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Republic of the Philippines

Supreme Court
Manila
EN BANC
A.M. No. RTJ-10-2225
(formerly A.M. OCA I.P.I. No. 09-3182-RTJ)

ATTY. TOMAS ONG CABILI,
Complainant,

Present:

- versus -

JUDGE RASAD G.
BALINDONG, Acting Presiding
Judge, RTC, Branch 8, Marawi City,
Respondent.

CORONA, C.J.,
CARPIO,
VELASCO, JR.,
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
BRION,
PERALTA,
BERSAMIN,
DEL CASTILLO,
ABAD,
VILLARAMA, JR.,
PEREZ,
MENDOZA,
SERENO,* and
REYES,** JJ.
Promulgated:
September 6, 2011

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DECISION
PER CURIAM:
We resolve the administrative complaint against respondent Acting Presiding
Judge Rasad G. Balindong of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Marawi City, Branch 8,
for Gross Ignorance of the Law, Grave Abuse of Authority, Abuse of Discretion, and/or
Grave Misconduct Prejudicial to the Interest of the Judicial Service.[1]

2009.. arising from a vehicular accident that caused the death of Jesus Ledesma and physical injuries to several others. Branch 8. holding the MSU liable for damages amounting to P2.189.[6] The Iligan City RTC denied the opposition in its March 31.90 from MSUs LBP-Marawi City Branch account. [4] The MSU.[9] On April 17. on March 24. Marawi City.[5] The Office of the Solicitor General opposed the motion for execution. 2009 Order. 2009. Marawi City Branch. however. The Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed the Iligan City RTC decision and the CA decision subsequently lapsed to finality. 2009. The MSU responded to the denial by filing on April 1.90. Thereafter. On January 19.The Factual Antecedents The antecedent facts.[8] After this hearing. in behalf of MSU. Sheriff Gerard Peter Gaje served a Notice of Garnishment on the MSUs depository bank. 1997. he required . 2009. gathered from the records. The respondent Judge set the hearing for the application for the issuance of a TRO on April 8.726. the Iligan City RTC issued a writ of execution. 2009.189. are summarized below. the respondent Judge conducted a hearing on the application for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction. et al. presided by respondent Judge. Entry of Judgment was made. for prohibition and mandamus with an application for the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) and/or preliminary injunction against the LBP and Sheriff Gaje. thus.726. 2009 a petition with the Marawi City RTC. Civil Case No. 06-2954[2] is an action for damages in Branch 6 of the Iligan City RTC against the Mindanao State University (MSU). albeit belatedly. the respondent Judge issued a TRO restraining Sheriff Gaje from garnishing P2.[3] On March 10. the Iligan City RTC rendered a Decision. the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP). On November 29. failed to comply with the writ.[7] The petition of MSU was raffled to the RTC.

[16] It recommended a fine of P40. . Tomas Ong Cabili.[13] The respondent Judge denied that he interfered with the order of Branch 6 of the Iligan City RTC. filed the complaint charging the respondent Judge with Gross Ignorance of the Law.MSU to file a memorandum in support of its application for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction. by issuing the TRO to enjoin Sheriff Gaje from garnishing P2.00. [18] Atty. 2009 Report. 2010. [15] In its December 3.[17] The Court resolved to re-docket the complaint as a regular administrative matter and to require the parties to manifest whether they were willing to submit the case for resolution on the basis of the pleadings/records on file. Tomas Ong Cabili complied through his manifestation of April 19.189.[21] The Courts Ruling The Court finds the OCAs recommendation well-taken. complainant Atty.90 from MSUs LBPMarawi City Branch account. Sheriff Gaje moved to dismiss the case on the ground of lack of jurisdiction.[12] On May 8. [19] a stating that he learned from reliable sources that the respondent Judge is basically good Judge. 06-2954.[14] He explained that he merely gave the parties the opportunity to be heard and eventually dismissed the petition for lack of jurisdiction. Abuse of Discretion.726. Branch 6 of the Iligan City RTC. and an admonition suffice as reminder to respondent not to repeat the same mistake [20] will in probably the The respondent Judge filed his manifestation on September 28. future.[10] On April 21. the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) found the respondent Judge guilty of gross ignorance of the law for violating the elementary rule of non-interference with the proceedings of a court of co-equal jurisdiction. noting that this is the respondent Judges second offense.000. 2010. [11] The respondent Judge thereafter granted the motion and dismissed the case. Grave Abuse of Authority. 2009. 2009. counsel of the private plaintiffs in Civil Case No. and/or Grave Misconduct Prejudicial to the Interest of the Judicial Service for interfering with the order of a co-equal court.

[30] the judge was found liable for gross ignorance of the law when he proceeded to enjoin the final and executory decision of the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) on the pretext that the temporary injunction and the writ of injunction he issued were not directed against the HLURBs writ of execution. In Yau v. so that all the proceedings on the execution are still proceedings in the suit.[23] The rationale for the rule is founded on the concept of jurisdiction: a court that acquires jurisdiction over the case and renders judgment therein has jurisdiction over its judgment. [25] A court which issued a writ of execution has the inherent power. Valenciano.[29] the Court held that undue interference by one in the proceedings and processes of another is prohibited by law. for the advancement of justice.[27] Jurisprudence shows that a violation of this rule warrants the imposition of administrative sanctions.[26] To hold otherwise would be to divide the jurisdiction of the appropriate forum in the resolution of incidents arising in execution proceedings.[24] Thus. Rojas. In Aquino. Splitting of jurisdiction is obnoxious to the orderly administration of justice. to correct errors of its ministerial officers and to control its own processes. The Manila Banking Corporation. but only against the manner of its execution.The doctrine of judicial stability or non-interference in the regular orders or judgments of a co-equal court is an elementary principle in the administration of justice:[22]no court can interfere by injunction with the judgments or orders of another court of concurrent jurisdiction having the power to grant the relief sought by the injunction. The Court noted that the judge cannot feign ignorance that the effect of the injunctive writ was to . for its execution and over all its incidents. In Coronado v. in furtherance of justice. v. and to control. Sr. the conduct of ministerial officers acting in connection with this judgment. to the exclusion of all other coordinate courts. we have repeatedly held that a case where an execution order has been issued is considered as still pending.[28] the judge committed grave abuse of discretion for issuing a TRO that interfered with or frustrated the implementation of an order of another court of co-equal jurisdiction.

paragraph 2. Rule 39 of the Rules of Court (terceria). Marawi City Branch.freeze the enforcement of the writ of execution. The respondent Judge was aware that he was acting on matters pertaining to the execution phase of a final decision of a co-equal and coordinate court since he even quoted MSUs allegations in his April 8.90 from MSUs account with the LBP. Branch 6 of the Iligan City RTC. under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court.726.[31] In Heirs of Simeon Piedad v. a co-equal body. under Article VIII. [32] the Court penalized two judges for issuing a TRO against the execution of a demolition order issued by another co-equal court. Nonetheless. Branch 9 of the Cebu City RTC. and from pursuing the garnishment of the amount of P2. 435-T. thus frustrating the lawful order of the HLURB. they were aware that they were acting on matters pertaining to a co-equal court. cited in the course of the Courts deliberations.[35] In the present case.[38] a third-party claimant of a property under . which was already exercising jurisdiction over the subject matter in Civil Case No. Estrera. the respondent Judge clearly ignored the principle of judicial stability by issuing a TRO to temporarily restrain [36] Sheriff Gaje from enforcing the writ of execution issued by a co-equal court. [33] To be sure. other than the judgment obligor or his agent.[34] speaks of and which this Court has operationalized through a petition for certiorari. Section 16. 2009 Order. however. is not the resort to another co-equal body but to a higher court with authority to nullify the action of the issuing court. Section 1. respondent-judges still opted to interfere with the order of a coequal and coordinate court of concurrent jurisdiction. in blatant disregard of the doctrine of judicial stability. a well-established axiom in adjective law. The remedy. finds no application to this case since this provision applies to claims made by a third person. namely. the law and the rules are not unaware that an issuing court may violate the law in issuing a writ of execution and have recognized that there should be a remedy against this violation.189.[37] The respondent Judge should have refrained from acting on the petition because Branch 6 of the Iligan City RTC retains jurisdiction to rule on any question on the enforcement of the writ of execution. The Court stressed that when the respondents-judges acted on the application for the issuance of a TRO. This is precisely the judicial power that the 1987 Constitution.

upon denial. That the complaining lawyer. he impressed upon the Iligan public that the kind of interference he exhibited can be done. upon failure.execution may file a claim with another court [39] which. not against the issuing Judge. When the law is sufficiently basic. In this case. It is not a viable legal position to claim that a TRO against a writ of execution is issued against an erring sheriff. This liability and the commensurate penalty do not depend on the complainants personal opinion but on the facts he alleged and proved. The duty of a sheriff in enforcing writs is ministerial and not discretionary. but. the judgment obligor. If Sheriff Gaje committed any irregularity or exceeded his authority in the enforcement of the writ. or an application for relief from. cannot affect the respondent Judges liability. not from any other court. and. to seek redress through a higher judicial body. MSU filed the proper motion with the Iligan City RTC (the issuing court). Atty. That the respondent Judge subsequently rectified his error by eventually dismissing the petition before him for lack of jurisdiction is not a defense that the respondent Judge can use. may issue a temporary restraining order. [45] . proceeded to seek recourse through another coequal court presided over by the respondent Judge. that an official act of the Iligan City RTC can be thwarted by going to the Marawi City RTC although they are co-equal courts. MSU did file its opposition before the issuing court Iligan City RTC which denied this opposition.e. in the exercise of its own jurisdiction.. the proper recourse for MSU was to file a motion with.[43] His lack of familiarity with the rules in interfering with the acts of a co-equal court undermines public confidence in the judiciary through his demonstrated incompetence. In this case. not merely the executing sheriff. the petition for injunction before the respondent Judge was filed by MSU itself. [42] As already mentioned above.[44] and should only be reprimanded. and on the applicable law and jurisprudence. A TRO enjoining the enforceability of a writ addresses the writ itself. Tomas Ong Cabili. the appropriate action is to assail the implementation of the writ before the issuing court in whose behalf the sheriff acts. a judge owes it to his office to know and to simply apply it. i. Anything less would be constitutive of gross ignorance of the law.[40] or to elevate the matter to the CA on a petition for certiorari. Significantly. even if only temporarily. the same court which issued the decision.[41] In this case. subsequently reversed course and manifested that the respondent Judge is basically a good Judge.

JR.Under A.000. respondent Judge Rasad G. Associate Justice Associate Justice TERESITA J. 01-8-10-SC or the Amendment to Rule 140 of the Rules of Court Re: Discipline of Justices and Judges. Regional Trial Court. with a stern WARNING that a repetition of the same will be dealt with more severely.M. PERALTA LUCAS P. rule for the maximum fine of P40. WHEREFORE. VELASCO. punishable by a fine of more than P20.000.00 is the appropriate penalty.00 or for suspension since this is the respondent Judges second offense. suspension from office without salary and other benefits for more than three (3) but not exceeding six (6) months. This imposition is an act of leniency as we can. BERSAMIN Associate Justice Associate Justice . SO ORDERED. RENATO C. premises considered. or dismissal from the service.000.000. Branch 8. is hereby FOUND GUILTY of Gross Ignorance of the Law and FINED in the amount of P30. Abad DIOSDADO M.00. but not exceeding P40. CORONA Chief Justice ANTONIO T.000. Considering the attendant circumstances of this case. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO ARTURO D. if we so hold. Marawi City.00. BRION Associate Justice Associate Justice I join the dissenting opinion of J. the Court after prolonged deliberations holds that a fine ofP30. gross ignorance of the law is a serious charge.00. No. Balindong. CARPIO PRESBITERO J. Acting Presiding Judge.

Acted on matter as CAdm. . JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ Associate Justice Associate Justice (On Leave) JOSE CATRAL MENDOZA MARIA LOURDES P. REYES Associate Justice Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila FIRST DIVISION G.R. vs. VILLARAMA. 1991 HON. HON. JUDGE ADRIANO R. MARTIN S. petitioner. JUDGE BERNARDO LL. A. No.Please see dissenting opinion MARIANO C. JR. SALAS and GEORGE CARLOS. respondents. ABAD Associate Justice Associate Justice No Part. DEL CASTILLO ROBERTO A. SERENO Associate Justice Associate Justice (On Official Leave) BEINVENIDO L. VILLAMOR. 101041 November 13.

Ramon Ve Salazar for petitioner. N-991. 101296 November 13. ANTONIO T. moved to activate the archived criminal cases.M. B-398 (Gloria Naval vs. against Judge Villamor. through counsel. Guerrero for private respondent. Thereafter. Carlos filed an administrative case.R. N-992 and N-993 for qualified theft against Gloria Naval and her helpers. Due to the pendency of Civil Case No. N-990. a decision was rendered in favor of Naval who was declared the lawful owner and possessor of the disputed land. respondent Carlos filed Criminal Cases Nos. Presiding Judge of RTC. Carlos was ordered to vacate the land. JUDGE ADRIANO R. 1988. respondent Carlos filed a civil action for damages (Civil Case No. instead of answering the . Judge Adriano Villamor. N-989. Afterwards. J. in anEn Banc resolution. GRIÑO-AQUINO. B-398. CEB-6478) against Judge Villamor for knowingly rendering an unjust judgment when he dismissed the five (5) criminal cases against Naval. This order was challenged by Carlos in the Court of Appeals and in this Court. 1987. petitioner. Henry R. B-398. 1991 HON. the criminal cases were temporarily archived. PEARY G. On November 21. The criminal cases were also assigned to the sala of Judge Villamor.G. Having declared Naval the lawful owner and possessor of the contested land in Civil Case No. Branch 21. No. 1987). B-398. vs. George Carlos) for recovery of ownership of a parcel of coconut land was filed and subsequently raffled to the sala of the petitioner. Region VII. While the civil case was pending there. respondents. A. B-398. VILLAMOR. this Court. both without success. ALEONAR. The next day (December 11. Cebu City. CEB-6478 was served upon Judge Villamor on December 10. Judge Villamor dismissed the criminal cases against her and her co-accused. Savellon for respondent. B-398. Civil Case No. RTJ-87-105. Dissatisfied with the outcome of the administrative case. et al. The summons in Civil Case No.:p In 1977. GUERRERO and HON. Antonio T. summarily dismissed the administrative case. Judge Villamor likewise granted execution pending appeal of his decision in Civil Case No. respondent Carlos. After trial in Civil Case No. No. charging him with having issued illegal orders and an unjust decision in Civil Case No.

a Manifestation was filed by Judge Villamor praying Judge Salas to dismiss Civil Case No. 101296).R. Carlos appealed to this Court which also denied the petition. The sole issue here is: whether or not Judges Aleonar and Salas may take cognizance of the actions for damages against Judge Villamor for allegedly having rendered an .R. Regional Trial Court of Cebu City presided over by Judge Bernardo LL.R.R.R. (See pp. and 2) granting the petitioner's prayer that this case be consolidated with G. 101296. CEB-8823 but the motion was denied by respondent Judge on July 2.complaint." and sentenced each of them to suffer the penalty of imprisonment for five (5) days and to pay a fine of P500. Hence.R.R. Attorney Antonio T. 1989. CV No. No. 82238-42). Nos. 1991. 1990). filed separate complaints for damages against Judge Villamor for knowingly rendering an unjust order of contempt. No. Aleonar. Guerrero. 26-34. 1990. Cebu City. CEB-8802 but it was denied by Judge Aleonar (p. Rollo of G. Carlos and his counsel. No. CEB-8802 (pp. 1991. CEB-8823 and raffled to Branch 8. No. a Resolution was issued by this Court: 1) temporarily restraining Judge Salas from further proceeding in Civil Case No.R. CEB-8823. The trial court granted the motion. No. Rollo of G. CEB-6478. Rollo of G. On March 30.R. Rollo of G. On September 19. No. 4546. 33. this Court issued a temporary restraining order against Judge Aleonar to stop him from proceeding in Civil Case No. Rollo of G. 101041).R.R. Judge Villamor filed a motion to dismiss Civil Case No. Attorney Antonio Guerrero. we annulled the contempt order. June 26. The order of dismissal was affirmed by the Court of Appeals (CA-G. (p. Carlos' complaint for damages was docketed as Civil Case No. 13-16. Salas. 20657. Hence. Judge Villamor issued in Criminal Cases Nos. Rollo of G. On May 20. 1991. N-0989 to 0993 an order of direct contempt against Carlos and his lawyer. 3739. presided over by Judge Peary G. We promptly restrained Judge Villamor from enforcing his Order of Contempt against Carlos and Attorney Guerrero. 101041. On August 21. On November 13. 101041). 101296. this petition for certiorari and prohibition with restraining order docketed as G. No. "for degrading the respect and dignity of the court through the use of derogatory and contemptous language before the court.) Back to Civil Case No. No. 101041). 1991 (pp. CEB-8802) was raffled to Branch 21. No. Judge Villamor filed a motion to dismiss the complaint for lack of jurisdiction. this second petition for certiorari and prohibition with restraining order (G. Attorney Guerrero's complaint for damages (Civil Case No. Regional Trial Court. Carlos immediately filed in this Court a petition for certiorari with a prayer for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction against the Judge (G.) Unfazed by these setbacks. 101296). 125. 101296 (pp.

The answer is no. Naval and others — Indeed.) To allow respondent Judges Aleonar and Salas to proceed with the trial of the actions for damages against the petitioner. A judge is not liable for an erroneous decision in the absence of malice or wrongful conduct in rendering it (Barroso vs. 95560. Gahol vs. June 1. Alconcel.R No. 111 SCRA 178. no Regional Trial Court can pass upon and scrutinize. has found that a trial judge's errors were committed deliberately and in bad faith may a charge of knowingly rendering an unjust decision be levelled against the latter (Garcia vs. a co-equal judge of a co-equal court. In fact. At most. namely. 1988). G. Abarrientos.unjust order of direct contempt against Carlos and Attorney Guerrero which this Court subsequently annulled.R. Carlos vs. 67 SCRA 161). Riodique. vs. judgments and orders (Parco vs. Maria vs. Aleonar and Judge Bernardo LL. 1989) can there be found a declaration that the erroneous order was rendered maliciously or with conscious and deliberate intent to commit an injustice. Court of Appeals. 64 SCRA 494). 82238-42. the order of direct contempt which we nullified may only be considered an error of judgment for which Judge Villamor may not be held criminally or civilly liable to the respondents. 1990. 101296. are vested with authority to review and correct errors of the trial courts.R. Sta. p. (George D. may not interfere with each other's cases. the consolidated petitions for certiorari are GRANTED. CA. 111 SCRA 262). et al. would in effect permit a court to review and interfere with the judgment of a co-equal court over which it has no appellate jurisdiction or power of review. are hereby dismissed. Arche. The temporary restraining orders issued by this Court in these cases are hereby made permanent. 82237. Nowhere in this Court's decision annulling Judge Villamor's order of direct contempt (G. pending in the salas of respondents Judge Peary G. CEB-8802 and CEB-8823.R. 125. This Court has already ruled that only after the Appellate Court. No costs. Judge Villamor. respectively. over a similar action for "Damages and Attorney's Fees Arising From Rendering an Unjust Judgment. 87 SCRA 179. Civil Cases Nos. Ubay. Rollo of G. G. November 13. No. No. Salas. the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court. a previous order of direct contempt issued by Judge Villamor against Carlos' former counsel was sustained by this Court (Jaynes C. November 5. As very aptly held by this Court in a Resolution it issued in connection with a previous case filed by respondent Carlos against Judge Villamor. in a final judgment. . The various branches of a Court of First Instance (now the Regional Trial Court) being co-equal." in dismissing the five (5) criminal cases for qualified theft which he (respondent Carlos) had filed against Gloria P. and much less declare as unjust a judgment of another Regional Trial Court and sentence the judge thereof liable for damages without running afoul with the principle that only the higher appellate courts. Nos. WHEREFORE.

Feliciano and Medialdea. CJ. Narvasa.. . JJ. Cruz. concur..SO ORDERED.