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Case # 1

Topic: Canons 2 and 4


FIRST DIVISION
A.M. No. MTJ131823, March 19, 2014
P/SR. INSP. TEDDY M. ROSQUETA, Complainant, v. JUDGE
JONATHAN A. ASUNCION, MUNICIPAL TRIAL COURT IN
CITIES, BRANCH 2, LAOAG CITY, Respondent.
DECISION
BERSAMIN, J.:
The members of the Bench are one of the pillars of our justice system. They
must strive to observe the highest standards of integrity and probity in their
professional and personal lives. The public has the right to expect an
unimpeachable bearing from them. This expectation is not limited to their
judgments, but extends to their public demeanor, and should stand to the
closest of scrutiny. They deserve to be condignly sanctioned otherwise.
Antecedents
On July 2, 2008, complainant Police Sr. Insp. Teddy M. Rosqueta, then
Deputy Chief of Police of Bacarra, Ilocos Norte, filed an affidavit
complaint charging respondent Presiding Judge Jonathan A. Asuncion of
the Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC), Branch 2, in Laoag City,
Ilocos Norte with grave misconduct and violation of the New Code of
Judicial
Conduct,
specifically
Canon
2,
Rule
2.01.1
The

antecedents

of

the

charge

follow.

At about 4:30 pm of April 25, 2008, Chief Insp. Jericho Baldeo, the Chief
of Police of Bacarra, received a report about persons armed with firearms in
the house of one Alex Asuncion. Chief Insp. Baldeo dispatched Sr. Insp.
Rosqueta and other members of the Bacarra Municipal Police Station to
verify the report. Sr. Insp. Rosqueta and his team proceeded to the area,
where they found two shirtless males with guns tucked on their waists and
immediately apprehended them for illegally possessing firearms, magazines
and ammunitions. The arrestees were identified as Fidel Refuerzo and Rex
Dalere. The firearm that became the subject of this administrative charge
identified as a DAEWOO 9mm pistol bearing serial number BA 005280
was
seized
from
Refuerzo.2
Based on Sr. Insp. Rosquetas investigation, Refuerzo, a resident of
Barangay 15, Bacarra, Ilocos Norte, worked as an associate/bodyguard of
Judge Asuncion.3 Upon verification at the Ilocos Norte Police Provincial
Office of the Office of the Firearms and Explosives, Security Agencies and
Guards Supervision (FESAGS), Refuerzo was found to be not listed as a
registered or licensed holder of any kind and caliber of firearm. 4
Page 1 of 80

The investigation revealed that the firearm in question had been previously
seized from the possession of one Joseph Canlas during an illegal drugs
buybust operation conducted on August 23, 2005 in Darayday, Laoag City,
Ilocos Norte; and that Sr. Insp. Rosqueta had led the buybust operation
and had seen to the filing on August 24, 2005 of criminal cases charging
Canlas with illegal possession of dangerous drugs in violation of Republic
Act No 9165 (Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act), and with the illegal
possession of a firearm and ammunition in violation of Presidential Decree
No.
1866,
as
amended
by
Republic
Act
No.
8294.
The criminal case for illegal possession of firearms, docketed as Criminal
Case No. 34412, was assigned to Branch 2 where Judge Asuncion
presided.5 However, Canlas moved to quash the information in Criminal
Case No. 34412 on the ground that under Republic Act No. 8294, the
illegal possession of firearms and ammunitions could not be prosecuted as a
separate offense if the firearm and ammunitions had been seized during the
commission of the other crime of illegal possession of dangerous drugs. 6
On September 12, 2005, pending the resolution of Canlas motion to quash,
Sr. Insp. Rosqueta formally moved for the release of the DAEWOO 9mm
pistol bearing serial number BA 005280 for ballistic and cross matching
examination with some other crimes committed wherein a caliber 9mm
pistol was used.7 In his order dated September 13, 2005,8 Judge Asuncion
denied Sr. Insp. Rosquetas motion on the ground that it lacked the
conformity
of
the
public
prosecutor.
On October 5, 2005, Judge Asuncion granted the motion to quash and
dismissed
Criminal
Case
No.
34412.9
On January 16, 2006, then Assistant City Prosecutor Myra Sheila Nalupta
Barba filed a motion seeking the turnover of the DAEWOO 9mm pistol
bearing serial number BA 005280 to the Laoag City Prosecutors Office to
enable said office to act upon the request of the PNP Provincial Office to
include the firearm in the list of PNP properties for the use of PNP
personnel.10 In his order dated April 11, 2006, however, Judge Asuncion
denied
the
motion
for
lack
of
merit.11
Upon the recovery of the firearm some two years after the dismissal of
Criminal Case No. 34412, Sr. Insp. Rosqueta insisted that Judge Asuncion
should have turned over the firearm to the PNP to accord with Supreme
Court (SC) Circular No. 4798, to wit:
7. Firearms being used as evidence in courts will only be turnedin to FEO
(now Firearms and Explosives Division) upon the termination of the cases
or
when
it
is
no
longer
needed
as
evidence.
Strict compliance herewith is enjoined.
Sr. Insp. Rosqueta also contended that Judge Asuncion committed serious
misconduct because he had shown malicious interest in the firearm by
allowing his bodyguard to take possession of the firearm.
In his comment dated October 24, 2008,12 Judge Asuncion maintained that
he did not commit any indiscretion in denying the motions to withdraw the
exhibits in Criminal Case No. 34412; that SC Circular No. 4798 did not
Page 2 of 80

apply because the information in Criminal Case No. 34412 had been
quashed, leaving the firearm as unoffered evidence; that the reasons
proffered by Sr. Insp. Rosqueta and the Office of the City Prosecutor were
unavailing, because the firearm could neither be forfeited in favor of the
Government nor released to the Firearms and Explosives Division if the
information, being void, did not validly charge Canlas with the alleged
crime; that the firearm still impliedly belonged to Canlas; and that Sr. Insp.
Rosqueta had usurped the authority of his superior officer and the City
Prosecutor by taking it upon himself to file the motion to withdraw the
firearm
without
the
consent
of
either
official.
Judge Asuncion recalled that two years after the quashal of the information
against Canlas in Criminal Case No. 34412, the clerk of court presented the
firearm to him and inquired about what should be done to dispose it; that he
then contemplated transferring the custody of the firearm to the PNP
Provincial Office, and accordingly instructed the clerk of court to put the
firearm in the trunk of his car;13 that he planned to discuss the transfer with
the PNP Provincial Director on April 21, 2008 before issuing the order
corresponding thereto; that he meanwhile fell ill with acute bronchitis and
underwent medical treatment in the period of April 2130, 2008; that when
he accompanied his daughter to enroll in Baguio City on April 25, 2008, he
asked his brotherinlaw, Randy Esperanza, to bring the car to a mechanic,
but overlooked that the firearm was inside the trunk of the car; that he tried
to call and tell Esperanza about the firearm but he could not reach the latter;
that he called Refuerzo to have him look for Esperanza in the motor shop in
order to instruct him to give the firearm to his sister for safekeeping; that
unable to locate Esperanza, Refuerzo himself took the firearm from the car
with the intention of delivering it to the sister of Esperanza; and that on his
way home from the motor shop, Refuerzo dropped by his (Judge Asuncion)
house, and it was there where the policemen frisked him allegedly for no
reason
at
all
and
seized
the
firearm.14
In the Resolution promulgated on August 4, 2010,15 the Court referred the
administrative complaint to Executive Judge Conrado A. Ragucos of the
Regional Trial Court in Laoag City for investigation, report, and
recommendation.
Executive Judge Ragucos submitted his Investigation Report dated January
11, 2011, wherein he rendered his findings and observations, as follows:
1. Criminal Case No. 34412, People of the Philippines vs. Joseph
Canlas was dismissed on technicality. The firearm subject of the
Information was not yet offered as evidence, hence, the prosecution
was deemed to be still in custody of the firearm. It was with the
Court allegedly for safe keeping. By denying the Motion of the
Prosecution to Withdraw the Exhibit, the respondent judge appears to
have shown undue interest.
2. When the respondent Judge and the Clerk of Court discussed about
what to do with the firearm, it was clear that the court does not need
it anymore. There was no need to discuss it with the PNP Provincial
Director. All that the respondent judge should have done was to
instruct the Clerk of Court to forward it to the Firearms and
Page 3 of 80

Explosives unit of the PNP through the Provincial Director in


accordance with SC Circular No. 4798. The respondent judge did
not do this. Was it because the firearm was no longer in the custody
of the court?
3. There was no need for the respondent judge to bring home the
firearm. It had been safe in the locker of the court for two (2) years.
It was the bringing home of the firearm by the respondent Judge
which was the mainspring of confiscation of the firearm that
seriously tainted the integrity of the judiciary.
4.

In fairness to the respondent judge, there is no substantial evidence


that he delivered the firearm to Fidel Refuerzo and that the latter was
his bodyguard.16

Executive Judge Ragucos recommended that Judge Asuncion be held liable


for simple misconduct and simple neglect of duty; and that a fine be
imposed
upon
him
at
the
Courts
discretion.17
The Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) adopted the findings of
Executive Judge Ragucos. It noted the two opportunities in which Judge
Asuncion could have turned over the firearm long after Criminal Case No.
34412 had been dismissed; that by denying the motions to withdraw the
firearm as an exhibit, it cannot be gainsaid that he took a special interest in
the subject firearm;18 and that it was incomprehensible that Judge
Asuncion supposedly brought the firearm home seven days prior to its
seizure although it had lain undisturbed in the custody of the court for
nearly
two
years.
The OCA recommended the following:
1. This case be TREATED as a regular administrative matter;
2. Judge Jonathan A. Asuncion, Branch 2, Municipal Trial Court in
Cities, Laoag City, Ilocos Norte, be ADJUDGED GUILTY of gross
misconduct constituting a violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct,
and a FINE of TwentyOne Thousand Pesos (Php21,000.00) be
IMPOSED upon him with a stern warning that a repetition of the
same or similar acts will be dealt with more severely; and
3. Judge Asuncion be DIRECTED to turnover within fifteen (15) days
from notice the handgun (cal. 9mm pistol with serial number BA
005280) subject matter of this case to the Philippine National Police
in accordance with Circular No. 4798, unless the same had already
been previously done.19
Issues
Did Judge Asuncion take the firearm and give it to Refuerzo? If so, did he
violate the New Code of Judicial Conduct as to make him guilty of gross
misconduct?
Ruling
After due consideration of the findings and evaluation of Executive Judge
Page 4 of 80

Ragucos, which the OCA adopted, we find that Judge Asuncion took the
firearm and gave it to Refuerzo in violation of the New Code of Judicial
Conduct. Accordingly, we pronounce him guilty of gross misconduct.
1.
Explanations of Judge Asuncion were not entitled to credence
The firearm, then in the custody of Branch 2 of the MTCC, would have
been evidence in Criminal Case No. 34412 to prove the charge of illegal
possession of a firearm and its ammunitions, but its being offered as
evidence did not ultimately come to pass because of the intervening quashal
of the information on October 5, 2005 upon the motion of Canlas. Being
unoffered evidence, the firearm had to be properly disposed of thereafter
either by the Office of the City Prosecutor of Laoag City, whose evidence
the firearm was supposed to be offered in court, or by the PNP, the agency
expressly authorized by law to take custody of the firearm. Under SC
Circular 4798, supra, which was a substantial reiteration of SC Circular 2
dated May 13, 1983,20 Judge Asuncion and his clerk of court in Branch 2
had the ministerial duty and the primary responsibility to turn over the
firearm to the proper office of the PNP (i.e., FESAGS) because it would no
longer be needed as evidence upon the dismissal of Criminal Case No.
34412. A ministerial duty or function is one that an officer or tribunal
performs in the context of a given set of facts, in a prescribed manner and
without regard to the exercise of judgment upon the propriety or
impropriety of the act to be done. 21 However, on April 11, 2006, Judge
Asuncion denied the motion filed on January 16, 2006 by the Office of the
City Prosecutor of Laoag City seeking the turnover of the firearm to the
PNP.
The actuations of Judge Asuncion in relation to the firearm conceded that
the dismissal of Criminal Case No. 34412 did not invest the rightful
custody of the firearm either in him or his court. Yet, the established facts
and circumstances show that he still appropriated the firearm and given it to
Refuerzo, his bodyguard. His appropriation of the firearm would have gone
undiscovered had not the team led by Sr. Insp. Rosqueta seized it from
Refuerzo, who had nothing to do with its proper custody. It then became
incumbent upon Judge Asuncion to explain how the firearm landed in the
possession
of
Refuerzo.
In his comment, Judge Asuncion sought to explain by narrating that he had
instructed the clerk of court to put the firearm in the trunk of his car
because he would take up the turnover of the firearm personally with the
PNP Provincial Director on April 21, 2008. Such explanation would justify
why the firearm had been taken out of the courts custody. The explanation
cannot command credence, however, because it was blatantly implausible.
For one, even assuming that Judge Asuncion would be directly taking up
the turnover of the firearm with the PNP Provincial Director, we cannot
understand why he had to have the physical possession of the firearm to do
so. Also, why Judge Asuncion would himself take the matter up with the
PNP Provincial Director was puzzling considering that all he needed to do
as the judge was to direct the clerk of court to deliver the firearm to the
custody of the PNP Provincial Office, or simply to require a representative
Page 5 of 80

of the PNP Provincial Office to collect the firearm from the clerk of court.
Either alternative would have substantially complied with the directive of
SC
Circular
4798
regarding
the
firearm.
Judge Asuncion would further explain how the firearm landed in the
possession of Refuerzo. He affirmed that when he requested his brotherin
law to bring the car to the mechanic he had overlooked that the firearm was
still inside the trunk of his car after April 21, 2008; and that he remembered
about the firearm being in the trunk only after the car was already in the
mechanics shop. Thus, according to him, after having tried but failed to
reach his brotherinlaw by phone, he had requested Refuerzo to find his
brotherinlaw in the shop and have him take the firearm from the trunk of
the car. However, Refuerzo, who was unable to find the brotherinlaw,
opted to get the firearm himself from the trunk of the car.
The foregoing story of how the firearm came into the hands of Refuerzo
was incredible. To start with, carelessly or forgetfully leaving the firearm in
the trunk of the car after April 21, 2008 was very unlikely for a judge like
Judge Asuncion who had already irregularly taken the firearm from the
effective custody of his court. Equally highly unlikely was for him to
carelessly dispatch the car to the mechanic with the firearm still inside the
trunk. Common experience would have him take the greatest care of the
firearm as if it was his very own, instead, given the dire consequences to
him if it were to be lost. And, thirdly, that Refuerzo should himself retrieve
the firearm from the trunk, and then be caught redhanded by the PNP team
under Sr. Insp. Rosqueta with the firearm in his possession was just too
much of a coincidence. If the story of Refuerzos part was true, his
possession could easily and credibly be explained. But it seems to be far
from the truth, with the records showing that the firearm was seized from
Refuerzo when he was then shirtless and displaying the firearm along with
another
equally
armed
person.
Judge Asuncion did not clarify why there had been a delay of two years
since the dismissal of the criminal case before he and the clerk of court
would think of turning the firearm over to the PNP Provincial Office for the
first time. Although SC Circular 4798 did not so specify, the prompt and
immediate compliance with its directive of turning the firearm over by
either Judge Asuncion or the clerk of court was reasonably expected. The
unexplained long delay could only mean that he had already taken personal
interest
in
the
firearm.
Judge Asuncion took the position that the firearm, unoffered in evidence
because of the quashal of the information, still impliedly belonged to
Joseph Canlas;22 hence, the directive of SC Circular 4798 for the turnover
of the firearm to the PNP did not apply to the firearm involved here. His
position is clearly untenable. Firstly, he had no discretion to withhold the
firearm from the PNP and to return it instead to Canlas, who held no license
or authority to possess it. Indeed, the turnover to the PNP was based on the
clear and straightforward text and tenor of SC Circular 4798 Firearms
being used as evidence in courts will only be turnedin to FEO (now
Firearms and Explosives Division) upon the termination of the cases or
when it is no longer needed as evidence. And, secondly, he did not
sincerely believe in his own position, because he did he not order the return
Page 6 of 80

of the firearm to Canlas upon the dismissal of Criminal Case No. 34412.
The foregoing incongruities contained in Judge Asuncions explanation
inevitably lead us to conclude that he took a personal interest in the firearm
and appropriated it. Accountability for his actuations is inescapable for him.
He was guilty of misusing evidence entrusted to his court. He thereby did
not live up to the exacting standards prescribed by the New Code of
Judicial Conduct, specifically its Canon 2 and Canon 4, viz:
CANON 2
INTEGRITY
Integrity is essential not only to the proper discharge of the judicial office
but
also
to
the
personal
demeanor
of
judges.
Section 1. Judges shall ensure that not only is their conduct above reproach,
but that it is perceived to be so in the view of a reasonable observer.
Sec. 2. The behavior and conduct of judges must reaffirm the peoples faith
in the integrity of the judiciary. Justice must not merely be done but must
also be seen to be done.
CANON 4
PROPRIETY
Propriety and the appearance of propriety are essential to the performance
of
all
the
activities
of
a
judge.
Section 1. Judges shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of
impropriety in all of their activities.
The admonition that judges must avoid not only impropriety but also the
appearance of impropriety is more sternly applied to lower court
judges.23 Indeed, judges are reminded that after having accepted their
exalted position in the Judiciary, they owe to the public to uphold the
exacting standards of conduct demanded of them. The circumstances
obtaining here seriously tainted the good image and reputation of the
Judiciary, even as it reflected badly on Judge Asuncions personal and
official reputation. As this Court held in Re: Josefina V. Palon,24 the
conduct required of court personnel, from the Presiding Judge to the
lowliest clerk, must always be beyond reproach and circumscribed with the
heavy burden of responsibility as to let them be free from any suspicion
that
could
taint
the
judiciary.
Section 8, Rule 140 of the Rules of Court classifies violations of the Code
of Judicial Conduct under the category of gross misconduct. We have
defined gross misconduct as a transgression of some established and
definite rule of action, more particularly, unlawful behavior or gross
negligence by the public officer.25 Gross misconduct involves corruption,
or an act that is inspired by the intention to violate the law, or that is a
persistent disregard of wellknown rules.26 Needless to state, any gross
Page 7 of 80

misconduct seriously undermines the faith and confidence of the people in


the Judiciary.27 A further reading of the rule provides the penalties therefor,
to wit:
Section 11. Sanctions. A. If the respondent is guilty of a serious charge,
any
of
the
following
sanctions
may
be
imposed:
1. Dismissal from the service, forfeiture of all or part of the benefits as the
Court may determine, and disqualification from reinstatement or
appointment to any public office, including governmentowned or
controlled corporations. Provided, however, that the forfeiture of benefits
shall
in
no
case
include
accrued
leave
credits;
2. Suspension from office without salary and other benefits for more than
three
(3)
but
not
exceeding
six
(6)
months;
or
3. A fine of more than P20,000.00 but not exceeding P40,000.00
xxxx
Considering that this is the first time that Judge Asuncion committed an
serious administrative offense, we adopt the recommendation of the OCA
to impose upon him a fine of P21,000.00, but have to issue to him a stern
warning that a repetition of the same or similar acts will be dealt with more
severely.28 He should likewise be directed to turn over the firearm to the
PNP in accordance with SC Circular No. 4798 within 10 days from notice,
unless
the
firearm
had
already
been
turned
over.
The objective of disciplining an officer or employee is not the punishment
of the officer or employee but the improvement of the public service and
the preservation of the publics faith and confidence in the
Government.29 Judge Asuncion is reminded, therefore, that the
Constitution stresses that a public office is a public trust and public officers
must at all times be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost
responsibility, integrity, loyalty, and efficiency, act with patriotism and
justice, and lead modest lives. These constitutionallyenshrined principles,
oftrepeated in our case law, are not mere rhetorical flourishes or idealistic
sentiments. They should be taken as working standards by all in the public
service.30
WHEREFORE, the Court PRONOUNCES Judge JONATHAN A.
ASUNCION, Presiding Judge of Branch 2, Municipal Trial Court in Cities,
in
Laoag
City ADMINISTRATIVELY
LIABLE for GROSS
MISCONDUCT for violating Section 1 and Section 2 of Canon 2, and
Section 1 of Canon 4, of theNew Code of Judicial Conduct; FINES him in
the amount of P21,000.00 to be paid within fifteen (15) days from the
finality hereof, with a stern warning that a repetition of the same or similar
act will be dealt with more severely; and DIRECTS him to turn over the
firearm known as DAEWOO 9mm pistol with serial number BA 005280 to
the Philippine National Police in accordance with SC Circular No. 4798
within 10 days from notice, unless the firearm had already been turned
over.
SO ORDERED.
Page 8 of 80

Case # 2
Topic: Canon 3

SECOND DIVISION
BUSILAC BUILDERS, INC. and
ROMEO M. CAMARILLO,
Complainants,

A.M. No. RTJ-03-1809


[Formerly A.M. OCA IPI No. 03-1643-RTJ]
Present:

- versus -

PUNO, J., Chairperson,


SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ,
CORONA,
AZCUNA, and
GARCIA, JJ.
Promulgated:

JUDGE CHARLES A. AGUILAR,


REGIONAL TRIAL COURT,
October 17, 2006
LAOAG CITY, BRANCH 12,
Respondent.
x------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x

R E S O LUTIO N
GARCIA, J.:

This is an administrative case[1] filed by Busilac Builders, Inc. and its


president Romeo M. Camarillo against Judge Charles A. Aguilar of the Regional
Trial Court (RTC) of Laoag City, Branch 12, charging the latter with serious
misconduct, gross ignorance of the law, oppression, grave abuse of judicial
authority and violation of the Canons of Judicial Ethics and Republic Act No.
( R.A.) 6713.[2]
The background facts:
Sometime in 1993, complainant Romeo Camarillo, president of cocomplainant Busilac Builders, Inc., entered into an agreement with the spouses
Anatalio Ramos and Pacita Ramos for the sale to the former of three (3) parcels of
land, denominated as Lot 1, Lot 2 and Lot 3, all situated at Laoag City. Titles
to Lot 2 and Lot 3 were immediately transferred in the name of Camarillo. With
respect to Lot 1, however, only its physical possession was transferred because the
spouses Ramos failed to execute the necessary deed of conveyance therefor
despite Camarillos repeated demands.
Page 9 of 80

On July 16, 2001, Camarillo instituted an action for Specific


Performance against the spouses Ramos before the RTC of Laoag City. The case,
docketed as Civil Case No. 12310, was raffled to Branch 12 of the court, then
presided by its pairing judge, the Honorable Perla Querubin.
Later, Camarillo discovered that out of the total area of 426 square meters
comprising the entirety of Lot 1, the spouses Ramos, under a Deed of Sale dated
February 14, 2001, sold 300 square meters thereof to the following: Esperanza
Tumaneng, 100 square meters; Victoria Balcanao, 100 square meters; and to the
herein respondent Judge who was then a prosecutor, another 100 square meters.
Meanwhile, on August 21, 2001, then prosecutor Charles A. Aguilar was
appointed presiding judge of RTC, Branch 12, LaoagCity where Civil Case No.
12310 was then pending.
Following his appointment to the Judiciary, Judge Aguilar as presiding judge
of RTC, Branch 12, proceeded to hear the case and on April 26, 2002, issued an
Order[3] dismissing the same, to wit:
In today's hearing, Atty. Daniel Rubio appeared for the plaintiff
while Atty. Marlon Manuel Wayne appeared for the defendants.
Considering the ground stated in the instant Motion to Dismiss
to which counsel for the plaintiff could not as yet controvert and
considering further the joint motion of counsels for the parties that the
instant case shall be dismissed without prejudice to give the parties
better opportunities of threshing out their differences out of Court,
which joint motion is not contrary to law, morals, public order or
public policy and the same being meritorious, this instant case is
hereby ordered immediately dismissed without prejudice.
SO ORDERED.
On July 1, 2002, the Register of Deeds of Laoag City issued Transfer
Certificate of Title T-32810 in the name of the respondent judge covering the 100square meter portion of Lot 1 earlier sold to him by the spouses Ramos.
On October 12, 2002, the respondent judge, together with the other coowners of Lot 1, removed the concrete posts and barbed wires installed thereat
by Camarillo. The respondent also caused the leveling of the hilly portion of Lot 1
with the use of a payloader which he rented from the Municipality of Bacarra,
Ilocos Norte.
On October 30, 2002, Camarillo filed a complaint for Specific
Performance, Quieting of Title/Ownership, Declaration of Nullity of Title/s,
transactions and dealings, including derivative ones, if any and Damages against
Judge Aguilar and the other co-owners of Lot 1. The complaint was docketed
as Civil Case No. 12635 in the RTC of Laoag City and raffled to Branch 16
thereof.

Page 10 of 80

As among the defendants in that case, Judge Aguilar appeared in at least two
(2) hearings thereof[4] and therein manifested that for purposes of pleadings he is
represented by counsel but for purposes of appearing in court, he appears for
himself.[5]
In a related development, Judge Aguilar issued a search warrant
on November 10, 2002 against Camarillo. The warrant was issued upon application
of PO2 Rolando Amangao of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group
(CIDG), Laoag City, based on a deposition of a certain Boy Ravena, a civilian
agent of CIDG. Pursuant to the same search warrant, several firearms and
ammunitions were seized by police operatives from the custody and possession
of Camarillo.
It was against the foregoing backdrop of events when, on December 10,
2002, Busilac Builders, Inc. and its president Romeo Camarillo filed the instant
administrative complaint against the respondent judge, charging the latter with the
following:
1.
2

Failure
to
disqualify
and/or
inhibit
himself
from
hearing Civil Case
No. 12310 and ordering its dismissal;
Causing the leveling of Lot 1 in gross disregard of the rule of
law and with grave abuse of power and authority;

Acting as his own counsel in Civil Case No. 12635 before the
RTC, Branch 16, Laoag City; and

4.

Maliciously issuing a search warrant against complainant


Romeo Camarillo for illegal possession of firearms and ammunitions.

In his Comment of March 4, 2003, the respondent judge admitted that while
still a prosecutor of Laoag City, he bought a portion of 100 square meters of Lot 1.
According to him, he bought the area from a certain Diosdado Vergara who
allegedly purchased said portion from the spouses Anatalio Ramos and Pacita
Ramos. He claimed to be a buyer in good faith, having verified the title
covering Lot 1 and found the same to be free from any flaw or defect. He
explained that he acquired that portion ofLot 1 in February 2001 or six (6) months
before he took his oath as presiding judge of RTC, Laoag City, Branch 12. He
maintained that at the time of his appointment as presiding judge, he was unaware
that the subject matter of Civil Case No. 12310 was Lot 1. He added that it was
only before the scheduled hearing of that case on April 26, 2002 when Camarillo's
counsel therein, a certain Atty. Daniel Rubio, informed him that he was a co-owner
of the lot subject of that case. Continuing, the respondent judge averred that he
immediately informed the parties to that case of his co-ownership of Lot 1 and
inquired from the two (2) opposing counsels, Attys. Rubio and Manuel, whether he
should inhibit himself from hearing Civil Case No. 12310 but both counsels told
him that there was no need for him to inhibit and disqualify himself from hearing
the case inasmuch as the parties therein were trying to settle the suit amicably.[6]
Anent his dismissal order of April 26, 2002 in that case, the respondent judge
claimed that he issued the same at the instance of both counsels who moved for the
dismissal of Civil Case No. 12310 to give them opportunities to thresh out the
differences of their respective clients out of court.

Page 11 of 80

While admitting to having caused the leveling of Lot 1 with the use of a
payloader, the respondent judge insisted that he, along with his co-owners of the
same lot, were merely exercising their respective rights of ownership. He stressed
that the leveling of that lot was even made in the presence and with the assistance
of the chairman and officials of Barangay 54-B of Camangaan, Laoag City, adding
that the payloader used in the leveling work was paid for by all the co-owners
of Lot 1 and not by himself alone.
While not denying having appeared twice as counsel for himself during the
hearing of Civil Case No. 12635 where he was one of the defendants, he explained
that the only reason for his appearance thereat was to make manifestation before
the court hearing that case (RTC, Branch 16), that he had retained a counsel for
purposes of signing the necessary pleadings therein.
On complainants allegations that he arbitrarily issued a search warrant
against Camarillo, the respondent judge averred that before the warrant was issued,
he conducted the required searching inquiry on CIDG civilian agent Boy Ravena
who claimed to have seen Camarillo carrying several firearms on the latters way
to a farmhouse and likewise upon the person of PO2 Rolando Amangao who
verified that Camarillo did not secure the necessary license for the firearms. The
respondent judge made it clear that it was only after having been convinced of the
existence of probable cause against Camarillo and the urgent necessity for the
issuance of the search warrant applied for, that he issued the same against
Camarillo for violation of Presidential Decree 1866 (Illegal Possession of Firearms
and Ammunitions).
Seeking exculpation from the charges filed against him, the respondent judge
asserted that he did not, in any, way abuse his authority
nor did he commit any misconduct, much less violate the Canons of Judicial
Ethics, the Code of Judicial Conduct and the Code of Conduct and Ethical
Standards for Public Officials and Employees. He summed up the accusations
against him as false and a mere fabrication of the herein complainants.
On October 8, 2003, the Court resolved to re-docket the case as a regular
administrative matter and referred the same to the Court of Appeals (CA) for
investigation, report and recommendation.[7] Eventually, the case was raffled to CA
Associate Justice Regalado E. Maambong.
In his Report[8] dated May 31, 2004, the Investigating Justice made the
following findings and recommendations:
(1)

respondents failure to inhibit himself from hearing Civil Case


No. 12310 and his issuance of the Order of Dismissal dated April 26,
2002 constitute a violation of Paragraph 28 of the Canons of Judicial
Ethics[9] and Canon 3, Rule 3.12 of the Code of Judicial Conduct;[10]

(2)

respondent's participation in the leveling of Lot 1 constitutes


a violation of Paragraph 3 of the Canons of Judicial Ethics[11] and
Canon 2, Rule 2.01 of the Code of Judicial Conduct;[12]

(3)

the charge that respondent engaged in the private practice


of law by appearing as counsel for himself in Civil Case No.
12635 should be dismissed for lack of factual and legal basis; and

Page 12 of 80

(4)

the charge of grave abuse of authority for having issued a search


warrant should also be dismissed for lack of merit.

On the basis of the above, the Investigating Justice recommended that the
respondent judge be fined in the amount of Four Thousand Pesos (P4,000.00) and
warned that a repetition of the same acts will be dealt with more severely.
For its part, the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA), to which the report
of the CA Investigating Justice was referred for review in its Memorandum
of September 7, 2005, recommended that the respondent judge be: (1) suspended
for one month without pay for failing to inhibit himself in Civil Case No. 12310,
for ordering its dismissal, and for participating in the leveling of Lot 1; (2)
reprimanded for appearing as his own counsel in Civil Case No. 12635; and (3)
exonerated for grave abuse of authority in issuing a search warrant but warned that
similar infractions in the future will be dealt with more severely.
After reviewing the separate Report of the CA Investigating Justice and
the OCAs aforementioned Memorandum, the Court finds the actions therein
recommended to be well-taken.
On the first charge:
There is no dispute that Judge Aguilar is a registered owner of 100
square meters of Lot 1 which was the subject matter of Civil Case No. 12310 then
pending before his court. Rule 3.12 of Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial Conduct
specifically provides that a judge should take no part in any proceeding where the
judges impartiality might reasonably be questioned. On the other hand, the
Canons of Judicial Ethics mandates that a judge should abstain from
participating in any judicial act in which his personal interests are involved. If he
has personal litigation in the court of which he is a judge, he need not resign his
judgeship on that account, but should of course refrain from any judicial act in
such controversy.
There was a definite violation by the respondent judge of the above canons
when he continued to hear Civil Case No. 12310and ordered its dismissal.
Undeniably, he had a personal and direct interest in the subject matter thereof.
Worth reiterating herein is the observation of the Investigating Justice:
It is a well-established principle, applicable in criminal
and civil cases, that no judge or member of a tribunal should sit in
any case in which he is directly or indirectly interested. A case
wherein a judge is interested is one wherein, to an extent and in
effect, the case becomes his own. xxx
It [is] well-settled also that a judge is disqualified to
sit in an action where he has any pecuniary interest in its result. Or
owns property that will be affected by its outcome. A disqualifying
pecuniary interest or property interest is an interest in the event or
subject matter of the action or in the judgment to be rendered therein
such that by the judgment the judge will be directly affected by a
pecuniary gain or loss.[13]
Page 13 of 80

By not immediately inhibiting himself from Civil Case No. 12310 and,
worse, eventually dismissing the same, the respondent judge thereby created the
impression that he intended to advance his own personal interest and ensure that
the outcome of the litigation would be favorable to him. A judge should strive to be
at all times wholly free, disinterested, impartial and independent. He has both the
duty of rendering a just decision and the duty of doing it in a manner completely
free from suspicion as to its fairness and as to its integrity.[14] A critical component
of due process is a hearing before an impartial and disinterested tribunal, for all the
other elements of due process, like notice and hearing, would be meaningless if the
ultimate decision would come from a partial and biased judge.[15]
Judge Aguilar's excuse that he immediately informed the parties and their
respective counsels of his co-ownership of Lot 1 and even asked them whether he
should inhibit or disqualify himself cannot justify his continuous trial of the
case. What he should have done the moment he became aware that Lot 1 was the
crux of the controversy in Civil Case No. 12310 was to forthwith disqualify
himself therefrom and have the case re-raffled to another branch of the court. His
reluctance to let go of the case all the more induced doubts and suspicions as to his
honest actuations, probity and objectivity. Evidently, the respondent violated the
clear injunction embodied in the Code and the Canons.
Further, Section 1 of Rule 137 of the Rules of Court explicitly provides:
SECTION 1. Disqualification of judges. No judge or
judicial officer shall in any case in which he, or his wife or child, is
pecuniarily interested as heir, legatee, creditor, or otherwise, or in
which he is related to either party within the sixth degree of
consanguinity or affinity, or to counsel within the fourth degree,
computed according to the rules of civil law, or in which he has been
executor, administrator, guardian, trustee or counsel, or in which he
has presided in any inferior court when his ruling or decision is the
subject of review, without the written consent of all parties in interest,
signed by them and entered upon the record.
A judge may, in the exercise of his sound discretion, disqualify
himself from sitting in a case, for just or valid reasons other than those
mentioned above. (Emphasis ours)
The prohibition under the aforequoted provision of the Rules is clear. The
disqualification is mandatory,[16] and gives the judicial officer concerned no
discretion but to inhibit himself from trying or sitting in a case. [17] The rationale
therefor is to preserve the people's faith and confidence in the judiciary's fairness
and objectivity.[18] 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. [19] Judge
Aguilar thus had no option but to inhibit himself from Civil Case No. 12310. In
failing to inhibit himself from that case, the respondent judge clearly failed to live
up to the exacting standards required of him as a member of the judiciary.
On the second charge:
Complainants alleged that they were in possession of Lot 1 as in fact they
fenced the entire lot area with concrete posts and barbed wires. Hence, when the
Page 14 of 80

respondent judge entered the premises of Lot 1 and willfully removed the wires
and posts installed thereat, he committed an unlawful act. Worse, he also
spearheaded the leveling of the lot in a sheer display of abuse of authority and
oppression.
Canon 2 of the Code of Judicial Conduct decrees that a judge should avoid
impropriety and appearance of impropriety in all his activities. Specifically, Rule
2.01 mandates that a judge should so behave at all times as to promote public
confidence in the impartiality of the judiciary. This includes a judges behavior not
only in the performance of his judicial duties but also in his private capacity.
Here, the respondent judges leveling of Lot 1 by himself is improper for the
extolled office of a magistrate of the law.Doubtless, his behavior was a conduct
unbecoming of a judicial officer that erodes public confidence in the judiciary
considering thatLot 1 was the very subject matter of a case which he previously
tried and ordered dismissed.
The judicial office circumscribes the personal conduct of a magistrate and
imposes a number of restrictions. This is a price that judges have to pay for
accepting and occupying their exalted position in the administration of justice.
Irresponsible or improper conduct on their part erodes public confidence in the
judiciary. Thus, it is their duty to avoid any impression of impropriety in order to
protect the image and integrity of the judiciary.[20]
As it were, the respondent judge practically took the law into his own hands
when he entered and caused the leveling of Lot 1. As a judge and a former
practitioner and prosecutor, he ought to know that there are laws which provide for
appropriate judicial remedies by which a registered lot owner can take possession
of the lot that is being claimed by another person. Articles 433 and 539 of the Civil
Code pertinently provide:
Art. 433. Actual possession under claim of ownership
raises a disputable presumption of ownership. The true owner must
resort to judicial process for the recovery of the property.
Art. 539. Every possessor has a right to be respected in
his possession; and should he be disturbed therein he shall be
protected in or restored to said possession by the means established
by the laws and the Rules of Court.
Again, the respondent judges excuse that he was merely asserting his right
over the subject lot cannot justify his actuations. He ought to have known that such
demeanor from one occupying the position of judge will not be treated as a mere
ordinary action but will be regarded with much circumspection. The respondent
should have realized that under the circumstances, the public would expect him to
behave with patience, sound judgment and in a manner befitting the dignity of such
exalted and delicate office. That Judge Aguilar opted to remove the fences and
level the lot himself indicates improper use of his judgeship for which he should be
held administratively liable.
On the third charge:
Page 15 of 80

Complainants averred that the respondent's act of appearing as his own


counsel in Civil Case No. 12635 is a form of private practice of law which is
expressly prohibited by the Code of Judicial Conduct and the Rules of Court.
The Court agrees with the observation of the CA Investigating Justice that
the respondent judge did not engage in the practice of law when he twice appeared
as his own counsel in Civil Case No. 12635. As correctly ratiocinated by the
Investigating Justice:
However, it should be clarified that prohibited private practice
of a profession is more than an isolated court appearance, for it
consists in frequent or customary action, a succession of acts of the
same nature habitually or customarily holding one's self to the public
as a lawyer.
In the instant case, Respondent Judge Aguilar's appearances
as counsel for himself in the previous hearings or in the two (2)
hearings in Civil Case No. 12635 as stated by Complainants per their
Manifestation dated 06 October 2003, constitutes an isolated court
appearance. It must be noted that Respondent Judge also appeared in
that case as one of the defendants therein, and that another counsel
prepared and represented him in the pleadings. Respondent Judge's
act of asking permission from the Supreme Court to appear as
counsel for himself, although made after his appearances in court
shows no trace of malice and bad faith on his part.[21] (Emphasis ours)
The respondent judges appearance on two occasions in Civil Case No.
12635 is not conclusive and determinative of engagement in the private practice of
law. Essentially, the term private practice of law implies that one must have
presented himself to be in the active and continued practice of the legal profession
and that his professional services are available to the public for a compensation, as
a source of his livelihood or in consideration of said services. [22] Clearly, then, the
isolated instances when the respondent judge appeared as counsel for himself
in Civil Case No. 12635 do not constitute the private practice of the legal
profession as contemplated by law.
Nonetheless, while the respondent's isolated court appearances did not
amount to private practice of law, he failed to obtain a written permission from this
Court prior to his court appearances, in violation of Section 12, Rule XVIII of the
Revised Civil Service Rules, which states:
Sec. 12. No officer or employee shall engage directly in
any private business, vocation, or profession or be connected with
any
commercial,
credit,
agricultural,
or
industrial
undertaking without a written permission from the head of the
Department: Provided, That this prohibition will be absolute in
the case of those officers and employees whose duties and
responsibilities require that their entire time be at the disposal of
the Government; Provided, further, That if an employee is granted
permission to engage in outside activities, time so devoted outside of
office hours should be fixed by the agency to the end that it will not
impair in any way the efficiency of the officer or employee:And
Page 16 of 80

provided, finally, that no permission is necessary in the case of


investments, made by an officer or employee, which do not involve
real or apparent conflict between his private interests and public
duties, or in any way influence him in the discharge of his duties, and
he shall not take part in the management of the enterprise or become
an officer of the board of directors. (Emphasis ours)
Judge Aguilar entered his appearance and attended court
proceedings in Civil Case No. 12635 on September 23 and 29, 2003 as borne out
by his own admission, without securing a prior written permission from this Court.
It was only after such appearances when he sought permission which this Court
denied. Further, the public expects him to devote full time to his judicial work.
Well-taken, therefore, is the OCA recommendation that the respondent judge
merits reprimand.
On the fourth charge:
Complainant Camarillo assailed the respondent judges issuance of a search
warrant against him as arbitrary and with evident bad faith because the warrant was
issued on a Sunday and the existence of probable cause was not duly established.
To him, the warrant was obviously issued to harass and oppress him.
We are not persuaded. Applications for search warrants may be entertained
even during Sundays so long as there exists an urgent necessity to do so. This is
allowed under Administrative Circular No. 19[23] which provides:
3. Applications filed after office hours, during Saturdays,
Sundays and holidays shall likewise be taken cognizance of and
acted upon by any judge of the court having jurisdiction of the
place to be searched, but in such cases the applicant shall certify
and state the facts under oath, to the satisfaction of the judge,
and its issuance is urgent.
The respondent judge explained that he was the only judge available on that
Sunday of November 10, 2002. We cannot, therefore, fault him for issuing the
warrant on that day, let alone his explanation that he had satisfied himself as to the
urgency for its issuance based on his personal examination of the deponent, PO2
Amangao, and the witness, Boy Ravena.
The determination of whether probable cause exists as to justify the issuance
of a search warrant is best left to the sound discretion of a judge. Generally, this
Court is loath to interfere in the judges discretion in determining probable cause
unless such discretion is shown to have been abused. [24] Here, no solid evidence
was presented to show that the respondent judge gravely abused his discretion in
issuing the search warrant in question. He conducted a thorough and extensive
inquiry upon the deponent and his witness as required by the Rules on Criminal
Procedure in order to establish probable cause and the justification for the
application.
Nor can we accept Camarillos allegation that the respondent judge issued
the warrant in bad faith and as a form of harassment and oppression. The pleadings
before us are simply bereft of any indication supportive of the allegation. Quite the
Page 17 of 80

contrary, we find the respondent judge to have faithfully observed the procedure
prescribed by law and the Rules in the issuance of the search warrant.
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the Court finds the respondent judge:
(1) GUILTY of violating Section 1 of Rule 137 of the Rules of Court and
Rule 3.12 of Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial Conduct for his failure to disqualify
and inhibit himself in Civil Case No. 12310 and for ordering its dismissal, for
which he issuspended for three (3) months without pay in accordance
with Section 11 of Rule 140 of the Rules of Court;
(2) GUILTY of impropriety for spearheading the leveling of Lot 1,
for
which he is meted a fine of P11,000.00; and
(3) GUILTY of violating the Civil Service Rules for appearing as counsel
in two hearings of Civil Case No. 12635 without prior permission from this Court,
for which he is reprimanded with a warning that a repetition of the same shall be
dealt with more severely;
For lack of merit, the charge of oppression and evident bad faith in
connection
with
the
issuance
of
a
search
warrant against
complainant Camarillo is DISMISSED.
SO ORDERED.

Case # 3
Page 18 of 80

Topic: Section 24 of the Canons of Judicial Ethics

EN BANC
[A.C. No. 137-J. March 27, 1971.]
MARCIANA BUENAVENTURA, Complainant, v. HON. MARIANO V.
BENEDICTO, Respondent.
SYLLABUS
1. JUDICIAL, ETHICS; REMOVAL OF JUDGES; GROUNDS; SERIOUS
MISCONDUCT; WITHOUT SUFFICIENT BASIS. Section 67 of Republic Act
296. as amended provides two grounds for the removal of judges: serious
misconduct and inefficiency. The complainant seeks the removal of the respondent
judge on the first ground and enumerates a number of facts allegedly constituting
the imputed charge of serious misconduct, five of which acts the Honorable Justice
Alvendia found unsupported by evidence. The remaining one that the
respondent judge sanctioned the practice of his deputy clerk of court of delegating
to the clerk-messenger the promulgation of decisions of acquittal in criminal cases
fails to fit into the accepted definition of seriousa misconduct. "Serious" means
"important, weighty, momentous, and not trifling," and "misconduct refers to "a
transgression of some established and definite rule of action, more particularly,
unlawful behavior or gross negligence by the public officer. "Misconduct" also
implies "a wrongful intention and not a mere error of judgment." In the face of the
denial by the respondent judge that he authorized Tuazon to promulgate his
decisions plus his explanation why the act complained of created the false
impression that he tolerated the practice of allowing the clerk-messenger to
promulgate his decisions, we have no solid support to hold that the said respondent
judge either acted in wanton disregard of or intended to violate the provisions of
Section 6 of Rule 120 of the Rules of Court We find no reliable evidence on record
to demonstrate that the act complained of was influenced by malice or induced by
an intention to violate the law or spurred by a desire to debase the integrity of the
court.
2. ID.; JUDGES; SUPERVISION OF COURT EMPLOYEES; APPROPRIATE
DISCIPLINARY MEASURES REQUIRED. Although the act charged does not
constitute serious misconduct on the part of the respondent judge as to warrant the
severe administrative penalty of removal from the Bench, we believe that this act
manifest the insouciance of the respondent judge in the supervision of the
atendants of the court who aid him in the performance of his judicial functions.
Assuming as true that the clerk-messenger read the dispositive portion of the
decision in the criminal case involved herein upon order of the clerk of court, the
respondent judge should have, upon notice and knowledge thereof called the
atention of the clerk of court and taken appropriate disciplinary measures against
those who committed the disservice, instilling in them the sense of propriety and
probity required of those who assist in the performance of judicial functions. We
Page 19 of 80

find the inclination of the respondent judge to leniency in the administrative


supervision of his employees an undesirable trait. Oftentimes, such leniency
provides the court employees the opportunity to commit minor transgressions of
the laws and slight breaches of official duty ultimately leading to vicious
delinquencies. The respondent judge should constantly keep a watchful eye on the
conduct of his employees. He should realize that big fires start small. His constant
scrutiny of the behavior of his employees would deter any abuse on the part of the
latter in the exercise of their duties. Then, his subordinates would know that any
misdemeanor will not remain unchecked. The slightest semblance of impropriety
on the part of the employees of the court in the performance of their official duties
stirs ripples of public suspicion and public distrust of the judicial administrators.
The slightest breach of duty by and the slightest irregularity in the conduct of court
officers and employees detract from the dignity of the courts and erode the faith of
the
people
in
the
judiciary.
3. CANONS OF JUDICIAL ETHICS; PROHIBITION AGAINST USE OF
OFFICIAL POWER FOR BUSINESS PROMOTION OR CHARITABLE
ENTERPRISES, NOT VIOLATED IN CASE AT BAR In his proffered
explanation, the respondent judge states that when he assumed office in Branch V
of the Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija, he found the court premises in a
deplorable "state of disarray" most of the records laid out or placed on the floor,
and the rest kept inside unlocked cabinets. He also found no available law books at
hand. Clerk and employees of the Court shared and occupied one table. Twice, the
respondent judge tried to obtain financial assistance for the improvement of the
court premises first, from the provincial treasurer, then, from the Department of
Justice but he received none. Then, the presidents of the bar associations of
Nueva Ecija and other practicing lawyers of the province approached him and
offered suggestions. Thereafter the lawyers decided to create a committee to raise
funds and solicit donations. The respondent judge merely appointed the members
of the committee A careful reading of Section 24 of the Canons of Judicial Ethics
shows that the said section dwells mainly on the prohibition against the use by a
judge of his official power and prestige to persuade others to participate or
contribute to the success of business promotions or campaigns for charity. Briefly,
Section 24 requires a judge to refrain from private business ventures or charitable
enterprises so as not to give occasion for any suspicion that he utilizes the power of
his office or the influence of his name for the success of such undertakings or to
give rise to any situation wherein his personal interest might conflict with the
impartial performance of his official duties. Section 24 thus appropriately and
accurately applied, the act of the respondent judge in appointing the members of
the campaign committee does not fall within its contemplation. To hold otherwise
would countenance an interpretation unduly strained.
DECISION
CASTRO, J.:
On January 9, 1969, Marciana Buenaventura (hereinafter referred to as the
complainant), the offended party in a criminal prosecution 1 for forcible abduction
with rape, and likewise the plaintiff in a civil action 2 for annulment of marriage,
filed with this Court a complaint against the Honorable Mariano V. Benedicto
Page 20 of 80

(hereinafter referred to as the respondent judge) in whose sala both the


aforementioned cases fell, seeking his removal from office on the basis of verified
charges.
Imputed to the respondent judge are: (1) serious misconduct in relation to the
criminal and civil cases; (2) immorality in connection with both cases; (3) gross
inefficiency and incompetence in relation to the criminal action; and (4) knowingly
rendering
an
unjust
judgment
in
the
criminal
case.
The factual incidents preceding the complainants administrative action against the
respondent
judge
are
not
complicated.
On September 13, 1967, the Provincial Fiscal of Nueva Ecija, upon a complaint 3
filed by a sister of the complainant and after conducting the preliminary
investigation required by law, charged Raymundo Mariano and four others with the
crime of forcible abduction with rape committed on the person of the complainant.
The court, with the respondent judge presiding, heard the case on the in merits.
On October 21, 1967, the complainant filed an action against Mariano for
annulment of marriage; this action was docketed in the same court presided by the
respondent
judge.
On November 11, 1968, the respondent judge rendered judgment in the criminal
case, acquitting the defendants for failure of the prosecution to prove the guilt of
the
accused
beyond
reasonable
doubt.
On January 15, 1969, the complainant filed a petition with this Court, seeking to
inhibit the respondent judge from hearing the civil case still pending before the
latters sala. This petition was denied in a resolution dated January 29, 1969.
Returning to the case at bar, on February 8, 1969, the respondent judge filed his
answer, denying the charges imputed to him by the complainant and alleging lack
of factual or legal basis for the administrative complaint. By a resolution dated
February 13, 1969, this Court referred and assigned the administrative case to the
Honorable Carmelino Alvendia of the Court of Appeals for investigation, report
and
recommendation.
Subsequently, on May 6, 1969, this Court, upon the complainants motion for
reconsideration of this Courts resolution dated January 29, 1969 denying the said
complainants petition seeking to inhibit the respondent judge from taking further
action on the civil case, expressed the view of the propriety of the said respondent
judge desisting for in hearing the civil action to better subserve the ends of justice.
In compliance with the aforesaid resolution, the respondent judge, on May 14,
1969, issued an order inhibiting himself from hearing the civil case and from
further proceedings in the criminal action against another defendant not tried with
the
others.
On December 19, 1969, after proceedings and investigation duly conducted on the
administrative complaint, the Honorable Justice Alvendia submitted his report
wherein he states that the complainant failed to prove the charges against the
respondent
judge,
with
four
exceptions,
to
wit:
1. The respondent judge allowed his clerk-messenger, Isauro Tuazon, to
promulgate decisions in criminal cases, in violation of the provisions of section 6
Page 21 of 80

of

Rule

120

of

the

Rules

of

Court.

2. The respondent judge formed a committee to solicit contributions and/or


donation of steel filing cabinets, electric fans, and other office equipment from
private parties for his court in contravention of the spirit of section 24 5 of the
Canons
of
Judicial
Ethics;
3. The respondent judge, considering that the civil case for annulment of marriage
filed by the complainant against one of the defendants in the criminal action
remained pending before his sala, imprudently received the said complainant in his
chambers prior to the promulgation of his decision in the criminal action; and
4. The respondent judge failed to resolve a motion filed by the prosecution for the
suspension of the hearing of the criminal case until after trial and resolution of the
civil case (on the ground that the latter raised a prejudicial question), in violation of
the provisions of section 5, Republic Act 296, as amended. 6
1. Anent the first recusation of serious misconduct, the Honorable Justice Alvendia
found only one among the acts alleged by the complainant as constituting the
charge proved and, therefore, demanding attention by this Court that the
respondent judge allowed his clerk-messenger, Isauro Tuazon, to promulgate
decisions in criminal cases. In this connection, the investigator also found that
Tuazon, on those occasions when the deputy clerk of court delegated to him the
promulgation of the respondent judges decisions in criminal actions, promulgated
only
decisions
of
acquittal.
Tuazon, the report reveals, even testified during the investigatory proceedings that
the deputy clerk of court entrusted to him the promulgation of the decision in the
criminal case involved herein. This testimony remains unrebutted on record.
Furthermore, the investigator found that Tuazon, in this particular instance "went
to the extent of assuming the prerogative of postponing the promulgation of the
decision which, according to the evidence, was not even delegated by the
respondent judge to the deputy clerk of court."cralaw virtua1aw library
All these indicate laxity on the part of the respondent judge in the supervision of
his employees, states the investigator. Continuing, he says that this practice
contravenes the provisions of section 6 of Rule 120 of the Rules of Court and may
lead to incidents "liable to involve, rightly or wrongly, the integrity of the Court
and/or Undermine the peoples faith in the judiciary."cralaw virtua1aw library
In reply, the respondent judge asserts that the documentary and testimonial
evidence show that he entrusted his decision to Tuazon for delivery to the clerk of
court and not for promulgation by the said clerk-messenger. With regard to the
decision in the criminal action involved herein, he explains that he placed the same
in an envelope and sealed it before entrusting it to Tuazon for delivery to the clerk
of court and that he ordered the promulgation of the said decision by the clerk of
court. If Tuazon himself read the dispositive portion of the decision, then he did so
upon the instruction of the clerk of court and not upon his authorization, the
respondent
judge
adds.
Section 67 of Republic Act 296, as amended, provides two grounds for the removal
of judges: serious misconduct and inefficiency. The complainant seeks the removal
of the respondent judge on the first ground and enumerates a number of facts
Page 22 of 80

allegedly constituting the imputed charge of serious misconduct, five of which acts
the Honorable Justice Alvendia found unsupported by evidence. The remaining one
that the respondent judge sanctioned the practice of his deputy clerk of court of
delegating to the clerk-messenger the promulgation of decisions of acquittal in
criminal cases fails to fit into the accepted definition of serious misconduct.
"Serious" means "important, weighty, momentous, and not trifling," 7 and
"misconduct" refers to "a transgression of some established and definite rule of
action, more particularly, unlawful behavior or gross negligence by the public
officer." 8 "Misconduct" also implies "a wrongful intention and not a mere error of
judgment
9"
In the face of the denial by the respondent judge that he authorized Tuazon to
promulgate his decisions plus his explanation why the act complained of created
the false impression that he tolerated the practice of allowing the clerk-messenger
to promulgate his decisions, we have no solid support to hold that the said
respondent judge either acted in wanton disregard of or intended to violate the
provisions of section 6 of Rule 120 of the Rules of Court. We find no reliable
evidence on record to demonstrate that the act complained of was influenced by
malice or induced by an intention to violate the law or spurred by a desire to
debase
the
integrity
of
the
court.
Nevertheless, on this count, although the act charged does not constitute serious
misconduct on the part of the respondent judge as to warrant the severe
administrative penalty of removal from the Bench, we believe that this act
manifests the insouciance of the respondent judge in the supervision of the
attendants of the court who aid him in the performance of his judicial functions.
Assuming as true that the clerk messenger read the dispositive portion of the
decision in the criminal case involved herein upon order of the clerk of court, the
respondent judge should have, upon notice and knowledge thereof, called the
attention of the clerk of court and taken appropriate disciplinary measures against
those who committed the disservice, instilling in them the sense of propriety and
probity required of those who assist in the performance of judicial functions.
We find the inclination of the respondent judge to leniency in the administrative
supervision of his employees an undesirable trait. Oftentimes, such leniency
provides the court employees the opportunity to commit minor transgressions of
the laws and slight breaches of official duty ultimately leading to vicious
delinquencies. The respondent judge should constantly keep a watchful eye on the
conduct of his employees. He should realize that big start small. His constant
scrutiny of the behavior of his employees would deter any abuse on the part of the
latter in the exercise of their duties. Then, his subordinates would know that any
misdemeanor will not remain unchecked. The slightest semblance of impropriety
on the part of the employees of the court, in the performance of their official duties
stirs ripples of public suspicion and public distrust of the judicial administrators.
The slightest breach of duty by and the slightest irregularity in the conduct of court
officers and employees detract from the dignity of the courts and erode the faith of
the
people
in
the
judiciary.
2. Count two surfaced only in the course of the investigation conducted by the
Honorable Justice Alvendia. The complainant bases the second challenge on the
ground that the respondent judge, using his official position and power, formed a
committee to solicit contributions and donations of office equipment for his court
from private parties, in contravention of the provisions of section 24 of the Canons
Page 23 of 80

of Judicial Ethics. The respondent judge vigorously refutes this, denying that he
participated, directly or indirectly, in the fund-raising or in the solicitation of
donations.
In his proffered explanation, the respondent judge states that when he assumed
office in Branch V of the Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija, he found the court
premises in a deplorable "state of disarray" most of the records laid out or
placed on the floor, and the rest kept inside unlocked cabinets. He also found no
available law books at hand. Clerk and employees of the court shared and occupied
one table. Twice, the respondent judge tried to obtain financial assistance for the
improvement of the court premises first, from the provincial treasurer, then,
from the Department of Justice but he received none. Then, the presidents of the
bar associations of Nueva Ecija and other practicing lawyers of the province
approached him and offered suggestions. Thereafter the lawyers decided to create a
committee to raise funds and solicit donations. The respondent judge merely
appointed
the
members
of
the
committee.
The committee, according to the respondent judge, conducted the campaign with
the knowledge, if not with the tacit approval, of the Department of Justice. In fact,
at the end of the campaign, certificates of appreciation were given to those who
assisted the committee and contributed to the success of the undertaking which
bore the official notation of the Judicial Superintendent of the Department of
Justice. Eventually, the committee turned over the books and office equipment to
the District Judge through the clerk of court, who, in turn, officially turned them
over to the provincial government as to form part of the property of the province.
A careful reading of section 24 of the Canons of Judicial Ethics shows that the said
section dwells mainly on the prohibition against the use by a judge of his official
power and prestige to persuade others to participate or contribute to the success of
business promotions or campaigns for charity. Briefly, section 24 requires a judge
to refrain from private business ventures or charitable enterprises so as not to give
occasion for any suspicion that he utilizes the power of his office or the influence
of his name for the success of such undertakings or to give rise to any situation
wherein his personal interest might conflict with the impartial performance of his
official duties. Section 24 thus appropriately and accurately applied, the act of the
respondent judge in appointing the members of the campaign committee does not
fall within its contemplation. To hold otherwise would countenance an
interpretation
unduly
strained.
Be that as it may, we cannot simply ignore the act of the respondent judge and state
that we find nothing objectionable at all in his conduct. True, his well-intentioned
desire to provide the court premises with the necessary equipment motivated him
to accept the suggestion of the lawyers of Nueva Ecija and, then, to appoint the
members of the committee for the campaign. However, for reasons of extreme
probity and delicacy, he should have declined to assume the appointing prerogative
to avoid the slightest hint of involvement personal or official, in the campaign.
To our mind, although the act of the respondent judge in taking part in the
appointment of the members of the campaign committee constitute no serious
breach of judicial ethics, such act nevertheless could engender several
misinterpretations likely to cause doubt that he enjoys no more than normal social
relations with those whom he appointed to the campaign group. The respondent
judge should have avoided any act giving rise to any suggestion calculated to
Page 24 of 80

impair

the

image

of

impartiality

and

independence

of

the

courts.

We, however, find it disenchanting that the respondent judge had to turn to the
private sector for the essential needs of his court when the obligation is the
Governments to provide him the necessities required by the complexity of court
work. Circumstances compelled the respondent judge to do so. The Government
paid no heed to his perfervid pleas for financial assistance in the acquisition of the
equipment necessary for the efficient and productive business of the court. The
Government gave him no support. We, therefore, find no cogent reason to blame
the respondent judge in accepting the help offered by the lawyers in Nueva Ecija to
provide the court with facilities of great utility to the convenient dispatch of court
work.
3. On the third charge, the complainant assails as imprudent the conduct of the
respondent judge of receiving her in his private chambers and of allegedly
discussing with her the merits of the criminal action, considering that at that time
the civil case filed by the complainant still remained unresolved before his sala.
The respondent judge admits that he met with complainant when the latter
requested an audience with him but disclaims that he discussed the criminal case
with her. In fact, the respondent judge alleges that when the complainant tried to
start a discussion on the merits of the criminal case, he told her to refer to his
decision on the said case which he ordered promulgated earlier that day. 10 The
respondent judge further claims that it is his practice not to allow any of the parties
to confer with him on any case pending before his sala without the presence of the
other
party.
In the case at bar, he admits that he made an exception and agreed to receive the
complainant, then accompanied by her sister, sister-in-law, a court employee and a
court helper, in his chambers. He states that he wanted to soften, as much as
possible, the impact of her great in the criminal case. Moreover, he sought to find
out whether the complainant contemplated withdrawing the civil action or was
determined
or
continuing
the
same.
We take note of the laudable practice of the respondent judge of not discussing
with the interested parties any case pending before him. We also take note of the
fact that the respondent judge, in making an exception re the case at hand, agreed
to meet with the complainant in his chambers only upon the latters request and
insistence. Although we are inclined to believe that the respondent judge received
the complainant in his chambers not to discuss the merits of the criminal case but
to assuage whatever emotional ache and distress she felt as a result of the decision
of acquittal in the criminal action and to find out what course of action she
contemplated to take on the civil case in view of the turn of events, we nonetheless
feel that the respondent judge should have precluded any mention whatsoever of
the civil action for the same was then pending before his sala. This conduct of the
judge indicates lack of reasonable discretion. Such conduct, too, more often than
not, party-litigants misconstrue as personally motivated. Many the inferences are,
that may be drawn by suspecting minds from acts of judges overzealously
accommodating
to
interested
parties.
On the other hand, we believe that the complainant was not entirely without fault.
For reasons we do not know, for reasons we cannot surmise, she endeavored with
utmost persistence to see the respondent judge in his private chambers not only
once
but
twice.
Page 25 of 80

We might add here, en passant that the complainant, in her administrative


complaint, also imputed to the respondent judge acts of immorality allegedly
committed when the said respondent judge met with her again in his private room.
She claimed that the respondent judge tried to grab her breasts on the pretext of
looking for contusions. This charge the Honorable Justice Alvendia discounted as
incredible without any factual basis. For on that alleged occasion, the
respondent judge felt weak and weary to receive visitors so much so that he
refused to see another caller, municipal judge Sergio Denoga of Cabiao, Nueva
Ecija. At that time, too, the respondent judges wife was in his chambers, attending
to his needs. Furthermore, the complainants own witness, the court stenographer,
whom she claimed brought her to the respondent judges chambers, denied having
done so. All these compelled the investigator to disbelieve the charge of
immorality
against
the
respondent
judge.
4. The fourth and final charge relates to the respondent judges alleged failure to
resolve a motion filed by the prosecution to suspend the hearing of the criminal
case until after final disposition of the civil action for annulment of marriage. In his
explanation, the respondent judge states that when the prosecution raised the
possibility of the existence of a prejudicial question and asked for the suspension
of the proceedings, he suggested it would be better for him to continue hearing
both the criminal and civil cases. In effect, the respondent judge alleges, such
ruling constituted a denial of the motion for suspension. In fact, he continues, the
prosecution construed the same as a denial of the motion for suspension and the
fiscal neither raised the question again in the subsequent hearings on the criminal
action nor made any reference thereto in his memorandum.
The record reveals that the respondent judge made an earnest effort to act on the
motion for suspension of the hearings on the criminal action. In his honest belief
that the civil case posed no prejudicial barrier, he decided to continue hearing the
criminal case. The only error, if error it may be called, the respondent judge
committed consisted of not denying the motion for suspension in clear and
categorical terms so as not to leave any room for mis-interpretation and
controversy. The respondent judge should have made a formal ruling on the motion
to enable the parties to know the reason or ground for such ruling and to provide
the party aggrieved by the action on the motion sufficient opportunity to avail of
the
necessary
action
for
relief
from
the
ruling.
In the case at bar, however, if the respondent judge really failed to act on the
motion as the complainant points out, then, the subsequent hearings on the criminal
case afforded the prosecution all the opportunity to ask the respondent judge to
make a definitive ruling on the matter. Yet, the prosecution proceeded to the
termination, of the trial, filed its memorandum, and submitted the case for decision
without
any
further
mention
of
the
question.
At this point, we pause to make an observation. We have examined the decision of
the respondent judge in the criminal case involved herein; the same prima facie
appears to be correct. This decision of sixty-six pages includes a complete
statement of the evidence adduced by the prosecution and by the defense, a
painstaking analysis of the said evidence and of the applicable law, and the reasons
why he entertained reasonable doubt as to the guilt of the accused.
Upon the foregoing dissertation, we find that the respondent judge:
Page 26 of 80

1. Has been remiss in the supervision of-his court employees by failing, upon
learning that the deputy clerk of court on three occasions had entrusted to the clerk
messenger the promulgation of decisions of acquittal, to take corrective action and
to
discipline
the
erring
court
employees;
2. Had involved himself in a program to furnish his court, ill-equipped at the time
of his assumption of office, as presiding judge thereof, with the necessary facilities,
by appointing the members of the campaign committee which solicited donations
and
contributions;
3. Failed to exercise requisite care and discretion by receiving the complainant in
his private chambers, considering that the civil case for annulment of marriage
filed by the said complainant (against one of the accused in the criminal action)
was
yet
pending
before
his
sala;
and
4. Failed to resolve in explicit unmistakable terms the prosecutions motion for
suspension of the criminal action based on the ground that the civil action for
annulment
of
marriage
constituted
a
prejudicial
question.
All told, the respondent judge, to our mind, is not guilty of serious misconduct or
inefficiency. We nevertheless are of the considered view that the acts of
commission as well as of omission properly imputable to him, while not
warranting the imposition of any disciplinary sanction, clearly demonstrate the
need for greater care, prudence and discretion in his future actuations.
ACCORDINGLY, this Court admonishes the respondent Judge Mariano V.
Benedicto (a) to exercise close and unremitting supervision over his subordinates,
and (b) at all times to adhere to the full intendment of each and all of the Canons of
Judicial Ethics.

Case # 4
Page 27 of 80

Topic: Canon 30 of the Canons of Judicial Ethics

SYNOPSIS
Acting upon an order to investigate a verified complaint against respondent
judge for: (1) partiality; (2) fraternizing with a party-litigant and lawyer who had a
pending case before him; and (3) ignorance of the basic rules of procedure, Court
of Appeals Justice Marina L. Buzon recommended that respondent be found guilty
on the allegation of partiality and be made to pay a fine, and reprimanded for
failure to comply with Administrative Circular 20-95.
The Court agreed with the findings of Justice Buzon. In denying complainants
Motion to Defer Arraignment but granting his opponents similar motion in another
criminal case filed by complainant, respondent showed his bias and partiality.
Respondents refusal to issue a warrant of arrest against complainants opponent
casted suspicion on his fairness. The fact that the record of the fiscals preliminary
investigation was not submitted to the trial judge is not an excuse. Respondent, on
his own initiative could have ordered its production.
As to complainants contention that respondent frequently fraternized with
complainants opponent in respondents house, court chambers and public places,
the court ruled that the evidence against respondent on this point was insufficient.
As provided for in the Canons of Ethics: it is not necessary to the proper
performance of judicial duty that judges should live in retirement or seclusion.
Respondents act of issuing a TRO without notice and hearing was not just
ignorance of the prevailing rule. To a large extend, it was misconduct, prejudicial
to the proper administration of justice and grave abuse of authority. However, to be
punishable, an act constituting ignorance of the law must not only be contradictory
to existing law and jurisprudence but must also be motivated by bad faith, fraud,
dishonesty or corruption. The complainant failed to make such allegation and,
more important, to offer convincing proof.
SYLLABUS
1. REMEDIAL LAW; CRIMINAL PROCEDURE; WARRANT OF ARREST;
ISSUANCE OF WARRANT ADDRESSED TO SOUND DISCRETION
OF COURT. - The issuance of a warrant of arrest is addressed to the sound
discretion of the court. The judge determines whether there is a necessity for
placing the accused under immediate custody in order not to frustrate the ends
of justice. Such discretion is, however, limited by this constitutional
proscription: [N]o warrant of arrest shall issue except upon probable cause to
be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or
affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce x x x.
2. ID.; ID.; ID.; PROCEDURE IN ISSUANCE THEREOF. - In Ho v.
Sandiganbayan, the Court laid down the proper procedure: (1) The judge
personally evaluates the report and the supporting documents submitted by the
fiscal regarding the existence of probable cause and, on the basis thereof, issue
a warrant of arrest; or (2) if on the basis thereof he finds no probable cause, he
may disregard the fiscals report and require the submission of supporting
affidavits of witnesses to aid him in arriving at a conclusion as to the existence
of probable cause.
3. ID.; ID.; PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATION; FISCAL MAY BE
ORDERED TO PRODUCE RECORD THEREOF. - That the record of the
Page 28 of 80

fiscals preliminary investigation was not submitted to the trial judge is not an
excuse, as respondent on his own initiative could have ordered its production
under Section 8, Rule 112. This was the duty which the respondent refused to
perform, thereby casting suspicion on his fairness.
4.

LEGAL ETHICS; ATTORNEYS; AMICUS CURIAE; ALLOWING


BIASED COUNSEL TO APPEAR AS SUCH IMPROPER. -The
impropriety of allowing Atty. Pajarillo to participate in an action in which he
was neither a party nor a counsel is explained by Justice Buzon in this manner:
Section 36, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court provides that experienced and
impartial attorneys may be invited by the court to appear as amicus curiae to
help in the disposition of issues submitted to it. However, Atty. Pajarillo may
not be considered an impartial lawyer who deserves to be invited as amicus
curiae in Civil Case No. 6681 considering that complainant is one of the
respondents in said case. It should be noted that Atty. Pajarillo is the
complaining witness against complainant in Criminal Case No. 8145 and that
complainant is the offended party in Criminal Case No. 8632 for libel against
Atty. Pajarillo. All of said cases are pending before the court presided over by
respondent, so that the latter must be aware of the existing enmity between
complainant and Atty. Pajarillo.

5. JUDICIAL ETHICS; JUDGES; SHOULD NOT ALLOW FAMILY,


SOCIAL OR OTHER RELATIONSHIPS TO INFLUENCE JUDICIAL
CONDUCT. - A judge should not allow family, social, or other relationships to
influence judicial conduct or judgment. A judicial office should not be used to
advance the private interests of others. Neither should a judge convey or allow
others to create the impression that some people are in a special position to
influence him.
6. ID.; ID.; ID.; NOT COMPLIED WITH BY PARTIALITY IN FAVOR OF
FRIEND.- Based on the foregoing, it is evident that the respondent allowed his
close friendship with Atty. Pajarillo, a former colleague, to influence his
actions. He denied the Motion to Defer filed by the complainant, despite the
latters plea that the arraignment could render moot and academic his appeal
with the justice secretary. Yet, respondent deferred the arraignment of his
colleague, who was faced with a similar situation. He also inordinately delayed
for a flimsy reason the issuance of a warrant of arrest against Atty. Pajarillo.
His actuations in these cases betrayed his bias and partiality in favor of his
friend.
7. ID.; ID.; NOT PRECLUDED FROM SOCIALIZING. - We agree with
Justice Buzons finding that the evidence against respondent frequently
fraternizing with Atty. Pajarillo was insufficient, viz.: On the other hand, the
admission of respondent that he attended two public functions where Atty.
Pajarillo was also present; that Atty. Pajarillo had been in his house twice or
thrice and used his telephone; and that he receives lawyers, including Atty.
Pajarillo, and litigants inside his chambers, the door to which is always open so
that the staff could see that no under the table transactions are taking place, is
not proof that he is fraternizing with Atty. Pajarillo. A judge need not ignore a
former colleague and friend whenever they meet each other or when the latter
makes requests which are not in any manner connected with cases pending in
his court. (Canon 30 of the Canons of Judicial Ethics)
8.

REMEDIAL LAW; PROVISIONAL REMEDIES; TEMPORARY


RESTRAINING ORDER; CAN BE ISSUED EX PARTE. - A TRO can be
issued ex parte if the matter is of such extreme urgency that grave injustice and

Page 29 of 80

irreparable injury will arise unless it is issued immediately. Under such


circumstance, the executive judge shall issue the TRO effective only for
seventy-two (72) hours from its issuance. The executive judge is then required
to summon the parties to a conference, during which the case should be raffled
in their presence. Before the expiry of the seventy-two hours, the presiding
judge to whom the case was raffled shall conduct a summary hearing to
determine whether the TRO can be extended for another period until a hearing
on the pending application for preliminary injunction can be held.
9. JUDICIAL ETHICS; JUDGES; FAILURE TO SUMMON PARTIES ON
APPLICATION FOR TRO CONSTITUTES NOT ONLY IGNORANCE
OF PREVAILING RULE BUT TO A LARGE EXTENT MISCONDUCT. Obviously, respondent intended to delay the conduct of the summary hearing.
This is reprehensible. The Petition filed July 2, 1996 already contained a
Motion for the issuance of a TRO, so his duty to send the Notice did not begin
the following day. Had he sent the Notices on time, he could have set the
summary hearing on July 5. However, he blatantly refused to discharge this
duty. In Golangco v. Villanueva, it was held that the judges disregard of the
Supreme Courts pronouncement on temporary restraining orders was not just
ignorance of the prevailing rule; to a large extent, it was misconduct, conduct
prejudicial to the proper administration of justice, and grave abuse of authority.
However, to be punishable, an act constituting ignorance of the law must not
only be contradictory to existing law and jurisprudence, but must also be
motivated by bad faith, fraud, dishonesty or corruption. The complainant failed
to make such allegation and, more important, to offer convincing proof.
10. ID.; ID.; SHOULD NOT ONLY BE IMPARTIAL BUT SHOULD ALSO
APPEAR IMPARTIAL. - Well-known is the judicial norm that judges
should not only be impartial but should also appear impartial. Jurisprudence
repeatedly teaches that litigants are entitled to nothing less than the cold
neutrality of an impartial judge. The other elements of due process, like notice
and hearing, would become meaningless if the ultimate decision is rendered by
a partial or biased judge. Judges must not only render just, correct and
impartial decisions, but must do so in a manner free of any suspicion as to their
fairness, impartiality and integrity. This reminder applies all the more sternly to
municipal, metropolitan and regional trial court judges like herein respondent,
because they are judicial front-liners who have direct contact with the litigating
parties. They are the intermediaries between conflicting interests and the
embodiments of the peoples sense of justice. Thus, their official conduct
should remain free from any appearance of impropriety and should be
beyond reproach.
11. ID.; ID.; SHOULD PROMOTE PUBLIC CONFIDENCE IN INTEGRITY
AND IMPARTIALITY OF THE JUDICIARY. -A judge must promote
public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary. These
stringent standards are intended to assure parties of just and equitable decisions
and of a judiciary that is capable of dispensing impartial justice in every issue
in every trial.

THIRD DIVISION

[A.M. No. RTJ-98-1416. August 6, 1999]


Page 30 of 80

REYNALDO V. ABUNDO, complainant, vs. Judge GREGORIO E. MANIO


JR., Regional Trial Court, Branch 40, Daet, Camarines
Norte, respondent.
DECISION
PANGANIBAN, J.:
Judges are the visible representations of law and justice. They are required not
only to be objective, but also to appear objective; indeed, every litigant is entitled
to nothing less than the cold neutrality of an impartial judge. Due process would
be meaningless if the ultimate decision in a controversy is rendered by a partial or
biased judge.

The Case

On December 10, 1996, the Office of the Court Administrator received a


verified Complaint[1] dated November 20, 1996, filed by Reynaldo V. Abundo
charging Judge Gregorio E. Manio Jr., (Regional Trial Court, Branch 40, Daet,
Camarines Norte) with (1) partiality, (2) fraternizing with a party-litigant and
lawyer who had a pending case before him, and (3) ignorance of the basic rules of
procedure.
After respondent submitted his Comment on the Complaint, the Court in its
Resolution of September 16, 1998, referred the matter to Court of Appeals Justice
Marina L. Buzon for investigation, report and recommendation. [2] After conducting
an investigation and receiving the Memoranda of the parties, she filed her Report
dated April 30, 1999.
The Antecedent Facts

From the pleadings and the documentary evidence submitted in this case,
Justice Buzon relates the factual antecedents of this case as follows:[3]
Complainant Reynaldo V. Abundo was the General Manager of Camarines Norte
Electric Cooperative, Inc. (CANARECO for brevity). On February 18, 1994, an
Information for falsification of public document, docketed as Criminal Case No.
8145, was filed against complainant before the Regional Trial Court, Branch 40,
Daet, Camarines Norte, presided over by respondent Judge Gregorio E.
Manio. Complainant was charged with having falsified the 1992 Summary
Reports of the annual meeting of CANORECO.
On April 4, 1994, complainant filed a motion to defer his arraignment scheduled
on April 5, 1994, in view of the pendency of the petition for review he filed with
the Department of Justice. At the hearing on April 5, 1994, complainant reiterated
his motion but the same was opposed by the public prosecutor and the complaining
witness, Atty. Jose D. Pajarillo. Respondent denied the motion in open court and
ordered the arraignment of complainant, who then entered a plea of not guilty to
the charge against him.
Page 31 of 80

The petition for review filed by complainant was given due course by the
Department of Justice, which subsequently directed the provincial prosecutor to
move for the dismissal of Criminal Case No. 8145. However, respondent denied
the motion to dismiss filed by the provincial prosecutor in an Order dated May 5,
1995.
On October 20, 1995, an Information for libel, docketed as Criminal Case No.
8632, was filed against Atty. Jose D. Pajarillo for having allegedly uttered
defamatory remarks against the complainant. Said case was raffled to the court
presided over by respondent. In an Order dated December 4, 1995, respondent
suspended the proceedings in said case in order not to render moot and nugatory
the action that might be taken by the Department of Justice on the appeal of Atty.
Pajarillo. Another Order dated March 29, 1996 was issued by respondent
reiterating his earlier Order opting to await the resolution of the Department of
Justice before proceeding with Criminal Case No. 8632.
A petition for injunction and damages, docketed as Civil Case No. 6681, was filed
on July 2, 1996 by the members of the board of directors of CANORECO against
complainant and other employees of CANORECO. Said case was raffled to the
court presided over by respondent. On July 3, 1996, the petition was amended. On
the same date, respondent issued a temporary restraining order enjoining
complainant and his co-respondents in said case from performing any act
pertaining to the office of the General Manager of CANORECO or any other act
pertaining to any other office thereat. The hearing on the petition for preliminary
mandatory injunction was set on July 22, 1996.
On November 27, 1996, complainant filed a complaint against respondent for
partiality, fraternizing with Atty. Jose D. Pajarillo, a party litigant, and ignorance of
the rules on civil procedure.
Complainant claims that respondent and Atty. Jose D. Pajarillo are very close
friends considering that the latter was a former judge in Naga City and the two
used to ride the same car in going to and from Daet and Naga City; that respondent
frequently receives Atty. Pajarillo in his chambers and in his house and that they
are always seen together in public places; that respondent displayed bias and
partiality in favor of Atty. Pajarillo when the former granted the latters motion to
defer the proceedings in Criminal Case No. 8632 by reason of the pendency of a
petition for review before the Department of Justice, but denied his (complainants)
motion to defer his arraignment in Criminal Case No. 8145 on the same ground,
and in allowing Atty. Pajarillo to participate in the hearing on the petition for
preliminary mandatory injunction in Civil Case No. 6681 although the latter [was]
not a party litigant or counsel in said case; that respondent fraternizes with Atty.
Pajarillo, who is the accused in Criminal Case No. 8632 and the complaining
witness in Criminal Case No. 8145, both pending before the court presided over by
the former, and that respondent issued the temporary restraining order in Civil Case
No. 6681 without complying with the provisions of Administrative Circular No.
20-95 which require that the complaint should be raffled only after notice to the
adverse party and that a summary hearing should be conducted before issuing a
temporary restraining order.
Required to comment on the complaint, respondent explained that he denied
complainants motion to defer his arraignment in Criminal Case No. 8145 in view
of the objection of the prosecution on the grounds that said motion was a sham
pleading for non-compliance with the three-day notice rule and there was no
Page 32 of 80

restraining order coming from the appellate court enjoining the arraignment of
complainant; that he deferred the proceedings in Criminal Case No. 8632 against
Atty. Jose D. Pajarillo because the Information [was] not accompanied by copies of
the resolution on the preliminary investigation as well as affidavits or documents,
for him to determine whether probable cause exist[ed] to justify the issuance of a
warrant of arrest, so that he decided to await the action of the Department of
Justice on the appeal of Atty. Pajarillo. He denied having fraternized with Atty.
Pajarillo, although he admitted that when the latter was still a Judge of Naga City,
they rode together in his car going to and from Daet and Naga City but Atty.
Pajarillo shared in the expenses for gasoline. He further claimed that he met Atty.
Pajarillo only in two public functions, i.e. during the IBP elections when the latter
was elected President of the IBP Camarines Norte and when he administered the
oath of office of the Governor and Congressman of Camarines Norte, the latter
being a brother-in-law of Atty. Pajarillo. He admitted having engaged in light
banter with Atty. Pajarillo, other lawyers and party litigants whenever they meet in
the court premises and that Atty. Pajarillo had gone to his house on two or three
occasions when the latter used his direct dial telephone in making emergency calls
to his children in Metro Manila to avoid the inconvenience of lining up for several
hours at the old Camarines Norte Telephone Company in order to make long
distance calls.
In a Resolution dated September 16, 1998, the Supreme Court (First Division)
referred this case to the undersigned for investigation, report and recommendation.
At the hearing on January 7, 1999 for the presentation of the evidence for
complainant, only the latters counsel appeared and manifested that he was
dispensing with the presentation of testimonial evidence in view of the admissions
made by respondent in his Comment. The counsel for complainant submitted the
following evidence, to wit:
Exhibit A Information for falsification of public document against complainant
in Criminal Case No. 8145;
Exhibit B Transcript of stenographic notes taken during the hearing on April 5,
1994 on complainants motion to defer his arraignment in Criminal Case No. 8145;
Exhibit C -- Order dated May 5, 1995 denying complainants motion to dismiss
in Criminal Case No. 8145;
Exhibit D -- Information for libel against Atty. Jose D. Pajarillo in Criminal Case
No. 8632;
Exhibit E -- Order dated March 29, 1996 deferring proceedings in Criminal Case
No. 8632 to await the resolution of the Department of Justice on the petition for
review filed by Atty. Pajarillo;
Exhibit F -- Amended Petition in Civil Case No. 6681;
Exhibit G -- Transcript of stenographic notes taken during the hearing on July
22, 1996 on the petition for the issuance of the writ of preliminary mandatory
injunction in Civil Case No. 6681;
Exhibit H -- Temporary Restraining Order in Civil Case No. 6681.
Page 33 of 80

Respondent interposed no objection to the admission of the exhibits for


complainant, except for the purposes for which they were offered. In view thereof,
all the exhibits of complainant were admitted and the latter rested his case.
At the presentation of his evidence on January 15, 1999, respondent likewise
dispensed with the presentation of testimonial evidence and submitted the
following documentary evidence, to wit:
Exhibit I

--

Exhibit 1-a to 1-K --

Same as Exhibit B;
Pages 2-12 of the transcript of stenographic notes;

Exhibit 2 -Order dated March 9, 1994 of Judge Wenifredo A.


Armenta denying complainants motion to defer proceedings in Criminal Case No.
8145 and directing the issuance of a warrant of arrest against complainant;
Exhibit 2-a -8145;
Exhibits 3 and 3-a -Criminal Case No. 8145

Motion To Defer Proceedings in Criminal Case No.


Motion To Defer Arraignment Other Proceedings in

Exhibit 3-b
Order dated April 5, 1994 denying the motion to defer
arraignment in Criminal Case No. 8145;
Exhibit 4

Same as Exhibit C;

Exhibit 4-a

Cases cited in the Order;

Exhibit 4-b

Motion To Dismiss in Criminal Case No. 8145;

Exhibit 5

Exhibit 5-a
8632;

Same as Exhibit E;
Order dated December 4, 1995 in Criminal Case No.

'Exhibit 5-b
Manifestation of Acting Provincial Prosecutor Eugenio
L. Abion in Criminal Case No. 8632;
Exhibits 66-a to 6-c

Same as Exhibit H;

Exhibit 6-d

July 5 to 11, 1996 issue of Bicol Post;

Exhibit 6-d-1
CANORECO Mess;

Article entitled Security Guard Killed in

Exhibit 6-d-2 -Who is to blame?

Article entitled CANORECO shooting Incident

Exhibits 7 7-a, 7-a-17-c, 7-d and 7-e Order dated July 26, 1996 in
Civil Case No. 6681;
Exhibit 7-b

Ex-Parte Motion To Lift or Quash Restraining Order;

Exhibit 7-c-1 --

Minutes of Special Raffle of Case on July 2, 1996;

Page 34 of 80

Exhibit 7-d-1
Certification of the Branch Clerk of Court, RTC,
Branch 19, Naga City that respondent held sessions therein from July 8-12 and 1519, 1996;
Exhibits 7-d-2 to 7-d-11 Certified true copies of the Court calendar of RTC,
Branch 19, Naga City;
Exhibits 7-f
Certification of Emmanuel S. Dipasupil, Court
Interpreter, RTC, Branch 41, Daet, Camarines Norte stating that Judge-Designate
Emmanuel S. Flores conducted hearing only up to June 25, 1996 and resumed
hearing on July 15, 1996;
Exhibit 8 8-a, 8-a-1 8-b to 8-b-5; 8-c to 8-c-4-- TSN dated July 22,
1996 in Civil Case No. 6681 (Exhibit G)
All the documentary evidence of respondent were admitted, except Exhibits 6-d,
6-d-1 and 6-d-2 for being hearsay.
On February 12, 1999, complainant presented rebuttal evidence consisting of the
following documents, to wit:
Exhibit I

Petition for Injunction in Civil Case No. 6681;

Exhibit J

Amended Petition For Injunction;

Exhibits K L, M
-Court Calendar dated July 2, 3 and 5, 1996,
respectively, of RTC, Branch 40, Daet, Camarines Norte;
Exhibit N

Order dated July 26, 1996 in Civil Case No. 6681.

All the exhibits on rebuttal were admitted. On the other hand, respondent did not
present sur-rebuttal evidence.
Thereafter, the parties submitted their respective memoranda.
Justice Buzon recommended that respondent be found guilty of partiality in
favor of Atty. Jose D. Pajarillo and be made to pay a fine of P10,000; and that he
be reprimanded for failure to comply with Administrative Circular 20-95 xxx.
The Courts Ruling

After careful deliberation, the Court agrees with the findings of Justice Buzon.
First Charge: Bias and Partiality

Denying the Complainants Motion to Defer Arraignment in Criminal Case


No. 8145, But Granting Atty. Pajarillos Similar Motion in Criminal Case No.
8632
Page 35 of 80

Respondent argues that the Motion to Defer complainants arraignment was


absolutely and completely without merit for the following reasons:
(1) Complainants earlier motion to defer proceedings [4] pending the appeal
with the justice secretary was denied by Executive Judge Winefredo A.
Armenta in his Order dated May 9, 1994.[5]
(2) The public prosecutor objected to the Motion because it was filed only
on April 4, 1994, a day prior to the scheduled arraignment in violation of
the three-day-notice rule.
(3) Private Prosecutor Pajarillo also vehemently objected to the Motion,
contending that it was a rehash of the previous Motion which had
already been acted upon in the Order dated March 9, 1994.
(4) Section 4 of Department of Justice Circular 223 prohibits appeals of
resolutions finding probable cause, which have been issued by the chief
state prosecutor or regional state prosecutor, provincial or city
prosecutor.
(5) Counsels excuse that he was ill was not substantiated.
The foregoing arguments are unacceptable. We agree with Justice Buzons
disquisition in her Report, which tackled the above items as follows:[6]
It is true that complainants motion to defer arraignment and other proceedings in
Criminal Case No. 8145 was filed only a day before the scheduled arraignment of
complainant on April 5, 1994. However, Section 4, Rule 15 of the Rules of Court
allows the court, for good cause, to hear a motion on shorter notice, especially on
matters which it may dispose of on its own motion. When the complainant
reiterated his motion to defer his arraignment at the hearing on April 5, 1994, the
prosecution objected thereto on the grounds that the motion was a sham pleading
for non-compliance with the three-day notice requirement and that no restraining
order had been issued by the appellate court. In view thereof, respondent denied
the motion to defer arraignment.
Respondent tried to justify his denial of the motion to defer arraignment on the
grounds that the Executive Judge denied a similar motion filed by complainant in
the same case and that the prosecution interposed an objection thereto. However,
the Order dated March 2, 1994 of Executive Judge Wenifredo A. Armenta denying
complainants motion to defer proceedings in Criminal Case No. 8145 was not in
connection with the arraignment of complainant, in view of the fact that the latter
had not yet been arrested when said motion was filed. Thus, with the denial of
complainants motion to defer proceedings, Executive Judge Armenta merely
directed the issuance of a warrant of arrest [of the] complainant. The mere fact
that an objection to the motion to defer arraignment was interposed by the
prosecution does not warrant the denial of said motion without taking into
consideration the merits of the same. It is interesting to note that the private
prosecutor who joined the public prosecutor in objecting to the motion was Atty.
Jose D. Pajarillo. As correctly pointed out by complainant, he could not have
secured a restraining order from the appellate court enjoining his arraignment
because the motion to defer arraignment had to be resolved first by respondent
before the matter could be brought to the appellant court. The absence of a
restraining order, therefore, does not justify respondents denial of the motion to
defer arraignment filed by complainant. Moreover, it was the first time that
complainant sought a deferment of his arraignment.
Page 36 of 80

On the other hand, respondent suspended the proceedings in Criminal Case No.
8632 and he did not even issue a warrant of arrest against Atty. Pajarillo in order to
await the action of the Department of Justice on the petition for review filed by the
latter for the reason that what was filed by the public prosecutor in said case was
only the Information. xxxx.
Refusing to Issue a Warrant of Arrest Against Atty. Pajarillo

Respondent contends that he did not issue a warrant of arrest in Criminal Case
No. 8632, because the acting provincial prosecutor, Eugenio L. Abion, manifested
that he had not yet determined the existence of probable cause in the case; that he
was waiting for the resolution of Atty. Pajarillos appeal with the justice secretary;
but that he nonetheless filed the Information in order to forestall the prescription of
the offense.[7] Moreover, he did not have in his possession the prosecutors Report
or any supporting documents finding the existence of probable cause.
His explanation is unsatisfactory. Its tenability is disputed by the investigating
justice in this manner:[8]
xxx Respondent argued that the absence of the resolution and record of the
preliminary investigation prevented him from determining the existence of
probable cause as basis for the issuance of a warrant of arrest against Atty.
Pajarillo. It is noteworthy that respondent has the power to require the public
prosecutor to submit the record of the preliminary investigation in order for him to
determine whether there is probable cause to justify the issuance of a warrant of
arrest against Atty. Pajarillo. It does not appear that respondent required the
production of the record of the preliminary investigation of the case against Atty.
Pajarillo. In the order dated March 29, 1996 in Criminal Case No. 8632,
respondent stated that the right to speedy trial is accorded to the accused and not
to the prosecutor and considering that an accused stands alone against the
prosecutory might of the state, the Court must concede to the accused (Atty.
Pajarillo) his right to exhaust all remedies to avoid miscarriage of justice or the use
of the oppressive capability of the prosecution to spare him from unnecessary
expense and humiliation. However, respondent did not apply the same principle to
complainant when the latter moved to defer his arraignment in Criminal Case No.
8145. Moreover, respondents claim that the investigating officer did not find
a prima facie case against Atty. Pajarillo is contradicted by the Manifestation filed
by State Prosecutor II Eugenio L. Abion stating that he found the existence of
probable cause against Atty. Pajarillo, although he initially opted to wait for the
results of the appeal pending before the Department of Justice to afford Atty.
Pajarillo the chance to seek remedy but the Revised Rules on appeal from
resolutions in preliminary investigation provide that such appeal shall not hold the
filing of the information in court.
The issuance of a warrant of arrest is addressed to the sound discretion of the
court.[9] The judge determines whether there is a necessity for placing the accused
under immediate custody in order not to frustrate the ends of justice. [10] Such
discretion is, however, limited by this constitutional proscription: [N]o warrant of
arrest shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the
judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the
witnesses he may produce xxx. In Ho v. Sandiganbayan, the Court laid down the
proper procedure:
Page 37 of 80

(1) [The judge] personally evaluates the report and the supporting documents
submitted by the fiscal regarding the existence of probable cause and, on the basis
thereof, issue a warrant of arrest; or (2) if on the basis thereof he finds no probable
cause, he may disregard the fiscals report and require the submission of supporting
affidavits of witnesses to aid him in arriving at a conclusion as to the existence of
probable cause.[11]
That the record of the fiscals preliminary investigation was not submitted to
the trial judge is not an excuse, as respondent on his own initiative could have
ordered its production under Section 8, Rule 112. This was the duty which the
respondent refused to perform, thereby casting suspicion on his fairness.
Allowing Atty. Pajarillo, Who Was Neither a Party nor a Counsel, to Speak in
Civil Case No. 6681

Respondent allowed Atty. Pajarillo to participate in Civil Case No. 6681 on the
following grounds: (1) that said lawyer could help the trial court understand the
issues involved; (2) that Attys. Pajarillo and Jose Lapak, who were consumers
themselves, appeared as amici curiae, because consumers [were] affected by the
troubles existing in xxx CANORECO, which was the local power distributor in
Camarines Norte; and (3) that counsel for complainant did not interpose any
objection thereto.
The impropriety of allowing Atty. Pajarillo to participate in an action in which
he was neither a party nor a counsel is explained by Justice Buzon in this manner:
[12]

Section 36, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court provides that experienced and
impartial attorneys may be invited by the court to appear as amicus curiae to help
in the disposition of issues submitted to it. However, Atty. Pajarillo may not be
considered an impartial lawyer who deserves to be invited as amicus curiae in
Civil Case No. 6681 considering that complainant is one of the respondents in said
case. It should be noted that Atty. Pajarillo is the complaining witness against
complainant in Criminal Case No. 8145 and that complainant is the offended party
in Criminal Case No. 8632 for libel against Atty. Pajarillo. All of said cases are
pending before the court presided over by respondent, so that the latter must be
aware of the existing enmity between complainant and Atty. Pajarillo.
Based on the foregoing, it is evident that the respondent allowed his close
friendship with Atty. Pajarillo, a former colleague, to influence his actions. He
denied the Motion to Defer filed by the complainant, despite the latters plea that
the arraignment could render moot and academic his appeal with the justice
secretary. Yet, respondent deferred the arraignment of his colleague, who was
faced with a similar situation. He also inordinately delayed for a flimsy reason the
issuance of a warrant of arrest against Atty. Pajarillo. His actuations in these cases
betrayed his bias and partiality in favor of his friend. A judge should not allow
family, social, or other relationships to influence judicial conduct or judgment. A
judicial office should not be used to advance the private interests of
others. Neither should a judge convey or allow others to create the impression that
some people are in a special position to influence him.[13]
Page 38 of 80

Second Charge: Fraternizing with Litigants

Fraternizing Frequently with Atty. Pajarillo in Respondents House, Court


Chambers and Public Places

Respondent admits that he and Atty. Pajarillo became close friends in 1989
when they were both RTC judges stationed in Naga City. Since they both resided
in Camarines Norte, Atty. Pajarillo hitched rides with respondent to Daet,
Camarines Norte in the latters car.
In his Comment, respondent claims that he leaves the door to his chambers
open to lawyers or parties with official court business, whose requests and
complaints regarding their cases he listens to in full view of his staff, who are
witnesses to his transparency and honesty in conducting such dialogues. He also
admits that Atty. Pajarillo has been to his house on several occasions, but only to
make emergency long-distance calls to his children in Metro Manila. He, however,
denies that he and Atty. Pajarillo were frequently seen eating and drinking together
in public places.
We agree with Justice Buzons finding that the evidence against respondent on
this point was insufficient, viz.:[14]
On the other hand, the admission of respondent that he attended two public
functions where Atty. Pajarillo was also present; that Atty. Pajarillo had been in his
house twice or thrice and used his telephone; and that he receives lawyers,
including Atty. Pajarillo, and litigants inside his chambers, the door to which is
always open so that [the] staff could see that no under the table transactions are
taking place, is not proof that he is fraternizing with Atty. Pajarillo. A judge need
not ignore a former colleague and friend whenever they meet each other or when
the latter makes requests which are not in any manner connected with cases
pending in his court. Thus, Canon 30 of the Canons of Judicial Ethics provides:
30. Social relations
It is not necessary to the proper performance of judicial duty that judges should
live in retirement or seclusion; it is desirable that, so far as the reasonable attention
to the completion of their work will permit, they continue to mingle in social
intercourse, and that they should not discontinue their interests in or appearance at
meetings of members at the bar. A judge should, however, in pending or
prospective litigation before him be scrupulously careful to avoid such action as
may reasonably tend to waken the suspicion that his social or business relations or
friendships constitute an element in determining his judicial course.
Third Charge: Ignorance of the Rules on the Issuance of a Temporary
Restraining Order

Issuing a TRO in Civil Case No. 6681 Without Notice and Hearing
Page 39 of 80

Respondent cites circumstances surrounding the filing of the initiatory


pleadings in Civil Case No. 6681 as reasons for his failure to conduct a summary
hearing prior to the issuance of the contested Temporary Restraining Order
(TRO). The amended Petition containing a prayer for a TRO was filed only at 2:00
p.m. on Wednesday, July 3, 1996. The following day was an official holiday; thus,
he contends that Notices for the summary hearing could be issued to the parties
only on Friday, July 5, 1996. The earliest date for summary hearing would have
been Monday, July 8, 1996, but respondent was scheduled to preside over the
Regional Trial Court of Naga City, Branch 19, for two weeks and to return to Daet,
Camarines Norte on July 22, 1996. Hence, the Motion for the issuance of a writ of
preliminary mandatory injunction was set for hearing only on July 22, 1996.
We note that respondent was the only judge who could have legally acted on
the Motion for a restraining order. The Regional Trial Court of Daet, Camarines
Norte, had only three branches. When a special raffle of Civil Case No. 6681 was
held on July 2, 1996, Executive Judge Sancho Dames II inhibited himself from the
case, and Pairing Judge Emmanuel Flores was still in Legazpi City.
Under such constraints, respondent claims that he had to issue the TRO even
without the summary hearing required by Administrative Circular No. 20-95 in
order to prevent great and irreparable injury and damage, considering that a
security guard had been shot to death inside the CANORECO compound.
Again, the investigating justice found the respondents contentions untenable,
as her Report indicates:[15]
In view of the requirement in Administrative Circular No. 20-95 that records of
the case shall be transmitted immediately after the raffle and, in the absence of
proof to the contrary, the record of Civil Case No. 6681 must have been
transmitted to Branch 40 also on July 2, 1996. Considering that all the parties in
said case are connected with CANORECO located at Daet, Camarines Norte where
the Court sits, notice of a summary hearing on the application for a temporary
restraining order could have been issued and served on the parties on July 2, 1996
and a hearing could have been conducted on July 3, 1996. Record shows that
respondent conducted trial of cases on July 3, 1996, as shown by the court calendar
for said date. Granting that the Court did not have sufficient time to have the
notice of summary hearing on the application for a temporary restraining order
served on all the parties on July 2, 1996, respondent could have caused the service
of the notice on July 3, 1996, and set the summary hearing on July 5, 1996,
considering that July 4, 1996 was an official holiday. Respondent was still in Daet,
Camarines Norte on July 5, 1996, as shown by the court calendar for said
date. However, it seems that there was no attempt at all on the part of respondent
to comply with Administrative Circular No. 20-95 as no order setting a summary
hearing on the application for temporary restraining order was caused to be issued
by respondent for service to all the parties. Inasmuch as respondent had sufficient
time to conduct a summary hearing on the application for a temporary restraining
order, there was no valid reason for him not to comply with Administrative
Circular No. 20-95. The holding of a summary hearing prior to the issuance of a
temporary restraining order is mandatory, in view of the requirement that the
application for a temporary restraining order shall be acted upon only after all
parties are heard in a summary hearing after the records are transmitted to the
branch selected by raffle. In other words, a summary hearing may not be
dispensed with.

Page 40 of 80

A TRO can be issued ex parte if the matter is of such extreme urgency that
grave injustice and irreparable injury will arise unless it is issued immediately.
[16]
Under such circumstance, the executive judge shall issue the TRO effective only
for seventy-two (72) hours from its issuance. The executive judge is then required
to summon the parties to a conference, during which the case should be raffled in
their presence. Before the expiry of the seventy-two hours, the presiding judge to
whom the case was raffled shall conduct a summary hearing to determine whether
the TRO can be extended for another period until a hearing on the pending
application for preliminary injunction can be held.
Obviously, respondent intended to delay the conduct of the summary
hearing. This is reprehensible. The Petition filed July 2, 1996 already contained a
Motion for the issuance of a TRO, so his duty to send the Notice did not begin the
following day. Had he sent the Notices on time, he could have set the summary
hearing on July 5. However, he blatantly refused to discharge this duty.
In Golangco v. Villanueva,[17] it was held that the judges disregard of the
Supreme Courts pronouncement on temporary restraining orders was not just
ignorance of the prevailing rule; to a large extent, it was misconduct, conduct
prejudicial to the proper administration of justice, and grave abuse of
authority. However, to be punishable, an act constituting ignorance of the law must
not only be contradictory to existing law and jurisprudence, but must also be
motivated by bad faith, fraud, dishonesty or corruption.[18] The complainant failed
to make such allegation and, more important, to offer convincing proof. The
investigating justice stressed this lapse in her Report:[19]
Nonetheless, complainant has not shown that respondent acted in bad faith or with
malice in issuing the temporary restraining order without a summary hearing. It
has been held that in the absence of fraud, dishonesty or corruption, the acts of a
judge in his judicial capacity are not subject to disciplinary action even though
such acts are erroneous.
Well-known is the judicial norm that judges should not only be impartial but
should also appear impartial.[20] Jurisprudence repeatedly teaches that litigants are
entitled to nothing less than the cold neutrality of an impartial judge. The other
elements of due process, like notice and hearing, would become meaningless if the
ultimate decision is rendered by a partial or biased judge.[21] Judges must not only
render just, correct and impartial decisions, but must do so in a manner free of any
suspicion as to their fairness, impartiality and integrity.[22]
This reminder applies all the more sternly to municipal, metropolitan and
regional trial court judges like herein respondent, because they are judicial frontliners who have direct contact with the litigating parties. [23] They are the
intermediaries between conflicting interests and the embodiments of the peoples
sense of justice.[24] Thus, their official conduct should remain free from any
appearance of impropriety and should be beyond reproach.
The courts exist to promote justice (Canon 2, Canons of Judicial Ethics);
accordingly, the judges official conduct should be free from appearance of
impropriety, and his personal behavior, not only upon the bench and in
performance of official duties, but also in his everyday life, should be beyond
reproach (Canon 3, id.). He is the visible representation of the law and, more
importantly, of justice (Office of the Court Administrator v. Gines, 224 SCRA 262
[1993]; Inciong v. De Guia,154 SCRA 93 [1987]; Dela Paz v. Inutan, 64 SCRA
540 [1975). He should administer his office with due regard to the integrity of the
Page 41 of 80

system of the law itself, remembering that he is not a depositary [of] power, but a
judge under the sanction of law(Canon 18, id.).[25]
A judge must promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the
judiciary. These stringent standards are intended to assure parties of just and
equitable decisions and of a judiciary that is capable of dispensing impartial justice
in every issue in every trial.
WHEREFORE, the Court finds Judge Gregorio E. Manio Jr. GUILTY of
partiality in favor of Atty. Jose D. Pajarillo, for which he is
hereby SUSPENDEDfor two (2) months without pay and ordered
to PAY a FINE of P10,000. He is also REPRIMANDED for failure to comply with
Administrative Circular No. 20-95. He is sternly warned that a commission of
similar acts shall be dealt with more severely in the future. The charge of
fraternizing is DISMISSED for insufficiency of evidence.
SO ORDERED.

Page 42 of 80

Case # 5
Topic: There is bias and prejudice in judicial opinions

[G.R. No. 143089. February 27, 2003]

MERCEDES R. GOCHAN, ALFREDO R. GOCHAN, ANGELINA R.


GOCHAN HERNAEZ, MA. MERCED R. GOCHAN GOROSPE,
CRISPO R. GOCHAN JR. and MARLON R. GOCHAN, petitioners,
vs. VIRGINIA GOCHAN, LOUISE GOCHAN, LAPULAPU REAL
ESTATE CORPORATION, FELIX GOCHAN & SONS REALTY
CORPORATION
and
MACTAN
REALTY
CORPORATION, respondents.
DECISION
PANGANIBAN, J.:
Allegations and perceptions of bias from the mere tenor and language of a
judge is insufficient to show prejudgment. Allowing inhibition for these reasons
would open the floodgates to abuse. Unless there is concrete proof that a judge has
a personal interest in the proceedings, and that his bias stems from an extra-judicial
source, this Court shall always commence from the presumption that a magistrate
shall decide on the merits of a case with an unclouded vision of its facts.[1]
The Case
Before us is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of
Court, assailing the January 28, 2000 Decision[2] and the May 2, 2000
Resolution[3] of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-GR SP No. 54985. The decretal
portion of the Decision reads as follows:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is GRANTED. Accordingly, the
Order dated 13 August 1999 denying petitioners Motion for Inhibition and the
Order dated 20 August 1999 denying the Motion for Reconsideration are hereby
nullified and respondent Judge is hereby inhibited from further sitting in Civil Case
No. CEB-21854 entitled Gochan et. al. vs. Gochan, et al.[4]
The assailed Resolution denied petitioners Motion for Reconsideration.[5]
The Facts
The facts of the case are summarized by the Court of Appeals in this wise:

Page 43 of 80

There is no dispute as to the antecedent facts that gave rise to the instant petition
involving close relatives who are either aunties, nieces and nephews or firstcousins.
On 03 April 1998, private respondents filed a Complaint for Specific Performance
and Damages against petitioners. The case was raffled to respondent Judge
Dicdican and docketed as Civil Case No. CEB-21854.
On 26 May 1998, petitioners filed their Answer with Counterclaim and
affirmative defenses.
On 07 August 1998, before pre-trial could be conducted, petitioners filed a motion
for a hearing on their affirmative defenses some of which are grounds for a motion
to dismiss and therefore may be the subject of a preliminary hearing pursuant to
Section 6, Rule 16, 1997 RCP. The motion was set for hearing on 11 August 1998.
In an order dated 11 August 1998, respondent judge denied petitioners motion
without conducting a hearing. Respondent judge however did not stop with the
denial but went on to rule on the merits of the affirmative defenses, stating as
follows:
[T]he Statute of Frauds does not apply in this case because the contract which is
the subject matter of this case is already an executed contract. The Statute of
Frauds applies only to executory contracts. x x x. For another, the contention of the
defendants that the claims of the plaintiffs are already extinguished by full payment
thereof does not appear to be indubitable because the plaintiffs denied
under oath the due execution and genuineness of the receipts which are attached as
Annexes 1-A, 1-B and 1-C of the defendants answer. x x x. Then, still for another,
the contention that the Complaint is defective because it allegedly has f[a]iled to
implead indispensable parties appears to be wanting in merit because the parties to
the memorandum of agreement adverted to in the complaint are all parties in this
case. Then the matter of payment of docketing and filing fees is not a fatal issue in
this case because the record shows that the plaintiffs had paid at least
PhP165,000.00 plus...
The above ruling is the subject of a petition for certiorari before this Court
docketed as C.A.-G.R. SP No. 49084 which is pending resolution on a motion for
[re]consideration. Because of the pendency of this petition, petitioners filed on 28
September 1998 a motion to suspend proceedings. Instead of suspending
proceedings, the respondent judge set the case for pre-trial on 09 November 1998,
per Order dated 01 October 1998.
On 05 November 1998, petitioners counsel Atty. Rolando Lim filed a motion to
reset the pre-trial from 09 November 1998 to 03 December 1998 on the ground
that he had to go to Japan because of a previous commitment. Atty. Vicente Espina,
who attended the pre-trial to explain Atty. Lims absence, manifested to respondent
judge that the petitioners were willing to explore the possibility of an amicable
settlement. In spite of the absence of handling counsel Atty. Lim and in spite of
Atty. Espinas manifestation of a possible compromise, respondent judge
proceeded with and terminated the pre-trial. And in spite of the manifestation of
Atty. Espina, respondent judge indicated in the pre-trial order he issued that the
possibility (of a compromise) is nil.

Page 44 of 80

After the termination of the pre-trial, respondent judge proceeded to hear the
evidence of private respondents who presented their first witness on direct
examination on 18 January 1999. This first witness was cross-examined by
petitioners counsel on 22 January 1999. Further hearings were set for 28 and 30
April 1999. On 23 April 1999, petitioners counsel Atty. Lim filed an urgent motion
praying that the hearing on 28 April be moved to 30 April 1999 on the ground that
he had to undergo medical tests and treatment on 27 and 28 April 1999, and that
his law partner Atty. Espina would not be able to attend in his behalf because the
latter had to attend his brothers wedding in Kananga, Leyte on 28 April 1999.
Petitioners counsel went to court on 30 April 1999 and was surprised to learn that
his motion to reset the hearing on 28 April 1999 was disregarded and that trial
proceeded with private respondents counsel conducting a re-direct examination of
their first witness and presenting their second witness on direct examination.
During the hearing on 30 April 1999, respondent judge ordered petitioners counsel
to conduct the re-cross examination of the first witness and the cross-examination
of the second witness. Petitioners counsel manifested that he had not read the
transcript of stenographic notes taken during the hearing on 28 April 1999 and was
therefore not prepared for cross-examination. However, when respondent judge
threatened to waive petitioners right to examine private respondents witnesses,
petitioners counsel had no choice but to accede to do what he was not prepared
for.
On 05 August 1999, petitioners filed a motion to inhibit respondent judge from
further sitting in the case on grounds of partiality, pre-judgment and gross
ignorance of the law. The motion was set for hearing on 09 August 1999 at 10:00
A.M.
In an order dated 13 August 1999, respondent judge denied the motion for
inhibition on the ground that petitioners failed to appear to substantiate the motion.
On 16 August 1999, petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration of the order of
denial which the respondent judge likewise denied in his Order dated 20 August
1999, reiterating that petitioners failed to appear during the hearing on the
motion.[6] (Citations omitted)
Ruling of the Court of Appeals
The CA opined that the apprehensions of respondents about the bias or
partiality of Judge Dicdican in favor of petitioners were well-founded. [7] It held that
the totality of the circumstances showed that he had a glaring animosity towards
their case.[8] It further ruled that he had likewise displayed petulance and
impatience in his handling of the case, a norm of behavior inconsistent with the
cold neutrality of an impartial judge.[9]
The CA based its ruling on the following circumstances [10] pointed out by
respondents:
1. Judge Dicdican denied the Motion to Hear Affirmative Defenses filed by
respondents, but in the same Order ruled on its merits without giving them an
opportunity to be heard.

Page 45 of 80

2. The above Order of the judge was too well-prepared to be extemporaneous,


leading respondents to suspect that he was bent on deciding the case in favor of
petitioners.
3. Without indicating for the record respondents objections, Judge Dicdican
admitted all exhibits of petitioners and even allowed their witnesses to answer all
questions, even if he had not yet resolved the applicability of the Statute of Frauds.
4. The judge denied respondents requests for postponements, which were
reasonable and justified under the circumstances. Further, during the April 28,
1999 hearing, he allowed petitioners to present their witnesses even in the absence
of respondents counsel. And, knowing that the counsel was absent when those
witnesses testified in the previous hearing, the judge forced him to cross-examine
them in the subsequent April 30, 1999 hearing.
5. During the hearing for respondents Motion for Inhibition, the judge started
to hear the case before the scheduled time.
6. Judge Dicdican issued a Pretrial Order stating that the possibility of a
compromise was nil despite the pretrial manifestation of respondents counsel
that the parties were willing to explore the possibility of a compromise.
Hence, this Petition.[11]
The Issues
In their Memorandum,[12] petitioners submit the following issues for our
consideration:
1. Whether or not the respondents are guilty of forum shopping in filing two
petitions for certiorari in the CA based on the same order of Judge Dicdican;
2. Whether or not the CA was correct in enjoining Judge Dicdican from sitting in
the case at bar on the ground of bias and partiality;
3. Whether or not filing of a motion for inhibition on flimsy grounds is not a form
of forum shopping.[13]
Simply stated, the issues in this case are as follows: (1) whether respondents are
guilty of forum shopping, and (2) whether Judge Dicdican should have inhibited
himself.
The Courts Ruling
The Petition is meritorious insofar as the second issue is concerned. Judge
Dicdican need not inhibit himself.
First Issue:
Forum Shopping
Petitioners argue that respondents should have raised the issue of Judge
Dicdicans alleged bias and partiality in their first Petition for Certiorari docketed
as CA-GR SP No. 49084, not in the present case docketed in the appellate court as
Page 46 of 80

CA-GR SP No. 54985. For filing two Petitions raising the same issues, respondents
allegedly split their cause of action and thus became guilty of forum shopping.
Petitioners further contend that the elements of litis pendentia or res judicata are
present in the case at bar, because the matter raised in this Petition could have been
taken up in the first one.
We disagree. This Court has already definitively ruled on this matter in GR No.
146089.[14] In its Decision, it was confronted with the very same question raised in
this Petition. At issue then is whether there was forum shopping in the filing of two
Petitions for Certiorari -- one for CA-GR SP No. 49084 and the other for CA-GR
SP No. 54985, the precursor of the present Petition.
The Court made a distinction between the two Petitions filed. The first
involved the propriety of the affirmative defenses relied upon by petitioners
[herein respondents] in Civil Case No. CEB-21 854. [15] The second Petition,
which is the subject of the present appeal, raised the issue of whether or not
public respondent Judge Dicdican was guilty of manifest partiality warranting his
inhibition from further hearing Civil Case No. CEB-21 854.[16]
Below we quote a more important point:
[T]he two petitions did not seek the same relief from the Court of Appeals. In CAG.R. SP. No. 49084, petitioners prayed, among others, for the annulment of the
orders of the trial court denying their motion for preliminary hearing on affirmative
defenses in Civil Case No. CEB-21854. No such reliefs are involved in the second
petition, where petitioners merely prayed for the issuance of an order enjoining
public respondent Judge Dicdican from further trying the case and to assign a new
judge in his stead.[17]
It should be clear that our Decision in GR No. 146089 has become final and
executory with the denial[18] of respondents [herein petitioners] Motion for
Reconsideration therein.
Main Issue:
Inhibition
Although we find that respondents did not commit forum-shopping, still we
gave due course to this Petition on the main issue of inhibition. Petitioners argue
that the CA erred when it ruled that Judge Dicdican should be inhibited from
hearing Civil Case No. CEB-21854 on the ground of bias and prejudice.
A critical component of due process is a hearing before a tribunal that is
impartial and disinterested.[19] Every litigant is indeed entitled to nothing less than
the cold neutrality of an impartial judge. All the other elements of due process,
like notice and hearing, would be meaningless if the ultimate decision were to
come from a biased judge.[20] Section 1 of Rule 137 of the Rules of Court provides:
SECTION 1. Disqualification of judges. - No judge or judicial officer shall sit in
any case in which he, or his wife or child, is pecuniarily interested as heir, legatee,
creditor or otherwise, or in which he is related to either party within the sixth
degree of consanguinity or affinity, or to counsel within the fourth degree,
computed according to the rules of the civil law, or in which he has been executor,
administrator, guardian, trustee or counsel, or in which he has presided in any
inferior court when his ruling or decision is the subject of review, without the
Page 47 of 80

written consent of all parties in interest, signed by them and entered upon the
record.
A judge may, in the exercise of his sound discretion, disqualify himself from
sitting in a case, for just or valid reasons other than those mentioned above.[21]
The Rules contemplate two kinds of inhibition: compulsory and voluntary. The
instances mentioned in the first paragraph of the cited Rule conclusively presume
that judges cannot actively and impartially sit in a case. The second paragraph,
which embodies voluntary inhibition, leaves to the discretion of the judges
concerned whether to sit in a case for other just and valid reasons, with only their
conscience as guide.
To be sure, judges may not be legally prohibited from sitting in a litigation.
But when circumstances reasonably arouse suspicions, and out of such
suspicions a suggestion is made of record that they might be induced to act with
prejudice for or against a litigant, they should conduct a careful self-examination.
[23]
Under the second paragraph of the cited Section of the Rules of Court, parties
have the right to seek the inhibition or the disqualification of judges who do not
appear to be wholly free, disinterested, impartial or independent in handling a case.
Whether judges should inhibit themselves therefrom rests on their own sound
discretion.[24] That discretion is a matter of conscience and is addressed primarily
to their sense of fairness and justice.[25]
[22]

However, judges are exhorted to exercise their discretion in a way that the
peoples faith in the courts of justice would not be impaired. A salutary norm for
them to observe is to reflect on the possibility that the losing parties might nurture
at the back of their minds the thought that the former have unmeritoriously tilted
the scales of justice against them.[26] Of course, the judges right must be weighed
against their duty to decide cases without fear of repression.
Verily, the second paragraph of Section 1 of Rule 137 does not give judges the
unfettered discretion to decide whether to desist from hearing a case. The
inhibition must be for just and valid causes. The mere imputation of bias or
partiality is not enough ground for them to inhibit, especially when the charge is
without basis.[27] This Court has to be shown acts or conduct clearly indicative of
arbitrariness or prejudice before it can brand them with the stigma of bias or
partiality.[28]
In a string of cases, the Supreme Court has said that bias and prejudice, to be
considered valid reasons for the voluntary inhibition of judges, must be proved
with clear and convincing evidence.[29] Bare allegations of their partiality will not
suffice. It cannot be presumed, especially if weighed against the sacred oaths of
office of magistrates, requiring them to administer justice fairly and equitably -both to the poor and the rich, the weak and the strong, the lonely and the wellconnected.[30]
Equally important is the established doctrine that bias and prejudice must be
shown to have resulted in an opinion on the merits on the basis of an extrajudicial
source, not on what the judge learned from participating in the case. [31] As long as
opinions formed in the course of judicial proceedings are based on the evidence
presented and the conduct observed by the magistrate, such opinion -- even if later
found to be erroneous -- will not prove personal bias or prejudice on the part of the
judge.[32] While palpable error may be inferred from the decision or the order itself,
extrinsic evidence is required to establish bias, bad faith, malice or corrupt
Page 48 of 80

purpose. At bottom, to disqualify a judge, the movant must prove bias and
prejudice by clear and convincing evidence.[33]
Prescinding from the foregoing standards, we do not agree with the Court of
Appeals conclusion that Judge Dicdican has shown a glaring bias against
respondents case. His actuations have not engendered reasonable suspicion as to
his fairness and ability to decide the case with the cold neutrality of an impartial
judge. Verily, respondents have not convinced us that Judge Dicdican should
inhibit himself from hearing the case.
Let us now examine one by one the circumstances relied upon by the CA in
ruling for the inhibition of Judge Dicdican.
Denial of Respondents Motion
to Hear Affirmative Defenses
The first circumstance which the appellate court relied upon to show the
alleged bias and partiality of Judge Dicdican was his denial of the Motion to Hear
Affirmative Defenses filed by respondents.[34] According to them, even if the judge
had denied their Motion, he still ruled on the merits of their affirmative defenses
and thus deprived them of an opportunity to be heard.
The fact that respondents Motion for Hearing was denied does not by itself
show bias and partiality. Clearly, Judge Dicdican based his denial on the Rules of
Court, according to which a preliminary hearing on affirmative defenses is indeed
discretionary on the part of a judge.[35]Thus, Judge Dicdican cannot be charged
with bias and partiality, merely on the basis of his decision not to grant a motion
for a preliminary hearing.
We are not unmindful of our ruling in the previous Gochan v. Gochan case.
This Court held therein that the trial court committed grave abuse of discretion
when it denied the motion of respondents for a preliminary hearing on their
affirmative defenses. But even in that case, two members of this Court [37] dissented
and believed that respondent judge (herein Judge Dicdican) had not committed any
grave abuse of discretion in disallowing the preliminary hearing on respondents
affirmative defenses.
[36]

In any event, this Courts ruling of grave abuse of discretion in a certiorari


proceeding such as the one issued in the earlier Gochan case does not necessarily
translate to bias and partiality that would ipso facto lead to the inhibition of the
trial judge. In fact, in the previously cited case, this Court did not mention any
badge of bias or partiality on the part of Judge Dicdican. He was simply directed to
conduct forthwith the preliminary hearing on the affirmative defenses.
To repeat, as long as opinions formed in the course of judicial proceedings are
based on the evidence presented and the conduct observed by the judge, such
opinion -- even if later found to be erroneous on appeal or made with grave abuse
of discretion on certiorari -- will not necessarily prove personal bias or prejudice
on the part of the judge.[38]
Neither can respondents convince us that they were deprived of due process.
The essence of due process is the reasonable opportunity to be heard and to submit
any evidence available in support of ones defense. [39] Where one is accorded an
opportunity to be heard, either through oral arguments or pleadings, there is no
denial of procedural due process.[40] Due process was designed to afford an
opportunity to be heard; anoral hearing need not always be held. Moreover, this
constitutional mandate is deemed satisfied if the pleader is granted an opportunity
to seek reconsideration of the action or ruling complained of.[41]
Page 49 of 80

Judge Dicdicans Order[42] denying respondents Motion for Hearing was based
on the pleadings filed by both parties. Respondents filed their Motion to Hear
Affirmative Defenses, while petitioners filed their Comment to the Motion.
[43]
Thus, it cannot be said that respondent judge arbitrarily ruled thereon. He
thereafter allowed the respondents and petitioners to file their Motion for
Reconsideration[44] and Opposition,[45]respectively, before deciding on the matter
again.
Character of the Order
Denying Respondents Motion
Respondents further argue that before hearing their Motion to Hear Affirmative
Defenses, Judge Dicdican had already prepared an Order denying their plea. This is
an allegation that they have not been able to prove. We cannot rely merely on their
submissions that he was in fact bent on ruling against them. Petitioners correctly
argued as follows:
The fact is that Judge Dicdican really dictated his Order in open court with legal
citations and authorities but did not prepare it beforehand. We respectfully submit
that said act cannot be considered as a manifestation of bias and partiality and
deprived respondents of due process because the motion filed by respondents, copy
of which was attached as Annex A to the reply of petitioners was complete with
the evidence already attached as annexes thereto and contained citation of
authorities and the opposition of petitioners, copy of which was attached to the
reply as Annex B, contained citations of authorities as well.[46]
The argument that the Order of Judge Dicdican was too scholarly to be
extemporaneous is merely the conjecture of respondents. This characterization
does not show in any way that he was biased or partial. Besides, as earlier adverted
to, both the Motion and the Comment thereto had been filed days before the
hearing thereon. It is not unusual -- in fact, it is expected -- that the judge would
study the Motion and the Comment filed before him. If he prepared well for the
arguments, he should be commended, not faulted.
Besides, Judge Dicdican ruled that the issues raised in the Motion could be
determined on the basis of preponderance of evidence presented by both parties.
[47]
This means that he did not foreclose the possibility that the parties would
ventilate these defenses during the trial.
To show his fairness, he even allowed the postponement of the pretrial set for
that hearing upon the request of respondents counsel. This act showed that he was
in no hurry to decide the case in favor of petitioners.
As to respondents doubts arising from the alleged suspicious appearance of
the TSN of the August 11, 2003 hearing, this Court cannot take it as an indication
of partiality on the part of the judge. Clearly, it was Atty. Jonathan G. Talabo, the
branch clerk of court of Branch 11 of the RTC of Cebu, who had issued the
Certification[48] dated November 11, 1999. Respondents failed to prove that Judge
Dicdican had a hand in its issuance. What is clear is that the TSN of August 11,
1998 was prepared and signed by Emelyn V. Fuentes, stenographic reporter of
Branch 11 of the RTC of Cebu. Connecting this suddenly found TSN to Judge
Dicdican is not only speculative, but also baseless and unfair and will not suffice to
bar respondent judge from performing his lawfully mandated duty.
Admission of Petitioners Exhibits Without
indicating Respondents Objections
Page 50 of 80

In his Order[49] dated June 2, 1999, Judge Dicdican admitted the documentary
evidence of plaintiffs. He did so after petitioners had filed their Formal Offer of
Exhibits[50] and respondents their Comments (on Plaintiffs Exhibits). [51] The former
was filed on May 5, 1999 and the latter on May 12, 1999. He issued his Order
admitting the evidence of petitioners only on June 2, 1999 or a good 21 days after
respondents had submitted their objections to the formers exhibits.
We cannot see how such an Order would translate to bias and partiality.
Respondents argue the judge should have indicated their objections for the record.
But it is clear that he indeed allowed them to file their Comment/Objections to
petitioners Formal Offer. It is enough that he allowed both parties to be heard, and
that he decided based on their submissions.
We do not agree, either, with the appellate courts findings that petitioners
witnesses were allowed to answer all questions asked of them, even if respondent
judge had not yet ruled on the applicability of the Statute of Frauds.
Aside from the fact that these objections are sweeping and unsubstantiated,
they should have been raised before the trial judge himself. Respondents had every
opportunity to object to the questions the witnesses were asked and the answers the
latter gave during the trial, based on the following provision of the Rules of Court:
Objection to a question propounded in the course of the oral examination of a
witness shall be made as soon as the grounds therefor shall become reasonably
apparent.[52]
As to the striking out of answers, the rule on evidence (Rule 132) provide:
SEC. 39. Striking out answer. - Should a witness answer the question before the
adverse party had the opportunity to voice fully its objection to the same, and such
objection is found to be meritorious, the court shall sustain the objection and order
the answer given to be stricken off the record.
On proper motion, the court may also order the striking out of answers which are
incompetent, irrelevant, or otherwise improper.[53]
Respondents have not shown that they were in any way denied their right to
object to questions propounded in the course of the hearing.
Denial of Requests for Postponement
and the Forced Cross-Examination of Witnesses
The CA also ruled that the denial by Judge Dicdican of the postponements
requested by respondents counsels also showed his bias and partiality.
We disagree. A motion for continuance or postponement is not a matter of
right, but a request addressed to the sound discretion of the court. [54] Parties asking
for postponement have absolutely no right to assume that their motions would be
granted. Thus, they must be prepared on the day of the hearing.[55]
Given this rule, the question of the correctness of the denial of respondents
requests for postponements was addressed to the sound discretion of Judge
Dicdican. His action thereon cannot be disturbed by appellate courts in the absence
of any clear and manifest abuse of discretion resulting in a denial of substantial
justice.[56] Since there was no such finding with regard to the disallowance of the
requests for postponement, the CA cannot overturn the decision of the judge. Much
less can it assume his bias and partiality based merely on the denial of the requests
for postponement.
Page 51 of 80

Moreover, respondents cannot claim that all their requests were turned down
by Judge Dicdican. This Court takes notice of the fact that respondents asked for
an extension of time to file their answer and later asked for two postponements of
the pretrial. In fact, when the pretrial was finally set for August 11, 1998, they then
filed their Motion to Hear Affirmative Defenses. And when the judge denied it,
they again asked for a postponement of the pretrial, a request that was readily
granted by the trial court.
Respondents fault Judge Dicdican for not postponing the pretrial on November
9, 1998, when their counsel had to represent the Cebu Lions Club in an
international conference in Japan. But they should be aware that the court had
already given them one whole month to procure from the Court of Appeals a
temporary restraining order (TRO) to cause the suspension of the proceedings in
the lower court. So, on November 9, 1998, they were given sufficient time to
prepare for the pretrial. If their counsel learned of the date of the conference only
recently, he could have easily assigned the case to Atty. Vicente A. Espina Jr., his
co-counsel. In fact, Atty. Espina, armed with a special power of attorney to
represent respondents, was present in court on the hearing date. He even admitted
that he was able to read the records of the case. Also, as correctly argued by
petitioners counsel, respondents had with them their pretrial briefs which could
have guided them.
As can be seen from the Pretrial Order, respondents were ably represented by
Atty. Espina. Hence, they suffered no prejudice even if the pretrial was not
postponed. The trial court observed during the hearing:
The Court actually does not consider that as the reason to postpone the pre-trial in
this case because it seemed that there is a pattern to delay. And the Court can not
countenance that there would be no movement of this case. There seemed to be a
pattern as observed by the Court. So we will go on with the pre-trial if there is no
possibility of an amicable settlement.[57]
It seems that respondents have no one else to blame but themselves for the trial
courts denial of their requests for postponement.
As to the other time when the request of respondents for postponement was
denied by Judge Dicdican, this Court notes that both their counsels -- Attys. Lim
and Espina -- were present during the preceding hearing when the dates of the
succeeding hearings were agreed upon. As stated in the TSN, [58] the parties agreed
that the next setting would be on April 28, 1999 at 9:00 a.m. and on April 30, 1999
at 10:00 a.m. But on April 23, 1999 -- more than two months after the trial date had
been set and only five days before the scheduled hearing -- respondents counsel
filed an urgent Motion to Reset the hearing to April 28, 1999, because both lawyers
allegedly had other commitments. Petitioners filed an Opposition to the Motion to
Reset; thus, respondent judges denial of the Motion was not at all arbitrary or
whimsical.
The appellate court also faults Judge Dicdican for allowing petitioners to
present their witnesses even in the absence of respondents counsel and, on the
succeeding hearing, for forcing the counsel to cross-examine the witness presented
previously.
As we have ruled above, parties asking for postponement have absolutely no
right to assume that their motion would be granted and must thus be prepared on
the day of the hearing.[59] What further militates against respondents counsel is his
excuse that he was informed by a court personnel that his Motion to Reset had
Page 52 of 80

been granted.[60] Supposedly because of this information, the counsel was under the
impression that there would be no hearing on the last scheduled date. His
assumption that his motion to reset would be granted was bad enough. What was
worse was that, in following up the proceedings of the case, he relied on the
unauthorized communication of an unidentified court personnel. He could have
easily verified if there was a hearing, and what transpired if it indeed there was
one. This is the duty imposed upon lawyers.
Due diligence requires that lawyers should obtain timely information from the
concerned clerks of court regarding action on their motions; lack of notice thereof
will not necessarily make them any less accountable for their omission.[61]
Petitioners correctly argue thus:
x x x. Judge Dicdican then allowed the counsel for petitioners to conduct the
redirect examination of his first witness, and to conduct the direct examination of
his second witness, giving the petitioners the opportunity to conduct the re-cross
examination of said witness and cross-examination of the second witness on April
30, 1999. Judge Dicdican therefore was very fair and considerate to respondents in
giving them the opportunity to re-cross examine and cross-examine petitioners
witnesses instead of considering the respondents to have waived said right which
was within his prerogative.[62]
Indeed, the right to cross-examine may be waived.[63] The repeated failure of a
party to cross-examine a witness is an implied waiver of that right. [64] Respondents
in this case were afforded the opportunity to cross and re-cross examine the other
parties witnesses. It was respondents counsel who failed to take advantage of
these opportunities.
Denial of the Motion for Inhibition
The appellate court maintains that during the hearing for respondents Motion
for Inhibition, the judge called the case before the scheduled time.
Again, this is a claim that remains unproven and unsubstantiated. Hence, it
cannot be the extrajudicial source from which can be inferred bias and partiality.
Both parties uniformly quote the proceedings on the hearing date for the case
succeeding that on which the Motion to Inhibit was to be heard:
COURT:
Were you here last Monday? I did not see you?
ATTY. LIM:
I was here, your Honor.
COURT:
When this case was called, there was no appearance.
COURT INTERPRETER:
He came late, Your Honor.
ATTY. LIM:
I was here, your Honor, at 10:00 oclock, your Honor, in fact, there were
still many parties around, your Honor.
COURT:
Page 53 of 80

As far as the minute is concerned, it is not reflected that you were here.
When the case was called you were not here. The court could not be at
the mercy of the parties, so, the court has to act. So, the court stand by
that order. So you are not ready.[65]
Respondents maintain that [o]n the date of said hearing, counsel for
respondents was present at 10:00 a.m. However, he learned that the hearing of the
case was called earlier upon order of Judge Dicdican. Counsel for respondents then
decided to leave the courtroom, to inquire later, albeit unsurprised.[66]
Without presenting any proof of their presence on the hearing date at the
designated time, the arguments of respondents counsel lose force and credence.
Such arguments become even less convincing when validated against the records
of this case. As shown by the Minutes of the Session[67] held on August 9, 1999 at
10:00 a.m., only the counsels for plaintiffs [herein petitioners] were present.
It should be observed that the entries in official records made in the
performance of duty by a public officer of the Philippines or by some other person
especially enjoined by law are prima facie evidence of the facts therein stated.
[68]
This means that, in the present case, such evidence is satisfactory, more so
because it has been uncontradicted by opposing evidence. Also, when the court
interpreter[69] signed the Minutes of the Session, it is presumed that official duty
was regularly performed.[70]
In any event, Judge Dicdican cannot be accused of evading the Motion filed for
his inhibition. He allowed it to be filed and even cancelled one hearing until the
resolution of that Motion. He also allowed petitioners to file their Opposition
thereto[71] and thus showed that he wanted to hear both sides of the issue.
We do not find the Order[72] denying the Motion for Inhibition arbitrary or
whimsical. Respondent judge clearly explained why the grounds for it were unjust
and invalid. On the basis of his circumspect and judicious ruling, we do not see
how bias and partiality on his part can be inferred.
Thereafter, he allowed a Motion for Reconsideration[73] to be filed with the
corresponding Opposition[74] thereto.
We again emphasize that personal bias or prejudice is not proved by the
opinions the judge forms in the course of judicial proceedings, so long as these
have been based on the evidence presented and the conduct observed by the judge,
even if such opinions are later found to be erroneous.[75]
Declaration of the Absence
of the Possibility of a Compromise
Finally, Judge Dicdican was charged with bias, based on his pretrial Order
stating that there was no more possibility of a compromise among the parties.
From the time the original Complaint was filed up to the date of the pretrial,
the parties had more than seven months to enter into a compromise agreement.
This was more than sufficient time. It escapes this Court why, exactly on the day of
the pretrial, respondents suddenly informed the court that it was exploring the
possibility of a settlement. Besides, their absence during the pretrial negated the
sincerity of their desire to enter into a settlement. We take note of the following
argument of petitioners:
But Judge Dicdican did not believe in their sincerity to pursue an amicable
settlement of the case since they had already filed their first petition for certiorari
seeking the issuance of a TRO/Writ of Preliminary [lnjunction] enjoining him from
Page 54 of 80

taking further proceedings in the case below. Furthermore, they were never present
at the scheduled pre-trials and hearings of the case.[76]
ALL TOLD, a perusal of the records of this case will reveal that respondents
failed to adduce any extrinsic evidence to prove that Judge Dicdican had been
motivated by malice or prejudice in issuing the assailed rulings. They simply lean
on his series of allegedly adverse rulings, which they characterize as tainted with
bias and partiality. We note that his rulings resolving the various motions or
requests they had filed were all made only after considering the arguments raised
by all the parties. It is true that he erred in some of his rulings, but such errors do
not necessarily translate to prejudice. The instances when he allegedly exhibited
antagonism and partiality against respondents and/or their counsels did not deprive
them of a fair and impartial trial.
The parties should be guided by the words of this Court in Pimentel v.
Salanga:[77]
Efforts to attain fair, just and impartial trial and decision, have a natural and
alluring appeal. But, we are not licensed to indulge in unjustified assumptions, or
make a speculative approach to this ideal. It ill behooves this Court to tar and
feather a judge as biased or prejudiced, simply because counsel for a party litigant
happens to complain against him. As applied here, respondent judge has not as yet
crossed the line that divides partiality and impartiality. He has not thus far stepped
to one side of the fulcrum. No act or conduct of his would show arbitrariness or
prejudice. Therefore, we are not to assume what respondent judge, not otherwise
legally disqualified, will do in a case before him. x x x Prejudice is not to be
presumed. Especially if weighed against a judges legal obligation under his oath to
administer justice without respect to person and do equal right to the poor and the
rich. To disqualify or not to disqualify himself then, as far as respondent judge is
concerned,is a matter of conscience.[78]
WHEREFORE, the Petition is hereby GRANTED and the assailed CA
Decision and Resolution REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The prayer for the
inhibition of Judge Isaias Dicdican is hereby DENIED. He is DIRECTED to
proceed with the hearing of CEB-21 854 with all reasonably speed. No
pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.

Case #6
Topic: Canon 22 of the Canons of Judicial Ethics
EN BANC
Page 55 of 80

SILAS Y. CAADA,
Complainant,

A.M. No. RTJ-04-1875


(formerly OCA II No. 03-1916RTJ)
Members:
DAVIDE, JR., C.J.
PUNO,
PANGANIBAN,
QUISUMBING,
YNARES-SANTIAGO,
SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ,
CARPIO,
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
CORONA,
CARPIO-MORALES,
CALLEJO, SR.,
AZCUNA,
TINGA,
CHICO-NAZARIO, and
GARCIA, JJ.

- versus -

JUDGE ILDEFONSO B. SUERTE,


Respondent.

Promulgated:

November 9, 2005
x-------------------------------------------------------x
R E S O LUTIO N

AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.:

In a verified letter-complaint dated November 8, 2003, Silas Y. Caada


administratively charged respondent Judge Ildefonso B. Suerte of the Regional
Trial Court (RTC), Branch 60, Barili, Cebu, of arbitrary detention punished under
Article 124 of the Revised Penal Code and the provisions of Republic Act No.
3019 entitled Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act as well as the Canons of
Judicial Ethics for having issued an order citing complainant in direct contempt of
court and for having ordered his arrest and subsequent detention without affording
him the opportunity to post bail. In a sworn affidavit attached to his lettercomplaint, complainant alleges:
That on the strength of an illegal contempt order dated August
5, 2003 and issued by Judge Ildefonso B. Suerte of Branch 60,
Regional Trial Court, sitting at Barili, Cebu, I was arrested on that
same date by elements of the Badian PNP and Alcantara PNP,

Page 56 of 80

represented by SPO3 Rufino Tabaag, SPO3 Rolando Caballero,


SPO3 Felipe Dinolan, Marcelino Cenarlo, and PO2 Vincent Aguanta.

That despite efforts of my counsels to have me released, Judge


Suerte refused to give me my freedom until and unless I withdraw an
affidavit that I executed on May 2, 2003 before Prosecutor Jesus P.
Feliciano, upon which was based a petition I filed on July 25, 2003
before the Court of Appeals for Certiorari and Prohibition With a
Prayer for a Temporary Restraining Order docketed as CA-G.R. No.
78210. This petition sought the prohibition of Judge Suerte from
hearing and trying Crim. Cases No. CEB-BRL 900, 906, and 907
pending before said Judge Suerte;

That because of my illegal detention, my counsels filed a


petition for Habeas Corpus before the Court of Appeals and it was
only when Judge Suerte received the wire from the Court of Appeals
that a Writ of Habeas Corpus had been issued in my favor on August
19, 2003 that he released me, but by that time, I had already spent a
total of fourteen (14) days at the Barili Municipal Jail;

That this Affidavit is being executed to support a charge of


ARBITRARY DETENTION against Judge Ildefonso B. Suerte, SPO3
Rufino Tabaag, SPO3 Rolando Caballero, SPO3 Felipe Dinolan,
SPO3 Marcelino Cenarlo, and PO2 Vincent Aguanta, whose addresses
are in the letter complaint which covers this Affidavit.[1]

In his Comment dated February 2, 2004, respondent alleged:

The accused, Silas Y. Caada and now the petitioner in the


present complaint OCA IPI No. 03-1916-RTJ, before his arrest was
one of the most wanted DRUG PUSHER and ILLEGAL
POSSESSOR of short and long firearms, was LEGALLY ARRESTED
and LAWFULLY DETAINED. The instant issue was already
resolved and decided by CA, Former Twelve Division on October 29,
2003.

No illegal arrest and no arbitrary detention.

Page 57 of 80

I am enclosing herewith certified Xerox copy in nine pages of


the decision of the CA, marked as ANNEX A.[2]

In his report dated June 18, 2004, Court Administrator Presbitero J.


Velasco, Jr. made the following findings, to wit:
The warrant of arrest was issued on the basis of the direct
contempt order issued by the respondent against the complainant. As
a result, complainant was detained for fourteen (14) days and only the
writ of habeas corpus issued by the Court of Appeals saved her (sic)
from further detention. Within her (sic) 14-day stay in jail, she (sic)
was not able to post bond for temporary liberty apparently because the
warrant of arrest issued by respondent judge indicated that she (sic) is
not entitled to such a privilege. The words NO BAIL
RECOMMENDED were written on the face of the warrant of arrest.
This is a clear case of gross ignorance of the procedural rule. Section
2, Rule 71 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure is the governing
authority on the matter. Its pertinent provision reads as follows, to
wit:
SECTION
summarily.

1.

Direct

contempt

punished

xxx

SECTION 2. Remedy therefrom The person


adjudged in direct contempt by any court may not appeal
therefrom, but may avail himself of the remedies of
certiorari or prohibition. The execution of judgment shall
be suspended pending resolution of such petition,
provided such person files a bond fixed by the court
which rendered the judgment and conditioned that he will
abide by and perform the judgment should the petition be
decided against him.

Clearly, the rule allows the person subject of a direct contempt


judgment to file a bond to be fixed by the court as a remedy for the
imposition of the judgment. In making it appear that complainant is
not entitled to post a bond, respondent has gone beyond his authority
as provided under the above-cited procedural rule. What is involved
here is a fundamental procedural rule and well-known judicial norm.
If the law is so elementary, not to know it or to act if one does not
Page 58 of 80

know it, constitutes gross ignorance of the law. (Luz vs. Yanesa,
March 9, 1999).[3]

Accordingly, Court Administrator Velasco recommended that respondent


judge be fined in the amount of P10,000.00 for gross ignorance of the law and
procedure and that he be sternly warned that repetition of the same or similar act
shall be dealt with more severely.[4]

In a Resolution dated September 20, 2004, we required the parties to


manifest if they are willing to submit the case for resolution based on the pleadings
filed.[5]

In his Manifestation dated October 15, 2004, complainant indicated his


willingness to submit the case for resolution based on the pleadings on record.[6]

Despite due notice, respondent judge failed to comply with our directive.
Hence, the Court concludes that he had waived his right to a full-blown
investigation and that he is willing to submit the case for resolution based on the
pleadings filed.

We agree with the findings of the OCA that respondent is guilty of gross
ignorance of the law and procedure.

At the outset, it must be emphasized that the October 29, 2003 Decision of
the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 78506 which was cited by respondent in
his Comment to the instant complaint did not tackle the issue of whether or not
complainants arrest and detention were lawful. In fact, the CA, in said case ruled:
An incident of this case that was raised but is outside our
jurisdiction to consider under the present petition, is the illegal
confinement of the petitioner [referring to herein complainant]. He
was confined for fourteen (14) days, or four (4) days in excess of what
the Rules of Court allow. Similarly, counsel for petitioner was
fined P3,000, or P1,000 in excess of what the Rules allow. The
appropriate redress lies outside the present petition and is for the
petitioner and his counsel to avail of under other existing laws and
provisions of the Rules, and may take the form, among others, of an
administrative complaint directly filed with the Honorable Supreme
Court.[7]

Page 59 of 80

Hence, it is wrong for respondent to claim that the CA, in its Decision in CA-G.R.
SP No. 78506, has already resolved the issue of the legality of complainants arrest
and detention based on the order issued by the respondent on August 5, 2003.

Coming to the main issue in the present case, granting that there is a valid
ground for respondent judge to cite complainant in direct contempt of court, he
should have known that under Section 1, Rule 71 of the Rules of Court if the
penalty of imprisonment is imposed upon the contemnor by a Regional Trial Court
or a court of equivalent or higher rank, the same should not exceed ten days.
Section 1, Rule 71 of the Rules of Court clearly provides:

Section 1. Direct contempt, punished summarily. A person


guilty of misbehavior in the presence of or so near a court as to obstruct
or interrupt the proceedings before the same, including disrespect
toward the court, offensive personalities toward others, or refusal to be
sworn or to answer as a witness, or to subscribe an affidavit or
deposition when lawfully required to do so, may be summarily
adjudged in contempt by such court and punished by a fine not
exceeding two thousand pesos or imprisonment not exceeding ten (10)
days, or both, if it be a Regional Trial Court or a court of equivalent or
higher rank, or by a fine not exceeding two hundred pesos or
imprisonment not exceeding one (1) day, or both, if it be a lower court.

In the instant case, the order of respondent judge directing the arrest of
complainant did not specify the period within which the latter should be
imprisoned. Worse, it is not disputed that complainant was detained for 14 days, 4
days beyond what the above-cited Rule allows. Were it not for the writ of habeas
corpus issued by the Court of Appeals, complainant would not have been released
from detention.

We also note that respondent judge had likewise cited complainants counsel
in direct contempt for having attached complainants affidavit in a motion for
inhibition filed with the trial court. She was assessed a fine of P3,000.00. Again,
this is erroneous because it is clear under Section 1, Rule 71 of the Rules of Court
that a penalty of fine imposed by a Regional Trial Court or a court of equivalent or
higher rank should not exceed P2,000.00.

As to respondents denial of complainants right to post bail, we agree with


the Office of the Court Administrator that under Section 2 of the same Rule, the
execution of a judgment finding a person in direct contempt of court may be
suspended if such person avails of the remedies of certiorari or prohibition,
provided he files a bond fixed by the court which rendered the judgment and
conditioned that he will abide by and perform the judgment should the petition be
decided against him. In the present case, respondent effectively prevented
complainant from resorting to his right to post a bond as provided for under the
Page 60 of 80

above-cited provision of the Rules of Court by indicating in the arrest warrant he


issued that complainant is not entitled to bail. In doing so, respondent unduly
deprived the latter of his prized and fundamental right to liberty, a right which is
protected and guaranteed by our Constitution.

On the liability of judges in administrative cases filed against them, we


held in Dantes vs. Caguioa[8] that:
Not every error bespeaks ignorance of the law, for if committed
in good faith, it does not warrant administrative sanctions. To hold
otherwise would be nothing short of harassment and would make his
position doubly unbearable, for no one called upon to try the facts or
interpret the law in the process of administering justice can be
infallible in judgment.
Good faith, however, in situations of fallible discretion inheres
only within the parameters of tolerable judgment and does not apply
where the issues are so simple and the applicable legal principles
evident and basic as to be beyond possible margins of error.
Thus, where the law violated is so elementary, like Rule 71
which provides the scope of a judges authority to punish for contempt
and the procedure to be followed, for a judge not to know it or to act
as if he does not know it constitutes gross ignorance.

In the present case, respondents patent and gross violations of the provisions
of Rule 71 of the Rules of Court, particularly Sections 1 and 2 thereof, cannot be
denied nor justified. Respondent judge is guilty of gross ignorance of the law and
procedure.

Canon 22 of the Canons of Judicial Ethics prescribes that:


The judge should be studiously careful himself to avoid even
the slightest infraction of the law, lest it be a demoralizing example to
others.
Canon 31 of the same Canons also provides:
A judges conduct should be above reproach and in the
discharge of his judicial duties he should be conscientious,
studious, thorough, courteous, patient, punctual, just, impartial,
fearless of public clamour, and regardless of private influence should
administer justice according to law and should deal with the patronage
Page 61 of 80

of the position as a public trust; and he should not allow outside


matters or his private interests to interfere with the prompt and proper
performance of his office. (emphasis ours)
In exhibiting gross ignorance of the law and procedure, respondent likewise
violated the Canons of Judicial Ethics.
We do not agree with the OCA recommendation that respondent judge be
meted out a penalty of fine in the amount ofP10,000.00.

Section 8, Rule 140 of the Rules of Court, as amended by A.M. No. 01-8-10SC, gross ignorance of the law or procedure is classified as a serious charge.
Under Section 11(A) of the same Rule, as amended, if the respondent is found
guilty of a serious charge, any of the following sanctions may be imposed:
[9]

1. Dismissal from the service, forfeiture of all or part of the


benefits as the Court may determine, and disqualification from
reinstatement or appointment to any public office, including
government-owned or controlled corporations; Provided, however,
that the forfeiture of benefits shall in no case include accrued leave
credits;
2. Suspension from office without salary and other benefits for
more than three (3) but not exceeding six (6) months; or

3.
A fine
exceeding P40,000.00.

of

more

than P20,000.00

but

not

However, in two consolidated cases docketed as Administrative Matter Nos.


04-7-373-RTC[10] and 04-7-374-RTC,[11] we found herein respondent judge guilty of
gross misconduct, gross ignorance of the law and incompetence. We dismissed
him from the service with forfeiture of all retirement benefits and privileges, and
with prejudice to being reinstated in any branch of government service, including
government-owned and controlled agencies and corporations.[12]

In the present case, respondent would have merited the penalty of dismissal
due to the seriousness of his offense and because of the fact that this is his second
time to be found guilty of a similar infraction. Nonetheless, per Leonidas vs.
Supnet[13] while respondent judge has earlier been dismissed from the service, he
can still be fined for gross ignorance of the law and violation of the Canons of
Page 62 of 80

Judicial Ethics committed while in office. Thus, we deem it proper to impose on


him the maximum fine of P40,000.00.

Finally, we note that the dispositive portion of this Courts Resolution in


A.M. Nos. 04-7-373-RTC and 04-7-374-RTC, providing for respondents dismissal
from government service as well as forfeiture of his retirement benefits and
privileges, did not expressly state that his accrued leave credits are exempted from
being forfeited. Nonetheless, it is clear under the amended provisions of Section 11
(A), Rule 140 of the Rules of Court, as quoted above, as well as under Section 58,
[14]
Rule IV of the Revised Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil
Service[15] that even when the penalty of dismissal from the government service is
imposed, accrued leave credits shall not be forfeited.[16] Furthermore, Sections 37
and 65 of Civil Service Commission Memorandum Circular No. 41 -- Series of
1998 as amended by MC No. 14, Series of 1999 --provide:

Section 37. Payment of terminal leave.- Any official/employee


of the government who retires, voluntarily resigns, or is separated
from the service and who is not otherwise covered by special law,
shall be entitled to the commutation of his leave credits exclusive of
Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays without limitation and regardless of
the period when the credits were earned.

Section 65. Effect of decision in administrative case. An


official or employee who has been penalized with dismissal from the
service is likewise not barred from entitlement to his terminal leave
benefits.[17]

Hence, the penalty of fine imposed on respondent shall be deducted from his
accrued leave credits.

WHEREFORE, respondent, Judge Ildefonso B. Suerte, is found guilty of


gross ignorance of the law and procedure and violation of the Canons of Judicial
Ethics. He is ORDERED to pay a FINE in the amount of FORTY THOUSAND
PESOS (P40,000.00), which shall be deducted from his accrued leave credits; and,
in the event that his leave credits be found insufficient to answer for the said fine,
the respondent shall pay the amount or the balance thereof, as the case may be, to
the Court within ten (10) days from the date of finality of herein Resolution.

SO ORDERED.
Page 63 of 80

Case # 7
Topic: Section 25 of the Canons of Judicial Ethics
EN BANC
G.R. Nos. L-4579 and L-4674 March 31, 1952

Page 64 of 80

TALISAY-SILAY MILLING CO., INC., Petitioner, vs. HON. JOSE


TEODORO, SR., ETC., ET AL., Respondents.
Vicente Hilado for petitioner.
Arieta and Nolan, Jose P. Laurel and Leon Quinto for respondents.
PARAS, C.J.:
Under date of November 24, 1950, Simplicio Lizares and others filed in the Court
of First Instance of Negros Occidental a complaint against the Talisay-Silay
Milling Co., Inc. (Civil Case No. 1814), praying that the defendant corporation be
ordered to distribute 21,988.5 shares of stock of the Central Azucarera del Danao
among all the stockholders of the Talisay-Silay Milling Co., Inc.,; that, pending
final termination of the case, a writ of preliminary injunction be issued, enjoining
the defendant corporation from selling or disposing in any way of the said 21,988.5
shares and from making use of the right to vote on said shares in any and all
meetings of the Central Azucarera del Danao; and that the defendant corporation
be ordered to pay the sum of P20,000 as attorney's fees, plus the costs of suit. On
November 28, 1950, the Court of First Instance of Negros Occidental issued a writ
of preliminary injunction, ordering the Talisay-Silay Milling co., Inc. to refrain
from selling or disposing in any way of the 21,988.5 shares of the Central
Azucarera del Danao, and from voting said shares in any and all meetings of the
latter corporation, particularly in the general annual meeting or the stockholders to
be held in December, 1950.
In the order of March 1, 1951, the Court of First Instance of Negros Occidental,
upon motion of the plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 1814, ordered the defendant
corporation to produce and bring the books, documents, records, and papers listed
in plaintiffs' amended motion at the office of the clerk of court on March 8, 1951,
and on all business days thereafter between the hours of 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.,
until their inspection and examination shall have been completed by the plaintiffs
or their duly authorized representatives. In the order of March 3, 1951, the court
denied the motion for reconsideration filed by attorney for the defendant TalisaySilay Milling Co., Inc.
The Talisay-Silay Milling Co., Inc. thereafter filed in this Court: (1) A petition for
certiorari against Hon. Jose Teodoro, Judge of the Court of First Instance of Negros
Occidental, simplicio Lizares, and Antonio A. Lizares (G. R. No. L-4579), praying
that the respondent Judge be disqualified from proceeding with civil Case No.
1814; that the writ of preliminary injunction issued ex parte by the respondent
Judge in said case be dissolved and that said case be transferred for hearing to
another branch of the Court of First Instance of Negros Occidental; and that a writ
of preliminary injunction be issued against the respondent Judge, enjoining him
from further proceeding with Civil Case No. 1814. (2) A petition against the same
respondents (G.R. No. 4674), praying that the order of the respondent Judge dated
March 1, 1951, ordering the Talisay-Silay Milling Co., Inc. to produce in court the
records therein mentioned, be set aside. These two petitions were heard and
submitted after the respondents had filed their answers.
In the answer filed by the respondents in G. R. No. L-4674, it is alleged that the
case had become academic in view of the fact that the order of March 1, 1951, was
amended by the respondent Judge in his order of March 17, 1951, in the sense that
the place of inspection of petitioner's books and documents would be its principal
office at Talisay. It being alleged in the petition that the petitioner "would be glad
Page 65 of 80

to allow plaintiffs to inspect at their Office in Talisay any documents and records in
their possession which the court may consider to be material and relevant to the
case," said petition has in fact become academic.
The first question raised in the petition for certiorari in G.R. No. L-4579 is
whether or not the respondent Judge is disqualified from trying Civil Case No.
1814, because he was and is engaged and paid as professor of law in the
Occidental Negros Institute which is owned and controlled by the Lizares family,
plaintiffs in said case, particularly Antonio A. Lizares who owns the overwhelming
majority of the capital stock and is the president of said corporation. The petition
calls attention to the following Canons of Judicial Ethics, promulgated by the
Secretary of Justice under the authority of section 79 (B) of the Revised
Administrative Code:
SEC. 3. Avoidance of appearance of impropriety. - A judges's official conduct
should be free from the appearance of impropriety, and his personal behavior, not
only upon the bench and in the performance of judicial duties, but also in this
everyday life, should be beyond reproach.
SEC. 25. Personal investments and relations. - A judge should abstain from
making personal investments in enterprises which are apt to be involved in
litigation in his court; and, after his accession to the bench, he should not retain
such investments previously made, longer than a period sufficient to enable him to
dispose of them without serious loss. It is desirable that he should so far as
reasonably possible, refrain from all relations which would normally tend to
arouse the suspicion that such relations warp or bias his judgment, or prevent his
impartial attitude of mind in the administration of his judicial duties.
SEC. 30. Social relations. - It is not necessary to the proper performance of
judicial duty that judges should live in retirement or seclusion; it its desirable that,
so far as the reasonable attention to the completion of their work will permit, they
continue to mingle in social intercourse, and that they should not discontinue their
interest in or appearance at meetings of members of the bar. A judge should,
however, in pending or prospective litigation before him be scrupulously careful to
avoid such action as may reasonably tend to awaken the suspicion that his social
or business relations or friendships constitute an element in determining his
judicial course (Cannons of Judicial Ethics, 42 O.G. pp. 1803, 1804, 1805, 1806).
We are of the opinion that the respondent Judge is not disqualified from trying
Civil Case No. 1814. While the Canons of Judicial Ethics are desirable and
salutary, they do not constitute legal grounds for disqualification. They are
addressed to the personal tasks of judges with a view to formulating certain
standards of judicial decorum. But they cannot be intended to provide grounds for
disqualification of judicial officers, in addition to those enumerated in section 1 of
Rule 126 of the Rules of Court which reads as follows:
Section 1. Disqualification of judges. - No Judge or judicial officer shall sit in any
case in which he, or his wife or child, is pecuniarily interested as heir, legatee,
creditor or otherwise, or in which he is related to either party within the sixth
degree of consanguinity or affinity, computed according to the rules of Civil Law,
or in which he has been executor, administrator, guardian, trustee or counsel, or in
which he has presided in any inferior court when his ruling or decision is the
subject of review, without the written consent of all parties in interest, signed by
them and entered upon the record.
Page 66 of 80

Commenting on this rule, Chief Justice Moran said: "This provision expressly
enumerates without ambiguity the case in which any judge or judicial officer is
disqualified from acting as such and the grounds thus expressly enumerated therein
must be deemed to exclude others under the well known canon of statutory
construction, inclusio unius est exclusio alterius." (Moran, Comments on the Rules
of Court, 3rd Ed., Vol. II, p. 873.) It is not pretended that the respondent Judge is
disqualified on any of the grounds specified in section 1 of Rule 126. In the present
case, especially, it appears that while the respondent Judge is a professor of law in
the Occidental Negros Institute, owned by the Lizares family including respondent
Antonio A. Lizares who is the president of said corporation, the latter entity (which
has a personality distinct from the stockholders) is not a party to Civil Case No.
1814.
It cannot be alleged that the respondent Judge, if allowed to continue trying Civil
Case No. 1814, might dispose of said case in a biased manner prejudicial to the
petitioner, since it is obvious that the records are public and open to the parties who
are free to have any action of the respondent Judge reviewed by the appellate court.
It is intimated, however, that a biased trial Judge may exercise his discretion in a
way indicative of partiality not amounting to a reversible error. In reply, we may
observe that if a judge, having no scruples, should wantonly disregard the dictates
of good conscience and all rules of fairness and propriety to an extent sufficient to
constitute serious misconduct or inefficiency, administrative remedies may be
effectively resorted to.
The petitioner in G.R. No. L-4579 next assails the writ of preliminary injunction
issuedex parte by the respondent Judge in Civil Case No. 1814, prohibiting the
petitioner from selling or disposing in any way of the 21,988.5 shares of the
Central Azucarera del Danao and from voting the same in all meetings of the latter
entity, particularly in the general annual meeting of the stockholders to be held in
December, 1950. In our resolution of February 23, 1951, we dissolved said writ of
preliminary injunction in so far as it restrained the Talisay-Silay Milling Co., Inc.
from making use of the right to vote on the aforesaid shares in any and all meetings
of the Central Azucarera del Danao, upon the filing by the petitioner of a
counterbond for P50, it appearing that the petitioner's 21,988.5 shares in Central
Azucarera del Danao constitute more than 80 per cent of the total outstanding
shares of the latter corporation, and that the writ of preliminary injunction issued
by the respondent Judge would keep that corporation from holding meetings and
transacting business if said writ were maintained in its entirety. In our resolution of
April 13, 1951, issued after hearing the parties, we denied the petition of counsel of
respondents, for the reconsideration of our resolution of February 23, 1951.
The question whether or not the 21,988.5 shares of the Central Azucarera del
Danao should be distributed among the stockholders of the Talisay-Silay Milling
Co., Inc., is to be determined in Civil Case No. 1814. Assuming, however, that the
plaintiffs in said case would succeed in obtaining a favorable judgment, 6,464.64
shares would at most correspondent to said plaintiffs, and it is but fair to rule that,
pending final decision, the petitioner should be allowed to vote said shares, which
constitute a majority of the total outstanding shares of the Central Azucarera del
Danao, in order to keep said corporation as a going concern. Upon the other hand,
it is also logical that the petitioner be enjoined from selling or disposing in any way
of said shares. In other words, we reaffirm our resolution of February 23, 1951.
Wherefore, the petitions are hereby dismissed, it being understood that the writ of
preliminary injunction issued by the respondent Judge in Civil Case No. 1814
Page 67 of 80

stands dissolved in so far as it restraints the Talisay-Silay Milling Co., Inc. from
making use of the right to vote on the 21,988.5 shares of the Central Azucarera del
Danao in any and all meetings of the latter corporation. So ordered, without costs.

Case # 8
Topic: Acts of Dishonesty and Irresponsibility

FIRST DIVISION
A.M. No. 707-MJ July 21, 1978
RURAL BANK OF BAROTAC NUEVO, INC., complainant,
vs.
SERGIO CARTAGENA, Municipal Judge of Dumangas, Iloilo, respondents.
Page 68 of 80

RESOLUTION

GUERRERO, J.:
This administrative matter arose from a verified complaint dated February 10,
1973 of the Rural Bank of Barotac Nuevo, Inc. (Bank for short) through counsel.
The complaint charged the respondent, Judge Sergio Cartagena of Dumangas,
Iloilo with dishonesty and irresponsibility for failure, despite repeated demands, to
make good his promise to pay within the stipulated period, the agricultural loan
granted in his favor by the Bank.
The bank in its complaint alleges: (1) That respondent in consideration of the P
300.00 agricultural loan granted him on February 5, 1965, executed in favor of the
Bank a promissory note dated on the same day, and secured by a chattel mortage
for 90 piculs of sugar quedan for his production 1.5 hectares of sugar plantation;
(2) that respondent having failed despite repeated demands to make good his
promise to pay, the Bank on April 16, 1970 filed a complaint for collection in the
Municipal Court of Barotac Nuevo docketed as Civil Case No. 494; (3) that on
June 18, 1970 decision was rendered ordering respondent to pay said loan; (4) that
the decision having final and executory, a Writ of Execution dated June 29, 1970
was issued and furnished respondent;(5) that respondent failed to pay his loan up to
the time this complaint was failed; and (6) that the acts and behavior of respondent
is not paying a single centavo as interest of P 619.87 constitute an acts of
dishonesty and irresponsibility.
The record show that the complaint was forwarded to the Secretary of Justice on
April 25, 1972 and in answer to the Bank's charge against him, respondent stated
that sometime in October, 1972 he offered to make a partial payment, the balance
to be paid in two months' time, but the Bank's counsel refused to settle for less than
the full amount.
Enclosing a xerox copy of the receipt No. 12908 for P200.00 issued by the Rural
Bank of Barotac Nuevo indicating partial payment of the loan, respondent on June
15, 1973 informed this Court that he and the Bank had already reached an
arrangement regarding the payment of the loan.
On June 14, 1974, respondent submitted to this Court Official Receipt No. 1347
showing full payment of the loan and manifested that "the delay in settling his
obligation with the Bank was not intentional but rather predicated on the resolution
of the previous understanding between him and the previous manager of the
Bank."
This case may be dismissed for being moot and academic. The raison d'etre for
complainant's grievance has ceased to exist.
However, respondent must be admonished against a repetition of the same act for,
being an incumbent member of the Judiciary he is expected to be a model of
uprightness, fairness and honesty not only in all his official conduct but also in his
personal actuations, including business and commercial transactions.

Page 69 of 80

WHEREFORE, this administrative complaint, having become moot and academic,


is hereby dismissed with the admonition that a repetition of the same act will be
dealt with accordingly.
SO ORDERED.

Case # 9
Topic: Justice should not be bounded by the individual idiosyncrasies
of those who administer it
EN BANC

[A.M. No. 01-12-01-SC. January 16, 2003]

Page 70 of 80

IN THE MATTER OF THE ALLEGED IMPROPER CONDUCT OF


SANDIGANBAYAN ASSOCIATE JUSTICE ANACLETO D. BADOY,
JR., TAKING AN AMBULANCE BUT PROCEEDING TO THE GMA
TV STATION FOR AN INTERVIEW INSTEAD OF PROCEEDING
FORTHWITH TO THE HOSPITAL.

[A.M. NO. SB-02-10-J. January 16, 2003]

JOSEPH E. ESTRADA, JOSE JINGGOY ESTRADA, SERAFIN R.


CUEVAS, RENE A.V. SAGUISAG, JOSE B. FLAMINIANO,
PACIFICO A. AGABIN, FELIX D. CARAO, JR., CLEOFE V.
VERZOLA, DELIA H. HERMOSO AND RAYMUND P.
FORTUN, complainants, vs. ASSOCIATE JUSTICES ANACLETO D.
BADOY,
JR.,
AND
TERESITA
LEONARDO-DE
CASTRO, respondents.
DECISION
SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J:
Judges, like ordinary mortals, are subject to human limitations. At times, the
great
tides
of
perturbing
and
overwhelming
emotions
engulf
[1]
them. Notwithstanding so, they are expected to be cerebral men who can
control their confounding emotions and idiosyncratic inclinations. Otherwise, they
will be held answerable for their conduct.
Haled in these two consolidated administrative cases, A.M. No. 01-12-01SC and A.M No. SB-02-10-J, are Sandiganbayan Justices Anacleto D. Badoy, Jr.
(Ret.) and Teresita Leonardo-De Castro.
The facts of A.M. No. 01-12-01-SC may be synthesized as follows:
On November 29, 2001, Justice Badoy, aboard an ambulance, whisked
himself to the GMA Broadcast Station in Quezon City for a live interview in the
news program Saksi. There, he announced the loss of a Resolution he penned in
connection with the plunder case against former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada
and others.
The media sarcastically referred to the event as a staged comedy[2] or a
television tryst.[3] Leading newspapers contained facetious headlines, such as
Ambulance rushes Badoyto TV Station,[4] Whats with Justice
Badoy?,[5] and Unorthodox Behavior Analyze Badoy, Erap Lawyers ask SC.[6]
Acting on the media reports, this Court directed Justice Badoy to show cause
why he should not be administratively charged with conduct unbecoming a Justice
of the Sandiganbayan.[7]
In his compliance,[8] Justice Badoy alleged that three days prior to the incident,
he could not find his Resolution ordering that former President Estrada be detained
at Fort Sto. Domingo. So he requested the National Bureau of Investigation to
conduct an investigation, but to no avail. Thus, on November 29, 2001, agitated
that someone might have stolen the Resolution and claimed that he (Justice Badoy)
sold it for a fee, he decided to go to the GMA-7 Broadcast Station and report its
loss, in order that the public may know he is honest. In going there, he chose to
Page 71 of 80

ride in an ambulance because he felt very sick and cold, intending to proceed to a
hospital after the interview.
A.M No. SB-02-10-J is set on a different factual milieu, to wit:
Subsequent to the descent of former President Estrada from power, the Office
of the Ombudsman filed several criminal cases against him, his family, and
friends. One of them is Criminal Case No. 26558 wherein he, his son Jose
Jinggoy and Atty. Edward Serapio stand accused for violation of Republic Act
No. 7080, the Anti-Plunder Law. The case was raffled to the Third Division of the
Sandiganbayan composed of Justice Badoy, as Chairman, and Justices Teresita
Leonardo-De Castro and Ricardo M. Ilarde, now retired, as members.
On September 13, 2001, after the termination of a series of pre-trial conference
between the parties, the Sandiganbayan furnished them and their counsel with a
copy of the Pre-trial Order for their signatures. The defense panel composed of
Atty. Rene A.V. Saguisag (lead counsel), Justice Serafin R. Cuevas, Attys. Jose B.
Flaminiano, Felix D. Carao, Jr., Cleofe V. Verzola, and Delia H. Hermoso, refused
to sign it on the grounds that: 1) there is no provision in the Revised Rules of
Criminal Procedure requiring them to sign a Pre-trial Order; [9] 2) they were not
given ample time to read it; [10] and 3) it incorporates a statement that they admitted
the existence of certain exhibits although there was no such admission.[11]
In the course of an argument between Sandiganbayan Justice De Castro and
Justice Cuevas, Atty. Saguisag intervened. In the process, he argued
simultaneously with Justice Cuevas. [12] Despite Justice De Castros request to wait
for his turn, Atty. Saguisag persisted, prompting her to bang the gavel twice and
order him to stop arguing.[13] This led Justice Badoy to order four Sheriffs to take
Atty. Saguisag out of the courtroom.[14]
Thereafter, Justice De Castro ruled in open court that the assailed portion of the
Pre-trial Order could be deleted.[15]
The prosecution manifested its acquiescence. However, Atty. Flaminiano
objected, insisting that the defense needs more time to study the Pre-trial Order.
[16]
Notwithstanding the objection, Justice Badoy terminated the pre-trial and set the
trial proper on October 1, 3 and 4, 2001 and thereafter, every Monday, Wednesday
and Thursday of the week, all at 1:00 oclock in the afternoon.[17]
On October 1, 2001, the defense lawyers did not appear. Determined to
proceed with the trial, Justice Badoy appointed Atty. Sabino Acut, Jr. and Atty.
Martin Pison, counsel for accused Atty. Serapio, to represent the Estradas. Former
President Estrada objected, insisting that he has the right to choose his
counsel. Atty. Acut and Atty. Pison declined because of a possible conflict
between their clients interest and that of the Estradas. As a last recourse, Justice
Badoy appointed lawyers from the Public Attorneys Office (PAO) as counsel
de officio for the Estradas.[18]
Feeling aggrieved, former President Estrada, Jinggoy Estrada and all their
counsel of record in Criminal Case No. 26558 filed the instant administrative
complaint charging Justices Badoy and De Castro with:
1) dishonesty and misrepresentation for incorporating in the Pre-trial Order a
statement that the defense admitted Plaintiffs Exhibit A up to Exhibit C-45 and
its submarkings as to its existence notwithstanding the fact that they did not admit
the same;[19]
2) oppression and gross misconduct for throwing Atty. Saguisag out of the
courtroom;[20]
Page 72 of 80

3) violation of Supreme Court rules, directives and circulars for setting the
hearing of the plunder case three times a week, at one oclock in the afternoon,
without prior consultation with the defense counsel;[21]
4) denial of the accuseds right to counsel for appointing PAO lawyers as
counsel de officio of the Estradas during the hearing of October 1, 2001;[22] and
5) penchant for late rulings[23] as shown in the following instances:
1. The release of the Resolution denying complainant Jinggoy Estradas Motion to
Quash (filed as early as April 2001) after office hours and on the eve of the July 10,
2001 arraignment.
2. The release of the Resolution denying complainant Estradas Petition to Recuse
on the scheduled date of the pre-trial or on September 3, 2001.
3. Respondents failure to resolve complainants Motion to Cancel the October 1,
2001 hearing filed as early as September 19, 2001.
4. The release of the Resolution denying complainant Jinggoy Estradas
Motion to be Allowed to Administer the Oath of Office to Senator Luisa Loi
Estrada, on June 29, 2001, past beyond the scheduled hour of oath-taking,
thus, prompting Justice Ricardo M. Ilarde (Ret.) to write the following
annotations on the Resolution: What is there to deny? This resolution was
brought to us only at 4:45 p.m. The matter has been rendered moot and
academic.
Respondents filed their separate comments.
Justice De Castro explains as follows:
First, in issuing the Pre-trial Order, the court merely relied on the parties Joint
Stipulations of Facts and on the notes of the five (5) stenographers recording the
pre-trial conferences held before the Division Clerk of Court. Nonetheless, when
complainants called the courts attention regarding the assailed statement in the
Pre-trial Order, she ordered its deletion.[24] Second, it was Atty. Saguisags
contumacious conduct of loudly speaking simultaneously with Atty. Cuevas that
prompted respondent Justices to order him to leave the courtroom. [25] Third, they
consulted the complainants before they set the hearing of the plunder case three
times a week, resulting in the revision of the trial settings embodied in the courts
Order dated September 14, 2001.[26] Fourth, the appointment of three (3) PAO
lawyers was intended to provide the accused with adequate legal assistance during
the hearing. And fifth, they resolved the accuseds three motions to quash only on
July 9, 2001 because the parties last pleading was filed only on July 5, 2001.[27]
For his part, Justice Badoy maintains that the Pre-trial Order has not prejudiced
the accused since they were not obliged to sign it and that they are free to object to
the presentation of any evidence during trial. [28] He ordered Atty. Saguisag to leave
the courtroom because he ignored Justice De Castros repeated order to stop
arguing.[29] On the setting of the hearing of the plunder case three times a week, he
stressed that the court was merely complying with the Speedy Trial Act. [30] And
lastly, on the alleged late rulings, he explains:
Regarding the release of the Resolution of the undersigned on the Motion for
Recusation of the Estradas on the recusation issue. At the time, the undersigned
had no intention of releasing it yet in order to fine-tune the same further. However,
he was informed just before going out for the hearing that the Estradas were going
Page 73 of 80

to use the pendency of their Motion for Recusation as a reason, again, to ask for
the postponement of the setting for that day, one of their several motions for
postponement.
As regards the delay in the Resolution of the undersigned on the permission to
have Mayor Jose Jinggoy Estrada go to San Juan City to administer the
oath to both his mother as Senator and his brother as the new Mayor of San
Juan City, the reason was because the undersigned was looking hard for a
justification to grant the request since the undersigned sympathized with the
same. The undersigned went to the extent of requesting a copy of the Rules
and Regulations from both the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology
(BJMP) as well as the Bureau of Corrections (BOC). Hence, the delay in the
Resolution of the ponencia. But, even late, there was still a chance for then
Mayor Jose Jinggoy Estrada to administer the oaths of office.
x

The undersigned stated that, with every Justice having 100% load and 100%
staff, with the plunder case (equivalent easily to 500%), the undersigned now
had a load of 600% but with his support staff remaining in the same
level. That is why he asked for additional staff.[31] (Emphasis supplied)
At the outset, it must be stressed that the retirement [32] of Justice Badoy from
the Judiciary does not divest this Court of its jurisdiction over these
cases. In Perez vs. Abiera,[33] this Court ruled:
X x x. In other words, the jurisdiction that was Ours at the time of the
filing of the administrative complaint was not lost by the mere fact that the
respondent public official had ceased to be in office during the pendency of his
case. The Court retains its jurisdiction either to pronounce the respondent
official innocent of the charges or declare him guilty thereof. A contrary rule
would be fraught with injustices and pregnant with dreadful and dangerous
implications. For what remedy would the people have against a judge or any other
public official who resorts to wrongful and illegal conduct during his last days in
office? What would prevent some corrupt and unscrupulous magistrate from
committing abuses and other condemnable acts knowing fully well that he would
soon be beyond the pale of the law and immune to all administrative penalties? If
only for reasons of public policy, this Court must assert and maintain its
jurisdiction over members of the judiciary and other officials under its
supervision and control for acts performed in office which are inimical to the
service and prejudicial to the interests of litigants and the general public. If
innocent, respondent official merits vindication of his name and integrity as he
leaves the government which he served well and faithfully; if guilty, he
deserves to receive the corresponding censure and a penalty proper and
imposable under the situation.
We shall resolve A.M. No. 01-12-01-SC first.
An introspective appraisal of the ambulance incident yields reasons for this
Court to adjudge Justice Badoy guilty of conduct unbecoming a Justice.
Canon 2 of the Code of Judicial Conduct provides that a judge should avoid
impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all activities. He should so
behave at all times as to promote public confidence in the integrity of the Judiciary.
[34]
Concomitant with this is the express mandate of the Canons of Judicial Ethics
Page 74 of 80

that justice should not be bounded by the individual idiosyncrasies of those


who administer it. A judge should adopt the usual and expected method of
doing justice, and not seek to be spectacular or sensational in the conduct of
his court.
Justice Badoy tramples upon the foregoing judicial norms. We see no reason
why he should rush to the GMA-7 Broadcast Station just to inform the public
about the loss of a Resolution. This is an internal office incident which should
not be reported to the whole nation. His claim that the Resolution might have
been stolen and sold by someone (using his name) for a fee is a wild
conjecture. Not only did his conduct give an image that he could not manage
his work effectively, but it also indicated that he had corrupt
personnel. Moreover, it dragged innocent parties as possible culprits.
Justice Badoys aberrant behavior deserves administrative sanction. As the
Chairman of the Division hearing the plunder case against the former President of
the Philippines, he should have been more circumspect in his actuation. A short
pause for reflection might have yielded a better judgment. The loss of the
Resolution, being an internal matter, could have been addressed inside his own
chamber. That he brought it to the arena of public opinion is pure vanity. It cannot
be countenanced. If lawyers are prohibited from making public statements in
the media regarding a pending case to arouse public opinion for or against a
party,[35] with more reason should judges be prohibited from seeking
publicity. Judges are not actors or politicians who thrive by
publicity. Publicity undermines the dignity and impartiality of a judge.
[36]
Thus, at no time should he be moved by a desire to cater to public opinion
to the detriment of the administration of justice.[37]
The fact that Justice Badoy, just three (3) weeks prior to the ambulance
incident, was strictly ordered by Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr., to cease
and desist from holding press conferences, issuing press statements, or giving
interviews to the media on any matter or incident related to the issues subject of
the controversy[38] all the more punctuates his indiscretion.
As we mentioned earlier, judges are subject to human limitations. Imbedded in
their consciousness is the complex of emotions, habits and convictions. Aware of
this actuality, it behooves them to regulate these deflecting forces and not to let
them loose, either to their own detriment or to that of the courts they serve. This is
the high price they have to pay as occupants of their exalted positions.
We now resolve A.M No. SB-02-10-J.
At this juncture, let it be stressed that the administration of justice is primarily
a joint responsibility of the judge and the lawyer. The judge expects a lawyer to
properly perform his role in this task in the same manner that the lawyer expects a
judge to do his part.[39] Their relation should be based on mutual respect and on
a deep appreciation by one of the duties of the other. Only in this manner can
each minimize occasions for delinquency and help attain effectively the ends
of justice.[40]
The conflict between the herein parties could have been avoided if only they
heeded the foregoing clarion call.
I

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Respondents are not guilty of the charges of dishonesty and


misrepresentation. Dishonesty connotes a disposition to deceive,[41] while
misrepresentation means a statement made to deceive or mislead. [42] Obviously,
both imply an intention to deceive. Complainants failed to prove that
respondents acted with deceit or with malice or bad faith in stating in the Pre-trial
Order that the defense admitted the existence of certain exhibits. Other than their
bare allegation, no sufficient evidence was adduced to support the charge. [43] That
respondents did not intend to deceive complainants is clear from the fact that the
Pre-trial Order states verbatim the Joint Stipulations of Facts submitted by both
parties. Furthermore, when complainants expressed their objection to the inclusion
of the assailed statement, respondents immediately ordered its deletion. The
transcript of stenographic notes is revealing, thus:
AJ BADOY:
The Court would appreciate if you can point out some grammatical
errors.
Atty. Flaminiano:
Yes, Your Honor. I am going to do that.
On page 20, the last paragraph states: The defense admitted
exhibit A up to exhibit C-45 and its sub markings as to its
existence but not as to the truth of the content. In the very first
place there never was any admission made by the defense as even to
the existence of the document. And the sentence also we believe not
grammatically appropriate. It should be their sub markings or as
to their existence because this involved several documents, Your
Honors.
AJ DE CASTRO:
That portion may be deleted.
Atty. Flaminiano:
Well, Im not sure about it. Your Honor. I only pointed that there is a
need for us to go over page by page because we got a copy only after
there was an incident
x

OMB Desierto:
We can have this deleted.
Atty. Flaminiano:
But there are several others.
AJ DE CASTRO:
What are those?
OMB Desierto:
After one (1) hour they should be able to determine that. After all Your
Honor, I would like to emphasize the fact that the Joint Stipulation of
Facts were signedstipulations which we had a week ago were signed
by the parties, by the counsels for the accused. And now, the things
that are reflected here, are found in this Pre-trial Order. If there is
any delineation from what stipulated then and were signed by the
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counsels for the defense and also the prosecution, then we can
correct that, but it cannot be possible major changes will have to be
made in the Pre-trial Order since this is only copied anyway from
the Joint Stipulation of Facts. If there are such thing as that
particular sentence which should be objectionable to the defense,
the prosecution is ready to agree to its deletion.
x

AJ DE CASTRO:
You know what we did here is simply copy verbatim every document
that we found on record pertaining to the Pre-trial conference. We did
not add. We did not subtract. So, anything that you will state now will
simply be corrections of some clerical errors, that is all. Giving you
enough time to go over.[44] (Emphasis supplied)
On complainants refusal to sign the Pre-trial Order, Section 2, Rule 118 of the
Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure provides that All agreements or
admissions made or entered during the pre-trial conference shall be reduced
in writing and signed by the accused and counsel, otherwise, they cannot be
used against the accused. Considering that the Pre-trial Order contains the
recital of the actions taken by the parties, agreements and admissions, the facts
stipulated, and the evidence marked,[45] the parties must sign it. A party who
participates in the pre-trial conference and who signs the Joint Stipulation of Facts
is expected to sign the Pre-trial Order. If a party believes that the Pre-trial Order is
not an honest representation of what transpired in the pre-trial conference, then he
must specify his objections thereto and the court may modify it to prevent
injustice. This was what respondents exactly did when complainants pointed out
the assailed statement in the Pre-trial Order.
II
We now come to complainants allegation of oppression and gross
misconduct. Oppression is a misdemeanor committed by a public officer, who
under color of his office, wrongfully inflict upon any person any bodily harm,
imprisonment or other injury. It is an act of cruelty, severity, or excessive use of
authority.[46] Upon the other hand, the word misconduct implies wrongful
intention. For gross misconduct to exist, the judicial act complained of should be
corrupt or inspired by an intention to violate the law or a persistent disregard of
well-known legal rules.[47]We find no evidence to prove complainants charges of
oppression and misconduct.
Records show that Atty. Saguisag was asking the court for a copy of the Pretrial Order so that he could follow up the courts discussion. He did not utter any
disrespectful remark against respondents nor attack their integrity or
authority. However, he kept on speaking simultaneously with Justice Cuevas and
refused to yield to the courts repeated order to stop. Such actuation must have
constrained respondents to lose their cool and order the sheriffs to take him out of
the courtroom. At that point, what respondents should have done was to cite him
in direct contempt of court pursuant to Rule 71 of the 1997 Rules of Civil
Procedure, as amended.[48] In Romero vs. Valle, Jr.,[49] this Court ruled:
Precisely, judicial officers are given contempt powers in order that without being
arbitrary, unreasonable or unjust, they may endeavor to hold counsel to a proper
Page 77 of 80

appreciation of their duties to the court. Respondent judge could very well have
cited complainant in contempt of court instead of indulging in tantrums by
banging his gavel in a very forceful manner and unceremoniously walking out
of the courtroom.
It has been consistently stressed that the role of a judge in relation to those who
appear before his court must be one of temperance, patience and courtesy. In this
regard, Rule 3.04 of the Code of Judicial Conduct states: A judge should be
patient, attentive and courteous to all lawyers, especially the inexperienced, to
litigants, witnesses, and others appearing before the court. A judge should avoid
unconsciously falling into the attitude of mind that the litigants are made for the
courts instead of the courts for the litigants.
In Echano vs. Sunga,[50] respondent judge, during the course of an argument in
his sala, lost his cool and called the sheriff to take away the arguing attorney. And
when the attorney kept on talking, respondent judge countered, Submitted,
Buntalin kita dian. This Court admonished him to be more prudent and restrained
in his behavior.
For his part, pursuant to Canon 11 of the Code of Professional Responsibility,
Atty. Saguisag should have observed the respect due to respondent magistrates for
the maintenance of the courts supreme importance. Upon being ordered to stop
arguing simultaneously with Justice Cuevas, he should have complied and behaved
accordingly. Had he done so, he would not have been ordered to leave the
courtroom. Indeed, he failed to comport himself in a manner required of an officer
of the court.
III
The setting of the hearing of the plunder case three times a week is in order, not
only because the case is of national concern, but more importantly, because the
accused are presently detained.[51] Contrary to complainants assertions, the
continuous trial is in accordance with the mandate of the law. This Court, in
Administrative Circular No. 3-90 dated January 31, 1990, ordered all trial courts to
adopt the mandatory continuous trial system in accordance with Administrative
Circular No. 4 dated September 22, 1988 and Circular No. 1-89 dated January 19,
1989. It was adopted precisely to minimize delay in the processing of cases. This
delay was attributed to the common practice of piecemeal trial wherein cases are
set for trial one day at a time and thereafter the hearing is postponed to another
date or dates until all the parties have finished their presentation of evidence.
[52]
Section 2 of Rule 119 of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure provides:
SEC. 2 Continuous trial until terminated; postponements. Trial once
commenced shall continue from day to day as far as practicable until
terminated. It may be postponed for a reasonable period of time for good cause.
The court shall, after consultations with the prosecutor and defense counsel, set the
case for continuous trial on weekly or other short-term trial calendar at the earliest
possible time so as to ensure speedy trial. In no case shall the entire period exceed
one hundred eighty (180) days from the first day of trial, except as otherwise
authorized by the Supreme Court. (Emphasis supplied)
Corolarilly, the consultations referred to in the foregoing provisions does not
necessarily mean that the court has to secure first from the prosecution and
defense their approval before it can set the date of hearing. To rule otherwise
is to subject our trial system to the control of the parties and their counsel.
Page 78 of 80

Complainants also assail respondents act of setting the hearing at one oclock
in the afternoon. Again, there is nothing irregular in it. The schedule of hearing is
regarded as a matter necessarily at the discretion of the trial judge. As a matter of
fact, a court may even hold night sessions, and a court of review will not interfere
unless it clearly appears that there has been an abuse of the power of the judge and
that injustice has been done.[53] This is because the good of the service demands
more toil and less idleness, and the limitations imposed by law are aimed to cut
indolence and not the other way around.[54]
IV
Our minds cannot sit easy with regard to the charge of violation of the
accuseds right to counsel. A PAO lawyer is considered as independent counsel
within the contemplation of the Constitution considering that he is not a special
counsel, public or private prosecutor, counsel of the police, or a municipal attorney
whose interest is admittedly adverse to that of the accused. In People vs. Bacor,
[55]
we ruled that the assistance of a PAO lawyer satisfies the constitutional
requirement of a competent and independent counsel for the accused.
V
Finally, we find that Justice Badoy incurred delay in resolving Jinggoy
Estradas motion to be allowed to administer the oath of his mother, a newly
elected Senator. Every judge is required, at all times, to be alert in his rulings
and in the conduct of the business of the court, so far as he can make it useful
to litigants and to the community. Rule 3.05, Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial
Conduct provides that A judge shall dispose of the courts business promptly
and decide cases within the required periods. A judge must cultivate a capacity
for quick decision and habits of indecision must be sedulously overcome.
While we commend Justice Badoys persistence in searching for precedents
that would help him resolve Jinggoy Estradas motion to be allowed to administer
the oath of office of his mother, nonetheless, he should not have delayed resolving
the same. As a result, the members of his Division failed to vote on his
Resolution. He knew very well that the oath taking was to be held at 2:00 P.M. of
June 29, 2001. Even if he had to deny the motion, he should have consulted his
members before 2:00 P.M. so as to give them the opportunity to consider Jinggoy
Estradas arguments. When he submitted the Resolution to his members at 4:45
P.M., he rendered their votes inconsequential. Even Justices De Castro and Ilarde
made notes in the same Resolution to the effect that the matter subject of the
Resolution had become moot before it reached them. Justice De Castro
stated: The matter is now moot and academic; while Justice Ilarde
wrote: What is there to deny? This resolution was brought to us only on 4:45
P.M. The matter has been rendered moot and academic. Clearly, Justice
Badoy should be held liable for such delay.
In sum, we find Justice Badoy guilty of the following administrative offenses:
1) conduct unbecoming a Justice for going to GMA-7 Broadcast Station
aboard an ambulance and reporting the loss of a Resolution, classified as a light
charge under Section 10 of Rule 140 of the Revised Rules of Court, as amended;
[56]
and
Page 79 of 80

2) undue delay in resolving Jinggoy Estradas motion to be allowed to


administer his mothers oath of office, a less serious charge under Section 9 of the
same Rule.[57]
Likewise, we find that both Justice Badoy and Justice De Castro failed to
exhibit judicial temperament. Such conduct deserves admonition.
One last word. The members of the bench and the bar ought to be reminded
that the people expect from them a sense of shared responsibility in the
administration of justice a crucial factor in the speedy and fair disposition of
cases. Each of them must do his share for in the last analysis the quality of justice
meted out by the courts cannot be higher than the quality of the lawyers practicing
in the courts and of the judges who have been selected from among them.
WHEREFORE, respondent Justice Anacleto D. Badoy, Jr. (Retired), is hereby
FINED in the sum of P13,000.00 for conduct unbecoming a Justice and for
delay in issuing an Order, to be deducted from his retirement benefits.
Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro is hereby ADMONISHED to be more
tolerant of counsels demeanors which do not detract from the dignity and
solemnity of the court proceedings.
Let a copy of this Decision be attached to respondents records with this Court.
SO ORDERED.

Page 80 of 80