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Macariola v.

Asuncion Case Digest

Macariola v. Asuncion, 114 SCRA 77, May 31, 1982
(En Banc), J. Makasiar

Facts: When the decision in Civil Case No. 3010 rendered

by respondent Hon. Judge Elias B. Asuncion of Court of
First Instance of Leyte became final on June 8, 1863 for
lack of an appeal, a project of partition was submitted to
him which he later approved in an Order dated October 23,
1963. Among the parties thereto was complainant
Bernardita R. Macariola.

Ruling: No. The respondent Judge Asuncion's actuation

does not constitute of an "act unbecoming of a judge." But
he is reminded to be more discreet in his private and
business activities.

SC ruled that the prohibition in Article 1491 par. 5 of the

New Civil Code The following persons cannot acquire by
purchase, even at a public or judicial action, either in person
or through the mediation of another:
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(5) Justices, judges, prosecuting attorneys, clerks of superior
and inferior courts, and other officers and employees
connected with the administration of justice, the property
One of the properties mentioned in the project of partition and rights in litigation or levied upon an execution before
was Lot 1184. This lot according to the decision rendered by the court within whose jurisdiction or territory they exercise
Judge Asuncion was adjudicated to the plaintiffs Reyes in their respective functions; this prohibition includes the act
equal shares subdividing Lot 1184 into five lots
of acquiring by assignment and shall apply to lawyers, with
denominated as Lot 1184-A to 1184-E.
respect to the property and rights which may be the object of
any litigation in which they may take part by virtue of their
On July 31, 1964 Lot 1184-E was sold to Dr. Arcadio
profession [emphasis supplied].
Galapon who later sold a portion of Lot 1184-E to Judge
The prohibition in the aforesaid Article applies only to the
Asuncion and his wife Victoria Asuncion. Thereafter
sale or assignment of the property which is the subject of
spouses Asuncion and spouses Galapon conveyed their
litigation to the persons disqualified therein. WE have
respective shares and interests in Lot 1184-E to the Traders already ruled that "... for the prohibition to operate, the sale
Manufacturing and Fishing Industries Inc. wherein Judge or assignment of the property must take place during the
Asuncion was the president.
pendency of the litigation involving the property" applies
only to operate, the sale or assignment of the property
Macariola then filed an instant complaint on August 9, 1968 during the pendency of the litigation involving the property.
docketed as Civil Case No. 4234 in the CFI of Leyte against Respondent judge purchased a portion of Lot 1184-E on
Judge Asuncion with "acts unbecoming a judge" alleging March 6, 1965, the in Civil Case No. 3010 which he
that Judge Asuncion in acquiring by purchase a portion of rendered on June 8, 1963 was already final because none of
Lot 1184-E violated Article 1491 par. 5 of the New Civil
the parties therein filed an appeal within the reglementary
Code, Art. 14, pars. 1 and 5 of the Code of Commerce, Sec. period. Hence, the lot in question was no longer subject to
3 par. H of R.A. 3019, Sec. 12 Rule XVIII of the Civil
litigation. Furthermore, Judge Asuncion did not buy the lot
Service Rules and Canon 25 of the Canons of Judicial
in question directly from the plaintiffs in Civil Case No.
3010 but from Dr. Arcadio Galapon who earlier purchased
Lot1184-E from the plaintiffs Reyes after the finality of the
On November 2, 1970, Judge Jose Nepomuceno of the CFI decision in Civil Case No. 3010.
of Leyte rendered a decision dismissing the complaints
against Judge Asuncion.
SC stated that upon the transfer of sovereignty from Spain
to the US and later on from the US to the Republic of the
After the investigation, report and recommendation
Philippines, Article 14 of Code of Commerce (Article 14
conducted by Justice Cecilia Munoz Palma of the Court of The following cannot engage in commerce, either in person
Appeals, she recommended on her decision dated March 27, or by proxy, nor can they hold any office or have any direct,
1971 that Judge Asuncion be exonerated.
administrative, or financial intervention in commercial or
industrial companies within the limits of the districts,
provinces, or towns in which they discharge their duties:
Issue: Does Judge Asuncion, now Associate Justice of Court 1. Justices of the Supreme Court, judges and officials of the
of Appeals violated any law in acquiring by purchase a
department of public prosecution in active service. This
parcel of Lot 1184-E which he previously decided in a Civil provision shall not be applicable to mayors, municipal
Case No. 3010 and his engagement in business by joining a judges, and municipal prosecuting attorneys nor to those
private corporation during his incumbency as a judge of the who by chance are temporarily discharging the functions of
CFI of Leyte constitute an "act unbecoming of a judge"?
judge or prosecuting attorney.
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5. Those who by virtue of laws or special provisions may continued the effectivity of the aforestated provision of the
not engage in commerce in a determinate territory.
Code of Commerce, consequently, Art. 14 of the Code of
It is Our considered view that although the aforestated
Commerce has no legal and binding effect and cannot apply
provision is incorporated in the Code of Commerce which is to the respondent Judge Asuncion.
part of the commercial laws of the Philippines, it, however,
partakes of the nature of a political law as it regulates the Respondent Judge cannot also be held liable to par. H,
relationship between the government and certain public
Section 3 of R.A. 3019 because the business of the
officers and employees, like justices and judges.) must be corporation in which respondent participated had obviously
deemed to have been abrogated because where there is
no relation or connection with his judicial office.
change of sovereignty, the political laws of the former
sovereign, whether compatible or not with those of the new SC stated that respondent judge and his wife deserve the
sovereign, are automatically abrogated, unless they are
commendation for their immediate withdrawal from the firm
expressly re-enacted by affirmative act of the new
22 days after its incorporation realizing that their interest
sovereign. There appears no enabling or affirmative act that contravenes the Canon 25 of the Canons of Judicial Ethics.