July 5, 2023

The Supreme Court has dismissed from service a court employee for theft of court collections in the amount of PhP277,000.00.

In a Decision dated June 27, 2023 in A.M. No. P-22-058 [Formerly JIB FPI No. 22-087-P], the Court En Banc found Charlibeth P. Sicad, Clerk III of the Cashier Unit, Office of the Clerk of Court, Metropolitan Trial Court, Makati City (OCC-MeTC) guilty of gross misconduct constituting violation of the Code of Conduct for Court Personnel, Serious Dishonesty, and Commission of a Crime involving Moral Turpitude, which are all serious charges under Section 14 of Rule 140 of the Rules of Court, as amended.

The Court also ordered the forfeiture of Sicadโ€™s benefits and privileges, except accrued leave credits, as well as her perpetual disqualification from re-employment in any government instrumentality, including government-owned or controlled corporations.

A criminal charge for qualified theft has been filed against Sicad, which is now pending before the trial court.

The High Court has consistently declared that thievery, no matter how petty, has no place in the Judiciary. Every employee of the Judiciary should be an example of integrity, uprightness, and honesty. Finding that Sicad has fallen far short of the exacting standards of judicial conduct and integrity, the Court stressed that conduct which violates the norms of public accountability and diminish, or even tends to diminish, the faith of the people in the justice system has never been and will never be tolerated or condoned by the Court.

In February 2022, Kim Ericka D. Dela Cruz was the cashier on duty at the OCC-MeTC when she received a text message and a phone call from an alleged Lalamove rider regarding a supposed delivery of documents from a certain Miss Malou of the Supreme Court. The Lalamove rider told Dela Cruz to wait at the entrance of the Makati City Hall, Building 2. Before she met the Lalamove rider, Dela Cruz asked Sicad to relieve her at the cashier post. By the time she reached the lobby though, Dela Cruz could no longer contact the Lalamove rider.

Dela Cruz then got back to her post and found Sicad, who asked for reimbursement of PhP500.00 which Sicad allegedly had advanced to cover the change due to one of the payees. When Dela Cruz opened the money drawer, Sicad pointed out to her that there were fake bills inside the money drawer.

An investigation regarding the fake bills immediately followed during which Sicad appeared uneasy. Sicad was seen going to the storage room at the back of the OCC-MeTC even though everyone was ordered to stay in their work areas. The police officers saw Sicad coming out from the edge of a filing cabinet, prompting them to search the area where she had come out. There, the police officers discovered the stolen money inside a black pouch. There were also fake bills found in the garbage bin in front of the table of Sicad. A litigant likewise confirmed that only Sicad was in the cashier area the whole time Dela Cruz was away. Consequently, a criminal charge was filed against Sicad.

In imposing on Sicad the penalty of dismissal from service, the Court held that the text message from the supposed Lalamove driver for an alleged delivery was a ruse to lure Dela Cruz away from her post. The ruse proved to be successful since Sicad gained access to the cashierโ€™s drawer after Dela Cruz left Sicad to attend to the cashier area in the meantime. Sicad used her position while taking charge of the cashier area to unlawfully take and clandestinely hide the courtโ€™s cash collections inside the black pouch. Ultimately, Sicadโ€™s unauthorized taking of cash collections in the amount of PhP277,000.00 constitutes theft, which is a crime involving moral turpitude.

The Supreme Court Public Information Office shall upload a copy of the Decision in A.M. No. P-22-058 (Office of the Court Administrator v. Sicad) to the Supreme Court website once it receives the same from the Office of the Clerk of Court En Banc.  (Courtesy of the Supreme Court Public Information Office)