug addiction, although they could be easily mistaken as such, but symptoms of acute depression. The "trigger" for respondents, according to the report, was the shouting matches between their parents whenever the two would quarrel.
Judge Quitain added that Eduardo is a cum laude graduate of the Ateneo de Davao University, while Arturo has a Bachelor of Science in Commerce degree from the University of Mindanao, and both are Civil Service eligibles.
Judge Quitain did not make any recommendation in his report.
On March 2, 1995, Deputy Court Administrator (DCA) Reynaldo T. Suarez submitted a memorandum reporting that per the personnel records, the appointment of Arturo was recommended by Atty. Adela Alfelor Geverola herself, and recommending the revocation of Arturo's appointment. Because of this, Arturo's appointment was revoked by the Court on March 20, 1995 on the ground of nepotism. His motion for reconsideration was denied with finality on June 26, 1995.
As for the charges against Eduardo Alagaban, the Deputy Court Administrator recommended that Eduardo undergo a psychiatric examination so that the Court Administrator could make an informed recommendation, as well as to comply with the requirements of due process.
Consequently, Eduardo was sent to the Psychiatric Unit of the Department of Health at Davao City for complete psychological and psychiatric examination on April 19, 1995. Dr. Ma. Lythia Dela Cerna-Cervera, Medical Officer IV, made the following report on May 9, 1995:
MENTAL STATUS EXAMINATION
A mental status examination, patient was noted to be wearing checkered long sleeves with maong pants and blank [sic] shoes. He holds himself erect with psychomotor retardation. During the interview, patient was tense, anxious with a suspicious look. However, became warm and friendly during the later part of the interview. His answers were relevant and spontaneous, although he kept on talking about his adventure with women and fear of losing his job. He admits being depressed because of an existing administrative case filed against him. Affect was blunted. He claimed to have had difficulty in initiating and maintaining sleep. Vehemently denies delusions nor hallucinations. No suicidal nor homicidal potential note. General sensorium, intellectual status and insight were intact.
On succeeding interview dated April 24, 1995, patient was normoactive. Although still tense and suspicious to the interviewer. Furthermore he voluntarily claimed that he had good night sleep after taking his medicine. He still denied hallucinations and delusions.
Psychological study revealed negative trait which could mean previous psychotic trauma.
Diagnosis: Brief Psychotic Disorder with Marked Stressor
These findings of the DOH Psychiatric Unit were later referred to the Chief of the Medical and Dental Services Division of this Court, Dr. Cecilia C. Villegas, for evaluation. Dr. Villegas, however, felt that the information given was insufficient to make the proper evaluation. She requested that she be allowed to examine Eduardo personally. This request was granted in the resolution of August 30, 1995.
On October 10, 1995, Eduardo submitted himself to diagnostic psychological testing and evaluation. On the basis of such examination, Beatriz O. Cruz, Psychologist III, submitted a report on October 18, 1995, the pertinent portion of which states:
Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale
Bender Gestalt Test
Machover Figure Drawing Test
Rorschach Psychodiagnostic Test
Sentence Completion Test
Thematic Apperception Test
Test Results & Evaluation:
The following summarizes Mr. Alagaban's IQ level: Verbal IQ is 92, Performance IQ is 74 and Full Scale IQ is 83. His intelligence function is below average. Premorbid IQ could have at least been in the average range. His concentration, independent thinking process and concept formation appear to be within acceptable limit but can easily be affected by mobilized anxiety. However, grasp of simple, conventional judgment is maintained by seemingly good front. Marked discrepancy (18 points) is noted bringing down overall efficiency level to a minimum by appearance of impaired sensitivity and object relations.
Edward wants to put everything in a favorable light. To start with, he is very conscious of his appearance while holding on to the idea that what he is projecting is the ideal self. Young, good-looking and attractive person. Stretching this point, he further represses his tendency for impulsiveness by becoming essentially calm and relaxed in every situation possible. How good it can be for him to wrap himself with pleasant attributes and completely belies the underlying real feeling of dependency, immaturity, depressed and generally weak personality. But conflict arises when he goes out in the environment to personally attend to and fulfill his goal in an acceptable manner. To effect warmth and natural camaraderie by reaching out is shallow and superficially induced. Source of empathy is being blocked by inflexibility, forcing him to retract and isolate from any emotional reactivity and, relies heavily on wishful thinking and make-belief. Intellectualization being one of his defensive attempts, is maintained to forestall anxiety over crippling sense of inadequacy.
Tracing back, this disturbing adjustment is a result of poor emotional transaction and confused identification. Getting him unconsciously off the track by the father figure, Edward turned to the loving, supportive arms of the mother. Yet her seeming dominancy and authority over him begets ambivalent feeling which coincidentally parallels with his wish for autonomy to build his real self image. While keeping intact the image of the mother he nevertheless, has to be what the society dictates. Hence, the possibility of an oedipal conflict (?). He is upset when confronted with sexual materials because some sexual overtones trigger guilt which becomes a source of his current problem. And what he does now is to maintain cleanliness in a compulsive way to free him of remorse. Furthermore, a phobic reaction (fear of heights) might dig a deeper and traumatic experience in childhood.
As Edward faces everyday activity, confidence now is low with actual bearings on his resources (not enough) that create financial difficulty. But false optimism is being pursued to cloak insecurities. Contrary to some efforts he has installed to thwart disturbed behavior, perceptual distortion is uncovered to add up to ongoing psychotic process.
On October 24, 1995, Dr. Villegas submitted the psychiatric report on both Eduardo and Arturo, excepts from which are reproduced below:
Brief Anamnestic Data:
Father is 69 years old, a Commerce graduate and used to be a DBP employee in Davao. After he was by-passed in a promotion, he retired in 1979 after 33 years of service, latest position held was an asset acquired supervisor. He was a heavy drinker and said to be bad when drunk. After retirement at 53 years old, he became withdrawn and isolated, staying at home most of the time, doing household chores and occasionally going to their farm.
Mother is 68 years old, presently working as an RTC Judge of Branch 13, Davao City. She has a long government service and rose from the rank. She is described as domineering and has a stronger personality than her husband. She denied any behavioral and emotional problems of both Arturo & Eduardo and presented them as "two bright boys." She is the second of 9 living children, all of whom are professionals. They used to have good family relationships, but after the death of their father in 1991, family feud started, due to inheritance problems. With this, they were divided into 2 factions and several cases were filed in court against her and her younger sister, by her eldest brother.
They have 5 children of 4 boys and a girl.
1. Arturo — is the eldest, 43 years old, single, a commerce graduate at Rizal Memorial College in Davao. Accordingly to Dr. Nicolas dela Rosa, a practicing psychiatrist in Davao, Arturo was consulted to him around 1975 because of prohibited drug intake and excessive alcohol drinking. Later he exhibited psychotic symptoms, for which he was treated accordingly. Initially, his clinical impression was drug-induced psychosis, but later symptoms settled to Schizophrenia, a kind of major mental illness.
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3. Eduardo — is 34 years old, single, Bus. Administration graduate, from Ateneo de Davao as cum laude. Like Arturo, he used to take prohibited drugs and alcohol and later presented psychotic symptoms. He was also treated by Dr. Nicolas dela Rosa as an out-patient. He worked at DBP for about 5 years and in 1989, he was almost forcibly convinced by the agency to avail of their early retirement plan. According to a co-employee at DBP, he was observed to be aloof, ungroomed, inefficient worker and an undesirable employee.
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Occupational performance and behavior of both Eduardo and Arturo.
1. Would come to the office, ungroomed, dirty and smelly.
2. Regular absentee, but after the complaints, they improved slightly in their work attendance.
3. Unmindful of their environment, most of the time, isolate and withdraw themselves from co-employees. Eduardo was observed to be talking, murmuring and laughing to himself occasionally, starting at the ceiling.
4. Uncooperative to any group endeavor, observed to have poor comprehension, memory lapses, restlessness, heavy and chain smokers.
5. Slow worker, commits frequent mistakes even in routine work, not dependable, unpredictable, so that most of the time, they were not given specific assignments.
Fairly groomed in his uniform, silent and sluggish in his movements. He answered only when asked, and never gave any spontaneous answers. Responses were stereotyped and apparently practiced. Inappropriate in his mood which apparently he was trying to repress, but generally dull. He denied all presenting complaints though admitted having consulted Dr. Nicolas dela Rosa, on few occasions for sleeplessness. He denied hallucinatory and delusional experiences. He admitted being a chain smoker — "pangparelax." At present he is taking medications, given by his physician brother-in-law, but would not specify. He denied having been involved in prohibited drugs in the past or at present.
Gross orientation was fair, but he has no insight into his mental condition.
Psychological test results:
Intelligence tests placed him in a below average range. Projective tests revealed the presence of marked inadequacy feelings, immaturity, limited social adjustments, poor emotional interaction, confused identification, phobic reaction and perceptual distortions, characteristic of a psychotic process.
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The mother, Judge Alabagan and his two sons Eduardo & Arturo were cooperative to the interview and testing procedures, however, all of them gave sterile informations and presented an ideal family millieu and work situations, which were all contrary to the clinical findings and psychological testings. Mother has shown some manipulative approaches, which was also observed by Dr. Lythia dela Cerna-Cervera, Medical Officer IV, Davao Medical Center, Psychiatry Section. Eduardo, who graduated cum laude from Ateneo de Davao, is now operating on a below average intelligence level and has shown deterioration in his cognitive faculties. Arturo is also functioning on a below average range of intelligence. Both Arturo and Eduardo have history of prohibited drug intake and alcoholism and presently manifesting chronic psychotic symptoms, classified as Schizophrenia, long standing.
With the above findings, Arturo and Eduardo can be functional, but they cant not be expected to be competent and efficient.
On May 28, 1996, Deputy Court Administrator Suarez made the following report and recommendation:
An employee in the Civil Service can be dismissed6 for physical or mental incapacity.7 Due process, however, has to be observed.
The signs of mental incapacity of respondent Eduardo A. Alagaban are spread all over in the report of Dra. Villegas. It is all started when "he used to take prohibited drugs and alcohol and later presented psychotic symptoms."
Her report on Eduardo's "occupational performance and behavior" was, to repeat:
1. Would come to the office, ungroomed, dirty and smelly.
2. Regular absentee, but after he complaints, . . . (he) improved slightly in . . . (his) work attendance.
3. Unmindful of . . . (his) environment, most of the time, isolate and withdraw . . . (himself) from co-employees. Eduardo was observed to be talking, murmuring and laughing to himself occasionally, starting at the ceiling.
4. Uncooperative to any group endeavor, observed to have poor comprehension, memory lapses, restlessness, heavy and chain . . . smoker.
5. Slow worker, commits frequent mistakes even if routine work, not dependable, unpredictable, so that most of the time . . . (he was) not given specific assignments. [Copied verbatim]
Thus, respondent Eduardo A. Alagaban's tasks which he was supposed to have done, BUT DID NOT DO, must have been done by other court personnel who did it — in addition to their own assigned tasks. No wonder these other "concerned government employees" felt so demoralized and exasperated that they sent his Office the letter above-quoted.
The penalty for "mental incapacity" is dismissal for the first
This Office has no option but to recommend respondent Eduardo A. Alabagan's dismissal from the service due to mental incapacity.
Required to comment on the charge of mental incapacity, respondent Eduardo A. Alagaban on September 11, 1996 wrote the following letter:
I received a few days ago the Resolution, dated July 22, 1996, of the Second Division, Supreme Court, directing me to comment on the recommendation of my dismissal from my work by reason of mental incapacity.
Your Honors, I am respectfully appealing to each and everyone of your kindselves that you can find it in your hearts not to dismiss me from my job.
I am not suffering from mental incapacity. I am in good physical and mental health. I am doing my work as Clerk III in Branch 3, MTCC, Davao City. I am doing typing work, more so now with the expanded jurisdiction of the MTCC where the cases raffled to each Court every week have increased tremendously and typists are needed to type warrants of arrests, summons, Court orders and other pleadings. I love my work, I am proud to be part of the Judiciary. The income from my work is my bread and butter.
I have been connected with the MTCC, Davao City, since September, 1989, continuously up to the present. I am a professional and sub-professional civil service eligible, a college graduate, with the degree of Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Ateneo de Davao University.
Honorable Sirs, I am deeply worried, concerned and saddened by the aforesaid recommendation of my dismissal from the service. It is like a death sentence to me. It will be a sigma to my name. I cannot apply for work anymore, anywhere. I will be an outcast in society. If dismissed, I will have no income at all as it will be difficult for me to land a job with a record of this kind of dismissal. I do not want to be dependent of my parents. My father, a retired DBP employee, is over 70 years old and sickly while my mother is almost 70 years old.
The appointment of my older brother, Arturo A. Alagaban, who is a respondent in this administrative case leveled against us and who served the MTCC in Davao City for almost nine (9) years, has been revoked, allegedly due to nepotism. His Motion for Reconsideration to seek transfer to another court, there being a Judge willing to get him, and who actually recommended him for appointment, was denied with finality. Arturo is a good person and a worker.
Honorable Justices, once again, I am pleading for your compassion and fairness. Please help me and Arturo. I am just a lowly clerk.
Thank you very much for your kind consideration on this matter. May God bless you all.
(SGD.) EDWARD A. ALAGABAN
Considering that the report of the Court Administrator finding respondent Eduardo A. Alagaban to be mentally incapacitated is supported by the reports of Judge Augusto Breva, the National Bureau of Investigation, Judge Jesus Quitain and the Department of Health's Psychiatric Unit, as well as the evaluation of the Medical and Dental Services Division of this Court, we cannot give much weight to respondent's bare assertion that he is not mentally unfit for work nor to his assurances that he is performing his duties adequately.
The reports of the NBI and the DOH and the Medical and Dental Services Division were based on their own observations of the behavior of respondent as well as on objective tests conducted by trained psychologists and psychiatrists, to which tests respondent voluntarily submitted himself and which he did not refute.
Furthermore, his behavior has been observed by the employees of the Davao City court who wrote the anonymous letter or assisted the NBI and Executive Judge Breva in making their reports and who complained that his behavior greatly demoralized the other court employees.
The charge of mental incapacity is thus substantially supported by evidence. His mental incapacity impairs his efficiency and usefulness in the workplace and his ability to relate to his fellow employees. Indeed, he has been reported to stare blankly at the ceiling during office hours talking and laughing by himself, to incur frequent absences, and to be a slow worker who commits mistakes in his work frequently. As a result, he is not given specific assignments. It is not improbable, as the Deputy Court Administrator suggest, that some of the work he should do himself is done by other employees, who have no choice but to comply because respondent is the nephew of the Clerk of Court, who is their head of office. This situation adversely affects the morale of the employees. It would be unfair to his co-employees, to other deserving applicants for his job and to the public to continue respondent in employment in the name of mercy and compassion. While the Court sympathizes with the condition of respondent, it cannot disregard the welfare of the other employees of the court as well as the health of the judiciary in general.
WHEREFORE, respondent Eduardo A. Alagaban is DISMISSED from the service with forfeiture of all leave credits and retirement benefits and with disqualification from reemployment in the national and local governments, as well as in any governmental instrumentality or agency, including government-owned or controlled corporations.
This decision is immediately executory. Let a copy be entered in the personal records of the respondents.
The Office of the Court Administrator is hereby ordered to investigate and thereafter to submit within sixty (60) days from notice hereof a report and recommendation on the possible administrative liability for nepotism of Atty. Adela Alfelor Geverola, Clerk of Court, and Judge Edipolo Sarabia, Sr., Judge, Branch 3, both of the MTCC at Davao City, in connection with the employment of Arturo Alagaban, who is related to Atty. Geverola within the third civil degree of consanguinity, as clerk in the MTCC at Davao City, and for arranging respondent Eduardo Alagaban, clerk of Branch 3, also related to Atty. Geverola within the third degree of consanguinity, to be assigned to her office as the Clerk of the MTCC.
Narvasa, C.J., Padilla, Regalado, Davide, Jr., Romero, Bellosillo, Melo, Puno, Vitug, Kapunan, Mendoza, Francisco, Hermosisima, Jr., Panganiban and Torres, Jr., JJ., concur.