THE Supreme Court ordered the dismissal from service of three Court of Appeals employees who tested positive for the illegal drug methamphetamine hydrochloride, also known as shabu, during a random drug test conducted in 2022.
The three employees were identified by the Court as Garry U. Caliwan, Edmundo T. Malit and Frederick C. Mauricio.
The Court noted that it was the second time that they tested positive for illegal drug use.
“The Court thus agreed with the JIB (Judicial Integrity Board) that the penalty of dismissal from the service is proper and commensurate with the gravity of the offense that respondents committed considering that this is the second time that they have tested positive for dangerous drugs in a random drug test, and they did so after having been given a chance by the CA to undergo treatment and rehabilitation,” the SC said.
The three were found administratively liable for the serious charge of use of illegal drugs or substances under Section 14(o) of Rule 140 of the Rules of Court, as further amended by A.M. No. 21-08-09-SC.
In 2022, Caliwan, Malit, and Mauricio tested positive for shabu, in a random drug test conducted by the CA.
Labtox Analytical Laboratory, Inc., an accredited laboratory facility by the Department of Health-Dangerous Drugs Board, confirmed the result of the random drug test.
Following an investigation, the CA transmitted the case records to the JIB, which recommended to the en Court en banc the dismissal of the three employees.
In resolving the case, the Court first clarified that the use of prohibited drugs now squarely falls under the serious charge of possession and/or use of Illegal drugs or substances, not grave misconduct, when it is committed by members, officials, employees, and personnel of the Judiciary, as governed by Rule 140 of the Rules of Court, as amended.
It further explained that under A.M. No. 23-02-11-SC or the Guidelines for the Implementation of a Drug-Free Policy in the Philippine Judiciary, there are two scenarios under which a court employee shall be charged with the possession and/or use of illegal drugs or substances, such as when he or she tests positive for drug use through a random drug test and when he or she voluntarily submits himself or herself to drug testing and is found positive for drug use for a second time, despite having completed the treatment and/or drug rehabilitation program.
Based on the guidelines, the Court found that the administrative liabilities of Caliwan, Malit, and Mauricio for illegal drug use have been sufficiently proven not only by the positive results of the random drug test held in 2022, but also by their own admission.
In Mauricio’s case, the JIB, noting his early retirement, recommended that he be sanctioned with the accessory penalties of forfeiture of his retirement benefits, except accrued leave credits, and perpetual disqualification from public office in lieu of dismissal from the service.
The recommendation of the JIB was adapted by the Court en banc.
In its decision, the Court reminded anew all court personnel to always act above board and beyond suspicion “to earn and keep the respect of the public for the Judiciary.”
In 2023, the Court issued the Guidelines for the Implementation of a Drug-Free Policy in the Philippine Judiciary.
Under the Guidelines, drug testing was made a pre-employment requirement in the Judiciary.
Court employees shall also be subjected to a random mandatory drug test during the course of their employment in the Judiciary.
Employees found positive for dangerous drug use shall be dealt with administratively, and such finding shall be a ground for suspension or termination, subject to the provisions of the Civil Service Law and A.M. No. 21-08-09-SC.
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