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CANON 5

1 A.M. No. P-06-2245 July 31, 2009


[Formerly OCA IPI NO. 06-2373-P]

JUDGE JAIME L. DOJILLO, JR., Complainant,


vs.
CONCEPCION Z. CHING, Clerk of Court, MTC, Manaoag, Pangasinan, Respondent.

x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x

A.M. No. MTJ-09-1741 July 31, 2009


[Formerly OCA IPI No. 06-1853-MTJ]

CONCEPCION A. CHING, Complainant,


vs.
JUDGE JAIME L. DOJILLO, JR., MTC, Manaoag, Pangasinan, Respondent.

DECISION

CARPIO MORALES, J.:

By letter-complaint1 of January 18, 2006, Judge Jaime L. Dojillo, Jr., (Judge Dojillo), presiding judge
of the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of Manaoag, Pangasinan, charged Concepcion Z.2 Ching
(Concepcion), MTC Clerk of Court, with gross misconduct, gross incompetence and inefficiency,
violation of the Supreme Court Circular which prohibits smoking inside the office, violation of the
Code of Ethics, conduct unbecoming of a public official, conduct prejudicial to the interest of public
service, and gross dishonesty.

By 1st Indorsement3 of February 2, 2006, the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) directed
Concepcion to comment on the letter-complaint within 10 days from notice, with which she complied
by Comment4 of March 13, 2006 with a prayer to consider it as a "counter complaint/charge" against
Judge Dojillo.

Both complaints were referred to Executive Judge Rodrigo Nabor of the Regional Trial Court of
Urdaneta City, Pangasinan, for investigation, report and recommendation. Instead of submitting their
respective Comments pursuant to Judge Nabors November 6, 2006 Order,5 Judge Dojillo and
Concepcion filed a joint Manifestation and Motion6 of June 5, 2007 stating that the "charges and
counter-charges involved were filed out of pure misunderstanding" and should thus be dismissed.

By Resolution of October 1, 2007,7 the Court referred the complaints to the OCA for evaluation,
report and recommendation.

By Memorandum of June 25, 2008,8 the OCA synthesized Judge Dojillos complaint as follows:

A. GROSS MISCONDUCT

Complainant judge alleged that respondent Ching is a lesbian who is a well-known gossiper
and troublemaker in the town of Manaoag,

Pangasinan. Even her officemates were not spared of her daily food of venomous gossiping.
Sometime in the year 1999, respondent gossiped that Ramon Paster, Court Stenographer,
has an illicit relationship with Mrs. Erlinda L. Marmolejo, the Court Interpreter. Subsequently,
respondent allegedly passed malicious information that the complainant judge and Mrs.
Marmolejo had an ongoing illicit affair.

On December 20, 2005, while complainant was having lunch together with some of his staff,
respondent banged the main door of the office, showing lack of civility, disrespect,
discourtesy, insult and belligerent attitude towards the complainant as the presiding judge
and towards respondents officemates. Further, it was also alleged that respondent
threatened with death the complainant via typewritten death threats purportedly using the
typewriter belonging to respondents brother.

B. GROSS INCOMPETENCE AND INEFFICIENCY

Complainant judge averred that respondent was not personally doing most of her assigned
tasks. She always passed the job to other members of the staff even if she was not doing
anything. Further, she was always out of the office. She also refused to learn to type well and
to use the computer issued to the court. These resulted in the delay in the preparation and
issuance of writs of execution ordered by the court.

C. VIOLATION OF THE SUPREME COURT CIRCULAR BANNING SMOKING INSIDE THE


OFFICE.

Respondent Ching, according to the complainant, is a well known chain smoker. She
smoked inside the office to the detriment of the health of her officemates.

D. CONDUCT UNBECOMING OF A PUBLIC OFFICIAL AND CONDUCT PREJUDICIAL TO THE


INTEREST OF THE SERVICE.

Aside from being a well known gossiper and troublemaker, it was also alleged that
respondent was a bad-tempered, impatient, disrespectful and discourteous public employee.
Instead of devoting the office hours for work, she was frequently seen loitering, wasting time
and parading downstairs as if she is the boss, creating an impression to the public that she
could do whatever she wants and pleases and thereby eroding the trust and confidence of
the people in the judiciary.

E. VIOLATION OF THE CODE OF ETHICAL STANDARDS

With her malicious motive in mind, she intimidated and harassed Mrs. Erlinda Marmolejo by
uttering unsavory and uncalled remarks in order to force the latter to transfer or to resign
from work. Certification of

entries of incidents in the police blotter were attached to the complaint to prove that
respondent indeed annoyed and harassed Marmolejo.

F. GROSS DISHONESTY

Respondent Ching was also charged for falsifying her Daily Time Record for the month of
November 2003 to make it appear that she was present in the office on November 11, 2003
when in truth and in fact, she was not as she went to Manila on that day as evidenced by her
application for leave. She also allegedly falsified her Daily Time Record for the month of
December 2005 by making it appear that December 12, 2005 was a local holiday in
Manaoag, Pangasinan, to make her absence on the aforesaid date excusable.9

The OCA summarized Concepcions Comment with counter-complaint as follows:

x x x She denied the accusations hurled against her. She averred that it has been a long time time
[sic] since she heard feedbacks relative to the unusual closeness of Judge Dojillo and Mrs.
Marmolejo. She, herself, has witnessed their closeness. She stated that sometime on May 27, 2005,
she saw Mrs. Marmolejo came out of the chambers of the complainant looking like she just woke up
from sleep. To her shock, Judge Dojillo was also inside the chambers. Thus, she talked to
Marmolejo in order to silence the increasing discomfort of the people around them. Marmolejo,
however, denied her suspicions. Instead of distancing from one another, Judge Dojillo and
Marmolejo were oftentimes seen arriving and leaving the office together. She further advised
Marmolejo that if the latter could not stop what was going on between her and the judge, Marmolejo
should save herself from destruction by going abroad.

She further averred that sometime in December of 2005, at around 8 in the morning, she went early
in the office. She thought that she was all alone but to her surprise, she saw Marmolejo come out of
the chambers of the complainant. When she peeked inside the chambers, Judge Dojillo was also
there. She thus sternly warned Marmolejo to avoid incidents that would make their colleagues
uncomfortable otherwise she will be forced to make the necessary action against her and the judge.

As to the charge of gross misconduct, she argued that she was a very warm person with strong
convictions for propriety and decorum in office. She averred that she made the court accessible to
people by immediately entertaining their concerns and advising them of the procedures in court. She
also denied being a rumor monger and claimed that all the accusations of the witnesses for the
complainant were fabrications in order to malign her person. She, moreover, denied having banged
the door on December 20, 2005 claiming that she had to forcefully close the same since the door
was bigger than the jamb. lavvphi1

Anent the charge of gross incompetence and inefficiency, she stated that as a clerk of court, her
duties were administrative and supervisory. She made sure that all the cases were on file and
calendared and that all the pleadings were referred to the complainant for proper action. These
delicate tasks were performed by her and it was only the typing job that she delegates. She justified
this by saying that it was necessary for her to delegate the typing to others who are faster than her.

As to the allegation that she was always out of the office, her defense was that the nature of her job
requires her to leave the office. These include the monthly submission of reports to RTC and to the
Prosecutors Office in Urdaneta City, depositing in bank of the Judiciary Development Fund and
Special Allowance for the Judiciary and withdrawing of bonds from the bank whenever necessary.
She handles these tasks herself as these are delicate tasks which could not be delegated to others.
As to the alleged delay in the issuance of writs of execution, she attributes the delay to Judge Dojillo
who fails to immediately release signed orders.

With respect to her alleged violation of the circular regarding smoking ban, she claimed that she is
not a chain smoker and she was not the only one smoking among the court employees. She thus
could not fathom why she was singled out by complainant. As to the charge of dishonesty, she stood
by her claim as to the truthfulness of her Daily Time Record. The reason why her application for
leave on November 11, 2003 was not submitted for approval was because she decided not to
proceed to Manila and instead choose to stay at the office. As to her DTR for the month of
December 2005, she argued that December 12, 2005 was a rest day and in fact the Municipal Hall
was closed on that day. Further, according to respondent, the court employees agreed to just state
in their DTRs that such was a local holiday due to Galicayo Festival. Moreover, her DTRs were with
the approval of the presiding judge. She thus prayed that the complaint against her be dismissed
and that her comment be considered as a counter complaint against Judge Dojillo.10

The OCA, passing on the Manifestation and Motion of the parties for the dismissal of their respective
charges, states that "the withdrawal of an administrative complaint or subsequent desistance of the
complainant does not free the respondent from liability as the purpose of an administrative
proceeding is to protect the public service, based on the time-honored principle that a public office
i[s] a public trust."

The OCA goes on to state:

The withdrawal of the complaint or the execution of an affidavit of desistance does not automatically
result in the dismissal of the administrative case. x x x It will not divest the Supreme Court of its
jurisdiction to investigate the matters alleged in the complaint. Thus, the manifestation and motion
filed by the parties praying that the charges and counter-charges be dismissed should be denied.

Evaluating the charges and counter charges, the OCA reports as follows:

Anent the complaint against Judge Dojillo, it bears stressing that in administrative cases, the burden
devolves upon the complainant for him to prove by substantial evidence the allegations in the
complaint. In the instant case, records are bereft of any evidence which would render Judge Dojillo
guilty of immorality. Complainant Ching miserably failed to present any substantial evidence which
will prove that Judge Dojillo is having an illicit affair with Ms. Marmolejo. It was also revealed that it
was not only Ms. Marmolejo who enters the chambers of the judge. Even granting that it was only
Ms. Marmolejo who enters the chambers of the judge, the same is purely due to work-related
reasons since the computer is inside his chambers. It would thus be hasty to conclude that they
were having an illicit affair. Moreover, the allegation that Ms. Marmolejo and Judge Dojillo were
unusually early in the office deserves scant consideration. It was complainant Ching, herself, who
admitted that she saw Marmolejo and Judge Dojillo at around 8 oclock in the morning. It bears
stressing that eight in the morning is no longer unusually early. In fact[,] it is already the start of the
official office hours for all the personnel of the court. This Office also sees nothing wrong and
unsuitable in the actuation of the judge in giving Marmolejo and her family a free ride in his car since
the residence of Marmolejo is on the way to the judges own residence. We find nothing immoral with
that. Time and again, the Court will not hesitate to impose penalty to those who are guilty of any
wrongdoing but it will likewise not hesitate to exonerate those charged of baseless and unfounded
complaints.

Anent the complaint against Ching, the latter should be penalized for her acts. Misconduct is defined
as any unlawful conduct on the part of a person concerned in the administration of justice prejudicial
to the rights of the parties or to the right determination of the cause. It generally means wrongful,
improper or unlawful conduct motivated by a premeditated, obstinate or intentional purpose. Her
actuations in maliciously accusing her officemate of having an illicit affair with Judge Dojillo should
not be countenanced especially in the instant case where it appears that the accusations made by
her are baseless and unfounded. What is more alarming is the fact that she falsified the entries in
her DTR in making it appear that December 12, 2005 was a local holiday when in fact it was not. Her
claim that the aforesaid date was a local holiday was not corroborated by any other evidence. In fact,
her co-employees attested to the fact that such day was a regular working day. In making it appear
in her DTR that such day was a holiday only highlights her dishonesty x x x.

xxxx
There is no denying that respondent Ching committed misrepresentation when she made it appear
in her DTR that she was present in the office while in fact she was not. Falsification of DTR is patent
dishonesty. Dishonesty, being a grave offense, carries the extreme penalty of dismissal from the
service with forfeiture of retirement benefits except accrued leave credits, and with perpetual
disqualification from re-employment in government service. Indeed, dishonesty is a malevolent act
that has no place in the Judiciary. x x x

xxxx

Rule IV, Section 52 of the Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service Commission
provides that dishonesty and falsification are grave offenses which carries with it the penalty of
dismissal even on the first offense. However, such an extreme penalty is not hastily inflicted upon an
erring employee especially in cases where there exist mitigating circumstances that could alleviate
the culpability. Inasmuch as this is respondent Chings first offense, it is considered a mitigating
circumstance in h[er] favor. Even if the law specifically states that the appreciation of the mitigating
circumstance must first be invoked or pleaded by the proper party, the same may be considered
even if not raised by the respondent in the interest of substantial justice.

In Re: Failure of Jose Dante E. Guerrero to Register His Time In and Out in Chronolog Time
Recorder Machine on Several Dates, the Court imposed the penalty of six months suspension to an
employee found guilty of dishonesty for falsifying his time records.11 (Italics in the original;
underscoring supplied)

Thus, the OCA recommends that

x x x respondent Concepcion Ching, Clerk of Court, MTC, Manaoag, Pangasinan, be found guilty of
falsification and dishonesty and be SUSPENDED for six (6) months with a STERN WARNING that a
repetition of the same or similar acts x x x shall be dealt with more severely; [and]

x x x the counter-charge against Judge Jaime L. Dojillo, Jr., MTC, Manaoag, Pangasinan x x x
be DISMISSED for being barren of merit.12 (Capitalization and emphasis in the original; underscoring
supplied)

By Resolution of August 13, 2008,13 the Court required the parties to manifest whether they were
willing to submit the cases for resolution based on the pleadings filed, within 10 days from notice. By
Joint Manifestation of September 29, 2008,14 the parties answered in the affirmative and prayed that
the cases be resolved "soonest."

In her Affidavit, Jenelyn Sernadilla (Jenelyn) of the Office of the Human Resource Management of
Manaoag, Pangasinan stated that December 12, 2005 was a regular working day.15 On the other
hand, in his Affidavit, Municipal Consultant Sofronio L. Mangonon (Mangonon)16 stated that on
December 12, 2005, a Monday, the municipal hall where the court holds office was closed, for it was
a rest day after the Galicayo Festival which ended on the preceding Sunday.

Between the two affidavits, that of Jenelyns appears to be more credible, she being the officer in
charge of the attendance of the employees. As Judge Dojillo pointed out, Mangonon, being a
consultant, was not required to report to office daily as he, in fact, only reports during paydays.
Parenthetically, Concepcion could have submitted the affidavits of employees or the photocopies of
their Daily Time Record (DTR) to support her claim that December 12, 2005 was a local holiday.

Dishonesty is a serious offense which has no place in the judiciary.17 Each false entry in the DTR
constitutes falsification and dishonesty.18 The falsification of a DTR constitutes fraud involving
government funds. It bears stressing that the DTR is used to determine the salary and leave credits
accruable for the period covered thereby. Falsifying ones DTR to cover up absences or tardiness
automatically results in financial losses to the government because it enables an employee to
receive salary and earn leave credits for services which were never rendered.19

Under the Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service, dishonesty and falsification of
official document are punishable with dismissal even for the first offense.20 However, the Court, in
certain instances, has not imposed the penalty of dismissal due to the presence of mitigating factors
such as the length of service, acknowledgment of the infractions, and remorse by the respondent.21

Considering that this is the first administrative charge against Concepcion since she entered the
government service in 1996 as a court interpreter, the recommended penalty of suspension for a
period of six months is in order.

In the case of Judge Dojillo, he should be admonished to be more circumspect in his choice of words
and use of gender-fair language.22 There was no reason for him to emphatically describe
Concepcion as a "lesbian"23because the complained acts could be committed by anyone regardless
of gender orientation. His statements like "I am a true man not a gay to challenge a girl and a lesbian
like her,"24 "the handiwork and satanic belief of dirty gossiper,"25 and "the product of the dirty and
earthly imagination of a lesbian and gossiper"26 were uncalled for.

Being called to dispense justice, Judge Dojillo must demonstrate finesse in his choice of words as
normally expected of men of his stature.27 His language, both written and spoken, must be guarded
and measured lest the best of intentions be misconstrued.28

WHEREFORE, Concepcion Ching, Clerk of Court of the Municipal Trial Court of Manaoag,
Pangasinan, is found GUILTY of dishonesty and falsification of official document, and
is SUSPENDED for six months without salary and other benefits, with a STERN WARNING that a
repetition of the same or similar acts shall be dealt with more severely.

The complaint against Judge Jaime L. Dojillo, Jr. is DISMISSED, but he is ADMONISHED to be
more circumspect in his choice of words and use of gender-fair language.

SO ORDERED.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

2 A.M. OCA-IPI No. 07-2618-RTJ February 12, 2013

EDUARDO PANES, JR., JOSEPHINE J. COSEP, ROGER M. ROSAL, LOURDES G.


SOLATORIO, AMY P. AGUIRRE, JUANCHO B. HOLGADO, Complainants,
vs.
JUDGE OSCAR E. DINOPOL, RTC, Branch 24, Koronadal City, Respondent.

X---------------------------X

A.M. OCA-IPI No. 07-2619-RTJ

JOEWE PALAD, Complainant,


vs.
JUDGE OSCAR E. DINOPOL, RTC, Branch 24, Koronadal City, Respondent.
X---------------------------X

A.M. OCA-IPI No. 07-2652-RTJ

ROQUE C. FACURA, DANIEL I. LANDINGIN, ALFREDO B. ESPINO, VENUS M. POZON, FRED


F. FABELLON,Complainants,
vs.
JUDGE OSCAR E. DINOPOL, RTC, Branch 24, Koronadal City,, Respondent.

X---------------------------X

A.M. OCA-IPI No. 07-2720-RTJ

EDEN V. CASTRO, Complainant,


vs.
JUDGE OSCAR E. DINOPOL, RTC, Branch 24, Koronadal City, Respondent.

X---------------------------X

A.M. OCA-IPI No. 07-2721-RTJ

ROSALINDA G. FAROFALDANE, BARBIE GAIL LUANNE MANANES, ALVIN TROJILLO,


REXES CAILAN, ARIEL RENDON, EDUARDO PANES, JR., ROGER ROSAL, ELENITA
JOQUINO, MELODY JOY COSEP, AMY P. AGUIRRE, Complainants,
vs.
JUDGE OSCAR E. DINOPOL, RTC, Branch 24, Koronadal City, Respondent.

X---------------------------X

A.M. OCA-IPI No. 08-2808-RTJ

ENGR. ROQUE C. FACURA, JOSEPHINE J. COSEP, EDUARDO A. PANES, JR., REV J.


VARGAS, NONITO R. PALMA, MA. LOURDES G. SOLATORTO, AMY P. AGUIRRE, JUANCHO
B. HOLGADO, JOSE AMORMIO T. REYES, REXES S. CAILAN, JERRY M. GAY ANILO, ARIEL
V. U.ENDON, BARBY GAIL LUANNE S. MANANES, RIC DAGOHONG, ASER G. SADAVA,
ROGER M. ROSAL, Complainants,
vs.
JUDGE OSCAR E. DINOPOL, RTC, Branch 24, Koronadal City, Respondent.

DECISION

PER CURIAM:

Before us are six (6) administrative cases that have been consolidated, as they arose from the same
set of circumstances.

The facts, as reported by the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA), are as follows:1

Respondent was the presiding judge of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 24, Koronadal City.
On 16 November 2006, then Mayor Fernando Q. Miguel appointed Engineer Joselito T. Reyes and
Carlito Y. Uy to the board of directors (BOD) of the Koronadal Water District (KWD), and the
appointees were to serve from 1 January 2007 to 31 December 2012. Their appointments were
subsequently confirmed by the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA). Other board members
who were appointed were Andres O. Magallanes, Jr., Evangeline A. Ang (Ang), and Engineer Allan
D. Yaphockun (Yaphockun). These appointments were communicated by LWUA to Eleanor P.
Gomba (Gomba), the general manager of KWD, through a letter2 dated 12 December 2006.

Gomba, however, refused to recognize the new BOD, prompting LWUA to replace her and to
appoint Rey Vargas (Vargas) as officer-in-charge of the office of the general manager.

On 14 February 2007, Gomba transferred her office to Arellano St. Kidapawan City. She, in the
name of KWD, then filed a Complaint3 against Vargas for injunction and damages with application for
the exparte issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) and/or writ of preliminary injunction.

On 20 February 2007, Executive Judge Laureano T. Alzate issued a 72-hour TRO.

The case was thereafter docketed as Civil Case No. 1799-24 and raffled to respondent as presiding
judge of Branch 24.

On 23 February 2007, respondent issued an Order for a writ of preliminary injunction against
Vargas,4 enjoining the latter from doing any of the following: exercising control and supervision over
KWD; collecting and receiving payments from KWD concessionaires; exercising control and
supervision over all KWD employees; or exercising authority to deal with business transactions
relating to KWD.

Gomba, however, alleged that Vargas continued to receive payments in violation of the injunction
order. Thus, on 9 March 2007, respondent issued a 20-day TRO enjoining Yaphockun, Ang, and
their agents from exercising powers as members of the BOD, and from establishing a separate office
on G.H. Del Pilar Street.

In the meantime, the LWUA issued Resolution No. 415 taking over KWD for a period of six (6)
months effective 6 March 2007. By virtue of the Resolution, which was implemented on 24 March
2007, properties were taken from the KWD Arellano office.

Acting on Gombas Very Urgent Ex Parte Omnibus Motion, respondent issued on 24 March 2007, a
Saturday, at 8:15 p.m. one of the assailed Orders, the dispositive portion of which reads:6

ACCORDINGLY, and to obviate possible loss of government property and in order to preserve the
Orders of this Court, all the defendants in this case, to wit: Rey J. Vargas, Allan Yaphockun,
Evangeline Ang, John Does and Jane Does, including all LWUA personnel and officers, specifically
Daniel Landingin, Antonio Magtibay, Alfredo Espino, Venus Pozon, Fred Fabellon, Roque Facura,
including all of their representatives and agents, and successors, assigns, representatives,
supporters, and agents of the Defendants are hereby ordered to obey, uphold and preserve the
Orders of this Court dated February 23, 2007 and March 9, 2007, respectively.

Further, the LWUA officers are ordered to maintain the Status Quo Ante, and to return all KWD
properties to its office at Arellano St, City of Koronadal immediately upon receipt of this Order. The
above named officers and personnel of LWUA are directed to explain within twelve (12) hours why
they should not be cited in contempt of Court for violating the aforesaid Orders.
After an hour, at 9:15 p.m., respondent judge issued the second assailed Order7 ordering the arrest
of Eduardo Panes, Jr., security guards of the Supreme Investigative and Security Agency, Juancho
Holgado, and all persons inside No. 79 G.H. Del Pilar Street, Koronadal City (KWD Del Pilar office)
for resisting the implementation of the earlier 24 March 2007 Order.

On 13 April 2007, respondent issued still another Order,8 this time directing police forces to augment
two Philippine National Police (PNP) teams at the KWD Arellano office, its pumping stations and
reservoir; ordering the LWUA personnel, Mayor Fernando Miguel, Jesus Pring, Jr. and those giving
them aid and comfort to desist and refrain from forcibly, and without court order, taking over the
operation and management of the KWD Arellano office; and directing the PNP to arrest and detain
the mayor and all his allies in the event of their defiance of the Order.

On the same day, respondent issued another Order9 directing Daniel Landingan, Antonio Matibay,
Alfredo Espino, Venus Pozon, Fredo Fabellon and Roque Facura to return certain properties to the
KWD Arellano office. Otherwise, they would be held guilty of indirect contempt, and their arrest and
detention ordered until compliance thereof.

We now take up the individual cases filed against respondent judge.

A.M. OCA-IPI No. 07-2618-RTJ

Complainants, all employees of KWD, alleged that the manner of service of the assailed 24 March
2007 twin Orders was violent, and that the disturbance that ensued caused all KWD personnel in the
Del Pilar office to scamper and hide for fear of arrest. The office was then ransacked by the allies of
Gomba who took the things from the Del Pilar and the Arellano offices, as well as the motor vehicles
owned by KWD. The windows and doors were also destroyed.

Complainants further alleged that the Orders were patently illegal and void and were issued with
abuse of authority and gross ignorance of law, jurisprudence and the Rules of Court, for the
following reasons:

1. These Orders were issued past working hours, on a Saturday, a nonworking day, and
without the benefit of a hearing or a notice to concerned parties.

2. Resistance to a lawful court order, while a ground for indirect contempt, still requires the
filing of a charge and the opportunity to be heard.

3. Complainants were not parties to the cases filed before respondent judge on the
legitimacy of either faction.

4. The proceedings in Civil Case No. 1799-24 are null and void because the lawyers
representing KWD, a government-owned and controlled corporation, were not authorized
by the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC) and the Commission on Audit
(COA).10

In response, respondent judge alleged that complainants were not employees of KWD. He further
insisted that the Complaint should be dismissed by virtue of a Petition for Review questioning the
twin Orders of 24 March 2007 then pending with the CA. Moreover, he claimed that he issued the
assailed Orders because he was convinced that the very survival of KWD was seriously threatened,
after granting an audience at 4:00 p.m. to the lawyers of the Gomba group when they filed an Ex
Parte Omnibus Motion. Thus, he thought that the three-day notice rule under the Rules of Court was
"totally insignificant and ridiculous,"11 when what seemed more urgent to him was the speedy
delivery of justice.

A.M. OCA-IPI No. 07-2619-RTJ

Complainant Joewe Palad is a security guard of Supreme Investigative and Security Agency detailed
to secure the premises of the Del Pilar office. On 24 March 2007, at around 10:00 p.m., he was
arrested by elements of the PNP and was brought to the PNP Jail of Koronadal City for allegedly
defying the assailed Orders of respondent, but with no bail recommended.12 He was, however, not
aware of these Orders, and only came to know of them on 28 March 2007 when he was brought to
court to attend a hearing on his arrest. At 5:00 p.m. of the same day, he was released on
respondents finding that he did not show an act of defiance to the Orders.

In his Comment,13 respondent alleged that complainant Palad defied the orders of Sheriff Ricardo
Publico to open the gate of the KWD Del Pilar office. Respondent also alleged that Palad acted in
bad faith in filing the present Complaint, with the intention to harass the former.

A.M. OCA IPI No. 07-2652-RTJ

Complainants Roque C. Facura, Daniel I. Landingin, Alfredo B. Espino, Venus M. Pozon and Fred F.
Fabellon are employees of the LWUA. They alleged that on 28 February 2007, to alleviate the
conflict between the Gomba and the Reyes factions, the LWUA Administrator designated
complainant Facura as KWD interim general manager.

On 24 March 2007, the appointed interim BOD allegedly served a notice of takeover on the KWDs
BOD. After that, they proceeded to the KWD Arellano office, where Gomba was holding office, to
also serve the notice to her.

Upon serving the notice, however, several unknown persons allegedly barged into the Arellano office
and took away the records, equipment and other items found.

Complainants alleged that the 24 March 2007 twin Orders of respondent were highly irregular and
illegal, having been issued on a Saturday evening without notice and hearing. Complainants likewise
alleged that the 13 April 2007 twin Orders are highly irregular and were issued without notice and
hearing. They additionally alleged that respondent had shown an unwarranted bias for Gomba, who
identified respondent as one of her personal references in her Personal Data Sheet.

Complainants maintained that respondent allowed the private lawyers of Gomba to appear before
the court without the necessary authority from the OGCC contrary to pertinent rules and regulation.

Finally, they pointed out that respondent had already been the subject of numerous disciplinary
actions as a lawyer and as a judge.

In his Comment,14 respondent claimed that the issues raised were matters cognizable before
appropriate judicial proceedings. His exercise of discretion could not be questioned through an
administrative proceeding. He alleged that complainants conspired with the other complainants in
the other cases and with the mayor and his allies. He maintained that while complainants were not
parties to the case, they disturbed the status quo promoted by the injunctive Orders he issued and
committed robbery when they went to the KWD Arellano office.

A.M. OCA IPI No. 07-02720-RTJ


On 13 August 2007, Eden V. Castro filed a Complaint15 alleging that she was the owner and
administrator of the two-storey building where the KWD Del Pilar office is located. The building has
been leased to and occupied by KWD from 2000 until 2007.

On the evening of 24 March 2007, the use of the building was disrupted when Sheriff Publico
implemented the Orders issued by respondent. The KWD office was forcibly opened. The gate,
doors, windows and other parts of the building were damaged as elements of the PNP entered the
building and ordered the arrest of all persons inside. Other items and equipment within the premises
of the building were also taken and were brought to court although these are personal properties.

Security guards were also positioned inside the building after the altercation to prevent persons,
including complainant, from entering the premises.

Thus, complainant alleged that because of the Orders issued by respondent, she had been deprived
of the use of the building and had lost a considerable amount of income from the lease of the
property. She thus demanded the payment of damages from respondent.

For his part, respondent alleged that it was unfair for him to be confronted with damages through the
present Complaint, allegedly brought about by the implementation of the 24 March 2007 twin Orders.
He maintained that he was not aware of any contractual relationship between complainant Castro
and the KWD administration, nor was he aware of the extent of the damage caused to the property.
Instead, he alleged that he was informed that no owner claimed the building for almost five months,
and that complainant in any case was already in possession by August 2007.16

A.M. OCA IPI No. 07-2721-RTJ

Complainants are owners of the several various personal properties such as 3 scooters, 2
motorcycles, 2 tricycles, office tables, kitchen and cooking utensils, and other perishable goods,
found within the KWD Del Pilar office. Pursuant to the 24 March 2007 twin Orders, these properties
were confiscated by Sheriff Publico and other elements of the PNP.

Respondent judge refused to release these personal properties despite several entreaties for him to
do so. Complainants alleged that as a consequence of the confiscation of these personal properties
some of which were their sources of income they lost a considerable amount of income and
could no longer earn a decent living.

Respondent alleged that he belatedly discovered that some of the confiscated properties belonged
to complainants herein. After preparing an inventory thereof, the personal properties were turned
over and deposited in court for safekeeping. He claims that had the police left the personal
belongings unattended, they would have been responsible in case of loss. Respondent further stated
that the belongings were already returned to complainants on 8 August 2007. Thus, he prayed that
the Complaint be dismissed for being moot and academic.

A.M. OCA IPI No. 08-2808-RTJ

On 18 February 2008, employees of KWD including complainants in A.M. OCA IPI No. 07-2618-
RTJ, filed a Complaint17 alleging that respondent judge took cognizance of two other related cases
involving KWD. The first case is Civil Case No. 1818-24 for Injunction with Application for Ex
Parte Issuance of Temporary Restraining Order and/or Writ of Preliminary Injunction. The assigned
presiding judge is Judge Oscar P. Noel, Jr. per this Courts Resolution dated 10 December 2007.
However, respondent refused to turn over the records of the case to Judge Noel, Jr. and only did so
when the OCA, through a long distance call, prohibited the former from hearing the case.
After Judge Noel, Jr. denied the prayer for a TRO, the plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 1818-24 file a
second case, docketed as Civil Case No. 1839- 24, also for Injunction with Application for Ex
Parte Issuance of Temporary Restraining Order and/or Writ of Preliminary Injunction. This case was
raffled to respondent judge, who subsequently issued an Order granting the 72-hour TRO prayed for
by plaintiffs therein.

It appears that when respondent filed his third Motion for Reconsideration of the Order putting him
under preventive suspension, he promised that he would not interfere in the disposition of the cases
involving KWD. Complainants alleged that the two cases were evidently similar and the reliefs
prayed for were identical. Despite the fact that the prayer for the issuance of a TRO in Civil Case No.
1818-24 was already denied twice, respondent still granted a TRO in Civil Case No. 1839-24.
Furthermore, they aver that respondent judge took cognizance of the case with apparent bias, when
Marlon Cabel (Cabel), one of the plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 1839-24, is the nephew of his wife.

On the other hand, in his Comment,18 respondent denied the allegations and posited that his
undertaking not to hear KWD cases was inconsequential to his preventive suspension. He further
alleged that the issue of inhibition was not contained in the Order lifting his preventive suspension.
Thus, he contends that he took cognizance of the cases in good faith.

Respondent also averred that when Civil Case No. 1839-24 was raffled to his court, he believed that
there was an urgent need to issue a 72- hour TRO. He further claimed that he was unaware of the
Orders of Judge Noel, Jr., which were issued during his preventive suspension.

While respondent admits that Marlon Cabel was his wifes nephew, however, he was under the
belief that the Cabel was already looking for different employment outside of KWD. Thus, when Civil
Case No. 1839-24 was raffled to his sala, he quickly went through the names of the parties and did
not expect to see Cabels name included. Respondent thereafter confronted him and was informed
by Cabel that he was told to affix his signature on the assumption that it was necessary to relieve
him from any liability to KWD. Subsequently, on 22 February 2008, Cabel filed a Manifestation of
Withdrawal from the case.

JUDICIAL REMEDIES SOUGHT DURING THE PENDENCY OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE CASES

While the foregoing administrative complaints were being investigated by the Court of Appeals (CA),
complainants Eduardo Panes, Jr. and Juancho B. Holgado filed a Petition for Certiorari19 before the
CA, docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 01676, against respondent judge and Gomba. This Petition
assailed the 24 March 2007 twin Orders.

Another Petition for Certiorari was filed with the CA by Roque C. Facura, Daniel I. Landingin, Antonio
B. Magtibay, Alfredo B. Espino, Venus M. Pozon, and Fred. F. Fabellon also against respondent
judge and Gomba. This case was docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 01765, which in turn questioned the
first 24 March 2007 Order and the 13 April 2007 twin Orders.

Both Petitions alleged that respondent judge committed grave abuse of discretion amount to lack or
in excess of discretion in issuing the 24 March 2007 and 13 April 2007 Orders. Petitioners
maintained that respondent judge violated their constitutional right to due process and the applicable
provisions of the rules of procedure, pertinent laws and jurisprudence.

These two cases were eventually consolidated.

On 31 January 2008, the CA promulgated its Decision granting the Petitions, the dispositive portion
of which reads:
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. the assailed Orders dated March 24, 2007 issued at 8:15
oclock and 9:15 oclock in the evening, and the two Orders issued on April 13, 2007 are hereby
declared null and void. The Regional Trial Court of Koronadal City, South Cotabato, Branch 24 is
hereby ORDERED to proceed with the main case with dispatch.

SO ORDERED.20

In granting the Petitions, the CA found that the Very Urgent Ex Parte Omnibus Motion filed by
Gomba did not contain a notice of hearing. Further, respondent judge granted the Motion without the
benefit of a hearing through the 24 March 2007 Orders, violating Section 4, Rule 15 of the Rules of
Court. This provision mandates that all written motions shall be set for hearing by the movant to give
the other party the opportunity to oppose the prayer of the movant.

The CA likewise held that the LWUA takeover was a right claimed by complainants in A.M. OCA-IPI
No. 07-2652-RTJ by virtue of LWUA Resolution No. 41. It further stated that there was not even any
urgency for respondent to issue the 24 March 2007 Orders as there were already police officers in
the premises who would have prevented the looting.

Moreover, the CA found that petitioners therein were not parties to Civil Case No. 1799-24, which
was the main case filed by Gomba against Vargas, Yaphockun, Ang and their agents. It held that
petitioners could not be considered agents of the defendants in Civil Case No. 1799-24 because
they were representatives of the LWUA, an independent administrative body.

The CA pointed out that the taking over of LWUA over KWD was also not put in issue in Civil Case
No. 1799-24, thus, respondent had no jurisdiction whatsoever over that issue.

As to the second 24 March 2007 Order, the CA held that order of arrest for indirect contempt against
complainants Panes and Holgado was void for lack of due process, violating Section 3 of Rule 71 of
the Rules of Court. This provision reads:

Sec. 3. Indirect contempt to be punished after charge and hearing. - After a charge in writing has
been filed, and an opportunity given to the respondent to comment thereon within such period as
may be fixed by the court and to be heard by himself or counsel, a person guilty of any of the
following acts may be punished for indirect contempt: x x x.

Thus, in order for a person to be held in indirect contempt, respondent judge should have given the
accused an opportunity to comment and to be heard by himself or counsel. This he did not do.

Gomba subsequently filed a Motion for Reconsideration, but this was likewise denied.21 She then
brought the case to this Court under Rule 45, docketed as G.R. No. 184541. In a Minute
Resolution22 dated 19 November 2008, this Petition was denied, and 23 March 2009, it was denied
with finality.

ISSUES

The issues are as follows:

I. Whether the issuance by respondent Judge Dinopol of the 24 March 2007 twin Orders
constitutes gross ignorance of the law
II. Whether respondent Judge Dinopol is civilly liable for the personal damages suffered by
complainants

III. Whether Judge Dinopol, in taking cognizance of cases involving KWD violated the
condition for the lifting of his suspension

IV. Whether respondent judge should have inhibited himself from a case to which one of the
parties was his wifes nephew is party thereto.

The Courts Ruling

A judge should be the embodiment of competence, integrity and independence.23 He should so


behave at all times as to promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the
judiciary.24 He shall be faithful to the law and maintain professional competence.25

At the outset, respondent failed to provide any legitimate reason for the issuance of the Orders on a
Saturday evening when the courts were already closed. As pointed out by the CA, if indeed there
was robbery or looting happening in the premises, arrests could be effected by the police officers
who were already in the vicinity of the KWD office.

We agree with the findings of the OCA that respondents defenses neither justify his failure to
comply with due process requirements nor do they demonstrate good faith on his part that would
exculpate him from administrative liability. Respondent violated the most basic requirements for the
proper observance of due process, resulting in the unwarranted arrest and incarceration of
powerless individuals.

As the OCA pointed out, when respondent issued the first 24 March 2007 Order, he was obviously
aware that there is a need to give the parties involved the opportunity to be heard before he cited
them for contempt. In that Order he said:

Further, the LWUA officers are ordered to maintain the Status Quo Ante, and to return all KWD
properties to its office at Arellano St., City of Koronadal immediately upon receipt of this Order. The
above named officers and personnel of LWUA are directed to explain within twelve (12) hours why
they should not be cited in contempt of Court for violating the aforesaid Orders.

However, an hour after, acting not on personal knowledge but merely on the narration of Sheriff
Publico, he issued the second Order in which he directed all government law enforcement agencies
to arrest Eduardo Panes Jr., the security guards of the Supreme Investigative and Security Agency,
Juancho Holgado and all persons inside the KWD Del Pilar office, when clearly, none of them was a
party to Civil Case No. 1799-24.

Still displaying his overreaching powers of adjudication, he again issued the 13 April 2007 twin
Orders. The first one directing the city mayor to desist and refrain from taking over the operation and
management of the KWD Arellano office; otherwise his arrest would be effected. The second Order
meanwhile directed the LWUA personnel to return properties to the KWD Arellano office, also under
pain of arrest.

We find that the issuance of these Orders was in total disregard of the Rules of Court and with grave
abuse of authority. Undoubtedly, respondent is guilty of gross ignorance of the law.
To be held administratively liable for gross ignorance of the law, the acts complained of must not
only be contrary to existing law and jurisprudence, but must have also been motivated by bad faith,
fraud, dishonesty, and corruption.26 Gross ignorance of the law is considered as a serious offense
under Rule 140, Section 8, and is punishable as follows:

SEC. 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 20,000.00 but not exceeding 40,000.00.

On the issue of whether respondent may be held liable for damages, we rule in the negative.

In Alzua v. Johnson,27 we explained that in civil actions for damages, judges of superior and general
jurisdiction are not liable to answer for what they do in the exercise of their judicial functions,
provided they are acting within their legal powers and jurisdiction. We said:

The exemption of judges of courts of superior or general authority from liability in a civil action for
acts done by them in the exercise of their judicial functions is a principle essentially inherent in the
various judicial systems upon which the system organized under Act No. 136 is modeled. The
grounds of public policy and the reasoning upon which the doctrine is based are not less forceful and
imperative in these Islands than in the countries from which the new judicial system was borrowed;
and an examination of the reasons assigned by the Supreme Court of the United States and by Mr.
Cooley in his work on Torts for the universal recognition of the rule in the United States, as set out in
the margin (Notes C and D) leaves no room for doubt that a failure to recognize it as an incident to
the new judicial system would materially impair its usefulness, and tend very strongly to defeat the
ends for which it was established. Indeed, upon the authority of the reasoning in the case of Bradley
vs. Fisher, it may safely be asserted that an attempt to enforce any rule of law in conflict with this
doctrine would be utterly subversive of the system of jurisprudence established in these Islands
under and by virtue of the authority of the Congress of the United States:

"For it is a general principle of the highest importance to the proper administration of justice that a
judicial officer, in exercising the authority vested in him, shall be free to act upon his own convictions,
without apprehension of personal consequences to himself. Liability to answer to everyone who
might feel himself aggrieved by the action of the judge would be inconsistent with the possession of
this freedom, and would destroy that independence without which no judiciary can be either
respectable or useful. As observed by a distinguished English judge, it would establish the weakness
of judicial authority in a degrading responsibility.

"The principle, therefore, which exempts judges of courts of superior or general authority from
liability in a civil action for acts done by them in the exercise of their judicial functions, obtains in all
countries where there is any well-ordered system of jurisprudence. It has been the settled doctrine of
the English courts for many centuries, and has never been denied, that we are aware of, in the
courts of this country." (Bradley vs. Fisher, supra)
xxxx

Perhaps we should not conclude this discussion of the doctrine of immunity of judicial officers from
civil liability in certain cases without expressly directing attention to the fact that nothing therein is to
be understood as giving to them the power to act with partiality, or maliciously, or corruptly, or
arbitrarily, or oppressively without fear that they may be called to account for such conduct. No
judge, however high his rank may be, is above or beyond the law which it is his high office to
administer. Indeed, we would deem it our duty to be the first to take the necessary preliminary steps
looking to the suspension and removal from office of the defendant, by impeachment or otherwise, if
we were of opinion that the charges of misconduct in office preferred against him had any foundation
in fact; and we would not allow the sun to set upon this day's session of the court without having
issued the necessary orders for the institution of criminal proceedings against him if we had reason
to believe that there are any grounds for the criminal charges set forth in the complaint.28

Anent the third and fourth issues, respondent judge should have inhibited himself from taking
cognizance of the two other cases involving the leadership and management of KWD.

As earlier mentioned, respondent judge filed his 12 November 2007 Motion for Reconsideration of
this Courts Resolution putting him under preventive suspension. He made an undertaking therein
that in the event of the lifting of the suspension, he would not interfere in the disposition of the cases
involving KWD. Thus, when he took cognizance of Civil Case Nos. 1818-24 and 1839-24 both of
which involved issues on the management of KWD he violated the assurances he had made to
this Court.

Furthermore, Cabel, one of the plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 1839-24, is the nephew of the wife of
respondent. Section 1, Rule 137 of the Rules of Court, provides for the following instances of
mandatory inhibition:

Section 1. Disqualification of judges. No judge or judicial officers 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 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.

Considering that Cabel is a relative by affinity within the sixth degree, respondent should have
inhibited himself from taking cognizance of the case.

It appears that this is not the first time respondent has been the subject of an administrative
complaint. In Sy v. Judge Dinopol,29 we held him liable for gross misconduct in office and ordered his
dismissal from service with forfeiture of all benefits, except accrued leave credits, if any, with
prejudice to his reemployment in any branch or service of the government, including government-
owned and controlled corporations. We also enumerated her previous numerous administrative
1wphi1

infractions, to wit:

First, in A.M. No. RTJ-06-1969 decided on June 15, 2006, Judge Dinopol was found guilty of
gross ignorance of the law and was fined P20,000.00.
Second, in A.M. No. RTJ-06-2020 decided on September 20, 2006, he was found guilty of
gross ignorance of the law and abuse of authority, and was fined P20,000.00.

Third, in A.M. No. RTJ-06-2003 decided on August 23, 2007, he was found liable for undue
delay in rendering a decision or order and for violating the clear provisions of A.M. No. 01-1-
07-SC, and was fined P11,000.00.

Fourth, in A.M. OCA IPI No. 05-2173-RTJ decided on August 28, 2006, he was strongly
admonished, even as the complainant desisted from pursuing the complaint against the
judge for gross ignorance of the law, grave abuse of authority and discretion.

And more recently, in A.M. No. RTJ-07-2052 decided on March 30, 2009, Judge Dinopol had been
reminded and warned against entertaining litigants outside court premises.30

As the OCA points out, respondents previous dismissal from service does not render the present
case moot and academic. In Perez v. Abiera31 we said:

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.32

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, Judge Oscar E. Dinopol formerly of the Regional Trial
Court, Branch 24, Koronadal City, is hereby found GUILTY of gross ignorance of the law. His
offense would have warranted his dismissal from the service with forfeiture of all benefits except
leave credits, if any and disqualification from holding office in the government, including
government-owned and controlled corporations, had he not already been previously dismissed
in Sy v. Judge Dinopol (A.M. No. RTJ-09-2189).

SO ORDERED.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

3 [A.M. No. RTJ-03-1793. February 5, 2004]


ATTY. GLORIA LASTIMOSA-DALAWAMPU, complainant, vs. JUDGE
RAPHAEL B. YRASTORZA, SR., Regional Trial Court of Cebu City,
Branch 14, respondent.

DECISION
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:

The administration of justice is primarily the joint responsibility of the judge


and the lawyer. The judge expects the lawyer to properly perform his role in this
task, in the same manner that the lawyer expects the judge to do his part. The
people expect of them a sense of shared responsibility which is a crucial factor
in the administration of justice. Their relation should be based on mutual
[1]

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. [2]

Atty. Gloria Lastimosa-Dalawampu filed a complaint for serious


misconduct against respondent Judge Raphael Yrastorza, Sr., the incumbent
[3]

presiding judge of Branch 14 of the Regional Trial Court of Cebu City, with the
Office of the Court Administrator.
The complaint alleged that on January 14, 2002, Atty. Lastimosa-
Dalawampu appeared as counsel for the accused before the respondent judge
in Criminal Case No. CBU-58947 entitled, People of the Philippines versus Gina
and Bob Villaver. After her client, Bob Villaver, was arraigned, Atty. Lastimosa-
Dalawampu moved for the re-setting of the pre-trial conference in view of
absence of the trial prosecutor assigned to Branch 14. However, before she
could finish her statement, respondent judge purportedly cut her off by saying,
If you cannot handle this case, Atty. Dalawampu, you better give this case to
another lawyer. When complainant answered that she can handle the case,
respondent again cut her off saying, Do not give me so many excuses, Atty.
Dalawampu! I dont care who you are! When complainant was about to leave
the courtroom, she heard respondent say, I dont care who you are. You can file
one thousand administrative cases against me. I dont care.
According to the complainant, the foregoing incident was not the first time
that she was berated by the respondent judge. On October 11, 2000, when she
appeared as private prosecutor in Criminal Case CBU-49515, she was scolded
by respondent judge for failure to file the pre-trial brief even if a pre-trial brief is
not compulsory in criminal cases.
Complainant was unable to attend the pre-trial conference on October 12,
2000, but she prepared and filed the pre-trial brief and informed the public
prosecutor, Rustico Paderanga, that she had to attend a hearing before the
Sandiganbayan in Manila. Complainants client, Consuelo Aznar, was present
during the pre-trial. Complainant did not advise her client to bring the original
documents to be presented in the case because she stated in the pre-trial brief
that the marking of exhibits will be done as the trial progresses and that
photocopies of these documents already formed part of the record. This
notwithstanding, respondent judge ordered Consuelo Aznar to produce the
original documents in five minutes, or the case would be dismissed. Consuelo
Aznar frantically got the documents from her house, but the travel time from the
court house to the house of Consuelo Aznar and back required at least 30
minutes. Respondent judges action towards Consuelo Aznar is oppressive.
[4]

In his Comment, respondent judge claimed that complainants allegations


[5]

are pure exaggerations. His remark that complainant should let another lawyer
handle her case if she was busy with her other cases was occasioned by
complainants failure to submit a pre-trial brief, and his other remark that he was
not deterred by administrative cases against him was not necessarily to the
complainant but to the public. Respondent explained that he did not mean to
insult complainant or her clients as he only wanted to expedite the
proceedings. [6]

In a Resolution dated August 6, 2003, the Court referred the case to


[7]

Associate Justice Marina Buzon of the Court of Appeals for investigation, report
and recommendation.
Prior to the date of first hearing before the Investigating Justice, complainant
filed a motion to withdraw complaint, alleging that sometime in September
[8]

2003, she and the respondent judge have ironed out their differences in a
Bench and Bar dialogue, and the pendency of her complaint against respondent
judge poses a block to a harmonious relation between them.
Thereafter, complainant failed to appear during the investigation of the
case. At the hearing on October 21, 2003, respondent judge filed a motion to
dismiss on the ground of lack of interest and failure to prosecute.
[9]

On November 6, 2003, Justice Buzon submitted her report to the Office of


the Court Administrator recommending the dismissal of the administrative case
against respondent judge due to the failure of the complainant to prove the
allegations in her complaint.
Prefatorily, the Court must reiterate the rule that mere desistance on the
part of the complainant does not warrant the dismissal of an administrative
complaint against any member of the bench and the judiciary. The Courts
[10]

interest in the affairs of the judiciary is a paramount concern that knows no


bounds. Hence, instead of dismissing the charge as recommended, the Court,
[11]

in the exercise of its power of administrative supervision, resolves to [12]

reprimand respondent judge for his failure to exercise greater circumspection


in dealing with the complainant.
Upon his assumption to office, a judge ceases to be an ordinary mortal. He
becomes the visible representation of the law and, more importantly, of justice.
He must be the embodiment of competence, integrity and independence. A [13]

magistrate of the law must comport himself at all times in such manner that his
conduct, official or otherwise, can bear the most searching scrutiny of the public
that looks up to him as the epitome of integrity and justice. [14]

It appears that as Atty. Lastimosa-Dalawampu, the complainant in this case,


was about to leave the sala of the respondent judge, the latter, after berating
her in public, uttered, I dont care who you are. You can file one thousand
administrative complaints against me. I dont care! Respondent, in his comment,
admitted that he indeed made such an utterance although the same was not
directed at the complainant but to the public. This notwithstanding, the
utterance was definitely uncalled for.
The tenor of respondents statement can easily instill in the minds of those
who heard them that as a judge he is above the law. Such a remark creates an
impression on the public that whatever administrative case they will file against
respondent or against any judge will only be a futile exercise. Statements such
as those made by respondent judge erode the publics confidence in the integrity
of the judiciary. Respondents unwarranted statement is a clear derogation of
his duty to be faithful to the law which he swore to uphold as a member of the
[15]

judiciary.
Furthermore, respondents unfounded act of insulting the complainant in
open court and cutting her off in mid-sentence while she was still explaining her
side exhibited a manifest disregard by respondent of his duty to be patient,
[16]

attentive, and courteous to lawyers. A judge should conduct proceedings in


court with fitting dignity and decorum. Respondent cannot justify his action by
[17]

a desire to hasten the proceedings before him. In Ruiz v. Bringas, it was ruled:
[18]

The duty to maintain respect for the dignity of the court applies to members of the bar
and bench alike. A judge should be courteous both in his conduct and in his language
especially to those appearing before him. He can hold counsels to a proper
appreciation of their duties to the court, their clients and the public without being
petty, arbitrary, overbearing, or tyrannical. He should refrain from conduct that
demeans his office and remember that courtesy begets courtesy. Above all he must
conduct himself in such a manner that he gives no reason for reproach.
A judges duty to observe courtesy to those who appear before him is not
limited to lawyers. The said duty also includes being courteous to litigants and
witnesses. Respondents conduct towards Consuelo Aznar leaves a lot to be
desired. As stated in the complaint, respondent ordered Consuelo Aznar to go
back to her house to get the original documents in five minutes or he would
dismiss the case. Respondent did not offer any explanation to this charge
[19]

against him. Respondents act in this instance smacks of judicial tyranny. A


judge anywhere should be the last person to be perceived as a petty tyrant
holding imperious sway over his domain. Thus, the role of a judge in relation to
those who appear before his court must be one of temperance, patience and
courtesy.[20]

Judges are strictly mandated to abide by the law, the Code of Judicial
Conduct and existing administrative policies in order to maintain the faith of our
people in the administration of justice. Any act which falls short of the exacting
[21]

standard for public office, especially on the part of those expected to preserve
the image of the judiciary, shall not be countenanced. [22]

WHEREFORE, respondent Judge Raphael B. Yrastorza is hereby


REPRIMANDED for discourtesy against complainant. He is further warned that
a repetition of this or similar acts will be dealt with more severely.
SO ORDERED.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

4 [A.M. No. MTJ-00-1337. April 27, 2004]

JUDGE DONATO SOTERO A. NAVARRO, petitioner, vs. JUDGE


ROSABELLA M. TORMIS, respondent.

RESOLUTION
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.:

Complainant Judge Donato Sotero A. Navarro of MTCC, Cebu City, Branch


6, sent a letter dated September 15, 2000 to the Office of the Court
Administrator (OCA), requesting for an opinion on the propriety of the alleged
conduct of respondent Executive Judge Rosabella M. Tormis, MTCC of Cebu
City in the following instances:
1. Finding Criminal Case No. 106436-R, entitled, People vs. Comparativo,
to be covered by the Rule on Summary Procedure, Judge Tormis removed the
Order of Commitment issued by Judge Navarro from the records of the case
[1]

and substituted it with her own order directing the release of the accused;
2. Judge Tormis uttered derogatory remarks against Judge Navarro and his
court, to wit: for me, Branch 6 does not exist;
3. Judge Tormis rendered an opinion in a case pending before Judge Grace
Orma E. Ypil, MTCC of Cebu City, Branch 8, in violation of Rule 2.04 of Canon
2 of the Code of Judicial Ethics.
Upon recommendation of the OCA, the Court, in a Resolution dated
December 13, 2000, resolved to treat the letter as an administrative complaint
[2]

against Judge Tormis, directing Judge Navarro to have his letter verified and
Judge Tormis to comment thereon.
Meanwhile, in a Motion dated 24 April 2001, Judge Navarro informed the
Court that Judge Tormis personally posted on the door of her courtroom, a copy
of the Courts Resolution dated 14 February 2001 which reads:

Administrative Matter No. MTJ-00-1337 (Judge Donato Sotero A. Navarro vs.


Executive Judge Rosabella M. Tormis) The manifestation of compliance with the
resolution of December 13, 2000 filed by Judge Donato Sotero A. Navarro is
NOTED.

Very truly yours,

VIRGINIA ANCHETA-SORIANO
Clerk of Court
First Division

By: ENRIQUETA ESGUERRA-VIDAL


Asst. Clerk of Court
First Division
[3]

with a handwritten note Please Read, to call the attention of the lawyers and
the public. A similar notice was also posted at the door of the office of MTCC,
Branch 8, which some court personnel removed, but another copy was again
posted. For this reason, he asked the Acting Clerk of Court Evelyn Bacalla to
explain the matter but instead, the latter handed to him another copy of the
Resolution.
In a Resolution dated July 2001, the Court directed Evelyn Bacalla to desist
[4]

from committing further acts which may tend to unduly publicize the instant
case, to immediately remove copies of the notices posted on the doors, and to
explain within ten days how these notices came to be posted thereat. In a
Resolution dated September 10, 2001, the Court noted the
compliance/explanation of Evelyn Bacalla saying that she had no hand in or
knowledge about the posting of the papers.
In her Comment, respondent explains that:
[5]

1. Anent Criminal Case No. 106436-R (People vs. Comparativo) -

a) she never removed nor substituted any order of Judge Navarro from the records
since the latter had not issued any order at all. What was in the records was an order
issued by his Clerk of Court, Prospero M. Sincero;

b) the said criminal case was referred to her for raffle when the accused had already
been in jail for two days. She admitted having ordered the release of the accused
considering the value of the article stolen was even less than P52.45, and as such, fell
within the coverage of the Rule on Summary Procedure.

2. If ever she made the statement that MTCC, Branch 6, did not exist, this
should not be taken seriously as this can only be interpreted in the context of
light banter and did not at all place Branch 6 in disrepute.
3. As to the issue that she rendered an opinion on a criminal case raffled to
another sala -

a) as the Executive Judge, she immediately conducted an investigation on Evelyn


Bacalla. In the process, she discovered grave injustice committed against an urban
poor family charged with illegal squatting in Criminal Case No. 99796-12-R (People
vs. Garduque), so she called the attention of Presiding Judge Ypil, in a letter dated
January 5, 2000, regarding the legal and factual circumstances of the case which she
believed justified a dismissal of the case since the act complained of had already been
decriminalized by virtue of R.A. No. 7276.

b) Complainants intervention in said case is not only unethical but oppressively


unjust, he being the former private prosecutor of the case together with his mother,
retired Judge Exaltacion Navarro and that according to some of his staff, complainant
was angry at those whom he perceived thwarted his entitlement to attorneys fees of
not less that P100,000.00 should he successfully eject the accused from the premises.
c) this administrative complaint is part of complainants obsession to compel her to
relinquish her position as Executive Judge and to fulfill his ambition to replace her as
such.

In his Reply, complainant reiterated that respondent had been making


derogatory remarks about him both in print and on television which were not
only damaging to him and his family but also to the entire
Judiciary. Complainant asserts that the fact that the order of commitment
removed by respondent from the records of the case was signed by the Clerk
of Court is of no significance since it is likewise her practice that her commitment
orders are signed by her Clerk of Court Reynaldo S. Teves; that he has not
intervened in the case because his letter to Evelyn Bacalla was dated 25
November 1999 when he was not yet a judge; and thereafter, he refrained from
pursuing the case to its conclusion.
As the matter involves members of the bench accusing each other and
finding that it cannot be resolved satisfactorily on the basis alone of the
documents submitted, the Court, upon recommendation of the OCA, issued a
Resolution dated December 9, 2002, referring the instant administrative matter
to Executive Judge Galicano C. Arriesgado, RTC, Cebu City for investigation,
report and recommendation. Upon retirement of Judge Arriesgado, the case
was inherited by Executive Judge Pampio A. Abarintos who formed a panel,
composed of three members, namely: himself, First Vice Executive Judge
Isaias P. Dicdican and Second Vice Executive Judge Simeon K. Dumdum, Jr.,
to continue with the investigation.
In their Report dated August 25, 2003, the Investigating Panel submitted the
following findings, portions of which are reproduced hereunder:

FINDINGS:

The rift between the two judges started sometime immediately after January 5, 2000
when then Acting Executive Judge Tormis issued a letter to Judge Ypil (Annex I) in
reply to the 1st Endorsement (Annex H) of Judge Ypil (judge designate of MTCC 8
Cebu) on the letter-complaint of Atty. Donato Navarro (now Judge Navarro) against
Legal Researcher (then acting Branch Clerk of Court MTCC 8 Cebu City) Evelyn
Bacalla (now Branch Clerk of Court MTCC 8 Cebu City).

On (sic) November 1999, while Judge Donato Navarro was still a practicing lawyer,
he was the private prosecutor in the criminal case entitled Pp vs. Garduque, et
al. CBU-99796-R pending at MTCC Branch 8 Cebu City, involving the issue on
professional squatters. Atty. Navarro wrote a letter addressed to the Branch Clerk of
Court, MTCC Branch 8 Cebu City, asking for a written explanation from Evelyn
Bacalla why she set the Motion to Quash for hearing without the authority of the
Judge and when the accused had not yet been arrested. Acting on the letter-complaint
of Atty. Navarro, Judge Ypil endorsed the same to the Office of the Executive
Judge. The controversy now starts on the letter reply of Executive Judge Tormis, copy
furnished to Judge Navarro, as the latter was already appointed as Judge sometime on
(sic) December, 2000.

Executive Judge Tormis, in reply to the 1st Endorsement, stated that while there might
have been a transgression committed by Evelyn Bacalla with respect to some
procedural matter, the motion to quash for hearing without order from the judge, the
same is not of such grave nature as would necessitate such a drastic action. In
addition, however, Executive Judge Tormis made a comment that the case ought to be
dismissed as the act complained of had already been decriminalized under R.A. No.
8368.

This additional comment irked Judge Navarro. As a result, he came barging into the
office of Judge Tormis, bringing along certain books on the matter, splashing the
same to the latters staff, saying:Tell your Judge, she does not know her
law!. Naturally, upon learning of said incident, Judge Tormis flared up especially
because it was only a month or two that Judge Navarro was appointed as judge.

Judge Navarro complains that Judge Tormis had been downgrading him and his
Court, stating the words: For me, Branch 6 does not exist! Instead of patching things
up with the Executive Judge, who is supposed to be his superior, on September 15,
2000, he sent a letter to then Hon. Court Administrator Alfredo L. Benipayo entitled
Request for an Opinion about the Propriety of Certain Acts of the Executive Judge. In
turn, Executive Judge Tormis filed a Complaint against Judge Sotero Navarro
docketed as Adm. Matter No. 01-6-188 MTCC accusing him of his alleged failure to
timely dispose of the cases pending before his court and of his wifes interference with
the judicial functions of her husband and with the duties of the court personnel. Judge
Navarro then accused Judge Tormis to have expressed derogatory remarks against
him both in television and in print.

On the first issue:

Acting in her capacity as Executive Judge, she carefully reviewed the case involving
theft of an Eskinol. After careful scrutiny, she discovered that the amount involved
was less then P50.00. Since the case falls under the Rules on Summary Procedure,
Executive Judge Tormis ordered for the release of the accused and had the case
raffled. . . .

On the second issue:


As testified by Executive Judge Tormis, she may have uttered those words but the
same were never meant to downgrade Branch 6, they were only made in a light banter
or in jest. The panel believes that while Executive Judge Tormis might have uttered
the words, FOR ME, BRANCH 6 DOES NOT EXIST! against Judge Navarros Court,
the same was only a result of the arrogance and demeaning words which Judge
Navarro uttered against her: TELL YOUR JUDGE, SHE DOES NOT KNOW HER
LAW! The panel finds it understandable to have uttered those words especially
because of the words previously uttered by complainant.

On the third issue:

Judge Navarro insists that Executive Judge Tormis may have committed acts of
impropriety. The panel finds that Judge Tormis was just acting within her duties as
Executive Judge when she made a letter reply to the 1st Endorsement issued by Judge
Ypil.

Based on the foregoing, the Investigating Panel recommends the dismissal


of the administrative complaint against Judge Tormis. Court Administrator
Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr., in his Memorandum dated January 20, 2004, agrees
with the findings and recommendation of the Investigating Panel.
The Court does not fully agree.
As to the first issue Respondent reviewed Criminal Case No. 106436-R
when it was referred to her by the Clerk of Court of Branch 4, MTCC, Cebu
City. She testified that when the record was forwarded to her, there was no
previous order that was attached to it so she had the impression she was acting
on the case for the first time as Executive Judge; that she even interviewed the
representative of the complainant who said that it only involves the amount of
less than P52.45; and that in the exercise of her discretion, the case should be
covered by the Rules of Summary Procedure. When asked further by the
[6]

Investigating Panel if it is true that she replaced the commitment order which is
attached to the record with her order, she answered that she was not aware of
it which is consistent with her assertion that she saw no previous order
[7]

attached to the records. Complainant failed to demonstrate that respondent had


acted on this matter in bad faith or with malice.
Anent the second issue Indeed, the Court agrees with the Investigating
Panel and Court Administrator that the alleged derogatory remarks uttered by
respondent against Branch 6, MTCC, Cebu City could have been uttered in a
sudden burst of emotion when complainant uttered demeaning words against
her and that her action was not intentional and in bad faith.
As to the third issue The act of respondent in giving an opinion in a criminal
case raffled to Judge Ypil was in response to an indorsement made by the
latter. Respondent claims that she rendered an opinion because the case was
referred to her in her capacity as executive judge. However, a perusal of the
said indorsement shows that Judge Ypil merely referred to respondent the letter
of complainant, filed when he was still a practicing lawyer, seeking explanation
why legal researcher Evelyn Bacalla set the Motion to Quash for hearing
despite the fact that the accused had not been arrested and Judge Ypil had not
issued a verbal or written order to set the motion for hearing. Clearly, Judge
[8]

Ypil did not seek the opinion of respondent about the merits of the case, but the
latter delved thereon and advised Judge Ypil, as follows:

All the foregoing considered, the undersigned believes that it would be a better part of
your discretion if you order the dismissal of the case, as the act complained of has
been decriminalized under RA 8368. [9]

Respondent may not have any ulterior motive nor was there any showing that
she was after monetary consideration still it is beyond her authority to render
such an opinion.Wittingly or unwittingly, respondent violated Rule 2.04, Canon
2 of the Code of Judicial Conduct, which provides:

Rule 2.04 A judge shall refrain from influencing in any manner the outcome of
litigation or dispute pending before another court or administrative agency.

In the absence of any showing that respondents interference was in bad


faith or with malice and considering that this is the first time on record that he
committed such infraction of the Code of Judicial Conduct, a mere reprimand is
just and reasonable.
It is imperative that we call the attention of both complainant and respondent
judges regarding their unbecoming conduct. It is very apparent that the rift
between them transcended the professional level to a personal one. Worse,
their fight was picked up by the local media and for a while they were an item
in the local newspapers. This is very unfortunate for it puts the judiciary in a
[10]

bad light. Certainly, when judges of the same court in the same place fight, the
image of the judiciary is impaired rather than enhanced. Their positions as
[11]

judges demand utmost caution and circumspection to avoid poor public


impression on the Judiciary. Magistracy is after all about character. It is
[12] [13]

incumbent upon them to so behave at all times as to promote public confidence


in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary. Being the dispensers of justice,
judges should not act in a way that would cast suspicion in order to preserve
faith in the administration of justice. They should avoid impropriety and the
appearance of impropriety in all activities.[14]

Judge Navarro and Judge Tormis should bear in mind that no position is
more demanding than a seat in the Bench. Occupying as they do, an exalted
position in the administration of justice, as judges, they must pay a high price
for the honor bestowed upon them. A judge must comport himself at all times
[15]

in such a manner that his conduct, can bear the most searching scrutiny of the
public that looks up to him as the epitome of integrity and justice. Public[16]

confidence in the judiciary is eroded by irresponsible or improper conduct of


judges. As the visible representation of law and justice, judges are expected
[17]

to conduct themselves in a manner that would enhance the respect and


confidence of our people in the judicial system. [18]

WHEREFORE, Judge Rosabelle M. Tormis is found guilty of improper


conduct for trying to influence the course of litigation in Criminal Case No.
99796-12. Accordingly, Judge Tormis is hereby REPRIMANDED with a stern
warning that a repetition of the same will be dealt with more severely.
Both Judge Rosabelle M. Tormis and Judge Donato Sotero A. Navarro
are ADMONISHED for their unbecoming conduct as dispensers of justice with
a stern warning that a repetition of the same shall be dealt with more severely.
SO ORDERED.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

5 [A.M. No. MTJ-03-1488. October 13, 2004]

ADARLINA G. MATAGA, complainant, vs. JUDGE MAXWELL S.


ROSETE, Municipal Trial Court in Cities of Santiago City and
Process Server GASAT M. PAYOYO, Municipal Trial Court,
Cordon, Isabela, respondents.

DECISION
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:

The imperative and sacred duty of each and everyone in the court is to
maintain its good name and standing as a temple of justice. The Court[1]

condemns and would never countenance any conduct, act or omission on the
part of all those involved in the administration of justice which would violate the
norm of public accountability or tend to diminish the faith of the people in the
judiciary. [2]

In a verified complaint dated June 12, 2002, Adarlina G. Mataga, a retired


Court Stenographer 1 of the Municipal Trial Court of Santiago City, Isabela,
charged Judge Maxwel S. Rosete and Process Server Gasat M. Payoyo with
Dishonesty and Misconduct in connection with the encashing of the check
representing her terminal pay. [3]

Complainant alleged that she applied for disability retirement because she
was suffering from Organic Brain Syndrome Moderate to Severe Secondary to
Cerebro-Vascular Accident (Thrombosis). Complainants application was
approved on January 30, 1996, and consequently, Disbursement Voucher No.
[4]

101-96-03-8924 for One Hundred Sixty Five Thousand Five Hundred Thirty
[5]

and 8/100 Pesos (P165,530.08) and the corresponding Land Bank Check No.
37021 were prepared in the name of complainant. The check was released to
[6]

respondent Payoyo who turned it over to Judge Rosete. [7]

Sometime in March 1996, respondent Payoyo brought complainant to the


house of respondent Judge Rosete, where she was given the amount of
P44,000.00 as her terminal pay. It was only subsequently that complainant
came to know that the disability retirement benefit granted to her was in the
amount of P165,530.08, which respondents did not deliver to her.
When asked to comment, respondent judge denied the complainants
[8]

allegations. He stated that complainant has not been to his house in Quezon
City, nor has he given the complainant the sum of P44,000.00 as her terminal
pay. Respondent judge, however, admitted that the check representing the
retirement benefits of the complainant was indeed turned over to him by the
Supreme Court security guard after it was misplaced by his co-respondent,
Payoyo. Upon his receipt of complainants check, respondent judge immediately
handed the same to Payoyo because he knew that complainant had requested
the latter to follow up her check.
For his part, respondent process server Payoyo denied the accusations
against him. He claimed that he did not know complainant
personally. Respondent judge instructed him to claim complainants disability
check, which he did. Respondent judge then told him to encash the check at
the Land Bank of the Philippines, Taft Avenue Branch and to proceed to the
formers house to meet complainant and her son. There, he turned over the full
amount of complainants disability benefit.
The case was referred to Judge Fe Albano Madrid, the Executive Judge of
the Regional Trial Court of Santiago City, Isabela, for investigation, report and
recommendation. On July 9, 2003, Judge Madrid submitted her
[9]

report, wherein she recommended that the complaint be dismissed in view of


[10]

the admission of the complainant that she has received the full amount of her
benefits as early as March 17, 1996, as evidenced by a receipt which bore her
signature. [11]

After noting the report of Judge Albano Madrid, we resolved to refer the
case to the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) for evaluation, report and
recommendation. The OCA recommended that, in view of the failure to thresh
[12]

out the material contradictions between the allegations of the complainant and
the assertions of the respondent, the case be returned to the investigating judge
for further investigation, report and recommendation. On December 10, 2003,
[13]

we resolved to return the case to Judge Albano Madrid. [14]

After conducting another investigation of the case, Judge


Albano Madrid submitted her report, stating that during the second
investigation, complainant made it clear that she had no more complaint against
respondent judge provided that the latter will give her the money. Rather, the
complaint was directed at the dishonesty of respondent Payoyo in his dealings
with the complainant.
After reviewing the records of this case, we hold that the complaint against
respondent judge should be dismissed.
Any administrative complaint leveled against a judge must always be
examined with a discriminating eye, for its consequential effect are by their
nature highly penal, such that the respondent judge stands to face the sanction
of dismissal or disbarment. Mere imputation of judicial misconduct in the
[15]

absence of sufficient proof to sustain the same will never be countenanced. If


a judge should be disciplined for misconduct, the evidence against him should
be competent.
When an administrative charge against a judge is determined to have no
basis whatsoever, we will not hesitate to protect him against any groundless
accusation that trifles with judicial process. We will not shirk from our
responsibility of imposing discipline upon employees of the Judiciary but neither
shall we hesitate to shield the same employees from unfounded suits that only
serve to disrupt rather than promote the orderly administration of justice.
[16]

On the other hand, respondent Payoyo should be held administratively


liable. As correctly pointed out by the investigating judge:
xxxxxxxxx
From the conduct and actuations of Mr. Gasat Payoyo, together with his confusing
testimony, it is clear that he was not honest enough when he gave the proceeds of the
terminal leave benefits of the complainant. He was able to collect P165,530.00. He
lost the check. It was found and given to the security guard of the Supreme Court who
in turn gave it to Judge Rosete who gave it back to Gasat Payoyo who he knew was
the one authorized by Ms. Mataga to release it from the Supreme Court. By virtue of
his special power-of-attorney Mr. Payoyo encashed the check but he did not give all
of it to the complainant. But the complainant must have accepted the amount given to
her pursuant to an agreement she had with Mr. Payoyo. It is hard to imagine that Ms.
Mataga authorized Mr. Payoyo to follow-up her retirement benefits without any
consideration whatsoever.

Six years later the complainants daughter complained why her mother accepted a
lesser amount than what was indicated in the check. She urged her mother to file a
complaint with the Supreme Court against both Gasat Payoyo and Judge Rosete. The
daughter must have suspected that Judge Rosete had something to do with the lesser
amount delivered to her mother because she found out that the lost check had been
given to Judge Rosete and yet the latter did not give the check to her mother but
instead returned it to Payoyo for encashment.

When Gasat Payoyo was apprised that the complaint was scheduled for investigation,
he got scared. Before the scheduled date of hearing on June 11, 2003 he went to talk
to the complainant and agreed to give her P100,000.00 provided she will sign a receipt
antedated March 17, 1996 to show that he actually delivered the full amount of the
check to her. He presented this as evidence during the investigation. Because of their
agreement about the receipt, the complainant gave a vague and confusing testimony
regarding it.

It is clear that the complainant did not receive the full amount of her terminal leave
benefits. As to how much she received, the complainant said she only received
P40,000.00. But Gasat Payoyo said he gave it all. Nevertheless there was an
agreement between the complainant and Payoyo regarding the amount received by the
complainant which was satisfactory to both of them. Thus Ms. Mataga should not
have any cause to complain. But her daughter believed that her mother was taken
advantage of because of her illness.

Judge Maxwell Rosete denied any participation in the follow-up and encashment of
the check representing the terminal leave benefits of the complainant. There is no
reason to doubt this inspite of the statements given by Gasat Payoyo in his
supplemental affidavit which he admitted were not true. To absolve himself, the
respondent Payoyo by himself or upon the advice of others, tried to put the blame on
Judge Rosete. x x x
Subsequently M. Payoyo became more worried and became more scared of what he
did. He could not face Judge Rosete. So he refused to appear in the scheduled
investigation. But finally he appeared and admitted that the contents of his
supplemental affidavit are not true.

The Investigating Judge believes that it was the initial dishonesty of the respondent
Mr. Gasat Payoyo in not delivering to the complainant the full amount of her terminal
leave benefits minus only a reasonable amount for his efforts in following it up, that
led to the filing of the complaint. His efforts to cover up what he did by paying the
complainant and falsifying the date of a receipt compounded his fault. He aggravated
it more when he attempted to maliciously implicate his co-respondent in the
commission of his dishonesty. x x x.[17]

The behavior of everyone connected with an office charged with the


dispensation of justice, from the presiding judge to the clerk of lowest rank,
should be circumscribed with a high degree of responsibility. The image of a
[18]

court, as a true temple of justice, is mirrored in the conduct, official or otherwise,


of the men and women who work thereat. Judicial personnel are expected to
be living examples of uprightness in the performance of official duties to
preserve at all times the good name and standing of the courts in the
community. [19]

The acts of the respondent Payoyo in not giving to the complainant the full
amount of her terminal leave benefits minus reasonable expenses that he
incurred in making a follow-up of its release; his efforts at covering the same by
paying the complainant and by falsifying the date of the receipt for such
payment and his aborted attempt to maliciously implicate his co-respondent
judge, all fall short of the measure of uprightness expected of judicial
personnel. For respondent Payoyos dishonesty, he should be suspended for a
period of six months.
WHEREFORE, the complaint filed against respondent Judge Maxwell S.
Rosete is DISMISSED for lack of merit. Respondent Process Server, Gasat M.
Payoyo, is found GUILTY of Dishonesty and is SUSPENDED for a period
of SIX MONTHS. Respondent Payoyo is WARNED that a repetition of this or
any similar act will be dealt with more severely.
SO ORDERED.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
6 [G.R. No. 127495. December 22, 2000]

not sure kung tama. this is the only case for assigned GR.

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. NOLITO BORAS


Y DOE, accused-appellant.

DECISION
BUENA, J.:

For allegedly raping a six year-old girl, Nolito Boras was convicted of statutory rape
by the Regional Trial Court of Libmanan, Camarines Sur and was sentenced to suffer the
penalty of reclusion perpetua, and to pay P50,000.00 as civil indemnity. Hence, this
appeal questioning his conviction.
On December 13, 1991, while Melanie Medallas parents were sleeping in their house
at Barangay Bahay, Libmanan, Camarines Sur, she remained downstairs playing alone.
At around 9 oclock in the morning of that day, Nolito Boras, herein accused-appellant,
went to her and invited her to go with him. Since she is familiar with the accused-appellant
as neighbor, she was cajoled to go with him. When they arrived at a guava tree near the
coconut plantation, which is about 15 meters from her house, accused-appellant told her
magkitoan[1] which means we will have sex. Obeying the instruction of accused-appellant,
she removed her panty. Thereafter, she was placed on top and in-between accused-
appellants legs[2] who then inserted his penis into her vagina. While accused-appellant
was satisfying his salacious desire, Cirilo Guirela, the victims uncle arrived. When she
saw her uncle Cirilo, she ran away. Thereafter, Cirilo told Jesus Amenia, brother-in-law
of accused-appellant, that the latter raped his niece. Jesus Amenia got angry with the
accused-appellant then proceeded home with the latter.
On December 14, 1991, Cirilo reported the matter to the Barangay Captain [3] and was
advised to report the incident to the police authority of Libmanan, Camarines Sur. [4] The
police advised the examination of the victim at the Libmanan District Hospital.
On December 15, 1991, Dr. Cynthia S. Algery of Libmanan District Hospital examined
the six-year-old victim. The examination revealed hymenal laceration at 3 oclock caused
by any organ which is inserted into the vagina, like a penis, and hypremia of the introitus
(redness found at the entrance of the vagina).[5] While being examined, the doctor asked
the victim what happened and the victim described the person who raped her.[6]
On February 12, 1992, an information for the crime of rape was filed against Nolito
Boras y Doe alleging-

That on or about the 13th day of December 1991, at about 9:00 oclock in the
morning, at Brgy. Bahay, Municipality of Libmanan, Province of Camarines
Sur, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-
named accused, with lewd design, with violence and force, intimidation and
with grave abuse of confidence, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously have carnal knowledge with Melanie Medalla, a six (6) years old
(sic), against her will and the offended party suffered damages.

ACTS CONTRARY TO LAW. [7]

Upon arraignment on May 18, 1992, the accused, assisted by counsel, pleaded not
guilty.
At the trial, on December 22, 1992, counsel for the accusedappellant manifested in
court that he noticed something strange with the accused-appellant and asked that the
latter be examined by a psychiatrist to determine his mental fitness. The trial court
advised the counsel to file a formal motion for the examination of the accused. Thereafter
trial ensued.
On June 16, 1993, the defense presented accused-appellant. When asked about his
personal circumstances, he answered that his name is Diosdado Macapagal;[8] that he
does not know the name of his father and his mother; that he does not know whether he
has a brother and sister; that he does not know Tinagis Penal Farm where he is presently
confined; that he does not know how he was able to come to court and who escorted
him. On such note, the trial court issued an Order setting forth the foregoing declarations,
with further pronouncement that accused-appellant in all appearances seems to be
normal but is feigning insanity. Thus, the Provincial Warden of Tinagis Penal Farm was
directed to bring accused-appellant to Don Susano Rodriguez Mental Hospital at Cadlan,
Pili, Camarines Sur for necessary physical and mental examination and observation in
order to determine whether he is insane or not, and whether he has the necessary
faculties to undergo trial. The Chief of Susano Rodriguez Mental Hospital was directed to
admit and conduct the necessary examination and submit a written report to the trial court
on the mental condition of the accused within 15 days after the last
examination/treatment. Pending the submission of the report, the hearing was
suspended. After the issuance of the aforementioned Order, accused-appellant rendered
two songs, one after another, after the trial court requested him.[9]
On May 2, 1995, the Bicol Regional Hospital - Department of Psychiatry submitted its
report on the mental status of Nolito Boras remarking that accused-appellant was
coherent and relevant and that he was free of psychotic signs and symptoms. The
remarks further stated that accused-appellant knows the case filed against him and that
his anxiety or apprehension was due to fears of being incarcerated in jail. [10]
After trial, judgment was rendered convicting accused-appellant, thus -

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the court finds and so holds that the
accused Nolito Boras is found guilty of the offense of statutory rape of Melanie
Medalla, a six (6) year old girl at the time of the rape and, therefore,
sentences him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and is ordered to
pay Melanie Medalla the amount of P50,000.00 for indemnity.No
pronouncement as to cost.

SO ORDERED. [11]

Accused-appellant now appeals questioning his conviction for rape, assigning as


error the admission of Exhibit B, which is a photocopy of the certificate of livebirth of the
victim.
Initially, to avoid criminal liability, accused-appellant feigned insanity. To bolster such
imagined dementia, accused-appellant offered his fathers testimony declaring that
accused-appellant was afflicted with a mental defect since childhood. As observed by the
trial court, accused-appellant is normal. In this regard, the trial courts observation of the
demeanor and deportment of witnesses, as a rule, will not be interfered with, considering
that the behavior, gesture, inflection of voice and manner of responding to questions
propounded to witnesses are best available to the trial court. It is not appropriate to
calibrate anew such observations on the basis alone of the cold transcript of stenographic
notes unless such findings are clearly shown to be arbitrary. In fact, the trial court was not
remiss in its duty in determining the mental capacity of accused-appellant when it ordered
accused-appellants confinement in a hospital for medical and psychiatric evaluation
which examination revealed that accused-appellant is sane and coherent. The foregoing
steps clearly demonstrate that the judge had sufficiently and effectively satisfied the two
components of insanity test that will effectively guarantee accused-appellants right to a
fair trial, which are: (1) whether the defendant is sufficiently coherent to provide counsel
with information necessary or relevant to constructing a defense and (2) whether he is
able to comprehend the significance of the trial and his relation to it.[12]
Accused-appellant was convicted under Article 335 of the Revised Penal
Code[13]which provides that rape is committed by having carnal knowledge of a woman
under twelve years of age, thus-

Article 335. When and how rape is committed. Rape is committed by having
carnal knowledge of a woman under any of the following circumstances.

1. By using force or intimidation;

2. When the woman is deprived of reason or otherwise unconscious; and


3. When the woman is under twelve years of age or is demented.

xxxxxxxxx
In statutory rape, there are two elements that must be established prior to conviction
of this crime, namely: (1) that the accused had carnal knowledge of a woman and (2) that
the woman is below twelve years of age.[14]
As to the first element, accused-appellant denied having sexual contact with the
victim and challenges the latters credibility. After a thorough review of the records of this
case, we find the victims testimony credible. From the victims narration, it was clear that
there was sexual intercourse. The victim even demonstrated in court how she was raped
by the accused-appellant in squatting position by holding her hips. [15] She narrated that
she felt pain and when she was crying, accused-appellant stopped thrusting his
organ. She declared that she was not able to shout because during the sexual contact,
accused-appellant was covering her mouth.[16] Her credible testimony alone suffices to
establish accused-appellants guilt.[17] In rape, mere touching by the males organ, or
instrument of sex, of the labia of the pudendum of the females private part is sufficient to
consummate rape.[18] But when the victim is below 12 years old, sexual contact of the
males sex organ with the womans private part consummates rape and it is not required
to prove force, intimidation, or consent.[19] The victims declarations were corroborated by
the testimony of her uncle who witnessed the bestial act. Such testimonies were further
supported by the medical findings of Dr. Algery who examined the victim two days after
the incident. The medical report shows that there was penetration by the male organ into
her genitalia.
The victim even testified to other occasions of rape committed against her by
accused-appellant prior to December 13, 1991.[20] However, accused-appellant cannot be
convicted for the alleged rapes committed other than the one charged in the
information. A rule to the contrary will violate accused-appellants constitutional rights to
be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him.[21] Such other alleged
rapes committed which are not alleged in the information may be taken only as proof of
specific intent or knowledge, plan, system or scheme.[22]
Anent the second element as to the age of the victim when the crime was committed,
accused-appellant questions the admission of the photocopy of the birth certificate of the
child invoking Section 3, Rule 130. Accused-appellant argues that the failure of the
prosecution to prove the circumstances that will warrant the admission in evidence of the
said photocopy, renders the same inadmissible and he cannot be convicted of statutory
rape since the age of the victim was not proven with reasonable certainty. It is clear from
the records that complainant Melanie Medalla was born on October 23, 1985. [23] Besides,
under Section 36, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court, objection to evidence offered orally
must be made immediately after the offer is made. In the case at bar, the photocopy of
the birth certificate was formally offered in evidence and marked as Exhibit B. It was
offered to prove (a) the fact of birth of the victim, and (b) the fact that the victim was below
twelve years old when she was ravished on December 13, 1991. The defense objected
to the purpose for which Exhibit B was being offered,[24] but did not object to the
presentation of the photocopied birth certificate which is merely treated as a secondary
evidence. Having failed to raise a valid and timely objection against the presentation of
this secondary evidence the same became a primary evidence,[25] and the same is
deemed admitted and the other party is bound thereby. Even so, if the evidence objected
to was not received, it would not have varied the conclusion arrived at by the court as to
the correct age of the victim considering that the victim and her mother testified as to her
age.[26] The testimony of the mother as to the age of her child is admissible in evidence for
who else would be in the best position to know when she delivered the child. Besides, the
court could very well assess whether or not the victim is below twelve years old by simply
looking at her physique and built.
It must be stressed that in dealing with rape cases of children, especially those below
twelve years of age, due care must be observed by the trial court in handling the victim. In
fact, more often than not, the grueling experience in the trial court in the course of direct
and cross-examination is more traumatic than the fact of rape itself. On such occasions,
mishandling of victims lead to psychological imbalances which, if not properly treated by
medical experts will lead to an abnormal behavioral response against the idea of sex itself
and disturbed interaction with the opposite sex or of the same sex. The frightful
experience of rape committed to children who are bereft of mundane wiles [27] necessitates
the highest degree of tact, patience and diplomacy. No woman, especially a child of
tender years would exactly remember step-by-step the sexual intercourse in the hands of
the maniacal beast. It is enough that the child was able to explain in her own way that
there was sexual intercourse. By subjecting her into explaining whether she was forced
or intimidated is excessive. For proof of force and intimidation is unnecessary in statutory
rape. Considering that there is a medical report substantiating the allegations made by
the victim, the manner of examination of the victim must be tempered. Especially in this
case, since the child is only six years old who remains uncorrupted. In rape, mere
touching of males organ to the pudendum of females organ is enough to consummate the
crime. Whether the organ was fully erect or not, to a child of six years of age, slight
penetration consummates rape. Thus, asking questions like-
Q: Did you have any opportunity at that time when you were raped to hold the penis of Nolito
Boras?
A: No, Sir.
Q: At the time, when you were raped by Nolito Boras, was his penis hard or soft?
A: Hard, sir[28]
and
Q: Did you see your Uncle Cerilo Guirela after the accused Nolito Boras stop pushing and
pulling his penis to your vagina or while he was still in the process of pushing and pulling
his penis to your vagina?
A: Nolito Boras was not yet finished pushing and pulling his penis to my vagina.[29]
are unnecessary, uncalled for and excessive queries. Imputation of rape against a
neighbor cannot be concocted with ease for malicious reasons by parents of a six-year-
old child because it would cause more harm than good. Aside from the traumatic
experience of rape, the victims story of defloration must withstand not only the
examination in court but also the medical examination of the victims private parts by a
licensed physician.
Lastly, at the time of the commission of rape on December 13, 1991, the victim was
only six (6) years old. Statutory rape committed in 1991 is punishable by reclusion
perpetua.The present law provides that when the crime of rape is committed against a
child below seven (7) years of age, death penalty shall be imposed. Considering that the
retroactive application[30]of the law will be unfavorable to accused-appellant, the latter is
fortunate enough to be meted only the penalty of reclusion perpetua. Had it been
committed after the enactment of the new law, this Court will not hesitate to impose the
penalty of death. The award of P50,000.00 representing civil indemnity is proper. In
addition thereto, accused-appellant shall pay P50,000.00[31] representing moral damages
without necessity of proof other than the fact of rape plus P20,000.00 as exemplary
damages. Exemplary damages may be awarded if the crime was committed with one or
more aggravating circumstances. In this case, abuse of confidence should be appreciated
as an aggravating circumstance.The victim trusted accused-appellant in going with him
upon the latters invitation on account of her familiarity with him as their neighbor.
WHEREFORE, the trial courts judgment convicting accused-appellant of statutory
rape is hereby AFFIRMED subject to the MODIFICATION that accused-appellant is
ordered to pay P50,000.00 as moral damages and P20,000.00 as exemplary damages
IN ADDITION to the P50,000.00 civil indemnity awarded by the trial court.
SO ORDERED.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

CANON 6

1 [A.M. No. RTJ-02-1691. January 16, 2004]

THE OFFICERS AND MEMBERS OF THE IBP BAGUIO-BENGUET


CHAPTER, CESAR G. ORACION, PRESIDENT, complainant, vs.
FERNANDO VIL PAMINTUAN, Presiding Judge, Regional Trial
Court, Branch III, Baguio City, respondent.

DECISION
CALLEJO, SR., J.:

Before the Court is the Administrative Complaint filed by the officers and
members of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), Baguio-Benguet
[1]

Chapter against Judge Fernando Vil Pamintuan of the Regional Trial Court
(RTC), Branch 3 of Baguio City, for gross ignorance of the law, gross violation
of constitutional rights of the accused, arrogance, violations of the Code of
Judicial Conduct, oppression and graft and corruption.
In their Complaint, the complainants charge the respondent judge of gross
ignorance of law stating that:
1. His decision in Criminal Case No. 14054-R . . . and in Criminal Cases Nos. 15776-R,
15777-R, 15778-R, 15779-R and 15780-R . . . show his complete ignorance of the
Indeterminate Sentence Law;
2. He continues to violate the provision of Section 3, Rule 71 of the Rules of Court by
immediately imposing a fine of P500.00 on any lawyer who does not answer the first call,
without giving the lawyer an opportunity to show cause why he should not be cited for
contempt;
3. He fined Atty. Miguel B. Liceralde P500.00 for allegedly being absent during a hearing
when in fact he was present;
4. He dismisses cases if the counsel or a litigant does not appear even for the first time,
without giving the concerned party a chance to explain his absence;
5. He limits the period of appeal in criminal cases. In a case handled by Atty. George
Florendo, he rendered a decision convicting the accused. After the promulgation of the
decision, he told the accused that he was giving him three (3) days only within which to
file his notice of appeal to the Court of Appeals or to file an application for probation. He
further declared that in case the accused files his notice of appeal, he will double his bail
bond and immediately order his arrest;
6. In the case of PEOPLE VS. ANGELINA MAMARIL, Criminal Case No. 16187-R for
THEFT of the amount of Fourteen Thousand One Hundred Pesos (P14,100.00), the
accused, who was seventeen (17) years old, pleaded GUILTY to FRUSTRATED THEFT
with the consent of the Prosecution. In his decision, Judge Pamintuan imposed a penalty
one degree lower than that which is imposed for Consummated Theft and ordered the
accused to be recommitted to the DSWD Rehabilitation Center by virtue of her
minority. However, he failed to reduce the penalty imposed by another degree by reason
of said minority in accordance with the clear and explicit provision of Article 68 [2] of the
Revised Penal Code. . .;
7. In the case of PEOPLE VS. BENJIE GOSE, MARK JOSEPH OCHARAN, ET AL.,
Criminal Case No. 14935-R for Robbery, the respondent did the same thing.[2]

The complainants likewise charge the respondent judge of gross violation


of the constitutional rights of the accused alleging, as follows:
1. In PEOPLE VS. CEFERINO BANIQUED, Criminal Case No. 13949-R, for alleged
violation of Section 3 [e] of RA 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act) the
respondent has yet to act on a motion for the preventive suspension of the accused filed
way back in 1996 and which was reiterated after he took over the case in April 1998. The
said incident was deemed submitted for resolution by then Acting Presiding Judge Joven
F. Costales on December 2, 1997. When Judge Pamintuan took over, the prosecution
reiterated the motion which, on August 18, 1998, he ordered as deemed submitted for
the resolution of the court. For more than one (1) year, and as of date, Judge Pamintuan
has not resolved the motion;
2. In the case of SURLA VS. DIMLA, Civil Case No. 3322-R for Collection of Sum of
Money, Judge Pamintuan dismissed the complaint because the plaintiff-witness arrived
at about 8:32 in the morning or just two (2) minutes later, the counsel asked for
reconsideration of the dismissal, manifesting that the witness was ready to testify. In the
interest of justice and fair play, the adverse party even manifested his conformity to the
reconsideration of the order of dismissal. However, Judge Pamintuan did not rule on the
motion and simply considered the same submitted for resolution. For more than four (4)
months, the respondent did not resolve the motion;
3. He refused to furnish a copy of the decision to the accused, but when notice of appeal
was filed, he directed the counsel for the accused to amend the notice to reflect receipt
of the decision although no such decision was really received. This was done in, at least,
two (2) instances, particularly, in People vs. Remedios Malapit, et al. (Criminal Cases
Nos. 15320, 15323, 15327, 15570 and 15571) and in People vs. Alejandro Cas (Criminal
Case No. 15306-R).[3]

The complainants also claim that the respondent judge is arrogant in that:
1. He waves at lawyers and tells them to approach his bench; if, by chance, a lawyer
touches a portion of his bench he shouts at him and berates him saying he has not given
him permission to touch his bench;
2. He tells lawyers appearing before him to give priority to his court at the expense of
their other court duties;
3. He insults lawyers by means of harsh and intemperate words in the presence of
litigants and the public;
4. He impresses to the lawyers and parties litigants that he is a convicting judge. He
boasts that since he sat as judge all his decisions in criminal cases except two (2) were
convictions;
5. He berates the lowly security guards in the Justice Hall of Baguio City every time they
fail to salute him;
6. He insults litigants who want to settle their cases for allegedly wasting his time;
7. He insults doctors and other expert witnesses who cannot appear because of previous
commitments;
8. In one occasion, he interrupted Atty. Federico J. Mandapat, Jr., in the course of his
cross-examination of a witness and told him: that is not the way to cross-examine, ask
questions only that are answerable by yes or no. Atty. Mandapat explained that he was
laying the basis for his succeeding questions. The respondent curtly replied that he was
giving him only ten (10) minutes to conduct his cross-examination, to which Atty.
Mandapat countered by telling the respondent that it was tantamount to obstruction of
justice and violation of the right of the accused to cross-examine a witness being
presented against him.[4]

The respondent judge is also allegedly guilty of violating the Code of Judicial
Conduct, as follows:
1. He is discourteous to lawyers, especially the new and inexperienced;
2. He tells the client in the presence of the lawyer to engage the services of another
lawyer because his lawyer does not know anything or he does not deserve to be paid
(Atty. Joris Karl Dacawi);
3. He verbally assaults lawyers;
4. He does not give even a little respect to old lawyers;
5. He insulted in open court retired Court of Appeals Justice Sixto Domondon because
he came to court late once. For such act, he was even admonished by the Honorable
Supreme Court for his unbecoming conduct towards a former Justice of the Court of
Appeals, yet, his arrogance continues unabated and is more manifest, apparently in
defiance to the admonition he received.[5]
The respondent judge is allegedly guilty of oppressive conduct committed
as follows:
1. He unreasonably limits the presentation of evidence to the detriment of party-litigants;
2. He scolds and insults lawyers who stand up and walk while propounding questions to
witnesses. He pursues a strategy of assault and appeasement. He verbally assaults
lawyers, and if they re-act, he tries to appease some of them in an effort to get them to
his side;
3. He directed Atty. Reynaldo U. Agranzamendez (immediate past President of the IBP
Baguio-Benguet Chapter) to stand up, in lieu of the accused who jumped bail, during the
promulgation of the decision in absentia. Atty. Agranzamendez acting as de
oficio counsel requested that he be allowed to sit down because the people in court
might think that he was the accused but the judge in utter disregard of elementary
courtesy that befits a lawyer did not budge. Instead, he berated Atty. Agranzamendez
and told him to shut up and dont argue with the court. When Atty. Agranzamendez got
tired during the reading of the long decision, he slightly leaned to his side. When the
Judge noticed this, he shouted at him and told him to stand up properly. This he did in
the presence of lawyers and litigants who could only look at Atty. Agranzamendez with
sympathy and compassion;
4. He cited Atty. Nicasio M. Aliping, Jr., for contempt for not appearing as a witness in
one case before his sala. When Atty. Aliping learned about this, he explained to the
judge that he was not notified of the date of hearing and presented records clearly
showing that indeed he was not notified. Atty. Aliping prayed that the order be lifted and
set aside. The judge refused and told Atty. Aliping that it was a different matter. To this
day, the order citing him for contempt has not been lifted;
5. In one case where Atty. Cirilo Cawed is the private complainant, the latter executed
an affidavit of desistance praying, among others, for the dismissal of the case. The
respondent did not act on it and instead issued an order threatening his arrest if he will
not appear before him and explain.[6]

Finally, the respondent judge is allegedly guilty of corruption:

Respondent had a certain EUFEMIO M. GULA, his long-time bodyguard, appointed


as driver assigned to his branch despite his knowledge that Mr. Gula has no drivers
license, and worse, he does not know how to drive. This supposed driver draws his
salary from the City of Baguio. The driver fills up the required itinerary forms, which
indicate that he supposedly drives for the respondent from Baguio City to Manila and
back, but the truth is that they commute by bus. It is a certain WILLIAM
DANNANG, personnel from the maintenance department of the Baguio City Justice
Hall, who actually drives for the respondent. [7]

In his Comment, the respondent judge vehemently denies the charges


hurled against him.
On the charge of gross ignorance of the law, the respondent judge avers:
1. Criminal Cases Nos. 15776-R to 15780-R, entitled People of the Philippines vs. Danilo
Dumez, et al. are now pending appeal before the Court of Appeals. . . Whether or not
the decision of the Respondent Judge in the aforecited cases is correct will be a matter
only the appellate [court] can decide. The perceived errors in the imposition of the
penalty imposed should be addressed in the Accused-Appellants
brief. Assuming arguendo that the Respondent Judge erred in applying the
[I]ndeterminate [S]entence [L]aw, which of course he denies, the proper remedy would
have been Appeal, and not to file Administrative Case against the Judge;
2. In Criminal Case No. 14054-R entitled People vs. Polic-ew, Respondent Judge
submits the same argument . . . ;
3. In Criminal Case No. 16187-R entitled People vs. Mamaril and Criminal Case No.
14935 entitled People vs. Gose, the decisions of the Respondent Judge had become
final and executory without the Counsels appealing. Had the Counsels appealed their
cases, or at least Moved for Reconsideration, they could have properly raised the
mitigating circumstances, which they claim were not appreciated by the Respondent
Judge. Again the remedy is not the filing of administrative case against the Judge;
4. The Administrative Case against the Respondent Judge in A.M. No. RTJ-99-1483 was
resolved by the Supreme Court in a Decision dated September 17, 1999 and received
by the Respondent Judge on October 4, 1999. Respondent Judge has FIFTEEN (15)
DAYS to file a Motion for Reconsideration, which he will comply with. Suffice it to say
that in this case, the Respondent Judge believed, as he believes in good faith that he
had no cogent reason to inhibit himself from the case . . .;
5. The imposition of fines for tardiness or non-appearance in scheduled cases is inherent
upon any court as part of its disciplining authority. The remedy would have been to seek
reconsideration and not an Administrative Case. The Court has never collected on the
fine, provided the reasons cited in the reconsideration are meritorious. The
Complainants cite the case of Atty. Miguel Liceralde. Said lawyer was never fined by the
Respondent Judge. The fact is, as of date, the Respondent Judge never issued a writ of
execution for the collection of fines from lawyers. . . There were only four (4) instances
when fines were paid by lawyers who volunteered to pay the fine on their own without
filing a motion for reconsideration. . .;
5. The dismissal of the case for failure of the parties or counsel to appear in their
scheduled hearings is so provided by the Rules. Again the remedy is a motion for
reconsideration and not an administrative case on petty grounds. . .;
6. Atty. George Florendo who is not even a signatory to this Petition is mentioned, albeitly
[sic] without his consent regarding People vs. Joseph Santos, Criminal Case No. 15171-
R for Illegal Possession of Marijuana where he appears for the accused. Nowhere in the
records does it show that he limited the fifteen (15) day period to appeal.[8]

On his alleged violation of the constitutional rights of the accused, the


respondent judge counters:
1. In Criminal Case No. 13949-R, People vs. Baniqued for Violation of Section 3(e) of
R.A. 3019, which was inherited by the Respondent Judge, he submits that no violation
was ever made as the complainants would want to imply. Complainants wanted the
accused preventively suspended. The defense insisted that the entire prosecution
evidence first be heard, as a pre-suspension hearing which was granted by the
respondent judges predecessor, Hon. Joven Costales, and by the respondent judge
himself. Thereafter, despite the opposition of the Accused to the preventive suspension,
an order was issued on September 2, 1999. The move for suspension was complicated
by the incomplete prosecution evidence as well as the constant absence of the Manila-
based private prosecutor. The Court has given wide latitude to the accused and he has
no cause to complain;
2. Civil Case No. 3322-R entitled Surla vs. Dimla for Sum of Money, is a continuing
attempt by the Complainants to mislead the Supreme Court. This case had been
dismissed and the dismissal has become final and executory. The case was earlier
dismissed for failure to prosecute on the part of the Plaintiff for failure to appear during
the scheduled hearings of the case, but a Motion for Reconsideration was filed and
granted by the Respondent Judge. Several postponements at the instance of the plaintiff
were tolerably allowed but then again the plaintiff failed to appear during the scheduled
hearing. The Respondent Judge dismissed the case on the same grounds. No motion
for reconsideration was filed and the decision became final. Clearly no fault can be
attributed to the Respondent Judge;
3. Respondent Judge denies refusing to furnish copies of the decision to the accused in
Criminal Cases Nos. 15321-R, 15323-R, 15327-R, 15770-R and 15771-R entitled
People vs. Malapit, et al. as these are matters of public record available and accessible
to the public. He could not and never will prevent or obstruct any litigant, much more a
lawyer to access of records pertaining to a case;
4. Respondent Judge denies directing the defense counsel to amend his Notice of
Appeal to allegedly reflect receipt of the decision in Criminal Case No. 15306-R entitled
People vs. Alejandro Cas, as such an action will gain him nothing. The Manifestation of
Apology by the concerned defense counsel says it all.[9]

Anent the charge that he is arrogant, the respondent judge declares:


1. The pettiness of the charges (3A to G) are completely wasteful of the Supreme Courts
precious time as they are bereft of the specifics and are mere general allegations;
2. As to 3H involving Atty. Federico Mandapat, said defense counsel together with Atty.
Juan Alberto and Prosecutor Raymond Tabangin were requested to approach the
bench. Atty. Mandapat was advised by the respondent judge to ask questions
answerable by yes or no as it was observed that he was repeating questions asked on
direct examination. Certainly, the court can advise counsel on how to conduct proper
cross-examination so as not to tax the time of both the court and the witnesses. When
the Respondent Judge said ten minutes, he was referring to the time left for him to
conduct the cross-examination on that trial day, as there were other ready cases. It was
not limiting his time to cross-examine the witness, as the records would show that the
next trial date, Atty. Mandapat was allowed to his hearts content to continue the cross-
examination.[10]

On the charge of violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct, the respondent


judge states:
1. Respondent Judge denies 4A to D on his non-support for new lawyers. The fact is he
encourages old practitioners to help new lawyers and he announces this in open court
as a matter of policy. . . ;
2. Atty. Primitivo Jularbal, 72 years old, a former Professor in the College of Law of Saint
Louis University and a long time distinguished practitioner in the City of Baguio, and Atty.
Juan Valdez, 70 years old, former City Legal Officer of Mayors Luis L. Lardizabal and
Mauricio G. Domogan can affirm the respect, deference and dignified treatment he
habitually accord these senior lawyers;
3. As to the case of former Justice Sixto Domondon for which the Respondent Judge
was admonished by the Supreme Court, your Respondent Judge was barely one month
in office when he asked the former justice, whom he did not know at that time to come
on time for his hearings. Said justice was more than forty-five (45) minutes late for the
pre-trial conference and Respondent Judge applied the rule on him, like he did to all
lawyers.[11]
As to his alleged oppressive conduct, the respondent judge states as
follows:
1. Respondent Judge denies 5A and B as they are mere general statements without
basis in fact and in law;
2. In the case of Atty. Reynaldo U. Agranzamendez, as defense counsel in Criminal Case
No. 7304-R, entitled People vs. Liwayway Cruz, he required said counsel in the absence
of the accused to rise as a matter of procedure during the promulgation of decisions. This
is by way of proper decorum and discipline, which the Respondent Judge submits as
part of the inherent power of the court. The allegation that the Respondent Judge
berated Atty. Agranzamendez and told him to shut up is a patent lie. The Respondent
Judge recalls asking him politely not to argue with the Court, on matters like standing up
to show decorum and respect to the judicial processes . . .;
3. Atty. Nicasio Aliping was never cited for contempt, contrary to what the complainants
want to impress. No order was ever issued by the Court to the effect . . .;
4. Atty. Cirilo Cawed, who is not a signatory to the complaint, is the private complainant
in Criminal Cases No. 13535-R entitled People vs. Licayayo for Estafa. Despite several
orders for him to appear in the scheduled hearings, he refused, ignored and neglected
the same. He was warned that his continued defiance would constrain the court to order
his arrest. The Respondent Judge submits that it is the rule and practice and even the
responsibility, and duty of the court to summon the complaining witness who executed
an Affidavit of Desistance to determine the authenticity or genuineness of the
affidavit. The Respondent Judge should not be condemned for ensuring the integrity of
affidavits submitted in court.[12]
Regarding the charge of corruption against him, the respondent judge
asserts that:
1. As a public officer, he is ready to face all kinds of charges as an inherent risk that
comes with the territory. It hurts him; however, to be accused of the baseless charge of
Graft and Corruption, for he values his honor and his name, presumably like the
Complainants themselves;

It is a matter of public and judicial knowledge that courts have no employment item
for drivers. On this point alone, how could Respondent Judge appoint a driver as
alleged in the complaint? Had the Complainants asked or in the least conducted a
thorough investigation, they would have discovered that in the RTC, Baguio City,
Branch 3, there was a vacant item for City-paid Utility Worker.In 1988, the RTC
Clerk of Court, Atty. Delilah G. Muoz, made a project proposal to the City
Government of Baguio for the revival of item. . .

Almost a year later, the City Government approved the request, and it was Mayor
Mauricio G. Domogan who appointed Mr. Eufemio Gula to the position and not the
Respondent Judge. The item approved was for a driver and not as Utility Worker. A
correction was sought and again Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan and the City Council
of Baguio approved the amendment for the appointment of Utility Worker and not as
Driver. . . Mr. Eufemio Gula is not a Court-paid Employee and performs his duty as a
utility worker paid by the City Government of Baguio. He has no drivers license, as
he did not apply as a driver. The respondent judge did not appoint Gula and no
judiciary funds were used for his pay. Neither did the respondent judge screen his
qualification as to whether or not it conforms to the minimum criteria set by the city
for the item - utility worker. [13]

The respondent judge prays that the administrative complaint against him
be dismissed for lack of merit.
In its Memorandum dated November 17, 1999, the Office of the Court
Administrator revealed that since his appointment to the judiciary on February
23, 1998, four (4) administrative cases had been filed against the respondent
judge:
1. RTJ-99-1450 Justice Sixto Domondon vs. Judge Fernando Vil Pamintuan
Respondent was REPRIMANDED by the Court on June 14, 1999;
2. RTJ-99-1483 Lauro Gacayan vs. Judge Fernando Vil Pamintuan Respondent was
FINED P10,000.00 and REPRIMANDED for Violation of Canon 2 of the Code of
Judicial Conduct and Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial Ethics which amount to grave
misconduct, conduct unbecoming an officer of the Judiciary and conduct prejudicial
to the best interest of the service and WARNED that a repetition of the foregoing or
similar transgressions shall be dealt with more severely;
3. OCA IPI No. 99-808-RTJ The instant case under consideration;
4. OCA IPI No. 99-832-RTJ Mr. Galo R. Reyes vs. Judge Fernando Vil Pamintuan for
willful violation of the Rules of Court and incompetence. Awaiting comment of the
respondent judge.[14]
Considering the seriousness of the charges against the respondent judge,
the OCA recommended that an investigation be conducted thereon. In the
Resolution of December 8, 1999, the Court referred the instant case, together
with OCA IPI No. 99-832-RTJ (Mr. Galo R. Reyes vs. Judge Fernando Vil
Pamintuan), to the Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeals for immediate raffle
among the incumbent appellate court justices. [15]

The cases were raffled to Justice Mercedes Gozo-Dadole (Investigating


Justice) who forthwith set the cases for preliminary conference in accordance
with Section 1, Rule 58 of the Revised Rules of Court. Thereafter, hearings
were held where the complainants and the respondent judge were allowed to
present their witnesses in support of their respective allegations.

The Evidence of the Complainants

The complainants presented Lauro Gacayan, Jurgenson Lagdao, Federico


Mandapat, Jr., Reynaldo Agranzamendez, Reynaldo Cortes, Joris Karl Dacawi,
Maria Ligaya Rivera, Rogelio Daet and Edgardo Ancheta. Except for Ancheta,
all the witnesses are lawyers and members of the IBP Baguio-Benguet Chapter.

Gross Ignorance of the Law and


Violation of the Constitutional
Rights of the Accused

Attorneys Lauro Gacayan and Jurgenson Lagdao were presented to


substantiate the charges of gross ignorance of law and violation of the
constitutional rights of the accused against the respondent judge.
Atty. Gacayan executed the Affidavit dated March 15, 2000 and during his
[16]

testimony affirmed the truthfulness of its contents. Atty. Gacayan stated that he
is a practicing lawyer based in Baguio City. He was the counsel for the accused
in People vs. Ceferino Baniqued (Criminal Case No. 13949-R) for Violation of
the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and for the defendant in Albert Surla
vs. Nelson Dimla (Civil Case No. 3322-R) for collection of sum of money. These
two cases were pending before the RTC, Branch 3 of Baguio City, presided
over by the respondent judge.
According to Atty. Gacayan, in People vs. Ceferino Baniqued, the
prosecution filed a motion for the preventive suspension of the accused. The
latter duly opposed said motion.In his Order dated August 18, 1998, the
respondent judge submitted for resolution the aforesaid motion. However, it
was only on September 29, 1999, or more than one (1) year after its submission
for resolution, that Atty. Gacayan, as counsel for the accused, received an order
resolving the motion. Upon further verification, Atty. Gacayan discovered that
the said order was received by the RTCs Office of the Clerk of Court only
on September 23, 1999, after the instant administrative complaint had already
been filed against the respondent judge. Incidentally, the respondent judges
failure to act on the motion for preventive suspension in the Baniqued case is
one of the infractions raised in this administrative complaint.
[17]

Further, during the hearing of Surla vs. Dimla on May 18, 1998, the
respondent judge dismissed the case on account of the fact that when the case
was called at 8:30 in the morning, the plaintiffs first witness was not
around. When the witness arrived at 8:32 a.m., or barely two (2) minutes after,
the plaintiffs counsel manifested his readiness to present the witness. The
respondent judge denied the same. On even date, the plaintiffs counsel moved
for a reconsideration of the said dismissal, which was not opposed by Atty.
Gacayan as counsel for the defendant. The motion for reconsideration was
submitted for resolution at the hearing on June 5, 1998. However, it took the
respondent judge almost four (4) months to resolve this simple and unopposed
motion. [18]

Atty. Gacayan likewise narrated that he was in the sala of the respondent
judge during the promulgation of his decisions in People vs. Danilo Dumez et
al (Criminal Cases Nos. 15776-R up to 15780-R), People vs. Bernardo Polic-
ew (Criminal Case No. 14054-R), People vs. Angelina Mamaril (Criminal Case
No. 16187-R), People vs. Benjie Gose et al. (Criminal Case No. 14935-R). The
last case particularly caught Atty. Gacayans attention because the penalty
imposed on the accused, who was then a minor, was the same as that of all the
other accused who were of legal age.
Atty. Lagdao, also one of the complainants in this case, executed an
Affidavit dated August 27, 1999 and Reply-Affidavit dated March 17,
[19]

2000 and during his testimony, affirmed the truthfulness of the contents
[20]

thereof. Atty. Lagdao is connected with the Public Attorneys Office (PAO) in
Baguio City and handled People vs. Remedios Malapit (Criminal Cases Nos.
15321-R, 15323-R, 15327-R, 15770-R and 15771-R) and People vs. Alejandro
Cas (Criminal Case No. 15306-R) pending before the sala of the respondent
judge.
In these two cases, the respondent judge failed to immediately furnish the
accused copies of the decisions after their respective promulgation. In
the Malapit case, a copy of the decision was served on the accused seventeen
(17) days after the judgment was promulgated; in the Cas case, fifteen (15)
days after promulgation of judgment. Moreover, in the latter case, one of the
court personnel approached Atty. Lagdao and told him that the respondent
judge wanted the tenor of the notice of appeal changed by deleting therein the
phrase copies of which [referring to the decision] the Honorable Court has yet
to release. In order not to prejudice the accused, Atty. Lagdao did as instructed.
Atty. Lagdao admitted that, to support their charge of gross ignorance of
law, he secured certified true copies of the following decisions of the respondent
judge where he misapplied the Indeterminate Sentence Law:

Decision in Criminal Case No. 11363-R is marked as Exhibit D;

Decision in Criminal Case No. 15108-R is marked as Exhibit E;

Decision in Criminal Case No. 15544-R is marked as Exhibit F;

Decision in Criminal Case No. 3200-R is marked as Exhibit G;

Decision in Criminal Case No. 7703-R is marked as Exhibit H;

Decision in Criminal Case No. 13646-R is marked as Exhibit I;

Decision in Criminal Case No. 14054-R is marked as Exhibit J;

Decision in Criminal Case No. 14524-R is marked as Exhibit K;

Decision in Criminal Case No. 15600-R is marked as Exhibit L;

Decision in Criminal Case No. 14776-R is marked as Exhibit M;

Decision in Criminal Case No. 15932-R is marked as Exhibit N;

Decision in Criminal Case No. 15653-R is marked as Exhibit O;

Decision in Criminal Case No. 13379-R is marked as Exhibit P;

Decision in Criminal Case No. 13367-R is marked as Exhibit Q;

Decision in Criminal Case No. 14929-R is marked as Exhibit R;


Decision in Criminal Case No. 7304-R is marked as Exhibit S; and,

Decision in Criminal Case No. 14925-R is marked as Exhibit T. [21]

Arrogance, Oppression
and Violations of the
Code of Judicial Conduct

Atty. Federico Mandapat, Jr. was presented to support the complainants


charges of arrogance and violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct against the
respondent judge.
As one of the complainants in the instant case, Atty. Mandapat executed
the Affidavit dated December 14, 1999 and affirmed the truthfulness of its
[22]

contents. Atty. Mandapat, a councilor of Baguio City, is also engaged in the


practice of law. He appears in various courts in Baguio City, including that
presided by the respondent judge.
He recalled that during the hearing of People vs. Andrade presided by the
respondent judge, his (Atty. Mandapats) cross-examination of the witness was
interrupted by the respondent judge. Atty. Mandapat, the other defense counsel
and the prosecutor, were instructed to approach the bench. In a loud voice, the
respondent judge directed Atty. Mandapat to refrain from asking questions that
were already asked in the direct-examination. Atty. Mandapat explained that he
was just trying to test the credibility of the witness and in fact, the witness gave
different answers on cross-examination. The respondent judge then limited
Atty. Mandapats time to cross-examine the witness to ten (10) minutes.When
Atty. Mandapat inquired from the respondent judge whether he was limiting the
right of the accused to cross-examine the witness, the respondent judge replied
that he did not want to argue.
Atty. Mandapat opined that in Baguio City, the respondent judge had the
reputation of being arrogant, and is known for treating litigants in an arrogant
and rude manner.
To further substantiate the charges of violations of the Code of Judicial
Conduct and oppression against the respondent judge, the complainants
presented Atty. Reynaldo Agranzamendez. He executed the Affidavit
dated March 20, 2000 and during his testimony affirmed the truthfulness of its
[23]

contents.
Atty. Agranzamendez, also one of the complainants in this case, was the
Past President of the IBP Baguio-Benguet Chapter. He narrated that he
appeared as defense counsel for accused Liwayway Cruz in an estafa case
pending before the sala of the respondent judge. During the promulgation of
judgment on July 29, 1999, Atty. Agranzamendez manifested that the accused
was not in court. The respondent judge ordered Atty. Agranzamendez to stand
up in place of the accused during the reading of the decision. Atty.
Agranzamendez requested that he be allowed to sit down because if he stood
up, it would seem that he was the accused. The respondent judge curtly told
him not to argue with the court.
During the reading of the decision, every time the clerk of court mentioned
the word estafa, Atty. Agranzamendez would cringe in embarrassment. Since
the decision was quite long, Atty. Agranzamendez leaned on his side at one
point. The respondent judge immediately banged his gavel and sternly told Atty.
Agranzamendez to stand up properly. Several lawyers witnessed the
incident. In fact, Atty. Jose Molintas playfully stood beside Atty.
Agranzamendez and pretended to be his counsel.
Atty. Agranzamendez felt so humiliated at the time. Even after the incident,
several people, including his students at the Baguio Colleges Foundation where
he was Dean of the College of Law, approached Atty. Agranzamendez and
asked him why he was convicted for estafa.
Atty. Joris Karl Dacawi was likewise presented, also to substantiate the
charge of violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct by the respondent
judge. He executed the Affidavit dated March 23, 2000 and during his
[24]

testimony, affirmed the truthfulness thereof. He worked as an associate at the


Sanidad and Villanueva Law Offices in Baguio City. One of the cases assigned
to him was Alejo Cabreros vs. Sussie Edralin which was pending before the
sala of the respondent judge. During one of the hearings of the said case, Atty.
Dacawi manifested to the respondent judge that although he was ready to
present the plaintiff Mr. Cabreros as first witness, the latter was not feeling
well. Atty. Dacawi thus moved that the hearing be reset to another day. The
respondent judge angrily remarked that Atty. Dacawi was just not ready to
present his case and suggested that Mrs. Cabreros, who was also in the court,
be presented as witness instead. Atty. Dacawi explained that he could not do
as suggested because it would destroy his manner of presenting the evidence.
The respondent judge eventually cancelled the hearing that day but stated
that the same be deducted from the number of trial dates allotted for the
plaintiff. The respondent judge further ordered Mr. Cabreros to stand up and
told the latter not to pay Atty. Dacawi as no service was rendered by him as
counsel that day; hence, did not deserve to be paid.
Violation of the Anti-Graft
and Corrupt Practices Act

The complainants likewise charge the respondent judge with graft and
corruption. In support thereof, they presented Atty. Reynaldo Cortes who
executed the Affidavit dated July 14, 2000. [25]

Atty. Cortes is a practicing lawyer in Baguio City and also one of the
complainants in this case. He averred that on July 1, 1999, a certain Eufemio
Dula was appointed as driver by the City Government of Baguio City and was
assigned to the respondent judge. According to Atty. Cortes, he had observed
that Dula accompanied the respondent judge everywhere he went. Despite his
designation as driver, Dula never drove the car of the respondent judge. Upon
verification by the complainants, it was discovered that Dula had no license to
drive. In September 1999, the RTC of Baguio City, through its clerk of court,
requested that the item of Dula be amended from driver to utility worker.

Other Corroborative Evidence

Atty. Maria Ligaya Rivera, Branch Clerk of Court of the RTC, Branch 3 of
Baguio City, was also presented as one of the witnesses of the
complainants. She testified that she received the notice of appeal filed in the
case of People of the Philippines vs. Alejandro Cas and, following the standard
procedure, forwarded it to Edgardo Ancheta, the clerk-in-charge of the criminal
docket, for submission to the respondent judge for his action. However, the
respondent judge did not then act on the matter. Instead, he called Atty. Rivera
to his chamber and instructed her to tell Atty. Lagdao, the PAO lawyer handling
the case, to change the notice of appeal; otherwise, he would not act on it. Atty.
Rivera took the notice of appeal and talked to Ancheta regarding the respondent
judges instructions.
Thereafter, Atty. Lagdao told Atty. Rivera that he could no longer change
the notice of appeal as the same already formed part of the records. The
respondent judge insisted that the notice of appeal be changed. Atty. Lagdao
maintained that he could no longer do so because a later date would be
reflected as the date of its receipt. In such a case, it would appear as if the same
was filed out of time. Atty. Lagdao was eventually constrained to change the
notice of appeal by deleting the phrase copies of which [referring to the
decision] the Honorable Court has yet to release. According to Atty. Rivera, the
decision on People of the Philippines vs. Alejandro Cas was released fifteen
(15) days after its promulgation.
Atty. Rivera also confirmed that Dula was a part of the respondent judges
staff. Dulas designation was originally as driver of the respondent judge but was
later on changed to utility worker. Per the respondent judges instruction, Atty.
Rivera signed Dulas accomplishment report. This report falsely stated that he
drove for the respondent judge. Atty. Rivera admitted that, by signing Dulas
accomplishment report, she was abetting the crime of falsification of public
document. However, she maintained that she could not go against the
instruction of the respondent judge on the matter.
Atty. Rivera was the one who read the decision in People v. Liwayway
Cruz during its promulgation. She corroborated Atty. Agranzamendez
allegation that he was made to stand up to take the place of the accused during
the promulgation of the judgment. She confirmed that Atty. Agranzamendez
expressed his objection to this procedure but the respondent judge merely told
him to shut up.
Atty. Rogelio Daet, the Regional Director of the Public Attorneys Office of
the Cordillera Administrative Region including Baguio City, was presented to
corroborate the testimony of Atty. Lagdao regarding the changing of the notice
of appeal in People vs. Remedios Malapit.
Atty. Daet testified that as the immediate superior of Atty. Lagdao, he
assigned the latter to handle the PAO cases before the sala of the respondent
judge. At one time, Atty. Lagdao approached Atty. Daet to express his
apprehension that they had not yet received the decision in the Malapit case
despite the fact that almost fifteen (15) days had already passed since its
promulgation. Atty. Lagdao informed Atty. Daet that he would file a notice of
appeal even without receiving a copy of the decision. Atty. Lagdao showed to
Atty. Daet the notice of appeal and manifestation that were subsequently filed
in connection with the Malapit case.
Some time in July 1999, the respondent judge called Atty. Daet to his
chamber and informed the latter that he disliked the tone of Atty. Lagdaos notice
of appeal and manifestation. The respondent judge returned the said pleadings
to Atty. Daet and instructed him to direct Atty. Lagdao to change them. Atty.
Daet did as he was told and later on learned that Atty. Lagdao had complied
with the respondent judges directive and deleted the phrase that he found
objectionable so as not to prejudice the accused.
Thereafter, upon the instance of the respondent judge, Atty. Daet
transferred Atty. Lagdao to another sala. Atty. Daet did not assign another
lawyer to take Atty. Lagdaos place because the respondent judge insinuated
that his approval should first be sought regarding the assignment of the PAO
lawyer to his sala. Atty. Daet felt that this was an encroachment on his
prerogative as regional director of the PAO.
Edgardo Ancheta, clerk-in-charge of the criminal docket in the sala of the
respondent judge, testified to corroborate Atty. Lagdaos testimony. He recalled
that at one time, Atty. Ma. Ligaya Rivera, his immediate superior, directed him
to talk to Atty. Lagdao regarding the notice of appeal and manifestation that he
filed in the Cas case. Atty. Rivera instructed Ancheta to tell Atty. Lagdao to
delete the phrase copies of which the Honorable Court has yet to release in the
notice of appeal in order that the respondent judge would act on it.Atty. Lagdao
initially refused to change the notice of appeal but when he was told that the
respondent judge would not act on the same unless the objectionable phrase
was deleted, Atty. Lagdao was constrained to obey the respondent judges
directive.
In order that the second notice of appeal would not be considered as filed
out of time, it was the date of receipt of the first notice of appeal that was
stamped on the second notice of appeal. This was done presumably with the
respondent judges knowledge and consent, since it was him who ordered the
alteration.

The Evidence of the Respondent Judge

On the other hand, to refute the charges against him, the respondent judge
presented thirteen (13) witnesses: Atty. Victoria C.M. Sturch, Atty. Primitivo C.
Jularbal, Atty. Ma. Inglay Capuyon-Fokno, Justice Sixto Domondon, Atty.
Lourdes Maita Andres, Atty. Juan B. Valdez, Lina de Guzman Dalusong,
Prosecutor Lilian Dris S. Alejo, Sister Mercedes del Rosario Nicolas, Atty.
Johnico Alim, Prosecutor Raymond Tabangin, Ret. RTC Judge Concepcion B.
Buencamino and Atty. Lyssa G.S. Pagano-Calde.
Atty. Victoria C.M. Sturch, a member of the IBP Baguio-Benguet Chapter,
executed the Affidavit dated January 18, 2001. As a practicing lawyer, Atty.
[26]

Sturch has appeared before the sala of the respondent judge. She averred that
the respondent consistently starts the hearings at exactly 8:30 in the morning
and that he is strict in the observance of decorum inside the courtroom. She
has not witnessed any instance when the respondent acted in an arrogant or
offensive manner. She was of the opinion that the respondent judge could not
be influenced or bribed by anyone.
Atty. Primitivo C. Jularbal also a member of the IBP Baguio-Benguet
Chapter, executed an Affidavit dated January 22, 2001. He is seventy-one
[27]
(71) years old and has been in the practice of law for over thirty-four (34) years
and in the course thereof has appeared before the respondent judge.
Atty. Jularbal revealed that he was asked to sign the complaint against the
respondent judge but that he declined. He believed that filing an administrative
charge against a judge whenever he committed an error would set a bad
precedent. He dismissed the charge of gross ignorance of the law against the
respondent judge as very easy to make, but whether it can be proven is another
matter.
He knew of only one instance when the respondent judge imposed a fine
of P500 on the counsel for tardiness. But, according to Atty. Jularbal, the
respondent judge did not make any effort to enforce the payment of the fine. He
has not witnessed any arrogant or oppressive conduct by the respondent
judge. Neither has he seen the respondent judge act discourteously or
disrespectfully towards senior lawyers like him (Atty. Jularbal).
Atty. Ma. Inglay Capuyan-Fokno another member of the IBP Baguio-
Benguet Chapter, executed the Affidavit dated January 22, 2001. [28]

Atty. Fokno admitted that in 1998, the respondent judge, when newly-
appointed, intimidated the lawyers who appeared before his sala, including
herself. She noticed, however, that over the lapse of time, the respondent judge
had become more considerate towards the lawyers. Atty. Fokno maintained
that the respondent judge is diligent and serious in the performance of his job
as he starts the hearings at promptly 8:30 in the morning.
Retired Justice Sixto Domondon, a member of the IBP Baguio-Benguet
Chapter, executed the Affidavit dated May 24, 2000 in the respondents
[29]

brief. Justice Domondon manifested that as a practicing lawyer, he has three


(3) civil cases pending before the sala of the respondent judge. He confirmed
that while he filed an administrative case against the respondent judge for which
the latter was sanctioned by this Court, he could vouch for the respondents
integrity, capacity and moral will to dispense justice fairly.
Atty. Lourdes Maita Andres executed her Affidavit in January 2001. As a[30]

practicing lawyer, she has appeared several times before the respondent
judge. Atty. Andres considered the respondent judge to be fair and even-
handed in dealing with the litigants. On one occasion, Atty. Andres approached
the respondent ex-parte to ask for a resetting of a case. The respondent judge
refused, explaining that the other party should be present para walang masabi.
Atty. Andres realized that the respondent judge could not be easily approached
for any favor.
Atty. Juan Valdez also a member of the IBP Baguio-Benguet Chapter,
executed the Affidavit dated January 11, 2001. Atty. Valdez has been in the
[31]

practice of law for over thirty (30) years and has appeared before the
respondent judge. According to him, the respondent judge strictly requires the
observance of proper decorum inside the courtroom.For example, the lawyers
are enjoined to arrive at the hearings on time; otherwise, a fine is imposed on
them for tardiness. Upon proper motion and explanation, however, the
respondent judge would lift the fine. Further, the respondent judge requires that
lawyers (1) wear the proper attire; and (2) refrain from making unnecessary
noises when the court is in session. In Atty. Valdez view, the strictness of the
respondent judge is necessary for orderly court proceedings.
Aside from handling cases, Atty. Valdez acted as the City Legal Officer
of Baguio City from 1992 up to 1996. As such, he confirmed the practice of the
local government of Baguio City of hiring contractual employees and assigning
them to the various courts in the city.
Lina de Guzman Dalusong was one of the parties in a civil case that was
pending in the sala of the respondent judge. She executed the Affidavit
dated April 2, 2001. She testified that prior to the respondent judges
[32]

appointment to the court, the civil case where she was one of the parties had
been pending for almost twelve (12) years. When the respondent judge took
over the said sala, Dalusong noticed that he closely monitored the status of the
cases pending therein. He enforced a strict system where the litigants, as well
as their counsel, were enjoined to come on time. Consequently, the pending
cases, including that of Dalusong, were resolved with dispatch. Dalusong also
attested to the respondent judges fairness in dealing with the parties and
deciding the cases assigned to him.
Lilian Doris Alejo is a State Prosecutor in the Department of Justice. She
executed the Affidavit dated February 23, 2001. She has appeared before the
[33]

respondent judge and found him to be accommodating. She noted that the
respondent judge would see to it that both parties are present before he talked
to either of them. Since Alejo and her opposing counsel were based in Manila,
they often requested for cancellation of hearings and the respondent judge
invariably granted the same.
Sister Mercedes Nicolas is a nun belonging to the Franciscan Sisters,
Immaculate Conception Congregation and resides at the Little Flower Convent
in Baguio City. She executed the Affidavit dated February 26, 2001. Sister
[34]

Nicolas knows the respondent judge because he used to visit their convent to
pray and attend their retreats. There was likewise an occasion when Sister
Nicolas appeared as witness in a case pending before the respondent
judge. During the hearing, Sister Nicolas saw that the respondent judge treated
the people with patience and kindness.
Atty. Johnico Alim, a member of the IBP Baguio-Benguet Chapter, executed
the Affidavit dated December 18, 2000. As a practicing lawyer, he has also
[35]

appeared before the respondent judge. Atty. Alim claimed that he has
personally observed the respondent judges deportment in and out of the
courtroom, and that he could vouch for the latters neutrality, competence and
integrity.
Prosecutor Raymond Tabangin, a trial prosecutor assigned to the sala of
the respondent judge, executed the Affidavit dated October 15,
1999. Prosecutor Tabangin asserted that the respondent judge is a strict and
[36]

idealistic judge, who starts the hearings promptly at 8:30 in the morning and
ends them at 12:00. He requires the lawyers to be punctual and imposes a fine
on them if they are late. The orders and processes issued by the respondent
judge are carried out promptly. The respondent judges strictness has resulted
in the unclogging of the court docket as he reduced the same from over 300
cases to a manageable level. Civil cases that were pending for several years
had been disposed of and in criminal cases, the accused would opt to enter into
plea bargaining because the respondent judge has a reputation of being honest
and incorruptible. According to Prosecutor Tabangin, the respondent judge, for
all his strictness, has a soft spot for young lawyers as he patiently teaches them
what to do. He takes great care not to arouse suspicion of partiality and bias in
dealing with the parties. He carefully uses his words when admonishing lawyers
and, contrary to the complainants allegation, telling a lawyer to shut up is
definitely not his style. Despite his stern and uncompromising countenance, the
respondent judge is a God-fearing and deeply religious man.
Retired Judge Concepcion Buencamino is eighty-three (83) years old and,
upon her retirement from the judiciary, has engaged in the practice of law, albeit
on a limited basis.She executed the Affidavit dated February 24, 2000. She [37]

averred that she has appeared before the respondent judge in connection with
a case involving a property dispute among siblings. Through the efforts of the
respondent judge, the parties reached an amicable settlement sparing them
from what could have been an expensive and long litigation.
Judge Buencamino stated that the respondent judge possesses a good
knowledge of the law. She observed that the respondent judge is never
arrogant or overbearing. He listens to the witnesses and asks clarificatory
questions in a polite manner. Judge Buencamino confirmed that the respondent
judge is strict about the attendance of the lawyers during hearings.
Through Atty. Lyssa G.S. Pagano-Calde, the respondent judge presented
several documentary evidence to further refute the charges against him.
[38]

The Investigating Justices Report and Recommendation

Upon careful evaluation of the evidence presented by the complainants and


the respondent judge, the Investigating Justice found that the charges against
the respondent judge for gross ignorance of the law, violation of the
constitutional rights of the accused, arrogance, oppression, impropriety and
violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct are well-grounded, while the charge
of graft and corruption was unsubstantiated. The Investigating Justice made the
following recommendation:

On the basis of the foregoing evaluation on the evidence presented by both the
complainants and the respondent, undersigned Investigating Justice recommends, for
Gross Ignorance of the Law, Gross Violation of the Constitutional Rights of the
Accused, Arrogance, Oppressive Conduct and Violations of the Canons of Judicial
Ethics that respondent Judge Fernando Vil Pamintuan be meted the severest of
administrative penalties, that is, he should be stripped of his robe.

IN VIEW THEREOF, recommendation is hereby made that respondent Judge


Fernando Vil Pamintuan be dismissed from the service with forfeiture of all
retirement benefits and privileges with prejudice to reinstatement to re-employment in
any branch of the government or its corporation for Gross Ignorance of the Law,
Gross Violation of the Constitutional Rights of the Accused, Arrogance, Oppressive
Conduct, and Violations of the Canons of Judicial Ethics.[39]

The Ruling of the Court

The Court finds the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating


Justice well-taken.

On Gross Ignorance of the Law

The respondent judges ignorance of the Indeterminate Sentence Law is


palpable. In People vs. Dumez, et al. (Criminal Cases Nos. 15776-R up to
15779-R), the respondent judge sentenced the accused who were found guilty
of theft to suffer imprisonment from seven (7) years, four (4) months and one
(1) day as minimum to eight (8) years and eight (8) months as maximum
of prision mayor for each case. The penalty imposed by the respondent judge
was contrary to the Indeterminate Sentence Law which prescribes that the
minimum of the imposable penalty shall be within the range of the penalty next
lower to that prescribed by the Revised Penal Code. Since the penalty for theft
is prision mayor, the minimum of the penalty imposable on the accused should
have been within the range of prision correccional, the penalty next lower
to prision mayor.
A perusal of the other decisions rendered by the respondent judge shows
that his erroneous application of the Indeterminate Sentence Law in imposing
the penalties was committed in not just one or two instances. Rather, as
correctly raised by the complainants, the respondent judge had repeatedly
misapplied the Indeterminate Sentence Law in at least seventeen (17) other
cases, to wit:
1. People vs. Rose Dalmacio, et. al.
Crim. Case No. 11363-R, for
Theft (Exhibit D)

The amount stolen was P10,000.00. Under Art. 309, Par. 2 of the Revised Penal Code,
the penalty imposable is prision correccional in its medium and maximum
period. However, the sentence imposed by Respondent Judge was from four (4) years,
nine (9) months and eleven (11) days as minimum, to six (6) years, as
maximum. Worse, he imposed subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency when
no fine was imposed as penalty.

2. People vs. Joel Ramos, et al.


Crim. Case No. 15108-R,
for Robbery With Violence
(Exhibit E)

As found by respondent, the provision applicable is Article 294, Par. 5 of the Revised
Penal Code which provides a penalty of prision correccional in its maximum period to
prision mayor in its medium period. However, he imposed upon the accused
imprisonment from six (6) years and one (1) day, as minimum, to eight (8) years, as
maximum. Again, he disregarded Article 39 of the Revised Penal Code and imposed
subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency.

3. People vs. Manuel Carino


Crim. Case No. 15544-R, for
Frustrated Homicide (Exhibit F)

The accused pleaded guilty to Attempted Homicide and thus, the imposable penalty is
prision correccional (Art. 51 in rel. to Art. 249, RPC). Respondent, however, imposed
the penalty of four (4) years, two (2) months and one (1) day, as minimum, to six (6)
years, as maximum. Notably, it was imposed in its maximum period without any
finding of aggravating circumstance.

4. People vs. German Abarquez,


et al. Crim. Case No. 3200,
for Robbery (Exhibit G)

As found by respondent, the penalty imposable is prision mayor. However, what he


imposed was imprisonment from ten (10) years and one (1) day, as minimum, to
twelve (12) years, as maximum. Again, the penalty imposed is in its maximum period
without any express finding of aggravating circumstance.

5. People vs. Rolando Tawanna, et. al.


Crim. Case No. 7703-R, for Frustrated
Homicide (Exhibit H)

The penalty imposed is prision correccional (Art. 50 in rel. to Art. 249, RPC) but
respondent sentenced all accused to ten (10) years and one (1) day, as minimum, to
twelve (12) years, as maximum, without any express finding of aggravating
circumstance.

6. People vs. Jose Tamo, et. al.


Crim. Case No. 13646-R, for
Frustrated Murder (Exhibit I)

The imposable penalty is prision mayor in its maximum period to reclusion temporal
in its medium period (Art. 50 in rel. to Art. 248, RPC) but the penalty imposed by
respondent was fourteen (14) years, eight (8) months and one (1) day, as minimum, to
seventeen (17) years and four (4) months, as maximum.

7. People vs. Bernardo Polic-ew


Crim. Case No. 14054-R, for
Frustrated Murder (Exhibit J)

The penalty imposable is prision mayor (Art. 50 in rel. to Art. 249, RPC) but
respondent fixed the sentence at eleven (11) years, four (4) months and one (1) day, as
minimum, to twelve (12) years, as maximum. Note that the penalty is in the maximum
period without any express finding of aggravating circumstance.

8. People vs. Johnson Simsim


Crim. Case No. 14524-R, for
Attempted Rape (Exhibit K)
It being in its attempted stage, the penalty imposable is prision mayor. However, the
penalty imposed by respondent was ten (10) years and one (1) (sic), as minimum, to
twelve (12) years, as maximum.

9. People vs. Moses Polic-ew


Crim. Case No. 15600-R, for
Malversation of Public
Property (Exhibit L)

As found by respondent, accused violated Par. 2 of Art. 217, RPC, which provides a
penalty of prision mayor in its minimum and medium periods. However, what he
imposed was seven (7) years, four (4) months and one (1) day, as minimum, to eight
(8) years, as maximum.

10. People vs. Renato Bernal


Crim. Case No. 14776-R, for
Homicide (Exhibit M)

The imposable penalty for Homicide is reclusion temporal. Again, in complete


disregard of the Indeterminate Sentence Law, respondent imposed fourteen (14) years,
eight (8) months and one (1) day, as minimum, to seventeen (17) years and four (4)
months, as maximum.

11. People vs. John Baliling


Crim. Case No. 15932-R,
for Frustrated Homicide
(Exhibit N)

The offense charged is punishable by prision mayor. However, respondent imposed


eight (8) years and one (1) day, as minimum, to ten (10) years, as maximum.

12. People vs. Melchor Bawalan, et al.


Crim. Case No. 15653-R, for
Robbery with Violence (Exhibit O)

The offense charged is punishable under Par. 5, Art. 294, RPC, which provides a
penalty of prision correccional in its maximum period to prision mayor in its medium
period. However, respondent imposed eight (8) years and one (1) (sic) as minimum, to
ten years, as maximum.

13. People vs. Paul Afiagan


Crim. Case No. 13379-R, for
Frustrated Homicide (Exhibit P)
Accused pleaded guilty to Attempted Homicide punishable with imprisonment of
prision correccional, but respondent fixed the penalty at four (4) years, two (2)
months, and one (1) day, as minimum, to six (6) years, as maximum.

14. People vs. Edwin Longaquit, et. al.


Crim. Case No. 13367-R, for
Frustrated Homicide (Exhibit Q)

The offense charged is punishable by imprisonment of prision mayor. Respondent


imposed eight (8) years and one (1) day, as minimum, to ten (10) years, maximum.

15. People vs. Joseph Samir Kairuz, et al.


Crim. Case No. 14929-R, for Estafa
(Exhibit R)

The amount involved was P90,000.00. Under the first paragraph of Art. 315 of the
Revised Penal Code, the imposable penalty is prision correccional in its maximum
period to prision mayor in its minimum period, plus one year for every P10,000.00
since the amount involved exceeds P22,000.00. The sentence imposed by respondent,
however, is twelve (12) years, eight (8) months, and twenty (21) days, as minimum, to
fourteen (14) years, as maximum. Note that aside from not applying the Indeterminate
Sentence Law, the minimum of the penalty he imposed is beyond the penalty
imposable under the law.

16. People vs. Liwayway Cruz


Crim. Case No. 7304-R,
for Estafa (Exhibit S)

The amount involved is P29,470.00. Hence, pursuant to Art. 315, Par. 1, Revised
Penal Code, the imposable penalty is prision correccional in its maximum period to
prision mayor in its minimum period. The penalty imposed by respondent was six (6)
years, eight (8) months and twenty (21) days, as minimum, to eight (8) years, as
maximum.

17. People vs. Benjie Gose, et al.;


Crim. Case No. 149935-R, for
Robbery (Exhibit T)

The penalty imposable is prision mayor there being no evidence that accused carried
arms during the robbery (Art. 299, RPC). Respondent, however, imposed a sentence
of six (6) years and one (1) day, as minimum, to eight (8) years, as maximum. Note,
too, that he imposed the same penalty upon accused Mark Joseph Ocharan despite his
findings that he was a minor during the commission of the crime. Minority is a
privilege mitigating circumstance and thus, accused Ocharans penalty should have
been lowered by one degree. [40]

The application of the Indeterminate Sentence Law in the imposition of


penalties in crimes punishable by the Revised Penal Code is a basic
precept. The respondent judges repeated misapplication thereof in quite a
number of criminal cases he had rendered constitutes gross ignorance of the
law. As this Court has consistently ruled, a judge is presumed to know the law
and when the law is so elementary, not to be aware of it constitutes gross
ignorance of the law. Indeed, judges are duty bound to have more than a
[41]

cursory acquaintance with laws and jurisprudence. Failure to follow basic legal
commands constitutes gross ignorance of the law from which no one may be
excused, not even a judge. [42]

The Code of Judicial Conduct mandates that a judge shall be faithful to the
law and maintain professional competence. It bears stressing that
[43]

. . . Competence is a mark of a good judge. When a judge displays an utter lack of


familiarity with the rules, he erodes the publics confidence in the competence of our
courts. Such is gross ignorance of the law. Having accepted the exalted position of a
judge, he owes the public and the court the duty to be proficient in the law.
[44]

The respondent judge has utterly failed to live up to the standard of


competence required of him. His erroneous application of the Indeterminate
Sentence Law committed not just once or twice but in at least seventeen (17)
instances is a compelling evidence of his gross ignorance of the law.

On Gross Violation of
the Constitutional Rights
of the Accused

In People vs. Ceferino Baniqued (Criminal Case No. 13949-R) for violation
of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, the prosecution filed a motion for
preventive suspension and the accused filed his opposition thereto. In his Order
of August 18, 1998, the respondent judge submitted the said motion for
resolution. However, it took the respondent judge more than one (1) year to
resolve the same. As correctly found by the Investigating Justice, the delay in
resolving this motion constituted violation of the right of the accused to a speedy
trial.
In Surla vs. Dimla (Civil Case No. 3322-R), the respondent judge resolved
an unopposed motion for reconsideration after almost four (4) months. Again,
this contravened the mandate of the Constitution that "all persons shall have
the right to a speedy disposition of cases.
Rule 1.02 of Canon 1 and Rule 3.05 of Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial
Conduct provide:

Rule 1.02. A judge should administer justice impartially and without delay.

Rule 3.05. A judge shall dispose of the courts business promptly and decide cases
within the required periods.

SC Administrative Circular No. 13-87 enjoins that:

3. Judges shall observe scrupulously the periods prescribed by Article VIII, Section 15
of the Constitution for the adjudication and resolution of all cases or matters
submitted in their courts. Thus, all cases or matters must be decided or resolved within
twelve months from dates of submission by all lower collegiate courts while all other
lower courts are given a period of three months to do so . . .

Further, SC Administrative Circular No. 1-88 reads:

6.1. All Presiding Judges must endeavor to act promptly on all motions and
interlocutory matters pending before their courts . . .

Conformably with the foregoing mandate, this Court has pronounced

The office of a judge exists for one solemn end to promote the ends of justice by
administering it speedily and impartially. The judge as the person presiding over that
court is the visible representation of the law and justice. Failure to resolve cases
submitted for decision within the period fixed by law constitutes violation of the
constitutional right of the parties to a speedy disposition of their cases.
[45]

The unreasonable delay of the respondent judge in resolving the motions


submitted for his resolution clearly constituted a violation of the parties
constitutional right to a speedy disposition of their cases.

On Arrogant, Oppressive
and Improper Conduct and
Violations of the Code of
Judicial Conduct
As correctly enumerated by the Investigating Justice, the following incidents
establish the respondent judges arrogant and oppressive conduct:

a. Arrogance

When he tried to limit the cross examination by Atty. Fernando Manapat Jr., who was
representing the accused in People vs. Andrada, of the prosecution witness to ten (10)
minutes with an advice of not repeating questions that were already asked during the
direct examination;

b. Arrogance and Oppression

Atty. J[o]ris Karl B. Dacaw[i], a young lawyer, who became the beneficiary of
respondents arrogance and oppressive conduct on 11 March 1999. On said date, Atty.
Dacaw[i], as plaintiffs lawyer, moved for the cancellation of the hearing of the case
entitled Alejo Cabre[r]os vs. Susie Edralin alleging although his witness Alejo
Cabre[r]os was present, said witness however was not feeling well.This simple
manifestation caught the ire of respondent judge who instantaneously ordered Alejo
Cabre[r]os to stand and told him not to pay his lawyer his attorneys fees because he
did not do anything for that day;

c. Oppression and Violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct

1. Atty. Reynaldo U. Agranzamendez, while appearing as counsel de oficio for


Liwayway Cruz in Criminal Case No. 7304-R, for estafa last 29 July 1999, was
extremely embarrassed when he was ordered by respondent judge to stand in behalf of
accused, who was then absent despite due notice, and face the Clerk of Court during
the reading of the full text of the decision when said case was called for
promulgation. Accordingly, Atty. Agranzamendez asked respondent judge to allow
him to take his seat as there were several people inside the courtroom who, being
unmindful of the rules might think that he was the accused. But his pleas, however,
got respondent mad, for instead of allowing him to sit down, respondent instead
banged his gavel and told Atty. Agranzamendez not to argue with the court and to
stand straight as he leaned over avoid the glances of the Clerk of Court.

2. Evidence on hand also reveals respondents casual disregard of procedural rules, that
is, when he promulgated a decision that has yet to be released as shown in the case of
People vs. Malapit, et al., docketed as Criminal Case Nos. 15320-R, 15323-R,
15[327]-R and 15571-R and in People vs. Cas, docketed as Criminal Case No. 15306-
R.[46]
The behavior of the respondent judge towards Atty. Mandapat, i.e. berating
the latter in his cross-examination for repeating the questions already asked
during the direct examination, betrayed his impatience in the conduct of the
hearing. A display of petulance and impatience in the conduct of trial is a norm
of behavior incompatible with the needful attitude and sobriety of a good judge. [47]

The respondents statement to the client that Atty. Dacawi did not deserve
to be paid as he did not do anything during the trial was uncalled for. Further,
his act of requiring Atty. Agranzamendez to take the place of the accused during
the reading of the decision at the promulgation thereof was improper. These
actuations of the respondent judge cannot be countenanced as they clearly
violated Rule 3.04 of Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial Conduct:

Rule 3.04. A judge should be patient, attentive, and courteous to 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.

Apropos, this Court has held:

. . . A judge should be courteous both in his conduct and in his language especially to
those appearing before him. He can hold counsels to a proper appreciation of their
duties to the court, their clients, and the public without being petty, arbitrary,
overbearing, or tyrannical. He should refrain from conduct that demeans his office and
remember always that courtesy begets courtesy. Above all, he must conduct himself in
such a manner that he gives no reason for reproach. [48]

Clearly, the respondent judge has failed to observe courtesy and civility to
the lawyers as well as to the litigants who appeared before him.
Finally, the Court frowns upon the highly irregular practice of the respondent
judge of promulgating a decision, copies of which were not then ready for
release to the parties.Consequently, Atty. Lagdao of the PAO, who represented
the accused, filed the notices of appeal stating as follows:

In the Malapit case:

. . . hereby gives notice that she is appealing to the Supreme Court decision of the
honorable Court promulgated on 18 September 1999, copies of which the honorable
Court has yet to release despite the fact that the reglementary period for filing a
motion for reconsideration or a notice of appeal is about to expire. . .

In the Cas case:


. . . hereby gives notice that she is appealing to the court of appeals the decision of the
honorable Court promulgated on 22 June 1999, a copy of which the Honorable Court
has yet to release.. .
[49]

What is even more reprehensible were the respondent judges directives to


Atty. Lagdao to delete the phrase copies of which the Honorable Court has yet
to release from the notices of appeal otherwise he (the respondent judge) would
not act thereon. This conduct of the respondent judge was utterly unbecoming
a magistrate and violated the following canons of the Code of Judicial Conduct:

CANON 1 - A JUDGE SHOULD UPHOLD THE INTEGRITY


AND INDEPENDENCE OF THE JUDICIARY

Rule 1.01. A judge should be the embodiment of competence, integrity, and


independence.

CANON 2 - A JUDGE SHOULD AVOID IMPROPRIETY AND APPEARANCE


OF IMPROPRIETY IN ALL ACTIVITIES

Rule 2.01. - A judge should so behave at all times as to promote public confidence in
the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.

CANON 3 - A JUDGE SHOULD PERFORM OFFICAL DUTIES HONESTLY,


AND WITH IMPARTIALITY AND DILIGENCE

Rule 3.01. - A judge shall be faithful to the law and maintain professional
competence.

On Graft and Corruption

While the Investigating Justice absolved, for insufficiency of evidence, the


respondent judge of the charge of graft and corruption in connection with the
appointment of Mr. Gula as driver, nonetheless, she found the respondent judge
guilty of impropriety. As found by the Investigating Justice, the respondent
judges recommendation of Mr. Gula to be his driver despite the latters lack of
drivers license and inability to drive not only casts doubt in his integrity but also
his honesty as a judge. Indeed, the personal behavior of the judge, not only
[50]

while in the performance of his duties but also outside the court must be beyond
reproach for he is the visible representation of the law and of justice. [51]
The Court also notes that this is not the respondents first administrative
case. In Gacayan vs. Pamintuan, the Court found him guilty of violating Canon
[52]

2 of the Code of Judicial Conduct and Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial Ethics
which amount to grave misconduct, conduct unbecoming an officer of the
judiciary and conduct prejudicial to the best interests of the service. Despite the
fact that the accused already filed a Demurer to Evidence, the respondent,
without resolving the same and in blatant disregard for the rules of criminal
procedure, still called witnesses who were not listed in the information as well
as those who had already testified to appear before him, resulting in the re-
opening of the case with respect to the presentation of evidence for the
prosecution. When the accused filed a motion for inhibition and a motion to
suspend further proceedings, the respondent judge denied the same. He was
also seen conferring with the witnesses for the prosecution, and later set the
case for hearing without notice to the counsel of the accused. The respondent
was meted a fine of P10,000 and sternly warned that a repetition of similar
transgressions would be dealt with more severely. [53]

Considering all the foregoing, we find that the penalty of suspension for a
period of one (1) year is appropriate.
WHEREFORE, Respondent Judge Fernando Vil Pamintuan of the Regional
Trial Court (RTC), Branch 3 of Baguio City, is SUSPENDED for a period of one
(1) year effective immediately. He is sternly WARNED that a repetition of the
same or similar acts shall be dealt with more severely.
The respondent is DIRECTED to report the date of his receipt of this
Decision to the Court to enable it to determine when his suspension shall have
taken effect.
SO ORDERED.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

2 [A.M. No. RTJ-00-1526. June 3, 2004]

OFFICE OF THE COURT ADMINISTRATOR, petitioner, vs. JUDGE


FRANKLIN A. VILLEGAS, respondent.

RESOLUTION
CORONA, J.:
Before this Court is an administrative complaint initiated by Dr. Fe Yabut
against Judge Franklin A. Villegas of the Regional Trial Court (RTC)
of Pagadian City, Branch 19.
In an undated letter received by the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA)
on January 5, 1999, Dr. Yabut complained of the delay in the disposition of Civil
Case No. 1576 pending before Judge Villegas of the RTC-Pagadian City. The
case was filed in 1976 by Romeo Alcantara against spouses Norberto and Fe
Yabut for reconveyance of agricultural properties situated in Pagadian City. It
was originally assigned to the then Court of First Instance of Zamboanga del
Sur and Pagadian City presided by Judge Asaali S. Isnani. On August 22,
1984, respondent judge took over the case after Judge Isnanis demise. But
after almost 15 years, Judge Villegas had yet to finish the trial of the case and
render his decision thereon. This prompted Dr. Yabut to bring the matter to this
Courts attention.
Acting on the letter of Dr. Yabut, then Court Administrator Alfredo L.
Benipayo twice required Judge Villegas to comment on the allegations against
him, first on February 9, 1999 and then on August 13, 1999. However, Judge
Villegas failed to file his comment. Thus, on January 18, 2000, the Court en
banc ordered Judge Villegas to answer the complaint and show cause why no
disciplinary action should be taken against him for not complying with the
directives of the OCA. Still he filed no answer.
On August 8, 2000, respondent judge was fined by this Court in the amount
of P1,000 for his continued failure to comply with its resolution. This fine was
increased to P2,000 in a resolution dated January 16, 2001.
On March 29, 2001, the Court received a letter from respondent judge
seeking its indulgence for his failure to comply with the resolution dated January
18, 2000. He stressed that he had no intention of disregarding the Courts
directive. He explained that his vision in both eyes started deteriorating since
the late 1980s and, despite the treatments and laser operations, his vision did
not improve. As a result, he encountered much difficulty reading without the
assistance of his clerks. He also enclosed postal money orders in the amount
of P2,000 as payment of the fine previously imposed upon him. He further
requested an extension of ten days from April 2, 2001 within which to file his
comment on the complaint.
However, it was only on December 12, 2003 that respondent judge filed his
comment. He reasoned that the delay in the disposition of Civil Case No. 1576
was brought about by postponements initiated by both parties, failure to
transcribe the testimonies of vital witnesses due to the court
stenographers death, and negotiations between the parties for an amicable
[1]
settlement. Likewise, he implored the Courts mercy for the long delay in filing
his comment.
In compliance with the resolution of the Court en banc dated January 27,
2004, the Office of the Court Administrator filed its reply on March 11, 2004.
The noble office of a judge is to render justice not only impartially but
expeditiously as well, for delay in the disposition of cases erodes the faith and
confidence of our people in the judiciary, lowers its standards and brings it into
disrepute. Thus, Canon 3, Rule 3.05 of the Code of Judicial Conduct requires
[2]

judges to dispose of the courts business promptly and decide cases within the
period specified in Section 15 (1) (2), Article VIII of the Constitution, that is,
three months from the filing of the last pleading, brief or memorandum. We have
consistently held that the failure of a judge to decide a case within the said
prescribed period is inexcusable and constitutes gross inefficiency. [3]

We find the explanation of Judge Villegas to be completely unsatisfactory.


It deserves scant consideration. Incidents such as the numerous
postponements of hearings, non-submission of the transcript of stenographic
notes (TSN) and the possibility of an amicable settlement between the parties
are not reasonable justifications for failing to dispose of a case and render a
decision within the prescribed period.
Worse, respondent judge defied two directives of the OCA and six
resolutions of this Court requiring him either to file his comment or to show
cause. Assuming his visual difficulty to be true, respondent judge admitted that
he was in fact being assisted by his clerks in attending to his paperwork. We
thus find it improbable that such serious orders of this Court and the OCA could
have escaped his or his clerks notice. No sufficient justification therefore existed
for his failure to comply with the directives of this Court. As the Court
Administrator stated:

Respondent judge ought to be reminded that a resolution of this Court requiring


comment on an administrative complaint against officials and employees of the
Judiciary is not to be construed as a mere request from this Court. On the contrary,
respondents in administrative cases are to take such resolutions seriously by
commenting on all accusations or allegations against them as it is their duty to
preserve the integrity of the judiciary. The Supreme Court can hardly discharge its
constitutional mandate of overseeing judges and court personnel and taking proper
administrative sanction against them if the judge or personnel concerned does not
even recognize its administrative authority.
[4]
Clearly, Judge Villegas contumacious conduct and blatant disregard of the
Courts mandate for more than three years amounted to studied defiance and
downright insubordination.
A magistrates (1) delay in rendering a decision or order and (2) failure to
comply with this Courts rules, directives and circulars constitute less serious
offenses under Rule 140, Section 9 of the Rules of Court:

SEC. 9. Less Serious Charges. Less serious charges include:

1. Undue delay in rendering a decision or order, or in transmitting the records


of a case;

xxx xxx xxx

4. Violation of Supreme Court rules, directives and circulars;

xxx xxx xxx.

Section 11 (B) of said Rule 140 provides the following sanctions for less
serious offenses:
SEC. 11. Sanctions. xxx xxx xxx

B. If the respondent is guilty of a less serious charge, any of the following


sanctions shall be imposed:

1. Suspension from office without salary and other benefits for not less than
one (1) month nor more than three (3) months; or

2. A fine of more than P10,000.00 but not exceeding P20,000.00.

We note that, in another administrative case, docketed as A.M. No. RTJ-03-


1812 (promulgated November 19, 2003) the Court en banc found respondent
judge guilty of serious misconduct, and ordered his dismissal from the service
and the forfeiture of his retirement benefits. Respondents motion for
reconsideration of his dismissal was denied with finality on May 25, 2004.
WHEREFORE, Judge Franklin Villegas is hereby found guilty of two less
serious offenses: (1) undue delay in rendering a decision and (2) violation of
Supreme Court directives.He is hereby FINED in the amount of P20,000.
SO ORDERED.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
3 [A.M. No. MTJ-99-1211. January 28, 2000]

ZENAIDA S. BESO, complainant, vs. Judge JUAN DAGUMAN, MCTC, Sta.


Margarita-Tarangan-Pagsanjan, Samar, respondent.

DECISION

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:

In this administrative complaint, respondent Judge stands charged with Neglect of


Duty and Abuse of Authority. In a Complaint-Affidavit dated December 12, 1997,
Zenaida S. Beso charged Judge Juan J. Daguman, Jr. with solemnizing marriage
outside of his jurisdiction and of negligence in not retaining a copy and not registering
the marriage contract with the office of the Local Civil Registrar alleging

"a. That on August 28, 1997, I and my fiancee (sic) BERNARDITO A.


YMAN got married and our marriage was solemnized by judge (sic)
Juan Daguman in his residence in J.P.R. Subdivision in Calbayog City,
Samar; xxx

b. That the ceremony was attended by PACIFICO MAGHACOT who


acted as our principal sponsor and spouses RAMON DEAN and
TERESITA DEAN; xxx

c. That after our wedding, my husband BERNARDITO YMAN


abandoned me without any reason at all;

d. That I smell something fishy; so what I did was I went to Calbayog


City and wrote the City Civil Registrar to inquire regarding my Marriage
Contract;

e. That to my surprise, I was informed by the Local Civil Registrar of


Calbayog City that my marriage was not registered; xxx

f. That upon advisement of the Local Civil Registrar, I wrote Judge Juan
Daguman, to inquire;

g. That to my second surprise, I was informed by Judge Daguman that


all the copies of the Marriage Contract were taken by Oloy (Bernardito
A. Yman);

h. That no copy was retained by Judge Daguman;


i. That I believe that the respondent judge committed acts prejudicial to
my interest such as:

1. Solemnizing our marriage outside his jurisdiction;

2. Negligence in not retaining a copy and not registering our


marriage before the office of the Local Civil Registrar."

The Affidavit-Complaint was thereafter referred to respondent Judge for comment.

In his Comment, respondent Judge averred that:

1. The civil marriage of complainant Zenaida Beso and Bernardito Yman


had to be solemnized by respondent in Calbayog City though outside his
territory as municipal Judge of Sta. Margarita, Samar due to the
following and pressing circumstances:

1.1. On August 28, 1997 respondent was physically indisposed


and unable to report to his station in Sta. Margarita. In the
forenoon of that date, without prior appointment, complainant
Beso and Mr. Yman unexpectedly came to the residence of
respondent in said City, urgently requesting the celebration of
their marriage right then and there, first, because complainants
said she must leave that same day to be able to fly from Manila
for abroad as scheduled; second, that for the parties to go to
another town for the marriage would be expensive and would
entail serious problems of finding a solemnizing officer and
another pair of witnesses or sponsors, while in fact former
Undersecretary Pacifico Maghacot, Sangguniang
Panglunsod [member] Ramon Dean were already with them as
sponsors; third, if they failed to get married on August 28, 1997,
complainant would be out of the country for a long period and
their marriage license would lapse and necessitate another
publication of notice; fourth, if the parties go beyond their plans
for the scheduled marriage, complainant feared it would
complicate her employment abroad; and, last, all other alternatives
as to date and venue of marriage were considered impracticable
by the parties;

1.2. The contracting parties were ready with the desired


cocuments (sic) for a valid marriage, which respondent found all
in order.
1.3. Complainant bride is an accredited Filipino overseas worker,
who, respondent realized, deserved more than ordinary official
attention under present Government policy.

2. At the time respondent solemnized the marriage in question, he


believed in good faith that by so doing he was leaning on the side of
liberality of the law so that it may be not be too expensive and
complicated for citizens to get married.

3. Another point brought up in the complaint was the failure of


registration of the duplicate and triplicate copies of the marriage
certificate, which failure was also occasioned by the following
circumstances beyond the control of respondent:

3.1. After handing to the husband the first copy of the marriage
certificate, respondent left the three remaining copies on top of the
desk in his private office where the marriage ceremonies were
held, intending later to register the duplicate and triplicate copies
and to keep the forth (sic) in his office.

3.2. After a few days following the wedding, respondent gathered


all the papers relating to the said marriage but notwithstanding
diligent search in the premises and private files, all the three last
copies of the certificate were missing. Promptly, respondent
invited by subpoena xxx Mr. Yman to shed light on the missing
documents and he said he saw complainant Beso put the copies of
the marriage certificate in her bag during the wedding party.
Unfortunately, it was too late to contact complainant for a
confirmation of Mr. Ymans claim.

3.3. Considering the futility of contracting complainant now that


she is out of the country, a reasonable conclusion can be drawn on
the basis of the established facts so far in this dispute. If we
believe the claim of complainant that after August 28, 1997
marriage her husband, Mr. Yman, abandoned her without any
reason xxx but that said husband admitted "he had another girl by
the name of LITA DANGUYAN" xxx it seems reasonably clear
who of the two marriage contracting parties probably absconded
with the missing copies of the marriage certificate.

3.4. Under the facts above stated, respondent has no other


recourse but to protect the public interest by trying all possible
means to recover custody of the missing documents in some
amicable way during the expected hearing of the above mentioned
civil case in the City of Marikina, failing to do which said
respondent would confer with the Civil Registrar General for
possible registration of reconstituted copies of said documents.

The Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) in an evaluation report dated August 11,
1998 found that respondent Judge " committed non-feasance in office" and
recommended that he be fined Five Thousand Pesos (P5,000.00) with a warning that
the commission of the same or future acts will be dealt with more severely pointing
out that:

"As presiding judge of the MCTC Sta. Margarita Tarangnan-Pagsanjan,


Samar, the authority to solemnize marriage is only limited to those
municipalities under his jurisdiction. Clearly, Calbayog City is no longer
within his area of jurisdiction.

Additionally, there are only three instances, as provided by Article 8 of


the Family Code, wherein a marriage may be solemnized by a judge
outside his chamber[s] or at a place other than his sala, to wit:

(1) when either or both of the contracting parties is at the point of death;

(2) when the residence of either party is located in a remote


place;

(3) where both of the parties request the solemnizing


officer in writing in which case the marriage may be
solemnized at a house or place designated by them in a
sworn statement to that effect.

The foregoing circumstances are unavailing in the instant case.

Moreover, as solemnizing officer, respondent Judge neglected his duty


when he failed to register the marriage of complainant to Bernardito
Yman.

Such duty is entrusted upon him pursuant to Article 23 of the Family


Code which provides:

"It shall be the duty of the person solemnizing the marriage to


furnish either of the contracting parties the original of the
marriage certificate referred to in Article 6 and to send the
duplicate and triplicate copies of the certificates not later than
fifteen days after the marriage, to the local civil registrar of the
place where the marriage was solemnized. xxx" (underscoring
ours)

It is clearly evident from the foregoing that not only has the respondent
Judge committed non-feasance in office, he also undermined the very
foundation of marriage which is the basic social institution in our society
whose nature, consequences and incidents are governed by law. Granting
that respondent Judge indeed failed to locate the duplicate and triplicate
copies of the marriage certificate, he should have exerted more effort to
locate or reconstitute the same. As a holder of such a sensitive position,
he is expected to be conscientious in handling official documents. His
imputation that the missing copies of the marriage certificate were taken
by Bernardito Yman is based merely on conjectures and does not
deserve consideration for being devoid of proof."

After a careful and thorough examination of the evidence, the Court finds the
evaluation report of the OCA well-taken.

Jimenez v. Republic underscores the importance of marriage as a social institution


[1]

thus: "[M]arriage in this country is an institution in which the community is deeply


interested. The state has surrounded it with safeguards to maintain its purity,
continuity and permanence. The security and stability of the state are largely
dependent upon it. It is the interest and duty of each and every member of the
community to prevent the bringing about of a condition that would shake its
foundation and ultimately lead to its destruction."

With regard to the solemnization of marriage, Article 7 of the Family Code provides,
among others, that

"ART. 7. Marriage may be solemnized by:

(1) Any incumbent member of the judiciary within the courts


jurisdiction; xxx" (Italics ours)

In relation thereto, Article 8 of the same statute mandates that:

ART. 8. The marriage shall be solemnized publicly in the chambers of


the judge or in open court, in the church, chapel or temple, or in the
office of the consul-general, consul or vice-consul, as the case may be,
and not elsewhere, except in cases of marriages contracted at the point
of death or in remote places in accordance with Article 29 of this Code,
or where both parties request the solemnizing officer in writing in which
case the marriage may be solemnized at a house or place designated by
them in a sworn statement to that effect." (Italics ours)

As the above-quoted provision clearly states, a marriage can be held outside the
judges chambers or courtroom only in the following instances: 1.] at the point of
death; 2.] in remote places in accordance with Article 29, or 3.] upon the request of
both parties in writing in a sworn statement to this effect.

In this case, there is no pretense that either complainant Beso or her fiance Yman was
at the point of death or in a remote place. Neither was there a sworn written request
made by the contracting parties to respondent Judge that the marriage be solemnized
outside his chambers or at a place other than his sala. What, in fact, appears on record
is that respondent Judge was prompted more by urgency to solemnize the marriage of
Beso and Yman because complainant was "[a]n overseas worker, who, respondent
realized deserved more than ordinary official attention under present Government
policy." Respondent Judge further avers that in solemnizing the marriage in question,
"[h]e believed in good faith that by doing so he was leaning on the side of liberality of
the law so that it may not be too expensive and complicated for citizens to get
married."

A person presiding over a court of law must not only apply the law but must also live
and abide by it and render justice at all times without resorting to shortcuts clearly
uncalled for. A judge is not only bound by oath to apply the law; he must also
[2] [3]

be conscientious and thorough in doing so. Certainly, judges, by the very delicate
[4]

nature of their office should be more circumspect in the performance of their duties. [5]

If at all, the reasons proffered by respondent Judge to justify his hurried solemnization
of the marriage in this case only tends to degrade the revered position enjoyed by
marriage in the hierarchy of social institutions in the country. They also betray
respondents cavalier proclivity on its significance in our culture which is more
disposed towards an extended period of engagement prior to marriage and frowns
upon hasty, ill-advised and ill-timed marital unions.

An elementary regard for the sacredness of laws let alone that enacted in order to
preserve so sacrosanct an inviolable social institution as marriage and the stability of
judicial doctrines laid down by superior authority should have given respondent judge
pause and made him more vigilant in the exercise of his authority and the performance
of his duties as a solemnizing officer. A judge is, furthermore, presumed to know the
constitutional limits of the authority or jurisdiction of his court. Thus respondent
[6]

Judge should be reminded that

A priest who is commissioned and allowed by his ordinary to marry the


faithful, is authorized to do so only within the area of the diocese or
place allowed by his Bishop. An appellate court justice or a Justice of
this Court has jurisdiction over the entire Philippines to solemnize
marriages, regardless of the venue, as long as the requisites of the law
are complied with. However, Judges who are appointed to specific
jurisdictions may officiate in weddings only within said areas and not
beyond. Where a judge solemnizes a marriage outside his courts
jurisdiction, there is a resultant irregularity in the formal requisite laid
down in Article 3, which while it may not affect the validity of the
marriage, may subject the officiating official to administrative
liability.
[7]

Considering that respondent Judges jurisdiction covers the municipality of Sta.


Margarita-Tarangan-Pagsanjan, Samar only, he was not clothed with authority to
solemnize a marriage in the City of Calbayog. [8]

Furthermore, from the nature of marriage, aside from the mandate that a judge should
exercise extra care in the exercise of his authority and the performance of his duties in
its solemnization, he is likewise commanded to observe extra precautions to ensure
that the event is properly documented in accordance with Article 23 of the Family
Code which states in no uncertain terms that

ART. 23. - It shall be the duty of the person solemnizing the marriage to
furnish either of the contracting parties, the original of the marriage
contract referred to in Article 6 and to send the duplicate and triplicate
copies of the certificate not later than fifteen days after the marriage, to
the local civil registrar of the place where the marriage was solemnized.
Proper receipts shall be issued by the local civil registrar to the
solemnizing officer transmitting copies of the marriage certificate. The
solemnizing officer shall retain in his file the quadruplicate copy of the
marriage certificate, the original of the marriage license and, in proper
cases, the affidavit of the contracting party regarding the solemnization
of the marriage in a place other than those mentioned in Article 8.
(Italics supplied)

In view of the foregoing, we agree with the evaluation of the OCA that respondent
Judge was less than conscientious in handling official documents. A judge is charged
with exercising extra care in ensuring that the records of the cases and official
documents in his custody are intact. There is no justification for missing records save
fortuitous events. However, the records show that the loss was occasioned by
[9]

carelessness on respondent Judges part. This Court reiterates that judges must adopt a
system of record management and organize their dockets in order to bolster the
prompt and efficient dispatch of business. It is, in fact, incumbent upon him to
[10]

devise an efficient recording and filing system in his court because he is after all the
one directly responsible for the proper discharge of his official functions.
[11]

In the evaluation report, the OCA recommended that respondent Judge be fined Five
Thousand Pesos (P5,000.00) and warned that a repetition of the same or similar acts
will be dealt with more severely. This Court adopts the recommendation of the
OCA.

WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, respondent Judge is hereby FINED Five
Thousand Pesos (P5,000.00) and STERNLY WARNED that a repetition of the same
or similar infractions will be dealt with more severely.

SO ORDERED.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

4 [A.M. No. RTJ-04-1888. February 11, 2005]

EDGARDO O. MAQUIRAN, complainant, vs. JUDGE JESUS L.


GRAGEDA, respondent.

DECISION
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.:

Before us is an administrative complaint[1] filed by Edgardo O. Maquiran


against Judge Jesus L. Grageda of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 4, Panabo
City, Davao del Norte, for grave abuse of discretion, direct bribery, violations
of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, violation of the Canons of Judicial Ethics and
rendering manifestly unjust judgment under Article 206 of the Revised Penal
Code committed in relation to Civil Case No. 95-45.[2]
Complainant is the Chairman of the Banned Chemical Research and
Information Center, Inc., association of Filipino claimants banana plantation
workers who were exposed to a certain chemical dibromochloropropane used
in the plantation which caused ill-effects on their reproductive organs. Filipino
victims together with other victims from twelve countries filed civil cases for
mass torts and damages against the U.S. based multinational corporations with
the U.S. courts which dismissed the cases on ground of forum non conveniens;
and required the claimants to file actions in their home countries. Hence, the
more than 7,000 Filipino claimants filed four civil cases in four different venues
against the U.S. corporations, namely: Shell Oil Co., Dow Chemical Company
and Occidental Chemical Corporation, Standard Fruit Company, DOLE Fresh
Fruit Company, Chiquita Brands and Del Monte Fresh Produce. One of these
civil cases was raffled to respondent, docketed as Civil Case No. 95-45 in 1995.
Sometime in July 1997, the cases were globally settled in the U.S. by virtue of
a document known as the Compromise Settlement, Indemnity and Hold
Harmless Agreements, referred to as the Settlement. Plaintiffs and defendants
in this subject case moved for the approval of the settlement.
On December 20, 2002, respondent issued an Omnibus Order approving
the Settlement by way of a judgment on compromise.[3]
Plaintiffs moved for the execution of the Omnibus Order which was opposed
by the defendant corporations on the ground that there is nothing more to
execute since the compromise agreements have long been satisfied.
Respondent granted the issuance of a writ of execution on April 15,
2003.[4] Accordingly, the writ of execution was issued on April 23, 2003, to wit:

...

NOW THEREFORE, you are hereby commanded to cause the execution of the
Omnibus Order of this court dated December 20, 2002 specifically to collect or
demand from each of the herein defendants the following amounts to wit:

1. Defendants Dow Chemical Company (Dow) and Occidental Chemical


Corporation (Occidental) the amount of:

a. $22 million or such amount equivalent to the plaintiffs claim in this


case in accordance with their Compromise Settlement, Indemnity, and
Hold Harmless Agreement (Annex A); and

b. The amount of $20 million or such amount equivalent to the plaintiffs


claim in this case in accordance with their Compromise Settlement,
Indemnity, and Hold Harmless Agreement (Annex B)

2. Defendants Del Monte Fresh Produce, N.A. and Del Monte Fresh Produce
Company (formerly Del Monte Tropical Fruit, Co.) (collectively, the Del
Monte defendants) the amount of One Thousand Eight and No/100
Dollars ($1,008.00) for each plaintiff in accordance with their Release in
Full Agreement;

3. Defendants Chiquita Brands, Inc. and Chiquita Brands, International, Inc.


(collectively the Chiquita Defendants) the amount of Two Thousand One
Hundred Fifty-Seven and No/100 Dollars ($2,157.00) for each plaintiff in
accordance with their Release in Full Agreement.

You are likewise directed to make a return of the proceedings taken thereon within
sixty (60) days from receipt hereof.[5]

The Sheriff returned the writ of execution unsatisfied. Defendant


corporations filed their separate motions for reconsideration of the issuance of
the writ of execution and for the quashal thereof, insisting that there is nothing
left to execute since plaintiffs claims had already been paid in accordance with
the compromise agreements. They prayed for the reception of evidence to
prove their defense; that respondent himself oversee and monitor the
photocopying, certification and authentication of the individual release and
other related settlement documents which are in the safekeeping of the law firm
in Houston, Texas, U.S.A. They likewise manifested that they are willing to
defray the expenses of the proceedings in the U.S. Plaintiffs counsel opposed
such motions and argued that it is too late for the presentation of evidence and
objected to the presentation of evidentiary documents in the U.S.
On June 30, 2003, respondent issued an Order[6] granting defendants
separate motions for reception of evidence in the U.S., at the expense of
defendant corporations; and stating that further implementation of the writ of
execution which was returned unsatisfied is held in abeyance or suspended
until the proceedings in the U.S. shall have been terminated and/or completed.
Respondent wrote the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) a letter dated
July 3, 2003, requesting permission to be on court duty pursuant to his Omnibus
Order dated June 30, 2003 and/or for leave of absence after the completion of
such court duty to visit his daughter in New York, U.S.A. to last not later than
August 26, 2003.[7]
On July 18, 2003, respondent issued an Order to supplement/ implement
his Order dated June 30, 2003 outlining the details of the U.S. proceedings, to
wit: members of the parties, venue, duration, and the reasonable expenses for
travel, food and accommodations, personnel and equipment which shall be
jointly shouldered by the defendants.
While respondents request for an authority to be on court duty was pending
action, he wrote another letter dated August 11, 2003, asking permission to
travel in the U.S. for the purpose of visiting his daughter, which the Court
granted. The travel authority dated August 27, 2003 authorized respondent to
travel to the U.S. from August 26 to September 15, 2003 to visit his daughter
which shall be at the expense of respondent and chargeable against his
forfeitable and cumulative leave credits.
However, while in the U.S., respondent conducted proceedings in the
Philippine Consulate General Office, San Francisco, California, U.S.A., from
August 27 to September 29, 2003, and issued an Order dated September 29,
2003, the dispositive portion of which reads:

WHEREFORE, the Court, hereby, RESOLVES:

...

2. To direct once more the Consulate Generals Office, again, through the support
and assistance of Consul General Delia Menez Rosal, Consuls Eduardo Malaya, and
Leoncio Cardenas, and all their staff to transmit to Branch 4, Regional Trial Court, Hall of
Justice, Panabo City, Davao del Norte, Philippines, the evidentiary documents consisting
of affidavits of witnesses, separate and distinct Compromise Agreements, Amendment to
the Compromise Agreement, Trust Agreements, Court records pertaining to the probate
of the Trust Agreement, the Releases in Full for the manufacturers Dow, Occidental and
Shell, the Releases in Full of Chiquita and the Releases in Full of the Del Monte
defendants, the checks and drafts duly authenticated, including microfilm copies and
bank certificates, the bank documents pertaining to the deposit of the settlement amounts
of the respective settling defendants Dow, Occidental, Shell, Chiquita and Del Monte, the
settlement plaintiffs, retainer agreements, executed by the plaintiffs, and various Court
records submitted by Fred Misko, pertaining to the RICO case he filed against Atty.
Macadangdang, et al., the various statutes and applicable American cases testified on by
Judge Ruby Kless Sondock, and the original transcripts prepared and signed by the court
reporters from the American Reporting Services, and all other documents authenticated
by the undersigned and/or received by the Court in the proceedings conducted in this
venue.

...

5. To declare the photocopies of all the aforesaid documents that were viewed,
examined, and thoroughly scrutinized by the Court as aforesaid, vis--vis their originals as
unquestionably authenticated personally by the undersigned, as faithful, true and correct
copies of their respective originals.
6. And finally, to declare the proceedings in the above-entitled case in this venue
terminated and/or the task set out to be done by the Court in coming to the Consulate
Generals Office of San Francisco, California, U.S.A. functus oficio. [8]
Complainant filed the instant administrative case against respondent
alleging that respondent committed (1) grave abuse of discretion in issuing the
Order dated June 30, 2003, staying the service of the writ of execution and
directing himself and his staff to go to the U.S. for further reception of evidence;
(2) direct bribery when he suspended the writ of execution because defendants
offered him free trip to the U.S., with free passport and visa services, free round
trip tickets, free hotel accommodations, food and daily allowances for the
duration of his stay therein; (3) violation of B.P. Blg. 129 on territorial jurisdiction
of the Regional Trial Court when he conducted court sessions in San Francisco,
California, U.S.A., from August 27 to September 29, 2003 without authorization
from the Supreme Court; (4) violations of Canons of Judicial Ethics (a) for not
being studiously careful to avoid even the slightest infraction of the law, and (b)
when he accepted the offer of defendants for a free trip with accommodations
to the U.S.; and (5) violation of Art. 206 of the Revised Penal Code by issuing
an unjust Order dated September 29, 2003 ordering the stay of the execution
of the writ in order to gather, receive and appreciate xerox copies of evidence
submitted to him in the course of the illegal court session held in the U.S.
Judge Grageda filed his comment which is summarized by the OCA in its
Memorandum,[9] as follows:

On the charge of Grave Abuse of Discretion

...

5. It is a brazen and wanton lie for the complainant to claim that the defendants
offered him free passport and visa services since the same were issued in the
normal course of procedures in and by the Department of Foreign Affairs and
the US Embassy. His passport was issued on 27 September 1999, three (3)
years and eleven (11) months before he conducted proceedings in California,
USA, and his visa was granted on 15 May 2000, three (3) years and three (3)
months before he conducted said proceedings. Hence, complainant not only
brazenly lied, but also committed perjury in stating under oath that the
defendants offered him free passport and visa services;

6. He vehemently denies that he made a complete turn-around and ordered a stay


of the writ of execution and directed himself and his staff to have a trip to
USA in blatant disregard of the rules of court. The complainant did not state
what particular rule was violated. On the contrary, the Order dated 30 June
2003 was arrived at by virtue of his authority in the same manner and with the
same bases as his other orders and issuances. In fact he cited in his said order
the rule and the law supporting his conclusions;
IV. On the charge of Direct Bribery

1. He denies the charge for being baseless;

2. He did not order the suspension of the service of the writ of execution, which
was in fact served and implemented by the sheriff;

3. In support of complainants claim that the defendants offered him a free trip to
USA should he (Judge Grageda) suspend the service of the writ of execution
are the pleadings/motions filed by the parties in the subject case, but nowhere
in said pleadings/motions could they find support to such claim;

4. As a judge, it is his bounden duty to act on all motions. His ruling on the
motions filed before him or his orders and issuances are correctible by
ordinary appeal or certiorari, which complainant dismally failed;

5. His trip to San Francisco was prayed for by the defendants and agreed by the
plaintiffs. The reason for said trip is to ferret out the truth regarding the
diametrically conflicting claims of the plaintiffs and the defendants as to
payment of defendants obligations to plaintiffs pursuant to the compromise
settlement approved by the court. It is his lawful discretion and duty under the
law to hold in abeyance the further implementation of the writ of execution to
avoid a miscarriage of justice;

V. On the charge of Violation of BP 129 -

1. The rationale for the conduct of proceedings in the Philippines Consulate


Generals Office, San Francisco, California, U.S.A. was explained in full in
his Order dated 30 June 2003;

2. BP 129 is silent on his conduct of proceedings in the USA, but which conduct
of proceedings finds support in the Rules of Court, International Law, and
implied in the inherent powers of the court to exercise its discretion in
adopting necessary means and procedure to properly resolve issues of facts
and law brought up before it in a case subjudice and in so doing, administers
justice properly.

VI. On the charge of Violation of the Canons of Judicial Ethics -

1. The charge is self-serving. As explained above, he conducted the subject


proceedings abroad as part of his faithful and lawful performance of his duties
and functions as judge to properly resolve the issues brought before his court
in the interest of the proper administration of justice;

2. His actions on the motions filed by the parties are correctible only by ordinary
appeal or certiorari, which the complainant failed to do. His conduct stands in
the absence of modification, correction or reversal by the appellate courts;

3. To suit their ends, complainant grossly twisted and misinterpreted his Order
dated 18 July 2003, which he is estopped to question because it was issued
after due deliberation in court and with the conformity of the parties;

VII. On the charge of Violation of Art. 206 of the Revised Penal Code -

1. The charge is self-serving, baseless and erroneous or twisted misinterpretation


of his orders primarily because he did not decide Civil Case No. 95-45 on 15
April 2003 and neither did he issue an order to stay the execution of the writ
of execution on 29 September 2003;

2. Contrary to complainants claim, original documents and not mere xerox copies,
were the ones presented before him during the proceedings held in San
Francisco, California, U.S.A.

In addition, respondent alleges that complainant is an ex-felon and an ex-


convict; that complainant is the chairman of an association engaged in nothing
more than a pseudo defense of the plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 95-45 promising
to protect their interests but demanding a large percentage of their recoverable
award from court litigation knowing that such recovery is no longer possible;
that complainant has hardly come to court with clean hands.
In its Report, the OCA submitted its findings and recommendation, as
follows:

After a careful perusal and evaluation of the parties respective positions and
arguments, together with letter-request of Judge Grageda for authority to conduct
proceedings abroad, as well as all the pleadings and documents on record, this Office
finds that there are reasonable grounds to hold the respondent administratively liable.

This Office received Judge Gragedas letter dated July 3, 2003, requesting permission
to be on court duty in connection with an Omnibus Order dated 30 June 2003, which
he issued in the subject case. Full text of the said letter is quoted as follows:

Sir,
May I ask your permission to be on court duty pursuant to Omnibus Order in Civil
Case No. 95-45, dated 30th June 2003, copy whereof I had caused you to be furnished
but for your immediate reference I have hereto appended another copy and/or for
leave of absence on my forfeitable leave after the completion of the court duties in
accordance with the above-mentioned order to visit relatives, particularly, a daughter
in New York I have not seen for the last three (3) years to last not later than August
26, 2003.

Trusting in your esteemed condescension on the matter with my unstinting loyalty and
devotion to the service, I am.

Very truly yours,

Jesus L. Grageda (SGD.)


JUDGE

A memorandum dated July 18, 2003 was prepared and submitted by DCA Christopher
O. Lock to the Office of Justice Velasco, recommending that:

1. The request of Judge Jesus L. Grageda, RTC, Branch 4, Panabo City, to be on court
duty while overseeing and monitoring the photocopying, certification, and
authentication of the original release and related documents, etc., and to conduct the
cross-examination of defendants witnesses in Houston Texas, U.S.A. relative to the
Omnibus Order dated 30 June 2003 in Civil Case No. 95-45, be DENIED;

2. Judge Jesus L. Grageda, RTC, Branch 4, Panabo City, be AUTHORIZED to travel


abroad on leave of absence to visit his daughter in New York, U.S.A. from August 11-
25, 2003 at no government expense.

...

On a follow-up made by Judge Grageda, he was informed that his request will be
denied because a Filipino judge has no legal authority to exercise judicial powers and
render judicial services outside the Philippine territory. Thus, he filed a letter dated
August 11, 2003 asking instead permission to travel to the United States only to visit a
daughter. Full text of said letter-request is quoted as follows:

Sir,

May I ask your permission to travel to the U.S. to visit a daughter using my forfeitable
leave from August 26-30, 2003 and from Sept. 1 to 15, 2003 and/or vacation leave.
...

Notwithstanding the fact that no authority was given to Judge Grageda to conduct
proceedings on the subject cases in the United States, he still proceeded with the
evaluation and reception of evidence pertaining to the said cases. Worse, the
proceedings were held beyond the period granted him as per travel authority issued by
the Office of the Court Administrator. The request for extension of Judge Gragedas
leave of absence, filed through his daughter, was denied for not being seasonably
filed.

Judge Grageda primarily cites good faith in justifying his conduct of proceedings in
the US. In his almost nine (9) years in judicial service, Judge Grageda held a good
performance record. In this case, he honestly believed that as a presiding judge over
the case, he was mandated by law to resolve the very difficult issues in the case before
him using all auxiliary writs, processes and other means necessary and if the
procedure to be followed is not specified by law, he may adopt any suitable process or
mode of proceeding which appears conformable to the spirit of said law or rules.
When Judge Grageda decided to grant defendants motions for the reception of
evidence in the US, it was supposedly in the interest of justice and a relentless pursuit
for the truth. To Judge Gragedas credit, it was his earnest desire to resolve the case
which, according to him, involves difficult issues and numerous parties. Such good
faith mitigates his liability but it does not really absolve him.

Likewise, the charge of Judge Grageda against complainant in the instant


administrative matter does not operate to absolve him of administrative liability.
Whether or not the allegations against the complainant are true, the fact remains that
Judge Grageda acted without authority from the Court when he conducted
proceedings in the Philippine Consulate Generals Office in San Francisco, U.S.A.

Evidently, for conducting what Judge Grageda himself called as not-so-usual


proceedings, he should be held administratively liable. His actuations, despite his
good and honest intentions, created doubts on his impartiality. Although the
defendants did not provide for his passport and visa for the trip, he nevertheless
benefited therefrom as he was able to travel to the U.S.A. and visit his daughter all
expenses paid. This the Honorable Court should not countenance.

RECOMMENDATION: Respectfully submitted for the consideration and approval of


the Honorable Court are to (sic) recommendations that:

1. The matter be RE-DOCKETED as a regular administrative matter;


2. Judge Jesus L. Grageda be suspended for a period of six (6) months for Grave
Misconduct in conducting judicial proceedings at the Consulate Generals
Office in San Francisco California USA, without authority from the
Honorable Court.

We agree with the findings and recommendations of the OCA that


respondent should be held administratively liable for conducting the
proceedings in the U.S. without the Courts approval.
It clearly appears in the records that respondent was granted authority to
travel in the U.S. from August 26 to September 15, 2003 for the sole purpose
of visiting his daughter. While he did ask the permission of this Court to be on
court duty for the photocopying, certification, authentication and submission of
all original documents, relative to defendants claim of payment of the plaintiffs
in Civil Case No. 95-45, there is no showing that the same was granted. In fact,
Deputy Court Administrator (DCA) Christopher Lock had submitted to the Court
Administrator a memorandum dated July 18, 2003 recommending for the denial
of such request. Although, such denial had not been submitted to and passed
upon by the Court, respondent wrote another letter requesting permission to
travel to the U.S. to visit his daughter using his forfeitable and/or vacation leave
from August 26 to September 15, 2003 which was granted by the Court.
However, as embodied in respondents Order dated September 29, 2003, he
conducted the proceedings from August 27, 2003 up to September 29, 2003
despite the fact that his authority to go to the U.S. was only to visit his daughter
from August 26 to September 15, 2003. From September 16 onwards, he was
already absent without leave as his request for an extension made through his
daughter in Manila was denied by the Court because the same was not
seasonably filed.
Respondent claims that his action in conducting the proceedings in the U.S.
was motivated by his honest belief to ferret out the whole truth in very
complicated issues. Pertinent portions of the June 30, 2003 Order read:

To reiterate at the core of the pending matter(s) to be resolved is whether or not on the
bases of the settlements entered into by the plaintiffs and defendants Shell Oil, DOW
& Occidental, Del Monte and Chiquita the former have been paid or have received the
monetary proceeds or benefits arising from the said settlements which this Court
approved by way of Judgment(s) on Compromise under the milestone omnibus order
of December 20, 2002 under which, the plaintiffs moved for execution resulting in the
questioned order of April 15, 2003 and the equally questioned writ issued on April 23,
2003.
The Court expected that after issuing the questioned order matters would be put to rest
between and among the parties. But it was not meant to be. The expectation has been
in vain. For rather than put matters to rest, the questioned stirred, so to say, a hornets
nest. And like aroused killer bees in droves the movant defendant swarmed upon the
courts said order.

But this court is amazed at the vehemence and consistency of the movants arguments
before and after the issuance of the questioned order which came to be because the
court honestly believed that the lowly plaintiffs claim that they have not been paid nor
received the monetary benefits of the settlements they entered into with the settling
defendants was meritorious. And after the issuance of the said questioned order and
cognizance of a few documents and reliable testimonies indicating that at least some
plaintiffs have already been paid or received monetary benefits from the settling
defendants, the Court is no longer so sure about the absolute veracity of the plaintiffs
claim that they have not been paid or received monetary benefits arising from the
settlements with the movant defendants. As a result of these developments the courts
duty is to dig deep and thoroughly into the matter to ferret out the whole truth which
is the sole basis for the validity and integrity of its issuances, the latter, in turn thus
becoming potent, because untainted, instruments in the dispensation of impartial
justice to the parties . . .[10]

In fine, the court agrees with the movant defendants and holds that the examination of
documents to determine their existence, due execution or authenticity is imperative as
such examination will supply conclusive answers to the burning questions on whether
or not the plaintiffs have been paid, or in the alternative, the defendants have satisfied
or complied with their obligations under the settlements or compromise agreements,
approved by this court, which they respectively entered into with the plaintiffs.

The approval of the proceedings prayed for by the movant defendants appear [s] to be
squarely supported by the following provision of the Rules of Court thus:

Means to carry jurisdiction into effect When by law jurisdiction is conferred on a


court or a judicial officer, all auxiliary writs, processes and other means necessary to
carry it into effect may be employed by such court or officer; and if the procedure to
be followed in the exercise of such jurisdiction is not specifically pointed out by law
or by these rules, any suitable process or mode of processing may be adopted which
appears conformable to the spirit of said law or rules (Sec. 6, Rule 135, Revised Rules
of Court in the Philippines, underscoring supplied).

WHEREFORE, pursuant to Sect. 6, Rule 135, supra, defendants Shell Oils Amended
Motion as well as the kindred motions of defendants Del Monte, Chiquita and Dow &
Occidental for reception of evidence and or examination, photocopying,
authentication . . . etc. of documents, being meritorious are, hereby, GRANTED. Said
defendants are ordered to submit to this court for examination. On August 4, 2003 and
everyday thereafter until proceedings are completed, all their documentary evidence,
to wit: settlement or release documents with the plaintiffs, trust agreements with
commercial or banking institutions, payment checks to the latter and/or to the
individual plaintiffs with the latters acknowledgment receipts, authority of certain
agents/attorneys to represent the plaintiffs and all other related documents in an
appropriate consular office of the Philippines in the United States pursuant to the
principle of extra-territoriality, the expenses, facilities, equipment and support
personnel to carry out in full the said court proceedings to be borne proportionately by
the movant defendants in accordance with their agreement/manifestations, supra,
before this court; to expedite the conduct of the said proceedings herein ordered to be
undertaken, the defendants are likewise, pursuant to Sec. 3, Rule 15 of the Rules of
Court directed to submit supporting affidavits of their witnesses attesting to the factual
averments in their respective motion for reconsideration and to furnish plaintiffs with
copies thereof within ten (10) days from receipt hereof and said witnesses should be
made available for cross-examination in the proceedings to be conducted, as
aforesaid, in the United States; action on the motions for reconsideration of the order
dated 15th April 2003, and on the Ex-Parte Motion for Amendment of the Writ of
Execution, the further implementation, which to date has been returned by the sheriff,
supra, unsatisfied, of the writ of execution and the quashal or recall thereof are held in
abeyance or suspended until the said proceedings in the United States shall have been
terminated and/or completed. Let copies of this order be immediately served upon the
parties for their respective information, guidance and compliance.[11]

Respondents purpose for his action may be commendable since he wanted


to be sure that the contentions of defendant corporations that plaintiffs had
already been paid in accordance with their settlement by the proofs of plaintiffs
execution of release and receipt documents. However, the means in which he
set his intention cannot have the approval of the Court. It must be remembered
that no matter how noble respondents intention was, he is not at liberty to
commit acts of judicial indiscretion. The proceedings conducted by respondent
abroad are outside the territorial jurisdiction of the Philippine Courts. He is the
Presiding Judge of Branch 4 of the Regional Trial Court for the Eleventh Judicial
Region, the territorial jurisdiction of which is limited only to Panabo, Davao del
Norte.[12] This Court had not granted him any authority to conduct the
proceedings abroad.
Secondly, respondents reliance on Section 6, Rule 135 of the Rules of
Court, i.e., when there is no specific law or rules to carry out courts jurisdiction,
he may adopt suitable process or mode to effect the same, to justify his action
is unacceptable. Notably, respondent, in his reply to DCA Locks memorandum,
admitted that he asked permission to conduct the proceeding abroad to receive
evidence, thus he knew that he must first secure the Courts approval. It bears
stressing that cases are decided on the basis of evidence presented before the
court, thus it is incumbent upon the party who is to be benefited by such
evidence to produce the same, no matter how voluminous and burdensome, in
accordance with the rules for the courts appreciation and evaluation. It is not
respondents duty to secure these documents for the defendants, as he is the
judge in the pending case and not the counsel of the defendants. Judges in
their zeal to search for the truth should not lose the proper judicial perspective,
and should see to it that in the execution of their duties, they do not overstep
the limitations of their power as laid by the rules of procedure.[13] The Court finds
respondent guilty of gross misconduct in conducting the proceedings in the U.S.
without the Courts authority.
Complainant further claims that respondent abused his discretion in issuing
the Order dated June 30, 2003 approving the reception of defendants evidence
in the U.S. Assuming respondent might have acted in abuse of discretion in
issuing the orders complained of, it does not necessarily follow that he acted in
bad faith. Abuse of discretion by a trial court does not necessarily mean ulterior
motive, arbitrary conduct or willful disregard of a litigants rights.[14] As held
in Balsamo vs. Suan,[15] we held:

. . . [A]s a matter of policy, 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. He cannot be subjected to liability civil, criminal or
administrative - for any of his official acts, no matter how erroneous, as long as he
acts in good faith. In such a case, the remedy of the aggrieved party is not to file an
administrative complaint against the judge but to elevate the error to the higher court
for review and correction. The Court has to be shown acts or conduct of the judge
clearly indicative of arbitrariness or prejudice before the latter can be branded the
stigma of being biased and partial. Thus, not every error or mistake that a judge
commits in the performance of his duties renders him liable, unless he is shown to
have acted in bad faith or with deliberate intent to do an injustice. Good faith and
absence of malice, corrupt motives or improper considerations are sufficient defenses
in which a judge charged with ignorance of the law can find refuge.

Complainant likewise charges respondent of bribery when he ordered the


suspension of the service of the writ of execution after he was allegedly offered
by the losing party defendants a free trip to the U.S. for the reception of further
evidence despite plaintiffs vehement opposition. We find such claim as mere
conjecture. Notably, after the issuance of the writ of execution on April 23, 2003,
the sheriff implemented it the following day by serving notices of garnishment
to the head offices of the various banks operating in the country based in Metro
Manila. However, these banks replied that defendants have no assets with them
subject for garnishment, thus the writ of execution was returned
unsatisfied.[16] Defendant corporations filed several motions for reconsideration
of the order of execution and to quash the writ of execution. Respondent, after
reviewing those motions, admitted that he was no longer sure on the claims of
plaintiffs that they had not been paid arising from the compromise settlement
from the defendants specially since the defendants have shown prima
facie bases that they have documentary evidence tending to prove that they
have satisfied their obligations under the compromise agreement. Respondent
honestly believed that there was a need for further reception of defendants
documentary evidence proving payment thereof, thus, he granted defendants
motion for reception of evidence where the expenses for such trip will be
proportionately shared by the defendant corporations as manifested. Clearly,
respondent ordered the suspension of the further implementation of the writ of
execution only after the same was returned unsatisfied and because he was no
longer sure of the validity and integrity of such issuance; and not because he
was offered a free trip to the U.S. It just so happened that the documentary
evidence which would prove payment is in the U.S., hence defendants prayed
for the reception of evidence in the U.S. and offered to defray the expenses.
Respondent approved the conduct of the judicial proceedings abroad which,
however, is improper for being outside of his courts territorial jurisdiction and
without the courts approval.
Notably, respondent, in implementing his Order dated June 30, 2003 for the
reception of evidence in the U.S., issued another Order dated July 18, 2003,
where he stated among others, the persons who will represent the plaintiffs
which included plaintiffs counsel and herein complainant, whose travel and
accommodation expenses for the trip shall also be jointly shouldered by the
defendants. Although plaintiffs counsel did not attend the proceedings, records
show that he received the said order since he even filed a motion to include his
wife as a member of the plaintiffs party. Clearly, respondents action showed
that he wanted all the parties to be represented and given the chance to
examine the documents and ferret out the truth.
Complainant charges respondent of violating Canon 22 of Judicial Ethics
which provides that the judge should be studiously careful himself to avoid even
the slightest infraction of the law, lest it be demoralizing example to others. He
contends that respondent violated the Canon when he conducted an illegal
court session in the U.S. Although respondent erroneously conducted the
proceedings abroad, we find that his action was done in good faith. He was of
the honest belief that it was sanctioned by law.
Complainant further accuses respondent of violating Section 29 of Canons
of Judicial Ethics which states that he should not accept any presents or favors
from litigants or from lawyers practicing before him. He claims that respondent
accepted the offer when he issued the Orders dated June 30, 2003 and July
18, 2003 directing himself and his staff to go to the U.S. for the reception of
evidence. Again, the charge is baseless. Records show that respondent indeed
went to the U.S. for the purpose of receiving the evidence of the defendants. In
his Compliance to DCA Locks Memorandum dated October 27, 2003 directing
him to explain (1) why he conducted the court proceedings in the U.S. without
authority from the Court and while he was on leave, and (2) pointing out that his
travel authority was from August 26, 2003 to September 15, 2003 thus after
September 15, 2003 he was considered AWOL, respondent submitted the
following explanations, thus:

As early as 3 July 2003, I wrote a letter to the Hon. Presbitero J. Velasco, our
indefatigable and esteemed Court Administrator, asking permission to conduct the
proceedings. But, unfortunately, in my honest recollection, I did not receive any
information that action, whether favorable or not, was taken on my request. When the
period determined in the said orders came about, things having been set irretrievably
in motion with all parties notified and preparations in the chosen venue done, I did
travel to San Francisco, California, U.S.A. and conducted the proceedings in the
Consulate Generals Office of the said place by virtue of my duties and functions as
presiding Judge over the said case. I did so in good faith and in the clear honest belief
that as the sole judge over the said case I am, exclusively, in the first instance, absent
any superior courts prohibition, called upon and mandated by law to resolve very
difficult issues, as said above, brought up before me. I also honestly believe that as the
sole judge over the said case I was indubitably vested by law not only with incidental
but express powers or authority to successfully perform my job, however difficult, in
the said case. I also honestly believe that I would be held accountable if I did not act
either way while indubitable empowered by law with the exclusive discretion and
authority to do so and, finally, I honestly believe that it is for such mandatory
performance of duties and functions that I was duly appointed judge, qualified and
invested by law with the necessary powers and authority to perform judicial duties,
which modesty aside, with the guiding hand of the Almighty I exactly did to the best
of my ability and without blemish in the more than eight (8) years now that I have
served the judiciary in the capacity of RTC judge.

With due respect, let me stress that I was thousands of miles away in San Francisco,
California, U.S.A. It was thus nigh impossible for me to personally file or execute a
written application for the extension of my leave of absence. The only way I thought
would be feasible under the circumstances to effectively reach the OCA was to ask,
by texting mode over a cellphone, the help of no less than a daughter of mine, namely,
Sheila Marie Grageda-Florendo, a Clerk III in Branch 47 of the RTC in Manila to do
the errand for me. At first my said daughter was reluctant to do my bidding but I told
her: go to the OCA and request an extension of my leave of absence. Identify yourself
as my daughter and because you are my daughter they will believe you.

My said daughter did go to the OCA in accordance with my instructions. But she was
informed that my request was late because a request for an extension of a leave of
absence had to be filed ten (10) days before expiration of the original period of
allowed leave of absence of the applicant. In the face of such peremptory information
from a person in the OCA my daughter easily lost heart at the requirement of ten-days
before and thus, I failed to get an extension of my leave of absence. But I was in San
Francisco not on a vacation, in mid-stream drowned at hard work and compelled to
proceed with the work until terminated as envisioned in the said order, supra, dated 30
June 2003.

Thus, definitely I had attempted to secure an extension from the OCA of my leave of
absence but such attempt was, unfortunately unsuccessful due to an unexpected
confluence of events and circumstances occasioned principally by pressure of work
aggravated by distance from the OCA.[17]

...

With due respect, may I say that the proceedings I presided over as a judge in San
Francisco were done purely along the lines of duty and in furtherance of justice.
While admittedly unprecedented, such proceedings, as said above, were necessary for
the resolution of very difficult and intractable issues raised by the parties in the said
Civil Case No. 95-45 pending before my sala.

However, in embarking on the pursuance of such proceedings abroad I realized and


regret in full that I may have incurred shortcomings, such as my unsuccessful attempt
to secure an extension of my leave of absence pursuant to the usual regulation of the
OCA. [18]

Respondent performed his duties and conducted the proceedings abroad


as evidenced by his Order dated September 29, 2003, to wit:

. . . From August 27, 2003 up to now, September 29, 2003, the court performed
exactly the job it set out to do by virtue of the said orders.[19]

...
In the course of the proceedings, the defendants called to the witness stand to testify
on various pending issues no less than twelve (12) witnesses, in the following order,
namely Michael L. Brem, Fred Misko, Jr., Richard Burt Ballanfant, D. Ferguson
McNeil, Rue Lynn Allen, retired Supreme Court of Texas Judge Ruby Kless Sondock,
Laureen Suba, Beth Defenbaugh, Mickey M.A. Mills, Samuel E. Stubbs, Robert
Greig, and Stephen Ostrowski, six (6) of whom are besides counsel or representatives
of the defendant corporations faithfully performing specific tasks for the respective
defendants. They hailed from as far as New York City and Dallas and Houston,
Texas. In particular, said witnesses, under the direction and control of the respective
defendants Philippine counsel brought to the Court tens of boxes of voluminous
documents in their original and photocopies, the latter for marking as exhibits and for
viewing, inspection, and authentication by the Court vis--vis their respective originals,
which the Court, through the undersigned, meticulously, in fact, viewed, inspected,
noted, authenticated, box after box, volume after volume, page after page, entry upon
entry, signature after signature, particularly and painstakingly leaving nothing to
chance, even a speck, color, condition of the documents, or any discrepancy in
spelling of names and initials, with decided, deliberate and purposeful rigorous
scrutiny of the said documents in the faithful performance of the task of properly
authenticating them, the raison detre for the Courts repairing(sic) to this venue in the
Consulate Generals Office of San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

The Court, after crossing the ocean from the Philippines and coming to the friendly
shores of San Francisco, fully realized the magnitude of the task it was duty-bound to
do. In the best interest of truth as the only sound basis for the proper administration of
justice, after it has duly authenticated each and every photocopy of the documents
consisting of Compromise Agreements, Hold Harmless Agreements, and Releases in
Full and receipts of the settlement proceeds by the plaintiffs from the defendant
corporations, Shell Oil, Dow and Occidental, Del Monte defendants and the Chiquita
defendants, drafts, checks, and microfiche copies including 23 other releases and
drafts for the plaintiffs whose status as parties in the above-entitled case is not clear
now, but ad cautelum, have been provisionally received and/or admitted by the Court
to preclude the need for the Court to repair(sic) back to this venue in case those
individuals are indeed plaintiffs in the above-entitled case.

The Court also, viewed the originals and authenticated the photocopies of the
following documents: consisting of affidavits of witnesses, five (5) separate and
distinct Compromise Agreements of Shell, Dow, Occidental, Del Monte and Chiquita,
First Amendment to the Compromise Agreement (Shell, Dow, Occidental), trust
Agreements, Court records pertaining to the probate of the Trust Agreement (Shell,
Dow and Occidental), the Releases in Full for the manufacturers Dow, Occidental and
Shell, the Releases in Full of Chiquita and the Releases in Full of the Del Monte
defendants, the checks and drafts, including microfiche copies and bank certificates,
the bank documents pertaining to the deposit of the settlement amounts of the
respective settling defendants Dow, Occidental, Shell, Chiquita and Del Monte, and
related documents thereto.

In addition, consularized affidavits attached to faithful copies of statutes and cases


were also received and marked as exhibits to prove the applicable Texas law.

Finally, also received and marked as exhibits were hundreds of settlements statements
and payment vouchers containing photographs of the settling plaintiffs contained in
two (2) boxes sent by Fred Misko to Samuel Stubbs and received by the latter while
he was testifying in Court on September 23, 2003. Also in the said boxes were
photocopies of retainer agreements executed by the plaintiffs and according to the
testimony of Fred Misko, the originals thereof are in the possession of Atty. Renato
Ma. Callanta. Fred Misko also sent a copy of the Final Judgment rendered by the
Texas Court in the RICO case he filed against Atty. Macadangdang, DCAI, Alberto
Lanohan and Edgardo Maquiran, without prejudice to proper authentication in the
future.[20]

Considering that respondent went to the U.S. for the purpose of conducting
the proceedings, his travel was paid for by the defendant corporations pursuant
to his June 30, 2003 Order wherein it was provided that the expenses, facilities,
equipment and support personnel who would carry out in full the court
proceedings in the U.S. shall be borne proportionately by the defendants as
manifested by them. Thus, the payment of respondents expenses for the U.S.
trip cannot be considered as acceptance of favors.
Based on the foregoing, it would appear that respondents intention in going
to the U.S. was really for the purpose of conducting the proceedings in the
Consulate Office and he merely used the reason of visiting his daughter to be
granted a travel authority. His travel authority to visit his daughter was granted
from August 26 to September 15, 2003, and as soon as he was in the U.S., he
started conducting the proceedings from August 27 to September 29, 2003.
Finally, complainant also charges respondent of knowingly rendering unjust
judgment under Art. 206 of the Revised Penal Code, which constitutes a serious
charge under Section 8, Rule 140 of the Rules of Court,[21] for his Orders dated
June 30, 2003 and September 29, 2003. We find the same devoid of merit. As
a rule, the acts of a judge which pertain to his judicial functions are not subject
to disciplinary power unless they are committed with fraud, dishonesty,
corruption or bad faith. To hold otherwise would be to render judicial office
untenable, for no one called upon to try the facts or interpret the law in the
process of administering justice can be infallible in his judgment.[22] While
respondent issued the Order dated June 30, 2003 for the reception of evidence
in the U.S. and the Order dated September 29, 2003, which may not be in
accordance with the rules, it cannot be a basis for administrative action under
this charge since there was no showing that he intentionally and willfully
rendered it knowing it to be unjust. The failure of respondent to correctly
interpret the law does not render him administratively liable. The ruling in Basa
Air Base Savings & Loan Association, Inc., vs. Judge Gregorio G. Pimentel,
Jr.,[23] is instructive:

A charge of knowingly rendering an unjust judgment constitutes a criminal offense.


The keyword in said offense is knowingly. Thus, the complainant must not only prove
beyond reasonable doubt that the judgment is patently contrary to law or not
supported by the evidence but that it was also made with deliberate intent to perpetrate
an injustice. A judges mere error in the interpretation or application of the law per se
will not warrant the imposition of an administrative sanction against him for no one is
infallible. Good faith and absence of malice, corrupt motives or improper
consideration are sufficient defenses that will protect a judicial officer from the charge
of rendering an unjust decision.

Moreover, the alleged error committed by respondent in issuing the subject


Orders pertains to the exercise of his adjudicative functions. Such error cannot
be corrected through administrative proceedings but should instead be assailed
through judicial remedies.[24] As held in Flores vs. Abesamis:[25]

As everyone knows, the law provides ample judicial remedies against errors or
irregularities being committed by a Trial Court in the exercise of its jurisdiction. The
ordinary remedies against errors or irregularities which may be regarded as normal in
nature (i.e., error in appreciation or admission of evidence, or in construction or
application of procedural or substantive law or legal principle) include a motion for
reconsideration (or after rendition of judgment or final order, a motion for new trial),
and appeal. The extraordinary remedies against error or irregularities which may be
deemed extraordinary in character (i.e., whimsical, capricious, despotic exercise of
power or neglect of duty, etc.) are, inter alia, the special civil action of certiorari,
prohibition or mandamus, or a motion for inhibition, a petition for change of venue, as
the case may be.

Now, the established doctrine and policy is that disciplinary proceedings and criminal
actions against Judges are not complementary or suppletory of, nor a substitute for,
these judicial remedies, whether ordinary or extraordinary. Resort to and exhaustion
of these judicial remedies, as well as the entry of judgment in the corresponding
action or proceeding, are pre-requisites for the taking of other measures against the
persons of the judges concerned, whether of civil, administrative, or criminal nature. It
is only after the available judicial remedies have been exhausted and the appellate
tribunals have spoken with finality, that the door to an inquiry into his criminal, civil,
or administrative liability may be said to have opened, or closed.

Flores resorted to administrative prosecution (or institution of criminal actions) as a


substitute for or supplement to the specific modes of appeals or review provided by
law from court judgments or orders, on the theory that the Judges' orders had caused
him undue injury. This is impermissible, as this Court has already more than once
ruled. Law and logic decree that administrative or criminal remedies are neither
alternative nor cumulative to judicial review where such review is available, and must
wait on the result thereof. Indeed, since judges must be free to judge, without pressure
or influence from external forces or factors, they should not be subject to intimidation,
the fear of civil, criminal or administrative sanctions for acts they may do and
dispositions they may make in the performance of their duties and functions; and it is
sound rule, which must be recognized independently of statute, that judges are not
generally liable for acts done within the scope of their jurisdiction and in good faith;
and that exceptionally, prosecution of the judge can be had only if "there be a final
declaration by a competent court in some appropriate proceeding of the manifestly
unjust character of the challenged judgment or order, and ** also evidence of malice
or bad faith, ignorance of inexcusable negligence, on the part of the judge in rendering
said judgment or order" or under the stringent circumstances set out in Article 32 of
the Civil Code.

As earlier stated, it is the act of respondent in conducting the judicial


proceedings abroad without authority from the Court that constitutes gross
misconduct for which he should be administratively liable. Under Section 11,
Rule 140 of the Rules of Court, gross misconduct is a serious charge
punishable by dismissal from the service; suspension from office without salary
and other benefits for more than three (3) but not exceeding six (6) months; and
a fine of more than P20,000.00 but not exceeding P40,000.00. The fact that this
is respondents first offense in his 9 years of judicial service with a good
performance record is a mitigating circumstance. Hence, we find that
suspension for six months without salary and other benefits is a just penalty to
impose upon respondent.
WHEREFORE, finding respondent Judge guilty of gross misconduct, he is
hereby SUSPENDED from the service for six (6) months without salary and
other benefits. He is WARNED that the commission in the future of the same or
similar acts shall be dealt with more severely.
SO ORDERED.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
5 [A.M. No. MTJ-02-1411. April 11, 2002]

JOCELYN T. BRIONES, complainant, vs. JUDGE FRANCISCO A. ANTE,


JR., respondent.

RESOLUTION
MELO, J.:

In a sworn letter-complaint filed with the Office of the Court Administrator on


September 17, 1996, Jocelyn T. Briones, a Clerk II of the Municipal Trial Court of Sto.
Domingo, Ilocos Sur, charged Judge Francisco A. Ante, Jr., the Municipal Trial Court
of Sto. Domingo, with grave misconduct, acts unbecoming of a judge, oppression, and
abuse of authority. The complaint docketed as OCA IPI No. 96-208-MTJ.
In her letter, complainant alleged that on September 3, 1996, she was instructed by
clerk of Court Apolonio T. Tagelo to docket the order archiving a particular case. Not
finding the docket book in its place, complainant searched for it and saw it in the
possession of Court Interpreter Marcela Rabanal who was in the
courtroom. Complainant asked for and got the docket book from Rabanal.She then went
back to the staff room and placed the docket book on top of a filing cabinet but it fell
on the floor, causing a loud sound. She was about to pick it up when respondent judge
appeared and shouted at her Why did you throw the docket book? Respondent also
added, You get out of here, punyeta, we dont need you. Worse, respondent got a
monobloc chair and threw it at complainant, hitting her on the forehead and right
arm. Immediately thereafter, Heraclea Soliven, the court stenographer, brought
complainant outside the staff room. The other court employees restrained respondent.
On October 11, 1996, complainant filed another complaint against respondent
judge, this time for sexual harassment, docketed as OCA IPI No. 96-229-
MTJ. Complainant claimed that on March 13, 1996, while the whole staff of the court
were having snacks on the occasion of their janitors birthday, respondent told her that
somebody was interested in her position. Respondent then added, I cannot give your
job to that somebody because I plan to have you as my girlfriend first. Complainant was
not able to say a word. She just turned away, went to the staff room and cried. Since
that time, complainant claimed that respondent was always mad at her, which
eventually culminated in the incident that occurred on September 3, 1996.
In his Comment dated February 18, 1997, respondent judge denied hitting
complainant with a chair on September 3, 1996. He, likewise, maintained that the
charge of sexual harassment against him was just a figment of complainants
imagination. Moreover, he asserted that these two complaints against him were purely
for harassment purposes as complainant knew that he was about to file a complaint
against her for falsifying her Daily Time Record.
The aforementioned administrative complaints were consolidated and assigned to
Executive Judge Alipio V. Flores of the Regional Trial Court of Vigan, Ilocos Sur for
investigation, report, and recommendation.
In his Report dated February 5, 2001, Executive Judge Flores absolved respondent
from the charge of sexual harassment, finding that the remarks allegedly uttered by
respondent - the basis of the complaint - was actually made as a joke. However, with
regard to the charges of grave misconduct, acts unbecoming of a judge, and abuse of
authority, the Investigating Judge recommended that respondent be suspended for one
(1) month without pay. Said report and recommendation was thereafter referred to the
Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) for evaluation, report, and recommendation.
In its Memorandum dated December 12, 2001, the OCA adopted the findings and
recommendation of Executive Judge Flores for being adequately supported by the
evidence presented during the course of the investigation.
On January 30, 2002, Administrative Matter IPI 96-229-MTJ was dismissed, the
Court approving the recommendation of the Court Administrator. Thus, this resolution
shall deal only with the first complaint.
We have carefully evaluated the record of this case and we come to the conclusion
that respondent is indeed guilty of grave misconduct, acts unbecoming of a judge and
abuse of authority. To prove that respondent did throw a chair at complainant,
complainant presented herself, two stenographers, and the clerk of court as witnesses
to the incident. The Investigating Judge himself stated that the testimony of complainant
and her witnesses were categorical, straightforward, spontaneous, and frank. On the
other hand, to refute the incident, respondent could only present himself and the
testimony of the court interpreter. It should be noted that the court interpreter was then
respondents girlfriend, and later his wife.
The evidence positively shows that respondent judge shouted invectives and threw
a chair at the complainant on September 3, 1996, as a result of which, complainant, as
proven by a medical certificate, sustained wrist and other injuries. Clearly, this behavior
of respondent judge cannot be sanctioned. Respondents act, coupled with his being a
public official, holding a position in the judiciary and specifically entrusted with the
sacred duty of administering justice, violates Canon 2 of the Code of Judicial Conduct
and Canon 3 of the Canons of Judicial Ethics which mandate, respectively, that a judge
should avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all activities, and that a
judges official conduct should be free from the appearance of impropriety, and his
personal behavior, not only upon the bench and in the performance of official duties,
but also in his everyday life, should be beyond reproach. These most exacting standards
of decorum are expected of magistrates if only to promote public confidence in the
judiciary.
Adding credibility to the complaint, there is no evidence on record indicating that
complainant was motivated by ill-will, contrary to what respondent would like this
Court to believe.Respondents act of hitting complainant with a chair showed contempt
for complainant and possibly was made to ridicule and embarrass her in the presence of
her co-workers. Worse, respondent judge displayed a predisposition to use physical
violence and intemperate language which reveals a marked lack of judicial temperament
and self- restraint - traits which, aside from the basic equipment of learning in the law
- are indispensable qualities of every judge.
Verily, no position is more demanding as regards uprightness of any individual than
a seat on the Bench. Occupying as he does an exalted position in the administration of
justice, a judge must pay a high price for the honor bestowed upon him. Thus, the judge
must comport himself at all times in such a manner that his conduct, official or
otherwise, can bear the most searching scrutiny of the public that looks up to him as an
epitome of integrity and justice (Vendaa vs. Valencia, 295 SCRA 1 [1998]).
While we concur with the findings made by the Investigating Judge and the OCA,
we are, however, unable to adopt the recommendation as to the penalty to be imposed,
which we find too light in view of the nature and import of the offense to complainant
and the judiciary. Section 2 of Rule 140 of the Rules of Court classifies administrative
charges filed against judges as serious, less serious, or light. Section 3 of Rule 140
considers violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct to be serious charges. For a serious
charge, the respondent found culpable therefor may be imposed the sanction of either:
(1) dismissal from the service and disqualification from reinstatement or appointment
to any public office; (2) suspension for three months without salary or benefits; or (3) a
fine of not less than P20,000.00 but not more than P40,000.00.
In Lim vs. Sequiban (158 SCRA 532 [1988]), we dismissed a judge for slapping his
clerk of court in public, without sufficient provocation or justifiable cause. In Ferrer
vs. Maramba (A.M. No. MTJ-93-795, 290 SCRA 44 [1998]), the Court suspended a
judge for six months for slapping and hitting complainant with a logbook. In Alumbres
vs. Caoibes (A.C. No. RTJ-99-1431, January 23, 2002), the Court fined a judge only
P20,000.00, for fighting within the court premises, only because the respondent had
been provoked. Consequently, we find it proper that respondent judge, for having acted
in an improper and violent manner, should be suspended for three (3) months without
pay.
WHEREFORE, Judge Francisco Ante, Jr. is hereby found guilty of grave
misconduct, acts unbecoming of a judge and abuse of authority and is SUSPENDED
from office for a period of three (3) months without pay effective immediately, with the
warning that a repetition of the same shall be dealt with more severely.
SO ORDERED.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

6 [A.M. No. MTJ-00-1245. January 19, 2000]

Antonio Yu-Asensi, complainant, vs. Judge Francisco D. Villanueva, MTC,


Branch 36, Quezon City, respondent.

DECISION

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:

On December 10, 1996, Mr. Antonio Yu-Asensi filed a letter-complaint with the
[1]

Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) charging Judge Francisco D. Villanueva,


Presiding Judge of the MeTC, Branch 36, Quezon City with serious misconduct
and/or inefficiency particularly violating the Canons of Judicial Ethics on promptness
and punctuality.

The complaint was filed in connection with Criminal Case No. 5400 entitled "People
of the Philippines v. Edwin Santos y Vito", for Reckless Imprudence resulting in
Serious Physical Injuries pending before Branch 36 of the Metropolitan Trial Court of
Quezon City presided by respondent judge. Complainant is the father of a seven-year
old boy who was hit by a car driven by the accused Edwin Santos y Vito. Attached to
the letter-complaint is an Affidavit dated November 20, 1996 which alleges:
[2]

1. That I am the private complainant in the case of People of the


Philippines versus Edwin Santos y Vito docketed as Criminal Case No.
5400 pending trial before the Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch 36,
Quezon City presided by the Honorable Judge Francisco Villanueva;

2. Though a layman, I am of the strong belief that members of the office


of the judge exist[s] not only to promote justice but likewise to recognize
and respect [an] individual's right[s] [e]specially when one comes to
court for redress. This is not so in the case of judge Francisco
Villanueva!

3. That after my 7 year old child Philipp Yu-Asensi was run-over by a


car driven by the above-named acused causing him to limp for life, our
case was raffled to the sala of Judge Francisco Villanueva;

4. At that time we are on high-spirits that speedy justice will be given me


and my family. I am dead wrong!
5. That during the proceedings, from arraignment up to the present stage
of trial, Judge Villanueva consistently arrives one to one and a half (1
1/2) hour[s] late from the scheduled 2:00 p.m. hearing;

6. Worst is that, Judge Villanueva even have (sic) the temerity to be late
knowing very well that there are sometimes more than twenty (20) cases
calendared for the day;

7. There was even a time when judge Villanueva compelled my lawyer


to extend trial after 5:00 o'clock p.m. simply because he (Judge
Villanueva) arrive[d] one and a half (1 1/2) hour[s] late and trial started
at already 3:30 p.m.

8. I have already attended my trial several times and I notice[d] that


litigants, lawyers and witnesses in the said sala while waiting for Judge
Villanueva, have mixed negative reactions even murmuring invectives
against Judge Villanueva and our Judicial System obviously because
they have been waiting for more than [an] hour and the judge who is
suppose[d] to be a model of punctuality is not yet around;

9. Moreover, I was informed by some court personnel that a case was


already filed against judge Villanueva for the same misconduct;

10. Further information revealed that he was already admonish[ed] by


the Supreme Court before. However, I am not quite sure if this is true;

11. That judge Villanueva with his unpunctuality sets a bad example to
the bar and tends to create dissatisfaction and delay with the
administration of justice; x x x.

In a Resolution dated February 5, 1997, respondent judge was required to submit his
[3]

comment thereon within ten (10) days from notice.

In compliance thereto, respondent judge filed a comment on March 13, 1997. In the
[4]

comment, respondent judge made a chronological summary of the proceedings in


Criminal Case No. 5400 claiming that as can be gleaned therefrom, complainant
Antonio Yu-Asensi and his lawyer were "harassing the respondent Judge, for adverse
rulings and resolutions rendered, due to the negligence and omissions" of
complainant's counsel.

Denying that he arrived at 3:30 p.m. for the session, respondent judge further alleged
that he has a calendar of thirty (30) to forty (40) criminal cases for each session and
conducts hearings up to 5:30 in the afternoon. Finally, respondent judge avers that he
has one of the highest disposition of cases in the Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon
City and had received an award for judicial excellence from the Rotary Club as
Outstanding MTC Judge of Quezon City for 1995 and that in 1996, he also had the
highest disposition of cases.

Finding the comment of respondent judge unsatisfactory, the Court thereafter issued a
Resolution dated August 6, 1997 referring the complaint to the Executive judge of the
[5]

Regional Trial Court of Quezon City for investigation, report and recommendation
within ninety (90) days from notice.

On December 5, 1997, the Executive Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon
City submitted a Partial Report dated December 3, 1997. In the report, the Executive
[6]

judge chronicled the proceedings concluding that the presentation of the respective
evidence of the parties had already been terminated. Owing, however, to the request
of both parties to submit their respective summations within thirty (30) days, the
Executive Judge stated that she would be submitting the final report within a period of
fifteen (15) days from the submission of the parties respective summations.

On January 19, 1998, respondent judge filed a Summation praying that the complaint
[7]

against him be dismissed. Complainant filed his Memorandum a day later or on


January 20, 1998 praying that the corresponding sanctions be meted against
[8]

respondent judge for repeated violations of the Canons of Judicial Ethics


on promptness and punctuality.

A FINAL REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION dated May 5, 1998 was


[9]

subsequently submitted by the Executive judge finding respondent guilty of habitual


tardiness which "amounts to serious misconduct and inefficiency in violation of the
Canons of Judicial Ethics" and recommended that he be meted the corresponding
penalty.

After a careful evaluation and review of the evidence on record, We find the report
and recommendation of Executive Judge Estrella T. Estrada to be well taken.

Complainant Antonio Yu-Asensi declared that he attended the hearings in Criminal


Case No. 5400 for about eight (8) times and signed the minutes of those
hearings which were scheduled at two o'clock in the afternoon but the Presiding
[10] [11]

Judge usually arrived one (1) to one and a half (1 1/2) hours later, hence, trial starts
one (1) to one and a half (1 1/2) hours late.[12]

Atty. Reynario Campanilla, counsel for complainant, likewise declared that he


attended the scheduled hearings of the criminal case as a private prosecutor for
approximately eleven (11) to fifteen (15) times and as scheduled, afternoon hearings
are supposed to start at exactly two o'clock in the afternoon. When he was queried as
to whether the respondent judge had been punctual in attending the proceedings, his
answer was "[d]efinitely not, the respondent was usually late, always late for 45
minutes to one and a half (1 1/2) hours." [13]

Dr. Recueto Patricio of the Veteran's Memorial Hospital, who was summoned to
appear as a witness in the criminal case declared that he arrived in court at about five
(5) minutes before two o'clock in the afternoon for February 19, 1996 and when he
was asked approximately when respondent judge started calling the cases calendared
for the day or what time the judge started trial, the doctor answered "[a]bout one or
one and a half hours after 2:00 in the afternoon because we were waiting
outside."
[14]

The Court is convinced that respondent judge is guilty of habitual tardiness which
amounts to serious misconduct and inefficiency. Circular No. 13, issued July 1, 1987
which lays down the Guidelines on the Administration of Justice particularly Section
1 of the guidelines set for trial courts states in no uncertain terms that:

1.....Punctuality and strict observance of office hours. - Punctuality in


the holding of scheduled hearings is an imperative. Trial judges should
strictly observe the requirements of at lease (sic) eight hours of service a
day, five hours of which should be devoted to trial, specifically from
8:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon and from 2:00 to 4:30 as required by par. 5 of
the Interim Rules issued by the Supreme Court on January 11, 1983,
pursuant to Sec. 16 of B.P. 129.

Similarly, Section 5 of Supervisory Circular No. 14, issued October 22, 1985
provides:

5. Session Hours. - Regional Trial Courts, Metropolitan Trial Courts,


Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts shall hold
daily sessions from Monday to Friday from 8:30 to 12:00 noon and from
2:00 to 4:30 p.m. assisted by a skeletal force, also on rotation, primarily
to act on petitions for bail and other urgent matters.

Along the same vein, Administrative Circular No. 3-99 dated January 15, 1999 which
is entitled and mandates the "Strict Observance Of Session Hours Of Trial Courts And
Effective Management Of Cases To Ensure Speedy Disposition" clearly states that -

To insure the speedy disposition of cases, the following guidelines must


be faithfully observed:
I.........The session hours of all Regional Trial Courts, Metropolitan Trial
Courts; Municipal Trial Courts in Cities and Municipal Trial Courts shall
be from 8:30 A.M. to noon and from 2:00 P.M. to 4:30 P.M. from
Monday to Friday. The hours in the morning shall be devoted to (1) the
conduct of pre-trial conferences; (2) writing of decisions, resolutions or
orders, or (3) the continuation of trial on the merits whenever rendered
necessary as may be required by the Rules of Court, statutes, or circulars
in specified cases.

x x x.........................x x x.........................x x x

II.........Judges must be punctual at all times.

x x x.........................x x x.........................x x x

III.....There should be strict adherence to the policy on avoiding


postponements and needless delay.

x x x.........................x x x.........................x x x

VI.....All trial judges must strictly comply with Circular No. 38-98
entitled "Implementing the Provisions of Republic Act No. 8493" ("An
Act to Ensure a Speedy Trial of All Cases Before the Sandiganbayan,
Regional Trial Court, Metropolitan Trial Court, Municipal Trial Court in
Cities, Municipal Trial Court and Municipal Circuit Trial Court,
Appropriating Funds Therefor, and for Other Purposes), issued by the
Honorable Chief Justice Andres R. Narvasa on 11 August 1998 and
which took effect 15 September 1998,"

The aforesaid circulars are restatements of the Canon of Judicial Ethics which enjoin
judges to be punctual in the performance of their judicial duties, recognizing that the
time of litigants, witnesses, and attorneys are of value, and that if the judge is not
punctual in his habits, he sets a bad example to the bar and tends to create
dissatisfaction in the administration of justice.

The Code of Judicial Conduct decrees that a judge should administer justice
impartially and without delay. A judge should likewise be imbued with a high sense
[15]

of duty and responsibility in the discharge of his obligation to promptly administer


justice. The trial court judges being the paradigms of justice in the first instance
[16]

have, time and again, been exhorted to dispose of the court's business promptly and to
decide cases within the required period because delay results in undermining the
people's faith in the judiciary from whom the prompt hearing of their supplications is
anticipated and expected, and reinforces in the minds of the litigants the impression
that the wheels of justice grind ever so slowly. [17]

It is towards the sacrosanct goal of ensuring the people's faith in the judiciary that the
Code of Judicial Conduct mandates the following:

CANON 1. - A JUDGE SHOULD UPHOLD THE INTEGRITY AND


INDEPENDENCE OF THE JUDICIARY.

x x x.........................x x x.........................x x x

Rule 1.02. A judge should administer justice impartially and without


delay. Jksm

CANON 3. - A JUDGE SHOULD PERFORM OFFICIAL DUTIES


HONESTLY, AND WITH IMPARTIALITY AND DILIGENCE.

Rule 3.01 - A judge shall be faithful to the law and maintain professional
competence.

x x x.........................x x x.........................x x x

Rule 3.05. A judge shall dispose of the court's business promptly and
decide cases within the required periods.

x x x.........................x x x.........................x x x

Rule 3.09. A judge should organize and supervise the court personnel to
ensure the prompt and efficient dispatch of business, and require at all
times the observance of high standards of public service and fidelity.

Thus, for the foregoing considerations -

... [T]his Court has consistently impressed upon judges the need to
decide cases promptly and expeditiously, pursuant to Rule 3.05, Canon 3
of the Code of Judicial Conduct and Section 15 (1) and (2), Article VIII
of the Constitution. This requirement is designed to prevent delay in the
administration of justice for, obviously, justice delayed is justice denied;
and delay in the disposition of cases erodes the faith and confidence of
our people in the judiciary, lowers its standards, and brings it into
disrepute. Judges are repeatedly reminded that the failure to decide
[18]

cases within the required period is not excusable and constitutes gross
inefficiency and which is a ground for administrative sanction against
[19]

the defaulting judge. [20]

It need not be overemphasized that any delay in the determination or resolution of a


case no matter how insignificant is, at the bottom line, delay in the administration of
justice in general. The suffering endured by just one person - whether plaintiff,
defendant or accused - while awaiting a judgment that may affect his life, honor,
liberty or property taints the entire judiciary's performance in its solemn task of
administering justice. Inefficient, indolent or neglectful judges are as equally
impermissible in tile judiciary as the incompetent and dishonest ones. Any of them
tarnishes the image of the judiciary or brings it to public contempt, dishonor or
disrespect and must then be administratively dealt with or criminally prosecuted, if
warranted, and punished accordingly. Esmsc[21]

In In re Anonymous Complaint v. Judge Echiverri, this Court pursuant to Section 58


[22]

of the Judiciary Act of 1948 which expressly provides for the observance of daily
sessions of Courts of First Instance, called on judges to calendar as many cases as
possible and to dispose of them with dispatch considering the increasing number of
litigations pending with the courts, adding that all other matters needing the attention
of the judges have to be attended to even outside the schedule of trial. Indeed, as
pointed out by Mr. Justice George A. Malcolm in the old but nevertheless still very
much relevant case of In re Impeachment of Hon. Tomas Flordeliza. [23]

A judge should display that interest in the office which stops not at the
minimum of the day's labors fixed by law, and which ceases not at the
expiration of official sessions, but which proceeds diligently on holidays
and by artificial light and even into vacation periods.

At the risk of sounding trite, it bears stressing that no position is more demanding as
regards moral righteousness and uprightness of any individual than a seat on the
Bench. "[W]ithin the hierarchy of courts, trial courts stand as an important and visible
symbol of government especially considering that as opposed to appellate courts, trial
judges are those directly in contact with the parties, their counsel and the communities
which the judiciary is bound to serve. Occupying as he does an exalted position in the
administration of justice, a judge must pay a high price for the honor bestowed upon
him. Thus, a judge must comport himself at all times in such manner that his conduct,
official or otherwise, can bear the most searching scrutiny of the public that looks up
to him as the epitome of integrity and justice. In insulating the Bench from
[24]

unwarranted criticism, thus preserving our democratic way of life, it is essential that
judges, like Caesar's wife, should be above suspicion." Esmmis [25]
Verily, "[T]he office of a judge exists for one solemn end - to promote the ends of
justice by administering it speedily and impartially. The judge as the person presiding
over that court, is the visible representation of the law and justice. These are self-
evident dogmas which do not even have to be emphasized, but to which we are wont
to advert to when some members of the judiciary commit legal missteps or stray from
the axioms of judicial ethics." To reiterate what has been stated earlier, this Court
[26]

has -

. . . [c]onstantly impressed upon judges - may it not be said ,without


success - the need to decide cases promptly and expeditiously, for it
cannot be gainsaid that justice delayed is justice denied. Delay in the
disposition of cases undermines the people's faith and confidence in the
judiciary. Hence, judges are enjoined to decide cases with dispatch.
Their failure to do so constitutes gross inefficiency and warrants the
imposition of administrative sanction[s] against them. Esmso
[27]

All told, the Court views the conduct of respondent judge as untenable and
unjustified. Respondent is presumed to be aware of his duties and responsibilities
under the Code of Judicial Conduct. As a member of the Bench, he should be the
embodiment of competence, integrity and independence. Rule 3.01 of Canon 3 calls
[28]

for a judge to be faithful to the law and to maintain professional competence. Rule
3.05 admonishes all judges to dispose of the court's business promptly and to decide
cases within the periods fixed by law. Rule 3.09 requires a judge to organize and
supervise the court personnel to insure the prompt and efficient dispatch of business
and requires at all times the observance of high standards of public service and
fidelity. Respondent judge unfortunately failed to live up to these standards.

The penalty for gross or serious inefficiency ranges from reprimand and
admonition to removal from office. The records bear out that the habit of dispatch
[29] [30]

and punctuality seem to be dormant traits of respondent Judge which needs to be


roused from their lethargy by appropriate administrative penalties. With regard to that
degree of stringency which must be adopted in the determination and imposition of
the proper sanctions, Section II of Administrative Circular No. 2-99 entitled "Strict
Observance of Working Hours And Disciplinary Action For Absenteeism And
Tardiness" provides that:

II.....Absenteeism and tardiness, even if such do not qualify as "habitual"


or "frequent" under Civil Service Commission Memorandum Circular
No. 04, Series of 1991, shall be dealt with severely, and any falsification
of daily time records to cover up for such absenteeism and/or tardiness
shall constitute gross dishonesty or serious misconduct.
If even non-habitual absenteeism and tardiness merit severe penal sanctions, much
more so should such severity in the imposition of the proper penalties be brought to
bear on respondent judge because the present case is not his first offense. Msesm

In Louis Vuitton, S.A. v. Judge Francisco Diaz Villanueva, " respondent judge was
[31]

chastised by the Court saying that

... [h]is delay in the promulgation of this case deserves a reprimand from
this Court as it is contrary to the mandate of our Constitution which
enshrines the right of the litigants to a speedy disposition of their cases.

In Spouses Lorenzo and Ana Labayen v. Judge Francisco D. Villanueva the Court's[32]

Third Division again reprimanded respondent judge for failing to secure a written
permission from this Court to engage in business.

Still more recently, in Report On The Spot Judicial Audit Conducted In The
Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch 36, Quezon City, the Court En Banc imposed a
[33]

fine of Five Thousand Pesos (P5,000.00) on respondent judge for failing to act
seasonably on the cases pending before him, pointing out that -

... [J]udge Villanueva has disregarded Administrative Circular No. 3-


90 requiring all trial courts to adopt the mandatory continuous trial
[34]

system in accordance with (1) Administrative Circular No. 4 to the [35]

effect that trial courts should, after arraignment, fix the specific dates
needed to complete the presentation of evidence by the parties and
conduct the trial without unnecessary postponements, and (2) Circular
No. 1-89, which has established the guidelines to be observed by the
[36]

trial courts in the conduct of such trials.

It appears, however, that being castigated thrice has not reformed the respondent
judge because the records of the office of the Court Administrator (OCA) reveal that
aside from the present case, respondent judge has six (6) other administrative
complaints still pending against him. Needless to state, such an unflattering record
[37]

only further erodes the people's faith and confidence in the judiciary for it is the duty
of all members of the bench to avoid any impression of impropriety to protect the
image and integrity of the judiciary which in recent times has been the object of
criticism and controversy. [38]

Verily, the image of a court of justice is necessarily mirrored in the conduct, official
or otherwise, of the men and women, from the judge to the least and lowest of its
personnel, hence, it becomes the imperative sacred duty of each and everyone in the
court to maintain its good name and standing as a true temple of justice. For his part,
[39]
a judge, as the visible representation of the law and the embodiment of the people's
sense of justice must always strive to live up to his responsibility of assisting parties-
[40]

litigants in obtaining a just, speedy and inexpensive determination of their cases and
proceedings. [41]

Judicial indolence is considered gross inefficiency punishable by fine or suspension


from service without pay with the gravity of the penalty dependent on the attendant
aggravating or mitigating circumstances. While this Court is not convinced that the
[42]

magnitude of respondent Judge's culpability warrants the supreme penalty of removal


from office, the Court nonetheless deems it appropriate that stiffer sanctions should be
meted out to respondent. Exsm

The prevailing facts of the present case vis-a-vis respondent Judge's record for
habitual malfeasance in office warrants the imposition of a fine of Ten Thousand
Pesos (P10,000.00) and One (1) Year suspension without pay with a stern warning
that a repetition of similar acts will be dealt with more severely.

WHEREFORE, respondent Judge Francisco D. Villanueva, the Presiding Judge of


Branch 36 of the Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City is found GUILTY of
Serious Misconduct and/or Inefficiency in violation of the Canons of Judicial Ethics.
Accordingly, he is hereby: a.] FINED an amount of Ten Thousand Pesos
(P10,000.00); and b.] SUSPENDED for One (1) YEAR WITHOUT PAY, with the
stern warning that a repetition of the same or similar infractions will be dealt with
more severely.

SO ORDERED. Esm

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

7 [A.M. No. RTJ-00-1525. January 25, 2000]

ATTY. MARTIN D. PANTALEON, complainant, vs. JUDGE TEOFILO L.


GUADIZ, JR., respondent.

RESOLUTION

MELO, J.:

The sworn letter-complaint dated April 1, 1997 of Atty. Martin D. Pantaleon charged
respondent Teofilo L. Guadiz, Jr., Presiding Judge of Branch 147, Regional Trial
Court of the National Capital Region stationed in Makati City with "Gross
Inefficiency, Neglect and Unreasonable Delay in Elevating the Records of Civil Case
No. 88-2187 entitled, Que Kua a.k.a. Felix Qua and Muy Ching a.k.a. Matilda Qua vs.
Sarkies Tours Philippines, Inc. and Juan B. Bertillo, to the Court of Appeals."

Complainant, plaintiffs counsel in the aforecited case, alleged that after receipt of the
copy of the decision on November 26, 1993 and within the reglementary period, a
Notice of Appeal was filed on December 2, 1993. Respondent judge then issued an
order dated January 26, 1994, pertinently stating:

Plaintiffs, thru counsel, having filed a "Notice of Appeal" manifesting


their appeal from the "Decision" dated September 30, 1993 to the Court
of Appeals, let the records of this case be forwarded to the Clerk of
Court, Court of Appeals, Manila.

The stenographers who took down the notes during the proceedings are
hereby ordered to transcribe their notes and submit transcript thereof to
the Branch Clerk of Court who shall include the same with the records to
be transmitted to the Court of Appeals.

SO ORDERED.

Complainant, by himself or through representatives, followed up the matter of


transmittal of the record to the Court of Appeals several times, the last time being on
March 12, 1997. However, after more than three years from the date of the order to
transmit was given by respondent, the record of the case have not been transmitted.
This long delay prompted complainant to file the instant complaint.

In his comment, respondent alleged that he learned of the delay in the transmittal of
the record only upon being appraised of the complaint against him. Respondent
reasoned out that Ms. Julita Lopez, the court stenographer, had misplaced the
transcript of the testimony of the doctor who attended to the plaintiff in the hospital,
hence the record could not be transmitted to the Court of Appeals.

Respondent further averred that complainant should have invited his attention by
filing the proper motion or by writing a personal letter informing him of the non-
transmission of the record to the Court of Appeals. This should have been done within
three months from the date the order was given.

In its memorandum dated March 15, 1999, the Office of the Court Administrator
recommended that respondent judge be fined P2,000.00 for inefficiency, neglect and
unreasonable delay in elevating the records of Civil Case No. 88-2187 to the Court of
Appeals.
In support thereof, the Office of the Court Administrator stated the following reasons:

EVALUATION: The transcription of stenographic notes and their


transmission to the Appellate Courts are governed by Administrative
Circular No.24-90, to wit:

"3.(b) In appeals to the Court of Appeals from the Regional


Trial Court, whether by record on appeal or by the original
record, the stenographers concerned shall transcribe their
notes of the proceedings and submit the transcripts to the
Judge/Clerk of Court of the Trial Court, who must submit
the transcript of stenographic notes to the Clerk of the
Court of Appeals within a period of 30 days from perfection
of the appeal.

The foregoing provision is an explicit mandate which enjoins the Clerk


or Judge of the Court with whom the Notice of Appeal has been filed to
transmit the complete records of the case to the Clerk of Court within
thirty (30) days from perfection thereof. The non-transmission thereof by
reason of inefficiency of the staff would not exonerate respondent judge
from administrative liability. As administrative officer of the court, a
judge is expected to keep a watchful eye on the level of performance and
conduct of the court personnel under his immediate supervision who are
primarily employed to aid in the administration of justice as required by
Canon 3, Rule 3.09 of the Code of Judicial Conduct.

In a resolution dated June 23, 1999, both complainant and respondent were then
required to manifest within ten days from notice if they are submitting the case for
decision on the basis of the pleadings filed therein.

Both filed their respective manifestations, but respondent further filed a supplemental
comment, the pertinent portions of which read as follows:

x.......x.......x

x.......x.......x

x.......x.......x

3) That it is not the duty of the presiding judge of the RTC to transmit
the records of an appealed case to the appellate court, but it is the duty of
the branch clerk of court to do so as provided in Section 10, Rule 41 of
the Rules of Court, to wit:

"Section 10. Duty of clerk of court of the lower court upon


perfection of appeal-Within thirty (30) days after perfection
of all the appeals in accordance with the preceding section,
it shall be the duty of the clerk of court of the lower court:

a) To verify the correctness of the original record or the


record on appeal, as the case may be, and to make a
certification of its correctness;

b) To verify the completeness of the records that will be


transmitted to the appellate court;

c) If found to be incomplete, to take such measures as may


be required to complete the records, availing of the
authority that he or the court may exercise for this purpose;
and

d) To transmit the records to the appellate court.

The issue raised by respondent in his supplemental comment that the duty to transmit
the record of an appealed case to the appellate court is that of the branch clerk of court
and not that of the presiding judge, citing Section 10, Rule 41 of the Revised Rules of
Court, should be viewed in the light of Administrative Circular 24-90. Said circular
provides that the stenographers concerned shall transcribe their notes of the
proceedings and submit the transcripts to the Judge/Clerk of the Trial Court who must
submit the transcript of stenographic notes to the Clerk of the Court of Appeals within
a period of 30 days from perfection of the appeal. Respondent is presumably aware
that administrative circulars supplement the Revised Rules of Court with regard to the
officers responsible for the transmission of records to appellate courts.

By and large, we agree with the conclusions of the Office of the Court Administrator
that respondent is guilty of inefficiency, neglect, and unreasonable delay in elevating
the records of Civil Case No. 88-2187 to the Court of Appeals.

Respondent cannot hide behind the incompetence of his subordinates. He should be


the master of his own domain and take responsibility for the mistakes of his subjects.

In the case of Re: Judge Fernando P. Agdamag (254 SCRA 644 [1996]), the Court
stated:
In his desire to exculpate himself and place the blame on his staff, Judge
Agdamag forgot that "he sits not only to judge litigated cases with the
least possible delay but that his responsibilities include being an
effective manager of the court and its personnel." Judge Agdamag is
presumed to be cognizant of his responsibilities as a worthy minister of
the law. At the very least, he is expected to keep abreast with his docket.

(at p. 649-650)

In Tan vs. Madayag (231 SCRA 62 [ 1994]), we had this to say:

Respondents neglect of duty is a matter of record. A judge cannot simply


take refuge behind the inefficiency or mismanagement of his court
personnel. Proper and efficient court management is definitely his
responsibility. He is directly responsible for the proper discharge of their
official functions. "Court personnel are not the guardians of a Judges
responsibilities." The efficient administration of justice cannot accept as
an excuse the shifting of the blame from one court personnel to
another.

(at p. 66-67)

As a final note, the Court deems it fit to remind respondent of Canon 3, Rule 3.09 of
the Code of Judicial Conduct. As an administrative officer of the court, a judge should
organize and supervise the court personnel to ensure the prompt and efficient dispatch
of business and require at all times the observance of high standards of public service
and fidelity. A delay of three years in the transmission of court records to the appellate
court, where a period of 30 days is required, is inexcusable.

WHEREFORE, respondent Judge Teofilo L. Guadiz, Jr. is ordered to pay a fine in


the amount of One Thousand Pesos (Pl,000.00), with the stern warning that further
similar misconduct on his part will be dealt with more severely.

SO ORDERED.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

8 [A.M. No. RTJ-99-1510. November 6, 2000]


COMMISSIONER RUFUS B. RODRIGUEZ, complainant, vs. JUDGE
RODOLFO R. BONIFACIO, RTC, Branch 151, Pasig
City, respondent.

RESOLUTION
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:

For allegedly granting improvidently a petition for Habeas Corpus in Special


Proceeding No. 10931[1] entitled In the Matter of the Petition for Habeas Corpus of Ma
Jing, respondent was charged in a verified complaint [2] with Violation of the Code of
Judicial Conduct, Grave Misconduct, Gross Ignorance of the Law, Gross Incompetence,
Gross Inefficiency and Knowingly Rendering An Unjust Judgment relative to the above-
mentioned case.
The Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) referred the verified complaint to
respondent judge for his comment thereon within ten (10) days from notice.
On July 30, 1999, respondent judge filed his comment[3] denying the charges against
him and prayed for the dismissal of the case against him for utter lack of merit. [4]
The case was subsequently referred to the OCA for evaluation, report and
recommendation. In an evaluation report dated September 21, 1999,[5] the OCA
recommended the dismissal of the administrative complaint against respondent judge for
being sub judice, pointing out that the issues therein are the same as those pending
resolution by the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 53425 entitled Rufus B.
Rodriguez v. Hon. Rodolfo R. Bonifacio, et al.
The Court of Appeals subsequently promulgated a Decision in CA-G.R. SP No. 53425
dated May 4, 2000[6] setting aside for lack of legal basis the assailed Order of respondent
Judge dated June 24, 1999 which found herein complainant guilty of indirect contempt.
In the meantime, in a Resolution dated November 24, 1999,[7] the Court resolved
to: 1.] docket the case as a regular administrative proceeding; and 2.] refer the case to
Court of Appeals Associate Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales for investigation, report and
recommendation within ninety (90) days from notice.
In compliance with the foregoing directive, Justice Morales submitted a Report
summarizing the factual antecedents of the case thus:

On May 7, 1999 at about 11 p.m., the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI)


in coordination with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and
the Bureau of Immigration (BI) conducted simultaneous raids at the Royal
Flame Club, Space World and Narcissus Club which are all located in Ermita,
Manila as a result of which 20 female Chinese nationals were caught in the
act of entertaining customers and guests.
No Alien Employment Permits or Alien Employment Registration Certificates
having been presented by these nationals, they were turned over to the BI for
custody and verification of their alien status. They were thereupon confined at
the BI Detention Center at Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig, Metro Manila on May
8, 1999.

On May 17, 1999, Chinese National Ma Jing, one of the 20 apprehended


Chinese, filed a petition for habeas corpus at the Pasig Regional Trial Court
(RTC) which was raffled to Branch 151 thereof.

The caption of the petition did not name any respondent but it alleged as
follows:

xxxxxxxxx

2. On or about 07 May 1999 at about 10:00 oclock in the evening, petitioner, a


temporary visitor in the Philippines from the Peoples Republic of China, was
taken from a nightclub (Royal Flame) in Metro Manila by individuals who
represented themselves as Agents of the National Bureau of Investigation
(NBI), Bureau of Immigration and Deportation (BID) and/or Department of
Labor and Employment (DOLE) and since then confined, restrained and
deprived her of her liberty and [is] now confined at the BID Detention Center,
Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig, Metro Manila.

3. In spite of the fact that petitioner has been confined from then on, to date,
no formal complaint or accusation for any specific offenses has been filed
against her nor any judicial writ or order for her commitment has at any time
been issued so far.

4. According to reliable information, the petitioner is now being unlawfully


detained and deprived of her liberty by the Warden and/or Chief of the
BID Detention Center, at Camp Bagong Diwa, Bicutan, Tagig, Metro
Manila at the behest of the Chief of a special operation unit of the
NBI combined with BID and DOLE agents and whose office is at NBI, NBI
Bldg., Taft Ave., Manila. (emphasis and underscoring supplied)

Acting Presiding Judge Rodolfo Bonifacio of Branch 151 of the Pasig RTC
issued a writ.

On May 21, 1999, Atty. Rommel J. de Leon, Technical Assistant,


Commissioners Office, BI, submitted a RETURN OF THE WRIT alleging, inter
alia:
xxxxxxxxx

4. That an investigation was conducted by Special Prosecutor Ramoncito L.


Tolentino by (sic) the Bureau of Immigration;

5. That during the said investigation the subject foreign nationals including the
petitioner failed to produce any travel documents while the National Bureau of
Investigation showed their Affidavit of Arrest, pictures taken at Royal Flame
Club and other evidences in support of their claim, copy of said Affidavit of
Arrest and pictures are attached hereto as Annexes B and C respectively;

6. That on May 13, 1999, Special Prosecutor Ramon L. Tolentino issued a


Charge Sheet charging said alien for violation of Section 37 (a) [7] of the
Philippine Immigration Act of 1940, as amended, a copy of the charge sheet is
attached hereto as Annex D;

7. That during the hearing at the Bureau of Immigration on May 20, 1999, the
Counsel for petitioner and a certain Willy Ang manifested that the petitioner
together with her companion are going to submit [an] application for Voluntary
Deportation;

8. That based on the foregoing premises it is crystal clear that the petitioner is
lawfully detained by the Bureau of Immigration; and

9. That moreso (sic), if ever the petitioner would submit an application for
Voluntary Deportation as manifested by his Counsel Atty. San Pedro and their
representative Mr. Willy Ang this petition would already be moot and
academic.

After conducting a hearing on the petition for habeas corpus, Judge Bonifacio,
by Order of May 27, 1999, held:

xxxxxxxxx

Upon due inquiry, the Court finds that the petitioner is not really an
undocumented alien as she has a valid PROC passport No. 1437777 and
Visa No. 1201 issued by the Philippine Embassy on March 18, 1999. Her stay
in the Philippines has been duly extended up to June 30, 1999 under O.R. No.
M 7922945. The Charge Sheet, however, remains as a mere accusation, i.e.
that petitioner is a mere suspect, working as a Guest Relation Officer at the
Royal Flame Club without securing the necessary working permit/visa from
the Bureau of Immigration. She was not notified though of the charges against
her nor was she afforded due process. No commitment order was issued by
the Commissioner of Immigration or any competent authority to justify her
continued detention.

xxxxxxxxx

In Dramayo, the Supreme Court has ruled categorically that accusation is not
synonymous with guilt. The strongest suspicion must not be permitted to sway
judgment (People vs. Austria, 195 SCRA 700). The illegal arrest of petitioner
without warrant of arrest or seizure on 07 May 1999 and arbitrary detention, to
date, is not remedied by the supposed filing in a Charge Sheet dated 13 May
1999 but assumably filed only on 14 May 1999. Petitioner had been detained
without any valid charge from 07 May 1999 to 14 May 1999. The filing of the
Charge Sheet did not (sic) the illegal detention of the petitioner. xxx

Accordingly the said Order of May 27, 1999 disposed:

IN THE LIGHT OF THE FOREGOING, the Court finds no cogent reason to


hold petitioner under continued detention so that Ma Jings immediate release
is hereby ordered, unless otherwise held on a different case and/or valid
judicial process.

The following day, May 28, 1999 respondent Bureau of Immigration by


counsel Atty. Rommel J. de Leon, Technical Assistant, Commissioners Office
filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the May 27, 1999 [Order].

On May 31, 1999, Ma Jing not having been released from detention, filed a
Motion to Declare Parties Guilty of Contempt naming BI Commissioner Rufus
B. Rodriguez, Atty. de Leon, BI Detention Center Warden Enrico R. Paner and
BI employees Mar Novales and Richie Galvadores as contemnors.

By Order of June 15, 1999, Judge Bonifacio denied the BIs Motion for
Reconsideration of the Order of May 27, 1999 and directed BI Commissioner
Rodriguez and his co-respondents in the Motion to hold them in contempt of
court for failure to obey the Order of May 27, 1999.

In the same Order of June 15, 1999, Judge Bonifacio ordered Commissioner
Rodriguez and co-respondents to immediately release Ma Jing in accordance
with his May 27, 1999 Order.

Also on June 15, 1999, the BI issued a summary deportation order to Ma Jing
who refused to receive it.
The following day or on June 16, 1999, the BI filed at Branch 151 of the RTC
Pasig a Notice of Appeal (to the Court of Appeals) of the May 27, 1999 Order
and the June 15, 1999 Order.

On June 18, 1999, Commissioner Rodriguez and his co-respondents, in


compliance with the show cause order, filed an Explanation dated June 17,
1999 stating, inter alia, that they were never ordered in the May 17, 1999
Order to release Ma Jing; that except for Commissioner Rodriguez, the other
respondents had no authority to release Ma Jing from the Detention Center;
that the contempt proceedings in the case at bar was not initiated by the
Court motu propio, hence, the indirect contempt should be commenced by a
verified petition and not by merely filing a Motion as was done in the instant
case, following Sec. 4 of Rule 71 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure which
they therein quoted; and that the Motion for Reconsideration of the May 17,
1999 Order stayed the execution thereof as did the Notice of Appeal (filed on
June 17, 1999) of the same order.

In the meantime, the other Chinese nationals petitions for voluntary


deportation were, by separate orders, granted by the BI.

By June 24, 1999, Judge Bonifacio found Commissioner Rodriguez and co-
respondents guilty of indirect contempt and ordered their arrest and
detention at the Pasig City jail until they have complied with the Order dated
May 27, 1999 in the light of the following disquisition:

xxx proceedings in habeas corpus are separate and distinct from any
deportation proceedings taking place at the Bureau of Immigration and
Deportation. They (habeas corpus proceedings) rarely, if ever, touch the
merits of the deportation case and require no pronouncement with respect
thereto.

In its May 27, 1999 Order, this Court ordered the immediate release of
petitioner Ma Jing, principally upon the following reasons: (i) the petitioner was
unlawfully arrested without any warrant of arrest and, thereafter, arbitrarily
detained, in disregard of her rights, even as an alien, to due process of law;
and (ii) a warrant of arrest issued by the Commissioner of the Bureau of
Immigration, to be valid, must be for the sole purpose of executing a final
order of deportation.

xxxxxxxxx
1. It is not correct to say that the May 27, 1999 Order should not be obeyed
because it did not specifically direct Hon. Rufus D (sic) Rodriguez, P/Supt.
Angelito O. Tan, Mar Navales and Richie Galvadores as the persons who
should obey the said Order.

The Writ of Habeas Corpus dated May 17, 1999 as directed, among others, to
The Chief of the Special Operation UnitNBI and/or the Warden or Chief of the
BID Detention Center, Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig, Metro, Manila. As such,
all the respondents fall under the classification BID Agents and are thus
included in the persons to whom the writ of habeas corpus is directed.

xxxxxxxxx

2. Neither is the Court impressed with the argument that P/Supt. Angelito O.
Tan, Atty. Rommel J. de Leon, Enrico R. Paner, Mar Navales and Richie
Galvadores do not have the authority to release the petitioner from the BID
Detention Center, such authority pertaining only to the Commissioner, BID.

The authority for the release of petitioner Ma Jing is precisely the May 27,
1999 Order of this Court which directs her immediate release. There can be
no doubt on the jurisdiction of this Court on habeas corpus cases, as the case
at bar, and the validity of its lawful orders issued pursuant to the exercise of
such jurisdiction.

It is significant that Hon. Rufus Rodriguez has not disauthorized or revoked or


in any way disowned the refusal of his subordinates to obey the subject court
order, as he would certainly have done if his authority had been improperly
invoked.

xxxxxxxxx

3. Neither is this Court persuaded by the argument that the May 27, 1999
Order was not yet executory because BIDs Motion for Reconsideration stayed
its execution.

By its very nature, habeas corpus proceedings are always characterized by


promptness or speed. It is always timely to recall this categorical affirmation in
the ponencia of Justice Malcolm in the landmark case of Villavicencio v.
Lukban, supra:
The writ of habeas corpus was devised as a speedy and effectual remedy to
relieve persons from unlawful restraint, and as the best and only sufficient
defense of personal freedom.

Therefore, only an injunction from a Higher Court could restrain enforceability


of the May 27, 1999 Order which, by its unmistakable language, directed the
immediate release of petitioner Ma Jing.

4. There is also a puerile claim that the contempt proceeding was improper
because it was commenced by mere motion and not by a verified petition.

The Revised Rules of Court (should be 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure)


cannot be any clearer. The appropriate section is quite explicit.: After a
charge in writing has been filed, and an opportunity given to the respondent to
comment thereon within such period as may be fixed by the court and to be
heard by himself or counsel, a person guilty of any of the following acts may
be punished for indirect contempt (b) Disobedience of or resistance to a lawful
writ, process, order or judgment of a court

It is very clear that, as to form, the only requirement is that the charge be in
writing. x x x

xxxxxxxxx

5. On the claim that the Notice of Appeal filed by BID on June 17 stayed
execution of the May 27, 1999 Order, suffice it to say that, as already
discussed above, being a writ of liberty, habeas corpus proceedings are
always characterized by promptness or speed. Therefore, the May 27, 1999
Order of release was inherently immediately executory, and only an injunction
from a Higher Court could restrain its immediate enforceability.

6. Finally, the respondents submit the argument that it is no longer legally


possible for the BID to order the release of the petitioner because of the
issuance of a Summary Deportation Order against her.

The first time the respondents first disobeyed the May 27, 1999 Order was on
May 28, 1999. There was no deportation order yet at that time. The Court
cannot accede to the proposition that the subsequent issuance of the
deportation order should have the effect of erasing or pardoning the contempt
already committed by the respondents as early as May 28, 1999.
Moreover, the release of petitioner Ma Jing is not really a primordial
consideration insofar as the pending incident is concerned. The ultimate
purpose of this inquiry is to determine whether the respondents are guilty of
indirect contempt, i.e., disobedience of or resistance to a lawful writ, process,
order, or judgment of a court.

The Court finds that such disobedience has been indubitably established by
the various Sheriffs Reports extant in the records of this case, and that the
reasons advanced by the respondents in their Explanation dated June 17,
1999 are not the real reasons which impelled said disobedience, as the same
conclusively stems from the perception of the Hon. Rufus Rodriguez and his
subalterns that the Court has no authority to order the release of petitioner Ma
Jing. Even assuming that the respondents were of the opinion that the subject
Order was grossly erroneous, they could have availed of the remedy of
certiorari immediately after its promulgation. But they, certainly, cannot
adamantly and belligerently defy the Order of the Courts simply because they
have a contrary opinion.

Confronted with the mandatory directive of May 27, 1999 to release petitioner
Ma Jing, the obstinate refusal of the respondents to obey the same constitutes
indirect contempt. (Underscoring supplied).

On June 25, 1999, a Friday, at about 2 oclock in the afternoon, Commissioner


Rodriguez, et al. were, pursuant to the June 24, 1999 Order, arrested by the
NBI whose Director was specifically ordered by Judge Bonifacio to serve the
warrant.

Commissioner Rodriguez et al. lost no time in filing at the Court of Appeals on


June 25, 1999 an Urgent Petition for Certiorari against Judge Bonifacio,
docketed as CA-G.R. No. 53425, followed by an Amended Petition, assailing
the Judges Order of June 24, 1999.

By Order of June 25, 1999, the Court of Appeals issued a writ of preliminary
mandatory injunction commanding the immediate release of Commissioner
Rodriguez et al. after posting a bond and directing Judge Bonifacio to file his
comment on the petition.

At 10:00 p.m. of June 25, 1999, Commissioner Rodriguez, et al. were


released after posting a bond.

On the basis of the foregoing facts, the Investigating Justice recommends respondent
judge be fined Fifty Thousand (P50,000.00) Pesos for gross ignorance of the law and
warned that a repetition or the commission of a similar infraction will be dealt with more
severely, reasoning thus:

Under Rule 71 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, contempt proceedings


may be commenced as follows:

SEC. 4. How proceedings commenced. - Proceedings for indirect contempt


may be initiated motu proprio by the court against which the contempt was
committed by an order or any other formal charge requiring the respondent to
show cause why he should not be punished for contempt.

In all other cases, charges for indirect contempt shall be commenced by a


verified petition with supporting particulars and certified true copies of the
documents or papers involved therein, and upon full compliance with the
requirements for filing initiatory pleadings for civil actions in the court
concerned. If the contempt charges arose out of or are related to a principal
action pending in the court, the petition for contempt shall allege that fact but
said petition shall be docketed, heard and decided separately, unless the
court in its discretion orders the consolidation of the contempt charge and the
principal action for joint hearing and decision.

The petition for habeas corpus alleged that Ma Jing was [a]ccording to reliable
information being unlawfully deprived of her liberty by the Warden and/or
Chief of the BID Detention Center at the behest of the Chief of a special
operations unit of the NBI combined with BID and DLE agents whose office is
at NBI. It did not name herein complainant as respondent.

Neither did the May 27, 1999 Order direct herein complainant to release Ma
Jing. It was when Ma Jing filed on May 31, 1999 a Motion to Cite in Contempt
that herein complainants name was for the first time drawn in the case.

Under the circumstances, compliance with the second mode of initiating a


petition for contempt under Sec. 4 of Rule 71 of the 1997 Code of Civil
Procedure, - filing a verified petition with supporting particulars and certified
true copies of documents or papers involved therein, and upon full compliance
with the requirements for initiating pleadings for civil action in the court
concerned was in order. It is in this light that the undersigned investigator
finds that respondent ERRED in giving due course to the mere motion to cite
in contempt and finding herein complainant guilty thereof by Order of June 24,
1999, especially given the fact that in the ExplanationAnswer to the show
cause Order of respondent herein, complainant et al. quoted Sec. 4 of Rule 71
and alleged that as [t]he contempt proceedings w[ere] not initiated by the
Court motu proprio, the indirect contempt should be commenced by a verified
petition and not by mere filing [of a] motion as was done in the instant case.

xxxxxxxxx

For administrative liability to attach for errors of judgment, the error must
be gross, patent or deliberate (Re: Judge Silverio S. Tayao, A.M. No. 93-8-
1204, 229 SCRA 723 [1994].

For administrative liability to attach for gross ignorance of the law and/or
knowingly rendering an unjust order or judgment, it must be established that
the order or judgment is not only erroneous but [that] he was actuated by bad
faith, dishonesty, hatred, revenge, corrupt purpose or some other like motive
(Guerrero v. Villamor, A.M. No. RTJ-90-617, 296 SCRA 88 [1998]).

For a judge may not be held administratively accountable for every erroneous
order or decision he renders (Rodrigo v. Quijano, 79 10 [1997]) [sic] otherwise
it would render judicial office untenable for no one called upon to try the facts
or interpret the law in the process of administering justice can be infallible
(vide Lopez v. Corpus, 78 SCRA 374 [1997] (sic); Pilipinas Bank v. Tirona-
Liwag, 190 SCRA 834 [1994]).

The undersigned finds that respondents error in giving due course to the
Motion to Declare Parties Guilty of Contempt was patent, given that
circumstances mentioned above.Respondents invoking of Sec. 3 of the same
Rule 71 (of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, not revised Rules of Court as
he stated) which to him clearly shows that the only requirement is that the
charge be in writing, citing Tomas C. Aguador v. Malcolm S. Enerio, et
al., G.R. No. L-20383, January 30, 1971, betrays his ignorance that
this Aguador case was decided in 1971, long before Sec. 4, Rule 71, which is
a new provision, was incorporated in the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure.

And, as from the following portion of respondents Order of June 24, 1999, to
wit:

Incidentally, the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation is not a sovereign


entity where the commissioner reigns supreme. It is a mere Bureau and a
becoming modesty of inferior offices demands a conscious realization of the
position that they occupy in the interrelation and operation of the huge
governmental bureaucracy. Most decidedly, this Court does not believe that
the Honorable Commissioner of Immigration and Deportation however exalted
he may personally feel his position to be is beyond the processes of Courts of
the land.

it is gathered that he was actuated by anger or hatred in so acting on the


motion for contempt, administrative liability attaches for his gross ignorance of
the law.

As for the rest of the assailed Orders bases of the other charges at bar,
complainants charge that they violate the law and the jurisprudence he cited
not being indubitable in the light of respondents own citations of the law and
jurisprudence, the undersigned does not find respondent to have acted
arrantly. The issue thus becomes judicial in character and would not warrant
faulting him administratively (Godinez v. Alano, 303 SCRA 259 [1999]).

The Court agrees with the investigating Justice that respondent judge should indeed
be sanctioned, but finds the recommended penalty not commensurate to the gravity of
respondents malfeasance for the following reasons:
First, the degree of restraint respondent should have observed in the exercise of his
contempt powers leaves much to be desired, given the prevailing facts of this case much
more so, considering that the same bears with it the taint of personal hostility and passion
against the party to whom it is directed. Time and again magistrates have been reminded
that

the salutary rule is that the power to punish for contempt must be exercised in
the preservative not vindictive principle, and on the corrective not retaliatory
[8]

idea of punishment. The courts and other tribunals vested with the power of
[9]

contempt must exercise the power for contempt for purposes that are
impersonal, because that power is intended as a safeguard not for the judges
as persons but for the functions that they exercise. [10]

Besides the basic equipment of possessing the requisite learning in the law, a
magistrate must exhibit that hallmark judicial temperament of utmost sobriety [11] and self-
restraint which are indispensable qualities of every judge.[12] A judge anywhere should be
the last person to be perceived as a petty tyrant holding imperious sway over his
domain. Such an image is, however, evoked by the actuations of respondent judge in this
case.
It has time and again been stressed that the role of a judge in relation to those who
appear before his court must be one of temperance, patience and courtesy. [13] A judge
who is commanded at all times to be mindful of his high calling and his mission as a
dispassionate and impartial arbiter of justice[14] is expected to be a cerebral man who
deliberately holds in check the tug and pull of purely personal preferences which he
shares with his fellow mortals.[15]
Judges have been admonished to observe judicial decorum which requires that a
magistrate must at all times be temperate in his language [16] refraining from inflammatory
or excessive rhetoric[17] or from resorting to the language of vilification.[18] In this regard,
Rule 3.04 of the Code of Judicial Conduct states that

Rule 3.04. 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.

Respondent judge needs to be reminded that government service is people-


oriented.[19] Patience is an essential part of dispensing justice and courtesy is a mark of
culture and good breeding.[20] Belligerent behavior has no place in government service
where personnel are enjoined to act with self-restraint and civility at all times even when
confronted with rudeness and insolence.[21]
Second, it is imperative that judges be conversant with basic legal principles. The
Code of Judicial Conduct, in fact, enjoins judges to be faithful to the law and maintain
professional competence.[22] Respondent judge owes it to the public and to the legal
profession to know the law he is supposed to apply in a given controversy. [23] Indeed

A judge is called upon to exhibit more than just a cursory acquaintance with
statutes and procedural rules; it is imperative that he be conversant with basic
legal principles and aware of well-settled authoritative doctrines. He should
strive for excellence exceeded only by his passion for truth, to the end that he
be the personification of justice and the Rule of Law. [24]

In this case, respondent judge displayed a deplorable deficiency in his grasp of the
basic principles governing contempt. As defined, indirect contempt is one committed out
of or not in the presence of the court that tends to belittle, degrade, obstruct or embarrass
the court and justice.[25] On the other hand, direct contempt consists of or is characterized
by misbehavior committed in the presence of or so near a court or judge as to interrupt
the proceedings before the same within the meaning of Section 1, Rule 71 of the Rules
of Civil Procedure.[26]
There is no question that disobedience or resistance to a lawful writ, process, order,
judgment or command of a court or injunction granted by a court or judge constitutes
indirect contempt.[27] Section 4, Rule 71 of the Rules, provides for two (2) modes of
commencing proceedings for indirect contempt, to wit:

1.] It may be initiated motu proprio by the court against which the contempt
was committed by an order or any other formal charge requiring the
respondent to show cause why he should not be punished for contempt.
2.] In all other cases, charges for indirect contempt shall be commenced by a
verified petition with supporting particulars and certified true copies of
documents or papers involved therein, and upon full compliance with the
requirements for filing initiatory pleadings for civil actions in the court
concerned. (all initiatory pleadings should be accompanied with a certificate of
non-forum shopping, Sec. 5 Rule 7). [28]

As can be gleaned from the records of the case, the contempt proceedings
commenced by Ma Jing was made through a motion and not a verified petition as required
by the above-cited Section. Respondent Judge relied on Section 3, Rule 71 of the Rules,
completely disregarding the provisions of Section 4 which explicitly lays down the manner
in which indirect contempt proceedings may be filed.
Contempt of court has been distinctly described as an offense against the State and
not against the judge personally. To reiterate, a judge must always remember that the
power of the court to punish for contempt should be exercised for purposes that are not
personal, because that power is intended as a safeguard, not for judges as persons, but
for the functions they exercise.[29]
Viewed vis--vis the foregoing circumscription of a courts power to punish for
contempt, it bears stressing that the court must exercise the power of contempt judiciously
and sparingly with utmost self-restraint[30] with the end in view of utilizing the same for
correction and preservation of the dignity of the court, not for retaliation or vindication.[31] In
this case, respondent judge failed to observe the procedure expressly spelled out in
Section 4, Rule 71 of the Rules.
As stated earlier, a judge is called upon to exhibit more than a cursory acquaintance
with statutes and procedural rules; it is imperative that he be conversant with basic legal
principles.[32] Canon 4 of the Canon of Judicial Ethics requires that a judge should be
studious of the principles of law and Canon 18 mandates that he should administer his
office with due regard to the integrity of the system of the law itself, remembering that he
is not a depositary of arbitrary power, but a judge under the sanction of law. [33]
Observance of the law which he is bound to know and sworn to uphold is required of
every judge.[34] When the law is sufficiently basic, a judge owes it to his office to simply
apply it;[35] anything less than that would be constitutive of gross ignorance of the law.[36] In
short, when the law is so elementary, not to be aware of it constitutes gross ignorance of
the law.[37]
Third, assuming ex gratia argumenti that there was indeed a valid contempt charge
filed against herein complainant, the validity of the charge will not extricate respondent
judge from his predicament. The records disclose that the Return of the Writ[38] stated that
a Charge Sheet[39] was filed on May 13, 1999 against Ma Jing for violation of Section 37
[a] (7) of the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940. Despite this, respondent judge issued an
Order dated May 27, 1999[40] directing Ma Jings immediate release. It was grievous error
for respondent judge, in the face of these factual circumstances disclosed by the records,
to give due course to the petition for habeas corpus despite the pendency of a deportation
case against Ma Jing. Where the BID had not yet completed its hearing and investigation
proceedings with respect to an alien and there is no showing that it is unduly delaying its
decision, habeas corpus proceedings are premature and should be dismissed.[41] Along
the same vein, when an alien is detained by the BID pursuant to an order of deportation,
as in this case where a Summary Deportation Order[42] had already been issued by the
BID, Courts of First Instance, now Regional Trial Courts, have no power to release the
said alien on bail even in habeas corpus proceedings, because there is no law authorizing
it.[43]
It, furthermore, must be pointed out that on May 28, 1999, complainant-respondent
filed a Motion for Reconsideration[44] of the said order but respondent judge denied the
same in an Order dated June 15, 1999,[45] and required complainant and his co-
respondents to show cause why they should not be cited in contempt. On the same date,
a Summary Deportation Order was issued in the BID Case against Ma Jing. The filing of
the motion for reconsideration effectively tolled the period within which to appeal
respondent judges decision dated May 27, 1999. It was not a pro forma motion, as
respondent judge himself did not say so in the June 15, 1999 order denying the
motion. The two-day period to appeal provided in Section 39, B.P. Blg. 129 certainly did
not proscribe the filing of the motion for reconsideration of the judgment in the habeas
corpus case. The motion for reconsideration was filed on May 28, 1999, a day after the
decision dated May 27, 1999 was received by complainant. The Notice of Appeal,[46] on
the other hand was filed on June 17, 1999. Complainant and co-respondents received
the order dated June 15, 1999 of respondent judge on June 16, 1999. Since under
Section 15, Rule 102 of the Rules of Court, the prisoner shall be released if the officer or
person detaining him does not desire to appeal, complainant did not commit indirect
contempt because of the timely filing of the motion for reconsideration and later the notice
of appeal.
Be that as it may, there was a valid judicial process justifying Ma Jings detention even
before respondent judge rendered his decision as shown by the Return of the Writ which
averred, among others, that a Charge Sheet was filed against Ma Jing. Even granting
that the arrest of Ma Jing was initially illegal, the filing of the Charge Sheet cured whatever
incipient infirmity there was in her arrest. Respondent judge therefore had no authority to
release the party who was thus committed.[47] Section 4, Rule 102 of the Rules of Court
provides:

SEC. 4. When writ not allowed or discharge authorized. If it appears that the
person to be restrained of his liberty is in the custody of an officer under
process issued by a court or judge; or by virtue of a judgment or order of a
court of record, and that court or judge had jurisdiction to issue the process,
render the judgment, or make the order, the writ shall not be allowed; or if the
jurisdiction appears after the writ is allowed, the person shall not be
discharged by reason of any informality or defect in the process, judgment or
order. Nor shall anything in this rule be held to authorize the discharge of a
person charged with or convicted of an offense in the Philippines, or of a
person suffering imprisonment under lawful judgment.
Once a person detained is duly charged in court, he may no longer question his
detention through a petition for issuance of a writ of habeas corpus. His remedy would be
to quash the information and/or the warrant of arrest duly issued. [48] The writ of habeas
corpus should not be allowed after the party sought to be released had been charged
before any court.[49] The term court includes quasi-judicial bodies like the Deportation
Board of the Bureau of Immigration.[50]
It is significant to note vis--vis the foregoing disquisitions that in it Decision dated May
4, 2000[51]in CA-G.R. SP No. 53425, the Court of Appeals faulted respondent judge with
grave abuse of discretion and gross ignorance of the law in issuing the June 24, 1999
Order on similar grounds. In castigating respondent judge, the appellate court minced no
words:

When the inefficiency springs from a failure to consider so basic and


elemental a rule, a law or a principle in the discharge of his duties, a judge is
either too incompetent and undeserving of the position and title he holds or is
too vicious that the oversight or omission was deliberately done in bad faith
and in grave abuse of judicial authority xxx Thus, when the law transgressed
[52]

is elementary the failure to know to observe it, constitute gross ignorance of


the law. To be able to render substantial justice and to maintain public
[53]

confidence in the legal system, judges are expected to keep abreast of all
laws and prevailing jurisprudence, consistent with the standard that
magistrates must be the embodiments of competence, integrity and
independence. [54]

Lastly, it appears from the record that respondent judges malfeasance is not merely
confined to the abuse of his judicial prerogatives and ignorance of basic legal precepts
but also to the predilection of making false representations to suit his ends. Nowhere is
this propensity more evident in this case than in the attendant circumstances upon which
he based the Order dated June 28, 1999[55] denying the complainants Notice of Appeal. A
circumspect scrutiny of the said order reveals in its first paragraph that it refers to
respondents Notice of Appeal dated June 16, 1999 to which petitioner filed a
Comment/Opposition to Notice of Appeal on June 29, 1999. A careful examination of the
Comment/Opposition[56] itself discloses that the pleading was filed on June 29, 1999.[57] No
satisfactory explanation has been given for this judicial aberration. Needless to state, the
allusion contained in an order to a pleading filed after its issuance can lead to no other
conclusion than that the said order was antedated and, thus, falsified in the absence of
any explanation to shed light on the discrepancy.
The foregoing act not only seriously undermines and adversely reflects on the
honesty and integrity of respondent judge as an officer of the court; it also betrays a
character flaw which speaks ill of his person. Suffice it to state in this regard that [M]aking
false representations is a vice which no judge should imbibe. As the judge is the visible
representation of the law, and more importantly justice, he must therefore, be the first to
abide by the law and weave an example for the others to follow. [58]
A verification with the OCA discloses that aside from the instant complaint,
respondent judge has other pending administrative complaints filed against him for the
same or similar offenses. In A.M. No. RTJ-99-845, respondent judge stands charged with
Serious Misconduct Re: JDRC Case No. 2913, while in A.M. No. RTJ-00-972 he stands
indicted for Gross Ignorance of the Law, Bias, Abuse of Authority and Malicious Intent to
Hinder and Frustrate the Administration of Justice by Interfering with Orders and
Processes of a Co-equal Court. Needless to state, these circumstances only further erode
the peoples faith and confidence in the judiciary for it is the duty of all members of the
bench to avoid any impression of impropriety to protect the image and integrity of the
judiciary which in recent times has been the object of criticism and controversy. [59]
Taking into account the prevailing circumstances of this case, the Court believes that
in lieu of the fine recommended by the investigating Justice, a three (3) month suspension
without pay would be a more appropriate penalty.
WHEREFORE, respondent Judge Rodolfo R. Bonifacio is SUSPENDED from the
service for three (3) months, without pay, effective upon his receipt of this Resolution,
with a STERN WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar infraction shall be dealt
with more severely.
SO ORDERED.