THE country’s highest court booted out a clerk of court for carting away a computer set containing information and files on drug cases.
In a per curiam decision, the Supreme Court (SC) found Lou Laranjo, clerk of Court II, Municipal Circuit Trial Court (MCTC), Lugait-Manticao-Naawan, Misamis Oriental, guilty of grave misconduct and serious dishonesty and dismissed him from service.
Per curiam decisions are court opinion issued in the name of the court rather than specific judges.
The decision also perpetually disqualified him from holding public office and forfeited his retirement benefits, except accrued leave credits.
Laranjo’s dismissal stemmed from MCTC Presiding Judge Renato Arroyo’s letter-report to the Office of the Court Administrator that Laranjo “surreptitiously took away” the computer set used by MCTC Court Stenographer I, Neza Malinao and returned it to the Naawan town which had earlier donated it to the court.
The computer files of Malinao allegedly contained sensitive information, such as the identities and testimonies of confidential agents and informants in search warrant applications in illegal drug cases.
In a press release, the Supreme Court said Laranjo’s act was arbitrary and unauthorized as the computer set was taken during night time and on a weekend.
“The court concurred with the findings and recommendation of the Office of Court Administrator (OCA) which found substantial evidence against Laranjo. It gave weight on OCA’s observation that the circumstances cast doubt on Laranjo’s real intention in taking out the computer set, considering his arrest for involvement in illegal drug activities,” the statement said.
The court also ruled that aside from the lack of authorization, the records are “bereft of any credible justification on Laranjo’s part as to why he pursued such course of action.”