R E S O L U T I O N
On February 1, 1993, Mrs. Maria Coronel, Chief of the Information and Statistical Data Division of the Court of Appeals, filed a letter-complaint requesting an investigation regarding her failure to receive registered foreign letter No. 06876676 which contained a bank draft, in the amount of P25,000.00 payable to Mrs. Maria Coronel, issued by Westpac Banking Corporation on February 15, 1991. Her letter-complaint further alleged that the draft was later encashed with the Philippine National Bank by a person other than complainant who presented a fake passport bearing the name "Maria F. Coronel."
Messrs. Dever Catindig and Benigno Mapilisan, were required to file their comment.
In his comment filed on February 15, 1993, Mr. Dever Catindig admitted that he is the authorized representative of the Court to the Central Post Office, charged with the duty of receiving all mail matter addressed to the Court of Appeals, and in his absence, the Chief of the Mailing Section designates one to take his place. In the case at bar, however, Mr. Catindig claims that he could not have received the missing mail matter because he was absent on February 26, 1991, the date when the controversial mail sack said to contain the registered letter was supposedly received by the Court of Appeals. The records of the Personnel Division confirm Mr. Catindig's claim that he was absent on said date.
Mr. Benigno Mapilisan, on the other hand, submitted his sworn statement dated February 17, 1993, where he admitted having received from the Central Post Office, Manila, two (2) sacks of mail, Nos. 4 and 6, on February 26, 1991. Sack No. 6 contained the registered letter in question. Mapilisan denied that he opened and broke the seal of said sack No. 6 as he did not have the authority to do so from the Chief of the Mailing Section. Consequently, he could not have taken its contents and encashed the check contained therein.
On February 12, 1993, the Report on the investigation conducted was completed, establishing the following facts:
"Mr. Benigno Mapilisan, admitted having received the sack which supposedly contained the missing registered letter on February 26, 1991 from the Central Post Office, Manila, but he denied that he was the one who opened and broke the seal of the mail sack. His denial would not exculpate him from liability. Having admitted having received said Sack No. 6, which supposedly contained the foreign mail matters, he assumed full responsibility not only for the loss of said mail sack if the seal was broken, but also its contents, which is the registered letter in question.
There is no proof nor was there an intimation in his comment that he had turned over or (sic) said mail sack to anyone in the Mailing Section, in its sealed condition or state. His failure to do so, constitutes gross negligence in the performance of his duties in the Mailing Section.
His responsibility in receiving the sack in question which contained the missing foreign registered letter, encompasses security of everything which said mail sack or big contains. In the present case before us, it is not controverted that said sack contained only one (1) foreign mail matter which is registered letter no. 06876676; The foreign bank draft in the amount of P25,000.00 placed in said letter was encashed at the PNB Escolta, in the name of the supposed payee-addressee.
While there is no conclusive proof that Mr. Mapilisan signed the bill or the list found inside the sack in question, which enumerates what is inside said mail bag or sack, this could be explained by an interview with the present Postmaster of the City of Manila, Mr. Wilfredo Urriberri where the latter admitted the following facts:
'That their practice of delivering mails addressed to the Court of Appeals, was for this Court to require the CA mailing personnel to get such mail matters from his Office. But due to a request from this Office, thru Mr. Prudencio Aguilar (confirmed by the latter) that the CA lacks the necessary transportation, He (Aguilar) requested the Manila Postmaster to provide the vehicle and delivered said CA mail matters thru their delivery cars contained in sacks or bags and they simply require the CA to just sign the receipt of the numbers of mail bags or sacks delivered by the Manila Post Office, and this practice was in effect during the years, 1991-1992, and it was only this January 19, 1993 when the Manila Post Office requires the CA mailing personnel to sign not only for the receipt of the number of sacks or bags delivered, but also the waybill, which contains the mail matters found inside every bag or sack delivered to the CA.'
Mr. Mapilisan cannot escape responsibility by a simple denial that he was not the one who opened the said mail sack or bag which contained the said missing mail matter. To fully escape any blame or censure or liability in the present case at bar, he should have turned over said sealed mail bag to his immediate Chief, Mr. Aguilar or to anyone in the Mailing Section, if he could not open and break the seal of the said mail bags, if as he claims, he was not authorized to open the same.
To reiterate once more, to fully escape responsibility from the loss of said registered letter, it was the bounden duty of Mr. Mapilisan to have delivered said mail sack or bag to his chief or anybody in the Mailing Section in its sealed state, or its seal unbroken. If it turned out later that said mail sack was opened and its contents mislaid or pilfered by someone, without his knowledge the finger of suspicion still points at him, as he allowed someone else to pilfer and open said mail bag without his presence. Neither could Mr. Mapilisan argue that the mail bag did not contain said mail matter, for there is no intimation in his comment thereto, that he, or anybody else called the attention of the Central Post Office that said mail bag did not contain any mail matter or in other words, empty; the inexhorable conclusion is that said mail bag did not contain said registered letter in question, with the foreign bank draft in the amount of P25,000.00 which was encashed by the malefactor with the PNB Escolta, thru the use of a passport in the name of the payee, Mrs. Maria R. Coronel."
On the basis of the foregoing, the investigator found respondent Mapisilan guilty of gross negligence while in the performance of his assigned duties in the Mailing Section. He recommended a penalty of one month suspension without pay.
In reviewing the report and recommendation submitted for the Court's consideration, we find the penalty recommended to be very light and not commensurate with the gravity of the offense committed.
The factual circumstances, as gathered and established, and the conclusions drawn therefrom, militate against respondent Mapilisan's disclaimer that he had nothing to do with the loss of subject mail matter and the eventual encashment of the P25,000-bank draft.
We lay stress on these findings:
1) Respondent Mapilisan's admission of having received sack No. 6 which contained the mail matter in question;
2) Respondent Mapilisan's failure to turn over custody of said mail sack to his immediate chief, Mr. Aguilar, knowing fully well that, not having the authority to open or break the seal, it was his duty to inform his chief and turn over the mail sack to him.
3) That at the time of loss, actual possession of sack No. 6 remained with respondent Mapilisan.
The totality of these events unfolds before us a picture of respondent Mapilisan, deliberately detaining said mail sack, obviously interested in its contents, thus lending us to the irresistible conclusion that he also authored the encashment of the P25,000-bank draft. Such dishonesty amounting to gross misconduct cannot be countenanced by us, particularly since respondent is employed in the Court of Appeals.
WHEREFORE, the Court Resolved to DISMISS respondent Benigno Mapilisan from service with FORFEITURE of all benefits and with prejudice to his re-employment in any branch or service of the government, including government-owned and controlled corporations.
This resolution is immediately executory.
Narvasa, C.J., Feliciano, Padilla, Regalado, Davide, Jr., Romero, Bellosillo, Melo, Quiason, Puno, Vitug and Mendoza, JJ., concur.
Cruz, and Bidin, JJ., are on leave.
Kapunan, J., took no part.
IN THE MATTER OF THE LOSS OF REGISTERED FOREIGN LETTER NO. 06876676 FROM AUSTRALIA, ADDRESSED TO MRS. MARIA CORONEL, SUBJECT OF THE COMPLAINT OF THE AFORESAID MRS. MARIA CORONEL OF THIS COURT, RECEIVED BY THIS COURT ON FEBRUARY 26, 1993 BUT REMAINED UNDELIVERED TO THE SAID ADDRESSEE., A.M. No. 93-9-249-CA, 1994 Sep 12, En Banc