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RepublicofthePhilippines

SupremeCourt
BaguioCity

THIRDDIVISION

A.M.No.RTJ092190
HADJASOHURAHDIPATUAN, (FormerlyOCAIPINo.082909RTJ)
Present:
Complainant,

CORONA,J.,Chairperson,

VELASCO,JR.,

NACHURA,

PERALTA,and
versus
MENDOZA,JJ.

Promulgated:

JUDGE
MAMINDIARA
P. April23,2010
MANGOTARA,
Respondent.
xx

DECISION

PERALTA,J.:

[1]
Before this Court is an AffidavitComplaint dated May 12, 2008, filed by
complainant Hadja Sohurah Dipatuan against respondent Judge Mamindiara P.
Mangotara, Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court (Regional Trial Court) of IliganCity,
Branch1,forGrossIgnoranceoftheLawandGraveAbuseofAuthority.
Theantecedentfactsofthecase,asculledfromtherecords,areasfollows:
OnSeptember5,2001,acriminalcaseformurder,docketedasCriminalCaseNo.
362001 was filed against Ishak M. Abdul and Paisal Dipatuan, complainants husband,

before the Regional Trial Court of Marawi City, Branch 10, then presided by Judge
YusophPangadapun,forthekillingofEliasAliTaher.JudgePangadapundiedduringthe
pendency of the case. The case was transferred to different judges designated by the
Supreme Court to act as Presiding Judge of Branch 10, namely, Judge Amer Ibrahim,
Judge Rasad Balindog, Judge Macaundas Hadjirasul, Judge Moslemen Macarambon,
respondentJudgeMamindiaraMangotara,andJudgeLacsamanBusran.

BeforeJudgeMacaramboncouldrenderadecisiononthecase,hewasappointedas
COMELEC Commissioner. By virtue of Administrative Order No. 2012007

[2]
dated

November 16, 2007, the Supreme Court designated respondent Judge Mamindiara
Mangotara, Presiding Judge of the RTC of Iligan City, Branch 1, Lanao Del Norte, as
Acting Presiding Judge of the RTC of Marawi City, Branch 10. Later on, Mangotara
suffered a mild stroke hence, the Supreme Court, in a Resolution dated December 26,
2007,revokedtheearlierdesignationofJudgeMangotaraanddesignatedJudgeLacsaman
M.BusranasthenewActingPresidingJudgeofBranch10,byvirtueofAdministrative
OrderNo.2202007.

[3]
On December 28, 2007, Mangotara issued the disputed Decision in Criminal
CaseNo.362001andfoundbothaccusedAbdulandDipatuanguiltybeyondreasonable
doubtofthecrimeofmurderandsentencedthemtoimprisonmentofreclusionperpetua.
ThetrialcourtruledthattheprosecutionwasabletoestablishthatAbdulandcoaccused
DipatuanactedinconspiracyinshootingandkillingthevictimEliasAliTaher.Thecourt,
likewise,increasedtheaccusedsbailbondfromP75,000.00toP200,000.00.
On January 21, 2008, the accused filed a motion for reconsideration of the
Decision.InanOrderdatedFebruary1,2008, Mangotara denied the motion for lack of
[4]
In another Order of the same date, Mangotara applied the same increased bail

merit.

bond with regard to accused Ishak M. Abdul.

[5]

However, again on the same date,

MangotaraissuedanotherOrderrecallingtheforegoingOrders.

[6]

Thus, on May 14, 2008, complainant filed the instant complaint. Complainant

allegedthatJudgeMangotaradisplayedbiasandprejudiceagainstherhusbandDipatuan
whenhedidnotinhibithimselffromthecase,consideringthatheisarelativebyaffinity
and consanguinity of the victim Elias Ali Taher and that he also came from Maguing,
LanaoDelSurwhereTaheralsousedtoreside.Complainantalsopointedoutthatdespite
thedesignationofJudgeBusranasActingPresidingJudgeofBranch10onDecember26,
2007, Judge Mangotara, acting with grave abuse of authority, illegally and maliciously
rendered the December 28, 2007 Decision as well as the two Orders dated February 1,
2008.
OnMay26,2008,theOfficeoftheCourtAdministrator(OCA)directedMangotara
[7]
tofilehisCommentontheinstantcomplaint.

InhisComment

[8]
datedJune24,2008,Mangotaraaverredthathedecidedthecase

onDecember28,2007asithadbeenpendingforalmostseven(7)years.Heclarifiedthat
hisrelationshiptothevictimisdistantandnotabasisfordisqualificationofjudgesunder
Rule 137 of the Rules of Court. Mangotara explained that he received notice of Judge
BusransdesignationasthenewPresidingJudgeonlyonJanuary26,2008andthatwhen
he issued the two Orders dated February 1, 2008, Judge Busran had not yet assumed
officeandinthehonestbeliefthatAbdulwasalsoentitledtothebenefitsofthebailbond
fixedbythecourtforDipatuan.Mangotaraaddedthat,uponrealizingtheirregularityof
thetwoOrdersissuedonFebruary1,2008,heimmediatelyrectifiedthesameandrecalled
the Orders on the same day. Finally, Mangotara maintained that his decision was
supported by the evidence on record and that the instant administrative complaint was
onlymeanttoembarrasshimanddestroyhishonorandreputation.

Subsequently, in its Memorandum

[9]
dated May 18, 2009, the OCA found

Mangotara guilty of gross ignorance of the law and abuse of authority. The OCA,
likewise,recommendedthattheinstantcomplaintagainstMangotaraberedocketedasa
regularadministrativematter.

However, in its Resolution

[10]
dated July 22, 2009, the Court resolved to redocket the

instant complaint as a regular administrative matter and refer the complaint to Court of
Appeals Associate Justice Portia AlioHormachuelos for investigation, report and
recommendation.

WeadopttherecommendationoftheInvestigatingJustice.

Onthechargeofbiasandpartiality
resultingtograveabuseofauthority

We rule in the negative. As correctly observed by the Investigating Justice,


complainantindeedfailedtospecifythedegreeofrelationshipofrespondentJudgetoa
party in the subject case. She failed to present any clear and convincing proof that
respondentJudgewasrelatedwithintheprohibiteddegreewiththevictim.Section1,Rule
137oftheRevisedRulesofCourtstates:

Sec.1.DisqualificationofJudges.Nojudgeorjudicialofficershallsitin
anycaseinwhichhe,orhiswifeorchild,ispecuniarilyinterestedasheir,legatee,
creditor or otherwise, or in which he is related to either party within the sixth
degree of consanguinity or affinity, or to counsel within the fourth degree,
computedaccordingtotherulesofthecivillaw,orinwhichhehasbeenexecutor,
administrator, guardian, trustee or counsel, or in which he has presided in any
inferior court when his ruling or decision is the subject of review, without the
written consent of all parties in interest, signed by them and entered upon the
record.

A judge may, in the exercise of his sound discretion, disqualify himself


fromsittinginacase,forjustorvalidreasonsotherthanthosementionedabove.

This being the case, the inhibition was indeed discretionary or voluntary as the
same was primarily a matter of conscience and sound discretion on the part of the
respondent Judge. When Mangotara chose not to inhibit and proceed with the
promulgation of the disputed decision, he cannot be faulted by doing so. Significantly,
complainant while asserting that Mangotara should have inhibited in the said case, she
nonethelessfailedtoinstituteanymotionforinhibition.

Moreover, complainant failed to cite any specific act that would indicate bias,

prejudice or vengeance warranting respondents voluntary inhibition from the case.


Complainantmerelypointedontheallegedadverseanderroneousrulingsofrespondent
Judgetotheirprejudice.Bythemselves,however,theydonotsufficientlyprovebiasand
prejudice.

Tobedisqualifying,thebiasandprejudicemustbeshowntohavestemmedfrom
an extrajudicial source and result in an opinion on the merits on some basis other than
whatthejudgelearnedfromhisparticipationinthecase.Opinionsformedinthecourseof
judicial proceedings, although erroneous, as long as they are based on the evidence
presentedandconductobservedbythejudge,donotprovepersonalbiasorprejudiceon
thepartofthejudge.Asageneralrule,repeatedrulingsagainstalitigant,nomatterhow
erroneousandvigorouslyandconsistentlyexpressed,arenotabasisfordisqualificationof
ajudgeongroundsofbiasandprejudice.Extrinsicevidenceisrequiredtoestablishbias,
bad faith, malice or corrupt purpose, in addition to the palpable error which may be
inferredfromthedecisionororderitself.Althoughthedecisionmayseemsoerroneousas
toraisedoubtsconcerningajudge'sintegrity,absentextrinsicevidence,thedecisionitself
wouldbeinsufficienttoestablishacaseagainstthejudge.

[11]

Mere suspicion of partiality is not enough. There must be sufficient evidence to


prove the same, as well as a manifest showing of bias and partiality stemming from an
extrajudicialsourceorsomeotherbasis.Ajudge'sconductmustbeclearlyindicativeof
arbitrarinessandprejudicebeforeitcanbestigmatizedasbiasedandpartial.Astherewas
no substantial evidence to hold Mangotara liable on this point, the Investigating Justice
correctlyrecommendedthedismissalofthischargeagainsthim.

Moreover, we likewise found no basis to hold respondent Judge administratively


liableanenthisissuanceoftheDecisiondatedDecember28,2007.Asaptlyobservedby
the Investigating Justice, Mangotara acted in good faith when he issued the subject
decision, since he received notice of his replacement by Judge Busran, dated December
26,2007,onlyonJanuary26,2008.Itmustbestressedthatnoteveryerrorormistakethat
ajudgecommitsintheperformanceofhisdutiesrendershimliable,unlessheisshownto
haveactedinbadfaithorwithdeliberateintenttodoaninjustice.Goodfaithandabsence

ofmalice,corruptmotivesorimproperconsiderationsaresufficientdefensesinwhicha
judgecanfindrefuge.Inthiscase,complainantadducednoevidencethatMangotarawas
movedbybadfaithwhenheissuedthedisputedorder.

Astothechargeofgross
ignoranceofthelaw

Astothechargeofgrossignoranceofthelawinsofarashisactofincreasingthe
bailbondoftheaccusedinsteadofcancellingit,Mangotaradidnotdenyhisissuanceof
saidOrder.However,heclaimsthattheissuancethereofwasmerelyanerrorofjudgment.
Indeed, as a matter of public policy, not every error or mistake of a judge in the
performanceofhisofficialdutiesrendershimliable.Intheabsenceoffraud,dishonesty
or corruption, the acts of a judge in his official capacity do not always constitute
misconduct although the same acts may be erroneous. True, a judge may not be
disciplinedforerrorofjudgmentabsentproofthatsucherrorwasmadewithaconscious
anddeliberateintenttocauseaninjustice.Thisdoesnotmean,however,thatajudgeneed
not observe propriety, discreetness and due care in the performance of his official
functions.
Section 5, Rule 114 of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure is clear on the
issue.Itprovides:
SEC.5.Bail,whendiscretionary.UponconvictionbytheRegionalTrialCourtof
anoffensenotpunishablebydeath,reclusionperpetuaorlifeimprisonment,admissionto
bailisdiscretionary.Theapplicationforbailmaybefiledandacteduponbythetrialcourt
despitethefilingofanoticeofappeal,providedithasnottransmittedtheoriginalrecord
to the appellate court. However, if the decision of the trial court convicting the accused
changed the nature of the offense from nonbailable to bailable, the application for bail
canonlybefiledwithandresolvedbytheappellatecourt.
xxxxxxxxx

Theruleisveryexplicitastowhenadmissiontobailisdiscretionaryonthepartof
therespondentJudge.Itisimperativethatjudgesbeconversantwithbasiclegalprinciples

and possessed sufficient proficiency in the law. In offenses punishable by reclusion


perpetuaordeath,theaccusedhasnorighttobailwhentheevidenceofguiltisstrong.
[12]
Thus,astheaccusedinCriminalCaseNo.362001hadbeensentencedtoreclusion
perpetua,thebailshouldhavebeencancelled,insteadofincreasingitasrespondentJudge
did.
While a judge may not be held liable for gross ignorance of the law for every
erroneousorderthatherenders,itisalsoaxiomaticthatwhenthelegalprincipleinvolved
is sufficiently basic, lack of conversance with it constitutes gross ignorance of the law.
Indeed,eventhoughajudgemaynotalwaysbesubjectedtodisciplinaryactionforevery
erroneous order or decision he renders, that relative immunity is not a license to be
negligentorabusiveandarbitraryinperforminghisadjudicatoryprerogatives.Itdoesnot
mean that a judge need not observe propriety, discreetness and due care in the
performance of his official functions. This is because if judges wantonly misuse the
powersvestedonthembythelaw,therewillnotonlybeconfusionintheadministration
[13]
ofjusticebutalsooppressivedisregardofthebasicrequirementsofdueprocess.

Clearly,intheinstantcase,theactofMangotarainincreasingthebailbondofthe
accused instead of cancelling it is not a mere deficiency in prudence, discretion and
judgment on the part of respondent Judge, but a patent disregard of wellknown rules.
When an error is so gross and patent, such error produces an inference of bad faith,
[14]
makingthejudgeliableforgrossignoranceofthelaw.
Itisapressingresponsibility
of judges to keep abreast with the law and changes therein, as well as with the latest
decisionsoftheSupremeCourt.Onecannotseekrefugeinamerecursoryacquaintance
withthestatuteandproceduralrules.Ignorance of the law, which everyone is bound to
know,excusesnoonenotevenjudges.IGNORANTIA JURIS QUOD QUISQUE SCIRE
[15]

TENETURNONEXCUSAT.

Wecometotheimposablepenalty.

UnderSection8,Rule140oftheRulesofCourt,asamendedbyA.M.No.01810
SC, gross ignorance of the law or procedure is classified as a serious charge. Under

Section11(A)ofthesameRule,asamended,iftherespondentisfoundguiltyofaserious
charge,anyofthefollowingsanctionsmaybeimposed:

1.Dismissalfromtheservice,forfeitureofallorpartofthebenefitsastheCourt
may determine, and disqualification from reinstatement or appointment to any public
office, including governmentowned or controlled corporations Provided, however, that
theforfeitureofbenefitsshallinnocaseincludeaccruedleavecredits

2.Suspensionfromofficewithoutsalaryandotherbenefitsformorethanthree(3)
butnotexceedingsix(6)monthsor

3.AfineofmorethanP20,000.00butnotexceedingP40,000.00.

In this case, a fine of P20,000.00, as recommended by the Investigating Justice, would


thusappeartobeanappropriatesanctiontoimposeonrespondentJudge,consideringthat
thisishisfirstinfractioninhis13yearsofservicehisadmissionofhismistakeandhis
promptcorrectionofsuchmistake.
WHEREFORE, the Court finds JUDGE MAMINDIARA P. MANGOTARA,
retiredPresidingJudgeoftheRegionalTrialCourtofIliganCity,Branch1,GUILTYof
GROSSIGNORANCEOFTHELAWforwhichheisFINEDintheamountofTwenty
ThousandPesos(P20,000,00),tobedeductedfromhisretirementbenefits.

SOORDERED.

DIOSDADOM.PERALTA
AssociateJustice
WECONCUR:

RENATOC.CORONA
AssociateJustice
Chairperson

PRESBITEROJ.VELASCO,JR.

AssociateJustice

ANTONIOEDUARDOB.NACHURA
AssociateJustice

JOSECATRALMENDOZA
AssociateJustice

[1]
Rollo,pp.15.
[2]
Id.at7.
[3]
Id.at819.
[4]
Id.at46.
[5]
Id.at47.
[6]
Id.at48.
[7]
Id.at49.
[8]
Id.at5053.
[9]
Id.at125130.
[10]
Id.at131132.
[11]
Webbv.People,July24,1997,G.R.No.127262,276SCRA243,253254.
[12]
Managuelodv.Paclibon,Jr.,A.M.No.RTJ021726,March29,2004,426SCRA377,381.
[13]
Reyesv.Paderanga,A.M.No.RTJ061973,March14,2008,548SCRA244,258259.
[14]
Id.at259.
[15]
Riverav.Mirasol,A.M.No.RTJ041885,July14,2004,434SCRA315,320.