Honest janitor returns P1-M found in hospital

WHEN can a person describe one’s self as inherently honest? One can if he or she is faced with a prospect of keeping P1 million in cold cash as finder’s keeper but decides to return the cash to its owner without any hesitation in spite of his dire need for cash that day.

This was the case of Reynaldo Padilla, 38, a janitor at the Dagupan Doctors Villaflor Memorial Hospital (DDVMH) when he found and returned the cash found inside a backpack on March 26 left by a patient that had been discharged.

Padilla goes back to his daily routine as janitor at the Dagupan Doctors Villaflor Memorial Hospital in Dagupan City after returning a backpack containing P1-M cash and important documents left by a patient. (Punchphoto by Cesar Ramirez)

Padilla, a janitor at the hospital for over 5 years, was routinely cleaning and clearing the last room for the day when he saw the backpack inside a drawer left behind by the patient.

Padilla said he was shocked to see the backpack filled with cash when he expected to see merely a laptop in it, as usually the case.

He said he promptly brought the backpack with P1-million cash in bundled P500 and P1,000 denominations to Rhea Castro, Central Sterile Room attendant at the hospital.

Castro was in the room earlier to check on status of hospital’s facilities and linen and therefore, did not inspect the drawers, normally a task for the janitors who need to clear these of items left by patients.

Padilla and Castro reported the discovery to the floor supervisor and efforts to reach the patient and companions was promptly made, who were then approaching their home in San Carlos City.

It was only then when they realized that the backpack with the money was left in the hospital.

The owner, in her 40s, who requested not to be identified, said the money was for salary of her employees.

“She was speechless and was so thankful to the employees when her backpack was returned to her,” said Bernadette Abella, human resource officer of DDVMH.

The owner immediately rewarded Padilla P10,000 for his honesty.

What many did not know then was the fact Padilla only had P40 in his pocket and was forlorn not having more to be able to reward his two children (in Grade 2 and 5) with special meals at a fastfood after attending the recognition rites at the Doña Victoria Zarate Elementary School for being honor students.

After receiving the reward money, Padilla shared part of it to his fellow workers and rushed home to surprise the family with their special meals.

Having learned of his situation, many praised Padilla yet still others thought he could have done himself a big favor by keeping the money. He needed cash desperately, and P1 million could have easily solved it and more.

“It was not my money. I did not work for it. It’s not mine so I must return it to the owner,” Padilla said. “What is important is, I do not get what is not mine. I work hard and I am proud as janitor,” he added.

Padilla hopes his good deed was a lesson for his children in the worthiness of good values like honesty.

Praises for Padilla in Facebook were overflowing and encouraging. He was presented a certificate of commendation by City Mayor Belen Fernandez during a ceremony held at the City Museum. In attendance was DDVMH’s chairman Dr. Vivencio Villaflor Jr.

Padilla is a college dropout and was studying for a Bachelor of Science degree in Electronics and Communications Engineering at Colegio de Dagupan. He said poverty prevented him to continue his studies.

Padilla’s wife is unemployed and is focused on raising their two children. (Eva Visperas)

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