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Reyes vs. Mangino

*

A.M. No. MTJ­05­1575. January 31, 2005. (Formerly A.M. OCA IPI No. 98­483­MTJ.)

YOLANDA S. REYES, complainant, vs. JUDGE MARVIN B. MANGINO, Municipal Trial Court, Tarlac, Tarlac, Branch 1, respondent.

Evidence; Burden of Proof; If a complainant, upon who rests the burden of proving his cause of action, fails to show in a satisfactory manner the facts which he bases his claim, the respondent is under no obligation to prove his exception or defense. —It is settled that in administrative proceedings, the burden of proof that the respondent committed the acts complained of rests on the complainant. Boyboy v. Yabut, Jr., a case involving a lawyer accused of blackmail and extortion who was exonerated of the charges against him for lack of evidence, is instructive on this point. The Court ruled therein that it is enough for the respondent to deny complicity in the alleged blackmail or extortion, without more, for he is not under obligation to prove his negative averment, much less disprove what has not been proven by the complainant. Thus, if the complainant, upon whom

* SECOND DIVISION.

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rests the burden of proving his cause of action, fails to show in a satisfactory manner the facts upon which he bases his claim, the

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respondent is under no obligation to prove his exception or defense.

Same; Same; Administrative Law; Courts; Judges; Inasmuch as what is imputed against the respondent Judge connotes a misconduct so grave that, if proven, it would entail dismissal from the bench, the quantum of proof required should be more than substantial.—Considering that an accusation of bribery is easy to concoct and difficult to disprove, the complainant must present a panoply of evidence in support of such an accusation. Inasmuch as what is imputed against the respondent Judge connotes a misconduct so grave that, if proven, it would entail dismissal from the bench, the quantum of proof required should be more than substantial.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Even in administrative cases, the Rules of Court requires that if a judge should be disciplined for graver misconduct or any graver offense, the evidence against him should be competent and derived from direct knowledge.—As a member of the bar, the complainant’s counsel should know that even in administrative cases, the Rules of Court requires that if a judge should be disciplined for grave misconduct or any graver offense, the evidence against him should be competent and derived from direct knowledge. The judiciary to which the respondent belongs demands no less. Before any of its members could be faulted, competent evidence should be presented, since the charge is penal in character.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; The ground for the removal of a judicial officer should be established beyond reasonable doubt. — The ground for the removal of a judicial officer should be established beyond reasonable doubt. Such is the rule where the charge on which removal is sought is misconduct in office, willful neglect, corruption, or incompetence. The general rules in regard to admissibility of evidence in criminal trials apply.

Administrative Law; Courts; Judges; Only judicial errors tainted with fraud, dishonesty, gross ignorance, bad faith, or deliberate intent to do an injustice will be administratively sanctioned.— Anent the conviction of the complainant and her husband in Criminal Case No. 200­97, the rule is that only judicial errors tainted with fraud, dishonesty, gross ignorance, bad faith, or deliberate intent to do an injustice will be administratively sanctioned. To hold other­

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wise 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.

Same; Same; Same; Gross Ignorance of the Law; The court finds that the respondent Judge is liable for gross ignorance of the law in not requiring the presence of the accused during the promulgation of the decision.—The Court finds that the respondent Judge is liable for gross ignorance of the law in not requiring the presence of the accused during the promulgation of the decision in Criminal Case No. 200­97, as admitted by him in his Comment on the complaint.

Courts; Judgments; Promulgation; Two instances when judgment may be promulgated even without the personal presence of the accused: (1) when the judgment is for a light offense, in which case, the counsel for the accused or a representative may stand for him; (2) in cases where despite due notice to the accused or his bondsman or warden and counsel, the accused failed to appear at the promulgation of the decision.—There are two instances when judgment may be promulgated even without the personal presence of the accused: (1) when the judgment is for a light offense, in which case, the counsel for the accused or a representative may stand for him; and (2) in cases where despite due notice to the accused or his bondsman or warden and counsel, the accused failed to appear at the promulgation of the decision. The evident purpose of this latter exception is to afford the offended party the opportunity to enforce the award of civil indemnity which could not otherwise be effected if the decision cannot be pronounced on account of the absence of the accused. Criminal Case No. 200­97 does not fall under any of the exceptions, since the accused therein were charged and convicted of other deceits under Article 318 of the Revised Penal Code, which is a less grave felony, the imposable penalty being arresto mayor.

Same; Same; Same; The importance of the promulgation of decisions in criminal cases is that a judgment or sentence does not become a judgment or sentence in law until the same has been read or announced to the defendant or has become part of the record of the court.—It bears stressing the importance of the promulgation of decisions in criminal cases, considering that a judgment or sentence does not become a judgment or sentence in law until the same has been read or announced to the defendant or has become part of the

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record of the court. Parenthetically, when there is no valid promulgation of judgment, no right to appeal accrues.

Administrative Law; Courts; Judges; Under Canon 1.01 of the Code of Judicial Conduct, a judge is expected to be the “embodiment of competence, integrity, and independence” to maintain public confidence in the legal system.—Under Canon 1.01 of the Code of Judicial Conduct, a judge is expected to be “the embodiment of competence, integrity, and independence” to maintain public confidence in the legal system. He should so behave at all times as to promote confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary. When questionable orders are issued by a magistrate of law, casting doubt as to his integrity and impartiality, the erring judge must be sanctioned therefor, keeping in mind that the irresponsible or improper conduct of judges erodes public confidence in the judiciary, and, as such, must avoid all impropriety and the appearance thereof, in accordance with Canon 2 of the Code of Judicial Conduct.

ADMINISTRATIVE MATTER in the Supreme Court. Gross Ignorance of the Law, Extortion, Graft and Corruption, Fraud and Deception.

The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.

CALLEJO, SR., J.:

The instant administrative case arose when Yolanda S. Reyes filed a verified Affidavit­Complaint dated January 16, 1998 charging Judge Marvin B. Mangino with gross ignorance of the law, extortion, graft and corruption, fraud and deception, relative to Criminal Case No. 200­97 entitled “People of the Philippines v. Spouses Felix and Yolanda Reyes,” for other deceits punishable under Article 318 of the Revised Penal Code. The complainant averred that she was one of the accused in the said case. Upon receipt of the criminal complaint and after the filing of an ex­parte motion for the conduct of preliminary investigation, the respondent Judge issued a warrant of arrest and a writ of preliminary attachment. No preliminary investigation was, however, conducted. This

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prompted the complainant to post a cash bond, to file an exparte motion for the lifting of the preliminary attachment and to request the court to conduct a preliminary investigation. The respondent Judge merely directed the private prosecutor to oppose or comment on the motion, instead of setting the case for preliminary investigation as required under Rule 112 of the Rules on Criminal Procedure. The complainant also alleged that the respondent Judge convinced her and her husband not to pursue the issue of the absence of preliminary investigation and the lack of jurisdiction of the court, on the assurance that he would dismiss the case after their arraignment; double jeopardy would then set in, to their advantage. The complainant further narrated that at 11:00 a.m. of September 18, 1997, the respondent and two unidentified companions went to their residence in Norzagaray, Bulacan. Only their secretary, Chona Guzman, happened to be there. She entertained and gave the visitors some snacks. Chona Guzman contacted her through radio. The complainant was apparently in Manila attending a conference at the Department of Public Works and Highways, and Ms. Guzman informed her that the respondent Judge and his two companions were waiting for her. The respondent then spoke to the complainant and told her that he wanted to see her regarding the case, and suggested that they meet at the lobby of the Manila Hotel at 2:00 p.m. The complainant acquiesced, and immediately contacted her lawyer, Atty. Wilfredo Garcia at his office in Intramuros, Manila, to inform him of the impending meeting with the respondent Judge. The complainant narrated the succeeding events that transpired as follows:

19. That at the scheduled place and time, I came together with my counsel Atty. Wilfredo T. Garcia. I also instructed my Liaison Officer Nida Diokno to proceed at the said place to bring some money for expenses. At the Manila Hotel lobby, we met Judge Marvin Mangino, who came ahead of us and seated at the sofa with an unidentified male companion. He again assured us of his commitment to dismiss the case in our favor and this will happen immediately after the prosecution had rested their case. He further ad

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vised my counsel to file immediately a Demurrer to Evidence which will be his legal basis for dismissing the case. He further told us that in order not to detect his biases in our favor, he proposed that the Demurrer to Evidence will be dismissed first, and after that he advised us not to present our evidence or defense anymore and let the case be submitted for early decision on the basis of demurrer to evidence on file.

20. That with Judge Marvin Mangino’s personal commitment and assurances done in the presence of my counsel, my Liaison Officer Nida Diokno, who all saw and heard Judge Marvin Mangino of his promises and assurances, Judge Mangino whispered to me for a “little representation” that he needs, considering that he is on an official business for three (3) days to attend the conference of judges at Subic and he just beg (sic) off that day so that he could see and talk to me personally about our case.

21. That I agreed to give him that “little representation” in the amount of P20,000.00, which I placed inside a white envelope in P1,000.00 peso bill denomination. This matter of giving money happened at around 3:00 p.m. after we had taken our snacks at the coffee shop of the Manila Hotel, as witnessed by our counsel and Ms. Diokno.

22. Thereafter, the prosecution finished the presentation of their evidence and rested their case. My counsel, Atty. Garcia, then submitted his Demurrer to Evidence which, after submission, Judge Marvin Mangino ordered the denial of the same on the ground of prohibited pleadings or motions. Such order of the court is actually erroneous, because the rules on summary procedure do not include Demurrer to Evidence as one of those prohibitive pleadings. Such order by Judge Marvin Mangino will show his gross ignorance of the law. Copy of the said Order dated October 20, 1997 is hereto attached as Annex “L” and copy of the Demurrer to Evidence as Annexes “M,” “M­1” to “M­

5.”

23. That relying in good faith on Judge Marvin Mangino’s assurances and promises that he would eventually dismiss the case on the arguments

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raised at the Demurrer to Evidence, and this was coupled by the fact that Judge Marvin Mangino even called me at our residence in Bulacan to convey his assurances of the dismissal of the case. He even suggested not to appear anymore and just file the manifestation of not presenting anymore our defense evidence pursuant to the proposed strategy he laid out. Then my counsel submit­

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ted the said Manifestation dated October 29, 1997. Copy of the said Manifestation is hereto attached as Annex “N.”

24. That on October 29, 1997, the court issued an order noting the absence of the accused and the manifestation filed by our counsel of not filing any defense evidence other than the Demurrer to Evidence, Motion to Dismiss and our respective Counter­Affidavits as our defense evidences. Copy of the said Court Order is hereto attached as Annex “O.”

25. That prior to that, there is an earlier order of the court dated October 27, 1997, stating that both accused and counsel failed to appear. Whereupon, the prosecution moved that this case be deemed submitted for decision based on the evidence obtained. Which order will show that we were made to believe that Judge Marvin Mangino is following to the letter his proposal that we don’t have to appear and have the case submitted for decision without any presentation of defense evidence. Copy of said Order is hereto attached as Annex “P.”

26. That on November 12, 1997, a Notice of Promulgation of Judgment was sent by Judge Marvin Mangino to my counsel Atty. Garcia and Private Prosecutor Atty. Teddy Macapagal, setting the promulgation on November 24, 1997 at 1:30 p.m. Copy of the said notice is hereto attached as Annex “Q.”

27. That again on November 24, 1997, Judge Marvin Mangino called up and relayed to us not to appear anymore, as he would be waiting for an additional sum of money in the amount of P40,000.00 in cash,

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as part of the “goodwill money” for the favor that he would be giving to us.

28. That on November 27, 1997, heeding the advice of Judge Marvin Mangino to bring the P40,000.00 cash, I sent the same through Mr. Ruel de Castro, my counsel’s liaison officer, who delivered the money at Judge Marvin Mangino’s chamber office. Upon receipt of the money, he promised Mr. de Castro that he would just send the copy of the decision through mail, as it is no longer practical that he should promulgate the decision in open court. The matter of giving the P40,000.00 is contained in the affidavit of Mr. Ruel de Castro, copy of which is hereto attached as Annexes “R” to

“R­1.”

29. That having received the amount of P40,000.00 plus the P20,000.00 initially requested when he visited our residence in Norzagaray, Bulacan, my husband and I waited for the promulgation of judgment through mail as promised by Judge Marvin Mangino.

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30. That on December 23, 1997, surprise of all surprises, I received a copy of the Decision through mail, stating that my husband and I were found guilty of the crime of Other Deceits and liable to pay the civil liability of P7,969,033.62. These were totally contrary to the promises and sweet words of Judge Marvin Mangino who has deceived, tricked and fooled us to get our trust and money with the total amount of P60,000.00.

The complainant averred that the promulgation of judgment in the said case was a direct violation of Section 6, Rule 120 of the Rules on Criminal Procedure, which requires the promulgation of judgment to be read in the presence of the accused. Moreover, the order of conviction

was bereft of truth, factual and legal basis, and was issued in violation of their right to due process. The respondent Judge denied the complainant’s

allegations in his Comment

dated April 16, 1998. Contrary

to the allegations of the complainant, due process of law

1

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was applied in the instant case. The respondent explained that there was a valid criminal complaint and preliminary examination considering that there was an application for a writ of attachment, a supersedeas bond for the said writ, as well as for the accused. There was, likewise, an arraignment, a pre­trial conference, and, thereafter, trial on the merits, where the accused had the opportunity to cross­examine the witnesses for the prosecution. While hearing was set for the accused­complainant to present her evidence, she failed to do so. The respondent Judge, however, admitted that on the promulgation date of the decision, only the prosecutor, the complainant, the private prosecutor and the counsel for the accused appeared, and agreed among themselves that they would just receive copies of the decision. The respondent stressed that the accused filed an appeal, which was given due course, and the records, thereafter, forwarded to the Regional Trial Court of Tarlac for review.

1 Rollo, pp. 62­64.

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The respondent insisted that he only had the opportunity to talk with the parties and their respective counsels at the scheduled pre­trial conference. He claimed that the complainant’s allegations were false, considering that even the latter’s counsel would know that the practice of making “assurances” to a party is a breach of professional ethics and worse, a contemptuous one. The administrative matter was referred to Executive Judge Arsenio P. Adriano, Regional Trial Court, Tarlac, Tarlac, for investigation, report and recommendation. The Executive Judge, thereafter, submitted a Report dated February 14, 2001 and made the following findings:

2

3

With respect to the charge of gross ignorance, the judgment of conviction by Judge Mangino was appealed to the Regional Trial Court, Branch 63, presided by the undersigned. The undersigned rendered a decision acquitting the spouses Felix and Yolanda Reyes. A copy of the decision is attached with the records (Pages 122 to 125). This decision therefore contains the findings of fact

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and conclusions of law of the undersigned which need not be repeated herein. With respect to the charge of extortion, graft and corruption, complainant Yolanda Reyes alleged that Judge Marvin Mangino received from her P60,000.00 in consideration of a favorable decision or acquittal. Judge Mangino went to her house at Norzagaray, Bulacan on September 18, 1997 but since she was in Manila, they agreed to meet at the Manila Hotel, at 2:00 p.m. of the same day. Judge Mangino received the P20,000.00 while at the Manila Hotel. Judge Mangino also received the sum of P40,000.00 from Ruel de Castro, the liaison officer of Atty. Wilfredo Garcia, then the lawyer of complainant. To disprove the charge, Judge Mangino alleged that he could not be at the Manila Hotel at 2:00 p.m. of September 18, 1997 because he solemnized two marriages at 10:00 a.m. of that day. He could not have reached Manila Hotel by 2:00 p.m. since he has to

2 Id., at p. 62. 3 Id., at p. 129.

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travel from Tarlac City to Manila after the solemnization of the marriages. The marriage contracts were submitted as pages 65 and 66 of the records. The undersigned set the hearing on February 5 and 12, 2001 but only respondent appeared. The complainant did not appear although her lawyer, Atty. Wilfredo Garcia received the notice personally on January 18, 2001, as shown by his signature on the face of the notice. The undersigned also wrote letters to the contracting parties appearing in the marriage contracts namely:

1. Ricky Quinto Dulce David San Manuel, Tarlac City

2. Vicente Lagadi, Jr. Balete, Tarlac City

It is the intention of the undersigned to verify from them as to whether or not their marriages were solemnized by the

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respondent Judge on September 18, 1997. Since they have not appeared before the undersigned as of February 12, 2001, the undersigned personally went to see them at their residences. The undersigned learned startling revelations. Spouses Ricky Quinto and Dulce David affirmed before the undersigned that they were married on September 4, 1997 solemnized by the respondent Judge and not on September 18, 1997. They were positive that it was not on September 18, 1997 but on September 4, 1997 that was why they were wondering why when they received the copy of the marriage contract, which was given to them sometime after September 4, 1997. Dulce David even invited the attention of her co­teachers on the error. She thought it was a mere typographical error. Vicente Lagadi, Jr. and his mother Carmen Gabriel told the undersigned that the date of the marriage of Vicente, Jr. and Eliza Bustamante is August 27, 1997 because this is the birthday of Eliza Bustamante. It is not September 18, 1997 as stated in the marriage contract. Vicente Jr. noticed the error because they received a copy of the marriage contract sometime after the marriage. He also thought that it was a mere typographical error. Vicente, Jr. also showed me

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the birth certificate of his daughter and the date of his marriage with Eliza Bustamante as appearing therein is August 27, 1997. The undersigned already received derogatory informations about Judge Mangino. It is known that he solemnizes marriages even before the licenses are issued. Probably in this case, he placed the date of the marriages as September 18, 1997 because that was the time he went to Manila and received the P20,000.00 from the complainant. He did this to provide him with a ready alibi because he expected to be sued by complainant as he never really intended to acquit her. With these informations gathered personally by the undersigned, it is not therefore true that Judge Mangino solemnized two marriages on September 18, 1997 because he went to Manila to meet the complainant and to receive the

P20,000.00.

Further, the presence of Judge Mangino at the Manila Hotel on September 18, 1997 was affirmed by Atty. Wilfredo Garcia and one who is a lawyer will not easily attest to it if it is not true. The law office of Atty. Wilfredo Garcia is near the Manila Hotel and he came there upon the request of complainant.

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No transcript of the testimonies of Ricky Quinto, Dulce David and Vicente Lagadi, Jr. was taken because they were hesitant to talk. Only after the undersigned assured them that whatever they will tell will be treated with utmost confidentiality that they started to talk.

4

The Executive Judge then recommended that the respondent Judge be dismissed from the service. In a Resolution dated March 28, 2001, the Court

resolved to refer the said report to the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) for recommendation. The OCA, through Deputy Court Administrator Jose P. Perez, opined that considering the gravity of the offense charged, the Executive Judge should have exerted earnest efforts to compel the attendance of the complainant and the

Pursuant to his

witnesses during the scheduled hearings. recommendation, the case was referred

5

4 Id., at pp. 132­134. 5 Id., at p. 141.

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back to Executive Judge Adriano for a more thorough investigation. 6 In his Report filed with the OCA on September 10, 2001, the Executive Judge made the following findings:

The undersigned set the investigation to August 20 and 27, 2001 both at 10:00 a.m., so that notice was sent to Mrs. Yolanda Reyes, Atty. Wilfredo Garcia and Judge Marvin Mangino. On August 20, 2001, only Judge Mangino appeared. He stated that since he already submitted a counter­affidavit, he has nothing more to add to it. At the expense of the undersigned, the process server of the Court was requested to serve the notice to the complainant. It was revealed that the complainant did not receive the previous notices sent to her because the municipal officials of Norzagaray, Bulacan are her political opponents. The undersigned sent another notice to Judge Mangino because of the assurance of Mrs. Reyes that she will attend the setting of August 27, 2001. Judge Mangino did not appear on said date. Only Mrs. Yolanda Reyes and Atty. Wilfredo Garcia appeared. The undersigned conducted clarificatory questioning on

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said date and the transcript of stenographic notes is attached herewith.

FINDINGS:

In view of the previous report submitted by the undersigned dated February 14, 2001, and the detailed findings of the Honorable Court Administrator dated May 11, 2001, in his Memorandum addressed to Hon. Jose A.R. Melo, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, there is nothing more that the undersigned could add. The undersigned is now more convinced that the respondent Judge Mangino, indeed, demanded and received money from the complainant. Mrs. Yolanda Reyes has no reason to proceed with this administrative case considering that she was already acquitted of the charge before the respondent judge (Decision, pages 122 to 125 of the Records). She was only motivated by the truth of her charge. In the same manner, Atty. Wilfredo Garcia, has no sinister motive to testify for the complainant, being a brother in the law profession. His testimony that he was at the Manila Hotel on September 18, 1997

6 Id., at p. 142.

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and he saw the respondent Judge received the money from the complainant is worthy of belief. The undersigned complied with the instruction of Honorable Deputy Court Administrator Jose Perez that the investigation be private and confidential. To repeat, the undersigned did not reduce the testimonies of Ricky Quinto, Dulce David. Said spouses were assured of the confidentiality of the investigation. The other party whose marriage was solemnized allegedly by Judge Mangino on September 18, 1997, Mr. Vicente Lagadi, Jr. also was reluctant to narrate the truth that the date of his marriage was August 27, 1997 and not September 18, 1997. Also, Mrs. Reyes said something that respondent Judge attended on that date, September 18, 1997. It could be the conference for Municipal Trial Court Judges but the undersigned has no way of verifying this. Probably, the Court Administrator has a record of that conference and the names of the Judges who attended the said conference. This will corroborate the claim of

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the complainant that Judge Mangino was in Manila on said date and he even attended the conference for MTC judges elsewhere.

The Executive Judge reiterated his previous recommendation that the respondent be dismissed from the service. We do not agree. It is settled that in administrative proceedings, the burden of proof that the respondent committed the acts complained of rests on the complainant. 7 Boyboy v. Yabut, Jr., 8 a case involving a lawyer accused of blackmail and extortion who was exonerated of the charges against him for lack of evidence, is instructive on this point. The Court ruled therein that it is enough for the respondent to deny complicity in the alleged blackmail or extortion, without more, for he is not under obligation to prove his negative averment, much less disprove what has not been proven by the complainant. Thus, if the complainant, upon whom rests the burden of proving his cause of action, fails to show in a

7 Ejercito v. Suerte, 410 SCRA 287 (2003); Cea v. Paguio, 397 SCRA 494

(2003).

8 401 SCRA 622 (2003).

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satisfactory manner the facts upon which he bases his claim, the respondent is under no obligation to prove his exception or defense. 9 Expounding further, the Court stressed—

It is all too obvious from the foregoing that there is a dearth of evidence which would in any way prove the commission of blackmail and extortion, much less incriminate respondent for those offenses. Even the baseless postulations in the affidavits would certainly not carry the day for complainants in view of their lack of evidentiary value. It is not difficult to manufacture charges in the affidavits; hence, it is imperative that their truthfulness and veracity be tested in the crucible of thorough examination. The hornbook doctrine is that unless the affiants themselves take the witness stand to affirm the averments in their affidavits, those affidavits must be excluded from the proceedings for being inadmissible and hearsay, as in this case.

10

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Indeed, considering that an accusation of bribery is easy to concoct and difficult to disprove, the complainant must present a panoply of evidence in support of such an

Inasmuch as what is imputed against the

respondent Judge connotes a misconduct so grave that, if proven, it would entail dismissal from the bench, the quantum of proof required should be more than substantial. 12 In this case, the complainant could have easily gathered enough extrinsic evidence, such as testimonies of waiters, restaurant employees, or other disinterested witnesses, to prove the alleged meeting with the respondent Judge. She did not even present a receipt of the expenses she incurred when she and the respondent judge took “snacks” at the coffee shop near the lobby of the Manila Hotel to at least prove that she had been there on September 18, 1997. Moreover, if the respondent had, indeed, made corrupt overtures and blatantly

accusation. 11

9 Id., at p. 627. 10 Id., at p. 628. 11 Aliga Vda. de Nepomuceno v. Bartolome, 400 SCRA 537 (2003), citing Co v. Calimag, 334 SCRA 20, 26 (2000). 12 Castaños v. Escaño, Jr., 251 SCRA 174 (1995).

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demanded money from the complainant, good sense would dictate that the matter be immediately reported to the authorities to set up entrapment operations against the culprit. 13 The Court further notes that the complainant even failed to present her liaison officer Nida Diokno, her secretary Chona Guzman, or her counsel’s liaison officer Ruel de Castro to testify as to the particulars of the alleged extortion incident. As a member of the bar, the complainant’s counsel should know that even in administrative cases, the Rules of Court requires that if a judge should be disciplined for grave misconduct or any graver offense, the evidence against him should be competent and derived from direct knowledge. The judiciary to which the respondent belongs demands no less. Before any of its members could be faulted, competent evidence should be presented, since the

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charge is penal in char­acter. 14 Thus, the ground for the removal of a judicial officer should be established beyond reasonable doubt. Such is the rule where the charge on which removal is sought is misconduct in office, willful neglect, corruption, or incompetence. The general rules in regard to admissibility of evidence in criminal trials apply. Anent the conviction of the complainant and her husband in Criminal Case No. 200­97, the rule is that only judicial errors tainted with fraud, dishonesty, gross ignorance, bad faith, or deliberate intent to do an injustice will be administratively sanctioned. 16 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

15

13 Cea v. Paguio, supra. 14 Limbona v. Limbona, 404 SCRA 6 (2003). 15 De Guzman v. Dy, 405 SCRA 311 (2003), citing Raquiza v. Castañeda, Jr., 81 SCRA 235 (1978). 16 Cruz v. Iturralde, 402 SCRA 65 (2003).

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can be infallible in his judgment. 17 As we held in Balsamo v. Suan: 18

[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

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improper considerations are sufficient defenses in which a judge charged with ignorance of the law can find refuge.

19

Hence, the respondent cannot be held administratively liable on that ground. However, the Court finds that the respondent Judge is liable for gross ignorance of the law in not requiring the presence of the accused during the promulgation of the decision in Criminal Case No. 200­97, as admitted by him in his Comment on the complaint. There are two instances when judgment may be promulgated even without the personal presence of the accused: (1) when the judgment is for a light offense, in which case, the counsel for the accused or a representative may stand for him; and (2) in cases where despite due notice to the accused or his bondsman or warden and counsel, the accused failed to appear at the promulgation of the decision. The evident purpose

17 Sacmar v. Reyes­Carpio, 400 SCRA 32 (2003).

18 411 SCRA 189 (2003).

19 Id., at p. 200. (Emphasis supplied)

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of this latter exception is to afford the offended party the opportunity to enforce the award of civil indemnity which could not otherwise be effected if the decision cannot be pronounced on account of the absence of the accused. 20 Criminal Case No. 200­97 does not fall under any of the exceptions, since the accused therein were charged and convicted of other deceits under Article 318 of the Revised Penal Code, which is a less grave felony, the imposable penalty being arresto mayor. It bears stressing the importance of the promulgation of decisions in criminal cases, considering that a judgment or sentence does not become a judgment or sentence in law until the same has been read or announced to the defendant or has become part of the record of the court. Parenthetically, when there is no valid promulgation of judgment, no right to appeal accrues. Under Canon 1.01 of the Code of Judicial Conduct, a judge is expected to be “the embodiment of competence,

22

21

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integrity, and independence” to maintain public confidence in the legal system. He should so behave at all times as to promote confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary. 23 When questionable orders are issued by a magistrate of law, casting doubt as to his integrity and impartiality, the erring judge must be sanctioned therefor, keeping in mind that the irresponsible or improper conduct of judges erodes public confidence in the judiciary, and, as such, must avoid all impropriety and the appearance thereof, 24 in accordance with Canon 2 of the Code of Judicial Conduct.

20 Pamaran, The 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure, 2001 ed., p. 451.

21 U.S. v. Court of First Instance of Manila, 24 Phil. 321.

22 People v. Jaranilla, 55 SCRA 563 (1974).

23 Rule 2.01, Code of Judicial Conduct.

24 Padilla v. Zantua, Jr., 237 SCRA 670 (1994).

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44 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Reyes vs. Mangino

WHEREFORE, for gross ignorance of the law, respondent Judge Marvin B. Mangino is FINED in the amount of Ten Thousand Pesos (P10,000.00), and is STERNLY WARNED that a repetition of the same or similar act shall be dealt with more severely. SO ORDERED.

Puno (Chairman), Austria­Martinez, Tinga and Chico­Nazario, JJ., concur.

Judge Marvin B. Mangino meted with P10,000 fine for gross ignorance of the law, with stern warning against repetition of similar act.

Notes.—“Promulgation of judgment” means the reading of the judgment or sentence in the presence of the accused and the judge of the court who rendered it—it is not the date of the writing of the decision or judgment. (Enriquez vs. Vallarta, 378 SCRA 12 [2002]) To be punishable, an act constituting ignorance of the law must not only be contradictory to existing law and jurisprudence, but must also be motivated by bad faith,

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fraud, dishonesty or corruption. (Borja vs. Salcedo, 412 SCRA 110 [2003])

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