Old debt hounds gov’t worker

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Monday, November 8, 2010


AN employee of a government hospital in Cebu was reprimanded by the anti-graft office for allegedly failing to pay back a debt about 17 years since a complaint was first filed against her.

Graft investigator Eleanor Tayad said the failure of an employee at the Isidro Kintanar Memorial Hospital in Argao to settle her debt constitutes “conduct unbecoming of a public employee” and is a ground for disciplinary action.

The respondent told the anti-graft office that she did borrow P25,000 from a lending investor, but not the P83,000 that the latter claimed she owed.

She also said she proposed to pay on installment.

“After a careful evaluation of the records of the case, this office is convinced that respondent indeed willfully failed to pay her debt,” said Tayad in her 12-page decision.

The case stemmed from an administrative complaint the lender filed against the hospital employee before the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas in 1993.

The lender said the hospital worker, whom she reportedly hired as a collector of her lending business, failed to remit some of the payments. Last May 28, 1993, the borrower executed a promissory note and promised to settle P83,000, which represented the unremitted amount.

The borrower, the complainant told the anti-graft office, also signed two more promissory notes representing a total of P7,850 in un-remitted collections.

The lender eventually filed a civil case for recovery of sum of money against the hospital employee before the Regional Trial Court Branch 26 in Argao, Cebu.

The court ruled in favor of the lender and ordered the respondent to pay P25,000, instead of P83,000, plus litigation expenses amounting to P12,850.

Unsatisfied with the lower court’s decision, the lender brought her case to the Court of Appeals, which modified the lower court’s decision.

The appellate court ordered the hospital employee to pay the complainant P83,000, plus 12 percent interest per annum from May 28, 1993 until the full amount is paid. The respondent was likewise ordered pay the complainant 30 percent as attorney’s fees.

The respondent was also ordered to pay P5,000, plus 12 percent interest from Nov. 15, 1994, and P2,000 as attorney’s fees.

Interest

She was further told to pay the complainant P2,850, plus 12 percent interest per annum from Nov. 15,1994, until full payment is made.

The hospital employee, in her counter-affidavit, denied she agreed to serve as a collector for the lending investor. As a government worker, it was not right for her to do so since most of the latter’s borrowers were also her officemates, she said.

The respondent said the other party loaned her P25,000 and not P83,000. She said the complainant merely assumed that the borrowers gave their payments to her.

While admitting she incurred the debt due to financial constraint, the borrower said she proposed to pay back on installment.

But Tayad, in her decision, said there was no proof that the hospital employee made installment payments to the complainant.

The woman, she added, admitted she found it difficult to pay her debt because she spent a lot on the medical expenses of her late husband.

But “while it may be true that her willful failure to pay her just debt was for the reason she has no financial capabilities…her obligation to pay, however, cannot be condoned,” said Tayad.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on November 08, 2010.

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