Digest of Supreme Court’s

Benchmark
2006

Libertas et Iusticia





















LIBERTAS ET IUSTICIA | DIGEST OF SUPREME COURT’S BENCHMARK 2006
www.libertas.ph
Table of Contents

April……………………………………………………………………….. 1
Disrespectful Lawyers-Spouses Suspended

May………………………………………………………………………… 2
No Time Limit for Administrative Cases vs Lawyers
SCEA President Suspended
Judge, Staff Penalized for Spurious Bailbonds and Release Orders

June ………………………………………………………………………. 3
Sandiganbayan Justice Ordered to Inhibit Self in Marcos Graft Cases
One-Year Suspension for Negligent Lawyer

July ……………………………………………………………………….. 4
Court Upholds Religious Freedom
'Disgraceful' Clerk Fined
2 Lawyers Suspended, Notary Commissions Revoked
One-Year Suspension for ‘Moonlighting’ Stenographer
Judge Reprimanded for Impropriety
Lawyer Suspended for Representing Conflicting Interests

August…………………………………………………………………….. 6
SC Allows MRs of IBP Resolutions
Lawyer Suspended for Refusing to Pay Debt
Lawyer Suspended for Pocketing Client’s Money
Deceitful Notary Suspended
Clerk of Court Dismissed for Forgery, Falsification

September ……………………………………………………………… 8
Court Nullifies Suspension of Sentence of Minor Convict
Squabbling Judge and Clerk Disciplined
Thirteen SC Employees Disciplined for Habitual Tardiness
Lawyer Suspended for Four Years
Manila RTC Judge, Personnel Fined
Lawyer, Two CA Attorneys Disciplined
Time for Filing of Pleadings Extended to 5 PM
SC Explains Legal Effects of Death Penalty Prohibition

October …………………………………………………………………… 11
SC to Withhold Names of Women and Child Victims in Decisions
E-Decisions Follow Cabalquinto Ruling
Court Clarifies Payment of Corporate Rehabilitation Fees
Award of Damages Not Immediately Executory in Intra-Corporate Disputes
Complaints vs. Retired Justices and Judges Referred to SC
Revised Guidelines for Enhanced Pre-Trial under JURIS Project Approved
Clerk of Court, Cash Clerk Dismissed for Php8.7M Shortage in Judiciary Fund
Two-Year Suspension for ‘Wily’ Lawyer
Lawyer Suspended for Negligence, Obstruction
Decisions of Shari’a District Courts Appealable to SC
Notarial Rules Updates

November ……………………………………………………………….. 16
SC Clarifies Rules on Indigent Litigants
Judge Suspended, Fined for Failure to Inhibit Self, Improper Conduct
Lawyer Suspended for Shooting Motorist
Disgruntled Complainant Fined for Maligning Court
Judge Dismissed for Corruption
PAO Lawyer Reprimanded for Notarizing Receipt Without Commission
SC Clarifies Effects of RA 9346 on Graduation of Criminal Penalties
Lawyer Suspended for Negligence
Engineer Suspended for Failure to Repair Aircons
Lawyer Suspended for Reneging on Contractual Obligation

December ………………………………………………………………. 19
Judge, Two Mayors Fined for Contempt
Retired Clerk of Court and Sheriff Fined for Undue Demolition
LIBERTAS ET IUSTICIA | DIGEST OF SUPREME COURT’S BENCHMARK 2006
www.libertas.ph


















April 2006

Disrespectful Lawyers-Spouses Suspended
By Genevieve B. Zuñiga

THE SUPREME COURT RECENTLY suspended a married lawyer-couple for
using “very disrespectful, insulting, and humiliating” language against a
judge.
Attys. Ellis and Olivia Jacoba were suspended for two years and two
months, respectively, for using the words and phrases, “abhorrent
nullity,” “legal monstrosity,” “horrendous mistake,” “horrible error,”
“boner,” and “an insult to the judiciary and an anachronism in the judicial
process” in their Motion for Reconsideration of the Resolution issued by
Judge Ubaldino Lacurom of the Cabanatuan City Municipal Trial Court,
Branch 30.
In a decision penned by Justice Antonio T. Carpio, the Court said that
“even the most hardened judge would be scarred by the scurrilous attack
made by the 30 July 2001 motion on Judge Lacurom’s Resolution...
Though a lawyer’s language may be forceful and emphatic, it should
always be dignified and respectful, befitting the dignity of the legal
profession,” it added.
The Jacoba spouses have been previously punished for violation of the
Code of Professional Responsibility. Ellis was suspended twice – one for
six months and another for one year – for his failure to file the required
pleadings, while Olivia was fined for appearing in barangay conciliation
proceedings on behalf of a party despite the prohibition in the Local
Government Code. (AC No. 5921, Judge Ubaldino A. Lacurom, Presiding Judge,
Regional Trial Court, Cabanatuan City, Branch 29 and Pairing Judge, Branch 30 vs. Atty.
Ellis F. Jacoba and Atty. Olivia Velasco-Jacoba, March 10, 2006)


1
LIBERTAS ET IUSTICIA | DIGEST OF SUPREME COURT’S BENCHMARK 2006
www.libertas.ph
May 2006

No Time Limit for Administrative Cases vs Lawyers
By Janice R. Erni

TIME CANNOT ERASE a lawyer’s administrative culpability.
Thus, in a six-page En Banc resolution penned by Justice Renato C.
Corona, the Court struck down as void and of no legal effect Section 1 of
Rule VIII of the CBD-IBP Rules of Procedure which provides: “A complaint
for disbarment, suspension[ ]or discipline of attorneys prescribes in two
(2) years from the date of the professional misconduct.”
It noted that as early as 1967, it has already ruled that
“prescription does not lie in administrative proceedings against lawyers.”
The Court, quoting from a 2004 decision, added, “No matter how
much time has elapsed from the time of the commission of the act
complained of and the time of the institution of the complaint, erring
members of the bench and bar cannot escape the disciplining arm of the
Court.” Otherwise, the Court said, “members of the bar would be
emboldened to disregard the very oath they took as lawyers.”
The case stemmed from an administrative case filed against Atty.
Carmelita Bautista-Lozada. The Court found Lozada found guilty of
violating the lawyers’ Code of Professional Responsibility and willfully
disobeying a final and executory decision of the Court of Appeals. She
was suspended for two years. She moved for the reconsideration of the
decision raising as defense Sec. 1, Rule VIII of the CBD-IBP Rules of
Procedure. (AC No. 5565, Bobie Rose V. Frias vs. Atty. Carmelita S. Bautista-Lozada,
May 4, 2006)

Judge, Staff Penalized for Spurious Bailbonds and Release Orders
By Joshua P. Lapuz

A LAGUNA REGIONAL TRIAL COURT JUDGE and four of his staff members
were admonished and suspended, respectively, by the Supreme Court for
issuing spurious bailbonds and release orders.
Judge Leonardo Leonida of the Sta. Cruz, Laguna RTC, Branch 27
was admonished for failing to carry out his administrative responsibilities
as presiding judge. The Court said that he violated Rules 2.01, 2.03, 3.08,
and 3.09 of the Code of Judicial Conduct for allowing surety agents to
freely enter his chambers and discuss their business with him and, either
wittingly or unwittingly, permit these agents to give instructions or
orders to members of his staff to prepare the release orders.
On the other hand, Legal Researcher Alegria Ramos and
Stenographers Irma Agawin and Ma. Veronica Nequinto were suspended
for six months due to gross neglect of duty for their practice of taking
instructions from surety agents and certifying release orders without
Judge Leonida having signed the original copies thereof. Court Aide
Mauro Callado was also held liable for simple neglect of duty for having
handed over two release order and bail bonds to a surety agent instead
of personally submitting the same to the court where they were
addressed. (AM No. 04-6-332-RTC, Report on the Investigation Conducted on the
Alleged Spurious Bailbonds and Release Orders Issued by the Regional Trial Court,
Branch 27, Sta. Cruz, Laguna, April 5, 2006)

SCEA President Suspended
By Joshua P. Lapuz

SUPREME COURT EMPLOYEES ASSOCIATION President Jose Dante
Guerrero was suspended by the Supreme Court for his failure to swipe
his ID card in the Chronolog Time Recorder Machine (CTRM) to register
his times of arrival at and/or departure from the office for 34 days on
various dates from July 2004 to January 2005. Guerrero, a Court
Secretary II assigned to the Office of the Third Division Clerk of Court, was
found guilty of dishonesty and suspended for six months.
2
LIBERTAS ET IUSTICIA | DIGEST OF SUPREME COURT’S BENCHMARK 2006
www.libertas.ph
In a decision penned by Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban, the
Court said that the fault does not lie with the CTRM or the ID card but
with respondent himself who deliberately refused to register his
attendance through the machine. It also said that Guerrero’s tardiness is
evident from the non-chronological and highly irregular entries in the
Report of Absences and Tardiness.
“[W]e arrive at the inevitable conclusion that the deliberate non-
registration by respondent via the CTRM in order to cover up his
tardiness constitutes dishonesty,” said the Court. However, instead of
dismissal, it suspended Guerrero for six months in consideration of his
good performance rating, his 13 years of satisfactory service in the
Judiciary, and his acknowledgment of and remorse for his infractions.
(AM No. 2005-07-SC, Re: Failure of Jose Dante E. Guerrero to Register his
Time In and Time Out in the Chronolog Time Recorder Machine on Several
Dates, April 19, 2006)

June 2006

Sandiganbayan Justice Ordered to Inhibit Self in Marcos Graft Cases
By Genevieve B. Zuñiga

JUSTICE GREGORY S. ONG, Chairman of the Sandiganbayan’s Fourth
Division, has been directed by the Supreme Court to inhibit himself from
participating in the criminal cases for violations of the Anti-Graft and
Corrupt Practices Act against former First Lady Imelda R. Marcos.
In an 11-page decision penned by Justice Adolfo S. Azcuna, the
Court said that Justice Ong should have “voluntarily declined to
participate in these cases” given that the allegations raised against him
“unavoidably cast doubt on his impartiality to decide these very critical
cases.” The Court emphasized that “any act which would give the
appearance of impropriety becomes, of itself, reprehensible.”
The case stemmed from a remark made by Justice Ong to Special
Prosecutor Wendell E. Barreras-Sulit, when the latter came in to explain
the motion filed by the government seeking to have the cases assigned to
the First Division under Presiding Justice Teresita J. Leonardo-De Castro,
because of her familiarity with the cases. According to Sulit, Justice Ong
remarked that he would have dismissed the cases when it was before
him during trial because Chavez’s testimony was hearsay. Special
Prosecutor Dennis Villa-Ignacio later confirmed Justice Ong’s remarks. (GR
Nos. 162130-39, People of the Philippines vs. Justice Gregory S. Ong, Chairman, Fourth
Division, Sandiganbayan, and Mrs. Imelda R. Marcos, May 05, 2006)

One-Year Suspension for Negligent Lawyer
By Joshua P. Lapuz

A LAWYER HAS BEEN SUSPENDED for one year for gross negligence in
handling two civil cases.
In one case, Atty. Reynaldo Reyes not only failed to file the pre-
trial brief of his clients within the required period but worse, did not
submit the brief when he filed a motion for reconsideration of the order
of dismissal several months later. In another case, he also failed to file
the necessary pleadings causing its dismissal, which was later on
reconsidered.
Apart from his negligence, Atty. Reyes omitted to apprise his
clients of the status of the two cases and even assured them that he was
diligently attending to said cases.
“A lawyer should never neglect a legal matter entrusted to him,
otherwise his negligence in fulfilling his duty will render him liable for
disciplinary action,” the Court said. It added that “in failing to inform his
clients of the status of their cases, respondent [Reyes] failed to exercise
3
LIBERTAS ET IUSTICIA | DIGEST OF SUPREME COURT’S BENCHMARK 2006
www.libertas.ph
such skill, care, and diligence as men of the legal profession commonly
possess and exercise in such manners of professional employment.”
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines recommended the penalty
of disbarment but since it was Atty. Reyes’ first offense, the Court instead
suspended him for one year. (AC No. 4676, Spouses Antonio and Norma Soriano
vs. Atty. Reynaldo P. Reyes, May 4, 2006)

July 2006

Court Upholds Religious Freedom
By Gleo SP. Guerra

IN A LANDMARK RULING on religious freedom penned by Senior
Associate Justice Reynato S. Puno, the Court ordered the dismissal of the
administrative charge of "disgraceful and immoral conduct" against a
court employee who has been living with a man not her husband for the
past 25 years and had a son by him.
Soledad Escritor, a court interpreter in the Regional Trial Court,
Branch 253 of Las Piñas City, had claimed in her defense that her conjugal
arrangement is in conformity with and has the approval of the Jehovah's
Witnesses, the congregation to which she and her mate belong, per their
Declaration of Pledging Faithfulness executed in 1991 and recorded in
the Watch Tower Central Office. Only couples who have been baptized
and are in good standing may execute The Declaration, which allows
members of the congregation who have been abandoned by their
spouses to enter into marital relations.
“We find that in this particular case and under these distinct
circumstances, respondent [Soledad] Escritor's conjugal arrangement
cannot be penalized as she made out a case for exemption from the law
based on her fundamental right to freedom of religion… [T]he state
interest sought to be upheld must be so compelling that its violation will
erode the very fabric of the state that will also protect the freedom,” said
the Court in its 63-page signed resolution. Concurring were Justices
Leonardo A. Quisumbing, Angelina Sandoval-Gutierrez, Ma. Alicia Austria-
Martinez, Renato C. Corona, Adolfo S. Azcuna, Dante O. Tinga, Minita V.
Chico-Nazario, and Cancio C. Garcia. Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban
and Justices Consuelo Ynares-Santiago, Antonio T. Carpio, Conchita
Carpio Morales, and Romeo J. Callejo, Sr. dissented. Justice Presbitero J.
Velasco, Jr. took no part “due to prior action of OCA.”
The Court found that that evidence presented by the Solicitor
General "fails to demonstrate 'the gravest abuses, endangering
paramount interests' which could limit or override respondent’s
fundamental rights to religious freedom. Neither did the government
exert any effort to show that the means it seeks to achieve its legitimate
state objective is the least intrusive means."” (AM No. P-02-1651, Alejandro
Estrada vs. Soledad S. Escritor, June 22, 2006)

'Disgraceful' Clerk Fined
By Joshua P. Lapuz

FOR MAKING OFFENSIVE and foul remarks, a clerk was recently fined by
the Supreme Court.
Sheryll Madlangbayan of the Mandaluyong City Regional Trial
Court, Branch 210 was fined Php1,000 for her disgraceful conduct against
Leilani Nacionales, her erstwhile friend.
"Even if respondent acted in retaliation to complainant's calling
her 'Sheryll Maniac' when she uttered 'fuck you' and made a dirty finger
sign, that these were done in public by a court employee who was then
wearing the office uniform creates a bad impression not only against
respondent as an employee but also against the judiciary," the Court
said. "Courts are looked upon by the people with high respect.
Misbehavior by their employees within and around their vicinity
necessarily diminishes their sanctity and dignity," it added. (AM No. P-06-
4
LIBERTAS ET IUSTICIA | DIGEST OF SUPREME COURT’S BENCHMARK 2006
www.libertas.ph
2171, Leilani E. Nacionales vs. Sheryll S. Madlangbayan, Clerk III, Regional Trial Court,
Mandaluyong City, Branch 210, June 15, 2006)

2 Lawyers Suspended, Notary Commissions Revoked
By Joshua P. Lapuz

TWO LAWYERS WERE recently suspended for one year and their
commissions as notaries public revoked by the Supreme Court for
dereliction of duty and inexcusable negligence.
Attys. Romeo Calubaquib and Jimmy Baliga were found guilty of
violation of Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
and the lawyer's oath for the incorrect entries in their respective notarial
registers. They were also disqualified from reappointment as notaries
public for two years.
“"...[T]he notary public is personally accountable for all entries in
his notarial register. Respondents cannot be relieved of responsibility for
the violation of the aforesaid sections by passing the buck to their
secretaries, a reprehensible practice which to this day persists despite
our open condemnation,"” the Court said. (AC No. 5377, Victor Lingan vs. Attys.
Romeo Calubaquib and Jimmy P. Baliga, June 15, 2006)

One-Year Suspension for ‘Moonlighting’ Stenographer
By Joshua P. Lapuz

JUDICIAL EMPLOYEES OUT to make extra money on the side be warned.
Emiladie Anacan, Court Stenographer of the San Jose, Occidental
Mindoro Regional Trial Court, Branch 45 was recently suspended for one
year for "moonlighting."” She was found guilty of conduct grossly
prejudicial to the best interest of the service for facilitating payments to
landowners for expropriated lands in Occidental Mindoro for a fee.
“"[T]he Court frowns upon 'moonlighting' activities of court
employees. While 'moonlighting' is not normally considered a serious
misconduct, nonetheless, by the very nature of the position held, it
amounts to a malfeasance in office,"” the Court said. (AM No. P-04-1816,
Eusebio M. Baron vs. Emiladie T. Anacan, Court Stenographer III, RTC-Branch 45, San
Jose, Occidental Mindoro, June 20, 2006)

Judge Reprimanded for Impropriety
By Joshua P. Lapuz

JUDGE JOSE NACIONAL of the Naga City Municipal Trial Court, Branch 1
was recently reprimanded by the Supreme Court for improper conduct
for discussing the merits of a pending case pending before his sala with a
party without the latter's counsel and the adverse party.
“"Respondent had exceeded the boundaries of propriety and
regularity. Respondent should have known fully well that in every
litigation, the manner and attitude of a judge are crucial to everyone
concerned. It is improper for respondent to meet with the complainant
and his wife to discuss the merits of the case without the presence of the
accused and his counsel no matter how noble his intentions may have
been,"” the Court said. (AM No. MTJ-05-1605, Pedro C. Abesa vs. Judge Jose P.
Nacional, Municipal Trial Court, Branch 1, Naga City, June 8, 2006.)

Lawyer Suspended for Representing Conflicting Interests
By Joshua P. Lapuz

ATTY. LUIS LOKIN, JR. was recently suspended for three months by the
Supreme Court for representing conflicting interests.
The Court said that when Lokin appeared in the Securities and Exchange
Commission (SEC) as counsel for the therein respondents PHILCOMSAT,
et al., he was clearly representing a party which had an interest in
preventing the implementation of the Compromise Agreement – the
same agreement which Lokin and his law firm previously negotiated for
Potenciano Ilusorio, the adverse party.
5
LIBERTAS ET IUSTICIA | DIGEST OF SUPREME COURT’S BENCHMARK 2006
www.libertas.ph
"The act alone of representing a subsequent client against a
former client in any manner related to the subject of the previous
litigation thus constitutes a violation of the rule against representing
conflicting interests,"” the Court said. It added that whatever may be the
tenor or merit of the arguments Lokin made in behalf of his clients in the
SEC case, his mere act of appearing therein against a former client
already constituted professional misconduct in view of the clear relation
of the subject matter in that SEC case to that of the earlier case in the
Sandiganbayan. (AC No. 6554, Erlinda K. Ilusorio-Bildner vs. Atty. Luis K. Lokin, Jr.,
and the Board of Governors of the IBP, June 5, 2006)

August 2006

SC Allows MRs of IBP Resolutions
By Gleo SP. Guerra

REITERATING ITS 1996 RULING in Halimao v. Villanueva, the Supreme
Court stressed that motions for reconsideration of resolutions of the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) in disciplinary cases may be filed by
aggrieved parties.
In Halimao, the Court, through Justice Vicente V. Mendoza, has
held that the absence of such a remedy in the Rules of Court does not
preclude the filing of such a motion: “Although Rule 139-B, §12 (c) makes
no mention of a motion for reconsideration, nothing in its text or in its
history suggests that such motion is prohibited. It may therefore be filed
within 15 days from notice to a party. Indeed, the filing of such motion
should be encouraged before resort is made to this Court as a matter of
exhaustion of administrative remedies, to afford the agency rendering
the judgment an opportunity to correct any error it may have committed
through a misapprehension of facts or misappreciation of the evidence.”
In a 13-page unanimous decision penned 10 years later by Justice
Minita V. Chico-Nazario, the Court added, “Certainly, prudence dictates
that the IBP be given the opportunity to correct its mistakes, if any, by
way of motions for reconsideration before this Court takes cognizance of
the case. This is to further insure that the grievance procedure will be
allowed to duly run its course – a form of filtering process, particularly
respecting matters within the competence of the IBP, before we step in.”
The Court thus laid down the following guidelines to be observed
by the IBP in disciplinary cases against lawyers:
1. The IBP must first afford a chance to either party to file a
motion for reconsideration of the IBP resolution containing its findings
and recommendations within fifteen (15) days from notice of receipt by
the parties thereon;
2. If a motion for reconsideration has been timely filed by an
aggrieved party, the IBP must first resolve the same prior to elevating to
this Court the subject resolution together with the whole record of the
case;
3. If no motion for reconsideration has been filed within the
period provided for, the IBP is directed to forthwith transmit to this
Court, for final action, the subject resolution together with the whole
record of the case;
4. A party desiring to appeal from the resolution of the IBP may
file a petition for review before this Court within fifteen (15) days from
notice of said resolution sought to be reviewed; and
5. For records of cases already transmitted to this Court where
there exist pending motions for reconsideration filed in due time before
the IBP, the latter is directed to withdraw from this Court the subject
resolutions together with the whole records of the cases, within 30 days
from notice, and, thereafter, to act on said motions with reasonable
dispatch.
6
LIBERTAS ET IUSTICIA | DIGEST OF SUPREME COURT’S BENCHMARK 2006
www.libertas.ph
Consistent with the foregoing, the Court remanded the case to
the IBP for the proper disposition of respondent Atty. Jocelyn P. Reyela’s
motion for reconsideration of the IBP resolution recommending her
suspension for two years.
Concurring in the decision are Chief Justice Artemio V.
Panganiban, Senior Associate Justice Reynato S. Puno and Justices
Leonardo A. Quisumbing, Consuelo Ynares-Santiago, Angelina Sandoval-
Gutierrez, Antonio T. Carpio, Ma. Alicia Austria-Martinez, Renato C.
Corona, Conchita Carpio Morales, Romeo J. Callejo, Sr., Adolfo S. Azcuna,
Dante O. Tinga, Cancio C. Garcia, and Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr. (AC No. 7055,
Ramientas v. Reyala, July 31, 2006)

Lawyer Suspended for Refusing to Pay Debt
By Joshua P. Lapuz

FOR REFUSING TO PAY HIS DEBT, Atty. Jeremias Vitan was suspended for
six months by the Supreme Court.
“A lawyer may be disciplined for evading the payment of a debt
validly incurred. In this case, the failure of Atty. Vitan to pay his debt for
over three years despite repeated demands puts in question his standing
as a member of the bar,” said the Court. It added that Atty. Vitan
admitted having incurred the Php100,000 loan but later pointed to his
employee Evelyn Estur as the true debtor.
“We find that his lack of sincerity in fulfilling his obligations is
revealed by his acts of issuing promissory notes and reneging on them;
executing a simulated Deed of Absolute Sale; and breaking his promise to
redeem the property from the mortgagee,” it added. Atty. Vitan also
issued several checks, all of which were dishonored due to closed
account. (AC No. 6955, Mar Yuson vs. Atty. Jeremias R. Vitan, July 27, 2006)



Lawyer Suspended for Pocketing Client’s Money
By Joshua P. Lapuz

ATTY. MINERVO LANGIT WAS SUSPENDED for two years by the Supreme
Court for appropriating Php255,000 of his client’s money. He was also
ordered to restitute the amount.
“Respondent committed a flagrant violation of his oath when he
received the sum of money representing the monthly rentals intended
for his client, without accounting for and returning such sum to its
rightful owner,” the Court said. It held that his failure to turn over the
money to his client despite the latter’s demands gives rise to the
presumption that he had converted the money for his personal use and
benefit.
“Additionally, respondent failed to observe Canon 17 of the Code
of Professional Responsibility which obligates a lawyer to take up the
cause of his client with entire zeal and devotion,” said the Court. It found
that Langit’s misconduct was aggravated by his unjustified refusal to
heed the orders of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines requiring him to
file an answer to the complaint-affidavit and to appear at the mandatory
conference. (AC No. 7057, David L. Almendarez, Jr. vs. Atty. Minervo T. Langit, July 25,
2006)

Deceitful Notary Suspended
By Joshua P. Lapuz

A LAWYER WAS SUSPENDED for one month by the Supreme Court for
making a false declaration in a public document.
The Court said that Atty. Vivian Rubia violated Rule 1.01 of Canon
1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility when she prepared a
Memorandum of Joint Venture Agreement for her clients Marilyn Carido
and Yoshimi Nakayama and attested that it was acknowledged before her
on January 9, 2001 when in truth it was notarized in 2002. It found that
7
LIBERTAS ET IUSTICIA | DIGEST OF SUPREME COURT’S BENCHMARK 2006
www.libertas.ph
the document was ante-dated in an attempt to exculpate Marilyn from
the Anti-Dummy charge against her in 2002. (AC Nos. 5907 and 5942, Elsa L.
Modejar vs. Atty. Vivian G. Rubia, July 21, 2006)

Clerk of Court Dismissed for Forgery, Falsification
By Joshua P. Lapuz

ATTY. CECILIA T. FAELNAR, Clerk of Court of the Manolo Fortich,
Bukidnon Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 11 was dismissed recently
from the service by the Supreme Court (SC) for violating the Code of
Conduct for Court Personnel, dishonesty, grave misconduct, falsification,
and forgery.
The Court found Faelnar guilty of falsely writing the names of SC
auditors with corresponding signatures in an attendance sheet to make it
appear that they lunched with her at a clubhouse when actually she and
her staff were the ones who did so; forging the signature of Judge
Francisco Rojas in the Certificate of Service; failure to comply with OCA
Circular No. 28-2003 regarding the holding of the alleged Judicial Service
Team (JST) meeting, particularly the submission of the minutes thereof;
and using the solicited note from the local government of Manolo Fortich
to cover the aforesaid meals of her staff at the clubhouse after the SC
auditors had declined the offer to have lunch there.
The Court noted that Faelnar’s admission to signing the name of
Judge Rojas in her Certificate of Service and in some court orders is
sufficient to establish a case of forgery against her. “The argument of
respondent that she was authorized by Judge Rojas to sign his name is
immaterial to forgery,” the Court said. (AM No. P-06-2205, Felicidad D. Palabrica
vs. Atty. Cecilia T. Faelnar, Clerk of Court VI, RTC, Branch 11, M. Fortich, Bukidnon,
August 3, 2006)


September 2006

Court Nullifies Suspension of Sentence of Minor Convict
By Joshua P. Lapuz

JUVENILES WHO HAVE been convicted of a crime punishable by reclusion
perpetua, life imprisonment, reclusion perpetua to death, or death are
disqualified from having their sentences suspended. Thus ruled the
Supreme Court in the case of Frank Bansales, a minor convicted of
murder.
Bansales was charged for assaulting and stabbing to death with a
knife his high school teacher, Yvonne Declarador. The Roxas City Regional
Trial Court (RTC), Branch 14 convicted him but later suspended his
sentence of reclusion perpetua and ordered his commitment instead to a
rehabilitation center. This prompted the victim’s husband, Rennie, to file
a petition in the SC questioning the RTC’s suspension of Bansales’
sentence.
“The disqualification is based on the nature of the crime charged
and the imposable penalty therefore, and not on the penalty imposed by
the court after trial. It is not the actual penalty imposed but the possible
one which determines the disqualification of a juvenile,” the Court said. It
added that the RTC committed grave abuse of discretion in ordering the
suspension of Bansales’ sentence. (GR No. 159208, Rennie Declarador vs. Hon.
Salvador S. Gubaton, Presiding Judge, Branch 14, Roxas City, and Frank Bansales, August
18, 2006)

Squabbling Judge and Clerk Disciplined
By Joshua P. Lapuz

JUDGE CRISPIN BRAVO of the Manila Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch 16
was reprimanded for abusing his authority when he ordered the arrest of
8
LIBERTAS ET IUSTICIA | DIGEST OF SUPREME COURT’S BENCHMARK 2006
www.libertas.ph
his former Clerk of Court, Atty. Miguel Morales, on the basis of a mere
intent to sue the latter for unjust vexation. Morales, on the other hand,
was fined Php2,000 for conduct unbecoming a public officer when he
mimicked and ridiculed Bravo in front of other people. Their quarrel
started when Bravo recommended the dismissal of Morales from the
service for corrupt practices. Since then, Morales acted discourteously by
mimicking Bravo in a squeaky, comical voice whenever the latter greets
court employees.
“Judge Bravo should have confined himself to filing an
administrative complaint or a criminal one and let the wheels of justice
run its course,” the Court said. As for Morales, the Court observed that
his mimicry falls below the “ideal for a court employee to be well-
mannered, civil, and considerate in his actuations, more particularly with
respect to his relation to the presiding judge he is assigned under.” (AM
No. P-05-1950, Judge Crispin B. Bravo vs. Atty. Miguel C. Morales, Branch Clerk of Court,
Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch 17 [now detailed with OCC] Manila; AM No. MTJ-1612,
Atty. Miguel C. Morales vs. Judge Crispin B. Bravo, Presiding Judge, Metropolitan Trial
Court, Branch 16, Manila, August 30, 2006)

Thirteen SC Employees Disciplined for Habitual Tardiness
By Arcie M. Sercado

THE SUPREME COURT SUSPENDED two employees, reprimanded three,
and warned eight others for incurring habitual tardiness in the second
semester of 2005.
Utility Worker Fernando Pascual from the Records Division of the
Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) and Human Resource
Management Aide Louella Cadiz from the Office of Administrative
Services (OAS) were suspended for 10 and five days, respectively. Pascual
was 11 times late in July, August, and October, while Cadiz was tardy 13
and 10 times in July and September, respectively. Pascual was issued a
final warning, while Cadiz was sternly warned that repetition of the same
offense will be dealt with more severely.
Program Management Office Deputy Judicial Reform Program
Administrator Edilberto A. Davis and Development Management Officer
Maria Noemi B. Adriano and Administrative Officer Zosimo D. Labro, Jr. of
the OCA Property Division were severely reprimanded and warned, while
a stern warning was given to Attys. Winston R. Baniel of the Office of the
Clerk of Court En Banc, Belen C. Gatdula of the Court Management Office
(CMO), and Maria Melissa R. Dimson of the Philippine Judicial Academy
(PHILJA). Zienna Punsalan-Duldulao of OCA, Emelda M. Benologa of the
Printing Services, Susana M. Lubre of the CMO, Gerardo D. Pinca of
PHILJA, and Maria Nina A. Rayco of OAS, OCA were likewise sternly
warned.
The Court said that illness, moral obligation to family and
relatives, performance of household chores, traffic, and health or
physical condition are not sufficient reasons to excuse habitual tardiness.
It stressed that it cannot “countenance such infraction as it seriously
compromises efficiency and hampers public service.” (AM No. 2006-11-SC,
Re: Supreme Court Employees Incurring Habitual Tardiness in the 2nd Semester of 2005,
September 13, 2006)

Lawyer Suspended for Four Years
By Joshua P. Lapuz

ATTY. ROLANDO DELA CRUZ was suspended by the Supreme Court for a
total of four years for two offenses.
Dela Cruz, a principal of Saint Louis University-Laboratory High
School, was suspended for two years for immoral conduct when he wed
Mary Jane Pascua while still married to Teresita Rivera. He was likewise
suspended for another two years for deliberately subscribing and
notarizing 14 legal documents on different dates from 1988 to 1997
despite the expiration of his notarial commission on December 31, 1987.
9
LIBERTAS ET IUSTICIA | DIGEST OF SUPREME COURT’S BENCHMARK 2006
www.libertas.ph
The Court said that Dela Cruz’s bigamy is contrary to honesty,
justice, decency, and morality. It also said that by making it appear that
he is duly commissioned when he is not, he is, for all legal intents and
purposes, indulging in deliberate falsehood, which the lawyer’s oath
proscribes. (AC No. 6010, St. Louis University Laboratory High School Faculty and Staff
vs. Atty. Rolando C. dela Cruz, August 28, 2006)

Manila RTC Judge, Personnel Fined
By Joshua P. Lapuz

A NOW RETIRED Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) judge and six of his
court personnel were penalized by the Supreme Court for disobedience
and misusing the daily attendance logbook, respectively.
Judge Juan Nabong, Jr. of RTC Branch 32 was fined Php1,000 for
failing to promptly comply with the directives of the Office of the Court
Administrator (OCA) and the SC requiring him to explain his failure to
properly supervise the attendance of his personnel.
Officer-in-Charge Loida Moralejo, Clerk Heidwig Marie Balicanta,
and Court Stenographers Elma Dabbay and Virginia Peralta were fined
Php5,000 each, while Court Aide Paquito del Rosario and Process Server
Andresito Robles were fined Php2,000 each, all for failing to log-in their
attendance in the logbook.
“Although unintentional mistake and good faith are not valid
defenses, the fact that respondents readily acknowledged their
transgression, sought pardon and vowed to rectify their errors, and the
fact that this is their first administrative offense, militate the reduction of
the imposable penalty of dismissal from the service to lighter penalties,”
the Court said. As to Judge Nabong, the Court said that “while he may
have been suffering from serious ailments,...it does not serve as a valid
excuse for not giving due attention to the directives of the OCA and the
Court.” (AM No. P-04-1838, Re: Audit Report on Attendance of Court Personnel of
Regional Trial Court, Branch 32, Manila, August 31, 2006)
Lawyer, Two CA Attorneys Disciplined
By Joshua P. Lapuz

A LAWYER AND TWO COURT ATTORNEYS from the Court of Appeals (CA)
were disciplined recently by the Supreme Court.
Atty. Edna Paña was suspended for three months for making
“reckless” statements about an alleged “pay-off” in the judiciary, while
court attorneys Victoriano Muring and Manuel Gatcho were admonished
for engaging in unauthorized private practice of law and filing a petition
for commission as notary public while employed in the judiciary,
respectively.
“Atty. Paña’s reckless statements on alleged schemes of
corruption serve only to tarnish the image of the legal profession and of
public office,” the Court said. “The evidence...shows failure on the part of
Atty. Paña to comply with the exacting standards of good moral character
required of members of the Bar,” added the Court.
As for Atty. Muring and Gatcho, the Court said that while they
deserve a more severe penalty, like suspension from office, they can only
be admonished since they have already left government service to go to
private practice. (AM No. CA-05-19-P, Atty. Victoriano S. Muring, Jr. vs. Atty. Manuel
T. Gatcho, Court Attorney V, Nelpa Lota-Calayag, Executive Assistant V, and Atty. Edna S.
Paña, August 31, 2006)

Time for Filing of Pleadings Extended to 5 PM
By Arcie M. Sercado

THE SUPREME COURT has extended the deadline to 5 p.m. for the
acceptance of petitions and pleadings, except for very urgent instances
when instructed by the Court or when the parties inform the Judicial
Records Office (JRO) or the Clerk of Court En Banc ahead of time of their
filing of important pleadings beyond that time. The new office hours of
10
LIBERTAS ET IUSTICIA | DIGEST OF SUPREME COURT’S BENCHMARK 2006
www.libertas.ph
the JRO receiving section are from 8-5 p.m., with a lunch break from 12-1
p.m.
All petitions and pleadings, even those filed beyond 5 p.m., should
now be filed with the JRO receiving section located near the Padre Faura
Gate and not at its main office located at the New Supreme Court
Building Annex. (AM No. 06-8-18-SC, Re: Filing of Petitions/Pleadings After Hours,
August 22, 2006)

SC Explains Legal Effects of Death Penalty Prohibition
By Janice R. Erni

A PERSON WHOSE SENTENCE has been reduced to reclusion perpetua
with the effectivity of RA 9346 (An Act Prohibiting the Imposition of
Death Penalty in the Philippines) is not eligible for parole. However, the
convict is still bound to pay the amount of civil indemnity provided under
the applicable laws. There is no automatic review of judgments of
convictions where reclusion perpetua is imposed in lieu of death. Thus
the Supreme Court clarified the effects of RA 9346 in three recent
decisions.
In the first decision penned by Justice Adolfo S. Azcuna, the Court
held that in light of the passage of RA 9346, the penalty to be imposed on
the accused Nicanor Salome for rape aggravated by dwelling shall be
reclusion perpetua. However, pursuant to sec. 3 of RA 9346, Salome shall
not be eligible for parole under the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the
Court ruled.
The Court also sustained the grant of Php75,000 as civil indemnity
to the victim, explaining “that while the new law prohibits the imposition
of the death penalty, the penalty provided for by law for a heinous
offense is still death and the offense is still heinous.” It also added that
since the death penalty’s imposition is now prohibited, there is a need to
perfect an appeal, if appeal is desired, from a judgment of conviction for
an offense where the penalty imposed is reclusion perpetua in lieu of the
death penalty.
In another decision, penned by Justice Romeo J. Callejo, Sr., the
Court reduced accused Roberto Quiachon’s sentence for qualified rape
from death to reclusion perpetua without parole.
The Court also ordered Quiachon to pay, among others, the civil
indemnity of Php75,000 as the “award is not dependent on the actual
imposition of the death penalty but on the fact that the qualifying
circumstances warranting the imposition of the death penalty attended
the commission of the offense.”
Finally, in a decision penned by Justice Consuelo Ynares-Santiago,
the Court found Edilberto Tubongbanua guilty for murder aggravated by
taking advantage of superior strength and dwelling. He was sentenced to
reclusion perpetua with no possibility of parole. The Court also ordered
him to pay the victim’s heirs Php75,000 as civil indemnity as the award is
mandatory and needs no proof other than the commission of the crime.
(GR No. 169077, People vs. Nicanor Salome; GR No. 170236, People vs. Roberto
Quiachon; GR No. 171271, People vs. Tubongbanua, August 31, 2006)

October 2006

SC to Withhold Names of Women and Child Victims in Decisions
By Annie A. Laborte

TO RESPECT THE DIGNITY and protect the privacy of women and child
victims, the Supreme Court has ruled to withhold their names and use
instead fictitious initials in its decisions. It added that the personal
circumstances of victim-survivors or any other information tending to
establish or compromise their identities, as well as those of their
immediate family or household members, shall not be disclosed.
11
LIBERTAS ET IUSTICIA | DIGEST OF SUPREME COURT’S BENCHMARK 2006
www.libertas.ph
The ruling was made in a decision penned by Justice Dante O.
Tinga where the name of the eight-year old victim was withheld and
instead substituted with the initials “AAA.”
The Court said its ruling effectuates the provisions of RA 7610 or
the Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and
Discrimination Act and its implementing rules; RA 9262 or the Anti-
Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004 and its
implementing rules; and the Rule on Violence Against Women and their
Children.
This rule has been prospectively applied by the Court as seen in
the subsequent case of People vs. Mangitngit. (GR No. 167693, People of the
Philippines vs. Melchor Cabalquinto, September 19, 2006; GR No. 171270, People of the
Philippines vs. Alexander Mangitngit, September 20, 2006)

E-Decisions Follow Cabalquinto Ruling
By Madeleine U.V.G. Avanzado

THE COURT HAS TAKEN STEPS to ensure that decisions promulgated prior
to the Cabalquinto decision will conform to the said ruling. Upon the
instructions of Committee on Computerization and Library Chairperson
Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio, the SC Library Services and Public
Information Office have started replacing the names and other
information of women and children who are victims of crimes covered by
RA 9262 in the electronic copies to be made available through the E-
Library and SC website starting with decisions and resolutions of the
Court promulgated on March 27, 2004. The matter was also referred to
the Committee on Revision of the Rules of Court for further study and
recommendation.
Even before the Cabalquinto ruling was promulgated on
September 19, 2006, the Court has already refrained from posting the full
text of decisions in child sexual abuse and similar cases in the SC website.
(AM No. 99-7-06-SC, In re: Internet Web Page of the Supreme Court, July 27, 2006)
(With reports from SC Library Services Chief Ms. Milagros S. Ong)

Court Clarifies Payment of Corporate Rehabilitation Fees
By Arcie M. Sercado

THE SUPREME COURT RECENTLY clarified the manner of payment of the
increased fees for corporate rehabilitation petitions, which are based on
the value of assets or the amount of monetary claims against the debtor,
whichever is higher.
Under the new rules, if the fees amount to less than Php100,000,
it shall be paid upon the filing of the petition. However, if the fees exceed
Php100,000, it may be paid on a staggered basis, Php100,000 to be paid
upon filing and the balance to be paid as follows: 25 percent upon the
issuance of an order giving due course to the petition, 25 percent upon
the approval of the rehabilitation plan, and 50 percent to be included as
part of the preferred payables to be settled in the rehabilitation plan.
The amendments will take effect on October 16. (AM No. 04-2-04-SC,
RE: Amendment of Section 21(i), Rule 141 of The Rules of Court [A.M. No. 04-2-04-SC,
August 16, 2004] by Clarifying the Manner of Payment of the Increased Fees for
Corporate Rehabilitation Petitions, Taking Into Account the Court’s Issuance in
Amendment on the Clarification on the Legal Fees to be Collected in Cases of Corporate
Rehabilitation [A.M. No. 00-8-10-SC, December 10, 2002], September 19, 2006)

Award of Damages Not Immediately Executory in Intra-Corporate
Disputes
By Arcie M. Sercado

EFFECTIVE OCTOBER 16, all decisions and orders in intra-corporate
controversies are immediately executory, except awards for moral and
exemplary damages and attorney’s fees.
In a resolution, the Supreme Court said that an appeal or petition
shall not stay the enforcement or implementation of the decision or
12
LIBERTAS ET IUSTICIA | DIGEST OF SUPREME COURT’S BENCHMARK 2006
www.libertas.ph
order, unless restrained by an appellate court. (AM No. 01-2-04-SC, Re:
Amendment of Section 4, Rule 1 of the Interim Rules of procedure Governing Intra-
corporate Controversies by Clarifying that Decisions Issued Pursuant to said Rule are
Immediately Executory except the Awards for Moral Damages, Exemplary Damages and
Attorney’s Fees, if any, September 19, 2006)

Complaints vs. Retired Justices and Judges Referred to SC
By Madeleine U.V.G. Avanzado

ALL COMPLAINTS FOR DISBARMENT, suspension, and discipline filed
against retired justices and judges for acts and omissions committed
during their tenure in the judiciary must be referred to the Supreme
Court for appropriate disposition.
The Court resolved to approve in principle this procedure as part
of the amendment of the second paragraph of Section 1 of Rule 139-B of
the Rules of Court dealing with the Disbarment and Discipline of
Attorneys. This has been referred to the Committee on Revision of the
Rules of Court for drafting of the revised provision. (Administrative Case No.
7197 [Formerly CBD Case No. 06-1646], International Militia of People against
Corruption and Terrorism, represented by Atty. Elly Velez Pamatong vs. Chief Justice
Hilario G. Davide, Jr. [Ret.], September 5, 2006)

Revised Guidelines for Enhanced Pre-Trial under JURIS Project
Approved
By Genevieve B. Zuñiga

TO EXPEDITE THE RESOLUTION OF CASES through the use of amicable
settlement, the Supreme Court has approved revised guidelines for an
enhanced pre-trial proceeding under the Justice Reform Initiatives
Support (JURIS) project for implementation in its model courts.
Under the revised guidelines, a raffle replaces the pairing system
for resumption of judicial proceedings after Judicial Dispute Resolution
(JDR) has not succeeded and the judge conducting the JDR will be called
the JDR Judge instead of pre-trial judge when pre-trial proper is resumed
after the JDR.
Cases are also allowed a settlement period of 30 days for first
level courts and 60 days for regional trial courts, extendible only upon
discretion of the JDR judge. Likewise, settlements reached regarding the
civil aspect of criminal cases, wherein the period of payment exceeds one
year, may be archived upon motion of the prosecution with concurrence
of the private complainant and approval of the judge. Additionally, the
civil aspect of theft under Art. 308 of the Revised Penal Code as part of
the cases involved is now included for referral to mediation.
Before the implementation of the revised guidelines, judges will
be required to undergo orientation and training in mediation,
conciliation, and neutral evaluation. Thereafter, they shall be authorized
to conduct JDR in all model court sites and their adjacent areas after
Court-Annexed Mediation (CAM) has not succeeded.
Under the JURIS Program, two model courts have been set up in
Bacolod and San Fernando, Pampanga. Additional model courts will be
set up in Benguet, La Union, and Cagayan de Oro, to implement CAM and
JDR. In these courts, mediatable cases are referred to CAM for mediation
under accredited mediators in the Philippine Mediation Center (PMC)
and subsequently referred to JDR for further mediation by the judges if
such are not resolved under the former.
The goal of the JDR is to strengthen conciliation in the model
court sites during the pre-trial stage to expedite the resolution of cases
and thus decongest court dockets. (A.M. No. 04-1-12-SC PhilJA, Re: Philja
Resolution No. 06-22, re: Revised Guidelines for the Implementation of an Enhanced
Pre-Trial Proceeding under the JURIS Project, August 29, 2006)




13
LIBERTAS ET IUSTICIA | DIGEST OF SUPREME COURT’S BENCHMARK 2006
www.libertas.ph
Clerk of Court, Cash Clerk Dismissed for Php8.7M Shortage in Judiciary
Fund
By Joshua P. Lapuz

TWO COURT PERSONNEL were dismissed recently by the Supreme Court
for failing to account for more than Php8 million in judiciary funds.
The Court found Clerk of Court Atty. Marilou Dureza-Aldevera and
Cash Clerk Teresita Elegino of the Davao City Regional Trial Court guilty of
gross neglect of duty, dishonesty, and grave misconduct for the shortage
of Php8,790,552.30 in the Fiduciary Fund.
“The safeguarding of funds and collections, submission to this
Court of a monthly report of collections for all funds, the proper issuance
of official receipts for collections are essential to an orderly
administration of justice. Hence, respondents’ failure to comply with the
aforementioned Court Circulars and other relevant rules designed to
promote full accountability for public funds constitutes gross neglect of
duty and grave misconduct,” said the Court.
The cash shortages and fiscal irregularities were discovered after
a surprise audit was conducted in April 2000 and February 2001 by the
Office of the Court Administrator. (AM No. P-01-1499, Office of the Court
Administrator vs. Atty. Marilou Dureza-Aldevera, Clerk of Court, RTC, Davao City and
Teresita M. Elegino, Cash Clerk III, same Court, September 26, 2006)

Two-Year Suspension for ‘Wily’ Lawyer
By Joshua P. Lapuz

ATTY. ANASTACIO REVILLA, JR. was suspended for two years by the
Supreme Court for intentional falsehood, misusing judicial processes, and
collaborating with non-lawyers.
Revilla sought to delay the execution of the November 15, 1999
judgment rendered by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR)
Provincial Adjudicator (PARAD) in a disturbance compensation case
against his clients by first filing a “Motion for Leave of Court to Allow
Correction of Caption and Amendment of Judgment.” When his motion
was denied, he was able to obtain a temporary restraining order from the
DAR Adjudication Board Central Office, which prevented the execution of
aforesaid judgment. When the PARAD’s judgment was upheld with
finality by the Supreme Court, Revilla then filed an action to quiet title
before the Cavite Regional Trial Court to stop its enforcement. He also
signed his pleadings under a group of non-lawyers.
“In the disturbance compensation case, he represented his clients
as tenants and acknowledged that complainants were the owners of the
subject land. In the action to quiet title, however, he conveniently
repudiated his previous admission by falsely alleging that his clients were
adverse possessors claiming bona fide ownership,” the Court said. The
Court also noted that Revilla kept silent on the accusation that he held
himself out as a law partner of the “KDC Legal Services, Law Offices and
Associates,” a firm purportedly rendering legal services together with
persons not licensed to practice law. (AC No. 7056, Plus Builders, Inc. and
Edgardo C. Garcia vs. Atty. Anastacio E. Revilla, Jr., September 13, 2006)

Lawyer Suspended for Negligence, Obstruction
By Joshua P. Lapuz

ATTY. JOSE SUING was suspended for six months by the Supreme Court
for neglecting to protect his client’s interest and for attempting to delay
and obstruct the investigation being conducted against him.
The Court found Atty. Suing guilty of negligence for failing to
properly ascertain the true and real identities of four complainants who
executed release waivers and quitclaims and received considerations
therefor. It also held him liable for gross misconduct for attempting to
coach or influence the answers of his client Manuel Rodil so as not to
incriminate him when the latter testified before the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines.
14
LIBERTAS ET IUSTICIA | DIGEST OF SUPREME COURT’S BENCHMARK 2006
www.libertas.ph
The Court said that Rodil did not request him [Suing] to go to the
Labor Arbiter’s office to be a mere passive witness to the signing of the
Release Waiver and Quitclaims but to exert vigilance to protect his
clients’ interest, which Suing failed to do. It added that not only did Suing
tried to coach or influence Rodil to answer questions in an attempt not to
incriminate him, but the latter also contradicted his claim that the
Release Waiver and Quitclaims which Suing prepared was not the one
presented at the Arbiter’s office. (AC No. 7062, Renerio Sambajon, Ronald
Sambajon, Crisanto Conos, and Fredilyn Baculbas vs. Atty. Jose A. Suing, September 26,
2006)

Decisions of Shari’a District Courts Appealable to SC
By Joshua P. Lapuz

THE DECISIONS OF SHARI’A DISTRICT COURTS may reach the Supreme
Court by way of petition for review on certiorari as a mode of appeal
under Rule 45 or special civil action under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court if
there is a question of jurisdiction. Thus ruled the Court in dismissing a
case on a fixed dower (mahr musama) between Moslem spouses.
The Iligan City Fourth Shari’a Circuit Court rendered a decision in
that case which on appeal was reversed by the Shari’a District Court.
Mocaral Macawiag then filed a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 to the
SC, which dismissed the same for being used as a substitute for the lost
remedy of appeal through a petition for review on certiorari under Rule
45.
“While the Supreme Court en banc authorized the creation of the
Shari’a Appellate Court, it has not yet been organized; in any case, it
should begin with the appointments of the Presiding Justice and two
Associate Justices. Consequently, aggrieved parties can come up only to
this Court in view of the rule set forth in Article 145 of Presidential
Decree No. 1083,” the Court said. (GR No. 159210, Mocaral Macawiag vs. Judge
Rasad Balindong and Soraida A. Macawiag, September 20, 2006)
Notarial Rules Updates
By Gleo Sp. Guerra

THE COURT HAS RECENTLY authorized Clerks of Court of Regional Trial
Courts to notarize private documents subject to the payment of the
prescribed notarial fees, which shall be for the account of the judiciary,
and the execution of a certification in the notarized documents that there
are no notaries public within the territorial jurisdiction of the concerned
RTC.
It also required notaries public within the National Capital Region
to secure their notarial registers from the Property Division of the Office
of Administrative Services of the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA),
while the others can also secure their notarial registers from the Office of
the Clerk of Court of the RTC under the supervision of the Executive
Judge who issued their respective notarial commissions. The notarial
registers shall be available at Php1,200.00 each exclusive of shipping
charges when sold in the provinces.
In view of the current unavailability of notarial registers, notaries
public may request in writing the Executive Judge who issued their
commissions for them to use the prescribed temporary form. A copy of
their current commissions must be attached to the said request.
The Court also denied for lack of merit the motion of Chief Public
Attorney Persida V. Rueda-Acosta for reconsideration of the January 31,
2006 denial of her request to exempt PAO lawyers from the payment of
the fees for notarial commission and for the exemption of their clients
from the payment of filing fees. (AM No. 02-8-13-SC, Re: 2004 Rules on Notarial
Practice, August 15, 2006)




15
LIBERTAS ET IUSTICIA | DIGEST OF SUPREME COURT’S BENCHMARK 2006
www.libertas.ph
November 2006

SC Clarifies Rules on Indigent Litigants
By Gleo Sp. Guerra

EVEN IF AN APPLICANT FOR EXEMPTION from the payment of docket and
legal fees does not meet the salary and property requirements under
Rule 141, sec. 19, i.e., the applicant’s gross income and that of his
immediate family do not exceed an amount double the monthly
minimum wage of an employee and the applicant does not own real
property with a market value of more than Php300,000.00, the applicant
may still be exempted if he can prove that he has “no money or property
sufficient and available for food, shelter and basic necessities for himself
and his family” under Rule 3, sec. 21.
Thus ruled the Supreme Court in a 19-page decision penned by
Justice Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr. and concurred in by Justices Leonardo A.
Quisumbing, Antonio T. Carpio, and Conchita Carpio Morales. Justice
Dante O. Tinga concurred in the result. The Court therefore set aside the
orders of the Regional Trial Court, Naga City disqualifying the spouses
Antonio F. Algura and Lorencita S. J. Algura as indigent litigants and
ordered the RTC to set for hearing the spouses’ motion to litigate as such.
“Recapitulating the rules on indigent litigants, therefore, if the
applicant for exemption meets the salary and property requirements
under Sec. 19 of Rule 141, then the grant of the application is mandatory.
On the other hand, when the application does not satisfy one or both
requirements, then the applicant should not be denied outright; instead
the court should apply the ‘indigency test’ under Section 21 of Rule 3 and
use its sound discretion in determining the merits of the prayer for
exemption,” the Court held.


Judge Suspended, Fined for Failure to Inhibit Self, Improper Conduct
By Joshua P. Lapuz

JUDGE CHARLES AGUILAR of the Laoag City Regional Trial Court, Branch
12 was recently disciplined by the Supreme Court for failing to inhibit
himself in and dismissing a case wherein he had a personal and direct
interest, abusing his authority, and for entering his appearance and
attending court proceedings without prior written permission from the
Court.
The Court held that Judge Aguilar’s reluctance to let go of a case
involving a parcel of land of which he is a co-owner induced doubts and
suspicions as to his honest actuations, probity, and objectivity. For this, it
suspended him for three months without pay.
The Court also held that Judge Aguilar committed an unlawful act
when he entered the premises of the said lot and willfully removed the
wires and posts installed thereat. It also said that he practically took the
law into his own hands when he entered and caused the leveling of said
lot. The Court thus fined him Php11,000.
The Court also reprimanded Aguilar for failing to obtain a written
permission from the Court prior to his court appearance in another case.
(AM No. RTJ-03-1809, Busilac Builders, Inc. and Romeo M. Camarillo vs. Judge Charles A.
Aguilar, Regional Trial Court, Laoag City, Branch 12, October 17, 2006)

Lawyer Suspended for Shooting Motorist
By Joshua P. Lapuz

FOR SHOOTING AN UNARMED MOTORIST in a traffic altercation, a lawyer
was suspended for one year by the Supreme Court.
The Court found Atty. Arnel Alcaraz guilty of gross misconduct for
firing at Ramon Gonzalez with a Super .38 caliber pistol along South
Luzon Expressway. The two were involved in a traffic altercation when
Alcaraz’s vehicle overtook and suddenly cut across Gonzalez’s path. After
16
LIBERTAS ET IUSTICIA | DIGEST OF SUPREME COURT’S BENCHMARK 2006
www.libertas.ph
angrily confronting Alcaraz, Gonzalez drove on. Alcaraz, however, chased
him and shot at him twice, missing in both instances.
“The vengeful and violent behavior exhibited by respondent in
what should have been a simple traffic altercation reveals his conceit and
delusions of self-importance,” the Court said. “By firing his gun openly in
a congested highway and exposing complainant and the general public to
danger, he showed his utter lack of a sense of responsibility, as well as of
respect for law and order,” it added. (AC No. 5321, Ramon C. Gonzalez vs. Atty.
Arnel C. Alcaraz, September 27, 2006)

Disgruntled Complainant Fined for Maligning Court
By Joshua P. Lapuz

A LITIGANT WAS RECENTLY fined Php20,000 by the Supreme Court for
continuously filing pleadings containing innuendos that tend to malign
the integrity of the Court.
The Court said that Nestor Ernesto Dequiña went overboard when
in spite of the dismissal of his complaint against Judge Rolando Ramirez
and Clerk of Court Sandra Ledesma of the Cadiz City Municipal Trial Court
in Cities, he still persisted in filing numerous pleadings reiterating his
allegation that the said dismissal was brought about by a syndicate
coddling Ramirez and Ledesma. (AM No. MTJ-06-1657, Nestor Ernesto P. Dequiña
vs. Judge Rolando V. Ramirez, Presiding Judge, MTCC, Cadiz and Sandra M. Ledesma,
Clerk of Court, MTCC, Cadiz City, September 27, 2006)

Judge Dismissed for Corruption
By Joshua P. Lapuz

A JUDGE WAS RECENTLY DISMISSED by the Supreme Court for bribery.
The Court found Judge Luisito Adaoag of the Gerona-Ramos- Pura, Tarlac
Municipal Circuit Trial Court guilty of serious misconduct for soliciting and
accepting Php20,000 from Desiree Legario in consideration of the
dismissal of the case filed against her. Adaoag was caught in an
entrapment operation by operatives of the National Bureau of
Investigation.
Aside from dismissal, Adaoag was also ordered to pay a fine of
Php2,000 for issuing a warrant of arrest while under suspension. (AM No.
MTJ-03-1503, National Bureau of Investigation vs. Judge Luisito T. Adaoag, Municipal
Circuit Trial Court, Gerona-Ramos-Pura, Tarlac, November 16, 2006)

PAO Lawyer Reprimanded for Notarizing Receipt Without Commission
By Joshua P. Lapuz

A lawyer of the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) was recently disciplined by
the Supreme Court for performing a notarial act without a commission.
Atty. Noel Mora was reprimanded for notarizing without a
notarial commission an acknowledgment receipt of the initial payment
for a parcel of land. The Court deemed the same a violation of Canon 1,
Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility stating that “a lawyer
shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral, or deceitful conduct.”
(AC No. 6678, Jocelyn A. Saquing vs. Atty. Noel A. Mora, October 9, 2006)

SC Clarifies Effects of RA 9346 on Graduation of Criminal Penalties
By Karen M. Martinez

RA 9346 not only prohibits the physical imposition of the death penalty
but effectively removes the penalty of “death” from the graduation of
criminal penalties under Article 71 of the Revised Penal Code.
The Court clarified RA 9348’s effects in a 53-page decision penned
by Justice Dante O. Tinga, which affirmed with modification the
conviction of Alfredo Bon for the rapes and attempted rapes of his two
minor nieces. The Court ruled that it “cannot find basis to conclude that
Rep. Act No. 9346 intended to retain the operative effects of the death
penalty in the graduation of the other penalties in our laws.” Thus, the
Court reduced Bon’s penalty for each of the six counts of rape to
17
LIBERTAS ET IUSTICIA | DIGEST OF SUPREME COURT’S BENCHMARK 2006
www.libertas.ph
reclusion perpetua, while his penalty for each of the two counts of
attempted rape was downgraded to an indeterminate penalty of two
years, four months, and one day of prision correccional as minimum, to
eight years and one day of prision mayor as maximum plus civil
indemnity and damages.
Bon had been found guilty by the trial court of eight counts of
rape and was given eight death sentences. The Court of Appeals had
upheld six of the eight death sentences and downgraded the other two
rape convictions to attempted rape. On review, the Supreme Court had
to determine the proper penalty to be given Bon for the crimes of
attempted rape: whether he should be sentenced to prision mayor, the
penalty two degrees lower than reclusion perpetua, which is now the
highest remaining penalty with the removal of the death penalty by RA
9346.
According to the Court, “the negation of the word ‘death’ as
previously inscribed in Article 71 will have the effect of appropriately
downgrading the proper penalties attaching to accomplices, accessories,
frustrated and attempted felonies to the level consistent with our penal
laws.” It maintained that if RA 9346 was to be interpreted in such a way
as to limit its effects only to matters concerning the physical imposition
of the death penalty, there would be an anomalous situation where the
penalties for the principals and accomplices are equalized in certain
felonies but not in others.
The Court also clarified that the prohibition against the death
penalty did not result in the reclassification of those crimes previously
defined as “heinous.” It underscored the fact that the amendatory effects
of the law pertain only to the application of the death penalty and not to
the classification of felonies.
The Court extended the retroactive benefits of the enactment of
RA 9346 in accordance with Article 22 of the RPC to persons previously
convicted of capital offenses (except habitual criminals) but stressed that
“this decision does not make operative the release of such convicts” as
there are other remedies under the law which could be utilized to secure
the reasonable release of such prisoners. (GR No. 166401, People v. Alfredo
Bon, October 30, 2006)

Lawyer Suspended for Negligence
By Karen M. Martinez

ATTY. ALFREDO ZAPANTA was suspended by the Supreme Court for three
months for his failure to follow the proper procedure for withdrawal in a
case, which resulted in the dismissal of his client’s case.
The Court held that until Zapanta’s dismissal or withdrawal was
made of record, “any judicial notice sent to him was binding upon his
client even though as between them the professional relationship may
have been terminated. Thus, unless properly relieved, respondent is
responsible for the conduct of the cases and his failure to attend the
hearing and comply with the trial court’s directive to file a formal offer of
evidence constitute inexcusable negligence.” (AC No. 6266, Estela Anastacio-
Briones vs. Atty. Alfredo A. Zapanta, November 16, 2006)

Engineer Suspended for Failure to Repair Aircons
By Karen M. Martinez
ENGR. CELERINO BUENAVENTURA, Building and Grounds Maintenance
Head of the Halls of Justice of Naga City, was suspended for 35 days
without pay for failing to take charge of the maintenance and repairs of
the four airconditioning units installed in the Naga City Hall of Justice
despite repeated requests to do so.
The Court found grossly unsatisfactory Buenaventura’s
explanation that the government was able to save money during the time
the airconditioners were not in use as his inaction caused more damage
to the government. (AM No. 2004-15-SC, Prosecutor Agapito B. Rosales,
Provincial Prosecutor, Camarines Sur vs. Engr. Celerino Buenaventura,
18
LIBERTAS ET IUSTICIA | DIGEST OF SUPREME COURT’S BENCHMARK 2006
www.libertas.ph
Buildings and Grounds Maintenance Head, Maintenance Section, Halls of
Justice, Naga City, November 16, 2006)

Lawyer Suspended for Reneging on Contractual Obligation
By Karen M. Martinez
FOR REFUSING WITHOUT JUSTIFIABLE REASON to comply with his
contractual obligation as vendor of a piece of land and for mortgaging the
same property without informing the vendee, Atty. Alexander Bulauitan
was suspended for one year by the Supreme Court.
“The Court finds the respondent’s act of giving the property in
question in mortgage bordering on the fraudulent and surely dishonest,”
said the Court. “Respondent had shown, through his dealing with the
complainant involving a tiny parcel of land, a want of professional
honesty. Such misdeed reflects on the moral stuff which he is made of,” it
added. (AC No. 7280, Dahlia S. Gacias vs. Atty. Alexander Bulauitan, November 16,
2006)

December 2006

Judge, Two Mayors Fined for Contempt
By Joshua P. Lapuz

A JUDGE, TWO MAYORS, and two others were disciplined recently for
defying an order of the Supreme Court.
Judge Ralph Lee of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court, Branch
83 was found guilty of indirect contempt and fined Php5,000 for granting
the motions for reconsideration and re-determination of probable cause
and downgrading the charges of double murder and multiple frustrated
murder against former Poblacion Malabang, Lanao del Sur Mayor Anwar
Balindong and his two sons, Mayor Amer Oden Balindong and Ali
Balindong, and Chief of Police Lt. Col. Jalandoni Cota. Cota and the
Balindongs were likewise fined for continuously filing pleadings in
defiance of the Court’s decision of December 16, 2004 in GR No. 159962,
which had already sustained the above informations.
The Court said that Judge Lee “impudently” substituted his own
judgment for that of the Court. As for the four accused, the Court said
that their persistent attempts to raise issues long laid to rest by a final
and executory judgment constitute contumacious defiance of its
authority and impede the speedy administration of justice. (GR No. 173290,
Zenaida M. Limbona vs. Hon. Judge Ralph S. Lee of Regional Trial Court-Quezon City, Br.
83, Mayor Anwar Berua Balindong, Lt. Col. Jalandoni Cota, Mayor Amer Oden Balindong
& Ali Balindong, November 20, 2006)

Retired Clerk of Court and Sheriff Fined for Undue Demolition
By Joshua P. Lapuz

ERIBERTO SABAS, a retired Clerk of Court and Ex-Officio Sheriff of the
Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, was fined
by the Supreme Court from his retirement pay an amount equivalent to
six months salary plus six months leave credits for grave abuse of
authority and conduct unbecoming of an officer of the court.
Sabas caused the demolition of a fence and half of the house
owned by the spouses Arthur and Leonora Stilgrove, which were not
included in the MTC’s decision and special order of demolition. He also
shouted unkind words at Arthur Stilgrove.
The Court said that Sabas’ actions, which were beyond the scope
of his authority, deprived the Stilgroves of their property without due
process of law. It added that he further failed to demonstrate courtesy
and civility in the discharge of his functions when he shouted at Arthur
Stilgrove. (AM No. P-06-2257, Sps. Arthur and Leonora Stilgrove vs. Clerk of Court
Eriberto R. Sabas and Sheriff III Ernesto Simpliciano, November 29, 2006)

19

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful