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Carlito D. Lazo v. Judge Antonio V.

Tiong (300 SCRA 214)


Facts: Judge Tiong was accused of failing to inhibit himself in a criminal case
because he was related within the fourth degree of affinity to the accused. The judge
claims he did so in the hopes that his presence would allow the parties to settle
amicably.
Held: Judge reprimanded. A judge should take no part in a proceeding where his
impartiality might reasonably be questioned. Also, Rule 137, Rules of Court,
provides that no judge or judicial officer shall sit in any case in which he, inter alia, is
related to either party within the sixth degree pf consanguinity or affinity, or to
counsel within the fourth degree computed according to the rules of the civil law.
Under this provision, the Presiding Judge is mandated to disqualify himself from
sitting in a case. He cannot exercise his discretion whether to inhibit himself or not.
[A.M. No. RTJ-04-1833. June 28, 2005]
ALEXANDER B. ORTIZ vs. JUDGE IBARRA B. JACULBE, JR., REGIONAL
TRIAL COURT OF DUMAGUETE CITY, BRANCH 42.
Facts: In a verified letter-complaint, Ortiz averred the following: That he is a
respondent in a case filed before the sala of Judge Jaculbe; that Atty. Richard Enojo,
who is the son-in-law of Judge Jaculbe, represents the plaintiff in the same case;
that a compromise agreement was entered into by the parties; that pursuant to the
compromise agreement, plaintiff filed a motion for the issuance of a writ of execution;
and that the motion was hastily granted by Judge Jaculbe without holding a hearing
to prove the failure of defendants to comply with the compromise agreement. Judge
Jaculbe does not dispute the fact that Atty. Richard Enojo is his son-in-law and is,
therefore, related to him by affinity in the first degree.
Held: The prohibition against the Judges sitting in the case is found in the Rule 3.12
of Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial Conduct as quoted above and in Section 1 of
Rule 137 of the Rules of Court.
In Garcia v. De la Pea, we explained the rationale for this disqualification:
The rule on compulsory disqualification of a judge to hear a case where, as in the
instant case, the respondent judge is related to either party within the sixth degree of
consanguinity or affinity rests on the salutary principle that no judge should preside
in a case in which he is not wholly free, disinterested, impartial and independent. A
judge has both the duty of rendering a just decision and the duty of doing it in a
manner completely free from suspicion as to his fairness and as to his integrity. The
law conclusively presumes that a judge cannot objectively or impartially sit in such a
case and, for that reason, prohibits him and strikes at his authority to hear and
decide it, in the absence of written consent of all parties concerned. The purpose is
to preserve the people's faith and confidence in the courts of justice.

The disqualification is mandatory, and respondent has no option other than to inhibit
himself from the criminal case. The appropriate step for respondent to take would
have been to immediately desist from hearing the case, even at the preliminary
investigation stage. His failure to do so is a glaring violation not only of the Rules of
Court but also of the Code of Judicial Conduct, which mandates in Canon 3, Rule
3.12:
Rule 3.12 A judge should take no part in a proceeding where the judge's
impartiality might reasonably be questioned. These cases include, among others,
proceedings where:
...
(d)
the judge is related by consanguinity or affinity to a party litigant within the
sixth degree or to counsel within the fourth degree;
...
Even in Perez v. Suller, which respondent cites in support of his arguments, we ruled
that respondent Judge Suller should have refrained from handling the preliminary
investigation of the case involving his nephew, a relative by consanguinity within the
sixth degree and thus covered by the prohibition in Rule 137 of the Rules of Court.
We further held:
While conducting preliminary investigation may not be construed strictly as "sitting in
a case," the underlying reason behind disqualification under Rule 3.12 [of Canon 3]
of the Code of Judicial Conduct and Section 1 of Rule 137 is the same.
We have time and again reminded judges of their obligation to keep the image of the
judiciary unsullied and worthy of the people's trust.
Section 9 of Rule 140 of the Rules of Court provides that a violation of Supreme
Court rules falls under a Less Serious Charge. Section 11 of the same rule states
that the following sanctions may be imposed for Less Serious Charges: 1.
Suspension from office without salary and other benefits for not less than one (1) nor
more than three (3) months; or 2. A fine of more than P10,000.00 but not
exceeding P20,000.00.
G.R. No. 171765

March 21, 2012

THE INCORPORATORS OF MINDANAO INSTITUTE INC. and THE BOARD OF


TRUSTEES OF MINDANAO INSTITUTE INC., represented by ENGR.
VICTORIOSO D. UDARBE vs.THE UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST IN THE
PHILIPPINES, acting through AGUSAN DISTRICT CONFERENCE UNITED
CHURCH OF CHRIST IN THE PHILIPPINES, represented by REV. RODOLFO
BASLOT.

Facts: At the scheduled joint hearing of Special Civil Action Case No. 03-02 and Civil
Case No. 09-2003 to determine the propriety of the issuance of a writ of preliminary
injunction, the Law Office of Bernabe, Doyon, Bringas and Partners entered its
appearance16 as collaborating counsel for UCCP. Incidentally, Atty. Roy Doyon (Atty.
Doyon), the son of Executive Judge Orlando F. Doyon (Judge Doyon), was one of
the partners in the said law firm. This prompted Atty. Nelbert T. Poculan, UCCPs
lead counsel, to move for the inhibition of Judge Doyon from the case. On the other
hand, Atty. Rolando F. Carlota, MI Incorporators counsel, expressed no objection to
the continued participation of Judge Doyon in the proceedings of the case despite
the said development.
Held: A judge should take no part in a proceeding where the judges impartiality
might reasonably be questioned. These cases include, among others, proceedings
where:
xxx
(d) the judge is related by consanguinity or affinity to a party litigant within the sixth
degree or to counsel within the fourth degree. [Underscoring supplied]
The disqualification is mandatory and gives the judicial officer concerned no
discretion but to inhibit himself from trying or sitting in a case. The rationale,
therefore, is to preserve the people's faith and confidence in the judiciary's fairness
and objectivity.
While the Court finds it ludicrous that it was the counsel of UCCP, Atty. Poculan, who
sought the inhibition of Judge Doyon, considering that the law firm of the latters son
is his collaborating counsel, still the mandatory prohibition applies. Judge Doyon
should have immediately inhibited himself from the case upon learning of the entry of
appearance of his sons law firm. Where the disqualifying fact is indubitable and the
parties to the case make no waiver of such disqualification, as in the case at bench,
Section 1, Rule 137 of the Rules of Court forthwith completely strips the judge of
authority to proceed.
A.M. No. RTJ-98-1402 April 3, 1998
ONOFRE A. VILLALUZ vs. JUDGE PRISCILLA C. MIJARES REGIONAL TRIAL
COURT, BRANCH 108, PASAY CITY.
Facts: Judge Mijares took cognizance of and decided a petition for correction of
entry in the birth record of her grandson, Joshua Anthony M. Gurango, the child of
her daughter Ma Pilita M. Gurango, notwithstanding such close relationship; and this
notwithstanding the fact that even if said petition had regularly been raffled off to her
sala, should have made her refuse the assignment and procure the transfer of the
case to any of the five other branches of the Court equally qualified to take over and
decide the case; and she also dispensed with the required publication of the petition

which sought to correct the entry of the subject's citizenship from the stated "Filipino"
to "American."
Held: Being related within the sixth degree of consanguinity to one of the parties, it
was mandatory for respondent to have inhibited herself from hearing the case. While
respondent or her daughter may not have pecuniary interest in the case as heir,
legatee, creditor or otherwise, which is her contention for her exculpation, what is
violated in Section 1 of Rule 137 was her taking cognizance of the case despite her
relationship to a party within the sixth degree of consanguinity or affinity.
Apart from the rules already cited, respondent violated Rule 2.03, Canon 2 of Code
of Judicial Conduct which states that: "A Judge shall not allow family, social or other
relationships to influence judicial conduct or judgment. The prestige of judicial office
shall not be used or tent to advance the private interests of others, nor convey or
permit others to convey the impression that they are in a special position to influence
the judge."
Even on the assumption that the petition for correction of entry of respondent's
grandson is not controversial in nature, this does not detract from the fact that she
cannot be free from bias or partiality in resolving the case by reason of her close
blood relationship to him. In fact, bias was clearly demonstrated when she waived
the requirement of publication of the petition on the dubious ground of enabling the
patents of the minor (her daughter and son-in-law) to save the publication fee as
they were then just "starting to have a family."