Our existing rule is that an act so corrupt or false as
to constitute a criminal act
is “grossly immoral.”
It is not merely“immoral.” Respondent now asks the Court to go all the way to the opposite extreme and condone her illicit relations with not even anadmonition or a slight tap on the wrist.I do not think the Court is ready to render a precedent-setting decision to the effect that, under exceptional circumstances, employeesof the judiciary may live in a relationship of adultery or concubinage with no fear of any penalty or sanction and that after being discovered andcharged, they may continue the adulterous relationship until death ends it. Indeed, the decision in this case is not limited to court interpreter Soledad Escritor. It is not a
pro hac vice
ruling. It applies to court employees all over the country and to everybody in the civil service. It is nota private ruling but one which is public and far-reaching in its consequences.In the 1975 case of
De Dios v. Alejo
the Court applied compassion and empathy but nonetheless recognized as most important amending of ways through a total breaking of relationships. The facts in that case are strikingly similar to those in this case. Yet, the Courtrequired a high degree of morality even in the presence of apparently exculpating circumstances. It was stated:While it is permissible to view with human understanding and compassion a situation like that in whichrespondents find themselves, the good of the service and the degree of morality which every official and employee in the public service must observe, if respect and confidence are to be maintained by the government in the enforcement of thelaw, demand that no untoward conduct on his part, affecting morality, integrity and efficiency, while holding office should be left without proper and commensurate sanction, all attendant circumstances taken into account. In the instant case, Wecannot close our eyes to the important considerations that respondents have rendered government service for more thanthirty-three and twenty-five years, respectively, and that there is no showing that they have ever been found guilty of anyadministrative misconduct during all those periods. In the case of respondent Alejo, it seems rather sadistic to make her suffer the extreme penalty of dismissal from the service after she had taken care of her co-respondent’s four children,giving them the needed love and attention of a foster mother after they were completely abandoned by their errant andunfaithful natural mother. Even respondent Marfil, if to a lesser degree, is deserving of compassion.
Most importantly,respondents have amply demonstrated that they recognize their mistake and have, therefore, actually mended theirways by totally breaking their relationship complained of, in order to conform with the imperatives of publicinterest
. (Emphasis supplied)The standards for those in the judicial service are quite exacting.The Court has ruled that in the case of public servants who are in the judiciary, their conduct and behavior,
from the presiding judgeto the lowliest clerk
, must not only be characterized by propriety and decorum, but above all else, must be above suspicion.
Burgos v. Aquino
it was ruled:The Code of Judicial Ethics mandates that the conduct of court personnel must be free from any whiff of impropriety, not only with respect to his duties in the judicial branch but also to his behavior outside the court as a privateindividual. There is no dichotomy of morality; a court employee is also judged by his private morals. These exactingstandards of morality and decency have been strictly adhered to and laid down by the Court to those in the service of the judiciary. Respondent, as a court stenographer, did not live up to her commitment to lead a moral life. Her act of maintaining relations with Atty. Burgos speaks for itself.Respondent Aquino was a court stenographer who was suspended for six months for maintaining illicit relations with the husband of complainant Virginia E. Burgos. The Court therein stated that a second offense shall result in dismissal.We should not lose sight of the fact that the judicial system over which it presides is essentially composed of human beings who, assuch, are naturally prey to weakness and prone to errors. Nonetheless, in
Ecube-Badel v. Badel
we imposed on respondent a suspension for six months and one day to one year with warning of dismissal should the illicit relations be repeated or continued.
Reyes v. Wong,
Lacuata v. Bautista,
339 Phil. 510 (1997).