Dapat Pantay lang ang Pagtingin sa Batas

Kung ang isang ordinaryong empleyado ng korte ay natanggal sa kanyang trabaho at benepisyo dahil sa hindi pagsama sa kanyang SALN ang maliit na niyangpuwesto sa palengke, kaya nararapat ding isama ng CJ ang kanyang dollar at peso account sa kanyang SALN dahil itoy asset niya. Tulad ng ginawa ni Obudsman Carpio kanyang kinonvert sa peso ang kanyang dollar account at nilagay sa kanyang SALN. – KK2012

NARITA RABE, complainant, vs. DELSA M. FLORES, Interpreter III, RTC, Branch IV, Panabo, Davao, respondent.

b)* why she did not report said business interest in her sworn statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth, Disclosure of Business Interests and Financial Connections, and Identification of Relatives in the Government Service for the years 1991, 1992, 1993, and 1994;

Aside from dishonesty, however, respondent is also guilty of failure to perform her legal obligation to disclose her business interests.* Respondent herself admitted that she “had a stall in the market.”* The Office of the Court Administrator also found that she had been receiving rental payments from one Rodolfo Luay for the use of the market stall.* That respondent had a stall in the market was undoubtedly a business interest which should have been reported in her Sworn Statement of Assets and Liabilities.* Her failure to do so exposes her to administrative sanction.

Section 8 of Republic Act No. 6713 provides that it is the “obligation” of an employee to submit a sworn statement, as the “public has a right to know” the employee’s assets, liabilities, net worth and financial and business interests.*

In the present case, the failure of respondent to disclose her business interest which she herself admitted is inexcusable and is a clear violation of Republic Act No. 6713

“The case respondent is referring to was filed in 1995.* This can be seen from the number of the case which is 95-93.* Earlier than the filing of the case, respondent was already collecting rentals — as early as February 22, 1991 — from one Rodolfo Luay who was operating a business without the necessary license.
Respondent should have, therefore, indicated in her ‘Sworn Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth, Disclosure of Business Interests and Financial Connections, and Identification of Relatives in the Government Service’ for the years 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 that she had a market stall in the Public market of Panabo, Davao.

She admits that she never indicated such in her sworn statements.

As this Office had earlier stated in its Memorandum dated November 10, 1995 filed in connection with the instant complaint:

‘Such non-disclosure is punishable with imprisonment not exceeding five (5) years, or a fine not exceeding five thousand (P5,000.00) pesos, or both.* But even if no criminal prosecution is instituted against the offender, the offender can be dismissed from the service if the violation is proven. Respondent 201 file speaks for itself.
Furthermore, respondent should have divested herself of her interest in said business within sixty (60) days from her assumption into (sic) office.* She has not.* The penalty for non-disclosure of business interests and non-divestment is the same.”‘ (Citations omitted.)

In her explanation, respondent maintains the position that she has no business interest, implicitly contending that there is nothing to divulge or divest from.* As discussed above, respondent had a business interest.* We do not find her administratively liable, however, for failure to divest herself of the said interest.* The requirement for public officers, in general, to divest themselves of business interests upon assumption of a public office is prompted by the need to avoid conflict of interests.18 In the absence of any showing that a business interest will result in a conflict of interest, divestment of the same is unnecessary.* In the present case, it seems a bit far-fetched to imagine that there is a conflict of interest because an Interpreter III of the Regional Trial Court has a stall in the market.* A court, generally, is not engaged in the regulation of a public market, nor does it concern itself with the activities thereof.* While respondent may not be compelled to divest herself of her business interest, she had the legal obligation of divulging it.
WHEREFORE, in conformity with the recommendations of the Office of the Court Administrator, Interpreter III Delsa M. Flores is hereby DISMISSED from service with FORFEITURE of all retirement benefits and accrued leave credits and with PREJUDICE to re-employment in any branch or instrumentality of the government, including government-owned or controlled corporations.
SO ORDERED.

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