It is evident in her Explanation that Atty. Lometillo preferred to shift responsibility over fund shortages to her administrative staff. With exoneration in mind, she desperately tried to convince the Court that she did everything possible to come up with a competent flow of functions in her office, but to no avail. Atty. Lometillo, in fact, designated the other respondents to functions which she herself should have performed, or at least closely monitored, she was unmindful of her duty “to personally attend to the collection of the fees, the safekeeping of the money thus collected, the making of the proper entries thereof in the corresponding book of accounts, and the deposit of the same in the offices concerned.”
Her so-called office memoranda, apprising her co-employees of their tasks in handling the finances of the Court can only provide as much leverage in her favor, but surely, absolution for the fund shortages which ballooned over time, is not forthcoming.
In the recent case of OCA v. Penaranda and Mediante, a Clerk of Court delegated the handling of the financial matters of the court to her “trustworthy” cashier including actual possession of court collections and issuance of receipts. Like Atty. Lometillo, the Clerk of Court claimed that “she signs the deposit slips every day, but whether or not all collections were actually deposited, she was unaware.” The Court had this to say:
While Peñaranda was not the custodian of the court’s collection and she, instead, delegated said function to Mediante, still, the expectation that she would perform all the duties and responsibilities of a Clerk of Court is not diminished. Indeed, the fact that Mediante was the one tasked to deposit the court collections does not absolve Peñaranda from liability, since the duty to remit court collections remains with her as the clerk of court, albeit, in this case, she was supposed to monitor that the same was being carried out.
x x x Both have been remiss in their duty to remit the collections within a prescribed period and are liable for keeping funds in their custody – Peñaranda as the one responsible for monitoring the court’s financial transactions and Mediante as the one in whom such functions are reposed. Undoubtedly, Peñaranda and Mediante violated the trust reposed in them as disbursement officers of the judiciary. Thus, they should be held liable for the shortages mentioned above. [Emphasis supplied]
x x x x
Based on the foregoing findings, Atty. Lometillo had clearly failed to live up to the standards of competence and integrity expected of an officer of the court. Mediocrity is not at all fit for a member of a complement tasked to dispense justice. Her failure to exhibit administrative leadership and ability renders Atty. Lometillo guilty of negligence, incompetence and gross inefficiency in the performance of her official duty as Clerk of Court. Thus, the penalty of dismissal from service is proper considering her failure to exercise supervision over her administrative staff resulting in commission of blatant infractions against the Rules. In view of Atty. Lometillo’s compulsory retirement, however, the imposition of accessory penalties, including the forfeiture of her retirement benefits, is justified.