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Macariola v Asuncion A.M. No. 133-J; May 31, 1982; Makasiar, J.

Digest prepared by Mara Recto DOCTRINE Article 1491, par. 5 of the New Civil Code applies only to the sale or assignment of the property which is the subject of litigation to the persons disqualified therein. The Supreme Court held that for the prohibition to operate, the sale or assignment must take place during the pendency of the litigation involving the property. SYNOPSIS Bernardita R. Macariola sued Judge Elias B. Asuncion with Acts of unbecoming judge alleging that the respondent violated certain provisions in purchasing a property which was litigated under his court and selling it to a corporation which the judge is an officer FACTS

Bernardita Macariola charged Judge Elias B. Asuncion of CFI Leyte, now Associate Justice with acts unbecoming a judge A civil case of complaint for partition was filed by by Sinforosa R. Bales, Luz R. Bakunawa, Anacorita Reyes, Ruperto Reyes, Adela Reyes, and Priscilla Reyes against Bernardita R. Macariola concerning properties by deceased Francisco Reyes (plaintiff and defendants father) o Macariola alleged that: a) Bales not a daughter of Francisco b) Only legal heirs were Macariola (only child from first marriage with Felisa Espiras) and other plaintiffs (children from second marriage with Irene Ondez) c) Properties were conjugal properties with first wife, none acquired during second marriage d) If any partition should be made, conjugal properties be divided to 2 to Macariola representing her mother and the other half among his other children o Civil case decided: a) Bales is an illegitimate child b) There are some lots belonging to the conjugal partnership of the first and second marriage c) There are some belonging exclusively to the father d) Macariola as the only legal heir of her mother has exclusive ownership of her mothers lots and other estates to be divided equally among the remaining children e) Granted the second wife a share of 1/12 over whole estate f) Bales share will not exceed 2/5 of the total share of any of the other children g) Within 30 days, judgment will be final and directed parties to approve a project partition of the estate

h) Bales and Macariola to pay costs of suit

Decision in civil case became final for lack of appeal and parties did not sign the partition themselves but only by their counsel o Judge Asuncion approved the Order: 1. Lots Nos. 1154, 2304 and 4506 belong exclusively to Macariola 2. Portion of Lot No. 3416 consisting of 2,373.49 square meters along the eastern part of the lot belong to Macariola 3. Lots Nos. 4803, 4892 and 5265 Bales 4. Portion of Lot No. 3416 consisting of 1,834.55 square meters along the western part of the lot Bales 5. Lots Nos. 4474 and 4475 divided equally among 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 Remaining portion of Lot No. 3416 shall belong exclusively to Priscilla Reyes o Order amended for purpose of giving authority to Register of Deeds of Leyte to issue titles o Lot 1184-D was conveyed to Enriqueta D. Anota, a stenographer in Judge Asuncion's court o Lot 1184-E was sold to Dr. Arcadio Galapon (issued a title) Spouses Asuncion and spouses Galapon conveyed respective shares and interest in Lot 1184-E to The Traders Manufacturing and Fishing Industries Inc. o Stockholders: Dominador Arigpa Tan, Humilia Jalandoni Tan, Jaime Arigpa Tan, Judge Asuncion (president), and his wife, Victoria S. Asuncion (secretary) o The Traders were registered with SEC only on Jan 9, 1967 Macariola filed complaint: 1. Asuncion violated Art 1491 par 5 of NCC in acquiring a portion of Lot 1184-E (one of the properties involved in Civil Case 3010 2. Violated Art 14 par 1 and 5 of Code of Commerce, section 3 par H of RA 3019 (Anti Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Sec 12 Rule XVIII of Civil Service Rules and Canon 25 of Canons of Judicial Ethics by associating himself with Traders as stockholder and officer while a judge 3. Guilty of coddling an imposter and acted in disregard of judicial decorum by fraternizing with Dominador Arigpa Tan who advertises self as lawyer but not part of the rolls 4. Culpable defiance of law and disregard for ethics CA recommended that Asuncion be reprimanded and warned In the civil case, some defendants were dropped from civil case o Dr. Galapon dismissed because no longer a real party in interest

o Victoria Asuncion dismissed because no longer a party in interest o Cases against defendants Serafin P. Ramento, Catalina Cabus, Ben

Barraza Go, Jesus Perez, Traders Manufacturing and Fishing Industries, Inc., Alfredo R. Celestial and Pilar P. Celestial, Leopoldo Petilla and Remedios Petilla, Salvador Anota and Enriqueta Anota and Atty. Zotico A. Tolete were dismissed

ISSUE W/N 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 NO, prohibition applies only to sale or assignment of property which is the subject of litigation to the persons disqualified For prohibition to operate, sale or assignment must take place DURING the pendency of litigation involving property When Asuncion purchased on March 6, 1965 a portion of Lot 1184-E, the decision in Civil Case No. 3010 which he rendered on June 8, 1963 was already final because none of the parties therein filed an appeal within the reglementary period o Lot was no longer under litigation o At the time of the sale on March 6, 1965, respondent's order dated October 23, 1963 and the amended order dated November 11, 1963 approving the October 16, 1963 project of partition made pursuant to the June 8, 1963 decision, had long become final for there was no appeal. Judge did not buy lot directly from plaintiffs in civil case but from Galapon

The subsequent sale on August 31, 1966 by spouses Asuncion and spouses Galapon of their respective shares and interest in Lot 1184-E to the Traders Manufacturing and Fishing Industries, Inc., took place long after the finality of the decision in Civil Case and the partition orders

W/N the sale to Dr. Galapon was only a mere scheme to conceal the illegal and unethical transfer of the lot to Asuncion as a consideration for the approval of the partition NO, there was no evidence to show that Dr. Galapon acted as a mere dummy in acquiring the lot While it is true that Judge did not violate par 5 Art 1491 of the NCC, it was improper for him to acquire the lot (Canon 3 Canons of Judicial Ethics) 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. 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 W/N 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 Upon the transfer of sovereignty from Spain to the United States and later on from the United States to the Republic of the Philippines, Art. 14 of the Code of Commerce must be deemed to have been abrogated because where there is a 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.