Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 165

A.M. No. 93-7-696-0 February 21, 1995

In Re JOAQUIN T. BORROMEO, Ex Rel. Cebu City Chapter of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.

R E S O L U T I O N

PER CURIAM:

It is said that a little learning is a dangerous thing; and that he who acts as his

own lawyer has a fool for a client. There would seem to be more than a grain of truth in these aphorisms; and they appear to find validation in the proceeding at bench, at least. The respondent in this case, Joaquin T. Borromeo, is not a lawyer but has apparently read some law books, and ostensibly come to possess some superficial awareness of a few substantive legal principles and procedural rules. Incredibly, with nothing more than this smattering of learning, the respondent has, for some sixteen (16) years now, from 1978 to the present, been instituting and prosecuting legal proceedings in various courts, dogmatically pontificating on errors supposedly committed by the courts, including the Supreme Court. In the picturesque language of former Chief Justice Enrique M. Fernando, he has

"with all the valor of ignorance," 1 been verbally jousting with various adversaries

in diverse litigations; or in the words of a well-known song, rushing into arenas

"where angels fear to tread." Under the illusion that his trivial acquaintance with the law had given him competence to undertake litigation, he has ventured to represent himself in numerous original and review proceedings. Expectedly, the results have been disastrous. In the process, and possibly in aid of his interminable and quite unreasonable resort to judicial proceedings, he has seen

fit to compose and circulate many scurrilous statements against courts, judges

signing the notices thereof. In the aggregate, he has initiated or spawned in

different fora the astounding number of no less-than fifty (50) original or review proceedings, civil, criminal, administrative. For some sixteen (16) years now, to repeat, he has been continuously cluttering the Courts with his repetitive, and quite baseless if not outlandish complaints and contentions. I. CASES INVOLVING TRADERS ROYAL BANK (TRB) The first bank that Joaquin T. Borromeo appears to have dealt with was the Traders Royal Bank (TRB). On June 2, 1978, he got a loan from it in the sum of P45,000.00. This he secured by a real estate mortgage created over two parcels of land covered by TCT No. 59596 and TCT No. 59755 owned, respectively, by Socorro Borromeo-Thakuria (his sister) and Teresita Winniefred Lavarino. On June 16, 1978, Borromeo obtained a second loan from TRB in the amount of P10,000.00, this time giving as security a mortgage over a parcel of land owned by the Heirs of Vicente V. Borromeo, covered by TCT No. RT-7634. Authority to mortgage these three lots was vested in him by a Special Power of Attorney executed by their respective owners. Additionally, on April 23, 1980, Borromeo obtained a Letter of Credit from TRB in

the sum of P80,000.00, in consideration of which he executed a Trust Receipt

(No. 595/80) falling due on July 22, 1980. 2 Borromeo failed to pay the debts as contracted despite demands therefor. Consequently, TRB caused the extra-judicial foreclosure of the mortgages given to secure them. At the public sale conducted by the sheriff on September 7, 1981, the three mortgaged parcels of land were sold to TRB as the highest bidder, for P73,529.09. Within the redemption period, Borromeo made known to the Bank his intention to

and their employees, as well as his adversaries, for which he is now being called

redeem the properties at their auction price. TRB manager Blas C. Abril however

the

Bank, its officers and counsel, as aforestated.

to

account.

made clear that Borromeo would also have to settle his outstanding account

Respondent Borromeo's ill-advised incursions into lawyering were generated by fairly prosaic transactions with three (3) banks which came to have calamitous consequences for him chiefly because of his failure to comply with his

under Trust Receipt No. 595/80 (P88,762.78), supra. Borromeo demurred, and this disagreement gave rise to a series of lawsuits commenced by him against

contractual commitments and his stubborn insistence on imposing his own terms

A. CIVIL CASES

and conditions for their fulfillment. These banks were: Traders Royal Bank (TRB),

1. RTC Case No. R-22506; CA G.R.

United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB), Security Bank & Trust Co. (SBTC).

CV

No. 07015; G.R. No. 83306

Borromeo obtained loans or credit accommodation from them, to secure which

On

October 29, 1982 Borromeo filed a complaint in the Cebu City Regional Trial

he constituted mortgages over immovables belonging to him or members of his family, or third persons. He failed to pay these obligations, and when demands were made for him to do so, laid down his own terms for their satisfaction which were quite inconsistent with those agreed upon with his obligees or prescribed by law. When, understandably, the banks refused to let him have his way, he brought suits right and left, successively if not contemporaneously, against said banks, its officers, and even the lawyers who represented the banks in the actions brought by or against him. He sued, as well, the public prosecutors, the Judges of the Trial Courts, and the Justices of the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court who at one time or another, rendered a judgment, resolution or order adverse to him, as well as the Clerks of Court and other Court employees

Court for specific performance and damages against TRB and its local manager, Blas Abril, docketed as Civil Case No. R-22506. The complaint sought to compel defendants to allow redemption of the foreclosed properties only at their auction price, with stipulated interests and charges, without need of paying the obligation secured by the trust receipt above mentioned. Judgment was rendered in his favor on December 20, 1984 by Branch 23 of the Cebu City RTC; but on defendants' appeal to the Court of Appeals — docketed as CA-G.R. CV No. 07015 — the judgment was reversed, by decision dated January 27, 1988. The Court of Appeals held that the "plaintiff (Borromeo) has lost his right of redemption and can no longer compel defendant to allow redemption of the properties in question."

1

Borromeo elevated the case to this court where his appeal was docketed as G.R. No. 83306. By Resolution dated August 15, 1988, this Court's First Division

to sufficiently show that the

respondent Court of Appeals had committed any reversible error in its questioned judgment, it appearing on the contrary that the said decision is supported by substantial evidence and is in accord with the facts and applicable law." Reconsideration was denied, by Resolution dated November 23, 1988. A second motion for reconsideration was denied by Resolution dated January 30, 1989, as was a third such motion, by Resolution dated April 19, 1989. The last resolution

also directed entry of judgment and the remand of the case to the court of origin for prompt execution of judgment. Entry of judgment was made on May 12, 1989. By Resolution dated August 7, 1989, the Court denied another motion of Borromeo to set aside judgment; and by Resolution dated December 20, 1989, the Court merely noted without action his manifestation and motion praying that the decision of the Court of Appeals be overturned, and declared that "no further

motion or pleading

2. RTC Case No. CEB 8750;

CA-G.R. SP No. 22356 The ink was hardly dry on the resolutions just mentioned before Borromeo initiated another civil action in the same Cebu City Regional Court by which he attempted to litigate the same issues. The action, against the new TRB Branch Manager, Jacinto Jamero, was docketed as Civil Case No. CEB-8750. As might have been anticipated, the action was, on motion of the defense, dismissed by

Order dated May 18, 1990, 3 on the ground of res judicata, the only issue raised in the second action — i.e., Borromeo's right to redeem the lots foreclosed by TRB — having been ventilated in Civil Case No. R-22506 (Joaquin T. Borromeo vs. Blas C. Abril and Traders Royal Bank) (supra) and, on appeal, decided with finality by the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court in favor of defendants therein. The Trial Court's judgment was affirmed by the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 22356.

3. RTC Case No. CEB-9485;

CA-G.R. SP No. 28221 In the meantime, and during the pendency of Civil Case No. R-22506, TRB consolidated its ownership over the foreclosed immovables. Contending that act of consolidation amounted to a criminal offense, Borromeo filed complaints in the Office of the City Prosecutor of Cebu against the bank officers and lawyers. These complaints were however, and quite correctly, given short shrift by that Office. Borromeo then filed suit in the Cebu City RTC, this time not only against the TRB, TRB officers Jacinto Jamero and Arceli Bustamante, but also against City Prosecutor Jufelinito Pareja and his assistants, Enriqueta Belarmino and Eva A. Igot, and the TRB lawyers, Mario Ortiz and the law, firm, HERSINLAW. The action was docketed as Civil Case No. CEB-9485. The complaint charged Prosecutors Pareja, Belarmino and Igot with manifest partiality and bias for dismissing the criminal cases just mentioned; and faulted TRB and its manager, Jamero, as well as its lawyers, for consolidating the titles to the foreclosed

denied his petition for review "for failure

shall be entertained

."

properties in favor of the bank despite the pendency of Case No. R-22506. This action also failed. On defendants' motion, it was dismissed on February 19, 1992

by the RTC. (Branch 22) on the ground of res judicata (being identical with Civil Case Nos. R-22506 and CEB-8750, already decided with finality in favor of TRB), and lack of cause of action (as to defendants Pareja, Belarmino and Igot). Borromeo's certiorari petition to the Court of Appeals (CA G.R. SP No. 28221) was dismissed by that Court's 16th Division 4 on October 6, 1992, for the reason that the proper remedy was appeal.

4. RTC Case No. CEB-10368;

CA-G.R. SP No. 27100 Before Case No. CEB-9845 was finally decided, Borromeo filed, on May 30, 1991, still another civil action for the same cause against TRB, its manager, Jacinto Jamero, and its lawyers, Atty. Mario Ortiz and the HERSINLAW law office. This action was docketed as Civil Case No. CEB-10368, and was described as one for "Recovery of Sums of Money, Annulment of Titles with Damages." The case met the same fate as the others. It was, on defendants' motion, dismissed on September 9, 1991 by the RTC (Branch 14 5 ) on the ground of litis pendentia. The RTC ruled that — Civil Case No. CEB-9485 will readily show that the defendants therein, namely the Honorable Jufelinito Pareja, Enriqueta Belarmino, Eva Igot, Traders Royal Bank, Arceli Bustamante, Jacinto Jamero, Mario Ortiz and HERSINLAW are the same persons or nearly all of them who are impleaded as defendants in the present Civil Case No. CEB-10368, namely, the Traders Royal Bank, Jacinto Jamero, Mario Ortiz and HERSINLAW. The only difference is that more defendants were impleaded in Civil Case No. CEB-9485, namely, City Prosecutor Jufelinito Pareja and his assistants Enriqueta Belarmino and Eva

Igot. The inclusion of the City Prosecutor and his two assistants in Civil Case No. CEB-9485 was however merely incidental as apparently they had nothing to do with the questioned transaction in said The Court likewise found that the reliefs prayed for were the same as those sought in Civil Case No. CEB-9485, and the factual bases of the two cases were essentially the same — the alleged fraudulent foreclosure and consolidation of the three properties mortgaged years earlier by Borromeo to TRB. For some reason, the Order of September 9, 1991 was set aside by an Order rendered by another Judge on November 11, 1991 6 — the Judge who previously heard the case having inhibited himself; but this Order of November 11, 1991 was, in turn, nullified by the Court of Appeals (9th Division), by Decision promulgated on March 31, 1992 in CA-G.R. SP No. 27100 (Traders Royal Bank vs. Hon. Celso M. Gimenez, etc. and Joaquin T. Borromeo), 7 which decision also directed dismissal of Borromeo's complaint.

5. RTC Case No. CEB-6452

When a new branch manager, Ronald Sy, was appointed for TRB, Cebu City, Borromeo forthwith made that event the occasion for another new action, against TRB, Ronald Sy, and the bank's attorneys — Mario Ortiz, Honorato Hermosisima, Jr., Wilfredo Navarro and HERSINLAW firm. This action was

2

docketed as Civil Case No. CEB-6452, and described as one for "Annulment of Title with Damages." The complaint, dated October 20, 1987, again involved the foreclosure of the three (3) immovables above mentioned, and was anchored on the alleged malicious, deceitful, and premature consolidation of titles in TRB's favor despite the pendency of Civil Case No. 22506. On defendant's motion, the

trial court 8 dismissed the case on the ground of prematurity, holding that "(a)t

this point

., plaintiff's right to seek annulment of defendant Traders Royal

CV No. 07015 as well as by this Court in G.R. No. 83306 11 — and litis pendentia

the subject matter being also the same as that in Civil Case No. CEB-8750, decision in which was affirmed by the Court of Appeals in CA G.R. SP No.

22356. 12

8. RTC Criminal Case No. CBU-19344;

CA-G.R. SP No. 28275; G.R. No. 112928

On April 17, 1990 the City Prosecutor of Cebu City filed an information with the

Bank's title will only accrue if and when plaintiff will ultimately and finally win Civil Case No. R-22506."

RTC of Cebu (Branch 22) against Borromeo charging him with a violation of the Trust Receipts Law. 13 The case was docketed as Criminal Case No. CBU-19344.

Abarintos dated April 10, 1992. In the same order, His Honor set an early date for

6.

RTC Case No. CEB-8236

After a while, Borromeo moved to dismiss the case on the ground of denial of his

Having thus far failed in his many efforts to demonstrate to the courts the "merit" of his cause against TRB and its officers and lawyers, Borromeo now took a different tack by also suing (and thus also venting his ire on) the members of the

plaintiff of his cardinal rights to due process and against deprivation of property

7.

RTC Case No. CEB-13069

right to a speedy trial. His motion was denied by Order of Judge Pampio A.

Borromeo's arraignment and placed the case "under a continuous trial system on

appellate courts who had ruled adversely to him. He filed in the Cebu City RTC,

the

dates as may be agreed by the defense and prosecution." Borromeo moved

Civil Case No. CEB-8236, impleading as defendants not only the same parties

for

reconsideration. When his motion was again found without merit, by Order

he had theretofore been suing — TRB and its officers and lawyers

dated May 21, 1992, he betook himself to the Court of Appeals on a special civil

(HERSINLAW, Mario Ortiz) — but also the Chairman and Members of the First Division of the Supreme Court who had repeatedly rebuffed him in G.R. No. 83306 (SEE sub-head I, A, 1, supra), as well as the Members of the 5th, 9th and 10th Divisions of the Court of Appeals who had likewise made dispositions unfavorable to him. His complaint, dated August 22, 1989, aimed to recover damages from the defendants Justices for —

action of certiorari, to nullify these adverse orders, his action being docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 28275. Here again, Borromeo failed. The Court of Appeals declared that the facts did not show that there had been unreasonable delay in the criminal action against him, and denied his petition for being without merit. 14 Borromeo then filed a petition for review with this Court (G.R. No. 112928), but

maliciously and deliberately stating blatant falsehoods and disregarding

by

resolution dated January 31, 1994, the same was dismissed for failure of

evidence and pertinent laws, rendering manifestly unjust and biased resolutions and decisions bereft of signatures, facts or laws in support thereof, depriving

without said process, tolerating, approving and legitimizing the patently illegal, fraudulent, and contemptuous acts of defendants TRB, (which) constitute a) GRAVE DERELICTION OF DUTY AND ABUSE OF POWER emanating from the

Borromeo to comply with the requisites of Circulars Numbered 1-88 and 19-91. His motion for reconsideration was subsequently denied by Resolution dated March 23, 1994. a. Clarificatory Communications toBorromeo Re "Minute Resolutions"

next filed a Manifestation dated April 6, 1994 calling the Resolution of March

He

people, b) FLAGRANT VIOLATIONS OF THE CONSTITUTION, CARDINAL

23, 1994 "Un-Constitutional, Arbitrary and tyrannical and a gross travesty of

PRIMARY RIGHTS DUE PROCESS, ART. 27, 32, CIVIL CODE, Art. 208, REV.

'Justice,'" because it was "signed only by a mere clerk and

(failed) to state

PENAL CODE, and R.A. 3019, for which defendants must be held liable under said laws. The complaint also prayed for reconveyance of the "fake titles obtained fraudulently by TRB/HERSINLAW," and recovery of "100,000.00 moral damages; 30,000.00 exemplary damages; and P5,000.00 litigation expenses." This action, too, met a quick and unceremonious demise. On motion of defendants TRB and HERSINLAW, the trial court, by Order dated November 7, 1989, 9 dismissed the case.

clear facts and law," and "the petition was not resolved on MERITS nor by any Justice but by a mere clerk." 15 The Court responded with another Resolution, promulgated on June 22, 1994, and with some patience drew his attention to the earlier resolution "in his own previous case (Joaquin T. Borromeo vs. Court of Appeals and Samson Lao, G.R. No. 82273, 1 June 1990; 186 SCRA 1) 16 and on the same issue he now raises." Said Resolution of June 22, 1994, after reiterating that the notices sent by the Clerk of Court of the Court En Banc or any of the Divisions simply advise of and quote the resolution actually adopted by the Court after deliberation on a

Quoted hereunder, for your information, is a resolution of the First Division of this

It appears that Borromeo filed still another case to litigate the same cause subject of two (2) prior actions instituted by him. This was RTC Case No. CEB-13069, against TRB and the latter's lawyers, Wilfredo Navarro and Mario Ortiz. The action was dismissed in an Order dated October 4, 1993, 10 on the

particular matter, additionally stated that Borromeo "knew, as well, that the communications (notices) signed by the Clerk of Court start with the opening clause —

ground of res judicata — the subject matter being the same as that in Civil Case No. R-22506, decision in which was affirmed by the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R.

Court

,

3

thereby indisputably showing that it is not the Clerk of Court who prepared or signed the resolutions." This was not, by the way, the first time that the matter had been explained to Borromeo. The record shows that on July 10, 1987, he received a letter from

Clerk of Court Julieta Y. Carreon (of this Court's Third Division) dealing with the subject, in relation to G.R. No. 77243. 17 The same matter was also dealt with in the letter received by him from Clerk of Court Luzviminda D. Puno, dated April 4, 1989, and in the letter to him of Clerk of Court (Second Division) Fermin J. Garma, dated May 19, 1989. 18 And the same subject was treated of in another Resolution of this Court, notice of which was in due course served on him, to wit:

that dated July 31, 1989, in G.R. No. 87897. 19

B. CRIMINAL CASES

Mention has already been made of Borromeo's attempt — with "all the valor of

ignorance" — to fasten not only civil, but also criminal liability on TRB, its officers and lawyers. 20 Several other attempts on his part to cause criminal prosecution of those he considered his adversaries, will now be dealt with here. 1. I. S. Nos. 90-1187 and 90-1188 On March 7, 1990, Borromeo filed criminal complaints with the Office of the Cebu City Prosecutor against Jacinto Jamero (then still TRB Branch Manager), "John Doe and officers of Traders Royal Bank." The complaints (docketed as I.S. Nos. 90-1187-88) accused the respondents of "Estafa and Falsification of Public Documents." He claimed, among others that the bank and its officers, thru its manager, Jacinto Jamero, sold properties not owned by them: that by fraud, deceit and false pretenses, respondents negotiated and effected the purchase of the (foreclosed) properties from his (Borromeo's) mother, who "in duress, fear and lack of legal knowledge," agreed to the sale thereof for only P671,000.00, although in light of then prevailing market prices, she should have received P588,030.00 more. In a Joint Resolution dated April 11, 1990, 21 the Cebu City Fiscal's office dismissed the complaints observing that actually, the Deed of Sale was not between the bank and Borromeo's mother, but between the bank and Mrs. Thakuria (his sister), one of the original owners of the foreclosed properties; and that Borromeo, being a stranger to the sale, had no basis to claim injury or prejudice thereby. The Fiscal ruled that the bank's ownership of the foreclosed properties was beyond question as the matter had been raised and passed upon in a judicial litigation; and moreover, there was no proof of the document allegedly falsified nor of the manner of its falsification.

a. I.S. Nos. 87-3795 and 89-4234

Evidently to highlight Borromeo's penchant for reckless filing of unfounded

complaints, the Fiscal also adverted to two other complaints earlier filed in his Office by Borromeo — involving the same foreclosed properties and directed against respondent bank officers' predecessors (including the former Manager, Ronald Sy) and lawyers — both of which were dismissed for lack of merit. These were:

a. I. S. No. 87-3795 (JOAQUIN T. BORROMEO vs. ATTY. MARIO ORTIZ and

RONALD SY) for "Estafa Through Falsification of Public Documents, Deceit and

False Pretenses." — This case was dismissed by Resolution dated January 19, 1988 of the City Prosecutor's Office because based on nothing more than a letter dated June 4, 1985, sent by Bank Manager Ronald Sy to the lessee of a portion

of the foreclosed immovables, advising the latter to remit all rentals to the bank as new owner thereof, as shown by the consolidated title; and there was no showing that respondent Atty. Ortiz was motivated by fraud in notarizing the deed of sale in TRB's favor after the lapse of the period of redemption, or that Ortiz had benefited pecuniarily from the transaction to the prejudice of complainant; and b. I.S. No. 89-4234 (JOAQUIN T. BORROMEO vs. RONALD SY, ET AL.) for "Estafa Through False Pretenses and Falsification of Public Documents." — This case was dismissed by Resolution dated January 31, 1990.

2. I.S.Nos. 88-205 to 88-207

While Joaquin Borromeo's appeal (G.R. No. 83306) was still pending before the Supreme Court, 22 an affidavit was executed in behalf of TRB by Arceli Bustamante, in connection with the former's fire insurance claim over property registered in its name — one of two immovables formerly owned by Socorro B. Thakuria (Joaquin Borromeo's sister) and foreclosed by said bank. 23 In that affidavit, dated September 10, 1987, Bustamante stated that "On 24 June 1983, TRB thru foreclosure acquired real property together with the improvements thereon which property is located at F. Ramos St., Cebu City covered by TCT No. 87398 in the name or TRB." The affidavit was notarized by Atty. Manuelito B. Inso.

Claiming that the affidavit was "falsified and perjurious" because the claim of title by TRB over the foreclosed lots was a "deliberate, wilful and blatant fasehood in

that, among others:

the consolidation was premature, illegal and invalid,"

Borromeo filed a criminal complaint with the Cebu City Fiscal's Office against the affiant (Bustamante) and the notarizing lawyer (Atty. Inso) for "falsification of public document, false pretenses, perjury." On September 28, 1988, the Fiscal's

Office dismissed the complaint. 24 It found no untruthful statements in the affidavit or any malice in its execution, considering that Bustamante's statement was based on the Transfer Certificate of Title in TRB's file, and thus the document that Atty. Inso notarized was legally in order.

3. OMB-VIS-89-00136

This Resolution of this Court (First Division) in G.R. No. 83306 dated August 15, 1988 — sustaining the judgment of the Court of Appeals (10th Division) of January 27, 1988 in CA-G.R. CV No. 07015, supra, was made the subject of a criminal complaint by Borromeo in the Office of the Ombudsman, Visayas, docketed as OMB-VIS-89-00136. His complaint — against "Supreme Court Justice (First Div.) and Court of Appeals Justice (10th Div)" — was dismissed for lack of merit in a Resolution issued on February 14, 1990 25 which, among other things, ruled as follows:

It should be noted and emphasized that complainant has remedies available under the Rules of Court, particularly on civil procedure and existing laws. It is not the prerogative of this Office to make a review of Decisions and Resolutions

4

of judicial courts, rendered within their competence. The records do not warrant this Office to take further proceedings against the respondents. In addition, Sec. 20. of R.A. 6770, "the Ombudsman Act states that the Office of the Ombudsman may not conduct the necessary investigation of any administrative act or omission complained of if it believes that (1) the

complainant had adequate remedy in another judicial or quasi-judicial body;" and Sec. 21 the same law provides that the Office of the Ombudsman does not have disciplinary authority over members of the Judiciary.

II. CASES INVOLVING UNITED COCONUT

PLANTERS BANK (UCPB)

As earlier stated, 26 Borromeo (together with a certain Mercader) also borrowed money from the United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB) and executed a real estate mortgage to secure repayment thereof. The mortgage was constituted over a 122-square-meter commercial lot covered by TCT No. 75680 in Borromeo's name. This same lot was afterwards sold on August 7, 1980 by Borromeo to one Samson K. Lao for P170,000.00, with a stipulation for its repurchase (pacto de retro) by him (Borromeo, as the vendor). The sale was made without the knowledge and consent of UCPB.

A. CIVIL CASES

Now, just as he had defaulted in the payment of the loans and credit accommodations he had obtained from the Traders Royal Bank, Borromeo failed in the fulfillment of his obligations to the UCPB. Shortly after learning of Borromeo's default, and obviously to obviate or minimize the ill effects of the latter's delinquency, Lao applied with the same bank (UCPB) for a loan, offering the property he had purchased from Borromeo as collateral. UCPB was not averse to dealing with Lao but imposed several conditions on him, one of which was for Lao to consolidate his title over the property. Lao accordingly instituted a suit for consolidation of title, docketed as Civil Case No. R-21009. However, as will shortly be narrated, Borromeo opposed the consolidation prayed for. As a result, UCPB cancelled Lao's application for a loan and itself commenced proceedings foreclose the mortgage constituted by Borromeo over the property. This signaled the beginning of court battles waged by Borromeo not only against Lao, but also against UCPB and the latter's lawyers, battles which he (Borromeo) fought contemporaneously with his court war with Traders Royal Bank. 1. RTC Case No. R-21009; AC-G.R.No. CV-07396; G.R. No. 82273 The first of this new series of court battles was, as just stated, the action initiated by Samson Lao in the Regional Trial Court of Cebu (Branch 12), docketed as Case No. R-21009, for consolidation of title in his favor over the 122-square- meter lot subject of the UCPB mortgage, in accordance with Article 1007 of the Civil Code. In this suit Lao was represented by Atty. Alfredo Perez, who was later substituted by Atty. Antonio Regis. Borromeo contested Lao's application. Judgment was in due course rendered by the RTC (Branch 12, Hon. Francis Militante, presiding) denying consolidation because the transaction between the parties could not be construed as a sale with pacto de retro being in law an

equitable mortgage; however, Borromeo was ordered to pay Lao the sum of P170,000.00, representing the price stipulated in the sale a retro, plus the amounts paid by Lao for capital gains and other taxes in connection with the transaction (P10,497.50). Both Lao and Borromeo appealed to the Court of Appeals. Lao's appeal was

dismissed for failure of his lawyer to file brief in his behalf. Borromeo's appeal — AC-G.R. No. CV-07396 — resulted in a Decision by the Court of Appeals dated December 14, 1987, affirming the RTC's judgment in toto.

The Appellate Court's decision was, in turn, affirmed by this Court (Third Division)

in a four-page Resolution dated September 13, 1989, promulgated in G.R. No. 82273 — an appeal also taken by Borromeo. Borromeo filed a motion for reconsideration on several grounds, one of which was that the resolution of

September 13, 1989 was unconstitutional because contrary to "Sec. 4 (3), Art.

VIII of the Constitution," it was not signed by any Justice of the Division, and

there was "no way of knowing which justices had deliberated and voted thereon,

nor of any concurrence of at least three of the members." Since the motion was

not filed until after there had been an entry of judgment, Borromeo having failed to move for reconsideration within the reglementary period, the same was simply noted without action, in a Resolution dated November 27, 1989. Notices of the foregoing Resolutions were, in accordance with established rule and practice, sent to Borromeo over the signatures of the Clerk of Court and Assistant Clerk of Court (namely: Attys. Julieta Y. CARREON and Alfredo MARASIGAN, respectively). a. RTC Case No. CEB-8679 Following the same aberrant pattern of his judicial campaign against Traders Royal Bank, Borromeo attempted to vent his resentment even against the Supreme Court officers who, as just stated, had given him notices of the adverse dispositions of this Court's Third Division. He filed Civil Case No. CEB-8679 in

the Cebu City RTC (CFI) for recovery of damages against "Attys. Julieta Y.

Carreon and Alfredo Marasigan, Division Clerk of Court and Asst. Division Clerk

of Court, Third Division, and Atty. Jose I. Ilustre, Chief of Judicial Records Office." He charged them with usurpation of judicial functions, for allegedly "maliciously and deviously issuing biased, fake, baseless and unconstitutional 'Resolution'

and 'Entry of Judgment' in G.R. No. 82273."

Summonses were issued to defendants by RTC Branch 18 (Judge Rafael R. Ybañez, presiding). These processes were brought to the attention of this Court's Third Division. The latter resolved to treat the matter as an incident in G.R. No. 82273, and referred it to the Court En Banc on April 25, 1990. By Resolution (issued in said G.R. No. 82273, supra) dated June 1, 1990, the Court En Banc ordered Judge Ybañez to quash the summonses, to dismiss Civil Case No. CEB-8679, and "not to issue summons or otherwise to entertain cases of similar nature which may in the future be filed in his court." Accordingly, Judge Ibañez issued an Order on June 6, 1990 quashing the summonses and dismissing the complaint in said Civil Case No. CEB-8679.

5

The Resolution of June 1, 1990 27 explained to Borromeo in no little detail the nature and purpose of notices sent by the Clerks of Court of decisions or resolutions of the Court En Banc or the Divisions, in this wise:

This is not the first time that Mr. Borromeo has filed charges/complaints against officials of the Court. In several letter complaints filed with the courts and the Ombudsman, Borromeo had repeatedly alleged that he "suffered injustices," because of the disposition of the four (4) cases he separately appealed to this Court which were resolved by minute resolutions, allegedly in violation of Sections 4 (3), 13 and 14 of Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution. His invariable complaint is that the resolutions which disposed of his cases do not bear the signatures of the Justices who participated in the deliberations and resolutions and do not show that they voted therein. He likewise complained that the

resolutions bear no certification of the Chief Justice and that they did not state

the facts and the law on which they were based and were signed only by the

Clerks of Court and therefore "unconstitutional, null and void."

xxx xxx xxx

The Court reminds all lower courts, lawyers, and litigants that it disposes of the bulk of its cases by minute resolutions and decrees them as final and executory, as were a case is patently without merit, where the issues raised are factual in nature, where the decision appealed from is in accord with the facts of the case

and the applicable laws, where it is clear from the records that the petition is filed

merely to forestall the early execution of judgment and for non-compliance with

the rules. The resolution denying due course always gives the legal basis. As

emphasized in In Re: Wenceslao Laureta, 148 SCRA 382, 417 [1987], "[T]he

Court is not 'duty bound' to render signed Decisions all the time. It has ample discretion to formulate Decisions and/or Minute Resolutions, provided a legal

This is the only way

basis is given, depending on its evaluation of a case"

whereby it can act on all cases filed before it and, accordingly, discharge its constitutional

. (W)hen the Court, after deliberating on a petition and any subsequent

pleadings, manifestations, comments, or motions decides to deny due course to

the petition and states that the questions raised are factual, or no reversible error

in the respondent court's decision is shown, or for some other legal basis stated

in the resolution, there is sufficient compliance with the constitutional requirement

. (of Section 14, Article VIII of the Constitution "that no petition for review or motion for reconsideration shall be refused due course or denied without stating

the legal basis thereof").

For a prompt dispatch of actions of the Court, minute resolutions are promulgated by the Court through the Clerk of Court, who takes charge of sending copies thereof to the parties concerned by quoting verbatim the resolution issued on a particular case. It is the Clerk of Court's duty to inform the parties of the action taken on their cases quoting the resolution adopted by the Court. The Clerk of Court never participates in the deliberations of a case. All decisions and resolutions are actions of the Court. The Clerk of Court merely transmits the Court's action. This was explained in the case — G.R. No. 56280,

"Rhine Marketing Corp. v. Felix Gravante, et al.," where, in a resolution dated July 6, 1981, the Court said — "[M]inute resolutions of this Court denying or dismissing unmeritorious petitions like the petition in the case at bar, are the result of a thorough deliberation among the members of this Court, which does not and cannot delegate the exercise of its judicial functions to its Clerk of Court or any of its subalterns, which should be known to counsel. When a petition is denied or dismissed by this Court, this Court sustains the challenged decision or order together with its findings of facts and legal conclusions. Minute resolutions need not be signed by the members of the Court who took part in the deliberations of a case nor do they require the certification of the Chief Justice. For to require members of the Court to sign all resolutions issued would not only unduly delay the issuance of its resolutions but a great amount of their time would be spent on functions more properly performed by the Clerk of Court and which time could be more profitably used in the analysis of cases and the formulation of decisions and orders of important nature and character. Even with the use of this procedure, the Court is still struggling to wipe out the backlogs accumulated over the years and meet the ever increasing number of cases coming to b. RTC CIVIL CASE NO. CEB-(6501)6740; G.R. No. 84054 It is now necessary to digress a little and advert to actions which, while having no relation to the UCPB, TRB or SBTC, are relevant because they were the predicates for other suits filed by Joaquin Borromeo against administrative officers of the Supreme Court and the Judge who decided one of the cases adversely to him. The record shows that on or about December 11, 1987, Borromeo filed a civil action for damages against a certain Thomas B. Tan and Marjem Pharmacy, docketed as Civil Case No. CEB-6501. On January 12, 1988, the trial court dismissed the case, without prejudice, for failure to state a cause of action and prematurity (for non-compliance with P.D. 1508). What Borromeo did was simply to re-file the same complaint with the same Court, on March 18, 1988. This time it was docketed as Civil Case No. CEB-6740, and assigned to Branch 17 of the RTC of Cebu presided by Hon. Mario Dizon. Again, however, on defendants' motion, the trial court dismissed the case, in an order dated May 28, 1988. His first and second motions for reconsideration having been denied, Borromeo filed a petition for review before this Court, docketed as G.R. No. 84054 (Joaquin T. Borromeo vs. Tomas Tan and Non. Mario Dizon). In a Resolution dated August 3, 1988, the Court required petitioner to comply with the rules by submitting a verified statement of material dates and paying the docket and legal research fund fees; it also referred him to the Citizens Legal Assistance Office for help in the case. His petition was eventually dismissed by Resolution of the Second Division dated November 21, 1988, for failure on his part to show any reversible error in the trial court's judgment. His motion for reconsideration was denied with finality, by Resolution dated January 18, 1989.

6

Borromeo wrote to Atty. Fermin J. Garma (Clerk of Court of the Second Division) on April 27, 1989 once more remonstrating that the resolutions received by him had not been signed by any Justice, set forth no findings of fact or law, and had no certification of the Chief Justice. Atty. Garma replied to him on May 19, 1989, pointing out that "the minute resolutions of this Court denying dismissing petitions, like the petition in the case at bar, which was denied for failure of the counsel and/or petitioner to sufficiently show that the Regional Trial Court of Cebu, Branch 17, had committed any reversible error in the questioned judgment [resolution dated November 21, 1988], are the result of a thorough deliberation among the members of this Court, which does not and cannot delegate the exercise of its judicial function to its Clerk of Court or any of its subalterns. When the petition is denied or dismissed by the Court, it sustains the challenged decision or order together with its findings of facts and legal conclusions." Borromeo obviously had learned nothing from the extended Resolution of June 1, 1990 in G.R. No. 82273, supra (or the earlier communications to him on the same subject) which had so clearly pointed out that minute resolutions of the Court are as much the product of the Members' deliberations as full-blown decisions or resolutions, and that the intervention of the Clerk consists merely in the ministerial and routinary function of communicating the Court's action to the parties concerned. c. RTC Case No. CEB-9042 What Borromeo did next, evidently smarting from this latest judicial rebuff, yet another in an already long series, was to commence a suit against Supreme Court (Second Division) Clerk of Court Fermin J. Garma and Assistant Clerk of Court Tomasita Dris. They were the officers who had sent him notices of the unfavorable resolutions in G.R. No. 84054, supra. His suit, filed on June 1, 1990, was docketed as Case No. CEB-9042 (Branch 8, Hon. Bernardo Salas presiding). Therein he complained essentially of the same thing he had been harping on all along: that in relation to G.R. No. 91030 — in which the Supreme Court dismissed his petition for "technical reasons" and failure to demonstrate any reversible error in the challenged judgment — the notice sent to him — of the "unsigned and unspecific" resolution of February 19, 1990, denying his motion for reconsideration — had been signed only by the defendant clerks of court and not by the Justices. According to him, he had thereupon written letters to defendants demanding an explanation for said "patently unjust and un- Constitutional resolutions," which they ignored; defendants had usurped judicial functions by issuing resolutions signed only by them and not by any Justice, and without stating the factual and legal basis thereof; and defendants' "wanton, malicious and patently abusive acts" had caused him "grave mental anguish, severe moral shock, embarrassment, sleepless nights and worry;" and consequently, he was entitled to moral damages of no less than P20,000.00 and exemplary damages of P10,000.00, and litigation expenses of P5,000.00. On June 8, 1990, Judge Renato C. Dacudao ordered the records of the case transmitted to the Supreme Court conformably with its Resolution dated June 1, 1990 in G.R. No. 82273, entitled "Joaquin T. Borromeo vs. Hon. Court of Appeals

and Samson-Lao," supra — directing that all complaints against officers of that Court be forwarded to it for appropriate action. 28 Borromeo filed a "Manifestation/Motion" dated June 27, 1990 asking the Court to

"rectify the injustices" committed against him in G.R. Nos. 83306, 84999, 87897,

77248 and 84054. This the Court ordered expunged from the record (Resolution,

July 19, 1990).

2. RTC Case No. R-21880; CA-G.R.

CV No. 10951; G.R. No. 87897

Borromeo also sued to stop UCPB from foreclosing the mortgage on his property. In the Cebu City RTC, he filed a complaint for "Damages with Injunction," which was docketed as Civil Case No. R-21880 (Joaquin T. Borromeo vs. United Coconut Planters Bank, et al.). Named defendants in the complaint were UCPB, Enrique Farrarons (UCPB Cebu Branch Manager) and

Samson K. Lao. UCPB was represented in the action by Atty. Danilo Deen, and

for a time, by Atty. Honorato Hermosisima (both being then resident partners of

ACCRA Law Office). Lao was represented by Atty. Antonio Regis. Once again, Borromeo was rebuffed. The Cebu RTC (Br. 11, Judge Valeriano R. Tomol, Jr. presiding) dismissed the complaint, upheld UCPB's right to foreclose, and

granted its counterclaim for moral damages in the sum of P20,000.00; attorney's fees amounting to P10,000.00; and litigation expenses of P1,000.00. Borromeo perfected an appeal to the Court of Appeals where it was docketed as CA-G.R. CV No. 10951. That Court, thru its Ninth Division (per Martinez, J., ponente, with de la Fuente and Pe, JJ., concurring), dismissed his appeal and affirmed the Trial Court's judgment. Borromeo filed a petition far review with the Supreme Court which, in G.R. No.

87897 dismissed it for insufficiency in form and substance and for being "largely

unintelligible." Borromeo's motion for reconsideration was denied by Resolution dated June 25, 1989. A second motion for reconsideration was denied in a Resolution dated July 31, 1989 which directed as well entry of judgment (effected on August 1, 1989). In this Resolution, the Court (First Division) said:

The Court considered the Motion for Reconsideration dated July 4, 1989 filed by petitioner himself and Resolved to DENY the same for lack of merit, the motion having been filed without "express leave of court" (Section 2, Rule 52, Rules of Court) apart from being a reiteration merely of the averments of the Petition for Review dated April 14, 1989 and the Motion for Reconsideration dated May 25, 1989. It should be noted that petitioner's claims have already been twice rejected as without merit, first by the Regional Trial Court of Cebu and then by the Court of Appeals. What petitioner desires obviously is to have a third ruling on the

merits of his claims, this time by this Court. Petitioner is advised that a review of a decision of the Court of Appeals is not a matter of right but of sound judicial discretion and will be granted only when there is a special and important reason therefor (Section 4, Rule 45); and a petition for review may be dismissed summarily on the ground that "the appeal is without merit, or is prosecuted manifestly for delay or the question raised is too unsubstantial to require consideration" (Section 3, Rule 45), or that only questions of fact are raised in

the petition, or the petition otherwise fails to comply with the formal requisites

7

prescribed therefor (Sections 1 and 2, Rule 45; Circular No. 1-88). Petitioner is further advised that the first sentence of Section 14, Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution refers to a decision, and has no application to a resolution as to which said section pertinently provides that a resolution denying a motion for

reconsideration need state only the legal basis therefor; and that the resolution of

of signatures and facts and law:

and characterizing the conclusions therein

Borromeo instituted a certiorari action in the Court of Appeals to annul this judgment (CA G.R. SP No. 14519); but his action was dismissed by the Appellate Court on June 7, 1988 on account of his failure to comply with that Court's

Resolution of May 13, 1988 for submission of certified true copies of the Trial Court's decision of December 26, 1987 and its Order of February 26, 1988, and

June 26, 1989 denying petitioner's first Motion for Reconsideration dated May

for statement of "the dates he received

(said) decision and

order."

25, 1989 does indeed state the legal reasons therefor. The plain and patent signification of the grounds for denial set out in the Resolution of June 26, 1989 is that the petitioner's arguments — aimed at the setting aside of the resolution denying the petition for review and consequently bringing about a review of the decision of the Court of Appeals — had failed to persuade the Court that the errors imputed to the Court of Appeals had indeed been committed and therefore, there was no cause to modify the conclusions set forth in that judgment; and in such a case, there is obviously no point in reproducing and restating the conclusions and reasons therefor of the Court of Appeals. Premises considered, the Court further Resolved to DIRECT ENTRY OF JUDGMENT. On August 13, 1989 Borromeo wrote to Atty. Estrella C. Pagtanac, then the Clerk of Court of the Court's First Division, denouncing the resolution above mentioned as "a LITANY OF LIES, EVASIONS, and ABSURD SELF-SERVING LOGIC from a Supreme Court deluded and drunk with power which it has forgotten emanates from the people," aside from being "patently UNCONSTITUTIONAL for absence

Borromeo went up to this Court on appeal, his appeal being docketed as G.R. No. 84999. In a Resolution dated October 10, 1988, the Second Division required comment on Borromeo's petition for review by the respondents therein named, and required Borromeo to secure the services of counsel. On November 9, 1988, Atty. Jose L. Cerilles entered his appearance for Borromeo. After due proceedings, Borromeo's petition was dismissed, by Resolution dated March 6, 1989 of the Second Division for failure to sufficiently show that the Court of Appeals had committed any reversible error in the questioned judgment. His motion for reconsideration dated April 4, 1989, again complaining that the resolution contained no findings of fact and law, was denied. a. RTC Case No. CEB-8178 Predictably, another action, Civil Case No. CEB-8178, was commenced by Borromeo in the RTC of Cebu City, this time against the Trial Judge who had lately rendered judgment adverse to him, Judge Generoso Juaban. Also impleaded as defendants were UCPB, and Hon. Andres Narvasa (then Chairman, First Division), Estrella G. Pagtanac and Marissa Villarama (then, respectively, Clerk of Court and Assistant Clerk of Court of the First Division),

Shortly thereafter, Atty. Jose L. Cerilles — who, as already stated, had for a time

as "the height of ARROGANCE and ARBITRARINESS assuming a KING-LIKE AND EVEN GOD-LIKE

and others. Judge German G. Lee of Branch 15 of said Court — to which the case was raffled — caused issuance of summonses which were in due course

POWER totally at variance and contradicted by

CONSTITUTIONAL

served on September 22, 1989, among others, on said defendants in and of the

provisions

." To the letter Borromeo attached copies of (1) his "Open Letter to

Supreme Court. In an En Banc Resolution dated October 2, 1989 — in G.R. No.

the Ombudsman" dated August 10, 1989 protesting the Court's "issuing UNSIGNED, UNSPECIFIC, and BASELESS 'MINUTE RESOLUTIONS;'" (2) his "Open Letter of Warning" dated August 12, 1989; and (3) a communication of Domingo M. Quimlat, News Ombudsman, Phil. Daily Inquirer, dated August 10, 1989. His letter was ordered expunged from the record because containing "false, impertinent and scandalous matter (Section 5, Rule 9 of the Rules of Court)." Another letter of the same ilk, dated November 7, 1989, was simply

84999 — this Court, required Judge Lee and the Clerk of Court and Assistant Clerk of Court of the Cebu RTC to show cause why no disciplinary action should be taken against them for issuing said summonses.

represented Borromeo in G.R. No. 84999 — filed with this Court his withdrawal of appearance, alleging that there was "no compatibility" between him and his client, Borromeo — because "Borromeo had been filing pleadings, papers; etc.

"NOTED without action" by Resolution promulgated on December 13, 1989.

 

without

3. RTC Case No. CEB-4852; CA G.R.

advised and

(his) knowledge and advice" — and declaring that he had "not (had) no hand in the filing of (said) Civil Case CEB 8178 before

SP No. 14519; G.R. No. 84999

the Regional Trial Court in Cebu. On the other hand, Judge Lee, in his

In arrant disregard of established rule and practice, Borromeo filed another action to invalidate the foreclosure effected at the instance of UCPB, which he

"Compliance" dated October 23, 1989, apologized to the Court and informed it that he had already promulgated an order dismissing Civil Case No. CEB-8178

had unsuccessfully tried to prevent in Case No. CEB-21880. This was Civil Case

on

motion of the principal defendants therein, namely, Judge Generoso Juaban

No. CEB-4852 of the Cebu City RTC (Joaquin T. Borromeo vs. UCPB, et al.) for

and United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB). Atty. Cerilles' withdrawal of

"Annulment of Title with Damages." Here, UCPB was represented by Atty. Laurence Fernandez, in consultation with Atty. Deen. On December 26, 1987, the Cebu City RTC (Br. VII, Hon. Generoso A. Juaban,

appearance, and Judge Lee's compliance, were noted by the Court in its Resolution dated November 29, 1989. 4. RTC Case No. CEB-374; CA-G.R.

presiding) dismissed the complaint on the ground of litis pendentia and ordered Borromeo to pay attorney's fees (P5,000.00) and litigation expenses (P1,000.00).

CV

No. 04097; G.R. No. 77248

8

It is germane to advert to one more transaction between Borromeo and Samson

1.

Case No; OMB-VIS-89-00181

K. Lao which gave rise to another action that ultimately landed in this Court. 29

The transaction involved a parcel of land of Borromeo's known as the "San Jose Property" (TCT No. 34785). Borromeo sued Lao and another person (Mariano

Logarta) in the Cebu Regional Trial Court on the theory that his contract with the latter was not an absolute sale but an equitable mortgage. The action was docketed as Case No. CEB-374. Judgment was rendered against him by the Trial Court (Branch 12) declaring valid and binding the purchase of the property by Lao from him, and the subsequent sale thereof by Lao to Logarta. Borromeo appealed to the Court of Appeals, but that Court, in CA-G.R. CV No. 04097, affirmed the Trial Court's judgment, by Decision promulgated on October 10,

1986.

Borromeo came up to this Court. on appeal, his review petition being docketed as G.R. No. 77248. By Resolution of the Second Division of March 16, 1987, however, his petition was denied for the reason that "a) the petition as well as the docket and legal research fund fees were filed and paid late; and (b) the issues raised are factual and the findings thereon of the Court of Appeals are final." He moved for reconsideration; this was denied by Resolution dated June 3, 1987. He thereafter insistently and persistently still sought reconsideration of said adverse resolutions through various motions and letters, all of which were denied. One of his letters — inter alia complaining that the notice sent to him by the Clerk of Court did not bear the signature of any Justice — elicited the

following reply from Atty. Julieta Y. Carreon, Clerk of Court of the Third Division, dated July 10, 1987, reading as follows:

Dear Mr. Borromeo:

This refers to your letter dated June 9, 1987 requesting for a copy of the actual resolution with the signatures of all the Justices of the Second Division in Case G.R. No. 77243 whereby the motion for reconsideration of the dismissal of the petition was denied for lack of merit. In connection therewith, allow us to cite for your guidance, Resolution dated July 6, 1981 in G.R. No. 56280, Rhine Marketing Corp. v. Felix Gravante, Jr., et al., wherein the Supreme Court declared that "(m)inute resolutions of this Court denying or dismissing unmeritorious petitions like the petition in the case at bar, are the result of a thorough deliberation among the members of this Court, which does not and cannot delegate the exercise of its judicial functions to its Clerk of Court or any of its subalterns, which should be known to counsel. When a petition is denied or dismissed by this Court, this Court sustains the challenged decision or order together with its findings of facts and legal conclusions." It is the Clerk of Court's duty to notify the parties of the action taken on their case by quoting the resolution adopted by the Court. Very truly yours, JULIETA Y. CARREON

B. CRIMINAL CASES

Just as he had done with regard to the cases involving the Traders Royal Bank, and similarly without foundation, Borromeo attempted to hold his adversaries in the cases concerning the UCPB criminally liable.

In relation to the dispositions made of Borromeo's appeals and other attempts to

overturn the judgment of the RTC in Civil Case No. 21880, 30 Borromeo filed with the Office of the Ombudsman (Visayas) on August 18, 1989, a complaint against the Chairman and Members of the Supreme Court's First Division; the Members of the Ninth Division of the Court of Appeals, Secretary of Justice Sedfrey Ordoñez, Undersecretary of Justice Silvestre Bello III, and Cebu City Prosecutor Jufelinito Pareja, charging them with violations of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and the Revised Penal Code. By Resolution dated January 12, 1990, 31 the Office of the Ombudsman dismissed Borromeo's complaint, opining that the matters therein dealt with had already been tried and their merits determined by different courts including the Supreme Court (decision, June 26, 1989, in G.R. No. 87987). The resolution

inter alia stated that, "Finally, we find it unreasonable for complainant to dispute and defiantly refuse to acknowledge the authority of the decree rendered by the

highest tribunal of the land in this

2. Case No. OMB-VIS-90-00418

A second complaint was filed by Borromeo with the Office of the Ombudsman

(Visayas), dated January 12, 1990, against Atty. Julieta Carreon, Clerk of Court

of the Third Division, Supreme Court, and others, charging them with a violation

of R.A. 3019 (and the Constitution, the Rules of Court, etc.) for supposedly usurping judicial functions in that they issued Supreme Court resolutions

(actually, notices of resolutions) in connection with G.R. No. 82273 which did not bear the justices' signatures. 32 In a Resolution dated March 19, 1990, the Office

of the Ombudsman dismissed his complaint for "lack of merit" declaring inter alia

that "in all the questioned actuations of the respondents alleged to constitute

usurpation

were the ones rendering them," and "it is not the prerogative of this office to review the correctness of judicial resolutions." 33

III. CASES INVOLVING SECURITY

BANK & TRUST CO. (SBTC)

A. CIVIL CASES

1. RTC Case No. 21615; CA-

G.R. No. 20617; G.R. No. 94769 The third banking institution which Joaquin T. Borromeo engaged in running court battles, was the Security Bank & Trust Company (SBTC). From it Borromeo had obtained five (5) loans in the aggregate sum of P189,126.19, consolidated in a single Promissory Note on May 31, 1979. To secure payment thereof, Summa Insurance Corp. (Summa) issued a performance bond which set a limit of P200,000.00 on its liability thereunder. Again, as in the case of his obligations to Traders Royal Bank and UCPB, Borromeo failed to discharge his contractual obligations. Hence, SBTC brought an action in the Cebu City RTC against Borromeo and Summa for collection. The action was docketed as Civil Case No. R-21615, and was assigned to Branch 10, Judge Leonardo Cañares, presiding. Plaintiff SBTC was represented

it cannot be reasonably and fairly inferred that respondents really

."

9

by Atty. Edgar Gica, who later withdrew and was substituted by the law firm, HERSINLAW. The latter appeared in the suit through Atty. Wilfredo Navarro. Judgment by default was rendered in the case on January 5, 1989; both defendents were sentenced to pay to SBTC, solidarily, the amount of P436,771.32; 25% thereof as attorney's fees (but in no case less than P20,000.00); and P5,000.00 as litigation expenses; and the costs. A writ of execution issued in due course pursuant to which an immovable of Borromeo was levied on, and eventually sold at public auction on October 19, 1989 in favor of the highest bidder, SBTC. On February 5, 1990, Borromeo filed a motion to set aside the judgment by default, but the same was denied on March 6, 1990. His Motion for Reconsideration having likewise been denied, Borromeo went to the Court of Appeals for relief (CA-G.R. No. 20617), but the latter dismissed his petition. Failing in his bid for reconsideration, Borromeo appealed to this Court on certiorari — his appeal being docketed as G.R. No. 94769. On September 17,

1990, this Court dismissed his petition, and subsequently denied with finality his motion for reconsideration. Entry of Judgment was made on December 26, 1990. However, as will now be narrated, and as might now have been anticipated in light of his history of recalcitrance and bellicosity, these proceedings did not signify the end of litigation concerning Borromeo's aforesaid contractual commitments to SBTC, but only marked the start of another congeries of actions and proceedings, civil and criminal concerning the same matter, instituted by Borromeo.

Cañares — but now including Judge Godardo Jacinto, 34 who had rendered the latest judgment against him. This suit, docketed as Civil Case No. CEB-10458, was, according to Borromeo, one "for Damages (For Unjust Judgment and Orders, Denial of Equal Protection of the Laws Violation of the Constitution, Fraud and Breach of Contract)." Borromeo faulted Judges Cañares and Jacinto "for the way they decided the two cases (CVR-21615 & CEB NO. 9267)," and contended that defendants committed "wanton, malicious, and unjust acts" by

"conniving to defraud plaintiff and deny him equal protection of the laws and due process," on account of which he had been "caused untold mental anguish, moral shock, worry, sleepless nights, and embarrassment for which the former

are liable under Arts. 20, 21, 27, and 32 of the Civil Code."

The defendants filed motions to dismiss. By Order dated August 30, 1991, the RTC of Cebu City, Branch 15 (Judge German G. Lee, Jr., presiding) dismissed

the complaint on grounds of res judicata, immunity of judges from liability in the

performance of their official functions, and lack of jurisdiction.

Borromeo took an appeal to the Court of Appeals, which docketed it as CA-G.R.

CV No. 39047.

In the course thereof, he filed motions to cite Atty. Wilfredo F. Navarro, lawyer of SBTC, for contempt of court. The motions were denied by Resolution of the Court of Appeals (Special 7th Division) dated April 13, 1993. 35 Said the Court:

Stripped of their disparaging and intemperate innuendoes, the subject motions,

in fact, proffer nothing but a stark difference in opinion as to what can, or cannot, be considered res judicata under the circumstances.

2.

RTC Case No. CEB-9267

xxx

xxx xxx

While G.R. No. 94769 was yet pending in the Supreme Court, Borromeo

By

their distinct disdainful tenor towards the appellees, and his apparent

commenced a suit of his own in the Cebu RTC against SBTC; the lawyers who represented it in Civil Case No. R-21625 — HERSINLAW, Atty. Wilfredo Navarro, Atty. Edgar Gica; and even the Judge who tried and disposed of the suit, Hon. Leonardo Cañares. He denominated his action, docketed as Civil Case No. CEB-9267, as one for "Damages from Denial of Due Process, Breach of Contract, Fraud, Unjust Judgment, with Restraining Order and Injunction." His complaint accused defendants of "wanton, malicious and deceitful acts" in "conniving to deny plaintiff due process and defraud him through excessive

penchant for argumentum ad hominen, it is, on the contrary the appellant who precariously treads the acceptable limits of argumentation and personal advocacy. The Court, moreover, takes particular note of the irresponsible leaflets he admits to have authored and finds them highly reprehensible and needlessly derogatory to the dignity, honor and reputation of the Courts. That he is not a licensed law practitioner is, in fact, the only reason that his otherwise contumacious behavior is presently accorded the patience and leniency it probably does not deserve. Considering the temperament he has, by far,

attorney's fees," which acts caused him grave mental and moral shock, sleepless

exhibited, the appellant is, however, sufficiently warned that similar displays in

nights, worry, social embarrassment and severe anxiety for which he sought

the

future shall accordingly be dealt with with commensurate severity.

payment of moral and exemplary damages as well as litigation expenses.

IV.

OTHER CASES

By Order dated May 21, 1991, the RTC of Cebu City, Branch 16 (Hon. Godardo

A.

RTC Case No. CEB-2074; CA-G.R,

Jacinto, presiding) granted the demurrer to evidence filed by defendants and

CV

No. 14770; G.R. No. 98929

dismissed the complaint, holding that "since plaintiff failed to introduce evidence

to support

require defendants to present their own evidence as there is nothing for them to controvert."

2. RTC Case No. CEB-10458;

CA-G.R. CV No. 39047 Nothing daunted, and running true to form, Borromeo filed on July 2, 1991 still another suit against the same parties — SBTC, HERSINLAW, and Judge

., it would be superfluous to still

(his) causes of action asserted

One other case arising from another transaction of Borromeo with Samson K.

Lao is pertinent. This is Case No. CEB-2974 of the Regional Trial Court of Cebu. It appears that sometime in 1979, Borromeo was granted a loan of P165,000.00

by the Philippine Bank of Communications (PBCom) on the security of a lot

belonging to him in San Jose Street, Cebu City, covered by TCT No. 34785. 36 Later, Borromeo obtained a letter of credit in the amount of P37,000.00 from Republic Planters Bank, with Samson Lao as co-maker. Borromeo failed to pay

his obligations; Lao agreed to, and did pay Borromeo's obligations to both banks

10

(PBCom and Republic), in consideration of which a deed of sale was executed in his favor by Borromeo over two (2) parcels of land, one of which was that mortgaged to PBCom, as above stated. Lao then mortgaged the land to PBCom as security for his own loan in the amount of P240,000.00. Borromeo subsequently sued PBCom, some of its personnel, and Samson Lao in the Cebu Regional Trial Court alleging that the defendants had conspired to deprive him of his property. Judgment was rendered against him by the Trial Court. Borromeo elevated the case to the Court of Appeals where his appeal was docketed as CA-G.R. CV No. 14770. On March 21, 1990, said Court rendered

judgment affirming the Trial Court's decision, and on February 7, 1991, issued a Resolution denying Borromeo's motion for reconsideration. His appeal to this Court, docketed as G.R. No. 98929, was given short shrift. On May 29, 1991, the Court (First Division) promulgated a Resolution denying his petition for review

"for being factual and for failure

committed any reversible error in its questioned judgment." Stubbornly, in his motion for reconsideration, he insisted the notices of the resolutions sent to him were unconstitutional and void because bearing no signatures of the Justices who had taken part in approving the resolution therein mentioned. B. RTC Case No. CEB-11528 What would seem to be the latest judicial dispositions rendered against Borromeo, at least as of date of this Resolution, are two orders issued in Civil Case No. CEB-11528 of the Regional Trial Court at Cebu City (Branch 18), which was yet another case filed by Borromeo outlandishly founded on the theory that a judgment promulgated against him by the Supreme Court (Third Division) was wrong and "unjust." Impleaded as defendant in the action was former Chief Justice Marcelo B. Fernan, as Chairman of the Third Division at the time in question. On August 31, 1994 the presiding judge, Hon. Galicano O. Arriesgado, issued a Resolution inter alia dismissing Borromeo's complaint "on grounds of lack of jurisdiction and res judicata." His Honor made the following pertinent observations:

(T)his Court is of the well-considered view and so holds that this Court has indeed no jurisdiction to review, interpret or reverse the judgment or order of the Honorable Supreme Court. The acts or omissions complained of by the plaintiff against the herein defendant and the other personnel of the highest Court of the land as alleged in paragraphs 6 to 12 of plaintiff's complaint are certainly beyond the sphere of this humble court to consider and pass upon to determine their propriety and legality. To try to review, interpret or reverse the judgment or order of the Honorable Supreme Court would appear not only presumptuous but also contemptuous. As argued by the lawyer for the defendant, a careful perusal of the allegations in the complaint clearly shows that all material allegations thereof are directed against a resolution of the Supreme Court which was allegedly issued by the Third Division composed of five (5) justices. No allegation is made directly against defendant Marcelo B. Fernan in his personal capacity. That being the case, how could this Court question the wisdom of the final order or judgment of the Supreme Court (Third Division) which according to the plaintiff himself had

to sufficiently show that respondent court had

issued a resolution denying plaintiffs petition and affirming the Lower Court's decision as reflected in the "Entry of Judgment." Perhaps, if there was such violation of the Rules of Court, due process and Sec. 14, Art. 8 of the Constitution by the defendant herein, the appropriate remedy should not have

been obtained before this Court. For an inferior court to reverse, interpret or review the acts of a superior court might be construed to a certain degree as a show of an uncommon common sense. Lower courts are without supervising jurisdiction to interpret or to reverse the judgment of the higher courts. Borromeo's motion for reconsideration dated September 20, 1994 was denied "for lack of sufficient factual and legal basis" by an Order dated November 15,

1994.

V. ADMINISTRATIVE CASE No. 3433

A. Complaint Against Lawyers

of his Court Adversaries Borromeo also initiated administrative disciplinary proceedings against the lawyers who had appeared for his adversaries — UCPB and Samson K. Lao — in the actions above mentioned, and others. As already mentioned, these lawyers were: Messrs. Laurence Fernandez, Danilo Deen, Honorato Hermosisima, Antonio Regis, and Alfredo Perez. His complaint against them, docketed as Administrative Case No. 3433, prayed for their disbarment. Borromeo averred that the respondent lawyers connived with their clients in (1) maliciously misrepresenting a deed of sale with pacto de retro as a genuine sale, although it was actually an equitable mortgage; (2) fraudulently depriving complainant of his proprietary rights subject of the Deed of Sale; and (3) defying

two lawful Court orders, all in violation of their lawyer's oath to do no falsehood nor consent to the doing of any in Court. Borromeo alleged that respondents Perez and Regis falsely attempted to consolidate title to his property in favor of

Lao.

B. Answer of Respondent Lawyers

The respondent lawyers denounced the disbarment complaint as "absolutely baseless and nothing but pure harassment." In a pleading dated July 10, 1990, entitled "Comments and Counter Motion to Cite Joaquin Borromeo in Contempt of Court;" July 10, 1990, filed by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Cebu City Chapter, signed by Domero C. Estenzo (President), Juliano Neri (Vice- President), Ulysses Antonio C. Yap (Treasurer); Felipe B. Velasquez (Secretary), Corazon E. Valencia (Director), Virgilio U. Lainid (Director), Manuel A. Espina (Director), Ildefonsa A. Ybañez (Director), Sylvia G. Almase (Director), and Ana Mar Evangelista P. Batiguin (Auditor). The lawyers made the following observations:

It is ironic. While men of the legal profession regard members of the Judiciary with deferential awe and respect sometimes to the extent of cowering before the might of the courts, here is a non-lawyer who, with gleeful abandon and unmitigated insolence, has cast aspersions and shown utter disregard to the authority and name of the courts. And lawyers included. For indeed, it is very unfortunate that here is a non-lawyer who uses the instruments of justice to harass lawyers and courts who crosses

11

his path more especially if their actuations do not conform with his whims and

caprices.

Adverting to letters publicly circulated by Borromeo, inter alia charging then Chief Justice Marcelo B. Fernan with supposed infidelity and violation of the constitution, etc., the lawyers went on to say the following:

The conduct and statement of Borromeo against this Honorable Court, and other members of the Judiciary are clearly and grossly disrespectful, insolent and contemptuous. They tend to bring dishonor to the Judiciary and subvert the public confidence on the courts. If unchecked, the scurrilous attacks will undermine the dignity of the courts and will result in the loss of confidence in the country's judicial system and administration of justice. (S)omething should be done to protect the integrity of the courts and the legal profession. So many baseless badmouthing have been made by Borromeo against this Honorable Court and other courts that for him to go scot-free would certainly be demoralizing to members of the profession who afforded the court with all the respect and esteem due them. Subsequently, in the same proceeding; Borromeo filed another pleading protesting the alleged "refusal" of the Cebu City Chapter of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines to act on his disbarment cases "filed against its members."

C. Decision of the IBP

On March 28, 1994, the National Executive Director, IBP (Atty. Jose Aguila Grapilon) transmitted to this Court the notice and copy of the decision in the case, reached after due investigation, as well as the corresponding records in seven (7) volumes. Said decision approved and adopted the Report and Recommendation dated December 15, 1993 of Atty. Manuel P. Legaspi, President, IBP, Cebu City Chapter, representing the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline, recommending dismissal of the complaint as against all the respondents and the issuance of a "warning to Borromeo to be more cautious

and not be precipitately indiscriminate in the filing of administrative complaints against lawyers." 37

VI. SCURRILOUS WRITINGS

Forming part of the records of several cases in this Court are copies of letters ("open" or otherwise), "circulars," flyers or leaflets harshly and quite unwarrantedly derogatory of the many court judgments or directives against him and defamatory of his adversaries and their lawyers and employees, as well as the judges and court employees involved in the said adverse dispositions — some of which scurrilous writings were adverted to by the respondent lawyers in Adm. Case No. 3433, supra. The writing and circulation of these defamatory writing were apparently undertaken by Borromeo as a parallel activity to his

"judicial adventures." The Court of Appeals had occasion to refer to his "apparent penchant for argumentum ad hominen" and of the "irresponsible leaflets he

admits to have authored

needlessly derogatory to the dignity, honor and reputation of the Courts." In those publicly circulated writings, he calls judges and lawyers ignorant, corrupt, oppressors, violators of the Constitution and the laws, etc.

(which were found to be) highly reprehensible and

Sometime in July, 1990, for instance, he wrote to the editor of the "Daily Star" as regards the reported conferment on then Chief Justice Marcelo B. Fernan of an "Award from the University of Texas for his contributions in upholding the Rule of Law, Justice, etc.," stressing that Fernan "and the Supreme Court persist in rendering rulings patently violative of the Constitution, Due Process and Rule of Law, particularly in their issuance of so-called Minute Resolutions devoid of

FACT or LAW or SIGNATURES

Court. He circulated an "OPEN LETTER TO SC justices, Fernan," declaring that he had "suffered INJUSTICE after INJUSTICE from you who are sworn to render TRUE JUSTICE but done the opposite, AND INSTEAD OF RECTIFYING THEM,

labeled my cases as 'frivolous, nuisance, and harassment suits' while failing to

.;" in the same letter, he specified what

he considered to be some of "the terrible injustices inflicted on me by this Court." In another letter to Chief Justice Fernan, he observed that "3 years after EDSA, your pledges have not been fulfilled. Injustice continues and as you said, the courts are agents of oppression, instead of being saviours and defenders of the people. The saddest part is that (referring again to minute resolutions) even the Supreme Court, the court of last resort, many times, sanctions injustice and the trampling of the rule of law and due process, and does not comply with the

." Another

circulated letter of his, dated June 21, 1989 and captioned, "Open Letter to Supreme Court Justices Marcelo Fernan and Andres Narvasa," repeated his

plaint of having "been the victim of many

effect sanction the theft and landgrabbing and arson of my properties by TRADERS ROYAL BANK, UNITED COCONUT PLANTERS BANK, AND one

TOMAS B. TAN — all without stating any FACT or LAW to support your dismissal

of

cite me such facts or laws (during our talk in your house last March 12 1989);" and that "you in fact have no such facts or laws but simply want to ram down a

most unjust Ruling in favor of a wrongful

In another flyer entitled in big bold letters, "A Gov't That Lies! Blatant attempt to fool people!" he mentions what he regards as "The blatant lies and contradictions of the Supreme Court, CA to support the landgrabbing by Traders Royal Bank of Borromeos' Lands." Another flyer has at the center the caricature of a person, seated on a throne marked Traders Royal Bank, surrounded by such statements as, "Sa TRB para kami ay royalty. Nakaw at nakaw! Kawat Kawat! TRB WILL STEAL!" etc Still another "circular" proclaims: "So the public may know: Supreme Court minute resolutions w/o facts, law, or signatures violate the Constitution" and ends with the admonition: "Supreme Court, Justice Fernan: STOP VIOLATING THE CHARTER." 38 One other "circular" reads:

SC, NARVASA — TYRANTS!!!

— CODDLERS OF CROOKS!

— VIOLATOR OF LAWS

by: JOAQUIN BORROMEO

12

Constitution when it should be the first to uphold and defend it

refute the irrefutable evidences therein

." He sent a copy of his letter in the Supreme

'Minute Resolutions'

which in

(my) cases, despite your firm assurances (Justice Fernan) that you would

."

NARVASA's SC has denied being a DESPOT nor has it shielded CROOKS in the

A.

Letter of Cebu City Chapter

judiciary. Adding "The SCRA (SC Reports) will attest to this continuing vigilance Of the supreme Court." These are lame, cowardly and self-serving denials and another "self-exoneration" belied by evidence which speak for themselves (Res

IBP, dated June 21, 1992 Copies of these circulars evidently found their way into the hands, among others, of some members of the Cebu City Chapter of the Integrated Bar of the

Ipsa Loquitor) (sic) — the SCRA itself.

Philippines. Its President thereupon addressed a letter to this Court, dated June

It is pure and simply TYRANNY when Narvasa and associates issued

21,

1992, which (1) drew attention to one of them — that last quoted, above — " .

UNSIGNED, UNCLEAR, SWEEPING "Minute Resolutions" devoid of CLEAR

.sent to the IBP Cebu City Chapter and probably other officers

in Cebu,"

FACTS and LAWS in patent violation of Secs. 4(3), 14, Art. 8 of the Constitution. It is precisely through said TYRANNICAL, and UNCONSTITUTIONAL sham

described as containing "highly libelous and defamatory remarks against the Supreme Court and the whole justice system"— and (2) in behalf of the

rulings that Narvasa & Co. have CODDLED CROOKS like crony bank TRB, UCPB, and SBTC, and through said fake resolutions that Narvasa has LIED or

Chapter's "officers and members," strongly urged the Court "to impose sanctions against Mr. Borromeo for his condemnable act."

shown IGNORANCE of the LAW in ruling that CONSIGNATION IS NECESSARY

B.

Resolution of July 22, 1993

IN RIGHT OF REDEMPTION (GR 83306). Through said despotic resolutions,

Acting thereon, the Court En Banc issued a Resolution on July 22, 1993,

NARVASA & CO. have sanctioned UCPB/ACCRA's defiance of court orders and

requiring comment by Borromeo on the letter, notice of which was sent to him by

naked land grabbing — What are these if not TYRANNY? (GR 84999).

the

Office of the Clerk of Court. The resolution pertinently reads as follows:

Was it not tyranny for the SC to issue an Entry of Judgment without first resolving

xxx

xxx xxx

the motion for reconsideration (G.R No. 82273). Was it not tyranny and abuse of power for the SC to order a case dismissed against SC clerks (CEBV-8679) and declare justices and said clerks "immune from suit" — despite their failure to file

The records of the Court disclose inter alia that as early as April 4, 1989, the Acting Clerk of Court, Atty. Luzviminda D. Puno, wrote a four page letter to Mr. Borromeo concerning G.R. No. 83306 (Joaquin T. Borromeo vs. Traders Royal

any pleading? Were Narvasa & Co. not in fact trampling on the rule of law and

Bank [referred to by Borromeo in the "circular" adverted to by the relator herein,

rules of court and DUE PROCESS in so doing? (GR No. 82273).

the

IBP Cebu City Chapter]) and two (2) other cases also filed with the Court by

TYRANTS will never admit that they are tyrants. But their acts speak for themselves! NARVASA & ASSOC: ANSWER AND REFUTE THESE SERIOUS CHARGES OR RESIGN!! IMPEACH NARVASA

Borromeo: G.R. No. 77248 (Joaquin T. Borromeo v. Samson Lao and Mariano Logarta) and G.R. No. 84054 (Joaquin T. Borromeo v. Hon. Mario Dizon and

Tomas Tan), all resolved adversely to him by different Divisions of the Court. In that letter Atty. Puno explained to Borromeo very briefly the legal principles

ISSUING UNSIGNED, SWEEPING, UNCLEAR, UNCONSTITUTIONAL

applicable to his cases and dealt with the matters mentioned in his circular.

"MINUTE RESOLUTIONS" VIOLATIVE OF SECS. 4(3), 14, ART. 8, Constitution

The records further disclose subsequent adverse rulings by the Court in other

VIOLATING RULES OF COURT AND DUE PROCESS IN ORDERING CASE

cases instituted by Borromeo in this Court, i . e ., G.R. No. 87897 (Joaquin T.

AGAINST SC CLERKS (CEB-8679) DISMISSED DESPITE THE LATTER'S FAILURE TO FILE PLEADINGS; HENCE IN DEFAULT

Borromeo v. Court of Appeals, et al.) and No. 82273 (Joaquin T. Borromeo v. Court of Appeals and Samson Lao), as well as the existence of other

CORRUPTION AND/OR GROSS IGNORANCE OF THE LAW IN RULING,

communications made public by Borromeo reiterating the arguments already

THAT CONSIGNATION IS NECESSARY IN RIGHT OF REDEMPTION, CONTRADICTING LAW AND SC'S OWN RULINGS — TO ALLOW CRONY BANK TRB TO STEALS LOTS WORTH P3 MILLION

passed upon by the court in his cases and condemning the court's rejection of those arguments. Acting on the letter dated June 21, 1993 of the Cebu City Chapter of the

CONDONING CRONY BANK UCPB'S DEFIANCE OF TWO LAWFUL COURT

Integrated Bar of the Philippines thru its above named, President, and taking

ORDERS AND STEALING OF TITLE OF PROPERTY WORTH P4 MILLION

account of the related facts on record, the Court Resolved:

• BEING JUDGE AND ACCUSED AT THE SAME TIME AND PREDICTABLY EXONERATING HIMSELF AND FELLOW CORRUPT JUSTICES

1) to REQUIRE:

(a) the Clerk of Court (1) to DOCKET the matter at bar as a proceeding for

DECLARING HIMSELF, JUSTICES, and even MERE CLERKS TO BE

contempt against Joaquin T. Borromeo instituted at the relation of said Cebu City

Cebu City, notice of this resolution and copies of the Chapter's letter dated June

IMMUNE FROM SUIT AND UN-ACCOUNTABLE TO THE PEOPLE and REFUSING TO ANSWER AND REFUTE CHARGES AGAINST HIMSELF

Chapter, Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and (2) to SEND to the City Sheriff,

JOAQUIN T. BORROMEO

21,

1993 together with its annexes; and

Mabolo, Cebu City

(b)

said City Sheriff of Cebu City to CAUSE PERSONAL SERVICE of said notice

Te.

7-56-49.

of resolution and a copy of the Chapter's letter dated June 21, 1993, together

VI.

IMMEDIATE ANTECEDENTS

with its annexes, on Joaquin T. Borromeo at his address at Mabolo, Cebu City;

OF PROCEEDINGS AT BAR

and

13

2) to ORDER said Joaquin T. Borromeo, within ten (10) days from receipt of such

this Court's Third Division) (in relation to G.R No. 77243 39 ) the letter to him of

D.

Resolution of September 30, 1993

notice and the IBP Chapter's letter of June 21, 1993 and its annexes, to file a comment on the letter and its annexes as well as on the other matters set forth in this resolution, serving copy thereof on the relator, the Cebu City Chapter of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Palace of Justice Building, Capitol, Cebu City. SO ORDERED. 1. Atty. Puno's Letter of April 4, 1989 Clerk of Court Puno's letter to Borromeo of April 4, 1989, referred to in the first paragraph of the resolution just mentioned, explained to Borromeo for perhaps the second time, precisely the principles and established practice relative to "minute resolutions" and notices thereof, treated of in several other communications and resolutions sent to him by the Supreme Court, to wit: the

After receipt of the comment, and desiring to accord Borromeo the fullest opportunity to explain his side, and be reprsented by an attorney, the Court promulgated the following Resolution on September 30, 1993, notice of which was again served on him by the Office of the Clerk of Court. The return of service filed by Sheriff Jessie A. Belarmino, Office of the Clerk of Court Regional Trial Court of Cebu City, dated August 26, 1993, and the Comment of Joaquin Borromeo, dated August 27, 1993, on the letter of President Manuel P. Legaspi of the relator dated June 21, 1993, are both NOTED. After deliberating on the allegations of said Comment, the Court Resolved to GRANT Joaquin T. Borromeo an additional period of fifteen (15) days from notice hereof within which to engage the services or otherwise seek

letter received by him on July 10, 1987, from Clerk of Court Julieta Y. Carreon (of

Clerk of Court (Second Division) Fermin J. Garma, dated May 19,

the assistance of a lawyer and submit such further arguments in addition to or in amplification of those set out in his Comment dated August 27, 1993, if he be so

minded.

1989, 40 and three resolutions of this Court, notices of which were in due course

SO ORDERED.

 

served on him, to wit: that dated July 31, 1989, in G.R. No. 87897; 41 that dated

E.

Borromeo's Supplemental Comment

June 1, 1990 in G.R. No. 82274 (186 SCRA 1), 42 and that dated June 11, 1994 in G. R. No. 112928. 43

of October 15, 1992 Borromeo filed a "Supplemental Comment" dated October 15, 1992, reiterating

C. Borromeo's Comment of August 27, 1993

the arguments and allegations in his Comment of August 27, 1993, and setting

In response to the Resolution of July 22, 1993, Borromeo filed a Comment dated

forth "additional arguments and amplification to

(said) Comment," viz.:

August 27, 1993 in which he alleged the following:

1)

the IBP and Atty. Legaspi have failed "to specify and state under oath the

1) the resolution of July 22, 1993 (requiring comment) violates the Constitution which requires "signatures and concurrence of majority of members of the High Court;" hence, "a certified copy duly signed by Justices is respectfully requested;" 2) the Chief Justice and other Members of the Court should inhibit themselves

"since they cannot be the Accused and Judge at the same time, case should be heard by an impartial and independent body;"

3) the letter of Atty. Legaspi "is not verified nor signed by members of said (IBP

is vague, unspecific, and sweeping" because failing to

point out "what particular statements in the circular are allegedly libelous and condemnable;" and does not appear that Atty. Legaspi has authority to speak or file a complaint "in behalf of those accused in the "libelous circular;" 4) in making the circular, he (Borromeo) "was exercising his rights of freedom of speech, of expression, and to petition the government for redress of grievances as guaranteed by the Constitution (Sec. 4, Art. III) and in accordance with the

Cebu Chapter) Board;

(and) this

accountability of public officials;" the circular merely states the truth and asks for justice based on the facts and the

it is not libelous nor disrespectful but rather to be commended and

should specify under oath which statements

are false and lies; 5) he "stands by the charges in his circular and is prepared to support them with pertinent facts, evidence and law;" and it is "incumbent on the Hon. Chief Justice and members of the High Court to either refute said charges or dispense the justice that they are duty bound to dispense.

encouraged;

law;

Atty. Legaspi

alleged 'libelous' remarks contained in the circular

to file a VERIFIED COMPLAINT

contempt of court for making false charges and wasting the precious time of this Highest Court by filing a baseless complaint;

2) the allegations in their circular are not libelous nor disrespectful but "are based

on the TRUTH and the LAW", namely:

a) "minute resolutions" bereft of signatures and clear facts and laws are patent

violations of Secs. 4(32), 13, 14, Art. VIII of the Constitution;

b) there is no basis nor thruth to this Hon. Court's affirmation to the Appelate

Court's ruling that the undersigned "lost" his right of redemption price, since no less than this Hon. Court has ruled in many rulings that CONSIGNATION IS UNNECESSARY in right of redemption;

c) this Hon. Court has deplorably condoned crony banks TRB and UCPB's

frauds and defiance of court orders in G.R. Nos. 83306 and 878997 and 84999. F. Borromeo's "Manifestation" of November 26, 1993 Borromeo afterwards filed a "Manifestation" under date of November 26, 1993, adverting to "the failure of the IBP and Atty. Legaspi to substantiate his charges under oath and the failure of the concerned Justices to refute the charges in the alledged "libelous circular" and, construing these as "and admission of the thruth in said circular," theorized that it is "incumbent on the said Justices to rectify their grave as well as to dismiss Atty. Legaspi's baseless and false charges." VII. THE COURT CONCLUSIONS

.(failing in which, they should) be cited in

.; (they should) be ordered

14

A. Respondent's Liabilityfor Contempt of Court Upon the indubitable facts on record, there can scarcely be any doubt of Borromeo's guilt of contempt, for abuse of and interference with judicial rules and processes, gross disrespect to courts and judges and improper conduct directly impeding, obstructing and degrading the administration of justice. 44 He has stubbornly litigated issues already declared to be without merit, obstinately closing his eyes to the many rulings rendered adversely to him in many suits and proceedings, rulings which had become final and executory, obdurately and unreasonably insisting on the application of his own individual version of the rules, founded on nothing more than his personal (and quite erroneous) reading of the Constitution and the law; he has insulted the judges and court officers, including the attorneys appearing for his adversaries, needlessly overloaded the court dockets and sorely tried the patience of the judges and court employees who have had to act on his repetitious and largely unfounded complaints, pleadings and motions. He has wasted the time of the courts, of his adversaries, of the judges and court employees who have had the bad luck of having to act in one way or another on his unmeritorious cases. More particularly, despite his attention having been called many times to the egregious error of his theory that

the so-called "minute resolutions" of this Court should contain findings of fact and conclusions of law, and should be signed or certified by the Justices promulgating the same, 45 he has mulishly persisted in ventilating that self-same theory in various proceedings, causing much loss of time, annoyance and vexation to the courts, the court employees and parties involved. 1. Untenability of Proffered Defenses The first defense that he proffers, that the Chief Justice and other Members of the Court should inhibit themselves "since they cannot be the Accused and

Judge at the same time

independent body, is still another illustration of an entirely unwarranted, arrogant and reprehensible assumption of a competence in the field of the law: he again uses up the time of the Court needlessly by invoking an argument long since declared and adjudged to be untenable. It is axiomatic that the "power or duty of the court to institute a charge for contempt against itself, without the intervention of the fiscal or prosecuting officer, is essential to the preservation of its dignity and of the respect due it from litigants, lawyers and the public. Were the intervention of the prosecuting officer required and judges obliged to file complaints for contempts against them before the prosecuting officer, in order to bring the guilty to justice, courts would be inferior to prosecuting officers and impotent to perform their functions with dispatch and absolute independence. The institution of charges by the prosecuting officer is not necessary to hold persons guilty of civil or criminal contempt amenable to trial and punishment by

the court. All that the law requires is that there be a charge in writing duly filed in court and an opportunity to the person charged to be heard by himself or counsel. The charge may be made by the fiscal, by the judge, or even by a

private

(and) this case should be heard by an impartial and

." 46

His claim — that the letter of Atty. Legaspi "is not verified nor signed by members

of said (IBP Cebu Chapter) Board;

because failing to point out what particular statements in the circular are allegedly libelous and condemnable;" and it does not appear that Atty. Legaspi has authority to speak or file a complaint "in behalf of those accused in the 'libelous' circular" — is in the premises, plainly nothing but superficial philosophizing, deserving no serious treatment. Equally as superficial, and sophistical, is his other contention that in making the allegations claimed to be contumacious, he "was exercising his rights of freedom of speech, of expression, and to petition the government for redress of grievances as guaranteed by the Constitution (Sec. 4, Art. III) and in accordance

with the accountablity of public officials." The constitutional rights invoked by him afford no justification for repetitious litigation of the same causes and issues, for insulting lawyers, judges, court employees; and other persons, for abusing the processes and rules of the courts, wasting their time, and bringing them into disrepute and disrespect. B. Basic Principles Governingthe Judicial Function The facts and issues involved in the proceeding at bench make necessary a restatement of the principles governing finality of judgments and of the paramount need to put an end to litigation at some point, and to lay down definite postulates concerning what is perceived to be a growing predilection on the part of lawyers and litigants — like Borromeo — to resort to administrative prosecution (or institution of civil or criminal actions) as a substitute for or supplement to the specific modes of appeal or review provided by law from court judgments or orders.

is vague, unspecific, and sweeping"

1. Reason for courts; Judicial

Hierarchy Courts exist in every civilized society for the settlement of controversies. In every country there is a more or less established hierarchical organization of courts, and a more or less comprehensive system of review of judgments and final orders of lower courts.

The judicial system in this jurisdiction allows for several levels of litigation, i.e., the presentation of evidence by the parties — a trial or hearing in the first instance — as well as a review of the judgments of lower courts by higher tribunals, generally by consideration anew and ventilation of the factual and legal issues through briefs or memoranda. The procedure for review is fixed by law, and is in the very nature of things, exclusive to the courts.

2. Paramount Need to end

Litigation at Some Point It is withal of the essence of the judicial function that at some point, litigation must end. Hence, after the procedures and processes for lawsuits have been undergone, and the modes of review set by law have been exhausted, or terminated, no further ventilation of the same subject matter is allowed. To be sure, there may be, on the part of the losing parties, continuing disagreement with the verdict, and the conclusions therein embodied. This is of no moment,

15

indeed, is to be expected; but, it is not their will, but the Court's, which must prevail; and, to repeat, public policy demands that at some definite time, the issues must be laid to rest and the court's dispositions thereon accorded absolute finality. 47 As observed by this Court in Rheem of the Philippines v. Ferrer, a 1967 decision, 48 a party "may think highly of his intellectual endowment. That is his privilege. And he may suffer frustration at what he feels is others' lack of it. This is his misfortune. Some such frame of mind, however, should not be allowed to harden into a belief that he may attack a court's decision in words calculated to jettison the time-honored aphorism that courts are the temples of right." 3. Judgments of Supreme Court Not Reviewable The sound, salutary and self-evident principle prevailing in this as in most jurisdictions, is that judgments of the highest tribunal of the land may not be reviewed by any other agency, branch, department, or official of Government. Once the Supreme Court has spoken, there the matter must rest. Its decision should not and cannot be appealed to or reviewed by any other entity, much less

reversed or modified on the ground that it is tainted by error in its findings of fact or conclusions of law, flawed in its logic or language, or otherwise erroneous in some other respect. 49 This, on the indisputable and unshakable foundation of public policy, and constitutional and traditional principle. In an extended Resolution promulgated on March 12, 1987 in In Re: Wenceslao Laureta — involving an attempt by a lawyer to prosecute before the Tanod bayan "members of the First Division of this Court collectively with having knowingly and deliberately rendered an 'unjust extended minute Resolution' with deliberate

and for

and her co-heirs because of

deliberatly causing "undue injury" to respondent

the "unjust Resolution" promulgated, in violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt

— the following pronouncements were made in reaffirmation of

established doctrine: 50 As aptly declared in the Chief Justice's Statement of December 24, 1986, which the Court hereby adopts in toto, "(I)t is elementary that the Supreme Court is supreme — the third great department of government entrusted exclusively with the judicial power to adjudicate with finality all justiciable disputes, public and private. No other department or agency may pass upon its judgments or declare them "unjust." It is elementary that "(A)s has ever been stressed since the early case of Arnedo vs. Llorente (18 Phil. 257, 263 [1911]) "controlling and irresistible reasons of public policy and of sound practice in the courts demand that at the risk of occasional error, judgments of courts determining controversies submitted to them should become final at some definite time fixed by law, or by a rule of practice recognized by law, so as to be thereafter beyond the control even of the court which rendered them for the purpose of correcting errors of fact or of law, into which, in the opinion of the court it may have fallen. The very purpose for which the courts are organized is to put an end to controversy, to decide the questions submitted to the litigants, and to determine the respective rights of the

bad faith in violation of Article 204 of the Revised penal Code

Practices Act

parties. (Luzon Brokerage Co., Inc. vs. Maritime Bldg., Co., Inc., 86 SCRA 305,

316-317)

xxx xxx xxx

Indeed, resolutions of the Supreme Court as a collegiate court, whether an en banc or division, speak for themselves and are entitled to full faith and credence and are beyond investigation or inquiry under the same principle of conclusiveness of enrolled bills of the legislature. (U.S. vs. Pons, 34 Phil. 729;

Gardiner, et al. vs. Paredes, et al., 61 Phil. 118; Mabanag vs. Lopez Vito, 78 Phil. 1) The Supreme Court's pronouncement of the doctrine that "(I)t is well settled

that the enrolled bill

measure passed by Congress and approved by the President. If there has been any mistake in the printing of the bill before it was certified by the officers of Congress and approved by the Executive [as claimed by petitioner-importer who unsuccessfully sought refund of margin fees] — on which we cannot speculate, without jeopardizing the principle of separation of powers and undermining one of the cornerstones of our democractic system — the remedy is by amendment

or curative legislation, not by judicial decree" is fully and reciprocally applicable to Supreme Court orders, resolutions and decisions, mutatis mutandis. (Casco Phil. Chemical Co., Inc. vs. Gimenez, 7 SCRA 347, 350. (Citing Primicias vs. Paredes, 61 Phil. 118, 120; Mabanag vs. Lopez Vito, 78 Phil. 1; Macias vs. Comelec, 3 SCRA 1). The Court has consistently stressed that the "doctrine of separation of powers calls for the executive, legislative and judicial departments being left alone to discharge their duties as they see fit" (Tan vs. Macapagal, 43 SCRA 677). It has thus maintained in the same way that the judiciary has a right to expect that neither the President nor Congress would cast doubt on the mainspring of its orders or decisions, it should refrain from speculating as to alleged hidden forces at work that could have impelled either coordinate branch into acting the way it did. The concept of separation of powers presupposes mutual respect by and between the three departments of the government. (Tecson vs. Salas, 34 SCRA 275, 286-287). 4. Final and Executory Judgments ofLower Courts Not ReviewableEven by Supreme Court In respect of Courts below the Supreme Court, the ordinary remedies available under law to a party who is adversely affected by their decisions or orders are a motion for new trial (or reconsideration) under Rule 37, and an appeal to either

the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court, depending on whether questions of

both fact and law, or of law only, are raised, in accordance with fixed and familiar rules and conformably with the hierarchy of courts. 51 Exceptionally, a review of a ruling or act of a court on the ground that it was rendered without or in excess of its jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion, may be had through the special

civil action of certiorari or prohibition pursuant to Rule 65 of the Rules of Court.

However, should judgments of lower courts — which may normally be subject to review by higher tribunals — become final and executory before, or without, exhaustion of all recourse of appeal, they, too, become inviolable, impervious to

is conclusive upon the courts as regards the tenor of the

16

modification. They may, then, no longer be reviewed, or in anyway modified directly or indirectly, by a higher court, not even by the Supreme Court, much less by any other official, branch or department of Government. 52 C. Administrative Civil or Criminal Actionagainst Judge. Not Substitute for Appeal;Proscribed by Law and Logic Now, the Court takes judicial notice of the fact that there has been of late a regrettable increase in the resort to administrative prosecution — or the

institution of a civil or criminal action — as a substitute for or supplement to appeal. Whether intended or not, such a resort to these remedies operates as a form of threat or intimidation to coerce judges into timorous surrender of their prerogatives, or a reluctance to exercise them. With rising frequency, administrative complaints are being presented to the Office of the Court Administrator; criminal complaints are being filed with the Office of the Ombudsman or the public prosecutor's office; civil actions for recovery of damages commenced in the Regional Trial Courts against trial judges, and justices of the Court of Appeals and even of the Supreme Court.

1. Common Basis of Complaints

Against Judges Many of these complaints set forth a common indictment: that the respondent Judges or Justices rendered manifestly unjust judgments or interlocutory orders 53 i.e., judgments or orders which are allegedly not in accord with the evidence, or with law or jurisprudence, or are tainted by grave abuse of discretion — thereby causing injustice, and actionable and compensable injury to

the complainants (invariably losing litigants). Resolution of complaints of this sort quite obviously entails a common requirement for the fiscal, the Ombudsman or the Trial Court: a review of the decision or order of the respondent Judge or Justice to determine its correctness or erroneousness, as basic premise for a pronouncement of liability.

2. Exclusivity of Specific Procedures for

Correction of Judgments and Orders The question then, is whether or not these complaints are proper; whether or not in lieu of the prescribed recourses for appeal or review of judgments and orders of courts, a party may file an administrative or criminal complaint against the judge for rendition of an unjust judgment, or, having opted for appeal, may nonetheless simultaneously seek also such administrative or criminal remedies. Given the nature of the judicial function, the power vested by the Constitution in the Supreme Court and the lower courts established by law, the question submits to only one answer: the administrative or criminal remedies are neither alternative nor cumulative to judicial review where such review is available, and must wait on the result thereof. Simple reflection will make this proposition amply clear, and demonstrate that any contrary postulation can have only intolerable legal implications. Allowing a party who feels aggrieved by a judicial order or decision not yet final and executory to mount an administrative, civil or criminal prosecution for unjust judgment against the issuing judge would, at a minimum and as an

indispensable first step, confer the prosecutor (or Ombudsman) with an incongruous function pertaining, not to him, but to the courts: the determination of whether the questioned disposition is erroneous in its findings of fact or conclusions of law, or both. If he does proceed despite that impediment, whatever determination he makes could well set off a proliferation of

administrative or criminal litigation, a possibility here after more fully explored. Such actions are impermissible and cannot prosper. It is not, as already pointed out, within the power of public prosecutors, or the Ombudsman or his deputies, directly or vicariously, to review judgments or final orders or resolutions of the Courts of the land. The power of review — by appeal or special civil action — is

not only lodged exclusively in the Courts themselves but must be exercised in

accordance with a well-defined and long established hierarchy, and long- standing processes and procedures. No other review is allowed; otherwise litigation would be interminable, and vexatiously repetitive. These principles were stressed in In Re: Wenceslao Laureta, supra. 54 Respondents should know that the provisions of Article 204 of the Revised Penal Code as to "rendering knowingly unjust judgment," refer to an individual judge

who does so "in any case submitted to him for decision" and even then, it is not

the prosecutor who would pass judgment on the "unjustness" of the decision

rendered by him but the proper appellate court with jurisdiction to review the same, either the Court of Appeals and/or the Supreme Court. Respondents should likewise know that said penal article has no application to the members of a collegiate court such as this Court or its Divisions who reach their conclusions in consultation and accordingly render their collective judgment after due

deliberation. It also follows, consequently, that a charge of violation of the Anti- Graft and Corrupt Practices Act on the ground that such a collective decision is "unjust" cannot prosper.

xxx xxx xxx

To subject to the threat and ordeal of investigation and prosecution, a judge, more so a member of the Supreme Court for official acts done by him in good

faith and in the regular exercise of official duty and judicial functions is to subvert and undermine that very independence of the judiciary, and subordinate the judiciary to the executive. "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." (Bradley vs. Fisher, 80 U. S. 335).

xxx xxx xxx

To allow litigants to go beyond the Court's resolution and claim that the members acted "with deliberate bad faith" and rendered an "unjust resolution" in disregard or violation of the duty of their high office to act upon their own independent consideration and judgment of the matter at hand would be to destroy the authenticity, integrity and conclusiveness of such collegiate acts and resolutions

17

and to disregard utterly the presumption of regular performance of official duty. To allow such collateral attack would destroy the separation of powers and undermine the role of the Supreme Court as the final arbiter of all justiciable disputes.

Dissatisfied litigants and/or their counsels cannot without violating the separation of powers mandated by the Constitution relitigate in another forum the final judgment of this Court on legal issues submitted by them and their adversaries for final determination to and by the Supreme Court and which fall within the judicial power to determine and adjudicate exclusively vested by the Constitution in the Supreme Court and in such inferior courts as may be established by law. This is true, too, as regards judgments, otherwise appealable, which have become final and executory. Such judgments, being no longer reviewable by higher tribunals, are certainly not reviewable by any other body or authority.

3. Only Courts Authorized, under Fixed

Rules to Declare Judgments or OrdersErroneous or Unjust To belabor the obvious, the determination of whether or not a judgement or order is unjust — or was (or was not) rendered within the scope of the issuing judge's authority, or that the judge had exceeded his jurisdiction and powers or maliciously delayed the disposition of a case — is an essentially judicial function, lodged by existing law and immemorial practice in a hierarchy of courts and

ultimately in the highest court of the land. To repeat, no other entity or official of the Government, not the prosecution or investigation service or any other branch; nor any functionary thereof, has competence to review a judicial order or decision — whether final and executory or not — and pronounce it erroneous so as to lay the basis for a criminal or administrative complaint for rendering an unjust judgment or order. That prerogative belongs to the courts alone.

4. Contrary Rule Results in Circuitousness

and Leads to Absurd Consequences Pragmatic considerations also preclude prosecution for supposed rendition of unjust judgments or interlocutory orders of the type above described, which, at bottom, consist simply of the accusation that the decisions or interlocutory orders are seriously wrong in their conclusions of fact or of law, or are tainted by grave abuse of discretion — as distinguished from accusations of corruption, or immorality, or other wrongdoing. To allow institution of such proceedings would not only be legally improper, it would also result in a futile and circuitous exercise, and lead to absurd consequences. Assume that a case goes through the whole gamut of review in the judicial hierarchy; i.e., a judgment is rendered by a municipal trial court; it is reviewed and affirmed by the proper Regional Trial Court; the latter's judgment is appealed to and in due course affirmed by the Court of Appeals; and finally, the appellate court's decision is brought up to and affirmed by the Supreme Court. The prosecution of the municipal trial court judge who rendered the original decision (for knowingly rendering a manifestly unjust judgment) would appear to be out of the question; it would mean that the Office of the Ombudsman or of the public prosecutor would have to find, at the preliminary investigation, not only that the

judge's decision was wrong and unjust, but by necessary implication that the decisions or orders of the Regional Trial Court Judge, as well as the Justices of the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court who affirmed the original judgment were also all wrong and unjust — most certainly an act of supreme arrogance and very evident supererogation. Pursuing the proposition further, assuming that the public prosecutor or Ombudsman should nevertheless opt to undertake a review of the decision in question — despite its having been affirmed at all three (3) appellate levels — and thereafter, disagreeing with the verdict of all four (4) courts, file an information in the Regional Trial Court against the Municipal Trial Court Judge, the fate of such an indictment at the hands of the Sandiganbayan or the Regional Trial Court would be fairly predictable. Even if for some reason the Municipal Trial Court Judge is convicted by the Sandiganbayan or a Regional Trial Court, the appeal before the Supreme Court or the Court of Appeals would have an inevitable result: given the antecedents, the verdict of conviction would be set aside and the correctness of the judgment in question, already passed upon and finally resolved by the same appellate courts, would necessarily be sustained. Moreover, in such a scenario, nothing would prevent the Municipal Trial Judge, in his turn, from filing a criminal action against the Sandiganbayan Justices, or the Regional Trial Court Judge who should convict him of the offense, for knowingly rendering an unjust judgment, or against the Justices of the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court who should affirm his conviction. The situation is ridiculous, however the circumstances of the case may be modified, and regardless of whether it is a civil, criminal or administrative proceeding that is availed of as the vehicle to prosecute the judge for supposedly rendering an unjust decision or order. 5. Primordial Requisites for AdministrativeCriminal Prosecution This is not to say that it is not possible at all to prosecute judges for this impropriety, of rendering an unjust judgment or interlocutory order; but, taking account of all the foregoing considerations, the indispensable requisites are that 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 there be also evidence of malice or bad faith, ignorance or inexcusable negligence, on the part of the judge in rendering said judgement or order. That final declaration is ordinarily contained in the judgment rendered in the appellate proceedings in which the decision of the trial court in the civil or criminal action in question is challenged. What immediately comes to mind in this connection is a decision of acquittal or dismissal in a criminal action, as to which — the same being unappealable — it would be unreasonable to deny the State or the victim of the crime (or even public-spirited citizens) the opportunity to put to the test of proof such charges as they might see fit to press that it was unjustly rendered, with malice or by deliberate design, through inexcusable ignorance or negligence, etc. Even in this case, the essential requisite is that there be an authoritative judicial pronouncement of the manifestly unjust character of the judgment or order in

18

question. Such a pronouncement may result from either (a) an action of certiorari or prohibition in a higher court impugning the validity of the; judgment, as having been rendered without or in excess of jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion; e.g., there has been a denial of due process to the prosecution; or (b) if this be not proper, an administrative proceeding in the Supreme Court against the judge precisely for promulgating an unjust judgment or order. Until and unless there is such a final, authoritative judicial declaration that the decision or order in question is "unjust," no civil or criminal action against the judge concerned is legally possible or should be entertained, for want of an indispensable requisite. D. Judges Must be Free fromInfluence or Pressure 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. Hence 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. This Court has repeatedly and uniformly ruled that a judge may not be held administratively accountable for every erroneous order or decision he renders. 55 To hold otherwise would be nothing short of harassment and would make his position doubly unbearable, for no one called upon to try the facts or interpret the law in the process of administering justice can be infallible in his judgment. 56 The error must be gross or patent, deliberate and malicious, or incurred with evident bad faith; 57 it is only in these cases that administrative sanctions are called for as an imperative duty of the Supreme Court. As far as civil or criminal liability is concerned, existing doctrine is that "judges of superior and general jurisdiction are not liable to respond in civil action for damages for what they may do in the exercise of their judicial functions when acting within their legal powers and jurisdiction." 58 Based on Section 9, Act No. 190, 59 the doctrine is still good law, not inconsistent with any subsequent legislative issuance or court rule: "No judge, justice of the peace or assessor shall be liable to a civil action for the recovery of damages by reason of any judicial action or judgment rendered by him in good faith, and within the limits of his legal powers and jurisdiction." Exception to this general rule is found in Article 32 of the Civil Code, providing that any public officer or employee, or any private individual, who directly or indirectly obstructs, defeats, violates or in any manner impedes or impairs any of the enumerated rights and liberties of another person — which rights are the same as those guaranteed in the Bill of Rights (Article III of the Constitution); — shall be liable to the latter for damages. However, such liability is not demandable from a judge unless his act or omission constitutes a violation of the Penal Code or other penal statute. But again, to the extent that the offenses therein described have "unjust judgment or "unjust interlocutory order" for an essential element, it need only be reiterated that prosecution of a judge for any of them is subject to the caveat already mentioned: that such prosecution cannot

be initiated, much less maintained, unless there be a final judicial pronouncement of the unjust character of the decision or order in issue. E. Afterword Considering the foregoing antecedents and long standing doctrines, it may well be asked why it took no less than sixteen (16) years and some fifty (50) grossly unfounded cases lodged by respondent Borromeo in the different rungs of the Judiciary before this Court decided to take the present administrative measure. The imposition on the time of the courts and the unnecessary work occasioned by respondent's crass adventurism are self-evident and require no further elaboration. If the Court, however, bore with him with Jobian patience, it was in the hope that the repeated rebuffs he suffered, with the attendant lectures on the error of his ways, would somehow seep into his understanding and deter him from further forays along his misguided path. After all, as has repeatedly been declared, the power of contempt is exercised on the preservative and not the vindictive principle. Unfortunately the Court's forbearance had no effect on him. Instead, the continued leniency and tolerance extended to him were read as signs of weakness and impotence. Worse, respondent's irresponsible audacity appears to have influenced and emboldened others to just as flamboyantly embark on their own groundless and insulting proceedings against the courts, born of affected bravado or sheer egocentrism, to the extent of even involving the legislative and executive departments, the Ombudsman included, in their assaults against the Judiciary in pursuit of personal agendas. But all things, good or bad, must come to an end, and it is time for the Court to now draw the line, with more promptitude, between reasoned dissent and self-seeking pretense. The Court accordingly serves notice to those with the same conceit or delusions that it will henceforth deal with them, decisively and fairly, with a firm and even hand, and resolutely impose such punitive sanctions as may be appropriate to

maintain the integrity and independence of the judicial institutions of the country. WHEREFORE, Joaquin T. Borromeo is found and declared GUILTY of constructive contempt repeatedly committed over time, despite warnings and instructions given to him, and to the end that he may ponder his serious errors and grave misconduct and learn due respect for the Courts and their authority, he is hereby sentenced to serve a term of imprisonment of TEN (10) DAYS in the City Jail of Cebu City and to pay a fine of ONE THOUSAND PESOS (P1,000.00). He is warned that a repetition of any of the offenses of which he is herein found guilty, or any similar or other offense against courts, judges or court employees, will merit further and more serious sanctions.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

FIRST DIVISION A.M. MTJ-98-1147. July 2, 1998

JESUS S. CONDUCTO, complainant, vs. JUDGE ILUMINADO C. MONZON, Respondent.

R E S O L U T I O N

DAVIDE, JR., J.:

19

In a sworn letter-complaint dated 14 October 1996, 1 complainant charged respondent Judge Iluminado C. Monzon of the Municipal Trial Court in Cities,

San Pablo City, with ignorance of law, in that he deliberately refused to suspend

a barangay chairman who was charged before his court with the crime of

unlawful appointment under Article 244 of the Revised Penal Code. The factual antecedents recited in the letter-complaint are not controverted. On 30 August 1993, complainant filed a complaint with the Sangguniang Panlungsod of San Pablo City against one Benjamin Maghirang, the barangay chairman of Barangay III-E of San Pablo City, for abuse of authority, serious irregularity and violation of law in that, among other things, said respondent

Maghirang appointed his sister-in-law, Mrs. Florian Maghirang, to the position of barangay secretary on 17 May 1989 in violation of Section 394 of the Local Government Code. At the same time, complainant filed a complaint for violation

of Article 244 of the Revised Penal Code with the Office of the City Prosecutor

against Maghirang, which was, however, dismissed 2 on 30 September 1993 on the ground that Maghirangs sister-in-law was appointed before the effectivity of the Local Government Code of 1991, which prohibits a punong barangay from

appointing a relative within the fourth civil degree of consanguinity or affinity as barangay secretary. The order of dismissal was submitted to the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon. On 22 October 1993, complainant obtained Opinion No. 246, s. 1993 3 from Director Jacob Montesa of the Department of Interior and Local Government, which declared that the appointment issued by Maghirang to his sister-in-law violated paragraph (2), Section 95 of B.P. Blg. 337, the Local Government Code prior to the Local Government Code of 1991. In its Revised Resolution of 29 November 1993, 4 the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon dismissed the case, but ordered Maghirang to replace his sister-in-law as barangay secretary. On 20 December 1993, complainant moved that the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon reconsider 5 the order of 29 November 1993, in light of Opinion No. 246, s. 1993 of Director Montesa. Acting on the motion, Francisco Samala, Graft Investigation Officer II of the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon, issued an order 6 on 8 February 1994 granting the motion for reconsideration and recommending the filing of an information for unlawful appointment (Article 244 of the Revised Penal Code) against Maghirang. The recommendation was duly approved by Manuel C. Domingo, Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon.

In a 3 rd indorsement dated 4 March 1994, 7 the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon

transmitted the record of the case to the Office of the City Prosecutor of San Pablo City and instructed the latter to file the corresponding information against Maghirang with the proper court and to prosecute the case. The information for violation of Article 244 of the Revised Penal Code was forthwith filed with the Municipal Trial Court in Cities in San Pablo City and docketed as Criminal Case No. 26240. On 11 April 1994, the presiding judge, respondent herein, issued a warrant for the arrest of Maghirang, with a recommendation of a P200.00 bond for his provisional liberty.

With prior leave from the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon, on 4 May 1995, the City Prosecutor filed, in Criminal Case No. 26240, a motion for the suspension 8 of accused Maghirang pursuant to Section 13 of R.A. No. 3019, as amended, which reads, in part:

SEC. 13. Any incumbent public officer against whom any criminal prosecution

under a valid information under this Act or under Title 7, Book II of the Revised Penal Code or for any offense involving fraud upon government or public funds

or property whether as a single or as complex offense and in whatever stage of

execution and mode of participation, is pending in Court, shall be suspended from office. In his Order of 30 June 1995, 9 respondent judge denied the motion for suspension on the ground that:

[T]he alleged offense of UNLAWFUL APPOINTMENT under Article 244 of the Revised Penal Code was committed on May 17, 1989, during [Maghirangs] terms (sic) of office from 1989 to 1994 and said accused was again re-elected as Barangay Chairman during the last Barangay Election of May 9, 1994, hence, offenses committed during previous term is (sic) not a cause for removal (Lizarez v. Hechanova, et al., G.R. No. L-22059, May 17, 1965); an order of suspension

from office relating to a given term may not be the basis of contempt with respect

to ones (sic) assumption of the same office under a new term (Oliveros v.

Villaluz, G.R. No. L-34636, May 30, 1971) and, the Court should never remove a public officer for acts done prior to his present term of office. To do otherwise would deprieve (sic) the people of their right to elect their officer. When the people have elected a man to office, it must be assumed that they did this with

knowledge of his life and character, and that they disregarded or forgave his fault

or misconduct (sic), if he had been guilty if any. (Aguinaldo v. Santos, et al., G.R.

No. 94115, August 21, 1992).

The prosecution moved for reconsideration 10 of the order, alleging that the court had confused removal as a penalty in administrative cases and the temporary removal from office (or suspension) as a means of preventing the public official, while the criminal case against him is pending, from exerting undue influence, intimidate (sic) witnesses which may affect the outcome of the case; the former is

a penalty or sanction whereas the latter is a mere procedural remedy.

Accordingly, while a re-elected public official cannot be administratively punished by removing him from office for offenses committed during his previous term, said public official can be temporarily removed to prevent him from wielding undue influence which will definitely be a hindrance for justice to take its natural course. The prosecution then enumerated the cases decided by this Court

reiterating the rule that what a re-election of a public official obliterates are only administrative, not criminal, liabilities, incurred during previous terms.

11 cräläwvirtualibräry In his order of 3 August 1995, 12 respondent denied the motion for reconsideration, thus:

There is no dispute that the suspension sought by the prosecution is premised upon the act charged allegedly committed during the accused [sic] previous term

as Barangay Chairman of Brgy. III-E. San Pablo City, who was subsequently re-

20

elected as Barangay Chairman again during the last Barangay Election of May 9, 1994. Certainly, had not the accused been re-elected the prosecution will not file the instant motion to suspend him as there is no legal basis or the issue has become academic. The instant case run [sic] parallel with the case of Lizares vs. Hechanova, et al., L-22059, May 17, 1966, 17 SCRA 58, wherein the Supreme Court subscribed to the rule denying the right to remove from office because of misconduct during a prior term. It is opined by the Court that preventive suspension is applicable only if there is [sic] administrative case filed against a local official who is at the same time criminally charged in Court. At present, the records of the Court shows [sic] that there is no pending administrative case existing or filed against the accused. It was held in the concluding paragraph of the decision by the Honorable Supreme Court in Lizares v. Hechanova, et al., that Since petitioner, having been duly re-elected, is no longer amenable to administrative sanctions for any acts committed during his former tenure, the determination whether the respondent validly acted in imposing upon him one months suspension for act [sic] done during his previous term as mayor is now merely of theoretical interest. Complainant then moved that respondent inhibit himself from Criminal Case No. 26240. In his order of 21 September 1995, 13 respondent voluntarily inhibited himself. The case was assigned to Judge Adelardo S. Escoses per order of Executive Judge Bienvenido V. Reyes of the Regional Trial Court of San Pablo City. On 15 October 1996, complainant filed his sworn letter-complaint with the Office of the Court Administrator. In his comment dated 14 February 1997, filed in compliance with the resolution of this Court of 27 January 1997, respondent asserted that he had been continuously keeping abreast of legal and jurisprudential development [sic] in the law since he passed the 1955 Bar Examinations; and that he issued the two challenged orders only after due appreciation of prevailing jurisprudence on the matter, citing authorities in support thereof. He thus prayed for dismissal of this case, arguing that to warrant a finding of ignorance of law and abuse of authority, the error must be so gross and patent as to produce an inference of ignorance or bad faith or that the judge knowingly rendered an unjust decision. 14 He emphasized, likewise, that the error had to be so grave and on so fundamental a point as to warrant condemnation of the judge as patently ignorant or negligent; 15 otherwise, to hold a judge administratively accountable for every erroneous ruling or decision he renders, assuming that he has erred, would be nothing short of harassment and that would be intolerable. 16 cräläwvirtualibräry Respondent further alleged that he earned complainants ire after denying the latters Motion for the Suspension of Barangay Chairman Maghirang, which was filed only after Maghirang was re-elected in 1994; and that complainant made inconsistent claims, concretely, while in his letter of 4 September 1995 requesting respondent to inhibit from the case, complainant declared that he believed in respondents integrity, competence and dignity, after he denied the

request, complainant branded respondent as a judge of poor caliber and understanding of the law, very incompetent and has no place in Court of Justice. Finally, respondent Judge avowed that he would not dare soil his judicial robe at this time, for he had only three (3) years and nine (9) months more before reaching the compulsory age of retirement of seventy (70); and that for the last 25 years as municipal judge in the seven (7) towns of Laguna and as presiding judge of the MTCC, San Pablo City, he had maintained his integrity. In compliance with the Courts resolution of 9 March 1998, the parties, by way of separate letters, informed the Court that they agreed to have this case decided on the basis of the pleadings already filed, with respondent explicitly specifying that only the complaint and the comment thereon be considered. The Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) recommends that this Court hold respondent liable for ignorance of the law and that he be reprimanded with a warning that a repetition of the same or similar acts in the future shall be dealt with more severely. In support thereof, the OCA makes the following findings and conclusions:

The claim of respondent Judge that a local official who is criminally charged can be preventively suspended only if there is an administrative case filed against him is without basis. Section 13 of RA 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act) states that:

Suspension and loss of benefits Any incumbent public officer against whom any criminal prosecution under a valid information under this Act or under Title 7, Book II of the Revised Penal Code or for any offense involving fraud upon government or public funds or property whether as a simple or as a complex offense and in whatever stage of execution and mode of participation, is pending in court, shall be suspended from office. It is well settled that Section 13 of RA 3019 makes it mandatory for the Sandiganbayan (or the Court) to suspend any public officer against whom a valid information charging violation of this law, Book II, Title 7 of the RPC, or any offense involving fraud upon government or public funds or property is filed in court. The court trying a case has neither discretion nor duty to determine whether preventive suspension is required to prevent the accused from using his office to intimidate witnesses or frustrate his prosecution or continue committing malfeasance in office. All that is required is for the court to make a finding that the accused stands charged under a valid information for any of the above- described crimes for the purpose of granting or denying the sought for suspension. (Bolastig vs. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 110503 [August 4, 1994], 235 SCRA 103). In the same case, the Court held that as applied to criminal prosecutions under RA 3019, preventive suspension will last for less than ninety (90) days only if the case is decided within that period; otherwise, it will continue for ninety (90) days. Barangay Chairman Benjamin Maghirang was charged with Unlawful Appointment, punishable under Article 244, Title 7, Book II of the Revised Penal Code. Therefore, it was mandatory on Judge Monzons part, considering the Motion filed, to order the suspension of Maghirang for a maximum period of ninety (90) days. This, he failed and refused to do.

21

Judge Monzons contention denying complainants Motion for Suspension because offenses committed during the previous term (is) not a cause for removal during the present term is untenable. In the case of Rodolfo E. Aguinaldo vs. Hon. Luis Santos and Melvin Vargas, 212 SCRA 768, the Court held that the rule is that a public official cannot be removed for administrative misconduct committed during a prior term since his re-election to office operates as a condonation of the officers previous misconduct committed during a prior term, to the extent of cutting off the right to remove him therefor. The foregoing rule, however, finds no application to criminal cases x x x (Underscoring supplied) Likewise, it was specifically declared in the case of Ingco vs. Sanchez, G.R. No. L-23220, 18 December 1967, 21 SCRA 1292, that The ruling, therefore, that when the people have elected a man to office it must be assumed that they did this with knowledge of his life and character and that they disregarded or forgave his faults or misconduct if he had been guilty of any refers only to an action for removal from office and does not apply to a criminal case. (Underscoring ours) Clearly, even if the alleged unlawful appointment was committed during Maghirangs first term as barangay chairman and the Motion for his suspension was only filed in 1995 during his second term, his re-election is not a bar to his suspension as the suspension sought for is in connection with a criminal case. Respondents denial of complainants Motion for Reconsideration left the complainant with no other judicial remedy. Since a case for Unlawful Appointment is covered by Summary Procedure, complainant is prohibited from filing a petition for certiorari, mandamus or prohibition involving an interlocutory order issued by the court. Neither can he file an appeal from the courts adverse final judgment, incorporating in his appeal the grounds assailing the interlocutory orders, as this will put the accused in double jeopardy. All things considered, while concededly, respondent Judge manifested his ignorance of the law in denying complainants Motion for Suspension of Brgy. Chairman Maghirang, there was nothing shown however to indicate that he acted in bad faith or with malice. Be that as it may, it would also do well to note that good faith and lack of malicious intent cannot completely free respondent from liability. This Court, in the case of Libarios and Dabalos, 199 SCRA 48, ruled:

In the absence of fraud, dishonesty or corruption, the acts of a judge done in his judicial capacity are not subject to disciplinary action, even though such acts may be erroneous. But, while judges should not be disciplined for inefficiency on account merely of occasional mistakes or errors of judgment, yet, it is highly imperative that they should be conversant with basic principles. A judge owes it to the public and the administration of justice to know the law he is supposed to apply to a given controversy. He is called upon to exhibit more than a cursory acquaintance with the statutes and procedural rules. There will be faith in the administration of justice only if there be a belief on the part of litigants that the occupants of the bench cannot justly be accused of a deficiency in their grasp of legal principles.

The findings and conclusions of the Office of the Court Administrator are in order. However, the penalty recommended, i.e., reprimand, is too light, in view of the fact that despite his claim that he has been continuously keeping abreast of legal and jurisprudential development [sic] in law ever since he passed the Bar Examinations in 1995, respondent, wittingly or otherwise, failed to recall that as early as 18 December 1967 in Ingco v. Sanchez, 17 this Court explicitly ruled that the re-election of a public official extinguishes only the administrative, but not the criminal, liability incurred by him during his previous term of office, thus:

The ruling, therefore, that -- when the people have elected a man to his office it must be assumed that they did this with knowledge of his life and character and that they disregarded or forgave his faults or misconduct if he had been guilty of any -- refers only to an action for removal from office and does not apply to a criminal case, because a crime is a public wrong more atrocious in character than mere misfeasance or malfeasance committed by a public officer in the discharge of his duties, and is injurious not only to a person or group of persons but to the State as a whole. This must be the reason why Article 89 of the Revised Penal Code, which enumerates the grounds for extinction of criminal liability, does not include reelection to office as one of them, at least insofar as a public officer is concerned. Also, under the Constitution, it is only the President who may grant the pardon of a criminal offense. In Ingco, this Court did not yield to petitioners insistence that he was benefited by the ruling in Pascual v. Provincial Board of Nueva Ecija 18 that a public officer should never be removed for acts done prior to his present term of office, as follows:

There is a whale of a difference between the two cases. The basis of the investigation which has been commenced here, and which is sought to be restrained, is a criminal accusation the object of which is to cause the indictment and punishment of petitioner-appellant as a private citizen; whereas in the cases cited, the subject of the investigation was an administrative charge against the officers therein involved and its object was merely to cause his suspension or removal from public office. While the criminal cases involves the character of the mayor as a private citizen and the People of the Philippines as a community is a party to the case, an administrative case involves only his actuations as a public officer as [they] affect the populace of the municipality where he serves.

19 cräläwvirtualibräry Then on 20 June 1969, in Luciano v. The Provincial Governor, et al., 20 this Court likewise categorically declared that criminal liabilities incurred by an elective public official during his previous term of office were not extinguished by his re- election, and that Pascual v. Provincial Governor and Lizares v. Hechanova referred only to administrative liabilities committed during the previous term of an elective official, thus:

1. The first problem we are to grapple with is the legal effect of the reelection of respondent municipal officials. Said respondents would want to impress upon us the fact that in the last general elections of November 14,1967 the Makati electorate reelected all of them, except that Vice-Mayor Teotimo Gealogo, a councilor prior thereto, was elevated to vice-mayor. These respondents contend

22

that their reelection erected a bar to their removal from office for misconduct committed prior to November 14, 1967. It is to be recalled that the acts averred in the criminal information in Criminal Case 18821 and for which they were convicted allegedly occurred on or about July 26, 1967, or prior to the 1967 elections. They ground their position on Pascual vs. Provincial Board of Nueva Ecija, 106 Phil. 466, and Lizares vs. Hechanova, 17 SCRA 58. A circumspect view leaves us unconvinced of the soundness of respondents' position. The two cases relied upon have laid down the precept that a reelected public officer is no longer amenable to administrative sanctions for acts committed during his former tenure. But the present case rests on an entirely

different factual and legal setting. We are not here confronted with administrative charges to which the two cited cases refer. Here involved is a criminal prosecution under a special statute, the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act 3019). Then again, on 30 May 1974, in Oliveros v. Villaluz, 21 this Court held:

I

The first question presented for determination is whether a criminal offense for violation of Republic Act 3019 committed by an elective officer during one term may be the basis of his suspension in a subsequent term in the event of his reelection to office. Petitioner concedes that "the power and authority of respondent judge to continue trying the criminal case against petitioner may not in any way be affected by the fact of petitioner's reelection," but contends that "said respondent's power to preventively suspend petitioner under section 13 of Republic Act 3019 became inefficacious upon petitioner's reelection" arguing that the power of the courts cannot be placed over that of sovereign and supreme people who ordained his return to office. Petitioner's reliance on the loose language used in Pascual vs. Provincial Board of Nueva Ecija that "each term is separate from other terms and that the reelection to office operates as a condonation of the officer's previous misconduct to the extent of cutting off the right to remove him therefor" is misplaced. The Court has in subsequent cases made it clear that the Pascual ruling (which dealt with administrative liability) applies exclusively to administrative and not to criminal liability and sanctions. Thus, in Ingco vs. Sanchez the Court ruled that the reelection of a public officer for a new term does not in any manner wipe out the criminal liability incurred by him in a previous term. In Luciano vs. Provincial Governor the Court stressed that the cases of Pascual and Lizares are authority for the precept that "a reelected public officer is no longer amenable to administrative sanctions for acts committed during his former

tenure" but that as to criminal prosecutions, particularly, for violations of the Anti- Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, as in the case at bar, the same are not barred by reelection of the public officer, since, inter alia, one of the penalties attached to the offense is perpetual disqualification from public office and it "is patently offensive to the objectives and the letter of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practice

Act

that an official may amass wealth thru graft and corrupt practices and

thereafter use the same to purchase reelection and thereby launder his evil acts." Punishment for a crime is a vindication for an offense against the State and the body politic. The small segment of the national electorate that constitutes the electorate of the municipality of Antipolo has no power to condone a crime against the public justice of the State and the entire body politic. Reelection to public office is not provided for in Article 89 of the Revised Penal Code as a mode of extinguishing criminal liability incurred by a public officer prior to his reelection. On the contrary, Article 9 of the Anti-Graft Act imposes as one of the penalties in case of conviction perpetual disqualification from public office and Article 30 of the Revised Penal Code declares that such penalty of perpetual disqualification entails "the deprivation of the public offices and employments which the offender may have held, even if conferred by popular election." It is manifest then, that such condonation of an officer's fault or misconduct during a previous expired term by virtue of his reelection to office for a new term can be deemed to apply only to his administrative and not to his criminal guilt. As succinctly stated in then Solicitor General (now Associate Justice) Felix Q. Antonio's memorandum for the State, "to hold that petitioner's reelection erased his criminal liability would in effect transfer the determination of the criminal culpability of an erring official from the court to which it was lodged by law into the changing and transient whim and caprice of the electorate. This cannot be so, for while his constituents may condone the misdeed of a corrupt official by returning him back to office, a criminal action initiated against the latter can only be heard and tried by a court of justice, his nefarious act having been committed against the very State whose laws he had sworn to faithfully obey and uphold. A contrary rule would erode the very system upon which our government is based, which is one of laws and not of men." Finally, on 21 August 1992, in Aguinaldo v. Santos, 22 this Court stated:

Clearly then, the rule is that a public official cannot be removed from administrative misconduct committed during a prior term, since his re-election to office operates as a condonation of the officers previous misconduct to the extent of cutting off the right to remove him therefor. The foregoing rule, however, finds no application to criminal cases pending against petitioner for acts he may have committed during the failed coup. Thus far, no ruling to the contrary has even rippled the doctrine enunciated in the above-mentioned cases. If respondent has truly been continuously keeping abreast of legal and jurisprudential development [sic] in the law, it was impossible for him to have missed or misread these cases. What detracts from his claim of assiduity is the fact that he even cited the cases of Oliveros v. Villaluz and Aguinaldo v. Santos in support of his 30 June 1995 order. What is then evident is that respondent either did not thoroughly read these cases or that he simply miscomprehended them. The latter, of course, would only manifest either incompetence, since both cases were written in plain and simple language thereby foreclosing any possibility of misunderstanding or confusion; or deliberate disregard of a long settled doctrine pronounced by this Court.

23

While diligence in keeping up-to-date with the decisions of this Court is a commendable virtue of judges -- and, of course, members of the Bar -- comprehending the decisions is a different matter, for it is in that area where ones competence may then be put to the test and proven. Thus, it has been said that 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 and authoritative doctrines. 23 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 cräläwvirtualibräry Needless to state, respondent was, in this instance, wanting in the desired level of mastery of a revered doctrine on a simple issue. On the other hand, if respondent judge deliberately disregarded the doctrine laid down in Ingco v. Sanchez and reiterated in the succeeding cases of Luciano v. Provincial Governor, Oliveros v. Villaluz and Aguinaldo v. Santos, it may then be said that he simply wished to enjoy the privilege of overruling this Courts doctrinal pronouncements. On this point, and as a reminder to all judges, it is apropos to quote what this Court said sixty-one years ago in People v. Vera:

25 cräläwvirtualibräry As already observed by this Court in Shioji vs. Harvey [1922], 43 Phil., 333, 337), and reiterated in subsequent cases if each and every Court of First Instance could enjoy the privilege of overruling decisions of the Supreme Court, there would be no end to litigation, and judicial chaos would result. A becoming modesty of inferior courts demands conscious realization of the position that they occupy in the interrelation and operation of the integrated judicial system of the nation. Likewise, in Luzon Stevedoring Corp. v. Court of Appeals: 26 cräläwvirtualibräry The spirit and initiative and independence on the part of men of the robe may at times be commendable, but certainly not when this Court, not once but at least four times, had indicated what the rule should be. We had spoken clearly and unequivocally. There was no ambiguity in what we said. Our meaning was clear and unmistakable. We did take pains to explain why it must be thus. We were within our power in doing so. It would not be too much to expect, then, that tribunals in the lower rungs of the judiciary would at the very least, take notice and yield deference. Justice Laurel had indicated in terms too clear for misinterpretation what is expected of them. Thus: A becoming modesty of inferior court[s] demands conscious realization of the position that they occupy in the interrelation and operation of the integrated judicial system of the nation. 27 In the constitutional sense, respondent Court is not excluded from such a category. The grave abuse of discretion is thus manifest. In Caram Resources Corp. v. Contreras, 28 this Court affirmed that by tradition and in our system of judicial administration, this Court has the last word on what the law is, and that its decisions applying or interpreting the Constitution and laws form part of this countrys legal system. 29 All other courts should then be guided by the decisions of this Court. To judges who find it difficult to do so, Vivo v. Cloribel 30 warned:

Now, if a Judge of a lower Court feels, in the fulfillment of his mission of deciding cases, that the application of a doctrine promulgated by this Superiority is against his way of reasoning, or against his conscience, he may state his opinion on the matter, but rather than disposing of the case in accordance with his personal views he must first think that it is his duty to apply the law as interpreted by the Highest Court of the Land, and that any deviation from the principle laid down by the latter would unavoidably cause, as a sequel, unnecessary inconveniences, delays and expenses to the litigants. And if despite of what is here said, a Judge, still believes that he cannot follow Our rulings, then he has no other alternative than to place himself in the position that he could properly avoid the duty of having to render judgment on the case concerned (Art. 9, C.C.), and he has only one legal way to do that. Finally, the last sentence of Canon 18 of the Canons of Judicial Ethics directs a judge to administer his office with due regard to the integrity of the system of the law itself, remembering that he is not a depository of arbitrary power, but a judge under the sanction of law. That having been said, we cannot but conclude that the recommended penalty of reprimand is not commensurate with the misdeed committed. A fine of P5,000.00, with a warning that a commission of similar acts in the future shall be dealt with more severely is, at the very least, appropriate, considering respondent is due for compulsory retirement on 29 November 2000 and that this is his first offense. WHEREFORE, for incompetence as a result of ignorance of a settled doctrine interpreting a law, or deliberate disregard of such doctrine in violation of Canon 18 of the Canons of Judicial Ethics, respondent Judge Iluminado C. Monzon is hereby FINED in the amount of Five Thousand Pesos (P5,000.00) and warned that the commission of similar acts in the future shall be dealt with more severely. SO ORDERED. Bellosillo, Vitug, Panganiban, and Quisumbing, JJ., concur.

EN BANC A.M. No. 133-J May 31, 1982 BERNARDITA R. MACARIOLA, complainant, vs. HONORABLE ELIAS B. ASUNCION, Judge of the Court of First Instance of Leyte, respondent.

MAKASIAR, J:

In a verified complaint dated August 6, 1968 Bernardita R. Macariola charged respondent Judge Elias B. Asuncion of the Court of First Instance of Leyte, now Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals, with "acts unbecoming a judge." The factual setting of the case is stated in the report dated May 27, 1971 of then Associate Justice Cecilia Muñoz Palma of the Court of Appeals now retired

24

Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, to whom this case was referred on October 28, 1968 for investigation, thus:

Civil Case No. 3010 of the Court of First Instance of Leyte was a complaint for partition filed by Sinforosa R. Bales, Luz R. Bakunawa, Anacorita Reyes, Ruperto Reyes, Adela Reyes, and Priscilla Reyes, plaintiffs, against Bernardita R. Macariola, defendant, concerning the properties left by the deceased Francisco Reyes, the common father of the plaintiff and defendant. In her defenses to the complaint for partition, Mrs. Macariola alleged among other things that; a) plaintiff Sinforosa R. Bales was not a daughter of the deceased Francisco Reyes; b) the only legal heirs of the deceased were defendant Macariola, she being the only offspring of the first marriage of Francisco Reyes with Felisa Espiras, and the remaining plaintiffs who were the children of the deceased by his second marriage with Irene Ondez; c) the properties left by the deceased were all the conjugal properties of the latter and his first wife, Felisa Espiras, and no properties were acquired by the deceased during his second marriage; d) if there was any partition to be made, those

conjugal properties should first be partitioned into two parts, and one part is to be adjudicated solely to defendant it being the share of the latter's deceased mother, Felisa Espiras, and the other half which is the share of the deceased Francisco Reyes was to be divided equally among his children by his two marriages. On June 8, 1963, a decision was rendered by respondent Judge Asuncion in Civil Case 3010, the dispositive portion of which reads:

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING CONSIDERATIONS, the Court, upon a preponderance of evidence, finds and so holds, and hereby renders judgment (1) Declaring the plaintiffs Luz R. Bakunawa, Anacorita Reyes, Ruperto Reyes, Adela Reyes and Priscilla Reyes as the only children legitimated by the subsequent marriage of Francisco Reyes Diaz to Irene Ondez; (2) Declaring the plaintiff Sinforosa R. Bales to have been an illegitimate child of Francisco Reyes Diaz; (3) Declaring Lots Nos. 4474, 4475, 4892, 5265, 4803, 4581, 4506 and 1/4 of Lot 1145 as belonging to the conjugal partnership of the spouses Francisco Reyes Diaz and Felisa Espiras; (4) Declaring Lot No. 2304 and 1/4 of Lot No.

3416 as belonging to the spouses Francisco Reyes Diaz and Irene Ondez in

common partnership; (5) Declaring that 1/2 of Lot No. 1184 as belonging exclusively to the deceased Francisco Reyes Diaz; (6) Declaring the defendant

Bernardita R. Macariola, being the only legal and forced heir of her mother Felisa Espiras, as the exclusive owner of one-half of each of Lots Nos. 4474, 4475, 4892, 5265, 4803, 4581, 4506; and the remaining one-half (1/2) of each of said Lots Nos. 4474, 4475, 4892, 5265, 4803, 4581, 4506 and one-half (1/2) of one- fourth (1/4) of Lot No. 1154 as belonging to the estate of Francisco Reyes Diaz; (7) Declaring Irene Ondez to be the exclusive owner of one-half (1/2) of Lot No.

2304 and one-half (1/2) of one-fourth (1/4) of Lot No. 3416; the remaining one-

half (1/2) of Lot 2304 and the remaining one-half (1/2) of one-fourth (1/4) of Lot No. 3416 as belonging to the estate of Francisco Reyes Diaz; (8) Directing the division or partition of the estate of Francisco Reyes Diaz in such a manner as to give or grant to Irene Ondez, as surviving widow of Francisco Reyes Diaz, a

hereditary share of. one-twelfth (1/12) of the whole estate of Francisco Reyes Diaz (Art. 996 in relation to Art. 892, par 2, New Civil Code), and the remaining portion of the estate to be divided among the plaintiffs Sinforosa R. Bales, Luz R. Bakunawa, Anacorita Reyes, Ruperto Reyes, Adela Reyes, Priscilla Reyes and defendant Bernardita R. Macariola, in such a way that the extent of the total share of plaintiff Sinforosa R. Bales in the hereditary estate shall not exceed the

equivalent of two-fifth (2/5) of the total share of any or each of the other plaintiffs and the defendant (Art. 983, New Civil Code), each of the latter to receive equal shares from the hereditary estate, (Ramirez vs. Bautista, 14 Phil. 528; Diancin vs. Bishop of Jaro, O.G. [3rd Ed.] p. 33); (9) Directing the parties, within thirty days after this judgment shall have become final to submit to this court, for approval a project of partition of the hereditary estate in the proportion above indicated, and in such manner as the parties may, by agreement, deemed convenient and equitable to them taking into consideration the location, kind, quality, nature and value of the properties involved; (10) Directing the plaintiff Sinforosa R. Bales and defendant Bernardita R. Macariola to pay the costs of this suit, in the proportion of one-third (1/3) by the first named and two-thirds (2/3) by the second named; and (I 1) Dismissing all other claims of the parties [pp 27-29 of Exh. C]. The decision in civil case 3010 became final for lack of an appeal, and on October 16, 1963, a project of partition was submitted to Judge Asuncion which is marked Exh. A. Notwithstanding the fact that the project of partition was not signed by the parties themselves but only by the respective counsel of plaintiffs and defendant, Judge Asuncion approved it in his Order dated October 23, 1963, which for convenience is quoted hereunder in full:

The parties, through their respective counsels, presented to this Court for approval the following project of partition:

COMES NOW, the plaintiffs and the defendant in the above-entitled case, to this Honorable Court respectfully submit the following Project of Partition:

l. The whole of Lots Nos. 1154, 2304 and 4506 shall belong exclusively to Bernardita Reyes Macariola;

2. A portion of Lot No. 3416 consisting of 2,373.49 square meters along the

eastern part of the lot shall be awarded likewise to Bernardita R. Macariola;

3. Lots Nos. 4803, 4892 and 5265 shall be awarded to Sinforosa Reyes Bales;

4. A portion of Lot No. 3416 consisting of 1,834.55 square meters along the

western part of the lot shall likewise be awarded to Sinforosa Reyes-Bales; 5. Lots Nos. 4474 and 4475 shall be divided equally among Luz Reyes

Bakunawa, Anacorita Reyes, Ruperto Reyes, Adela Reyes and Priscilla Reyes in equal shares;

6. Lot No. 1184 and the remaining portion of Lot No. 3416 after taking the

portions awarded under item (2) and (4) above shall be awarded to Luz Reyes Bakunawa, Anacorita Reyes, Ruperto Reyes, Adela Reyes and Priscilla Reyes in equal shares, provided, however that the remaining portion of Lot No. 3416 shall belong exclusively to Priscilla Reyes.

25

WHEREFORE, it is respectfully prayed that the Project of Partition indicated above which is made in accordance with the decision of the Honorable Court be approved. Tacloban City, October 16, 1963. (SGD) BONIFACIO RAMO Atty. for the Defendant Tacloban City (SGD) ZOTICO A. TOLETE Atty. for the Plaintiff Tacloban City While the Court thought it more desirable for all the parties to have signed this Project of Partition, nevertheless, upon assurance of both counsels of the respective parties to this Court that the Project of Partition, as above- quoted, had been made after a conference and agreement of the plaintiffs and the defendant approving the above Project of Partition, and that both lawyers had represented to the Court that they are given full authority to sign by themselves the Project of Partition, the Court, therefore, finding the above-quoted Project of Partition to be in accordance with law, hereby approves the same. The parties, therefore, are directed to execute such papers, documents or instrument sufficient in form and substance for the vesting of the rights, interests and participations which were adjudicated to the respective parties, as outlined in the Project of Partition and the delivery of the respective properties adjudicated to each one in view of said Project of Partition, and to perform such other acts as are legal and necessary to effectuate the said Project of Partition. SO ORDERED. Given in Tacloban City, this 23rd day of October, 1963. (SGD) ELIAS B. ASUNCION Judge EXH. B. The above Order of October 23, 1963, was amended on November 11, 1963, only for the purpose of giving authority to the Register of Deeds of the Province of Leyte to issue the corresponding transfer certificates of title to the respective adjudicatees in conformity with the project of partition (see Exh. U). One of the properties mentioned in the project of partition was Lot 1184 or rather one-half thereof with an area of 15,162.5 sq. meters. This lot, which according to the decision was the exclusive property of the deceased Francisco Reyes, was adjudicated in said project of partition to the plaintiffs Luz, Anacorita Ruperto, Adela, and Priscilla all surnamed Reyes in equal shares, and when the project of partition was approved by the trial court the adjudicatees caused Lot 1184 to be subdivided into five lots denominated as Lot 1184-A to 1184-E inclusive (Exh. V). Lot 1184-D was conveyed to Enriqueta D. Anota, a stenographer in Judge Asuncion's court (Exhs. F, F-1 and V-1), while Lot 1184-E which had an area of 2,172.5556 sq. meters was sold on July 31, 1964 to Dr. Arcadio Galapon (Exh. 2) who was issued transfer certificate of title No. 2338 of the Register of Deeds of the city of Tacloban (Exh. 12). On March 6, 1965, Dr. Arcadio Galapon and his wife Sold a portion of Lot 1184-E with an area of around 1,306 sq. meters to Judge Asuncion and his wife, Victoria S. Asuncion (Exh. 11), which particular portion was declared by the latter for taxation purposes (Exh. F). On August 31, 1966, spouses Asuncion and spouses Galapon conveyed their respective shares and interest in Lot 1184-E to "The Traders Manufacturing and

Fishing Industries Inc." (Exit 15 & 16). At the time of said sale the stockholders of the corporation were Dominador Arigpa Tan, Humilia Jalandoni Tan, Jaime Arigpa Tan, Judge Asuncion, and the latter's wife, Victoria S. Asuncion, with Judge Asuncion as the President and Mrs. Asuncion as the secretary (Exhs. E-4 to E-7). The Articles of Incorporation of "The Traders Manufacturing and Fishing Industries, Inc." which we shall henceforth refer to as "TRADERS" were registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission only on January 9, 1967 (Exh. E) [pp. 378-385, rec.]. Complainant Bernardita R. Macariola filed on August 9, 1968 the instant complaint dated August 6, 1968 alleging four causes of action, to wit: [1] that respondent Judge Asuncion violated Article 1491, paragraph 5, of the New Civil Code in acquiring by purchase a portion of Lot No. 1184-E which was one of those properties involved in Civil Case No. 3010 decided by him; [2] that he likewise violated Article 14, paragraphs I and 5 of the Code of Commerce, Section 3, paragraph H, of R.A. 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Section 12, Rule XVIII of the Civil Service Rules, and Canon 25 of the Canons of Judicial Ethics, by associating himself with the Traders Manufacturing and Fishing Industries, Inc., as a stockholder and a ranking officer while he was a judge of the Court of First Instance of Leyte; [3] that respondent was guilty of coddling an impostor and acted in disregard of judicial decorum by closely fraternizing with a certain Dominador Arigpa Tan who openly and publicly advertised himself as a practising attorney when in truth and in fact his name does not appear in the Rolls of Attorneys and is not a member of the Philippine Bar; and [4] that there was a culpable defiance of the law and utter disregard for ethics by respondent Judge (pp. 1-7, rec.). Respondent Judge Asuncion filed on September 24, 1968 his answer to which a reply was filed on October 16, 1968 by herein complainant. In Our resolution of October 28, 1968, We referred this case to then Justice Cecilia Muñoz Palma of the Court of Appeals, for investigation, report and recommendation. After hearing, the said Investigating Justice submitted her report dated May 27, 1971 recommending that respondent Judge should be reprimanded or warned in connection with the first cause of action alleged in the complaint, and for the second cause of action, respondent should be warned in case of a finding that he is prohibited under the law to engage in business. On the third and fourth causes of action, Justice Palma recommended that respondent Judge be exonerated. The records also reveal that on or about November 9 or 11, 1968 (pp. 481, 477, rec.), complainant herein instituted an action before the Court of First Instance of Leyte, entitled "Bernardita R. Macariola, plaintiff, versus Sinforosa R. Bales, et al., defendants," which was docketed as Civil Case No. 4235, seeking the annulment of the project of partition made pursuant to the decision in Civil Case No. 3010 and the two orders issued by respondent Judge approving the same, as well as the partition of the estate and the subsequent conveyances with damages. It appears, however, that some defendants were dropped from the civil case. For one, the case against Dr. Arcadio Galapon was dismissed because he was no longer a real party in interest when Civil Case No. 4234 was filed, having

26

already conveyed on March 6, 1965 a portion of lot 1184-E to respondent Judge and on August 31, 1966 the remainder was sold to the Traders Manufacturing and Fishing Industries, Inc. Similarly, the case against defendant Victoria Asuncion was dismissed on the ground that she was no longer a real party in

(1) Dismissing the complaint against Bonifacio Ramo;

(2) Directing the plaintiff to pay the defendant Bonifacio Ramo the cost of the suit.

SO ORDERED [pp. 531-533, rec.]

interest at the time the aforesaid Civil Case No. 4234 was filed as the portion of

It is further disclosed by the record that the aforesaid decision was elevated to

Lot 1184 acquired by her and respondent Judge from Dr. Arcadio Galapon was

the

Court of Appeals upon perfection of the appeal on February 22, 1971.

already sold on August 31, 1966 to the Traders Manufacturing and Fishing

I

industries, Inc. Likewise, the cases against defendants Serafin P. Ramento, Catalina Cabus, Ben Barraza Go, Jesus Perez, Traders Manufacturing and

WE find that there is no merit in the contention of complainant Bernardita R. Macariola, under her first cause of action, that respondent Judge Elias B.

Fishing Industries, Inc., Alfredo R. Celestial and Pilar P. Celestial, Leopoldo

Asuncion violated Article 1491, paragraph 5, of the New Civil Code in acquiring

Petilla and Remedios Petilla, Salvador Anota and Enriqueta Anota and Atty.

by

purchase a portion of Lot No. 1184-E which was one of those properties

Zotico A. Tolete were dismissed with the conformity of complainant herein,

involved in Civil Case No. 3010. 'That Article provides:

plaintiff therein, and her counsel. On November 2, 1970, Judge Jose D. Nepomuceno of the Court of First Instance

Article 1491. The following persons cannot acquire by purchase, even at a public or judicial action, either in person or through the mediation of another:

of Leyte, who was directed and authorized on June 2, 1969 by the then

xxx

xxx xxx

Secretary (now Minister) of Justice and now Minister of National Defense Juan Ponce Enrile to hear and decide Civil Case No. 4234, rendered a decision, the

(5) Justices, judges, prosecuting attorneys, clerks of superior and inferior courts, and other officers and employees connected with the administration of justice,

dispositive portion of which reads as follows:

the

property and rights in litigation or levied upon an execution before the court

A.

IN THE CASE AGAINST JUDGE ELIAS B. ASUNCION

within whose jurisdiction or territory they exercise their respective functions; this

(1)

declaring that only Branch IV of the Court of First Instance of Leyte has

prohibition includes the act of acquiring by assignment and shall apply to

jurisdiction to take cognizance of the issue of the legality and validity of the Project of Partition [Exhibit "B"] and the two Orders [Exhibits "C" and "C- 3"] approving the partition;

lawyers, with respect to the property and rights which may be the object of any litigation in which they may take part by virtue of their profession [emphasis supplied].

(2)

dismissing the complaint against Judge Elias B. Asuncion;

The prohibition in the aforesaid Article applies only to the sale or assignment of

(3)

adjudging the plaintiff, Mrs. Bernardita R. Macariola to pay defendant Judge

the

property which is the subject of litigation to the persons disqualified therein.

Elias B. Asuncion,

(a) the sum of FOUR HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS [P400,000.00] for moral

damages;

(b) the sum of TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS [P200,000.001 for exemplary damages;

WE have already ruled that "

assignment of the property must take place during the pendency of the litigation involving the property" (The Director of Lands vs. Ababa et al., 88 SCRA 513, 519 [1979], Rosario vda. de Laig vs. Court of Appeals, 86 SCRA 641, 646

[1978]).

for the prohibition to operate, the sale or

(c)

the sum of FIFTY THOUSAND PESOS [P50,000.00] for nominal damages;

In the case at bar, when the respondent Judge purchased on March 6, 1965 a

and

portion of Lot 1184-E, the decision in Civil Case No. 3010 which he rendered on

(d)

he sum of TEN THOUSAND PESOS [PI0,000.00] for Attorney's Fees.

June 8, 1963 was already final because none of the parties therein filed an

B. IN THE CASE AGAINST THE DEFENDANT MARIQUITA VILLASIN, FOR HERSELF AND FOR THE HEIRS OF THE DECEASED GERARDO VILLASIN

appeal within the reglementary period; hence, the lot in question was no longer subject of the litigation. Moreover, at the time of the sale on March 6, 1965,

respondent's order dated October 23, 1963 and the amended order dated

(1)

Dismissing the complaint against the defendants Mariquita Villasin and the

November 11, 1963 approving the October 16, 1963 project of partition made

heirs of the deceased Gerardo Villasin;

pursuant to the June 8, 1963 decision, had long become final for there was no

(2)

Directing the plaintiff to pay the defendants Mariquita Villasin and the heirs of

appeal from said orders.

Gerardo Villasin the cost of the suit.

Furthermore, respondent Judge did not buy the lot in question on March 6, 1965

C.

IN THE CASE AGAINST THE DEFENDANT SINFOROSA R. BALES, ET AL.,

directly from the plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 3010 but from Dr. Arcadio Galapon

WHO WERE PLAINTIFFS IN CIVIL CASE NO. 3010 —

who earlier purchased on July 31, 1964 Lot 1184-E from three of the plaintiffs,

(1)

Dismissing the complaint against defendants Sinforosa R. Bales, Adela R.

namely, Priscilla Reyes, Adela Reyes, and Luz R. Bakunawa after the finality of

Herrer, Priscilla R. Solis, Luz R. Bakunawa, Anacorita R. Eng and Ruperto O.

Reyes.

D. IN THE CASE AGAINST DEFENDANT BONIFACIO RAMO —

the decision in Civil Case No. 3010. It may be recalled that Lot 1184 or more

specifically one-half thereof was adjudicated in equal shares to Priscilla Reyes, Adela Reyes, Luz Bakunawa, Ruperto Reyes and Anacorita Reyes in the project

27

of partition, and the same was subdivided into five lots denominated as Lot 1184-

xxx

xxx xxx

A to 1184-E. As aforestated, Lot 1184-E was sold on July 31, 1964 to Dr.

On

this point, I agree with respondent that there is no evidence in the record

Galapon for which he was issued TCT No. 2338 by the Register of Deeds of Tacloban City, and on March 6, 1965 he sold a portion of said lot to respondent

showing that Dr. Arcadio Galapon acted as a mere "dummy" of respondent in acquiring Lot 1184-E from the Reyeses. Dr. Galapon appeared to this

Judge and his wife who declared the same for taxation purposes only. The subsequent sale on August 31, 1966 by spouses Asuncion and spouses Galapon of their respective shares and interest in said Lot 1184-E to the Traders Manufacturing and Fishing Industries, Inc., in which respondent was the

investigator as a respectable citizen, credible and sincere, and I believe him when he testified that he bought Lot 1184-E in good faith and for valuable consideration from the Reyeses without any intervention of, or previous understanding with Judge Asuncion (pp. 391- 394, rec.).

president and his wife was the secretary, took place long after the finality of the

On

the contention of complainant herein that respondent Judge acted illegally in

decision in Civil Case No. 3010 and of the subsequent two aforesaid orders therein approving the project of partition.

approving the project of partition although it was not signed by the parties, We quote with approval the findings of the Investigating Justice, as follows:

While it appears that complainant herein filed on or about November 9 or 11, 1968 an action before the Court of First Instance of Leyte docketed as Civil Case No. 4234, seeking to annul the project of partition and the two orders approving the same, as well as the partition of the estate and the subsequent conveyances, the same, however, is of no moment. The fact remains that respondent Judge purchased on March 6, 1965 a portion

1. I agree with complainant that respondent should have required the signature of the parties more particularly that of Mrs. Macariola on the project of partition submitted to him for approval; however, whatever error was committed by respondent in that respect was done in good faith as according to Judge Asuncion he was assured by Atty. Bonifacio Ramo, the counsel of record of Mrs.

Lot 1184-E from Dr. Arcadio Galapon; hence, after the finality of the decision

which he rendered on June 8, 1963 in Civil Case No. 3010 and his two questioned orders dated October 23, 1963 and November 11, 1963. Therefore,

of

taken place over one year after the finality of the decision in Civil Case No. 3010

Macariola, That he was authorized by his client to submit said project of partition, (See Exh. B and tsn p. 24, January 20, 1969). While it is true that such written authority if there was any, was not presented by respondent in evidence, nor did Atty. Ramo appear to corroborate the statement of respondent, his affidavit being

the property was no longer subject of litigation.

the

only one that was presented as respondent's Exh. 10, certain actuations of

The subsequent filing on November 9, or 11, 1968 of Civil Case No. 4234 can no longer alter, change or affect the aforesaid facts — that the questioned sale to respondent Judge, now Court of Appeals Justice, was effected and

Mrs. Macariola lead this investigator to believe that she knew the contents of the project of partition, Exh. A, and that she gave her conformity thereto. I refer to the following documents:

consummated long after the finality of the aforesaid decision or orders. Consequently, the sale of a portion of Lot 1184-E to respondent Judge having

as well as the two orders approving the project of partition, and not during the pendency of the litigation, there was no violation of paragraph 5, Article 1491 of the New Civil Code.

1) Exh. 9 — Certified true copy of OCT No. 19520 covering Lot 1154 of the Tacloban Cadastral Survey in which the deceased Francisco Reyes holds a "1/4 share" (Exh. 9-a). On tills certificate of title the Order dated November 11, 1963, (Exh. U) approving the project of partition was duly entered and registered on November 26, 1963 (Exh. 9-D); 2) Exh. 7 — Certified copy of a deed of absolute sale executed by Bernardita

is also argued by complainant herein that the sale on July 31, 1964 of Lot 1184-E to Dr. Arcadio Galapon by Priscilla Reyes, Adela Reyes and Luz R.

It

Reyes Macariola on October 22, 1963, conveying to Dr. Hector Decena the one- fourth share of the late Francisco Reyes-Diaz in Lot 1154. In this deed of sale the

Bakunawa was only a mere scheme to conceal the illegal and unethical transfer

vendee stated that she was the absolute owner of said one-fourth share, the

of

said lot to respondent Judge as a consideration for the approval of the project

same having been adjudicated to her as her share in the estate of her father

of

partition. In this connection, We agree with the findings of the Investigating

Francisco Reyes Diaz as per decision of the Court of First Instance of Leyte

Justice thus:

under case No. 3010 (Exh. 7-A). The deed of sale was duly registered and

And so we are now confronted with this all-important question whether or not the acquisition by respondent of a portion of Lot 1184-E and the subsequent transfer

annotated at the back of OCT 19520 on December 3, 1963 (see Exh. 9-e). In connection with the abovementioned documents it is to be noted that in the

of

the whole lot to "TRADERS" of which respondent was the President and his

project of partition dated October 16, 1963, which was approved by respondent

wife the Secretary, was intimately related to the Order of respondent approving the project of partition, Exh. A. Respondent vehemently denies any interest or participation in the transactions between the Reyeses and the Galapons concerning Lot 1184-E, and he insists that there is no evidence whatsoever to show that Dr. Galapon had acted, in the purchase of Lot 1184-E, in mediation for him and his wife. (See p. 14 of Respondent's Memorandum).

on October 23, 1963, followed by an amending Order on November 11, 1963, Lot 1154 or rather 1/4 thereof was adjudicated to Mrs. Macariola. It is this 1/4 share in Lot 1154 which complainant sold to Dr. Decena on October 22, 1963, several days after the preparation of the project of partition. Counsel for complainant stresses the view, however, that the latter sold her one- fourth share in Lot 1154 by virtue of the decision in Civil Case 3010 and not because of the project of partition, Exh. A. Such contention is absurd because

28

from the decision, Exh. C, it is clear that one-half of one- fourth of Lot 1154 belonged to the estate of Francisco Reyes Diaz while the other half of said one-

Finally, while it is. true that respondent Judge did not violate paragraph 5, Article

litigants in civil case 3010, the lawyers practising in his court, and the public in general to doubt the honesty and fairness of his actuations and the integrity of

fourth was the share of complainant's mother, Felisa Espiras; in other words, the

our

courts of justice" (pp. 395396, rec.).

decision did not adjudicate the whole of the one-fourth of Lot 1154 to the herein

II

complainant (see Exhs. C-3 & C-4). Complainant became the owner of the entire one-fourth of Lot 1154 only by means of the project of partition, Exh. A. Therefore, if Mrs. Macariola sold Lot 1154 on October 22, 1963, it was for no other reason than that she was wen aware of the distribution of the properties of her deceased father as per Exhs. A and B. It is also significant at this point to

With respect to the second cause of action, the complainant alleged that respondent Judge violated paragraphs 1 and 5, Article 14 of the Code of Commerce when he associated himself with the Traders Manufacturing and Fishing Industries, Inc. as a stockholder and a ranking officer, said corporation having been organized to engage in business. Said Article provides that:

state that Mrs. Macariola admitted during the cross-examination that she went to

Article 14 — The following cannot engage in commerce, either in person or by

Tacloban City in connection with the sale of Lot 1154 to Dr. Decena (tsn p. 92, November 28, 1968) from which we can deduce that she could not have been kept ignorant of the proceedings in civil case 3010 relative to the project of

proxy, nor can they hold any office or have any direct, administrative, or financial intervention in commercial or industrial companies within the limits of the districts, provinces, or towns in which they discharge their duties:

partition. Complainant also assails the project of partition because according to her the properties adjudicated to her were insignificant lots and the least valuable. Complainant, however, did not present any direct and positive evidence to prove the alleged gross inequalities in the choice and distribution of the real properties

1. Justices of the Supreme Court, judges and officials of the department of public prosecution in active service. This provision shall not be applicable to mayors, municipal judges, and municipal prosecuting attorneys nor to those who by chance are temporarily discharging the functions of judge or prosecuting attorney.

when she could have easily done so by presenting evidence on the area,

xxx

xxx xxx

location, kind, the assessed and market value of said properties. Without such evidence there is nothing in the record to show that there were inequalities in the distribution of the properties of complainant's father (pp. 386389, rec.).

1491 of the New Civil Code in acquiring by purchase a portion of Lot 1184-E which was in litigation in his court, it was, however, improper for him to have

5. Those who by virtue of laws or special provisions may not engage in commerce in a determinate territory.

It is Our considered view that although the aforestated provision is incorporated in the Code of Commerce which is part of the commercial laws of the Philippines, it, however, partakes of the nature of a political law as it regulates the relationship between the government and certain public officers and employees,

acquired the same. He should be reminded of Canon 3 of the Canons of Judicial

like

justices and judges.

Ethics which requires that: "A judge's official conduct should be free from the appearance of impropriety, and his personal behavior, not only upon the bench

Political Law has been defined as that branch of public law which deals with the organization and operation of the governmental organs of the State and define

and in the performance of judicial duties, but also in his everyday life, should be

the

relations of the state with the inhabitants of its territory (People vs. Perfecto,

it was

unwise and indiscreet on the part of respondent to have purchased or acquired a portion of a piece of property that was or had been in litigation in his court and caused it to be transferred to a corporation of which he and his wife were ranking officers at the time of such transfer. One who occupies an exalted position in the judiciary has the duty and responsibility of maintaining the faith and trust of the citizenry in the courts of justice, so that not only must he be truly honest and just, but his actuations must be such as not give cause for doubt and mistrust in the uprightness of his administration of justice. In this particular case of respondent, he cannot deny that the transactions over Lot 1184-E are damaging and render his actuations open to suspicion and distrust. Even if respondent honestly believed that Lot 1184-E was no longer in litigation in his court and that he was purchasing it from a third person and not from the parties to the litigation, he should nonetheless have refrained from buying it for himself and transferring it to a corporation in which he and his wife were financially involved, to avoid possible suspicion that his acquisition was related in one way or another to his official actuations in civil case 3010. The conduct of respondent gave cause for the

beyond reproach." And as aptly observed by the Investigating Justice: "

43 Phil. 887, 897 [1922]). It may be recalled that political law embraces constitutional law, law of public corporations, administrative law including the law on public officers and elections. Specifically, Article 14 of the Code of Commerce partakes more of the nature of an administrative law because it regulates the conduct of certain public officers and employees with respect to engaging in business: hence, political in essence. It is significant to note that the present Code of Commerce is the Spanish Code of Commerce of 1885, with some modifications made by the "Commission de Codificacion de las Provincias de Ultramar," which was extended to the Philippines by the Royal Decree of August 6, 1888, and took effect as law in this jurisdiction on December 1, 1888. Upon the transfer of sovereignty from Spain to the United States and later on from the United States to the Republic of the Philippines, Article 14 of this Code of Commerce must be deemed to have been abrogated because where there is change of sovereignty, the political laws of the former sovereign, whether compatible or not with those of the new sovereign, are automatically abrogated, unless they are expressly re-enacted by affirmative act of the new sovereign.

29

Thus, We held in Roa vs. Collector of Customs (23 Phil. 315, 330, 311 [1912]) that:

By well-settled public law, upon the cession of territory by one nation to another,

either following a conquest or otherwise,

nature and pertain to the prerogatives of the former government immediately cease upon the transfer of sovereignty. (Opinion, Atty. Gen., July 10, 1899). While municipal laws of the newly acquired territory not in conflict with the, laws of the new sovereign continue in force without the express assent or affirmative act of the conqueror, the political laws do not. (Halleck's Int. Law, chap. 34, par. 14). However, such political laws of the prior sovereignty as are not in conflict with the constitution or institutions of the new sovereign, may be continued in force if the conqueror shall so declare by affirmative act of the commander-in- chief during the war, or by Congress in time of peace. (Ely's Administrator vs. United States, 171 U.S. 220, 43 L. Ed. 142). In the case of American and Ocean Ins. Cos. vs. 356 Bales of Cotton (1 Pet. [26 U.S.] 511, 542, 7 L. Ed. 242), Chief Justice Marshall said:

those laws which are political in their

On such transfer (by cession) of territory, it has never been held that the relations of the inhabitants with each other undergo any change. Their relations with their former sovereign are dissolved, and new relations are created between them and the government which has acquired their territory. The same act which transfers their country, transfers the allegiance of those who remain in it; and the law which may be denominated political, is necessarily changed, although that which regulates the intercourse and general conduct of individuals, remains in force, until altered by the newly- created power of the State. Likewise, in People vs. Perfecto (43 Phil. 887, 897 [1922]), this Court stated that:

"It is a general principle of the public law that on acquisition of territory the previous political relations of the ceded region are totally abrogated. " There appears no enabling or affirmative act that continued the effectivity of the aforestated provision of the Code of Commerce after the change of sovereignty from Spain to the United States and then to the Republic of the Philippines. Consequently, Article 14 of the Code of Commerce has no legal and binding effect and cannot apply to the respondent, then Judge of the Court of First Instance, now Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals. It is also argued by complainant herein that respondent Judge violated paragraph H, Section 3 of Republic Act No. 3019, otherwise known as the Anti- Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, which provides that:

Sec. 3. Corrupt practices of public officers. — In addition to acts or omissions of public officers already penalized by existing law, the following shall constitute corrupt practices of any public officer and are hereby declared to be unlawful:

x x x

(h) Directly or indirectly having financial or pecuniary interest in any business, contract or transaction in connection with which he intervenes or takes part in his official capacity, or in which he is prohibited by the Constitution or by any Iaw from having any interest. Respondent Judge cannot be held liable under the aforestated paragraph because there is no showing that respondent participated or intervened in his

x x x

x x x

official capacity in the business or transactions of the Traders Manufacturing and Fishing Industries, Inc. In the case at bar, the business of the corporation in which respondent participated has obviously no relation or connection with his judicial office. The business of said corporation is not that kind where respondent intervenes or takes part in his capacity as Judge of the Court of First Instance. As was held in one case involving the application of Article 216 of the Revised Penal Code which has a similar prohibition on public officers against directly or indirectly becoming interested in any contract or business in which it is his official duty to intervene, "(I)t is not enough to be a public official to be subject to this crime; it is necessary that by reason of his office, he has to intervene in said contracts or transactions; and, hence, the official who intervenes in contracts or transactions which have no relation to his office cannot commit this crime.' (People vs. Meneses, C.A. 40 O.G. 11th Supp. 134, cited by Justice Ramon C. Aquino; Revised Penal Code, p. 1174, Vol. 11 [1976]). It does not appear also from the records that the aforesaid corporation gained any undue advantage in its business operations by reason of respondent's financial involvement in it, or that the corporation benefited in one way or another in any case filed by or against it in court. It is undisputed that there was no case filed in the different branches of the Court of First Instance of Leyte in which the corporation was either party plaintiff or defendant except Civil Case No. 4234 entitled "Bernardita R. Macariola, plaintiff, versus Sinforosa O. Bales, et al.," wherein the complainant herein sought to recover Lot 1184-E from the aforesaid corporation. It must be noted, however, that Civil Case No. 4234 was filed only on November 9 or 11, 1968 and decided on November 2, 1970 by CFI Judge Jose D. Nepomuceno when respondent Judge was no longer connected with the corporation, having disposed of his interest therein on January 31, 1967. Furthermore, respondent is not liable under the same paragraph because there is no provision in both the 1935 and 1973 Constitutions of the Philippines, nor is there an existing law expressly prohibiting members of the Judiciary from engaging or having interest in any lawful business. It may be pointed out that Republic Act No. 296, as amended, also known as the Judiciary Act of 1948, does not contain any prohibition to that effect. As a matter of fact, under Section 77 of said law, municipal judges may engage in teaching or other vocation not involving the practice of law after office hours but with the permission of the district judge concerned. Likewise, Article 14 of the Code of Commerce which prohibits judges from engaging in commerce is, as heretofore stated, deemed abrogated automatically upon the transfer of sovereignty from Spain to America, because it is political in nature. Moreover, the prohibition in paragraph 5, Article 1491 of the New Civil Code against the purchase by judges of a property in litigation before the court within whose jurisdiction they perform their duties, cannot apply to respondent Judge because the sale of the lot in question to him took place after the finality of his decision in Civil Case No. 3010 as well as his two orders approving the project of partition; hence, the property was no longer subject of litigation.

30

In addition, although Section 12, Rule XVIII of the Civil Service Rules made pursuant to the Civil Service Act of 1959 prohibits an officer or employee in the

civil service from engaging in any private business, vocation, or profession or be connected with any commercial, credit, agricultural or industrial undertaking without a written permission from the head of department, the same, however, may not fall within the purview of paragraph h, Section 3 of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act because the last portion of said paragraph speaks of a prohibition by the Constitution or law on any public officer from having any interest in any business and not by a mere administrative rule or regulation. Thus, a violation of the aforesaid rule by any officer or employee in the civil service, that is, engaging in private business without a written permission from the Department Head may not constitute graft and corrupt practice as defined by law. On the contention of complainant that respondent Judge violated Section 12, Rule XVIII of the Civil Service Rules, We hold that the Civil Service Act of 1959 (R.A. No. 2260) and the Civil Service Rules promulgated thereunder, particularly Section 12 of Rule XVIII, do not apply to the members of the Judiciary. Under said Section 12: "No officer or employee shall engage directly in any private business, vocation, or profession or be connected with any commercial, credit, agricultural or industrial undertaking without a written permission from the Head "

of Department It must be emphasized at the outset that respondent, being a member of the Judiciary, is covered by Republic Act No. 296, as amended, otherwise known as the Judiciary Act of 1948 and by Section 7, Article X, 1973 Constitution. Under Section 67 of said law, the power to remove or dismiss judges was then vested in the President of the Philippines, not in the Commissioner of Civil Service, and only on two grounds, namely, serious misconduct and inefficiency, and upon the recommendation of the Supreme Court, which alone is authorized, upon its own motion, or upon information of the Secretary (now Minister) of

Justice to conduct the corresponding investigation. Clearly, the aforesaid section defines the grounds and prescribes the special procedure for the discipline of judges. And under Sections 5, 6 and 7, Article X of the 1973 Constitution, only the Supreme Court can discipline judges of inferior courts as well as other personnel of the Judiciary. It is true that under Section 33 of the Civil Service Act of 1959: "The

violation of the existing Civil Service Law and rules or

Commissioner may, for

of reasonable office regulations, or in the interest of the service, remove any subordinate officer or employee from the service, demote him in rank, suspend him for not more than one year without pay or fine him in an amount not exceeding six months' salary." Thus, a violation of Section 12 of Rule XVIII is a ground for disciplinary action against civil service officers and employees. However, judges cannot be considered as subordinate civil service officers or employees subject to the disciplinary authority of the Commissioner of Civil Service; for, certainly, the Commissioner is not the head of the Judicial Department to which they belong. The Revised Administrative Code (Section 89)

and the Civil Service Law itself state that the Chief Justice is the department head of the Supreme Court (Sec. 20, R.A. No. 2260) [1959]); and under the 1973 Constitution, the Judiciary is the only other or second branch of the government

(Sec. 1, Art. X, 1973 Constitution). Besides, a violation of Section 12, Rule XVIII cannot be considered as a ground for disciplinary action against judges because to recognize the same as applicable to them, would be adding another ground for the discipline of judges and, as aforestated, Section 67 of the Judiciary Act recognizes only two grounds for their removal, namely, serious misconduct and inefficiency. Moreover, under Section 16(i) of the Civil Service Act of 1959, it is the Commissioner of Civil Service who has original and exclusive jurisdiction "(T)o decide, within one hundred twenty days, after submission to it, all administrative cases against permanent officers and employees in the competitive service, and, except as provided by law, to have final authority to pass upon their removal, separation, and suspension and upon all matters relating to the conduct, discipline, and efficiency of such officers and employees; and prescribe standards, guidelines and regulations governing the administration of discipline" (emphasis supplied). There is no question that a judge belong to the non-competitive or unclassified service of the government as a Presidential appointee and is therefore not covered by the aforesaid provision. WE have

in interpreting Section 16(i) of Republic Act No. 2260, we

already ruled that "

emphasized that only permanent officers and employees who belong to the classified service come under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Commissioner of Civil Service" (Villaluz vs. Zaldivar, 15 SCRA 710,713 [1965], Ang-Angco vs. Castillo, 9 SCRA 619 [1963]). Although the actuation of respondent Judge in engaging in private business by joining the Traders Manufacturing and Fishing Industries, Inc. as a stockholder and a ranking officer, is not violative of the provissions of Article 14 of the Code of Commerce and Section 3(h) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act as well as Section 12, Rule XVIII of the Civil Service Rules promulgated pursuant to the Civil Service Act of 1959, the impropriety of the same is clearly unquestionable because Canon 25 of the Canons of Judicial Ethics expressly declares that:

A judge should abstain from making personal investments in enterprises which are apt to be involved in litigation in his court; and, after his accession to the bench, he should not retain such investments previously made, longer than a period sufficient to enable him to dispose of them without serious loss. It is desirable that he should, so far as reasonably possible, refrain from all relations which would normally tend to arouse the suspicion that such relations warp or bias his judgment, or prevent his impartial attitude of mind in the administration of his judicial WE are not, however, unmindful of the fact that respondent Judge and his wife had withdrawn on January 31, 1967 from the aforesaid corporation and sold their respective shares to third parties, and it appears also that the aforesaid corporation did not in anyway benefit in any case filed by or against it in court as there was no case filed in the different branches of the Court of First Instance of Leyte from the time of the drafting of the Articles of Incorporation of the

31

corporation on March 12, 1966, up to its incorporation on January 9, 1967, and the eventual withdrawal of respondent on January 31, 1967 from said corporation. Such disposal or sale by respondent and his wife of their shares in

the corporation only 22 days after the incorporation of the corporation, indicates that respondent realized that early that their interest in the corporation contravenes the aforesaid Canon 25. Respondent Judge and his wife therefore deserve the commendation for their immediate withdrawal from the firm after its incorporation and before it became involved in any court litigation

III

With respect to the third and fourth causes of action, complainant alleged that respondent was guilty of coddling an impostor and acted in disregard of judicial

decorum, and that there was culpable defiance of the law and utter disregard for ethics. WE agree, however, with the recommendation of the Investigating Justice that respondent Judge be exonerated because the aforesaid causes of action are groundless, and WE quote the pertinent portion of her report which reads as

follows:

The basis for complainant's third cause of action is the claim that respondent associated and closely fraternized with Dominador Arigpa Tan who openly and publicly advertised himself as a practising attorney (see Exhs. I, I-1 and J) when in truth and in fact said Dominador Arigpa Tan does not appear in the Roll of Attorneys and is not a member of the Philippine Bar as certified to in Exh. K. The "respondent denies knowing that Dominador Arigpa Tan was an "impostor" and claims that all the time he believed that the latter was a bona fide member of the bar. I see no reason for disbelieving this assertion of respondent. It has been shown by complainant that Dominador Arigpa Tan represented himself publicly as an attorney-at-law to the extent of putting up a signboard with his name and the words "Attorney-at Law" (Exh. I and 1- 1) to indicate his office, and it was but natural for respondent and any person for that matter to have accepted that statement on its face value. "Now with respect to the allegation of complainant that respondent is guilty of fraternizing with Dominador Arigpa Tan to the extent of permitting his wife to be a godmother of Mr. Tan's child at baptism (Exh. M & M-1), that fact even if true did not render respondent guilty of violating any canon of judicial ethics as long as his friendly relations with Dominador A. Tan and family did not influence his official actuations as a judge where said persons were concerned. There is no tangible convincing proof that herein respondent gave any undue privileges in his court to Dominador Arigpa Tan or that the latter benefitted in his practice of law from his personal relations with respondent, or that he used his influence, if he had any, on the Judges of the other branches of the Court to favor said Dominador Tan. Of course it is highly desirable for a member of the judiciary to refrain as much as possible from maintaining close friendly relations with practising attorneys and litigants in his court so as to avoid suspicion 'that his social or business relations or friendship constitute an element in determining his judicial course" (par. 30, Canons of Judicial Ethics), but if a Judge does have social relations, that in itself would not constitute a ground for disciplinary action unless it be clearly shown

that his social relations be clouded his official actuations with bias and partiality

in favor of his friends (pp. 403-405, rec.).

In conclusion, while respondent Judge Asuncion, now Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals, did not violate any law in acquiring by purchase a parcel of

land which was in litigation in his court and in engaging in business by joining a private corporation during his incumbency as judge of the Court of First Instance

of Leyte, he should be reminded to be more discreet in his private and business

activities, because his conduct as a member of the Judiciary must not only be characterized with propriety but must always be above suspicion. WHEREFORE, THE RESPONDENT ASSOCIATE JUSTICE OF THE COURT OF APPEALS IS HEREBY REMINDED TO BE MORE DISCREET IN HIS PRIVATE AND BUSINESS ACTIVITIES. SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 104768 July 21, 2003 REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner, vs.

SANDIGANBAYAN, MAJOR GENERAL JOSEPHUS Q. RAMAS and ELIZABETH DIMAANO, Respondents.

D E C I S I O N

CARPIO, J.:

The Case Before this Court is a petition for review on certiorari seeking to set aside the Resolutions of the Sandiganbayan (First Division) 1 dated 18 November 1991 and 25 March 1992 in Civil Case No. 0037. The first Resolution dismissed petitioner’s Amended Complaint and ordered the return of the confiscated items to respondent Elizabeth Dimaano, while the second Resolution denied petitioner’s Motion for Reconsideration. Petitioner prays for the grant of the reliefs sought in its Amended Complaint, or in the alternative, for the remand of this case to the Sandiganbayan (First Division) for further proceedings allowing petitioner to complete the presentation of its evidence. Antecedent Facts Immediately upon her assumption to office following the successful EDSA Revolution, then President Corazon C. Aquino issued Executive Order No. 1 ("EO No. 1") creating the Presidential Commission on Good Government ("PCGG"). EO No. 1 primarily tasked the PCGG to recover all ill-gotten wealth of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos, his immediate family, relatives, subordinates and close associates. EO No. 1 vested the PCGG with the power "(a) to conduct investigation as may be necessary in order to accomplish and carry out the purposes of this order" and the power "(h) to promulgate such rules and regulations as may be necessary to carry out the purpose of this order." Accordingly, the PCGG, through its then Chairman Jovito R. Salonga, created an AFP Anti-Graft Board ("AFP Board") tasked to investigate reports of unexplained wealth and corrupt practices by AFP personnel, whether in the active service or retired. 2

32

Based on its mandate, the AFP Board investigated various reports of alleged unexplained wealth of respondent Major General Josephus Q. Ramas ("Ramas"). On 27 July 1987, the AFP Board issued a Resolution on its findings and recommendation on the reported unexplained wealth of Ramas. The relevant part of the Resolution reads:

III. FINDINGS and EVALUATION:

Evidence in the record showed that respondent is the owner of a house and lot

located at 15-Yakan St., La Vista, Quezon City. He is also the owner of a house and lot located in Cebu City. The lot has an area of 3,327 square meters. The value of the property located in Quezon City may be estimated modestly at

700,000.00.

The equipment/items and communication facilities which were found in the premises of Elizabeth Dimaano and were confiscated by elements of the PC Command of Batangas were all covered by invoice receipt in the name of CAPT. EFREN SALIDO, RSO Command Coy, MSC, PA. These items could not have been in the possession of Elizabeth Dimaano if not given for her use by respondent Commanding General of the Philippine Army. Aside from the military equipment/items and communications equipment, the raiding team was also able to confiscate money in the amount of 2,870,000.00 and $50,000 US Dollars in the house of Elizabeth Dimaano on 3 March 1986. Affidavits of members of the Military Security Unit, Military Security Command, Philippine Army, stationed at Camp Eldridge, Los Baños, Laguna, disclosed that Elizabeth Dimaano is the mistress of respondent. That respondent usually goes and stays and sleeps in the alleged house of Elizabeth Dimaano in Barangay Tengga, Itaas, Batangas City and when he arrives, Elizabeth Dimaano embraces and kisses respondent. That on February 25, 1986, a person who rode in a car

went to the residence of Elizabeth Dimaano with four (4) attache cases filled with money and owned by MGen Ramas. Sworn statement in the record disclosed also that Elizabeth Dimaano had no visible means of income and is supported by respondent for she was formerly a mere secretary. Taking in toto the evidence, Elizabeth Dimaano could not have used the military equipment/items seized in her house on March 3, 1986 without the consent of respondent, he being the Commanding General of the Philippine Army. It is also impossible for Elizabeth Dimaano to claim that she owns the 2,870,000.00 and $50,000 US Dollars for she had no visible source of income. This money was never declared in the Statement of Assets and Liabilities of respondent. There was an intention to cover the existence of these money because these are all ill-gotten and unexplained wealth. Were it not for the affidavits of the members of the Military Security Unit assigned at Camp Eldridge, Los Baños, Laguna, the existence and ownership of these money would have never been known. The Statement of Assets and Liabilities of respondent were also submitted for scrutiny and analysis by the Board’s consultant. Although the amount of

2,870,000.00 and $50,000 US Dollars were not included, still it was disclosed

that respondent has an unexplained wealth of 104,134. 60.

IV. CONCLUSION:

In view of the foregoing, the Board finds that a prima facie case exists against respondent for ill-gotten and unexplained wealth in the amount of 2,974,134.00 and $50,000 US Dollars. V. RECOMMENDATION:

Wherefore it is recommended that Maj. Gen. Josephus Q. Ramas (ret.) be prosecuted and tried for violation of RA 3019, as amended, otherwise known as "Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act" and RA 1379, as amended, otherwise known as "The Act for the Forfeiture of Unlawfully Acquired Property." 3 Thus, on 1 August 1987, the PCGG filed a petition for forfeiture under Republic Act No. 1379 ("RA No. 1379") 4 against Ramas. Before Ramas could answer the petition, then Solicitor General Francisco I. Chavez filed an Amended Complaint naming the Republic of the Philippines ("petitioner"), represented by the PCGG, as plaintiff and Ramas as defendant. The Amended Complaint also impleaded Elizabeth Dimaano ("Dimaano") as co- defendant. The Amended Complaint alleged that Ramas was the Commanding General of the Philippine Army until 1986. On the other hand, Dimaano was a confidential agent of the Military Security Unit, Philippine Army, assigned as a clerk-typist at the office of Ramas from 1 January 1978 to February 1979. The Amended Complaint further alleged that Ramas "acquired funds, assets and properties manifestly out of proportion to his salary as an army officer and his other income from legitimately acquired property by taking undue advantage of his public office and/or using his power, authority and influence as such officer of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and as a subordinate and close associate of the deposed President Ferdinand Marcos." 5 The Amended Complaint also alleged that the AFP Board, after a previous inquiry, found reasonable ground to believe that respondents have violated RA No. 1379. 6 The Amended Complaint prayed for, among others, the forfeiture of respondents’ properties, funds and equipment in favor of the State. Ramas filed an Answer with Special and/or Affirmative Defenses and Compulsory Counterclaim to the Amended Complaint. In his Answer, Ramas contended that his property consisted only of a residential house at La Vista Subdivision, Quezon City, valued at 700,000, which was not out of proportion to his salary and other legitimate income. He denied ownership of any mansion in Cebu City and the cash, communications equipment and other items confiscated from the house of Dimaano. Dimaano filed her own Answer to the Amended Complaint. Admitting her employment as a clerk-typist in the office of Ramas from January-November 1978 only, Dimaano claimed ownership of the monies, communications equipment, jewelry and land titles taken from her house by the Philippine Constabulary raiding team. After termination of the pre-trial, 7 the court set the case for trial on the merits on 9-11 November 1988.

33

On 9 November 1988, petitioner asked for a deferment of the hearing due to its lack of preparation for trial and the absence of witnesses and vital documents to support its case. The court reset the hearing to 17 and 18 April 1989. On 13 April 1989, petitioner filed a motion for leave to amend the complaint in order "to charge the delinquent properties with being subject to forfeiture as having been unlawfully acquired by defendant Dimaano alone x x x." 8 Nevertheless, in an order dated 17 April 1989, the Sandiganbayan proceeded with petitioner’s presentation of evidence on the ground that the motion for leave to amend complaint did not state when petitioner would file the amended complaint. The Sandiganbayan further stated that the subject matter of the amended complaint was on its face vague and not related to the existing complaint. The Sandiganbayan also held that due to the time that the case had been pending in court, petitioner should proceed to present its evidence. After presenting only three witnesses, petitioner asked for a postponement of the trial. On 28 September 1989, during the continuation of the trial, petitioner manifested its inability to proceed to trial because of the absence of other witnesses or lack of further evidence to present. Instead, petitioner reiterated its motion to amend the complaint to conform to the evidence already presented or to change the averments to show that Dimaano alone unlawfully acquired the monies or properties subject of the forfeiture. The Sandiganbayan noted that petitioner had already delayed the case for over a year mainly because of its many postponements. Moreover, petitioner would want the case to revert to its preliminary stage when in fact the case had long been ready for trial. The Sandiganbayan ordered petitioner to prepare for presentation of its additional evidence, if any. During the trial on 23 March 1990, petitioner again admitted its inability to present further evidence. Giving petitioner one more chance to present further evidence or to amend the complaint to conform to its evidence, the Sandiganbayan reset the trial to 18 May 1990. The Sandiganbayan, however, hinted that the re-setting was without prejudice to any action that private respondents might take under the circumstances. However, on 18 May 1990, petitioner again expressed its inability to proceed to trial because it had no further evidence to present. Again, in the interest of justice, the Sandiganbayan granted petitioner 60 days within which to file an appropriate pleading. The Sandiganbayan, however, warned petitioner that failure to act would constrain the court to take drastic action. Private respondents then filed their motions to dismiss based on Republic v. Migrino. 9 The Court held in Migrino that the PCGG does not have jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute military officers by reason of mere position held without a showing that they are "subordinates" of former President Marcos. On 18 November 1991, the Sandiganbayan rendered a resolution, the dispositive portion of which states:

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered dismissing the Amended Complaint, without pronouncement as to costs. The counterclaims are likewise

dismissed for lack of merit, but the confiscated sum of money, communications

equipment, jewelry and land titles are ordered returned to Elizabeth Dimaano. The records of this case are hereby remanded and referred to the Hon. Ombudsman, who has primary jurisdiction over the forfeiture cases under R.A.

No. 1379, for such appropriate action as the evidence warrants. This case is also

referred to the Commissioner of the Bureau of Internal Revenue for a

determination of any tax liability of respondent Elizabeth Dimaano in connection

herewith.

SO ORDERED. On 4 December 1991, petitioner filed its Motion for Reconsideration. In answer to the Motion for Reconsideration, private respondents filed a Joint Comment/Opposition to which petitioner filed its Reply on 10 January 1992. On 25 March 1992, the Sandiganbayan rendered a Resolution denying the Motion for Reconsideration. Ruling of the Sandiganbayan The Sandiganbayan dismissed the Amended Complaint on the following grounds:

(1.) The actions taken by the PCGG are not in accordance with the rulings of the Supreme Court in Cruz, Jr. v. Sandiganbayan 10 and Republic v. Migrino 11 which involve the same issues.

(2.) No previous inquiry similar to preliminary investigations in criminal cases was conducted against Ramas and Dimaano. (3.) The evidence adduced against Ramas does not constitute a prima facie case against him. (4.) There was an illegal search and seizure of the items confiscated. The Issues Petitioner raises the following issues:

A. RESPONDENT COURT SERIOUSLY ERRED IN CONCLUDING THAT

PETITIONER’S EVIDENCE CANNOT MAKE A CASE FOR FORFEITURE AND THAT THERE WAS NO SHOWING OF CONSPIRACY, COLLUSION OR RELATIONSHIP BY CONSANGUINITY OR AFFINITY BY AND BETWEEN RESPONDENT RAMAS AND RESPONDENT DIMAANO NOTWITHSTANDING THE FACT THAT SUCH CONCLUSIONS WERE CLEARLY UNFOUNDED AND PREMATURE, HAVING BEEN RENDERED PRIOR TO THE COMPLETION OF THE PRESENTATION OF THE EVIDENCE OF THE PETITIONER.

B. RESPONDENT COURT SERIOUSLY ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE

ACTIONS TAKEN BY THE PETITIONER, INCLUDING THE FILING OF THE ORIGINAL COMPLAINT AND THE AMENDED COMPLAINT, SHOULD BE STRUCK OUT IN LINE WITH THE RULINGS OF THE SUPREME COURT IN CRUZ, JR. v. SANDIGANBAYAN, 194 SCRA 474 AND REPUBLIC v. MIGRINO, 189 SCRA 289, NOTWITHSTANDING THE FACT THAT:

1. The cases of Cruz, Jr. v. Sandiganbayan, supra, and Republic v. Migrino, supra, are clearly not applicable to this case; 2. Any procedural defect in the institution of the complaint in Civil Case No. 0037 was cured and/or waived by respondents with the filing of their respective answers with counterclaim; and

34

3. The separate motions to dismiss were evidently improper considering that they were filed after commencement of the presentation of the evidence of the petitioner and even before the latter was allowed to formally offer its evidence and rest its case; C. RESPONDENT COURT SERIOUSLY ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE

SEC. 2. The Commission shall be charged with the task of assisting the

(a) The recovery of all ill-gotten wealth accumulated by former President

Petitioner, however, does not claim that the President assigned Ramas’ case to the PCGG. Therefore, Ramas’ case should fall under the first category of AFP personnel before the PCGG could exercise its jurisdiction over him. Petitioner argues that Ramas was undoubtedly a subordinate of former President Marcos because of his position as the Commanding General of the Philippine Army.

ARTICLES AND THINGS SUCH AS SUMS OF MONEY, COMMUNICATIONS EQUIPMENT, JEWELRY AND LAND TITLES CONFISCATED FROM THE HOUSE OF RESPONDENT DIMAANO WERE ILLEGALLY SEIZED AND THEREFORE EXCLUDED AS EVIDENCE. 12 The Court’s Ruling First Issue: PCGG’s Jurisdiction to Investigate Private Respondents This case involves a revisiting of an old issue already decided by this Court in Cruz, Jr. v. Sandiganbayan 13 and Republic v. Migrino. 14 The primary issue for resolution is whether the PCGG has the jurisdiction to

Petitioner claims that Ramas’ position enabled him to receive orders directly from his commander-in-chief, undeniably making him a subordinate of former President Marcos. We hold that Ramas was not a "subordinate" of former President Marcos in the sense contemplated under EO No. 1 and its amendments. Mere position held by a military officer does not automatically make him a "subordinate" as this term is used in EO Nos. 1, 2, 14 and 14-A absent a showing that he enjoyed close association with former President Marcos. Migrino discussed this issue in this wise:

investigate and cause the filing of a forfeiture petition against Ramas and

A

close reading of EO No. 1 and related executive orders will readily show what

Dimaano for unexplained wealth under RA No. 1379. We hold that PCGG has no such jurisdiction. The PCGG created the AFP Board to investigate the unexplained wealth and corrupt practices of AFP personnel, whether in the active service or retired. 15 The PCGG tasked the AFP Board to make the necessary recommendations to appropriate government agencies on the action to be taken based on its findings. 16 The PCGG gave this task to the AFP Board pursuant to the PCGG’s power under Section 3 of EO No. 1 "to conduct investigation as may be necessary in order to accomplish and to carry out the purposes of this order." EO No. 1 gave the PCGG specific responsibilities, to wit:

President in regard to the following matters:

Ferdinand E. Marcos, his immediate family, relatives, subordinates and close associates, whether located in the Philippines or abroad, including the takeover and sequestration of all business enterprises and entities owned or controlled by them, during his administration, directly or through nominees, by taking undue advantage of their public office and/ or using their powers, authority, influence, connections or relationship.

is

express the urgent need to recover the ill-gotten wealth amassed by former President Ferdinand E. Marcos, his immediate family, relatives, and close associates both here and abroad. EO No. 2 freezes ‘all assets and properties in the Philippines in which former President Marcos and/or his wife, Mrs. Imelda Marcos, their close relatives, subordinates, business associates, dummies, agents, or nominees have any interest or participation.’ Applying the rule in statutory construction known as ejusdem generis that is- ‘[W]here general words follow an enumeration of persons or things by words of a particular and specific meaning, such general words are not to be construed in

their widest extent, but are to be held as applying only to persons or things of the same kind or class as those specifically mentioned [Smith, Bell & Co, Ltd. vs. Register of Deeds of Davao, 96 Phil. 53, 58, citing Black on Interpretation of Laws, 2nd Ed., 203].’ [T]he term "subordinate" as used in EO Nos. 1 & 2 refers to one who enjoys a close association with former President Marcos and/or his wife, similar to the immediate family member, relative, and close associate in EO No. 1 and the close relative, business associate, dummy, agent, or nominee in EO No. 2.

contemplated within the term ‘subordinate.’ The Whereas Clauses of EO No. 1

(b) The investigation of such cases of graft and corruption as the President may

x

x x

assign to the Commission from time to time.

It

does not suffice, as in this case, that the respondent is or was a government

x x x. The PCGG, through the AFP Board, can only investigate the unexplained wealth and corrupt practices of AFP personnel who fall under either of the two categories mentioned in Section 2 of EO No. 1. These are: (1) AFP personnel who have accumulated ill-gotten wealth during the administration of former President Marcos by being the latter’s immediate family, relative, subordinate or close associate, taking undue advantage of their public office or using their powers, influence x x x; 17 or (2) AFP personnel involved in other cases of graft and corruption provided the President assigns their cases to the PCGG. 18

official or employee during the administration of former President Marcos. There must be a prima facie showing that the respondent unlawfully accumulated wealth by virtue of his close association or relation with former Pres. Marcos and/ or his wife. (Emphasis supplied) Ramas’ position alone as Commanding General of the Philippine Army with the rank of Major General 19 does not suffice to make him a "subordinate" of former President Marcos for purposes of EO No. 1 and its amendments. The PCGG has to provide a prima facie showing that Ramas was a close associate of former President Marcos, in the same manner that business associates, dummies, agents or nominees of former President Marcos were close to him. Such close

35

association is manifested either by Ramas’ complicity with former President Marcos in the accumulation of ill-gotten wealth by the deposed President or by former President Marcos’ acquiescence in Ramas’ own accumulation of ill-gotten wealth if any. This, the PCGG failed to do. Petitioner’s attempt to differentiate the instant case from Migrino does not convince us. Petitioner argues that unlike in Migrino, the AFP Board Resolution in the instant case states that the AFP Board conducted the investigation pursuant to EO Nos. 1, 2, 14 and 14-A in relation to RA No. 1379. Petitioner asserts that there is a presumption that the PCGG was acting within its jurisdiction of investigating crony-related cases of graft and corruption and that Ramas was truly a subordinate of the former President. However, the same AFP Board Resolution belies this contention. Although the Resolution begins with such statement, it ends with the following recommendation:

V. RECOMMENDATION:

Wherefore it is recommended that Maj. Gen. Josephus Q. Ramas (ret.) be prosecuted and tried for violation of RA 3019, as amended, otherwise known as "Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act" and RA 1379, as amended, otherwise known as "The Act for the Forfeiture of Unlawfully Acquired Property." 20 Thus, although the PCGG sought to investigate and prosecute private respondents under EO Nos. 1, 2, 14 and 14-A, the result yielded a finding of violation of Republic Acts Nos. 3019 and 1379 without any relation to EO Nos. 1, 2, 14 and 14-A. This absence of relation to EO No. 1 and its amendments proves fatal to petitioner’s case. EO No. 1 created the PCGG for a specific and limited purpose, and necessarily its powers must be construed to address such specific and limited purpose. Moreover, the resolution of the AFP Board and even the Amended Complaint do not show that the properties Ramas allegedly owned were accumulated by him in his capacity as a "subordinate" of his commander-in-chief. Petitioner merely enumerated the properties Ramas allegedly owned and suggested that these properties were disproportionate to his salary and other legitimate income without showing that Ramas amassed them because of his close association with former President Marcos. Petitioner, in fact, admits that the AFP Board resolution does not contain a finding that Ramas accumulated his wealth because of his close association with former President Marcos, thus:

10. While it is true that the resolution of the Anti-Graft Board of the New Armed Forces of the Philippines did not categorically find a prima facie evidence showing that respondent Ramas unlawfully accumulated wealth by virtue of his close association or relation with former President Marcos and/or his wife, it is submitted that such omission was not fatal. The resolution of the Anti-Graft Board should be read in the context of the law creating the same and the objective of the investigation which was, as stated in the above, pursuant to Republic Act Nos. 3019 and 1379 in relation to Executive Order Nos. 1, 2, 14 and 14-a; 21 (Emphasis supplied) Such omission is fatal. Petitioner forgets that it is precisely a prima facie showing that the ill-gotten wealth was accumulated by a "subordinate" of former President

Marcos that vests jurisdiction on PCGG. EO No. 1 22 clearly premises the creation of the PCGG on the urgent need to recover all ill-gotten wealth amassed by former President Marcos, his immediate family, relatives, subordinates and close associates. Therefore, to say that such omission was not fatal is clearly contrary to the intent behind the creation of the PCGG. In Cruz, Jr. v. Sandiganbayan, 23 the Court outlined the cases that fall under the jurisdiction of the PCGG pursuant to EO Nos. 1, 2, 24 14, 25 14-A: 26 A careful reading of Sections 2(a) and 3 of Executive Order No. 1 in relation with Sections 1, 2 and 3 of Executive Order No. 14, shows what the authority of the respondent PCGG to investigate and prosecute covers:

(a) the investigation and prosecution of the civil action for the recovery of ill- gotten wealth under Republic Act No. 1379, accumulated by former President Marcos, his immediate family, relatives, subordinates and close associates, whether located in the Philippines or abroad, including the take-over or sequestration of all business enterprises and entities owned or controlled by them, during his administration, directly or through his nominees, by taking undue advantage of their public office and/or using their powers, authority and influence, connections or relationships; and (b) the investigation and prosecution of such offenses committed in the acquisition of said ill-gotten wealth as contemplated under Section 2(a) of Executive Order No. 1. However, other violations of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act not otherwise falling under the foregoing categories, require a previous authority of the President for the respondent PCGG to investigate and prosecute in accordance with Section 2 (b) of Executive Order No. 1. Otherwise, jurisdiction over such cases is vested in the Ombudsman and other duly authorized investigating agencies such as the provincial and city prosecutors, their assistants, the Chief State Prosecutor and his assistants and the state prosecutors. (Emphasis supplied) The proper government agencies, and not the PCGG, should investigate and prosecute forfeiture petitions not falling under EO No. 1 and its amendments. The preliminary investigation of unexplained wealth amassed on or before 25 February 1986 falls under the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman, while the authority to file the corresponding forfeiture petition rests with the Solicitor General. 27 The Ombudsman Act or Republic Act No. 6770 ("RA No. 6770") vests in the Ombudsman the power to conduct preliminary investigation and to file forfeiture proceedings involving unexplained wealth amassed after 25 February 1986. 28 After the pronouncements of the Court in Cruz, the PCGG still pursued this case despite the absence of a prima facie finding that Ramas was a "subordinate" of former President Marcos. The petition for forfeiture filed with the Sandiganbayan should be dismissed for lack of authority by the PCGG to investigate respondents since there is no prima facie showing that EO No. 1 and its amendments apply to respondents. The AFP Board Resolution and even the Amended Complaint state that there are violations of RA Nos. 3019 and 1379. Thus, the PCGG should have recommended Ramas’ case to the Ombudsman

36

who has jurisdiction to conduct the preliminary investigation of ordinary unexplained wealth and graft cases. As stated in Migrino:

[But] in view of the patent lack of authority of the PCGG to investigate and cause the prosecution of private respondent for violation of Rep. Acts Nos. 3019 and 1379, the PCGG must also be enjoined from proceeding with the case, without prejudice to any action that may be taken by the proper prosecutory agency. The rule of law mandates that an agency of government be allowed to exercise only the powers granted to it. Petitioner’s argument that private respondents have waived any defect in the filing of the forfeiture petition by submitting their respective Answers with counterclaim deserves no merit as well. Petitioner has no jurisdiction over private respondents. Thus, there is no jurisdiction to waive in the first place. The PCGG cannot exercise investigative or prosecutorial powers never granted to it. PCGG’s powers are specific and limited. Unless given additional assignment by the President, PCGG’s sole task is only to recover the ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses, their relatives and cronies. 29 Without these elements, the PCGG cannot claim jurisdiction over a case. Private respondents questioned the authority and jurisdiction of the PCGG to investigate and prosecute their cases by filing their Motion to Dismiss as soon as they learned of the pronouncement of the Court in Migrino. This case was decided on 30 August 1990, which explains why private respondents only filed their Motion to Dismiss on 8 October 1990. Nevertheless, we have held that the parties may raise lack of jurisdiction at any stage of the proceeding. 30 Thus, we hold that there was no waiver of jurisdiction in this case. Jurisdiction is vested by law and not by the parties to an action. 31 Consequently, the petition should be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction by the PCGG to conduct the preliminary investigation. The Ombudsman may still conduct the proper preliminary investigation for violation of RA No. 1379, and if warranted, the Solicitor General may file the forfeiture petition with the Sandiganbayan. 32 The right of the State to forfeit unexplained wealth under RA No. 1379 is not subject to prescription, laches or estoppel. 33 Second Issue: Propriety of Dismissal of CaseBefore Completion of Presentation of Evidence Petitioner also contends that the Sandiganbayan erred in dismissing the case before completion of the presentation of petitioner’s evidence. We disagree. Based on the findings of the Sandiganbayan and the records of this case, we find that petitioner has only itself to blame for non-completion of the presentation of its evidence. First, this case has been pending for four years before the Sandiganbayan dismissed it. Petitioner filed its Amended Complaint on 11 August 1987, and only began to present its evidence on 17 April 1989. Petitioner had almost two years to prepare its evidence. However, despite this sufficient time, petitioner still delayed the presentation of the rest of its evidence by filing numerous motions for postponements and extensions. Even before the date set for the presentation of its evidence, petitioner filed, on 13 April 1989, a Motion for

Leave to Amend the Complaint. 34 The motion sought "to charge the delinquent properties (which comprise most of petitioner’s evidence) with being subject to forfeiture as having been unlawfully acquired by defendant Dimaano alone x x x." The Sandiganbayan, however, refused to defer the presentation of petitioner’s evidence since petitioner did not state when it would file the amended complaint. On 18 April 1989, the Sandiganbayan set the continuation of the presentation of evidence on 28-29 September and 9-11 October 1989, giving petitioner ample time to prepare its evidence. Still, on 28 September 1989, petitioner manifested its inability to proceed with the presentation of its evidence. The Sandiganbayan issued an Order expressing its view on the matter, to wit:

The Court has gone through extended inquiry and a narration of the above events because this case has been ready for trial for over a year and much of the delay hereon has been due to the inability of the government to produce on scheduled dates for pre-trial and for trial documents and witnesses, allegedly upon the failure of the military to supply them for the preparation of the presentation of evidence thereon. Of equal interest is the fact that this Court has been held to task in public about its alleged failure to move cases such as this one beyond the preliminary stage, when, in view of the developments such as those of today, this Court is now faced with a situation where a case already in progress will revert back to the preliminary stage, despite a five-month pause where appropriate action could have been undertaken by the plaintiff Republic. 35 On 9 October 1989, the PCGG manifested in court that it was conducting a preliminary investigation on the unexplained wealth of private respondents as mandated by RA No. 1379. 36 The PCGG prayed for an additional four months to conduct the preliminary investigation. The Sandiganbayan granted this request and scheduled the presentation of evidence on 26-29 March 1990. However, on the scheduled date, petitioner failed to inform the court of the result of the preliminary investigation the PCGG supposedly conducted. Again, the Sandiganbayan gave petitioner until 18 May 1990 to continue with the presentation of its evidence and to inform the court of "what lies ahead insofar as the status of the case is concerned x x x." 37 Still on the date set, petitioner failed to present its evidence. Finally, on 11 July 1990, petitioner filed its Re-Amended Complaint. 38 The Sandiganbayan correctly observed that a case already pending for years would revert to its preliminary stage if the court were to accept the Re- Amended Complaint. Based on these circumstances, obviously petitioner has only itself to blame for failure to complete the presentation of its evidence. The Sandiganbayan gave petitioner more than sufficient time to finish the presentation of its evidence. The Sandiganbayan overlooked petitioner’s delays and yet petitioner ended the long- string of delays with the filing of a Re-Amended Complaint, which would only prolong even more the disposition of the case. Moreover, the pronouncements of the Court in Migrino and Cruz prompted the Sandiganbayan to dismiss the case since the PCGG has no jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute the case against private respondents. This alone would have been sufficient legal basis for the Sandiganbayan to dismiss the forfeiture case against private respondents.

37

Thus, we hold that the Sandiganbayan did not err in dismissing the case before completion of the presentation of petitioner’s evidence. Third Issue: Legality of the Search and Seizure Petitioner claims that the Sandiganbayan erred in declaring the properties

confiscated from Dimaano’s house as illegally seized and therefore inadmissible

in evidence. This issue bears a significant effect on petitioner’s case since these

properties comprise most of petitioner’s evidence against private respondents. Petitioner will not have much evidence to support its case against private respondents if these properties are inadmissible in evidence. On 3 March 1986, the Constabulary raiding team served at Dimaano’s residence

a search warrant captioned "Illegal Possession of Firearms and Ammunition."

Dimaano was not present during the raid but Dimaano’s cousins witnessed the

raid. The raiding team seized the items detailed in the seizure receipt together with other items not included in the search warrant. The raiding team seized these items: one baby armalite rifle with two magazines; 40 rounds of 5.56 ammunition; one pistol, caliber .45; communications equipment, cash consisting

of 2,870,000 and US$50,000, jewelry, and land titles.

Petitioner wants the Court to take judicial notice that the raiding team conducted the search and seizure "on March 3, 1986 or five days after the successful EDSA revolution." 39 Petitioner argues that a revolutionary government was operative at that time by virtue of Proclamation No. 1 announcing that President Aquino and Vice President Laurel were "taking power in the name and by the will of the Filipino people." 40 Petitioner asserts that the revolutionary government effectively withheld the operation of the 1973 Constitution which guaranteed private respondents’ exclusionary right. Moreover, petitioner argues that the exclusionary right arising from an illegal search applies only beginning 2 February 1987, the date of ratification of the 1987 Constitution. Petitioner contends that all rights under the Bill of Rights had already reverted to its embryonic stage at the time of the search. Therefore, the government may confiscate the monies and items taken from Dimaano and use the same in evidence against her since at the time of their seizure, private respondents did not enjoy any constitutional right. Petitioner is partly right in its arguments. The EDSA Revolution took place on 23-25 February 1986. As succinctly stated in President Aquino’s Proclamation No. 3 dated 25 March 1986, the EDSA Revolution was "done in defiance of the provisions of the 1973 Constitution." 41 The resulting government was indisputably a revolutionary government bound by no constitution or legal limitations except treaty obligations that the revolutionary government, as the de jure government in the Philippines, assumed under international law. The correct issues are: (1) whether the revolutionary government was bound by the Bill of Rights of the 1973 Constitution during the interregnum, that is, after the actual and effective take-over of power by the revolutionary government following the cessation of resistance by loyalist forces up to 24 March 1986 (immediately before the adoption of the Provisional Constitution); and (2) whether the protection accorded to individuals under the International Covenant on Civil and

Political Rights ("Covenant") and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights ("Declaration") remained in effect during the interregnum. We hold that the Bill of Rights under the 1973 Constitution was not operative during the interregnum. However, we rule that the protection accorded to individuals under the Covenant and the Declaration remained in effect during the interregnum. During the interregnum, the directives and orders of the revolutionary government were the supreme law because no constitution limited the extent and scope of such directives and orders. With the abrogation of the 1973 Constitution by the successful revolution, there was no municipal law higher than the directives and orders of the revolutionary government. Thus, during the interregnum, a person could not invoke any exclusionary right under a Bill of Rights because there was neither a constitution nor a Bill of Rights during the interregnum. As the Court explained in Letter of Associate Justice Reynato S. Puno: 42 A revolution has been defined as "the complete overthrow of the established

government in any country or state by those who were previously subject to it" or as "a sudden, radical and fundamental change in the government or political system, usually effected with violence or at least some acts of violence." In Kelsen's book, General Theory of Law and State, it is defined as that which "occurs whenever the legal order of a community is nullified and replaced by a

new order

It was through the February 1986 revolution, a relatively peaceful one, and more

popularly known as the "people power revolution" that the Filipino people tore themselves away from an existing regime. This revolution also saw the unprecedented rise to power of the Aquino government. From the natural law point of view, the right of revolution has been defined as "an inherent right of a people to cast out their rulers, change their policy or effect radical reforms in their system of government or institutions by force or a general uprising when the legal and constitutional methods of making such change have proved inadequate or are so obstructed as to be unavailable." It has been said that "the locus of positive law-making power lies with the people of the state" and

from there is derived "the right of the people to abolish, to reform and to alter any existing form of government without regard to the existing constitution."

x x x

It is widely known that Mrs. Aquino’s rise to the presidency was not due to constitutional processes; in fact, it was achieved in violation of the provisions of the 1973 Constitution as a Batasang Pambansa resolution had earlier declared Mr. Marcos as the winner in the 1986 presidential election. Thus it can be said that the organization of Mrs. Aquino’s Government which was met by little resistance and her control of the state evidenced by the appointment of the Cabinet and other key officers of the administration, the departure of the Marcos Cabinet officials, revamp of the Judiciary and the Military signaled the point where the legal system then in effect, had ceased to be obeyed by the Filipino. (Emphasis supplied)

a way not prescribed by the first order itself."

38

To hold that the Bill of Rights under the 1973 Constitution remained operative during the interregnum would render void all sequestration orders issued by the Philippine Commission on Good Government ("PCGG") before the adoption of the Freedom Constitution. The sequestration orders, which direct the freezing and even the take-over of private property by mere executive issuance without judicial action, would violate the due process and search and seizure clauses of the Bill of Rights. During the interregnum, the government in power was concededly a revolutionary government bound by no constitution. No one could validly

question the sequestration orders as violative of the Bill of Rights because there was no Bill of Rights during the interregnum. However, upon the adoption of the Freedom Constitution, the sequestered companies assailed the sequestration orders as contrary to the Bill of Rights of the Freedom Constitution.

In Bataan Shipyard & Engineering Co. Inc. vs. Presidential Commission on Good

Government, 43 petitioner Baseco, while conceding there was no Bill of Rights during the interregnum, questioned the continued validity of the sequestration orders upon adoption of the Freedom Constitution in view of the due process clause in its Bill of Rights. The Court ruled that the Freedom Constitution, and later the 1987 Constitution, expressly recognized the validity of sequestration orders, thus:

If any doubt should still persist in the face of the foregoing considerations as to

the validity and propriety of sequestration, freeze and takeover orders, it should be dispelled by the fact that these particular remedies and the authority of the PCGG to issue them have received constitutional approbation and sanction. As already mentioned, the Provisional or "Freedom" Constitution recognizes the power and duty of the President to enact "measures to achieve the mandate of

the people to

supporters of the previous regime and protect the interest of the people through orders of sequestration or freezing of assets or accounts." And as also already adverted to, Section 26, Article XVIII of the 1987 Constitution treats of, and ratifies the "authority to issue sequestration or freeze orders under Proclamation No. 3 dated March 25, 1986." The framers of both the Freedom Constitution and the 1987 Constitution were

fully aware that the sequestration orders would clash with the Bill of Rights. Thus, the framers of both constitutions had to include specific language recognizing the validity of the sequestration orders. The following discourse by Commissioner Joaquin G. Bernas during the deliberations of the Constitutional Commission is instructive:

FR. BERNAS: Madam President, there is something schizophrenic about the arguments in defense of the present amendment. For instance, I have carefully studied Minister Salonga’s lecture in the Gregorio Araneta University Foundation, of which all of us have been given a copy. On the one hand, he argues that everything the Commission is doing is traditionally legal. This is repeated by Commissioner Romulo also. Minister Salonga spends

a major portion of his lecture developing that argument. On the other hand,

almost as an afterthought, he says that in the end what matters are the results

(r)ecover ill-gotten properties amassed by the leaders and

and not the legal niceties, thus suggesting that the PCGG should be allowed to make some legal shortcuts, another word for niceties or exceptions. Now, if everything the PCGG is doing is legal, why is it asking the CONCOM for special protection? The answer is clear. What they are doing will not stand the test of ordinary due process, hence they are asking for protection, for exceptions. Grandes malos, grandes remedios, fine, as the saying stands, but let us not say grandes malos, grande y malos remedios. That is not an allowable extrapolation. Hence, we should not give the exceptions asked for, and let me elaborate and give three reasons:

First, the whole point of the February Revolution and of the work of the CONCOM is to hasten constitutional normalization. Very much at the heart of the constitutional normalization is the full effectivity of the Bill of Rights. We cannot, in one breath, ask for constitutional normalization and at the same time ask for a temporary halt to the full functioning of what is at the heart of constitutionalism. That would be hypocritical; that would be a repetition of Marcosian protestation of due process and rule of law. The New Society word for that is "backsliding." It is tragic when we begin to backslide even before we get there. Second, this is really a corollary of the first. Habits tend to become ingrained. The committee report asks for extraordinary exceptions from the Bill of Rights for six months after the convening of Congress, and Congress may even extend this longer. Good deeds repeated ripen into virtue; bad deeds repeated become vice. What the committee report is asking for is that we should allow the new government to acquire the vice of disregarding the Bill of Rights. Vices, once they become ingrained, become difficult to shed. The practitioners of the vice begin to think that they have a vested right to its practice, and they will fight tooth and nail to keep the franchise. That would be an unhealthy way of consolidating the gains of a democratic revolution. Third, the argument that what matters are the results and not the legal niceties is an argument that is very disturbing. When it comes from a staunch Christian like Commissioner Salonga, a Minister, and repeated verbatim by another staunch Christian like Commissioner Tingson, it becomes doubly disturbing and even discombobulating. The argument makes the PCGG an auctioneer, placing the Bill of Rights on the auction block. If the price is right, the search and seizure clause will be sold. "Open your Swiss bank account to us and we will award you the search and seizure clause. You can keep it in your private safe." Alternatively, the argument looks on the present government as hostage to the hoarders of hidden wealth. The hoarders will release the hidden health if the ransom price is paid and the ransom price is the Bill of Rights, specifically the due process in the search and seizure clauses. So, there is something positively revolving about either argument. The Bill of Rights is not for sale to the highest bidder nor can it be used to ransom captive dollars. This nation will survive and grow strong, only if it would become convinced of the values enshrined in the Constitution of a price that is beyond monetary estimation. For these reasons, the honorable course for the Constitutional Commission is to delete all of Section 8 of the committee report and allow the new Constitution to

39

take effect in full vigor. If Section 8 is deleted, the PCGG has two options. First, it can pursue the Salonga and the Romulo argument — that what the PCGG has been doing has been completely within the pale of the law. If sustained, the PCGG can go on and should be able to go on, even without the support of

Covenant or the Declaration in the same way it repudiated the 1973 Constitution. As the de jure government, the revolutionary government could not escape responsibility for the State’s good faith compliance with its treaty obligations under international law.

Section 8. If not sustained, however, the PCGG has only one honorable option, it

It

was only upon the adoption of the Provisional Constitution on 25 March 1986

must bow to the majesty of the Bill of Rights.

that the directives and orders of the revolutionary government became subject to

The PCGG extrapolation of the law is defended by staunch Christians. Let me

a

higher municipal law that, if contravened, rendered such directives and orders

conclude with what another Christian replied when asked to toy around with the law. From his prison cell, Thomas More said, "I'll give the devil benefit of law for my nation’s safety sake." I ask the Commission to give the devil benefit of law for our nation’s sake. And we should delete Section 8. Thank you, Madam President. (Emphasis supplied) Despite the impassioned plea by Commissioner Bernas against the amendment excepting sequestration orders from the Bill of Rights, the Constitutional Commission still adopted the amendment as Section 26, 44 Article XVIII of the 1987 Constitution. The framers of the Constitution were fully aware that absent Section 26, sequestration orders would not stand the test of due process under the Bill of Rights. Thus, to rule that the Bill of Rights of the 1973 Constitution remained in force during the interregnum, absent a constitutional provision excepting sequestration orders from such Bill of Rights, would clearly render all sequestration orders void during the interregnum. Nevertheless, even during the interregnum the Filipino people continued to enjoy, under the Covenant and the Declaration, almost the

void. The Provisional Constitution adopted verbatim the Bill of Rights of the 1973 Constitution. 48 The Provisional Constitution served as a self-limitation by the revolutionary government to avoid abuses of the absolute powers entrusted to it by the people. During the interregnum when no constitution or Bill of Rights existed, directives and orders issued by government officers were valid so long as these officers did not exceed the authority granted them by the revolutionary government. The directives and orders should not have also violated the Covenant or the Declaration. In this case, the revolutionary government presumptively sanctioned the warrant since the revolutionary government did not repudiate it. The warrant, issued by a judge upon proper application, specified the items to be searched and seized. The warrant is thus valid with respect to the items specifically described in the warrant. However, the Constabulary raiding team seized items not included in the warrant. As admitted by petitioner’s witnesses, the raiding team confiscated items not included in the warrant, thus:

same rights found in the Bill of Rights of the 1973 Constitution. The revolutionary government, after installing itself as the de jure government,

Direct Examination of Capt. Rodolfo Sebastian AJ AMORES

assumed responsibility for the State’s good faith compliance with the Covenant

Q.

According to the search warrant, you are supposed to seize only for weapons.

to which the Philippines is a signatory. Article 2(1) of the Covenant requires each signatory State "to respect and to ensure to all individuals within its territory and

What else, aside from the weapons, were seized from the house of Miss Elizabeth Dimaano?

subject to its jurisdiction the rights 45 recognized in the present Covenant." Under

A.

The communications equipment, money in Philippine currency and US dollars,

Article 17(1) of the Covenant, the revolutionary government had the duty to

some jewelries, land titles, sir.

insure that "[n]o one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with

Q.

Now, the search warrant speaks only of weapons to be seized from the house

his privacy, family, home or correspondence." The Declaration, to which the Philippines is also a signatory, provides in its

of Elizabeth Dimaano. Do you know the reason why your team also seized other properties not mentioned in said search warrant?

Article 17(2) that "[n]o one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property." Although

A.

During the conversation right after the conduct of said raid, I was informed that

the signatories to the Declaration did not intend it as a legally binding document, being only a declaration, the Court has interpreted the Declaration as part of the

the reason why they also brought the other items not included in the search warrant was because the money and other jewelries were contained in attaché

generally accepted principles of international law and binding on the State. 46 Thus, the revolutionary government was also obligated under international law to observe the rights 47 of individuals under the Declaration.

cases and cartons with markings "Sony Trinitron", and I think three (3) vaults or steel safes. Believing that the attaché cases and the steel safes were containing firearms, they forced open these containers only to find out that they contained

The revolutionary government did not repudiate the Covenant or the Declaration

money.

during the interregnum. Whether the revolutionary government could have

xxx

repudiated all its obligations under the Covenant or the Declaration is another

Q.

You said you found money instead of weapons, do you know the reason why

matter and is not the issue here. Suffice it to say that the Court considers the

your team seized this money instead of weapons?

Declaration as part of customary international law, and that Filipinos as human

A.

I think the overall team leader and the other two officers assisting him decided

beings are proper subjects of the rules of international law laid down in the Covenant. The fact is the revolutionary government did not repudiate the

to bring along also the money because at that time it was already dark and they

40

felt most secured if they will bring that because they might be suspected also of taking money out of those items, your Honor. 49

Cross-examination

Atty. Banaag

Q. There were other articles seized which were not included in the search

warrant, like for instance, jewelries. Why did you seize the jewelries?

A. I think it was the decision of the overall team leader and his assistant to bring

along also the jewelries and other items, sir. I do not really know where it was

Q.

Were you present when the search warrant in connection with this case was

taken but they brought along also these articles. I do not really know their reason

applied before the Municipal Trial Court of Batangas, Branch 1?

for bringing the same, but I just learned that these were taken because they

A.

Yes, sir.

might get lost if they will just leave this behind.

Q.

And the search warrant applied for by you was for the search and seizure of

xxx

five (5) baby armalite rifles M-16 and five (5) boxes of ammunition?

Q.

How about the money seized by your raiding team, they were not also