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Nieva v.

Alvarez-Edad
January 31, 2005
MARITONI M. NIEVA, complainant, vs.
SATURNINA ALVAREZ-EDAD, BRANCH CLERK OF COURT, METROPOLITAN TRIAL COURT, BRANCH 32, QUEZON CITY,
respondent
SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J.
SUMMARY: Nieva filed an administrative complaint against Alvarez-Edad, Branch Clerk of Court of MeTC Br. 32, QC, for allegedly
demanding or receiving commissioners fee for reception of evidence ex-parte, among others. HELD: She is administratively liable. To
be entitled to reasonable compensation, a commissioner must not be an employee of the court. Edad overstepped her powers and
responsibilities. She demanded and received a commissioners fee from a litigant in an ex-parte proceedings. Such act violates
Section B, Chapter II of the Manual for Clerks of Court.
FACTS:

Maritoni M. Nieva, former legal researcher of MeTC, Br. 32,QC, filed the instant administrative complaint charging Saturnina
Alvarez-Edad, Branch Clerk of Court of the same Branch, with the ff. administrative offenses:
o 1) Falsification of daily time records;

The entries in her DTR of the time of her arrival in the office and departure therefrom vary from her entries in the
logbook.
o 2) Dishonesty for demanding or receiving commissioners fee for reception of evidence ex-parte;

Edad demanded from a Billy Ranas, a messenger from Unifunds, P1,500 as commissioners fee in connection
with the ex-parte hearing in Unifunds vs. Sps. Ann and Jose Aquino et al. She threatened to delay the disposition
of the case when she was given P500. Eventually, she signed a receipt for P500 but kept P300 for herself and
gave Cueto, the stenographer, only P200.
o 3) Conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service;

She allowed Mother Lily Monteverde to post bail although she did not personally appear in court

She publicly humiliates complainant, the lawyers, the accused, and the members of her staff

She issued certified true copies of a warrant of arrest in People of the Philippines vs. Raquel Mana Rodriguez
without requiring requesting party to pay legal fees;

She is discourteous and disrespectful in the conduct of official business in court:

an unfair and unreasonable closing of the attendance logbook before the 30-minute grace period (as
stenographer Helen);

Unfair and unreasonable notation in the logbook that the complainant reported in the office half-day (as
to complainant)

Humiliating lawyers and litigants;

Insulting complainant in front of the lawyers in the Ozone case;hence, Nieva was forced to resign on
Edads pretext that she did not live up to her expectations.

Forcing complainant and utility worker Danilo De la Cruz to resign from the service when she unjustly
charged him with insubordination

Edad denied all the charges against her. SC subsequently referred the case to the Executive Judge, MeTC, QC.

Exec. Judge Dayrit: Exonerated Edad from all the charges, except for dishonesty (for her act of demanding commissioners fees
from Unifunds and keeping of the P300).
o Guilty of 2 counts of dishonesty, suspended from the service for 1 year without pay and disqualified for promotion or from
receiving any increase in salary during the pendency of the suspension

OCA: While Edad is not administratively liable for other charges, she is guilty of violating the Manual for Clerks of Court which
absolutely prohibits a clerk of court to receive commissioners fees
o Provisions:

(a) Section B, Chapter II (p. 36), which states that: No Branch Clerk of Court shall demand and/or receive
commissioners fees for reception of evidence ex-parte;' and

(b) Section D.7, Chapter IV(p. 74), which states that: The Court shall allow the commissioner, other than an
employee of the Court, such reasonable compensation as the circumstances of the case warrant to be
taxed as costs against the defeated party, or apportioned, as justice requires.
o No dishonesty: The normal fee for ex-parte hearing is P1,500: P1,000 goes to the Branch Clerk, then P500 goes to the
Court Stenographer. Since she was able to collect only P500, she gave Court Stenographer Cueto the P200. There is
absence of an intent or motive to gain. When she gave Cueto P200, she is merely giving the latter her share for
transcribing the stenographic notes.
o However, Edad was collecting commissioners fee when she demanded payment from Unifunds.
o Edad: It was Presiding Judge Marquez who conducted the ex-parte hearing
o OCA: Immaterial. The Manual is very clear that a Branch Clerk is prohibited to demand commissioners fee.
o Sec. 9, Rule 30, 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure: in default or ex-parte hearings, and in any case where the parties
agree in writing, the court may delegate the reception of evidence to its clerk of court who is a member of the bar.
o CAB: As a Branch Clerk of Court who is a non-lawyer, she ought to know that it is only a member of the bar who is
authorized to receive evidence ex-parte.
o Penalty: FINE in the sum of P1,000. Edad is SEVERELY REPRIMANDED with WARNING that a repetition of a similar
act shall be dealt with more severely

The facts do not warrant Edads dismissal considering that out of the 7 charges, Nieva was able to prove only 1
of the charges. Since this is the first time that Edad was administratively charged after serving the judiciary for 10
years, the present complaint should be treated as an isolated incident.

ISSUE + RATIO: Whether or not Alvarez-Edad should be administratively liable for collecting commissioners fee? (YES)

Clerks of court are required to be persons of competence, honesty and probity.

CAB: Edad overstepped her powers and responsibilities. She demanded and received a commissioners fee from a litigant in
an ex-parte proceedings. Such act violates Section B, Chapter II of the Manual for Clerks of Court.
o Restated in Circular No. 50-2001 (Aug. 17, 2001): For the guidance and information of all concerned, x x x Clerks of
Court are not authorized to collect compensation for services rendered as commissioners in ex parte
proceedings.

To be entitled to reasonable compensation, a commissioner must not be an employee of the court.


o Sec. D (7), Chapter IV of the same Manual for Clerks of Cour: The Court shall allow the commissioner, other than an
employee of the court, such reasonable compensation as the circumstances of the case warrant to be taxed as costs
against the defeated party, or apportioned, as justice requires.

CAB: As a court employee, Alvarez-Edad has no authority to demand or receive any commissioners fee. She does not meet the
strict judicial standard when she demanded and collected commissioners fee.
ISSUE + RATIO: Whether or not the penalty imposed (fine and reprimand) is proper? (NO)

The penalty recommended is too light. Edads transgression constitutes simple misconduct, classified as a less grave offense
under Sec. 52 (B), Rule IV of the Revised Uniform Rules On Administrative Cases In The Civil Service
o 1st Offense Suspension (1 mo. 1 day to 6 mos.)
o 2nd Offense Dismissal
DISPOSITION: Saturnina Alvarez-Edad GUILTY of demanding/receiving commissioners fee in violation of Section B, Chapter II and
Section D (7), Chapter IV of the Manual for Clerks of Court. She is hereby SUSPENDED for 2 months without pay and WARNED that
a repetition of the same or a similar offense shall be dealt with more severely.