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PALE CANON 2 CASES

2. G.R. No. L-9050 July 30, 1955


THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner, vs. JUAN L. BOCAR,
Vacation Judge of the Court of First Instance of Rizal, Pasay City
Branch and OSCAR CASTELO,Respondents.
Office of the Solicitor General Ambrosio Padilla, Assistant Solicitor General
Jose H. Bautista, City Fiscal Eugenio Angeles and City Attorney Francisco
H.
Salva
for
petitioner.
Mariano H. De Joya, Estanislao A. Fernandez, Roberto Guianzon,
Felicisimo Ocampo, Alejandro De Santos, Constancio M. Leuterio, Lauro S.
Esteban and Vicente Francisco for respondents.
MONTEMAYOR, J.:
This is a petition for certiorari and prohibition with preliminary injunction
filed by the People of the Philippines against Juan L. Bocar, acting as
vacation judge of the Court of First Instance of Rizal, Pasay City Branch,
and Oscar Castelo. The facts in the case are not disputed; only questions
of
law,
but
important
ones
are
involved.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
In Criminal Case No. 3023-P of the Court of First Instance of Rizal, Pasay
City Branch, Oscar Castelo and Rogelio Robles with 14 others were
charged with the crime of murder for the death of Manuel P. Monroy. On
motion of the prosecution defendant Rogelio Robles was discharged from
the information with his consent to be utilized as witness for the
Government as he did in fact testify for the prosecution. After a prolonged
trial, Judge Emilio Rilloraza in a decision promulgated on March 31,1955,
found eight of the accused including Castelo guilty of the charge and
sentenced all of them to suffer the death penalty. After promulgation
respondent Castelo filed a motion to be released on bail. In the meantime
respondent Judge Bocar had been detailed to the Court of First Instance
of Rizal, Pasay City Branch since February 1, 1955. In the absence of
Judge Rilloraza who, presumably had gone on vacation after promulgating
his decision, Judge Bocar took his place. Acting upon this motion for bail
and over the objection of the City Fiscal of Pasay City, Bocar granted the
same
upon
filing
a
bond
in
the
sum
of
P30,000.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
On April 11, 1955, respondent Castelo filed a motion for new trial with
notice of hearing on April 14th, based mainly on the affidavit of Rogelio
Robles, one of the original accused who as already stated, was excluded
from the information and who testified for the prosecution, recanting his
testimony given during the trial against respondent Castelo, stating in
said affidavit that all his testimony was false but that he had so testified
because of alleged force, intimidation or violence exerted upon
him.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
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On April 13, 1955, the petitioner People of the Philippines filed a motion
for reconsideration of the order granting bail to respondent Castelo. It
was
denied
by
respondent
Judge
on
April
20,
1955.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
As originally scheduled, the hearing on the motion for new trial was held
on April 14th at which hearing City Attorney Salva of Pasay City appeared
for the prosecution. In the course of the hearing which lasted until April
20th, Manila City Fiscal Eugenio Angeles also appeared for the
prosecution. In support of the motion for new trial, the affidavit of
recantation of Robles was presented and he himself testified extensively;
so did Judge Hermogenes Calauag, Mrs. Felicidad Manuel, Atty. Alejandro
de Santos and Liceria Siasoy, mother of Robles. For the prosecution,
seven affidavits were presented, marked as Annexes H, H-1, H-2, H-3, H4, H-5 and H-6, made by public officials such as Judge Luis B. Reyes who,
during the main trial of the case before Judge Rilloraza, acted as assistant
Manila City Fiscal, Hon. Arsenio H. Lacson, Mayor of Manila and some
members of the Manila City Police Department, all denying the acts of
violence, force or intimidation attributed to them by Robles. Immediately
after the last hearing on April 20, Judge Bocar in an order of the same
date granted the motion for new trial and set aside the decision of
conviction rendered by Judge Rilloraza as regards Castelo, and he set the
new trial for April 25th. The same order denied the petitioner's motion for
reconsideration of the order granting bail. Thereafter, Solicitor General
Ambrosio Padilla filed the present petition forcertiorari and prohibition
with preliminary injunction, seeking to annul the orders of respondent
Bocar
granting
bail
and
granting
new
trial
to
respondent
Castelo.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
After a hearing held before this Court in Baguio on April 23, 1955, on the
prayer in the petition for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction,
at which hearing the Solicitor General and counsel for Castelo appeared
and orally argued for the petitioner and respondents, respectively, a writ
of preliminary injunction without bond was issued, enjoining respondent
Bocar not to proceed with the new trial as set by him for April 25th.
Another hearing was held before this Court in Baguio on May 5, 1955, at
which hearing Solicitor General Ambrosio Padilla and Assistant Solicitor
General Jose Bautista appeared and argued for the petitioner and Solicitor
Troadio Quiazon also appeared for the petitioner, and Attys. Mariano H.
de Joya and Estanislao Fernandez appeared and argued for respondents,
and Attys. Roberto A. Gianzon, Alejandro de Santos, Constancio M.
Leuterio and Felicisimo Ocampo also appeared for respondents, and
respondent Oscar Castelo himself appeared and addressed the Tribunal on
his
own
behalf.
Thereafter,
the
case
was
submitted
for
decision.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library

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The theory of the petitioner as may be gathered from the pleadings and
the oral argument of its representatives, is that respondent Bocar
presiding over the trial court had no jurisdiction to entertain, much less to
grant the motion for new trial because the case involves a death
sentence, and that even if he had said jurisdiction, he gravely abused his
discretion in granting it, considering the circumstances surrounding the
case. On the other hand, counsel for respondents maintain that
respondent Bocar had jurisdiction to grant the new trial as in ordinary
criminal cases, and that in the exercise of that jurisdiction he did not
commit any abuse of discretion.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles
virtual law library
The case is without established judicial precedent; it is one of first
impression, and realizing the importance and far-reaching effects of a
decision on the matter we have given it special attention and considerable
study and thought. In ordinary criminal cases where the penalty imposed
is life imprisonment or less, there is no question that the trial court
imposing the sentence may grant a motion for new trial. Not only this, but
under section 1, Rule 117, of the Rules of Court, the trial court even on its
own motion but with the consent of the defendant may grant a new trial.
The legal provision which has sown doubt or effected conviction in the
mind of counsel for petitioner is section 9, Rule 118 of the Rules of Court
which provides as follows:
SEC. 9. Transmission of record in case of death penalty.-The records of all
cases in which the death penalty shall have been imposed by any Court of
First Instance, whether the defendant shall have appealed or not, shall be
forwarded to the Supreme Court for review and judgment as law and
justice shall dictate. The records of such cases shall be forwarded to the
clerk of the Supreme Courtwithin twenty days, but not earlier than fifteen
days, after rendition of sentence. The transcript shall also be forwarded
without unnecessary delay.
The Solicitor General argues that under the above-quoted section, after
the rendition of a death sentence the trial court is completely divested of
all jurisdiction over the case which, regardless of whether the accused
sentenced to death appeals or not, automatically goes to the Supreme
Court for review of the sentence, the records of the case to be forwarded
to it within 20 days. He further claims that a defendant under a death
sentence is not deprived of his right to file a motion for new trial but that
any such motion should be addressed to and resolved by the Supreme
Court, all this, because of the extreme importance of the case, the
defendant's life being at stake. On the other hand, counsel for
respondents maintain that there is absolutely no reason why an accused
under a death sentence, whose life is in the balance should be deprived of
the rights enjoyed by defendants in ordinary criminal cases such as the

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right to file a motion for new trial before the trial court to be resolved by
the same court.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
The automatic review by this Tribunal of a decision or sentence imposing
the death penalty is intended primarily for the protection of the accused
(U.S. vs. Laguna, 17 Phil. 520). It is to insure the correctness of the
decision of the trial court sentencing him to death. The Supreme Court
under this automatic review is called upon to scrutinize the record and
look for any errors committed by the trial court against the defendant. In
such review this Tribunal may find errors committed in his favor but such
errors are not exactly the object of the said review because even if found
to be such, their correction by this Tribunal would be vain and of no
practical utility because the sentence cannot be made more severe; the
penalty of death already imposed is the extreme, the highest penalty of
death already imposed is the extreme, the highest penalty imposable
under the law. We repeat that the whole purpose of the automatic review
by this Court of a death sentence is to find and correct errors committed
by the trial court against the accused such as finding him guilty of the
crime deserving the death penalty when in fact the offense committed
was less serious, or a finding against him of the existence of aggravating
circumstances or a qualifying circumstance, not supported by the record,
or failing to compensate proven aggravating circumstances with equally
proven mitigating circumstances. In other words, the law providing for
automatic review of a death sentence seeks to favor the defendant. If this
is the case, then such defendant should and must be accorded at least
the same rights, privileges and opportunities for acquittal or reduction of
his sentence, enjoyed by other accused sentenced to penalties lower than
death.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
It might be argued as does the Solicitor General that a defendant
sentenced to death is not being deprived of the right to move for new
trial, only that said motion for new trial must be addressed to the
Supreme Court and resolved by it instead of being addressed to and
decided by the trial court. That is but partly correct, for should such
motion for new trial before this Tribunal be denied, for the defendantmovant, that is the end of the trial. He cannot and may not pursue his
remedy to a higher court because there is none. The Supreme Court is
the highest Tribunal of the land, where all roads of relief and legal
remedies lead to an end. In other words, he has only one chance for the
granting of new trial. On the other hand, a defendant in an ordinary
criminal case sentenced to say,reclusion temporal or arresto mayor, may
petition the trial court for a new trial. If it is denied there, he appeals his
case to the proper appellate court and there renews his petition for new
trial. In other words, he has two chances and opportunities to be granted
a new trial, while one sentenced to death, fighting for his life has only one
chance and one opportunity. That would be unreasonable and illogical.
Since as we have already stated the purpose of an automatic review of a

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death sentence is to favor the accused involved, it stands to reason that


he should be given if possible more rights, remedies and opportunities to
have any errors committed against him by the trial court corrected; at
least the same rights, opportunities and privileges accorded a defendant
sentenced to a lesser penalty.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles
virtual law library
In an ordinary criminal case involving a mere prison sentence, the trial
court is given a period of 15 days after rendition of judgment within which
to mull over or ponder his decision, unless of course, within that period of
time, the accused waives his right to appeal, begins serving the sentence
or takes the case on appeal to an appellate court. Within that period, as
already stated, the trial court may on its own motion with the consent of
the defendant, grant a new trial. Within that period the trial court may
modify its judgment by reducing the penalty or find, or even set it aside
altogether and acquit the accused. But under the theory of the petitioner,
all these rights and prerogatives of the trial court in an ordinary criminal
case, are swept away in a case involving the death penalty with
consequences tremendously, even fatally prejudicial to the accused. It is
clear that every curtailment or reduction of the rights and prerogatives of
a trial court to grant a new trial, to modify its sentence or even to acquit
the accused, within the 15-day period during which it retains jurisdiction
and control over its decision correspondingly and in equal measure
abridges and diminishes the rights and chance of the defendant himself to
have the penalty reduced or to be acquitted altogether. It is evident that
the abridgement and diminution, whether of the jurisdiction, powers and
prerogatives of a trial court, or of the rights, opportunities and chances of
the defendant, in a death sentence case, is incompatible with and runs
counter to the purpose and the intention of the law which as we have
already stated, is to favor a defendant sentenced by the trial court to
die.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
A defendant in an ordinary criminal case sentenced to a mere prison
term, fighting only to gain his freedom, is allowed by the law to invoke
and take advantage of and exhaust all the legal remedies and
opportunities available to him in the trial court such as asking for a
modification of the sentence, even for his outright acquittal, or to file a
motion for new trial. Does and will the same law deny the same legal
opportunities and remedies to one who is sentenced to the death penalty,
who needs said remedies and opportunities most, for the reason that he
is fighting not only for his liberty but his very life, specially when as we
have already said, it is the policy of the Government as shown in the legal
provision providing for automatic review of a death sentence to give the
defendant thus sentenced every protection from any judicial error
committed against him? Both reason and justice give and must give the
answer in the negative.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law
library

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It might be contended that to modify a death sentence or to pass upon a


motion for new trial and to grant it, is such a delicate and serious matter
that said task is reversed only to the Supreme Court, and that,
consequently, a trial court is denied the jurisdiction and the power to
modify a death sentence rendered by it or to grant a new trial. But if the
law itself considers a trial court good enough and wise enough, and in all
other respects fully qualified to try an accused for a capital offense and
impose capital punishment on him, reason dictates that said trial court
should be good and wise enough and fully qualified to modify the death
sentence imposed by itself, or grant a new trial. Besides, even if a motion
for new trial in a death sentence is granted by the Supreme Court itself,
for lack of facilities and of material time, the new trial is almost invariably
ordered to be conducted by the trial court itself and thereafter the case
decided anew by the same trial court, proof, positive that a trial court is
regarded by this Tribunal as possessed with sufficient wisdom and
integrity to modify a death sentence, even to acquit the defendant should
the
evidence
at
the
new
trial
so
justify.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
In this connection we might digress a little and say something about the
responsibility of a trial court in imposing the death penalty. To sentence a
fellowman to die is a serious matter. The law calls for the imposition of
the death penalty only in rare and extreme cases, where the evidence is
very strong, even conclusive, and extraordinary and aggravating
circumstances attended the commission of the particular offense. The trial
judge imposing the death sentence must be morally convinced and
certain that the accused committed the crime and under the aggravating
circumstances charged in the information, and to arrive at this moral
certainty and conviction the trial judge must be sure that the witness or
witnesses testifying on the commission of the crime and linking the
accused to it, were sincere, truthful and credible. The tremendous
responsibility of the trial judge may therefore be easily imagined,
especially when we consider that he is alone on the Bench with no
companions as in a collegiate court with whom to share the great
responsibility. Why, therefore, should not a trial judge rendering a death
sentence be allowed as he is allowed in ordinary cases involving a mere a
prison term or fine to retain control over his fateful decision within the
reglementary period of 15 days, to ponder the sentence, think and
determine whether he had committed any error against the accused, as in
the finding and consideration of aggravating and mitigating circumstances
or in according credence to important witnesses, in order to modify and
reduce the penalty if necessary, or to consider and grant a motion for new
trial when said motion is justified?chanrobles virtual law library
It may again be contended as in fact it is contended by the Solicitor
General that any error committed by the trial court in a death sentence
case will be duly considered and corrected by this Tribunal in the

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automatic review.That is generally and theoretically correct. But there are


errors that may be committed by a trial court which may not appear in
the record and so are beyond the reach of this Tribunal to consider and
correct. Take the case of credibility of witnesses. The rule is that the
Supreme Court will not interfere with the judgment of the lower court in
passing upon the credibility of the opposing witnesses unless there
appears in the record some fact or circumstances of weight and influence
which has been overlooked or the significance of which has been
misinterpreted. Supposing that the trial judge after rendering a death
sentence and within the period of 15 days, after pondering and reviewing
in his mind the momentous sentence imposed by him, begins to entertain
doubts about the motives and sincerity of the star prosecution witness,
and recalls that the said witness' behavior on the witness stand or the
tone of his voice was unnatural or otherwise suspicious? As contended by
the Government the trial judge could do nothing about it because the
case has been taken out of his hands the moment the sentence was
promulgated. The trial judge cannot inform or advise the Supreme Court
of his doubts and of the error he had committed on this point because he
is not a party in the automatic review, and any effort on his part to inform
the high Tribunal of his doubts and of his conviction that he had erred in
according credibility to an important witness for the prosecution, would be
regarded as mere meddling and officious interference. In other words, the
trial judge in such a case can do nothing to ease his troubled conscience.
We believe that is not and cannot be the meaning and intention of the
law.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
The 20 days mentioned in Rule 118, section 9, within which the records of
a case involving a death sentence should be forwarded to the Supreme
Court is not rigid or absolute, much less jurisdictional. It may be
shortened or it may be extended. That period of 20 days was intended for
a case wherein the accused sentenced to death says nothing and does
nothing within the period of 15 days within which the case remains within
the jurisdiction of the trial court, as for instance, he does not file a motion
for new trial, he does not appeal, or does not waive his right to appeal.
But should he say, on the same day the death sentence is promulgated,
file his notice of appeal, then there would be no need to wait for the 20
days to expire; the Clerk of Court will immediately or at the latest within
five days thereafter transmit the record to the Supreme Court. Should the
defendant sentenced to the death penalty within the period of 15 days file
a motion for new trial, then the trial court may entertain said motion,
grant or deny it, and if the consideration of the motion for new trial or the
new trial itself take many days or even weeks, including the rendering of
the new decision, then the 20 days mentioned in the Rules of Court must
necessarily be extended.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law
library

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There is and there must be a reason for that portion of section 9, Rule
118, that provides that the records in a case of death sentence should be
forwarded to the Clerk of Court of the Supreme Court within 20 days but
not earlier than fifteen days after rendition of sentence. Why this
prohibition of not sending up the records before the expiration of 15
days? It is because within those 15 days, despite the automatic review
contemplated by law the trial court retains complete jurisdiction and
control over the case and over its decision. Within that period, as in
ordinary cases, the trial court may modify its decision by decreasing but
not increasing the penalty or acquit the defendant, or grant motion for
new trial filed by the defendant, or even on its motion with the consent of
the accused, grant a new trial. A motion for new trial automatically
suspends the running of the period of 15 days and so the sending up or
transmission of the records to the Supreme Court for automatic review is
necessarily suspended. There is also a relation between the period of 20
days and the 15 days mentioned in section 9, Rule 118. The difference
between 20 and 15 days is 5 days. In other words, after the expiration of
the 15 days, the Clerk of Court must transmit the records to the Supreme
Court within 5 days. This period of 5 days is also found in section 8 of the
same Rule 118 which provides that upon an appeal being taken in a
criminal case (ordinary criminal case involving no death sentence), the
Clerk or Judge of the court with whom the notice of appeal had been filed,
must within 5 days from the filing of the notice, transmit to the Clerk of
Court of the appellate court the complete record of the case. The same
thing must be done in a case involving a death sentence if the accused
files his notice of appeal; the Clerk of Court must send up the record
within 5 days thereafter. He need not wait for the expiration of the 20
days mentioned in section 9, Rule 118. But one may ask, why does
section 9, Rule 118 provide for 20 days but does not do so in section 8 of
the same rule? It is because in a death sentence case the records go up
to the Supreme Court anyway whether or not the accused appeals, but
within the period of 15 days after the promulgation of the sentence, the
trial court will not know until the 15 days have expired whether or not the
accused appeals, and so cannot send the record to the Supreme Court
within that period, unless of course the accused himself files his notice of
appeal or does nothing and let the period of 15 days lapse in which case
the Clerk of Court will within 5 days thereafter send up the records of the
case to the Supreme Court. But in ordinary criminal cases where the
sentence is less than death, covered by section 8 of Rule 118, if the
defendant does not do anything within the period of 15 days, then the
sentence becomes final and the records remain with the trial court; so,
there is no occasion, much less the necessity of providing for the period of
20 days as is done in section 9. We therefore believe and hold that the
trial court in a case involving the death penalty has the right to entertain
and grant a motion for new trial in case it finds the motion
meritorious.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library

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Now comes the other question. Did respondent Judge Bocar in granting
the motion for new trial gravely abuse his discretion to such an extent
that his action is equivalent to an excess of jurisdiction? In support of the
motion for new trial filed before him, there was an affidavit of recantation
by Rogelio Robles. Instead of accepting this affidavit as sufficient to
justify the granting of a new trial he set the same for hearing on April
14th at which hearing Pasay City Fiscal Salva appeared for prosecution.
The hearing was continued until April 18th and again continued on April
20th and during the last two hearings Manila City Fiscal Eugenio Angeles
appeared in collaboration with Fiscal Salva. At the hearing, besides
Robles, his mother Liceria Siasoy and Atty. Alejandro de Santos testified.
Rogelio Robles gave extensive testimony but the prosecution waived its
right to cross-examine him. Judge Hermogenes Calauag, Judge of the
Court of First Instance of Quezon City and Mrs. Felicidad Manuel also
testified for the defense. Both were cross-examined by Fiscal Angeles.
During the hearing there was prolonged argument by the prosecution and
defense counsel. In the absence of proof to contrary, we must presume
that Judge Bocar after listening to the testimonies and arguments must
have been convinced of the sincerity of Rogelio Robles not only in his
affidavit but also in his testimony given before him and that based on this
conviction
Judge
Bocar
granted
the
motion
for
new
trial.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
But the petitioner maintains that in order to be in a position to consider
and pass upon the motion for new trial Judge Bocar should have reviewed
the entire record including the testimony of the witnesses and this he
could not have possibly done for the reason that at the time, the
stenographic notes taken of the testimonies of the witnesses during the
hearing which lasted about one year had not yet been transcribed, and
that even if and when transcribed, they would cover from eleven to
twenty thousand pages. As we understand the case, and after reading the
pleadings filed in this petition for certiorari and prohibition with
preliminary injunction and listening to the oral argument during the two
hearings held before us in Baguio, we do not agree with petitioner that it
was necessary to go over the whole records of the case, including the oral
and documentary evidence. We must bear in mind that of the eight
defendants sentenced to death by Judge Rilloraza, only one, Oscar
Castelo, was filing a motion for new trial; so only the evidence for and
against him introduced during the trial was material and relevant to the
motion for new trial. It was then the consensus that the only direct
evidence linking Castelo to the killing of Monroy was the testimony of
Rogelio Robles. Counsel for respondents informed this Court during the
oral argument that Fiscal Salva himself made this statement or
declaration to Judge Bocar could and when Fiscal Salva was asked by us
to verify this assertion, he assured us that it was true. In a potion of his
decision Judge Rilloraza reviewed and analyzed the testimony of Robles.
Not being very long, Judge Bocar could have easily read and studied this

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portion of the decision to apprise himself of what Robles had said during
the hearing about the alleged participation of Castelo in the killing.
Furthermore, and this is important, where the newly discovered evidence
claimed and sought to be presented during a trial is entirely different and
independent of the evidence introduced during the main hearing as for
instance, the newly discovered evidence is the testimony of one witness
intended to contradict the testimony of another witness who testified
during the main hearing, then it would be necessary to review and study
said testimony during the main hearing, consider it in relation to the
newly discovered evidence and see whether it was probable that the latter
if presented and admitted would outweigh or offset the testimony in the
main hearing to such an extent that it would change the judgment. But in
the present case, the facts are different. The witness sought to be
introduced at the new trial, Robles, is the same witness who testified in
the main hearing directly implicating Castelo in the commission of the
offense charged, and the theory of respondents is that Robles is
repudiating his previous testimony and recanting it on the ground that he
gave it not voluntarily but due to intimidation, duress, and violence. So
that, if the respondents can prove during the new trial sought that Robles'
testimony in the main hearing was all false and that at the new trial he
would testify freely and voluntarily and truthfully that Castelo had no
participation whatsoever in the killing of Monroy, then the main concern
of Judge Bocar is passing upon and considering the merits of the motion
for new trial was not so much what Robles said at the main hearing but as
to his sincerity and truthfulness in his affidavit in support of the motion
for new trial and in his extensive testimony during the hearing on the
motion for new trial. If Robles was sincere and truthful in his testimony on
the motion for new trial, then there was reason to believe that his
testimony at the main hearing linking Castelo to the killing of Monroy was
of doubtful value, and therefore, the motion for new trial could properly
be
granted
as
in
fact
it
was
granted
by
Judge
Bocar.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
It is true that as was said by this Tribunal in the case of U. S. vs. Dacir,
26 Phil., 507, as a rule a motion for new trial is not granted when the
motion is based on an affidavit of recantation whose effect is to free the
appellant from participation in the commission of the crime; but it was
also held in that case that there are exceptional cases as where it is made
to appear that there was no other evidence sustaining the judgment of
conviction other than the testimony of the recanting witness and this
Court actually granted a new trial in said case altho the motion was based
on mere affidavits of the main prosecution witness changing his story or
account of the commission of the crime, after the trial. As already stated,
Judge Bocar was not satisfied with the mere affidavit of Robles but set the
motion for new trial for hearing and required the defense to present
evidence in support of the motion.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles
virtual law library

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To avoid any misapprehension and to explain why we entertained the


present petition forcertiorari and prohibition with preliminary injunction
over an order granting a motion for new trial, it should be stated that in
civil cases the granting of a new trial is considered a mere interlocutory
order not subject to appeal or special civil action. The reason is that the
party dissatisfied with the order granting a new trial may, after judgment
appeal from the same and include in his appeal the supposed error
committed in the issuance of the interlocutory order. However, in a
criminal case like the present, that theory or procedure of appeal in due
time may not be practical or satisfactory for the reason that at the
conclusion of the new trial, the trial court in deciding the case anew, may
acquit the defendant and thereafter the prosecution would have no more
opportunity of bringing before the appellate court the question of the
legality or illegality of the order granting a new trial because the
defendant
acquitted
may
plead
double
jeopardy.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
Before concluding, the Tribunal wishes to unburden itself of what it thinks
about the propriety of the actuations of Judge Bocar. While we believe
that in entertaining the motion for new trial, granting it, and setting it the
new trial for the introduction of evidence before him, particularly the
alleged newly discovered evidence, respondent Judge acted within the
law, the majority of the members of the Court feel, and strongly, that he
should not have taken action on the motion for new trial but should have
left it to the regular Judge of the sala or one presiding over the trial court
more or less permanently. Anyway, inaction on his part would not and
could not have prejudiced the rights of the movant for the reason that the
mere filing of the motion for new trial interrupted the running of the
period of 15 days within which the trial court retained control over the
case. Respondent Judge was on a mere temporary detail in the trial court.
The motion for new trial was filed before him on April 11th and his detail
was expiring at the end of the month. While he might have had the
necessary time as we think he had of passing upon the merits of the
motion for new trial and granting it, he should and must have realized
that he was in no position to conduct and finish the new trial and decide
the case as regards Oscar Castelo, anew. The main trial took about a year
to finish, not only because of the extensive testimony and voluminous
documentary evidence submitted but also due to the numerous incidents
that featured the hearing. Said incidents were prominently, even
exhaustively publicized in the papers, giving the impression that Judge
Rilloraza presiding over the trial had his hands full, controlling counsel for
prosecution and defense, their enthusiasm, mutual accusations and
aggressive attitude against each other, and at time he had to resort to
contempt proceedings in order to restore and have some semblance of
order and decorum at the trial and protect the dignity of the court. It is
true that there were then eight defendants on trial while in the new trial
granted only Castelo is involved. However, one should not lose sight of

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the fact that under the theory of the prosecution, Castelo is the
mastermind who decided and directed the killing and in fact said
prosecution would appear to have more or less concentrated its attention
and efforts on him as regards the presentation of evidence. As we have
already said, the main hearing besides being protracted, was far from
peaceful and pleasant. At times it was turbulent. Judge Bocar should and
must have known all this, and also that there was no assurance that it
would not be repeated at the new trial, at least as regards the time to be
consumed to conduct and terminate it. This, specially when Robles in his
affidavit and in his testimony given in support of the motion for new trial,
he openly accused of having practices and committed acts of violence and
intimidation on him, or tampering with his testimony government officials
like Mayor Lacson of the City of Manila, Fiscal Luis B. Reyes, now Judge of
the Court of First Instance, and officers of the Manila Police Department,
and these officials would perhaps if not probably, take the witness stand
to explain if not to deny the accusations against them, as they have
already done by means of affidavits. It might be said figuratively that
respondent Judge, as it were, rushed in where angels fear to
tread.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
We repeat that Judge Bocar should have known that he could not possibly
conduct the new trial up to its termination considering that his temporary
detail to the trial court was expiring at the end of the month, unless he
unduly rushed it and did not accord the parties sufficient time and
opportunity to present their evidence. In fact, there is reason to believe
that it was his action in ordering the new trial on April 25th before him,
with only about six days to go, that alerted and alarmed the prosecution
and gave it the impression and inspired the belief which it expressed and
alleged in its present petition and in support thereof, that respondent
Judge would most probably render another judgment acquitting Oscar
Castelo,- sort of railroading his case to an acquital. We are not sure that
had Judge Bocar merely granted the motion for new trial and not decided
to conduct said new trial himself, intending to finish it within the very
limited time of about five or six days, or should the new trial have been
granted by Judge Rilloraza who rendered the decision of conviction, the
herein petitioner would have filed this petition to question the jurisdiction
and power of a trial court to grant a new trial in a case of death
sentence.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
In justice to respondent Judge, however, we should also say that there is
nothing in the record nor in any incident in relation with his actuations in
the case that would reasonably warrant the suspicion, much less the
belief, that he was out to acquit Oscar Castelo. We presume all judges to
be honest and men of integrity unless proven otherwise. It is said that
respondent Judge stated or manifested in the presence of counsel, while
considering the motion for new trial that it were better if the motion had
been presented before another judge because he (Bocar) had very little

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time for it because of his temporary detail. And as to his seeming hurry in
issuing the order granting the motion for new trial on April 20, 1955,
almost immediately after the termination of the hearing, it should be
stated that he as well as the lawyers had the impression that under Rule
118, section 9, he had only 20 days from the rendition of the judgment
within which to decide the motion for new trial, and April 20th was the
last day. Of course, as we have already said, this period of 20 days is not
rigid, inflexible, much less jurisdictional; if defendant files a notice of
appeal, say the first day of second day after the promulgation of the
decision, then the record will be elevated to the Supreme Court within 5
days therefrom without having to wait for the expiration of the 20 days;
and that the filing of a motion for new trial not only interrupts and even
does away with the 20-day period mentioned in section 9, Rule
118.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
In conclusion, we hold that in a case where the death sentence is
imposed, the trial court as in ordinary criminal cases may entertain and
grant a motion for new trial, conduct the same and thereafter decide the
case anew as regards said defendant to whom the new trial was
granted.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
We deem it unnecessary to pass upon the legality and propriety of the
order granting bail to respondent Castelo, considering the question
involved as moot. Upon the granting of the motion for new trial the
decision of Judge Rilloraza as regards Oscar Castelo was automatically set
aside and as to him, the case reverted to its original status before
judgment. We understand that he was then under bail. Unless there are
reasons to the contrary, he should be accorded his original status of being
out on bail.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
In view of the foregoing , the petition for certiorari and prohibition is
hereby denied. The writ of preliminary injunction heretofore issued is
ordered dissolved. No costs.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual
law library
Bengzon, Acting C. J., Padilla, Jugo, Bautista Angelo, and Labrador,
JJ., concur.
3.

[G.R.

No.

L-55808.

August

28,

1984.]

LEANDRO ALAZAS, Petitioner, v. HON. JUAN Y. REYES, Judge of


the Court of First Instance of Cebu, Branch I, GUMERCINDO
JIMENEZ, Deputy Provincial Sheriff of Cebu, and ROSARIO
MERCADER, Respondents.
Jose

Batiquin

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&

Associates

for Petitioner.

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Hilario G. Davide, Jr. for Private Respondents.


DECISION
GUTIERREZ, JR., J.:
The petition for" Certiorari", "Prohibition," and "Mandamus" with
restraining order and preliminary mandatory injunction seeks to set aside
the order of execution pending appeal dated November 11, 1980, and the
writs of execution dated November 14, 1980 and December 19, 1980
issued by the respondent court in Civil Case No. R-15492 entitled "Rosario
(Charito) Mercader, plaintiff, versus Leandro Alazas, Defendant."cralaw
virtua1aw
library
On July 28, 1976, respondent Mercader filed a complaint against
petitioner Leandro Alazas for the recovery of property and damages with
replevin. In her complaint, Mercader alleged that she is the ownerproprietor and manager of the Sultan Express Tours, a duly licensed local
tour operator with office at the Magellan Hotel, Cebu City; that in said
office she kept her personal properties; that on July 19, 1976, at about
8:45 oclock in the morning, Alazas together with eight hired men illegally
entered the said office and once inside ransacked her properties and
carried away a steel filing cabinet and various other personal properties
worth
P97,700.00.
On August 4, 1976, the respondent court granted the prayer for the
issuance of a writ of replevin. By virtue of this writ of replevin some of the
properties
taken
by
Alazas
were
returned
to
Mercader.
On August 24, 1976, the defendant filed his answer with counterclaim. In
his answer he alleged that he is the owner and proprietor of the Sultan
Express Tours and that plaintiff was appointed by him as manager of the
firm; that he owned the furniture and fixtures claimed by the plaintiff
including the steel filing cabinet and its contents; that he admitted taking
the filing cabinet but denied that its contents worth P97,700.00. The
counterclaim was subsequently dismissed on a finding that the ownership
of Sultan Travel and Tours was the subject of litigation between the same
parties in Civil Case No. 15355 in another branch of the court.chanrobles
law
library
:
red
During the pre-trial conference, the parties agreed to limit the issues
being litigated to the question of who owns the personal properties listed
in
paragraph
5
of
the
amended
complaint.

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On December 27, 1979, the respondent court promulgated a decision in


favor of plaintiff Mercader. The dispositive portion of the decision
reads:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"WHEREFORE, judgment is rendered in favor of plaintiff Rosario Charito
Mercader and against defendant Leandro Alazas:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"1. Commanding the defendant to return to the plaintiff the properties
which were not recovered or taken by the Provincial Sheriff or which were
not turned over to said Sheriff by the defendant pursuant to the writ of
replevin,
which
are
as
follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"a)

The

sum

of

P50,000.00

in

cash;

"b) The balance of P450.00 out of P800.00 representing petty cash left at
the
office
of
Sultan
Express
Tours;
"c) The diamond ring or in the alternative, its value: P35,000.00;
"d) The gold wrist watch costing $200.00, or in the alternative its value
P1,500.00
($200.00);
"e)

Deeds

"f)

Deed

"g)

of

sale
of

of
sale

Registration

"h)

plaintiffs
covering
papers

two
her
of

parcels

of

TORANA
her

Cash

land;
car;
cars;

receipts;

"i) Vouchers for 1974 and 1976 relative to the operation of local tour
business;
"j) Evidentiary papers and documents against defendant and his wife,
together
with
other
papers
related
thereto;
"2. Ordering the defendant to pay plaintiff the sum of P1,000.00 the latter
paid to the First Integrated Bonding and Ins. Co. for the issuance of a
replevin bond, representing the reimbursement thereof; and the amount
of
P5,000.00
as
attorneys
fees.
"Costs

against

the

defendant."cralaw

virtua1aw

library

On January 25, 1980, Alazas filed his notice of appeal and deposited with
the
clerk
of
court
his
cash
appeal
bond.

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On February 4, 1980, Mercader filed a motion for execution pending


appeal.
On February 7, 1980, the respondent court issued an order granting the
aforesaid motion for execution pending appeal. Upon receipt of the said
order, the defendant on the same day, February 8, 1980 filed an urgent
motion for stay of execution pending appeal upon supersedeas bond. The
motion was not acted upon by the respondent court. Hence, the
defendant filed a petition for certiorari with preliminary injunction and
restraining order before the Court of Appeals (CA-G.R. No. SP-10395) to
challenge the order granting the motion for execution pending appeal.
On February 14, 1980, the appellate court issued a temporary restraining
order enjoining the respondent court from implementing the February 7,
1980 order of execution pending appeal.chanrobles virtualawlibrary
chanrobles.com:chanrobles.com.ph
On August 6, 1980, the appellate court promulgated a decision granting
the petition and set aside the February 8, 1980 questioned order on the
ground that the required notice to the adverse party of the motion for
execution pending appeal pursuant to Section 2, Rule 39 of the Rules of
Court was not given. The court had granted the motion for execution
pending appeal on February 7, 1980 one day before the date of the
hearing
on
that
motion
on
February
8,
1980.
In the meantime, on February 9, 1980, Alazas filed his record on appeal
and set the hearing and approval thereof for February 14, 1980.
On October 7, 1980, apparently after the decision in CA-G.R. No. SP10395 had become final and executory, Mercader filed before the
respondent court a notice resetting the hearing of her motion for
execution pending appeal. The trial court then set the motion for hearing
Consequently, defendant Alazas filed before the appellate court an urgent
ex-parte motion to restrain the respondent judge from issuing a writ of
execution pending appeal in CA-G.R. No. SP-10395, alleging that the resetting of the hearing would only effect an exercise in futility since the
respondent judge had practically pre-judged the case and that at any rate
said respondent court will finally or ultimately grant the private
respondents motion with or without presentation of evidence, imputing in
effect bias and prejudice of the respondent court against herein
petitioner. The appellate court in a resolution dated October 10, 1980
dismissed the motion on the ground that the defendant was given." . . full
opportunity to oppose the private respondents motion for execution
pending appeal and whether or not respondent court will grant or not said
motion is beyond the domain of the Court in this Certiorari case."cralaw
virtua1aw
library

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On October 20, 1980, Alazas filed an opposition to the resubmission of


the February 4, 1980 motion for execution pending appeal before the
respondent
court.
On October 27, 1980, a hearing was held in connection with the February
4, 1980 motion for execution pending appeal. Both parties were
represented by their respective counsel. During the hearing Alazas
brought up the delay in the approval of the record on appeal, hence the
respondent court directed him to file a memorandum thereon. Thus,
Alazas on November 6, 1980 filed "defendants memorandum on approval
of record on appeal", pointing out that his record on appeal had been
pending before the court for nine (9) months without any action being
taken
on
it.
On November 11, 1980, the respondent court issued an order granting
the motion for execution pending appeal on the ground." . . it clearly
appearing that there are special and good reasons for such execution
pending appeal . . ." (Order, respondent court, November 11, 1980, p.
87,
Rollo)
On November 14, 1980, the assistant clerk of court of the respondent
court issued a writ of execution in compliance with the order of execution.
The writ was served by the provincial sheriff on the defendant in the
morning of November 15, 1980 which was a Saturday. On the same day,
the defendant Alazas filed before the respondent court a motion for
reconsideration of the writ of execution alleging that the order of
execution was not yet received by him, hence the writ was prematurely
issued, He prayed that." . . the issuance of the writ and its
implementation be suspended until the issuance and service of the order
of
execution."cralaw
virtua1aw
library
On December 19, 1980, the writ of execution was re-issued by the clerk
of
court
of
the
respondent
court.
On December 24, 1980, the deputy sheriff enforced the writ of execution
and seized two motor vehicles belonging to defendant Alazas.
On December 29, 1980, the deputy sheriff continued to enforce the writ
of execution and seized another motor vehicle allegedly belonging to the
defendant. On this same day, the deputy provincial sheriff issued a notice
of sale. The deputy provincial sheriff scheduled the sale of the three
motor vehicles at public auction on January 5, 1981. Hence the instant
petition.
Acting on the petitioners ex-parte motion for issuance of restraining
order and writ of preliminary mandatory injunction, we issued on January
7, 1981 a temporary restraining order enjoining the respondents from

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enforcing the writs of execution dated November 14, 1980 and December
10 (should be December 19) 1980 and from further proceeding with or
carrying out the auction sale of the levied properties. On January 16,
1981 we issued a preliminary mandatory order ordering the respondents
deputy provincial sheriff and/or the clerk of court as ex-oficio sheriff of
the Court of First Instance of Cebu, Branch I to release or restore
possession of the three (3) cars to herein petitioner or to the Paramount
Finance Corporation. The Paramount Finance Corporation made a demand
on respondent deputy provincial sheriff for the return of two of the three
cars scheduled to be sold by public auction as the owner
thereof.chanrobles
virtual
lawlibrary
The pivotal issue raised in the instant petition centers on the respondent
courts November 11, 1980 order granting execution pending appeal.
The petitioner contends that the respondent court abused its discretion in
not approving the record on appeal despite no objections from the private
respondent, in violation of Section 7, Rule 41 of the Rules of Court. The
petition also states that the respondent courts various acts in relation to
the withholding of approval of the record on appeal clearly show partiality
towards
the
private Respondent.
There is no dispute that the petitioner took steps to perfect his appeal
within the reglementary period. Thus, on January 25, 1980, the petitioner
filed his notice of appeal and deposited with the clerk of court his cash
appeal bond. On February 9, 1980, he filed his record on appeal and set
the
hearing
and
approval
thereof
on
February
14,
1980.
While it is true that initially the respondent court may not be faulted for
withholding the approval of the record on appeal in view of a petition
for certiorari filed with the Court of Appeals by the petitioner challenging
the respondent courts initial order granting the motion for execution
pending appeal, the same does not hold true when after the appellate
court granted the petition and set aside the execution pending appeal, the
respondent court still withheld any action on the record on appeal.
Parenthetically, it was the courts own fault that its order had to be raised
to
the
appellate
court.
Section 7, Rule 41 of the Rules of Court provides:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"Hearing and approval of record. Upon the submission for approval of
the record on appeal, if no objection is filed within five (5) days, the trial
judge may approve it as presented or, upon his own motion or at the
instance of the appellee, may direct its amendment by the inclusion of
any matters omitted which are deemed essential to the determination of
the issue of law or fact involved in the appeal. If the trial judge orders the
amendment of the record, the appellant, within the time limited in the

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order, or such extension thereof as may be granted, or if no time is fixed


by the order within ten (10) days from receipt thereof, shall redraft the
record by including therein, in their proper chronological sequence, such
additional matters as the court may have directed him to incorporate, and
shall thereupon submit the redrafted record for approval, upon notice to
the appellee, in like manner as the original draft."cralaw virtua1aw library
The records of the case show a pattern of bias and partiality on the part
of the respondent court against the petitioner, a deliberate procrastination
and withholding of required action in order to keep the appeal from being
perfected thus enabling the court to order execution pending appeal nine
(9) months after the record on appeal was filed and set for approval.
As earlier stated, the court granted on February 7, 1980 the motion for
execution pending appeal which motion was supposed to be heard on the
following day. The Court of Appeals set aside the February 7 order on a
finding that the petitioner was deprived of his day in court. Moreover, the
required three-day notice had not been furnished. The petitioner was not
given the opportunity to oppose the motion or even appear at the date of
hearing.
Before the petitioner could go to the Court of Appeals, the sheriff had
already garnished his accounts in four commercial banks, thus calling for
a
restraining
order.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
The second writ of execution was issued late on a Friday afternoon on
November 14, 1980 and served on the defendant on Saturday morning
the following day. At this time, the petitioner had not even received the
November 11, 1980 court order forming the basis of the issued writ.
Because the petitioner objected, the writ had to be reissued on December
19, 1980. On the day before Christmas, two motor vehicles were seized.
On December 29, 1980 another vehicle was seized and simultaneously, a
notice of sale at public auction on January 5, 1981 was issued.
If the trial court noted any omission of essential matters, in the record on
appeal, it should have ordered their inclusion in an amended record and
thereafter approved the record within the period provided by the Rule.
Without in any way passing upon the merits of the pending appeal, we
also see no obvious or palpable basis for the trial courts finding that the
petitioners appeal is "clearly frivolous and delatory (sic) and a delay in
the final disposal of the article (sic) and money sought to be recovered
would cause grave, serious and irreparable damage and injury to the
plaintiff", thus warranting execution pending appeal. As a matter of fact,
the court itself stated that most of the properties sought to be recovered
were already in the possession of Mercader by virtue of a writ of replevin
it
had
earlier
issued.

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The respondent court ignored without comment the petitioners pleas for
due process. Alazas questioned the resubmission of the February 4, 1980
motion after the Court of Appeals had set aside the order granting it
because of the circumstances surrounding its issuance. The court was also
silent on the memorandum discussing the nine (9) months inaction when
the memorandum was filed pursuant to the courts order.
Premised on the foregoing concatenation of circumstances clearly showing
not only grave abuse of discretion but also improper judicial conduct, this
Court is constrained to censure the respondent judge. A judges official
conduct and his behaviour in the performance of judicial duties should be
free from the appearance of impropriety and must be beyond reproach.
In the case at bar, there is no showing that private respondent filed
objections to the record on appeal.chanrobles law library : red
WHEREFORE, the order of execution pending appeal dated November 11,
1980 and the writs of execution dated November 14, 1980 and December
19, 1980 are hereby SET ASIDE. The Judge of the Regional Trial Court to
whom the case below has been assigned is directed to give due course to
the petitioners appeal and to elevate the records to the Intermediate
Appellate Court. The Temporary Restraining Order and the Preliminary
Injunction enjoining the enforcement of the writs of execution and the
public auction sale are made permanent. Costs against the respondents.
For the reasons abovestated, the respondent judge is also censured for
improper
judicial
conduct.
SO
Teehankee, Actg. C.J.,
Fuente, JJ., concur.

ORDERED.
Melencio-Herrera,

Plana,

Relova

and

De

la

4. A.M. No. RTJ-93-944 July 20, 1994


RIZALIA CAPUNO AND THELMA VILLANUEVA, complainants,
vs.
JUDGE AUSBERTO B. JARAMILLO, JR., respondent.

A.M. No. RTJ-93-959 July 20, 1994

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PSM DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION AND CELIA


vs.
JUDGE AUSBERTO B. JARAMILLO, JR., respondent.

PAMPLONA,

Salonga & Associates for complainants in AM RTJ-93-944.


Nelson A. Loyola for complainants in AM RTJ -93-959.
Manuel Singson for respondent.

PER CURIAM:
In these two (2) administrative complaints, respondent Judge
Ausberto B. Jaramillo, Jr., of the Regional Trial Court, Br. 30, San
Pablo City, is charged with various corrupt practices detrimental
to the administration of justice.
Per resolutions of the Court, Adm. Matter No. RTJ-93-944 was
referred to Mme. Justice Corona Ibay-Somera of the Court of
Appeals, 1 and Adm. Matter No. RTJ-93-959 to Deputy Court
Administrator Reynaldo L. Suarez, 2for investigation, report and
recommendation. In the meantime, we directed respondent judge
to go on leave. 3 On 27 October 1993, we ordered the
consolidation of the complaints. 4
Thereafter, in compliance with our directives, Justice Corona IbaySomera and Deputy Court Administrator Reynaldo L. Suarez
submitted their reports. We shall deal with respondent's
administrative liability on the basis of the investigators' findings
and recommendations. 5
I. Adm. Matter No. RTJ-93-944
The complaint in this case was initiated by a "Sinumpaang
Salaysay" dated 28 August 1992 of complainants Rizalia Capuno
and Thelma Villanueva, mother and daughter, respectively, thus
(1) Na si Pedro Calara, Jr. ay nagdemanda ng "writ of
possession" laban kay Rizalia Capuno sa sala ni Judge
Ausberto Jaramillo ng RTC-San Pablo City.
(2) Na pagkatapos ng makapagbigay ng "writ of
possession" si Judge Jaramillo laban kay Rizalia Capuno
sa nasabing kaso, ay nagpunta si Sheriff Leonardo Ho
sa bahay ni Rizalia Capuno at sinabi kay Rizalia na
gusto siyang makausap ni Judge Jaramillo.

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(3) Na nagpunta si Rizalia, na kasama ng kanyang anak


na si Thelma, at ni Gregorio Capistrano, sa sala ni Judge
Jaramillo, mga alas 10:00 ng umaga at pinapasok sila
sa kuwarto ni Judge Jaramillo.
(4) Sinabi sa kanila ni Judge Jaramillo na kung gustong
hindi mapaalis sa bahay si Rizalia, ay magbigay ng
halagang P200,000 cash na kung maa-ari ay puro
dadaanin, at saka isang tsekeng P150,000 na postdated
30 days.
(5) Na sinabi ni Thelma na wala silang maibibigay na
ganoong halaga, at ang sabi ni Judge Jaramillo kay
Thelma na subukan na maghanap ng nasabing halaga
at bumalik sa loob ng dalawang araw.
(6) Nang mga alas 11:00 ng umaga, bumalik si Thelma
at si Gregorio Capistrano sa kuwarto ni Judge Jaramillo
pagkatapos ng dalawang araw, at sinabi ni Thelma kay
Judge Jaramillo na wala silang maibibigay na halagang
takda ni Judge. Sabi ni Judge na kung hindi kaya ni
Thelma ang P200,000 cash ay kahit na P150,000 na
cash na lang, puera doon sa tsekeng P150,000 na
postdated 60 days, pero dapat ang mga ito ay maibigay
ni Thelma sa kanya ng alas 2:00 ng hapon noong araw
na iyon din.
(7) Na sinabi ni Thelma kay Judge Jaramillo na wala
silang maibibigay na ganoong halaga. Ang sabi ni Judge
Jaramillo na kung ganoon ay wala na siyang
magagawa.
(8) Na ang demanda ni Rizalia Capuno laban kay Pedro
Calara, Jr. na pa walang bisa ang pagkabenta at pagkailit ng kanyang lupa ay bumagsak din sa sala ni Judge
Jaramillo, kaya siya ay nakikiusap kay Judge Jaramillo
na ilipat ang nasabing kaso sa ibang hukuman. 6
Required to comment, respondent judge denies the charges
against him. He maintains that this complaint was filed out of
pure harassment. 7
On 19 November 1993, after due investigation of the case, Justice
Ibay-Somera submitted her report the pertinent portions of which
follow
During the testimony of complaint Thelma Villanueva,
she only identified the Sinumpaang Salaysay she
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executed with her mother Rizalia Capuno, and affirmed


the truth of the contents thereof.
xxx xxx xxx
On cross-examination, complainant Thelma Villanueva
admitted that her mother, complainant Rizalia Capuno
borrowed the amount of P15,000.00 sometime in 1987
from one Pedro Calara, Jr., for which the questioned
property consisting of 85 sq. m. and originally covered
by Tax Declaration No. 34-1260, was mortgaged as a
security thereof (pp. 9 & 12, tsn, July 28, 1993). It was
also shown that despite partial payments on said loan
(Exhs. B, B-1 to B-6), the mortgaged property was
extrajudicially foreclosed on August 21, 1990 and a
certificate of sale was issued by the respondent judge
on the same date of August 21, 1990, and registered
with the office of the Register of Deeds on October 12,
1990 (Tsn p. 16, July 28, 1993; Exh. 6), and that the
buyer of said property was Pedro Calara, Jr., in the
amount of P47,021.00 (Exh. 2-A, p. 17, tsn, July 28,
1993). Subsequently, an affidavit of consolidation of
ownership and deed of sale were made and executed by
Pedro Calara, Jr., and were registered with the Register
of Deeds on December 9, 1991, which caused the
cancellation of Tax Declaration No. 541260 and a new
one was issued, Tax Declaration No. 34-2753, in the
name of Pedro Calara, Jr. (Exh. 6). A petition for the
issuance of a writ of possession filed by said Pedro
Calara, Jr., on February 24, 1992 was assigned to the
Branch of respondent Judge (p. 25, tsn, July 28, 1993),
who issued the corresponding Decision on May 15,
1992 granting the said petition (Exh. 11), and ordering
the issuance of the corresponding writ of possession
and was implemented by Sheriff Aranguren (Exh. "15").
Said complainant met the respondent Judge for the first
time sometime in March 1992, "to know how much
more" the complainants were to pay Pedro Calara, Jr.
(TSN, July 29, 1993, pp. 2 & 15), upon advice of the
Sheriff Ho (tsn, p. 9, July 29, 1993). Complainants,
together with one Gregorio Capistrano, went to see the
respondent Judge sometime in May or June 1992 for
the second time, who, in one of those meetings, asked
whether said complainants "could pay P350,000.00",
P200,000.00 of which should be in cash, all in P100bills, to be displayed on his table "so that Pedro
Calara's eyes will bulge and I will take care of

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everything", and P150,000.00 in postdated check (pp.


16-17, tsn, July 29, 1993). Complainant Thelma
Villanueva informed the Judge that she could not afford
the amount, thus the Judge reduced the proposal to
P150,000.00 in postdated check, which amount should
be brought to him at 2:00 p.m., and that they
(complainants) "should not talk to anybody" (p. 20,
tsn, July 29, 1993). Because the complainant failed to
comply with the demand, complainant Rizalia Capuno
was evicted from the questioned premises and her
house was demolished. The testimony of the other
witness for the complainants, Gregorio Capistrano, was
just corroborative of the testimony of Thelma
Villanueva, that he met the respondent Judge on those
two (2) occasions when Thelma Villanueva went to see
the respondent.
xxx xxx xxx
Respondent Judge Ausberto B. Jaramillo, Jr., testified
that he has been the Presiding Judge of Branch 30,
Regional Trial Court of San Pablo City, since January 30,
1987; that he came to know Thelma Villanueva when
she testified in Sp. Proc. Case No. 852 in a prayer for
issuance of a writ of possession over a parcel of land
filed by one Pedro Calara, Jr.; that he issued the writ
prayed for. Respondent Judge further testified that he,
in his effort to settle the parties' differences, as per
request of Deputy Sheriff Leonardo Ho, tried to mediate
in order to help them settle for the purchase price (tsn,
p. 5, Aug. 30, 1993). He likewise testified that it was
complainant Thelma Villanueva who voluntarily offered
to pay Pedro Calara the amount of P200,000.00 cash
and to pay the balance in P150,000.00 in postdated
checks (tsn, p. 6, Aug. 30, 1993). Another case was
filed by the complainant against Pedro Calara, Jr.,
before the Branch of respondent Judge, where the
complainant moved for respondent's inhibition, which
motion he granted. Respondent Judge vehemently
denied
that
he
demanded
money
from
the
complainants.
xxx xxx xxx
From the testimonies and documentary evidence
adduced by both parties, and considering their (sic)
demeanor of the parties during the hearings, this Court
concludes that there was indeed a color of truth in the
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complaint. The complainants are simple and ordinary


people, who prefer to live a simple life than engage
themselves in complicated and perplexed lives. And
should they become part of complexed court battles, it
is not of their own choosing but because of
circumstances. It may not be amiss to stress that "the
courts exist to promote justice; and thus to aid in
securing the contentment and happiness of the people.
Their administration should be speedy and careful.
Every judge should at all times be alert in his rulings
and in the conduct of the business of his court so far as
he can, to make it useful to litigants and to the
community. He should avoid unconsciously falling into
the attitude of mind that the litigants are made for the
courts instead of the courts for the litigants." (Adm.
Order No. 162, Canons of Judicial Ethics). The
complainants failed to get the justice they are
requesting from the respondent Judge for their failure
to deliver the amount asked of them.
Hence,
the
complainants'
allegation
that
the
respondent Judge demanded from them money when
they were trying to seek his assistance in amicably
settling their case and which demand, when not met by
them resulted to their eviction from the premises, is
meritorious and credible. It is well-settled rule that
"acts of the respondent judge of demanding . . . money
from a party-litigant before his court constitute serious
misconduct in office" (Office of the Court Administrator
vs. Gaticales, 208 SCRA 508). Likewise, under the
Canons of Judicial Ethics, "a judge's official conduct
should be free from the appearance of impropriety, and
his personal behavior, not only upon the bench and in
the performance of judicial duties, but also in his
everyday life, should be beyond reproach."
Finding respondent judge guilty of the charge, the Investigating
Justice recommended his suspension for one (1) month without
pay with admonition and reprimand. 8
The Investigating Justice is correct in finding respondent judge
guilty of the charge. As judge, respondent knows fully well that he
should avoid such actions as would subject him to suspicion of
interest in a case in his court. Yet, he threw all caution to the
winds, so to speak, and left nothing but telltale evidence of his
guilt.

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The active mediation of respondent judge in Sp. Proc. No. 852


allegedly to settle the differences between complainants and
Pedro Calara, Jr., was highly questionable. Firstly, the mediation
was initiated not by the parties themselves nor their lawyers but
by respondent's sheriffs, Leonardo Ho and Regalado Aranguren,
whose words were heavily relied upon by respondent. 9 Secondly,
the meetings were unrecorded and unattended by counsel of the
parties. 10 Respondent's excuse that "in the (p)rovince, we
mediate the differences of the parties, especially at that particular
time the parties have (sic) no counsel," is faulty and unacceptable
practice. Unless a judge is conducting a pre-trial under Rules 20
and 118, his role in the administration of justice is to decide
contentious cases with finality. In the absence of their lawyers, a
judge ought not to meddle in issues confronting the parties even
on the pretext of settling their cases. For to do so would
compromise the integrity of his office which he is mandated to
uphold. 11 Once more, judges are strongly reminded that the office
of a judge is a public office and, as such, it is a public trust. 12 A
judicial office demands that the incumbent should conduct himself
in such a manner as to merit the respect, reverence and
confidence of the people. 13
Respondent's defense that the parties have no lawyers fails to
convince us. We gather from his testimonies that the intended to
see the parties, alone, thus
Justice Somera:
Q During the first meeting you said the
parties were not represented by counsel
then there was a request for a first meeting
with you by the parties.
A They have no more lawyers at that time,
Your Honor.
Q But they were represented by a lawyer
during the hearing?
A During the hearing.
Q Why did you not require Calara to bring
with him his counsel?
A Because I do not have time to talk to
Calara, Your Honor.

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Q When Villanueva and Capuno appeared


before you during the hearing of the petition
for issuance of the writ of possession, were
they also represented by counsel?
A Yes, Your Honor.
Q During this first meeting, why did you not
require the lawyers to appear before you for
the arrangement?
A The lawyer of the Capunos withdrew as
counsel, Your Honor.
Q Why did you not advise them to get
another counsel?
A According to my Sheriff, I told my sheriff
"I want their counsels to be present" my
lawyer (sheriff) told me "ayaw na ho wala na
raw silang abogado dahil wala na daw silang
pambayad."
Q Who was always in contact with Capuno
and Villanueva?
A My Sheriff, Your Honor.

14

Yet, respondent in his earlier testimony revealed that complainant


had a lawyer
Justice Somera:
Q After they (complainants) left, did you
have any occasion to meet them either
Calara or Rizalia Capuno and her daughter,
Thelma Villanueva, altogether?
A There was a hearing of a motion to dismiss
that is the time I realized a new case was
filed by the complainants mother and
daughter. In that hearing, the Calaras were
absent, Rizalia Capuno was absent but
Thelma Villanueva was present.
Q Before whom?

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A Before me, Your Honor. I talk(ed) to


Thelma asking her was it not that you are
the same person who failed to meet the
other
party?
She
answered
in
the
affirmative, I ask(ed) her what is your
pleasure now? Shall we wait for the Calaras
because she has a motion to dismiss and to
talk it over with the spouses and she reply
(sic) thatshe will just consult her lawyer and
ask
for
time
to
file
15
opposition.
Significantly,
the
rendezvous
between
respondent
and
complainants took place in his chambers without the attendance
of his staff. Considering that there was still the question as to
whether complainants could come up with the repurchase price of
the lot, the meetings conducted inside the chambers of
respondent were uncalled for. We have cautioned judges to avoid
in-chambers sessions without the other party and his counsel
present, and to observe prudence at all times in their conduct to
the end that they not only act impartially and with propriety but
are also perceived to be impartial and proper. 16
Further, respondent judge insists on his good intention to help the
parties agree on the repurchase price of the lot. But, we find that
his meetings were always with complainants and not once did
Pedro Calara, Jr., participate therein. Such situation gives us the
impression that Pedro Calara, Jr., did not have any notion at all of
these conferences. This suspicion is bolstered by (a) respondent's
testimony 17 that ". . . I likewise told them (complainants) that
according to may sheriff they have been promising cash to Calara
and further told them that if they have cash they have to bring
it during an arranged meeting to Calara and show the money to
Calara so that they will know they are negotiating in good faith."
His statement clearly signified that he had not as yet set up an
appointment with Calara, Jr., and, (b) the contradictory stand
among respondent judge and his witnesses regarding the
presence of Pedro Calara, Jr., in the alleged conferences of the
parties.
In his "Sinumpaang Salaysay" dated 16 February 1993, Sheriff
Regalado M. Aranguren confirmed the presence of Calara, Jr., in
all the conferences. 18 He stated that "(n)a sa lahat ng beses ng
conferencia ay palaging dumarating si Pedro Calara, Jr., at laging
naghihintay kay Thelma Capuno." For his part, Sheriff Leonardo L.
Ho, in his "Sinumpaang Salaysay" dated 15 February
1993, 19 declared that "(a)t nang malaman ng mga naghabla ang

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kahilingan ng mga Capunos tungkol sa pagbaba ng presyo ng


bilihan, ako ay pinakiusapan ng mga naghahabla na sabihin sa
mga Capunos na sila ay magkita sa hukuman para sa isang
conferencia upang mapagusapan ang tungkol sa presyo ng
bilihang mabibiling muli; (n)a, hindi nakatupad ang mga Capunos
sa una nilang tipanan kung kaya ang conferencia ay
nakansela," thus implying that Calara, Jr., was present during the
first meeting. However, respondent judge rebutted these
statements when he testified that nobody appeared in both
meetings except complainants who came two days after the
appointed date of the second meeting. 20
Admittedly, the amount of P350,000.00 was the subject of
conversation between respondent judge and the complainant
Thelma Villanueva. Respondent judge denies that he demanded
such sum but that complainant volunteered the information that
she had a checking account and that she was ready to pay
P200,000.00 in cash and the balance of P150,000.00 in postdated
checks. 21 He asserts that he could not have demanded money
from complainants as they did not strike him as moneyed. 22
We note with interest that respondent then had a contrary opinion
about the economic condition of complainants. He unwittingly
disclosed in his comment that "[f]or whatever it is worth,
according to reliable sources, Thelma Villanueva was given by her
sister abroad to pay the repurchase price of the Calaras; that
Thelma Villanueva used the money instead in constructing her
own house . . . " 23 The reliable sources referred to were none
other than his sheriff and the latter's wife. According to Sheriff
Aranguren, "[h]abang ang kaso ay nabibinbin pa sa hukuman
hanggang sa ito ay natapos na, si Thelma Capuno (Villanueva) ay
palagi pa ring pumupunta sa aking upisina upang siya ay bigyan
pa ng kaunting panahon dahilan sa iniintay pa lang niya ang
perang padala ng kanyang kapatid na nasa America. Sinabi pa rin
niya na may hinihintay pa ring pera siya galing sa kanyang asawa
na sabi niya ay hindi nagtatrabaho sa San Pablo." 24 Concepcion L.
Aranguren, utility worker assigned to respondent's court,
supported her husband's statement by saying that ". . . Siya
(Thelma Villanueva) ay umiiyak habang nakikipagusap na kung
maari daw ay bigyan siya ng palugit dahil may dadating daw
siyang pera galing sa kanyang kapatid sa Amerika." 25 With such
information, it is not farfetched for respondent judge to demand
money from complainant. Evidently, he was led by his sources to
believe that complainant had the money to buy back the property
from the Calaras.

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Verily, the act of respondent in meeting with complainants


without the presence of counsel and warning them not to tell
anyone, and demanding money under the guise of forging peace
between her and Pedro Calara, Jr., constitutes grave misconduct.
Additionally, his failure to uphold the integrity of the judiciary has
undoubtedly diminished the faith of our people in the
administration of justice. Given these serious indiscretions, a
more severe penalty than one (1) month suspension without pay
should be imposed. A judge who established a common fund
purportedly for his low income employees and who himself
together with his employees solicited contributions from litigants
and visitors for such fund was dismissed from the service. 26 We
can do no less in this case.
II. Adm. Matter No. RTJ-93-959
This administrative complaint seeks to subject respondent judge
to disciplinary action or to dismissal from office for violation of:
(1) Sec. 3, pars. (b), (c) and (j) of R.A. No. 3019, (2) Sec. 7, pars.
(a) and (d) of R.A. No. 6713, and, (3) Arts. 206 and 210 of The
Revised Penal Code.
Complainant Celia E. Pampolina, President of PSM Development
Corporation and the duly designated and appointed Executrix of
the Last Will and Testament of Pastor S. Marino, alleges that on 6
April 1992, a decision was rendered by respondent judge
dismissing Sp. Proc. No. 849(92), "IN THE MATTER OF THE
GUARDIANSHIP OF PASTOR S. MARINO," for lack of merit; that
during the pendency of the case, respondent ordered Jesus
Azores, nephew of Pastor S. Marino, to surrender, among other
properties, a Mitsubishi Galant Super Saloon car to the court; that
after the car had been surrendered to the court, respondent
requested complainant and the Board of the PSM Corporation to
issue a resolution to have the luxury car at his disposal during
weekends and to use it as he pleased; that the corporation
appropriated the sum of P10,000.00 to pay for the reconditioning,
adjustment and tune-up of the engine of the car; that respondent
had the custody of the car from April 1992 to 5 May 1993; that he
also demanded and received food, money, valuable properties
(jewelries) from complainant and her grandfather, the later
Pastor S. Marino; that further, respondent judge requested favors
from complainant in securing an exemption from the Gun Ban
during the election period; that, in this regard, respondent called
up complainant using the name "E. Pilapil" and further extorted
money; that, upon the death of Pastor S. Marino, complainant filed
a "Petition for the Probate of the Will of the Late Pastor S.
Marino," docketed as Sp. Proc. No. 859(92); that the petition was

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raffled to the respondent's sala; that one of the basic issues raised
in the petition was the mental capacity and the sound disposition
of the testator; that this issue was already passed upon by
respondent judge in Sp. Proc. No. 849(92); that during the
pendency of the probate proceeding, respondent judge called the
parties to a conference at Roo's Place, a public restaurant in San
Pablo City; that the meeting started at eight o'clock in the evening
and lasted until midnight; that the purpose of the meeting was to
discuss possible settlement of the probate case; that shares and
other properties were discussed except the car; that respondent
intentionally omitted to include the car in the list of properties
which he himself prepared so he could still make use of the car;
that despite the fact the complainant was named executrix in the
will, respondent appointed Rosevelinda Calingasan and Antonio
Azcarate as joint special administrators; that such order was
issued without notice and hearing; that her motion for
reconsideration on this ground was denied; that, shortly after,
respondent judge ordered complainant to produce stock
certificates in the name of the late Pastor S. Marino, the books of
the corporation, and other papers; that she moved for
reconsideration of this order but the same was denied; that the
joint special administrators filed a motion to cite complainant in
contempt for her refusal to obey the order of respondent; that in
view of the insistence of the respondent to continue hearing the
probate proceedings, complainant moved for the inhibition of
respondent judge; that respondent threatened to cite complainant
in contempt because of her statement that respondent had
custody, possession and enjoyment of the luxury car of the
corporation; that he set the hearing for the contempt proceeding
on 29 January 1993 at eight-thirty in the morning; and, that as a
result, complainant filed with the Court of Appeals a petition
for certiorari.
In his answer, respondent submits that complainant has no valid
cause of action against him. He explains that the car was in the
possession of the court, although on few occasions, he drove it
merely to inflate the tires or to recharge the battery. The car also
needed minor repairs and the expenses were paid for by the
corporation which appropriated P10,000.00 for the purpose.
However, he insists, there was not instance that he demanded
money, food for valuables from complainant.
With regard to the telephone call using the name "E. Pilapil,"
respondent claims that he wanted to be discreet with his
calls. 27 He only wanted to get the names of the two (2) persons
whom complainant mentioned earlier who could help him secure
exemption from the Gun Ban. He never called up complainant to

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extort money. He got the exemption on his own efforts. Besides,


complainant also used "E. Pilapil" when she called him up at his
residence.
Lastly, respondent contends that his orders in the probate
proceedings were just and properly issued without bias. He
admits that he set the pre-trial conference of the probate
proceedings at Roo's Place because it was the site selected by
the parties.
On 8 July 1993, after due investigation, Deputy
Administrator Reynaldo L. Suarez submitted his report

Court

The complaint is an aftermath of the adverse Orders


dated November 27, 1992, December 22, 1992 and
January 25, 1993 issued by respondent Judge against
Celia Pampolina relative to SP 859(92) In the Matter of
the Petition to Approve the Will of Pastor S. Marino,
appointing
Antonio
Azcarate
and
Rosevelinda
Calingasan as Joint Special Administrators instead of
the named executrix in the will which (sic) is the
complainant herein.
Most of the issued raised by complainant in this
administrative complaint are the very errors assigned
by complainant in her petition filed before the Court of
Appeals docketed as CA-G.R. No. 30073 entitled "PSM
Corporation and Celia Pampolina vs. Hon. Judge
Ausberto Jaramillo (in his capacity as Presiding Judge
of RTC, San Pablo City). (Rollo, p. 35-57) Thus, the
undersigned cannot properly rule on complainant's
assertions that respondent herein knowingly rendered
an unjust interlocutory order because of the case
being sub judice on appeal.
xxx xxx xxx
However, in A.M. No. RTJ-92-859 (Natividad Calauan
Uy, et al. vs. Judge Florentino M. Alumbre, Assisting
Judge, RTC, Las Pias, Metro Manila), respondent Judge
Alumbre was imposed a FINE of one thousand pesos
(P1,000.00) for appointing a special administrator
without a hearing.
Admittedly, however, there were mistakes or omissions
in the acts of respondent Judge in his handling of some
incidents in the case. One mistake he made was
conducting a pre-trial conference of SP 859(92) at the
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Roo's place, a public place (Restaurant), rather than


inside his chambers and/or the Courtroom. While the
Rules of Court does not specifically provide for the
venue of pre-trial conferences, propriety demands that
it should be confined within the four (4) walls of his
sala to avoid impropriety and appearance of
impropriety in all his activities (Iglesia ni Kristo vs.
Judge Geronilla, July 25, 1981 and Canon 2, Rule 2.01,
Code of Judicial Conduct).
Strangely, likewise, is (sic) the actuations of
respondent in the matter of the custody of the Super
Saloon Car. He has demeaned himself and compromised
his position as a Judge when he obligated upon himself
the recharging of its batteries and the inflating of its
tires.
Thus, it is difficult to conceive how a Judge would
willingly go out of his way to recharge the batteries and
inflate the tires of a vehicle in custodia legis by driving
the car himself to the battery shop unless there is that
intent on his part to use the car.
Against the testimonies of his witnesses, there is no
doubt that indeed he used the car if not on all occasions
that he went home to Paraaque where he resides
coming from his Court in San Pablo but at least on
some occasions.
The appearance in the glove compartment of the car
receipt of a beauty parlor located within the vicinity of
their house admittedly patronized by the wife of the
respondent is a glaring proof that the car must have
been used and operated by the respondent.
Regardless of whether the same was used in his official
capacity, his motive could still be misinterpreted; and,
in the course of events, his actuations would come in
conflict with the impartial performance of his official
duties. In Adm. Matter No. 690-CFI entitled "Benito B.
Nate vs. Hon. Enrique A. Agana, Sr., et. al." (91 SCRA 1)
the Honorable Court there ruled that it is misconduct
for a judge to use a car that it levied in execution by
virtue of an order issued by him and was censured and
admonished. In his separate opinion, however, then
Justice Claudio Teehankee recommended that the
commensurate penalty should be six (6) months
suspension considering the great responsibility and
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trust vested in respondent. Justice Herrera, on her part,


recommended three months suspension. However, in
the case of Nate, the judge intended to acquire
ownership of the car. This does not appear to be the
case here.
Likewise, another aspect which is highly questionable
is the use of respondent Judge of an alias "E. Pilapil". If
indeed there were no shady deals/transactions
between complainant and respondent, why was there a
necessity to use an alias in their telephone
conversations and/or why would there be a need for a
Judge to talk over the phone to a party who had a
pending case before him.
The charges of bribery, violation of the Anti-Graft and
Corrupt Practices Act, despite the vehemence of
complainant's language, have not been proven
satisfactorily, there is no clear showing and/or proof
that indeed respondent Judge demanded and/or
received money, jewelries and food from the
complainant.
The claim of complainant that respondent Judge
demanded and received money and jewelries from her
is not supported by independent testimonies and
documents. In an apparent effort to mislead this Office
into believing her theory, complainant resorted to
annexing various documents, which if taken separately
will definitely lead into a different conclusion. One
concrete example is here diary in which she allegedly
recorded all her transactions such as appointments,
telephone calls, withdrawals from the bank, collections
and every minute details that transpired in her life, yet
the demand for Two Million Pesos (P2,000,000.00) was
never recorded nor was the delivery of the advance two
hundred fifty thousand pesos (P250,000.00)likewise
recorded. When confronted on the matter, she merely
gave the excuse that the demand was almost everyday,
hence, there was no need to record the same. Likewise,
the alleged delivery of the jewelries was made on April
26, 1992 but the unofficial receipt . . . was issued only
on July 20, 1992 or only after three (3) months.
Administrative charge against a judge is highly penal in
nature. Such charge must therefore be proved beyond
reasonable doubt, otherwise, the charge will be

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dismissed (Adm. Case No. 270-J, Enriquez vs. Araulla,


in re: Horellano, 43 Phil. 212). 28
On the basis of his foregoing findings, Deputy Court Administrator
Suarez recommends that: (1) the charge for knowingly rendering
an unjust order/decision be DISMISSED for having been
prematurely filed; (2) the charge for bribery, violation of the AntiGraft and Corrupt Practices act be likewise DISMISSED for lack of
factual evidence; and, (3) respondent judge be found guilty for
the use of the car while in custodia legis and for the issuance of
an order appointing Special Administrators without notice to the
parties, submitting the appropriate penalty however to the
discretion of the Court.
We do not fully subscribe to the foregoing recommendations.
Respondent judge cannot be made administratively liable for
issuing the order appointing the special administrators. On 13 July
1993, the Court of Appeals rendered a decision dismissing
complainant's petition for certiorari but at the same time granting
her plea for the inhibition of respondent judge from hearing the
probate case. We agree that while there was no notice of the
hearing for the appointment of the special administrators,
petitioner (complainant) was nevertheless heard on her motion
for reconsideration of the appointment of the special
administrators; and, that what the law prohibits is not the
absence of notice but absolute absence thereof and lack of
opportunity to be heard. However, the Court of Appeals ruled that
considering that respondent judge admitted using the car, he
should have immediately inhibited himself once his objectivity and
impartiality were put in question by petitioner (complainant) in
line with Canon 2 of the Code of Judicial Conduct. 29
While respondent
judge
may not
necessarily
be
held
administratively liable for issuing the orders complained of, he
certainly is accountable for violating Canons 1 and 2 of the Code
of Judicial Conduct and of committing a corrupt practice under
Sec. 7, par. (d), of R.A. No. 6713.
The records sufficiently establish that during the guardianship
proceedings, respondent judge had no qualms in taking advantage
of the authority granted by complainant and the Board of
Directors of PSM Development Corporation for him to use the
Mitsubishi Galant Super Saloon on weekends or as he
pleased.30 This fact alone would have already raised valid
speculations about his objectivity in acting on the guardianship
proceedings. Yet, he did nothing to apprise complainant and the
Board about the impropriety of accepting the favor.31 Nor did he
require them to forthwith withdraw the authority granted
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him. 32 Undeniably, his free use of the car during and after the
pendency of the guardianship proceedings for over a year
constituted a corrupt practice under Sec 7, par. (d), of R.A.
6713, 33 i.e., acceptance by a public officer of a favor from any
person in the course of his official duty.
Respondent judge did not only exhibit a personal interest in the
vehicle but also accepted the offer to use it. In fact, by his own
admission, he drove it several times. In the conference held at
Roo's Place, respondent judge purposely omitted the car in the
list of properties belonging to the estate of Pastor S. Marino. We
are not persuaded by his argument that the car was not part of
the decedent's estate. His later testimony revealed that the
parties then desired to include all properties even those which
supposedly belonged to the deceased but deeded to the
corporation. 34 The car was one such property, but respondent
never volunteered its inclusion. He justified his omission by saying
that the car was not mentioned in the discussion. Understandably,
no one dared to do so as they were fully aware that respondent
was in possession and enjoying the use of the car. Besides, he
should have been the one to call the attention of the parties about
the existence of the vehicle as belonging to the estate. Obviously,
he did not want to part with the vehicle.
Respondent judge even personally supervised the maintenance of
the car beyond what the duties of his office would call for. He had
the scratches of the car repainted, the tires inflated and the
battery recharged six (6) times. All the expenses for the
reconditioning, adjustment and tune-up, repainting and battery
recharging were charged against the P10,000.00 appropriated by
the Board of Directors of PSM Development Corporation. 35 The
records do not however disclose who kept the P10,000.00. Neither
was there any accounting of the expenses nor any statement
made on the amount left of the P10,000.00. Considering the extra
pains taken by respondent in the upkeep of the car, the possibility
that the P10,000.00 was in his possession is not remote.
Respondent's conduct in this regard cannot be any different from
that of a judge who was removed from office because of manifest
interest in a vehicle in custodia legis by spending for its repairs
and thereafter using it for her benefit and convenience. 36
Another reprehensible conduct of respondent which distresses us
was his availment of the battery recharging service of Cortes
Battery Shop free of charge. 37 In so doing, respondent
compromised his exalted position as a judge. It bears repeating
that integrity in a judicial office is more than a virtue; it is a
necessity. We dismissed a judge who not only had the seats of his

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"Lite Ace" van repaired but also received new seat covers both for
free from a litigant. 38 Likewise, we terminated the services of a
judge upon finding that he accepted the benefit of riding regularly
in Sarkies Tour Buses free of charge. 39
Hence, the role of the judiciary in bringing justice to conflicting
interests in society cannot be overemphasized. As the visible
representation of law and justice, judges are expected to conduct
themselves in a manner that would enhance the respect and
confidence of our people in the judicial system. They are
particularly mandated not only to uphold the integrity and
independence of the judiciary but also to avoid impropriety and
the appearance of impropriety in their actions. 40 For judges sit as
the embodiment of the people's sense of justice, their last
recourse where all other institutions have failed. 41 Sadly,
respondent judge carelessly disregarded these stringent judicial
norms. Worse, his acceptance of the Galant Super Saloon for his
personal use and convenience as well as his evident personal
interest in it have defiled the "public trust" character of the
judicial
office.
These
serious
transgressions
cannot
be
countenanced.
By
his
actions,
respondent
has
clearly
demonstrated his difficulty and inability to keep up with the
conduct required of judges. Consequently, he should not be
permitted to stay a minute longer in office. We have repeatedly
held that there is no place in the judiciary for those who cannot
meet the exacting standards of judicial conduct and integrity. 42
WHEREFORE, for his gross misconduct and violation of Canon 1 of
the Code of Judicial Conduct in A.M. No. RTJ-93-944, and his
violation of Sec. 7, par. (d), of R.A. 6713, and Canons 1 and 2 of
the Code of Judicial Conduct in A.M. No. RTJ-93-959, respondent
JUDGE AUSBERTO JARAMILLO, JR., Regional Trial Court, Branch
30, San Pablo City, is DISMISSED from the service with prejudice
to reinstatement or appointment to any public office, including
government-owned or controlled corporations, with forfeiture of
all retirement benefits and privileges, if any. This dismissal shall
be immediately executory.
SO ORDERED.
Narvasa, C.J., Cruz, Feliciano, Padilla, Bidin, Regalado,
Davide, Jr., Romero, Bellosillo, Melo, Quiason, Puno, Vitug
and Kapunan, JJ., concur.
Mendoza, J., took no part.

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5. A.M. No. RTJ-93-947 November 28, 1994


DOMINGA
P.
MASANGCAY, complainant,
vs.
JUDGE CARLOS T. AGGABAO, TANCHING L. WEE, ATTY. EDWIN O.
BETGUEN, ELSA V. MANUEL, ESTRELLA V. MAGAT and MELCHOR
TOTTO, respondents.
Ernesto S. Salunat for respondents Judge Carlos T. Aggabao, et al.
Manolo M. Beltejar, Jr. for Atty. Betguen, Wee and Totto.

DAVIDE, JR., J.:


In a sworn letter-complaint 1 filed on 1 February 1993, complainant
Dominga P. Masangcay, Clerk IV of the Office of the Clerk of Court of the
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Cabarroguis, Province of Quirino, charged
respondents Judge Carlos T. Aggabao, Presiding Judge of Branch 32;
Atty. Edwin O. Betguen, Clerk of Court VI of Branch 31; Tanching L. Wee,
Sheriff IV of Branch 32; Elsa V. Manuel, Cash Clerk II; Estrella V. Magat,
Interpreter of Branch 31; and Melchor Totto, an RTC Aide of Branch 31,
with the following:
1. Gambling prohibited by law.
Judge Aggabao, Atty. Edwin O. Betguen, Melchor
Totto, Estrella V. Magat and Tanching L. Wee
gamble with cards namely "Tong-It" or "Pepito"
together with outsiders inside the Courtroom and
any vacant place at the Justice Hall during Office
Hours. The Judge plays with the group when
[there are] no scheduled cases during office
hours. Atty. Betguen could not act on the needs of
the people who need his service immediately for
he is gambling.
2. Receiving for personal use of a fee, gift or other valuable
thing in the course of official duties or in connection therewith
when such fee, gift or valuable thing is given by any person in
the hope or expectation of receiving a favor or better
treatment than that accorded other persons or committing
acts punishable under the Anti-graft laws.
Judge Carlos T. Aggabao, Atty. Edwin O. Betguen,
Estrella V. Magat, Melchor Totto used to go with
lawyers and clients who have pending cases in his
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sala
for
a
lunch
picnic
particularly
at
Atty. Delizo's house. Judge Aggabao and Atty.
Betguen
go
with
Atty. Beltejar for a lunch to a nearby restaurant
too. These result to unfair judgment prejudicial to
the case of the adverse party. To cite examples
Civil Case No. ____________ Taganas vs.
Allagones, PP vs. Gaudencio Blas and other cases.
Atty. Betguen and Atty. Agnes Hernando ask for a
fee in any document he or she prepares, such as
affidavits, contracts, Deed of Sale and also ready
documents needed for his or her signatures as ExOfficio Notary Public with the assistance of Elsa V.
Manuel their fee collector but they do not declare
in the Record Book.
Elsa V. Manuel, Staff II In-Charge of Criminal
Cases that are disposed in the Office of the Clerk
of Court usually ask for a fee ranging from
TWENTY (P20.00) PESOS to FIFTY (P50.00)
PESOS from the person who wants to withdraw
the property bond.
3. Discourtesy in the course of official duties.
Judge Aggabao shouts with insulting angry words
at prosecuting Fiscals or their witnesses during
hearing, scolds Stenographic Reporters and utter
uncourteous words at them in the Courtroom. . . .
4. Dishonesty
Stand fans and typewriters issued by the Supreme
Court were taken at [sic] their houses by Judge
Aggabao and Atty. Betguen for their personal use.
...
5. Disgraceful and immoral conduct
As Executive Judge, subordinate woman employee
asks his advice about her problem she
encounters. He usually takes advantage of the
situation by asking for a short time date with such
employee. An employee who rejects to his
proposal is bad. He is always hot at her and if she
finds a mistake, he said he is going to dismiss

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such employee. But if such employee accepts his


proposal she is good and sweet for him.
6. Nepotism
As Executive Judge, he recommends an employee
to a vacant position. Joel Totto was appointed RTC
Aide Branch 32. He is the son of Melchor Totto,
RTC Aide of Branch 31 who is the First Cousin of
the wife of Judge Aggabao. Our office is always
untidy. They do other jobs outside not prescribed
in their functions and duties. So Judge Aggabao
requested the Provincial Government to employ
aides under local funds.
7. Improper or Unauthorized Solicitations of contributions
from subordinate employees, party litigants or Private
Practitioners.
Judge Aggabao distributed envelopes to Private
Practitioners and ask them for a help for his
candidate.
Attached to the complaint are the certification of one Alice Mamate, Clerk
of the Luzon Loggers Incorporated of Luna, Cabarroguis, Quirino, that the
service car of Judge Aggabao was, upon his request made through Joel
Totto, filled with thirty liters of diesel fuel on 10 October 1992, and the
affidavits of Joel Villanueva and Catalina Senica attesting to the playing of
cards by Judge Aggabao and other personnel in one of the courtrooms of
the Hall of Justice during office hours sometime in July 1992 and
December 1992.
The respondents filed their sworn joint comment 2 on 2 April 1993. They
denied the charges for being malicious and baseless and alleged that:
1. Gambling is strictly prohibited within the Justice Hall
wherein the courts are housed and no gambling activities
have been done within it from the time Judge Aggabao
assumed the post of Executive Judge; the statement of Joel
Villanueva in his affidavit is untrue as he could not have come
to the court due to fear because in July 1992 he stabbed
Estrella Magat on her breast when she refused to give
P15,000.00 to him; and Catalina Senica had later recanted,
claiming that she was merely tricked by the complainant into
signing a prepared affidavit.
2. Only parties for special occasions, tendered by Atty. Delizo,
like his birthday celebrations, were attended by court
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employees,
lawyers,
professionals,
businessmen
and
government officials; Atty. Delizo is an ex-Governor of Quirino
and a well-known and respectable lawyer; the Taganas case
was decided 10 years ago and respondents Judge Aggabao
and Atty. Betguen did not go to a nearby restaurant for lunch
with
Atty. Baltazar. The case of People vs. Blas was not decided by
Judge Aggabao but by Judge Gregorio Buenavista.
3. While respondent Atty. Betguen and Atty. Hernando, both
Clerks of Court, notarized documents because there are no
notaries public within the vicinity, they do so "for free since
most of the documents they notarize are already prepared
documents"; respondent Manuel never acted as their collector
since it is not her assigned task to collect fees.
4. No fee is charged for the withdrawal of property bond in
criminal cases.
5. Judge Aggabao does not shout with insulting and angry
words at prosecuting fiscals or witnesses, or scold or utter
uncourteous words at stenographic reporters; he has not
taken advantage of a woman, much less a subordinate; on
the contrary, he has always been very kind and honorable to
court employees; neither has he committed nepotism in the
appointment of Joel Totto since the latter is a relative in the
fifth civil degree of affinity and was appointed to the
unclassified service.
6. Judge Aggabao and Atty. Betguen did not bring home any
typewriter. The former does not need any as he dictates his
decisions, while the latter has his own typewriter in the
house. Neither of them brought home any electric fan.
The respondents claimed that the complainant filed the complaint to
satisfy her desire for revenge. They cite the following reasons in support
of their claim:
1. Judge Aggabao, in December 1992, had threatened to file
administrative charges against the complainant for the loss of
the records of two criminal cases and reprimanded her when
he learned that she was collecting fees from lawyers or
parties without issuing receipts, and she also believed that
she was convicted in a case because he failed to prevent
Melchor Totto and Estrella Magat from testifying against her;
2. Respondent Atty. Edwin Betguen had issued to her a
memorandum directing her to show cause why she should not
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be administratively charged for keeping, concealing or losing


the records in a criminal case for oral defamation against her
which she received after its remand by the Court of Appeals;
Atty. Betguen had also issued to her memoranda on several
occasions concerning her inefficiency in work.
3. Respondents Estrella Magat and Melchor Totto had testified
against her in a case for oral defamation filed against her,
which led to her conviction.
4. Respondent Tanching L. Wee had filed a complaint against
her for her alleged anomalous actuations in not raffling among
the sheriffs foreclosure orders and writs of execution.
5. Respondent Elsa V. Manuel had insisted that complainant
should relinquish to her as Cash Clerk the duty pertaining to
such position, and reported to respondent Judge Aggabao and
Atty. Betguen complainant's collection of legal and research
fees without issuing the corresponding receipts.
Attached to the joint comment are the affidavits of the respondents'
witnesses.
On 30 June 1993, respondent Judge Aggabao filed a so-called Addendum
Evidence 3 to which are attached: (1) the petition of all the employees of
the Clerk of Court, dated 31 May 1993, requesting that the complainant
be relieved from her post and barred from entering the said office for
being disrespectful and for the loss of records; (2) Administrative Order
No. 1 of Executive Judge Gregorio Buenavista, dated 31 May 1993,
ordering the temporary detail of the complainant with the Municipal Trial
Court
(MTC)
of
Cabarroguis,
Quirino;
(3) the petition of all the employees of the said MTC refusing to accept
the complainant; and (4) the indorsement of Judge Bannuar Bongolan of
the said MTC indorsing the latter petition to Executive Judge Buenavista
and informing him that the complainant is a persona non grata to his
court personnel.
Pursuant to the recommendation of the Office of the Court Administrator
of 3 September 1993, the Court referred this case to Associate Justice
Alicia Austria-Martinez of the Court of Appeals for investigation, report,
and recommendation. 4
Justice Austria-Martinez conducted several hearings from November 1993
to August 1994. At the initial hearing on 12 November 1993, the
complainant and the respondents agreed on the following facts:
1. Complainant is the respondent in administrative complaints
for (a) dishonesty filed by respondent Atty. Betguen, which is
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pending investigation before Executive Judge Rosales of


Branch 27 of the RTC of Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya, and (b)
non-raffling of a case filed with the Supreme Court by
respondent Wee in which complainant was found guilty;
2. Complainant is likewise the respondent in a criminal case
for infidelity in the custody of public documents or records
filed by respondent Betguen with the Ombudsman, which is
still pending investigation in said office; however, said case
was filed after complainant filed the instant complaint;
3. Respondents Magat and Totto were witnesses against the
complainant in oral defamation cases (Criminal Cases Nos.
901 and 902) which were filed ahead of the present case. 5
Complainant Masangcay presented three witnesses and also testified in
her behalf. Witness Florentino Satulan testified that when he went to the
Justice Hall in Cabarroguis on 23 October 1992 he saw Atty. Betguen
holding some playing cards. 6 Witness Catalina Senica testified that on
two occasions, sometime on 11 November 1992 and December 1992, she
went
to
see
Atty. Betguen and in a room which she described as a courtroom, she saw
respondents Judge Aggabao, Atty. Betguen, Magat, Wee, and Totto
playing cards and that she was told they were playing "tong-it." 7 Witness
Melchor Martinez corroborated the testimony of Senica that when she and
Martinez went to see Atty. Betguen on 11 November 1992, the latter
made them wait for some time before he came out of his office and
notarized the special power of attorney they brought to him. The
complainant testified on the particulars of her other charges.
All the respondents testified, except Elsa V. Manuel who was not served
with the notices of the hearings as she was then already on a one-year
leave of absence. They presented as witnesses other court personnel of
the RTC of Cabarroguis. The witnesses were one in refuting the
allegations of complainant Masangcay and in asserting that a desire for
revenge motivated her in filing the complaint against them as they were
instrumental, either as complainants or witnesses, in administrative and
criminal cases filed or intended to be filed against her.
After the termination of the hearings, Justice Austria-Martinez submitted
to this Court her Report, dated 8 September 1994, wherein she gives a
detailed summary of the testimonies of the witnesses and then makes the
following findings:
FINDINGS:
1. ON GAMBLING

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a. The testimony of Masangkay 8 does not deserve


full faith and credence. Her ill-motive against the
respondents is too obvious.
b. However, the testimonies of Satulan and Senica
established that respondents Judge Aggabao and
Atty. Betguen together with other persons were
playing cards during office hours sometime in
December, 1992 and on October 23, 1993.
c. The testimony of witness Senica that she also
had seen the said respondents Aggabao and
Betguen gambling together with their corespondents Wee and Totto on November 11,
1992 appears to be an after-thought as it was not
stated in her Affidavit, dated January 29, 1993
(Exh. "C", p. 15, Rollo).
d. The fact that witness Senica had signed the
affidavit dated February 23, 1993 (Exhs. "D" and
"2") declaring that the contents of her previous
affidavit dated January 29, 1993 (Exh. "C") are
not true and prepared by the Masangkay spouses,
does not render her testimony before the
undersigned not credible. While it may be argued
that she executed her affidavit dated January 29,
1993 (Exh. "C", p. 15, Rollo) and her letter to the
Administrator, dated March 8, 1993, upon
instigation or under the influence of Masangkay,
the fact that Senica had the courage to appear
before the Investigator and reiterate her
declarations in the affidavit (Exh. "C"), in the
presence of all the respondents, that she had seen
respondents Judge Aggabao and Atty. Betguen
playing cards during office hours at the court
premises, convince the undersigned Investigator
that indeed she saw respondents Aggabao and
Betguen playing cards sometime in December,
1992.
e. The same observation is true with respect to
the testimony of witness Satulan who positively
testified that he had seen Atty. Betguen holding
some playing cards. Even if he had an axe to
grind against Atty. Betguen regarding the
implementation of a writ of execution in a civil
case, witness Satulan, a simple farmer, would not
have the courage to appear before the
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Investigator, and, in the presence of the


respondents, falsely testify against Atty. Betguen.
f. The fact that complaining witness Masangkay
initiated the present administrative case against
the respondents, out of revenge for having been
convicted of the crime of oral defamation and the
impending case that at the time that her lettercomplaint was filed on February 1, 1993,
respondents Judge Aggabao and Atty. Betguen
had intended to file against her for dishonesty and
infidelity in safekeeping of documents, does not
automatically render the testimonies of Senica
and Satulan against said respondents Aggabao
and Betguen not worthy of belief.
g. There is no sufficient evidence that Sheriff Wee,
RTC Aide Totto and Interpreter Magat engaged in
gambling considering that the affidavit of Satulan
(Exh. "A") referred only to Atty. Betguen and that
of Senica (Exh. "C") referred only to Judge
Aggabao and Atty. Betguen. Their subsequent
testimonies during the investigation against the
other respondents, namely: Magat, Wee and Totto
appear to have been made as an afterthought to
implicate them together with Judge Aggabao and
Atty. Betguen.
2. On receiving for personal use of a fee, gift or other valuable
thing in the course of official duties . . .
a. Bare assertions of complaining witness
Masangkay are not sufficient to convict the
respondents of the above charges. There is no
showing that Judge Aggabao had stepped beyond
the bounds of judicial ethics when, as admitted by
him, on special occasions, like the birthday of (exGovernor) Atty. Delizo, he was invited together
with other government officials and prominent
people.
b. However, the testimony of Provincial Prosecutor
Anthony Foz revealed that Judge Aggabao has
been occasionally fraternizing with lawyers in
drinking sessions. (TSN, Hearing of August 2,
1994, p. 703, Rollo).

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c. The consumption slip (Exh. "X") signed by a


certain Joel Totto and the certification of one Alice
Mamate (Exh. "X-1") are sufficiently explained by
respondent Judge in his Affidavit dated March 29,
1993, . . . . Besides, Masangkay admitted during
the investigation that she heard about it only from
Totto which is therefore pure hearsay. (TSN,
Hearing of July 8, 1994, p. 593, Rollo).
d. Masangkay's claim that Mrs. Allagonez told her
that she gave money to respondent Totto for his
co-respondent Judge Aggabao does not deserve
credence on the ground that it is hearsay.
Besides, Mrs. Allagonez herself denied having
given any money to respondents Totto and Judge
Aggabao.
e. Likewise, Masangkay's claim that Mrs. Garingan
gave T-shirts to respondent Betguen is denied by
Mrs. Garingan herself and therefore, there is no
way of giving credence to Masangkay's bare
assertions.
3. On discourtesy in the course of official duties
Mere claim of complaining witness Masangkay is
not sufficient to find Judge Aggabao guilty of
discourtesy to the lawyers, their clients/witnesses
or to the court employees. Provincial Prosecutor
Anthony Foz and Interpreter Loreta Garingan
attest to the fact that Judge Aggabao had not
been discourteous in the performance of his
duties. No stenographer complained about any
abrasive actions committed against them by
Judge Aggabao.
4. On Dishonesty
The bare assertion of complaining witness
Masangkay is not sufficient to hold respondents
Judge Aggabao and Atty. Betguen guilty of
bringing home stand fans and typewriters for their
personal use. The undersigned Investigator takes
note of the Affidavit dated March 19, 1993
executed by Ma. Agnes D. Hernando, subscribed
and sworn to before Judge Gregorio A. Buenavista
(Annex "F", Comments of respondents, p.
65, Rollo) wherein affiant declared that she is
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Clerk of Court V of the RTC, Branch 32,


Cabarroguis, Quirino; that she is in-charge of the
supplies and equipments in their office; that all
their office equipments are intact inside the
Justice Hall Building. In the absence of any report
from the officer in charge of supplies and
equipments in the Office of Judge Aggabao and
that of Atty. Betguen that the stand fans and
typewriters subject-matter of herein lettercomplaint of Masangkay have been taken out of
their respective offices for personal use, the
undersigned finds no valid reason to believe
Masangkay.
5. On Disgraceful and Immoral Conduct of Judge Aggabao
a. Court Interpreter Garingan vehemently denied
having been held on the thigh by Judge Aggabao,
directly contradicting the testimony of Masangkay.
For that reason alone, Masangkay's claim must
fail.
b. As to Masangkay's assertion that she was
snuggled close by Judge Aggabao, moving his
right hand from her head to her shoulder to her
arm with malice is difficult to believe. It is more
probable that Masangkay merely misunderstood
the action of Judge Aggabao in trying to assure
her about the criminal case against her.
6. On Nepotism
Masangkay's claim is not tenable. Section 59 of
the Revised Administrative Code of 1987 on the
Civil Service Commission, provides:
Sec. 59. Nepotism. (1) All appointment in the
national,
provincial,
city
and
municipal
governments or in any branch or instrumentality
thereof,
including
government-owned
or
controlled corporations, made in favor of a
relative of the appointing or recommending
authority, or of the chief of the bureau or office,
or
of
the
persons
exercising
immediate
supervision over him, are hereby prohibited.
As used in this Section, the word "relative" and
members of the family referred to are those
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related within the third


consanguinity or of affinity.

degree

either

of

(2) The following are exempted from the


operation of the rules on nepotism: (a) persons
employed in a confidential capacity, (b) teachers,
(c) physicians, and (d) members of the Armed
Forces of the Philippines: Provided, however, That
in each particular instance full report of such
appointment shall be made to the Commission. . .
.
According
to
Masangkay,
Judge
Aggabao
recommended Joel Totto and was appointed as
the RTC Aide in his sala, Branch 32; that Joel is
the son of respondent Melchor Totto (RTC Aide of
Branch 31) who is the first cousin of Judge
Aggabao's wife. In other words, Joel Totto is
Judge Aggabao's nephew by affinity by a first
cousin of his wife which is already in the fifth
degree and therefore not covered by the above
rule on nepotism.
7. On Improper or Unauthorized Solicitations of Contributions
from subordinate employees, party litigants or Private
Practitioners
Masangkay's claim that she saw Judge Aggabao
solicit contribution from a practitioner cannot
prosper. The practitioner referred to is neither
identified nor presented by Masangkay; and the
bare allegations of Masangkay whose motive in
filing the charges renders her testimony not
credible, is not sufficient to find Judge Aggabao
guilty of soliciting contributions. 9
Justice Austria-Martinez then concludes:
CONCLUSIONS:
1. Respondents Judge Carlos T. Aggabao and
Atty. Edwin O. Betguen are guilty of playing cards
during office hours in the court premises.
However, whether or not they were gambling or
playing for money is not established; and
therefore, sense of justice and fairness, leads the
undersigned to the conclusion that they merely
engaged in activities that are improper, which
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officials like them should not be doing during


office hours and in the court premises.
Judge Aggabao failed to comply with Canon 2 of
the Code of Judicial Conduct which provides that a
judge
should
avoid impropriety
and
the
appearance of impropriety in all activities; and,
Rule 2.01 which mandates that a judge should so
behave at all times as to promote public
confidence in the integrity of the judiciary.
Atty. Betguen's conduct is prejudicial to the best
interest of the service (Section 46[27] of the
Revised Administrative Code of 1987 on the Civil
Service Commission).
2. Respondent Judge Carlos T. Aggabao
occasionally fraternized with lawyers by having
drinking sessions with them. He is likewise guilty
of not complying with Canon 2 of the Code of
Judicial Conduct.
3. All other charges against all the respondents
are not supported by substantial evidence.
and submits the following recommendations:
RECOMMENDATIONS:
1.
That
Judge
Carlos
T.
Aggabao
be
REPRIMANDED for acts of impropriety, in violation
of Canon 2 of the Code of Judicial Ethics.
2. That Atty. Edwin O. Betguen be REPRIMANDED
for conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the
service, under Section 46 (27) of the Revised
Administrative Code of 1987 on the Civil Service
Commission.
3. That all the other charges against all the
respondents be dismissed for lack of substantial
evidence, except for respondent Elsa Manuel
(Cash Clerk II) who has been on leave of absence
since October 11, 1993 (a month before the start
of herein investigation) up to the present, with a
prayer that the charges against her be
investigated by the Executive Judge of the
Regional Trial Court of Quirino, and, that the
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investigation of the above-entitled administrative


case by the undersigned be considered closed and
terminated.
The above findings and conclusions of Justice Austria-Martinez, being
based on her meticulous and careful evaluation of the testimonies of the
witnesses and their credibility, are entitled to the highest degree of
respect.
It may also be stressed that in their sworn joint comment, the
respondents deny only the charge of gambling but not the playing of
cards during office hours in one of the courtrooms. They admit that they
attended parties tendered by Atty. Delizo, an ex-governor of Quirino and
a well-known and respectable lawyer, for special occasions like his
birthday
celebrations.
Respondent
Atty. Betguen claims that while he, as the Clerk of Court, notarized
documents because there are no notaries public in the vicinity, he did so
for free since most of the documents presented to him had already been
drafted.
While there is insufficient proof of gambling, the playing of cards during
office hours in a courtroom by respondents Judge Aggabao and Atty.
Betguen is convincingly established not only by the testimonies of Satulan
and Senica, as found by the investigating Justice, but also by the
respondents' failure to deny this fact in their sworn joint comment. A
courtroom is hardly the place for playing cards. A courtroom is generally
looked upon by the people with high respect and not a few consider it as
a sacred place where witnesses testify under oath, where conflicts are
resolved, rights adjudicated, and justice solemnly dispensed. Making it a
game room diminishes its sanctity and dignity. The playing of cards in the
courtroom and the occasional fraternization with lawyers in drinking
sessions, established by the testimony of Provincial Prosecutor Anthony
Foz, made the respondent Judge liable, at the very least, for impropriety
in violation of Canon 3 of the Canons of Judicial Ethics which requires that
a judge's official conduct should be free from the appearance of
impropriety, and his personal behavior, not only upon the bench and in
the performance of judicial duties, but also in his everyday life, should be
beyond reproach.
Likewise, respondent Judge Aggabao should have avoided attending
parties for special occasions tendered by an ex-governor and a wellknown and respectable lawyer because his attendance could reasonably
tend to raise suspicion that his social relationship or friendship with Atty.
Delizo would be an element in his determination of Atty. Delizo's cases,
which may be great in number because of his political and professional
stature. Canon 30 of the Canons of Judicial Ethics provides:

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It is not necessary to the proper performance of judicial duty


that judges should live in retirement or seclusion; it is
desirable that, so far as the reasonable attention to the
completion of their work will permit, they continue to mingle
in social intercourse, and that they should not discontinue
their interests in or appearance at meetings of members of
the bar. A judge should, however, in pending or prospective
litigation before him be scrupulously careful to avoid such
action as may reasonably tend to waken the suspicion that his
social or business relations or friendship constitute an element
in determining his judicial course.
Rule 2.01 of the Code of Judicial Conduct mandates that a judge should
so behave at all times as to promote public confidence in the integrity and
impartiality of the judiciary. While lawyers in Cabarroguis may not
attribute any impropriety for such acts, litigants, especially those whose
adversaries are the clients of Atty. Delizo, cannot help but have a wellfounded
fear
that
Atty. Delizo must have received or may receive special favors from the
respondent Judge.
Respondent Atty. Betguen, as Clerk of Court, was also guilty of
malfeasance in office when, with the respondent Judge, he played cards
in one of the courtrooms during office hours. And, with his admission in
the sworn joint comment that he notarized documents, presumably in his
capacity as ex officio notary public pursuant to Section 242 of the Revised
Administrative Code, for free, he had deprived the Government of the
required fees therefor. Section 252 of the said Code provides:
Sec. 252. Compensation of notaries public. No fee,
compensation, or reward of any sort, except such as is
expressly prescribed and allowed by law, shall be collected or
received for any service rendered by a notary public. Such
moneys collected by notaries public proper shall belong to
them personally. Officers acting as notaries public ex
officio shall charge for their services the fees prescribed by
law and account therefor as for Government funds.
While Atty. Betguen wanted to appear charitable, he had in fact
committed either neglect of duty or inefficiency.
WHEREFORE, taking into account the recommendations of investigating
Justice Alicia Austria-Martinez and considering the foregoing observations,
judgment is hereby rendered:
1. Declaring that respondent Judge Carlos T. Aggabao of Branch 32 of the
Regional Trial Court of Quirino violated Canons 3 and 30 of the Canons of
Judicial Ethics and Canon 2 of the Code of Judicial Conduct, for which he
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is hereby ADMONISHED to be more discreet in his actions, with a warning


that the commission of the same or similar acts in the future shall be
dealt with more severely;
2. Finding respondent Atty. Edwin O. Betguen, Clerk of Court VI, Branch
31 of the Regional Trial Court of Quirino, guilty of malfeasance in office,
neglect of duty or inefficiency, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest
of the service, for which he is hereby REPRIMANDED with a warning that
the commission of the same or similar acts in the future shall be dealt
with more severely;
3. With respect to the complaint against respondent Elsa V. Manuel,
directing the Executive Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Quirino to
conduct an investigation and submit a report and recommendation
thereon within thirty (30) days from receipt from the Office of the Court
Administrator of certified true copies of the complaint in this case and the
joint comment thereon, as well as of the Addendum Evidence submitted
by respondent Judge Carlos T. Aggabao. The Office of the Court
Administrator shall transmit said documents to the Executive Judge within
ten (10) days from notice hereof.
4. DISMISSING, for lack of substantial evidence, the complaint against
respondents Tanching L. Wee, Estrella V. Magat, and Melchor Totto.
SO ORDERED.
Padilla, Bellosillo, Quiason and Kapunan, JJ., concur.

6. A.M. No. MTJ-98-1144 July 22, 1998


FLORIDE DAWA, NORALIZ L. JORGENSEN, FEMENINA LAZAROBARRETO, complainants,
vs.
Judge ARMANDO C. DE ASA, Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch 51,
Caloocan City, respondent.
A.M. No. MTJ-98-1148 July 22, 1998
Clerk of Court MONA LISA A. BUENCAMINO, complainant,
vs.
Judge ARMANDO C. DE ASA Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch 51,
Caloocan City, respondent.
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PER CURIAM:
Armando C. de Asa, the presiding judge of Branch 51 and acting
executive judge of the Metropolitan Trial Court of Caloocan City, was
charged with "sexual harassment and/or acts of lasciviousness" in a
letter-complaint 1 dated
August
15,
1997,
filed
by
Floride
Dawa, 2 Femenina Lazaro-Barreto 3 and Noraliz L. Jorgensen. 4 In view of
the allegations in the Complaint, this Court, in a Resolution dated
December 10, 1997, placed respondent judge under preventive
suspension; and referred the case to retired Justice Romulo S. Quimbo, a
consultant of the Office of the Court Administrator, for investigation,
report and recommendation. 5
Meanwhile, Atty. Mona Lisa A. Buencamino, 6 who assisted the
aforementioned complainants, also filed, on September 5, 1997, an
affidavit-complaint 7 against Judge Armando C. de Asa, for "sexual
harassment under Republic Act No. 7877/ acts of lasciviousness, grave or
serious misconduct, and [for] violation [of] the high standard of moral[s]
demanded
by
judicial
8
ethics . . . ." In our Resolution dated March 18, 1998, we resolved to
consolidate her Complaint with the earlier one and to refer it likewise to
Justice Romulo S. Quimbo for inclusion in his investigation, report and
recommendation.
After conducting a thorough investigation the investigating officer
submitted his Report, dated March 16, 1998, which contained the
following exhaustive and detailed summary of the testimonies of the
witnesses for both the complainants and the respondent:
1. Floride Y. Dawa is a 24 year-old single girl employed as a
stenographic reporter in Branch 52 of the Metropolitan Trial
Court (MeTC for brevity) of Caloocan City. She affirmed under
oath the sworn statement (Exhibit A, Record, pp. 2-3 of the
Record) she executed August 15, 1997. She related that on
August 8, 1997, while on her way to the ladies' toilet, she had
seen respondent, Judge Armando C. De Asa, talking with a
man at the backdoor of his chamber. Out of respect for
respondent, being the Acting Executive Judge of the MeTC,
she had nodded to him before entering the ladies comfort
room. When she emerged from the same, she saw that
respondent was still at the backdoor of his office although this
time he was alone. Upon seeing Dawa, respondent casually
asked her whether the toilet was clean. She answered that it
was dirty. Respondent called her and she approached him.
When she neared the respondent, the latter put his arm on
her shoulder and led her into his chamber. Once inside and
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while she was standing near the edge of respondent's office


table, he placed his arm around her shoulder and suddenly
held her jaw and kissed her on the lips.
Dawa was taken by surprise and was shocked by the act of
the respondent. Before she could recover herself, respondent
once again held her shoulder and chin and kissed her on the
lips. She forcibly pushed the respondent away. Respondent
asked her where she lived and with whom but she hurriedly
left respondent's office.
Upon Dawa's return to the staff room of Branch 52, Maria
Teresa Carpio, who also works in Branch 52, asked her what
the matter was because she noticed that Dawa looked dazed
("tulala"). She first said that nothing was the matter but upon
[Carpio's] insistent questioning, she haltingly related her
harrowing experience in respondent's office.
That same day, she related the incident to Judge Delfina
Hernandez-Santiago, the presiding judge of Branch 52 who,
although [she] was then on leave, had gone to her office on
the invitation of Danilo Silverio, one of her coworkers in
Branch 52, who was celebrating his birthday. Judge Santiago,
after listening to Dawa's story, advised her to go home and
relate the incident to her parents before deciding to do
anything further. Dawa went home but did not tell her parents
who were sickly. Instead, she told her sister.
The next Tuesday (she had absented herself on Monday),
Dawa went to see Atty. Mona Lisa Buencamino, the Clerk of
Court, and related her story. She was told that she was not
respondent's first victim but that Noraliz Jorgensen and the
Clerk of Court herself had been objects of respondent's
amorous advances.
Dawa saw Noraliz Jorgensen. The latter assured her that if
Dawa would file a complaint, she would follow suit.
Dawa and Jorgensen decided to file charges against the
respondent. Upon the advice of Atty. Buencamino, the two
complainants saw Atty. Calalang, a city councilor. The latter
advised them to go to the police and have their complaints
entered in the police blotter. Calalang brought them to the
office of Councilor Manlapig, a former police colonel. The
latter called for a police investigator and SPO2 Rey Domingo
came and interviewed them. That same afternoon, the two
complainants went to the police station to have their

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complaints recorded in the police blotter (Exhibits 7 and 7-A;


Record, pp. 16-17).
Dawa came to the Supreme Court with Atty. Buencamino,
Noraliz Jorgensen and Femenina Lazaro-Barreto where they
filed the letter complaint (Exhibit "X").
Respondent personally cross-examined Dawa. She insisted on
her story although she admitted that respondent had gone to
Branch 52 that same day.
2. Noraliz L. Jorgensen is 28 years old and married to a
policeman. She affirmed under oath her sworn statement
(Exhibit C, pp. 6-7 of the Record). The following is her story:
Jorgensen was and still is a casual employee in the Office of
the Mayor of Caloocan City and detailed to the Office of the
Clerk of Court, (OCC for short), MeTC, Caloocan City. Among
her duties was the preparation and follow up of the payrolls
for RATA and gasoline allowances of the Metropolitan Trial
Judges. Upon the approval of said payrolls, it was her duty to
receive the cash from the cashier and deliver them to the
individual judges.
Sometime on January 3, 1997, at about 10:00 o'clock in the
morning, she had gone to the office of respondent Judge
Armando C. de Asa, who presides Branch 51 of the Court, for
the purpose of securing his signature on the payroll for the
judges' allowances. Upon entering the respondent's office, the
latter approached her and suddenly kissed her on the cheek.
Jorgensen immediately left respondent's office after having
secured his signature on the payroll.
Again, on March 31, 1997, at about 2:00 o'clock in the
afternoon, Jorgensen had returned to the respondent's office
to deliver the cash representing his allowances for the months
of January, February and March. Upon entering the
respondent's office, the latter immediately stood up, held her
two arms, and suddenly kissed her and licked her left ear,
saying "I love you". Jorgensen was surprised and afraid. She
asked respondent, "Judge, what is this", at the same time
endeavoring to free herself from his hold but she could not
because his grip was strong. Respondent then said, "Don't
make noise lest we be heard outside". At the same time,
respondent held her jaw and kissed her on the lips. He said,
"Open your mouth" as her continued to hug and kiss her while
she tried to free herself. He did not heed her pleas although
she was then trembling with fear.
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On May 26, 1997, Jorgensen again entered respondent's


office to secure his signature on the payroll for June. Again he
kissed her before he signed it. After he had signed the payroll,
respondent invited Jorgensen to eat with him at the Max
Restaurant on EDSA the next Saturday. When she asked him
why he was inviting her, he answered, "You are no longer a
child, you ought to know".
Jorgensen could only cry. She asked Atty. Buencamino not to
send her again to the respondent and she told Buencamino of
what had happened to her. Atty. Buencamino told Jorgensen
that if she wanted to complain, Buencamino would support
her. Jorgensen was afraid that nothing would come out of any
complaint because respondent was a Judge and powerful.
On August 4, 1997, having delivered the allowances of all
judges except the respondent, Jorgensen tried to look for
someone who could deliver the money to him but she could
find no one. So she waited until she knew that someone else
was inside respondent's office. At about 3:00 o'clock, while
Roderick Corral was inside respondent's office, she entered
but respondent immediately threw to Corral the paper he had
brought for his signature, in effect dismissing him. Corral
immediately stepped out leaving Jorgensen alone in
respondent's chambers. When they were alone, respondent
stood up and held Jorgensen's jaw kissing her on her lips at
the same time saying "Open your mouth". Jorgensen
immediately left respondent's office in tears.
On August 8, 1997, Jorgensen learned that Floride Dawa, a
stenographer in Branch 52, was the latest victim of the
respondent. Jorgensen reported her experience to Judge
Santiago, the Executive Judge, and she informed the good
judge that she was ready to file a complaint against
respondent in order to obtain justice.
Respondent personally cross examined Jorgensen who
admitted that before August, 1997, she had gone to
respondent's office with Baby Mapue in response to his call
and while there they were shown an anonymous letter
(Exhibit 2) which mentioned [the] alleged misconduct on her
part.
3. Femenina Lazaro-Barreto is a thirty-year-old married
woman who is a Court Stenographer II in Branch 53 of the
Caloocan City MeTC. During her direct examination by Atty.
Roberto Abad, she identified her sworn statement (Exhibit E
found on pp. 4-5 of the Record).
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On July 22, 1997, she was assigned to Branch 51 because


Judge Romanito Amatong of Branch 53 was on leave. While
attending the session at Branch 51, respondent dictated an
"Order" in open court. Her stenographic notes are found in
Exhibit "F". She transcribed these notes (Exhibit F-1) and left
them with the Branch Clerk Gina Amatong. When she
returned after lunch, Gina told her there were some
corrections so she again typed and submitted Exhibit "F-2".
After typing one more draft (Exhibit F-3), she brought the
final draft (Exhibit F-4) to respondent's office for his
signature. After respondent signed the "Order", he stood up
and while Barreto was looking at the "Order", he held her chin
and kissed her. Barreto asked, "What are you doing?"
Respondent kissed her again and tapped her shoulder saying,
"Sigue na, Nina. Okay na, dismissing her. Barreto went out of
the office and wiped her lips with her hand. Margo, a
stenographer in Branch 51 saw her. She did not relate the
incident to her husband but he learned about it from the
newspapers.
4. Atty. Mona Lisa A. Buencamino is an unmarried forty-yearold lawyer who is presently the Clerk of Court of Caloocan City
MeTC. Her first appointment was on June 18, 1987 as Branch
Clerk of Court for Branch 51, presided by Judge Filemon
Mendoza, now retired. After she became a lawyer in 1996,
she was promoted to her present position as Clerk of Court.
Buencamino is acquainted with the three complainants. She
first came to know Jorgensen when she assumed office as
Clerk of Court because Jorgensen was detailed to her office.
She had known Barreto since 1992 or 1993 and she
personally came to know Dawa when the latter, accompanied
by Jorgensen, approached her on August 12, 1997 and
related her harrowing experience in the office of respondent.
Jorgensen herself related similar experiences. Buencamino
advised the two ladies that she would refer that matter to
Judge Santiago, the executive judge, who was then on leave.
She reasoned that being a woman and the executive judge,
Judge Santiago would understand the complainant's situation.
Dawa and Jorgensen told Atty. Buencamino that they had
already seen Judge Santiago and the latter had advised them
to consult their families before taking any step. They further
told the Clerk of Court that they had consulted their families
and were decided to file an administrative case against
respondent judge. At this juncture, sheriff Noli Calalang
informed the complainants Dawa and Jorgensen that his
brother, Councilor Gil Calalang, was willing to help them.

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On August 13, 1997, at about 1:30 o'clock in the afternoon,


complainants Dawa and Jorgensen were advised that Atty. Gil
Calalang was in his office. Buencamino and the two
complainants proceeded to Calalang's office who, after
hearing their stories, advised them to report the matter to the
police. Atty. Calalang was willing to handle their case provided
permission was obtained from Mayor Malonzo. Buencamino
and the two complainants were brought to the office of
Councilor Manlapig, a former police colonel, and there they
were interviewed by SPO2 Santiago. The latter asked what
cases could be filed against the judge and Atty. Buencamino
answered that a case for violation of the new "Anti-Sexual
Harassment Law" or for Acts of Lasciviousness under the
Penal Code could be filed against respondent. At 5:30 o'clock
that same afternoon, Dawa and Jorgensen repaired to the
Caloocan Police Station to have their complaints logged
(Exhibits 7 and 7-A; Record; pp. 46-47).
On August 14, 1997, Femenina Lazaro-Barreto, accompanied
by her sister, saw Atty. Buencamino and told her that she,
too, was one of respondent's victims. Ms. Barreto decided to
file an administrative charge against respondent and
requested David Maniquis, the deputy clerk of court, to
accompany her to the police station to have her complaint
recorded. (Exhibits 7-B and 7-C, Record, pp. 48-49).
Buencamino admitted that she had accompanied the three
complainants to the Office of the Court Administrator to file
the present case. Upon request of Atty. Perez of the Office of
the Court Administrator, she had administered the oaths of
the three complainants and had signed the original complaint.
5. Cielito M. Mapue, 33 years old, married and employed as
Clerk III, OCC, MeTC, Caloocan City, took the stand for the
complainants to corroborate their testimonies. She declared
that
She was in charge of releasing the cash bonds to the
bondsmen when they were no longer needed. In this
connection, she had to prepare the vouchers and the
breakdown of checks and she had to go to the office of the
respondent in order to secure his signature. In 1997, she
remembers having been requested once by Jorgensen to bring
a payroll for the signature of respondent. After respondent
signed the documents she had brought to him, respondent
stood up, went around his table and abruptly kissed her. She
immediately left with Emily Rose Clemente, staff member of
Branch 51 and never again went to see respondent alone.
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Mapue admitted that she and Jorgensen had been called by


respondent in relation to a complaint of Judge Santiago.
Asked by respondent where he had kissed her, she retorted in
the vernacular, "Sa bibig, hindi mo ba natatanda-an?" Made
to explain why she had not complained, she answered that
she did not want anyone to know. As a matter of fact, her
husband did not know of the incident even as she was
testifying.
6. Maria Teresa G. Carpio, 37 years old, married, a casual
employee of the City Mayor's office and detailed to Branch 52
of the MeTC had the following to say:
She had known Floride Dawa to be a happy girl. On August 8,
1997, she was rather in good spirits because it was the
birthday of one of their officemates and there was some sort
of a party. At about 10:00 o'clock that morning, Dawa had
gone to the women's comfort room. When Dawa returned a
few minutes later, Carpio noticed that she was pale and
fidgety. She kept wringing her hands and was on the verge of
tears. Carpio asked her what the matter was but Dawa
answered that nothing was the matter. After some prodding,
Carpio asked Dawa to go with her to the court room and there
asked what really the matter was as she was no longer her
gay self. Dawa cried and told the story of how the respondent
had twice kissed her on the lips.
At lunch time, Judge Delfina H. Santiago, the presiding judge
of Branch 52, came to join the birthday party. She was told
by Esper Cabiling, another stenographer in Branch 52, that
Floride Dawa wanted to see her in private. Judge Santiago
brought Dawa to her private chambers.
On cross examination, Carpio admitted that respondent
appeared at Branch 52 and asked if everything was okay, at
which juncture, Dawa, accompanied by Rowena Martin, went
to the courtroom.
7. David Maniquiz, deputy clerk of court, Caloocan City MeTC,
declared that on August 14, 1997, he had been requested by
Femenina L. Barreto, to accompany her to police
headquarters to lodge a complaint against the respondent.
Noli Calalang, Joselito Bedana, Noraliz Jorgensen and Floride
Dawa were with them in the police station.
8. Ma. Victoria Soriano-Cruz, an interpreter in respondent's
court, was originally reluctant to testify. She, however,
appeared in the afternoon of February 18, 1998, to give
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testimony. She declared that she knew the complaints and


that she [was] directly under the respondent who preside[d]
Branch 51. On August 12, 1997, she learned from others that
Floride Dawa was kissed by the respondent. She also learned
that Jorgensen had also been kissed by respondent. She
admitted that the respondent has the inclination for imposing
fines on employees who were late or made mistakes. She
identified Exhibit "G" as an order where [sic] requiring her to
pay a fine.
9. Judge Delfina Hernandez Santiago the presiding judge of
Branch 52, Metropolitan Trial Court of Caloocan City, was the
last witness to testify for the complainants. The following is
her story:
She had been sick and had been on leave since March of last
year. For this reason, the respondent, who had been
designated Vice Executive Judge, had to act in her stead.
Judge Santiago affirmed the contents of a verified eight-page
letter (Exhibit I, I-1 to I-7; Record, pp. 17 to 24) which she
had sent to the Court Administrator. This was submitted as
her direct testimony.
In her letter, Judge Santiago stated that five ladies had
unburdened themselves to her not only in her capacity as
executive judge but because she was a woman. On Friday,
August 8, 1997, she had gone to her office because she had
been invited to lunch by birthday celebrants, Danilo Silverio
and Esperancilla Kabiling. Upon her arrival, Ms. Kabiling had
approached her and told her that Floride Dawa, one of her
stenographers, urgently wanted to tell her something in
confidence. Dawa entered the judge's office "red[-]eyed, redfaced and with a shiny nose". She kept clasping and
unclasping her hands and could not stand still. She spoke in
an incoherent and shaking voice which Judge Santiago could
scarcely understand. She asked Dawa to sit down and
compose herself. Dawa sat down and began to cry, so that
her story could hardly be understood. Between sobs, the
judge was able to piece out the fact that Dawa had been
embraced and forcibly kissed twice on her lips by the
respondent sometime that morning.
Dawa sought Judge Santiago's help to transfer to another
court and she wanted her to talk to the respondent in order
that the incident would not be repeated. Judge Santiago could
not promise Dawa but she advised her to go home as she
obviously was not herself. She further advised Dawa to think
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the matter over during the weekend and to talk to her parents
about it. Judge Santiago promised to talk to Dawa again the
next week.
After Dawa had left, Judge Santiago learned that Noraliz
Jorgensen, a casual employee detailed to the OCC had the
same experience. To verify the truth, the judge went to the
Office of the Clerk of Court and bluntly asked Noraliz
Jorgensen whether it was true that she had been kissed by
the respondent. Noraliz blushed and became red[-]eyed and
told the judge of the several instances that the respondent
had forcibly embraced and kissed her on the lips.
Judge Santiago sought out Judge Belen Ortiz who presides
Branch 49. She related the stories of Dawa and Noraliz and
asked Judge Ortiz whether she knew of anyone from her
branch who may have undergone the same experience. Judge
Ortiz asked Jean Marie Lazaro and the latter told them that
there was one instance when she and Zenaida Reyes, another
employee of the court, were seated on a bench near the door
of their court and respondent sat between them and placed
his arms on their shoulders and kissed them both on the
cheeks. Jorgensen informed Judge Santiago that if Dawa
would complain, she too would file a complaint. Judge
Santiago advised her to seek the counsel of her parents and
her husband and to see her again the next week.
In the afternoon of August 13, 1997, Femenina LazaroBarreto, a court stenographer in Branch 53, accompanied by
her sister, Jean Marie, came to see Judge Santiago. Femenina
confessed to Judge Santiago that she, too, had been kissed
and embraced by the respondent twice. In between sobs and
with her handkerchief almost torn to shreds by her shaking
hands, she related how she had harbored her shame in
silence and her guilt at not being able to tell her husband.
That same week, Atty. Mona Lisa Buencamino also related her
own story to Judge Santiago how she was forcibly
embraced and kissed on the lips by the respondent.
Mrs. Maria Victoria Cruz was the last one to tell judge
Santiago about the instances that the respondent had kissed
her on her cheeks. Mrs. Cruz sought the assistance of Judge
Santiago to transfer to another branch to escape the
respondent. 9
The investigating justice summarized the testimonies of respondent's
witnesses in this wise:
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1. Arniel Apostol, is 38 years old, married and the sheriff in


respondent's branch. He affirmed the contents of his sworn
statement (Exhibits 9 and 9-A; Record, pp. 56-57). He
declared that he had been with the MeTC, Caloocan City, since
1980. In 1995, he was detailed to Branch 51 and later
became its permanent sheriff.
In his sworn statement, Apostol declared that the respondent
was an official who was faithful to his job. He observed office
hours religiously. He was friendly and helpful to his personnel
and was very approachable whenever they needed anything.
The workers in his branch were free to enter his office, it
being always open. It [was] not soundproof such that if
anything improper happened inside, it could be heard outside.
Apostol further declared that since the respondent assumed
office as judge, he had not heard of him being guilty of any
improper conduct. On the other hand, he was the object of
praise in his work even as a lawyer and as a fiscal.
Apostol continued saying he was surprised to learn that the
respondent had been charged administratively by Nina
(Femenina Barreto), Nora (Noraliz Jorgensen) and Flor
(Floride Dawa) because he had not seen the respondent do
anything indelicate to the three women. Whenever Nina came
to Branch 51 to see the respondent, she would greet him with
a "Hello Judge, I am sexy now". On the other hand, whenever
Noraliz brought in documents for respondent's signature, she
was always smiling going in and coming out of respondent's
office. Apostol declared that he had seen Floride Dawa go to
respondents' office only once and she was in company with
other employees of Branch 52.
On cross examination, Apostol admitted that respondent's
office ha[d] a back door and the same [was] locked with a
main lock and two barrel bolts. It was his daily chore to open
this back door from the inside by unlocking the barrel bolts.
After he had done this he would go down to the street to
await the arrival of the respondent.
2. Liza Moreno, 47 years old, married, was respondent's
second witness. She is a court stenographer in Branch 51
presided by respondent. She had been with the MeTC since
January 2, 1969. She affirmed the sworn statement consisting
of two pages (Exhibits 10 and 10-A) which she had jointly
executed with Lina V. Cara, a clerk in the same branch who
had been in the service for 17 years.

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She said that during the almost five years that she had been
under the respondent, no one had charged him
administratively. She described him as friendly and helpful to
those working under him. His office was always open to his
subordinates. The same is not sound proof such that if
anything untoward happened inside or [if there was] any loud
conversation [it] would be noticed by those in the staff room.
During these past days she was stunned to learn that Judge
de Asa had been charged [with] sexual harassment by Nina,
Nora and Flor because she had not seen the respondent do
anything indecent to these three women. Everytime Nina saw
the judge, she would smilingly greet him with such remarks
as "Hi, Judge" or sometimes "Hello, I'm sexy now".
She learned about the charges on August 8, 1997 when she
[went] to the Office of the Clerk of Court to fetch Fe Apostol.
She [was] told by the employees thereat about the incident.
She said that she [went] up to Branch 51 [o]n the third floor
to ask her co-workers whether they had heard the news that
the respondent had kissed someone. Those who were still in
replied that they had not.
Moreno further declared that Barreto used to come to Branch
51 to have papers signed by respondent and sometimes she
came to cut the hair of certain employees, including the
respondent himself. On the other hand, she had seen Dawa
only once when she came with her co-employees at Branch 52
to have their daily time records signed.
3. Mario Muncal, respondent's third witness is 47 years old
and single. He affirmed the contents of his sworn statement
(Exhibit 11; Record p. 53).
Muncal stated that on August 7, 1997, he had gone to see the
respondent about a job in the MeTC. When he entered
respondent's office, Atty. Buencamino was with him. De Asa
introduced Muncal to Buencamino telling her about his
application for a job in the court. Atty. Buencamino told
Muncal to wait for her at her office. When Muncal saw
Buencamino, the latter told him that he would have to
undergo an observation period of one to two weeks. She
further told him that although he had been recommended by
respondent, she would be his direct superior and he was
admonished not to relate anywhere else whatever he heard or
saw in her office.

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Muncal was "taken aback" by this admonition knowing that


respondent, as executive judge, was her superior and was
entitled to know everything that happened in the clerk of
court's office. He left after Buencamino had told him to return
on August 11 to begin his observation period. He returned to
the respondent to thank him for his assistance.
Muncal learned that Atty. Buencamino had another candidate
for the vacant position so that he had second thoughts about
returning to her. However, on August 16,1997, after reading
in the papers that respondent was being charged with sexual
harassment upon the instigation of Atty. Buencamino, he
decided to see respondent and relate to him what had
happened on August 11, 1997.
4. Respondent Judge Armando C. de Asa, took the stand in
the afternoon of February 24, 1998. He affirmed his ninepage answer to the present charges (Exhibit "12"; Record, pp.
37-45).
Respondent declared that while there [was] a back door to his
private office, the same [was] locked from the inside with two
barrel bolts besides a main lock. Every day, he would use this
door for entering his office as well as going out of it in order
to avoid "ambush talks" with people. It was the duty of Arnel
Apostol to draw the barrel bolts before respondent arrived at
his office so that when he came, he could open the main lock
with his key and have no difficulty in entering the said office.
Whenever Apostol was absent, it was Fernandez who did the
opening for respondent.
In his written answer to the charges, respondent claimed that
all these charges "were obviously instigated and altogether
orchestrated". He accused the Clerk of Court, Atty. Mona Lisa
Buencamino, as the "prime mover of this cabal" and that
aside from her there were "other people behind the
conspiracy" who ha[d] yet to be uncovered.
Respondent further claimed that "the complaints were set up,
hatched and designed, to destabilize and destroy the good
image of the undersigned created in the minds of party
litigants, government, local as well as private concerns, in
Caloocan City. Although, known to be strict [in] fining
lawyers, litigants, court personnel and even himself, for
unsatisfactory and unexpected justifications for violations of
court rules and procedures, he had gained respect and
admiration
for
his
reasonable,
well[-]balance[d],

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compassionate and well[-]meant application of the rule of


law".
As a possible reason for the animosity of Atty. Buencamino
toward him, the respondent stated in his Answer, the
following:
Accordingly, as acting executive judge, work
concerns and attitudes, were honed up if not
altogether dramatically changed. Misconceptions
have been straightened up. It was emphasized
that the Office of the Clerk of Court [was] not an
independent body. It must be the secretariat or
unit that should serve and cater not only to its
own concern, but that of all the administrative as
well
as
functional
requirements
of
the
Metropolitan Trial Courts, thereat. Not because, it
is called the Office of the Clerk of Court, would
mean that the clerk of court installed, is a coequal of the judges thereat. It was made clear
that it was for this reason why an Executive
Judge/Vice Executive Judge is designated, to fill
up this impasse. Further, as clerk of court,
functionally, such a position is under the direct
control and supervision of all judges thereat.
Accordingly, except those as provided for under
the rules and applicable circulars, when a clerk of
court can act independently, any action,
movement, process and exercise, taken, with
national, local as well as private agencies must
bear the imprimatur of the Executive Judge. This
directive apparently was not observed. Either it
was misunderstood, taken lightly, seriously
resisted or even disregarded. But its nonobservance cannot be excused or countenanced.
Monthly meeting[s] with all clerks of court were
scheduled and designed to update and enhance
their working knowledge on assigned task[s].
Important concerns and problems of their offices
[were] supposed to be taken up.
Hours of work were strictly implemented,
loitering/roaming around during office hours was
prohibited, time records of the Clerk of Court,
Clerks of Court of branches including its [sic]
personnel, with presiding judges on leave or

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vacant, must after, its being authenticated, must


[sic] be signed by the Executive Judge.
Reports of immoral acts and loose moral values
were received, specifically in the office of the clerk
of court. Ms. Buencamino was apprised and
directed to closely monitor such problem. Before
the staging of this hatch-up, the undersigned
received reports of its unabated occurrences.
However, either these were treated with tolerance
or viewed with blind eyes.
Most importantly, for purposes of effective
control, an installation of an office for the
Executive Judge was conceived. This project was
apparently disliked. It was about the last week of
July or first week of August, 1997, that Judge
Santiago informed the undersigned, that we ha[d]
to implement such a scheme. The plan was to get
the room of Atty. Buencamino, to house the
Executive Judge['s] office, as its perimeter,
appeared easily organizable with least renovation
and expense, for a conference room and a library,
folded into one. Buencamino, in turn, would take
the room of David Maniquis, deputy clerk of court,
who should occupy the executive table used by
the former, located outside, along with OCC
personnel for proper monitoring and active control
of the affairs in the office
As related to me by Judge Santiago, she told
Mona Lisa about it and insinuated to her, to follow
first before talking with me, have the room
vacated, place pertinent documents/papers, to be
signed and attended to, locked [sic] it, if the
Executive Judge, [was] not around. Atty.
Buencamino approached me in disgust, proposing
an alternative. She submitted a plan for
renovation, as she insisted in maintaining her
present location. She suggested to move the
Executive Judge[s] office in the middle, the end
part, housing the office of Maniquis, [to] be the
one to be converted as conference room and
library. For her to occupy David Maniquis['] office
was "bad punsoy" (feng shui). However, Judge
Santiago's directive was firm. Mona Lisa, must
have to comply first. The matter of renovation, to

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be further studied. The suggested sketch plan


with scribblings from Judge Delfina Santiago dated
August 6, 1997, is likewise hereto attached as
annex "7". Mrs. Buencamino vacated her office,
refused David Maniquis' room and stayed [at] her
table outside with the OCC's personnel.
Also during the occasion, as there was a vacancy
for the position of a sheriff in the said office, the
undersigned recommended one Mario Muncal, Jr.
y de Castro, telling Ms. Buencamino that for the
more than four (4) years that he stayed in the
office, he was not given the privilege of appointing
one of his own choice. She retorted to try Muncal
as an understudy for about one (1) to two (2)
weeks. The undersigned acceded. Mr. Muncal
followed Ms. Buencamino to her office where he
was interviewed, advised and instructed by the
latter. He came back before he left and informed
me of the developments but he never showed up
at the designated time. He reappeared after
reading the accounts in the newspapers about the
complaints lodged against me, with revealing
statements why he gave a second thought [about]
returning or not. His affidavit is attached as Annex
"8" (pp. 3-5, Exhibit 12; pp. 39-41 of the Record).
(Emphasis supplied).
Considering the above, respondent believed that "Ms. Mona
Lisa Buencamino, took all my actions, with disdain, suspicion,
more so, with resistance. On her face, she regretted the fact
of my designation as Acting Executive Judge. She is not used
to being controlled. She would want to maintain her
"madrina" and "godmother" (i.e. influential, wealthy, etc.)
image not only among the employees but also among the
judges as well. Thus, these pathos, comics." (p.5, Exhibit 12,
Record, p. 41).
On the witness stand respondent vehemently denied the story
of Floride Dawa. He stated that on August 8, 1997, he had
come to work between 9:30 and 10:00 o'clock in the morning.
Neither Apostol nor Fernandez met him. He found that his
back door was still closed and could not be opened with his
key. For this reason he had to enter through his courtroom.
He said he did not see Floride Dawa near the comfort room
that morning. He saw her at 11:45 when he made his rounds
as executive judge.

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The above testimony is also in respondent's Exhibit "12"


where he stated that:
The Floride Dawa story, that she was seen by the
undersigned after coming from the public toilet
located along the third floor hallway obliquely
facing the backdoor exit of the undersigned's
chamber, asking her whether said comfort room
was cleaned, to which she retorted in the
negative, thereafter calling her up, placing the
judge's arm around her shoulders, led her to his
room and twice kissed her, to which she
reportedly resisted. Afterwards, conversing with
him, answering questions, as the latter sat
comfortably at his seat, as though nothing had
transpired. This is quite indeed a long process to
lend credence to such prevarication. Aside from
the fact, that the backdoor of the undersigned's
office was not shown to have been closed on the
date the alleged sham had happened, a
verification of the site where the reported incident
took place would show that the backdoor of the
undersigned's office leads to a wide public hallway
fronting directly the stairs servicing the second
and third floor[s] of said building, where people
come and go. The circumstances of persons, time
and place cannot fit under such a frame set. (pp.
6-7, Exhibit 12; pp. 42-43 of the Record).
As regards the charges of Noraliz Jorgensen, he expressed
surprise that Buencamino believed her story. The following is
what he said:
["]Surprisingly, Mona Lisa coddled Noraliz L.
Jorgensen, a casual employee, . . . detailed at the
office of the Clerk of Court, and believed her
story. Ms. Jorgensen is reportedly separated from
her husband. Her credibility throughout the
court's environs appears highly questionable,
especially among her staff in the Office of the
Clerk of Court. In fact, an unsigned letter was
sent not only to the undersigned but also with
Judge
Santiago,
divulging,
her
unchaste
relationship with a co-employee, also assigned in
the office of the Clerk of Court. . . . Ms.
Buencamino, as her immediate superior, was
advised, to closely monitor on [sic] this. Despite

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thereof [sic], the illicit relationship appeared to


have continued. Nonetheless, she was convinced
by Buencamino to execute and swear to a
statement, which [was] maliciously and boldly
concocted. . . . . Be that as it may, the story of
"victim" Noraliz borders the realm of illusion and
fiction. In no less than three (3) occasions, the
dates of which, to lend credibility, were fixed to
coincide when the allowances were allegedly
released and given to the respective judges, she
claimed to have been licked at her ear, her mouth
forced open, and kissed by the undersigned. If
one was indeed a victim of such sexual
harassment or lascivious conduct, why would she,
after the first incident (January 31, 1997) return
for the second (May 26, 1997) and third time
(August 4, 1997) and allow herself to suffer the
same fate[?] This indeed, is preposterous. It does
not have the rings of truth to it. Her lame excuse,
that no one could do her assigned chore, does not
have any legal as well as factual leg to lean on. As
far as the undersigned can remember, there was
Roderick Corral (Odi) who can do it. One Baby
Mapue had occasion to do the same chore. Even
others in the OCC can perform such feat. Such
signing is not the exclusive affair of Noraliz L.
Jorgensen. Even the August 4, 1977 incident,
would not dissuade [sic] a person in her right
mind, that she will still allow herself to be left
behind by a co-employee (Roderick Corral) whom
she saw ahead of her inside the judge's office and
be subjected to the same alleged indignant act.
This is plainly ABSURD." (pp. 5-6, Exhibit 12, pp.
41-42 of the Record).
Regarding the story of Femenina Lazaro, respondent said the
following:
["]Lastly, the Femenina Lazaro Barreto account
appear[s] to be a mere patch up. Under the
principle that in numbers there is strength, they
blended another scenario consistently claiming
that they were kissed, their mouths forcibly
opened. In Barreto's version, she claimed that she
went to the office of the undersigned to have an
order signed as their Presiding Judge was then, on
leave. Immediately thereafter, the judge stood

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up, approached her and kissed her. This was


allegedly repeated[,] she reportedly resisted.
Then she left.
The size and arrangement of the undersigned's
chamber, would rule out such hallucination. The
undersigned ha[s] developed the attitude of
transparency, in his dealings with the public and
his personnel. His room [is] always open.
Everybody come[s] and go[es]. His staff can go
inside, any time they wish, without even knocking
at his door, [get] cold water and even [use] his
private comfort room. How then could this be
possible.
In all these instances, nothing unusual was seen
or heard, much less substantiated, except the self
serving narrations of the alleged offended parties
themselves. If there was really any commotion or
resistance that occurred, the same could not
escape the ears of my personnel, whose tables
are constrictedly [sic] placed and immediately
outside. In fact, even the dates alluded to, were
even tailored to fit and coincide, just to give
credence, to the presence of the complainants, in
the alleged places of incident.["] (p. 7, Exhibit 12;
p. 43, Record). 10
After evaluating all the pieces of evidence presented by the parties,
Justice Romulo S. Quimbo arrived at a conclusion, the salient portions of
which are reproduced below:
1. There is sufficient evidence to create a moral certainty that
respondent committed the acts he is charged with. The
testimonies of the three complainants were not in any manner
emasculated by the lengthy and thorough cross examination
personally conducted by the respondent. Incidentally, the
undersigned had to recess the investigation several times to
give complainants time to compose themselves as they
invariably broke down in tears as they were required to relate
the repeated violations of their persons and their honors by
respondent.
Complainants' declarations were also fully corroborated by the
persuasive testimony of Judge Santiago who had the
opportunity of hearing Dawa's story soon after it had occurred
and the uninhibited retelling by the other complainants. Judge
Santiago, on her own accord, wrote a verified letter to the
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Court Administrator (Exhibits I, I-1 to I-7; Record; pp. 1724), wherein she narrated all that she knew of the different
incident. . . . . 11
xxx xxx xxx
2. Respondent has not proven any vicious motive for
complainants to invent their stories. It is highly improbable
that the three complainants would perjure themselves only to
accommodate Atty. Buencamino who may have had some real
or imagined resentment against respondent. Moreover, the
reason given by respondent for the ill will that Atty.
Buencamino felt against him is too superficial to genuinely
cause such malevolence, specially because it was Judge
Santiago who insisted on the relocation of Atty. Buencamino
so that her office could be used by the executive judge. 12
xxx xxx xxx
The fact that respondent was strict in requiring the employees
of the court to perform their duties and to observe office
hours and his prohibition against loitering and idleness in the
premises of the court is not enough to motivate [the] three
women
into
exposing
themselves
to
ridicule
and
chastisement, not to mention criminal prosecution, by relating
false stories that would also be derogatory to them.
Jorgensen may have entertained some hostility at
respondent's calling her attention to an anonymous letter
which mentioned her indiscretions with another employees of
the OCC who was also married. We are not convinced that
this would move her into fabricating a story as shocking as
the one she related under oath. . . . . 13
xxx xxx xxx
Respondent may have committed an error of judgment when
he misjudged the young Floride Dawa to be fair game. Feeling
perhaps that the nod Dawa gave him, when she saw him as
she was about to enter the comfort room, was an invitation,
he took advantage of the young maiden and forced himself on
her. Perhaps because Dawa was naive and innocent, she
panicked and became near hysterical prompting Carpio to
question her. This broke the dam, so to speak. When it
became known that Floride Dawa was going to file a case
against respondent, a slew of indignant women surfaced also
wanting to file charges against respondent for his many

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indiscretions. How many more remain who prefer to suffer


their humiliation in silence, we can only speculate. 14
3. Respondent's denials cannot overcome the probative value
of the positive assertions of complainants and their witnesses.
This is elementary. Neither were the negative observations of
respondent's witnesses sufficient to belie the complainants'
declarations. All his witnesses could attest to was that they
had not seen respondent do anything obscene to the
complainants nor to others. The fact that they did not see
such lewd acts is not proof that they did not occur specially so
because they were all done in the privacy of respondent's
chambers.15
xxx xxx xxx
PREMISES CONSIDERED and in line with the decisions in Junio
vs. Rivera, Jr., supra and Talens-Dabon vs. Arceo, supra, we
regretfully recommend that respondent be dismissed from the
service for gross misconduct and immorality, with forfeiture of
all retirement benefits and with prejudice to reemployment in
any branch of the government, including government owned
or controlled corporations. 16
The Court reviewed the entire record of the instant administrative case
and found the findings, conclusion and recommendation of the
investigating justice to be adequately substantiated by the evidence
presented by the parties and anchored on applicable law and
jurisprudence. Thus, with no need to rehash the reprehensible
indiscretions of the respondent judge, we adopt the conclusion and
recommendation of the investigating justice.
The people's confidence in the judicial system is founded not only on the
magnitude of legal knowledge and the diligence of the members of the
bench, but also on the highest standard of integrity and moral
uprightness they are expected to possess. 17 More than simply projecting
an image of probity, a judge must not only appear to be a "good judge";
he must also appear to be a "good person." 18 It is towards this
sacrosanct goal of ensuring the people's faith and confidence in the
judiciary that the Code of Judicial Conduct mandates the following:
CANON 1
A
JUDGE
SHOULD
UPHOLD
THE
INDEPENDENCE OF THE JUDICIARY.

INTEGRITY

AND

RULE 1.01. A judge should be the embodiment of


competence, integrity, and independence.
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xxx xxx xxx


CANON 2
A JUDGE SHOULD AVOID IMPROPRIETY AND
APPEARANCE OF IMPRORIETY IN ALL ACTIVITIES.

THE

RULE 2.02. A judge should so behave at all times as to


promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of
the judiciary.
The Canons of Judicial Ethics further provides: "A judge's official conduct
should be free from the appearance of impropriety, and his personal
behavior, not only upon the bench and in the performance of judicial
duties, but also in his everyday life, should be beyond reproach."
By the very nature of the bench, judges, more than the average man, are
required to observe an exacting standard of morality and decency. The
character of a judge is perceived by the people not only through his
official acts but also through his private morals, as reflected in his
external behavior. It is therefore paramount that a judge's personal
behavior, both in the performance of his duties and in his daily life, be
free from the appearance of impropriety as to be beyond reproach. 19 For
this reason, "[t]he Code dictates that a judge, in order to promote public
confidence in the judiciary, must behave with propriety at all
times." 20 This mandate has special import for municipal and metropolitan
trial court judges, like herein respondent, since they are the "front-liners"
of the judiciary who serve more people at the "grass-roots" level of
society. 21
In the present case, we find totally unacceptable the temerity of the
respondent judge in subjecting herein complainants, his subordinates all,
to his unwelcome sexual advances and acts of lasciviousness. Not only do
the actions of respondent judge fall short of the exacting standards for
members of the judiciary; they stand no chance of satisfying the
standards of decency even of society at large. His severely abusive and
outrageous acts, which are an affront to women, unmistakably constitute
sexual harassment because they necessarily ". . . result in an
intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment for theemployee[s]." 22 Let
it be remembered that respondent has moral ascendancy and authority
over complainants, who are mere employees of the court of which he is
an officer.
In view of the stature of respondent judge, as well as his authority and
official responsibility over the complainants, who were his subordinates in
the Metropolitan Trial Court of Caloocan City, the Court concludes with
moral certainty that he acted beyond the bounds of decency, morality and
propriety and violated the Code of Judicial Conduct. The bench is not a
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place for persons like him. His gross misconduct warrants his removal
from office. 23 In resolving this administrative matter, we deem it apt to
iterate our pronouncement in Talens-Dabon vs. Arceo, viz.:
Respondent has failed to measure up to these exacting
standards. He has behaved in a manner unbecoming of a
judge as a model of moral uprightness. He has betrayed the
people's high expectations and diminished the esteem in
which they hold the judiciary in general.
xxx xxx xxx
The actuations of respondent are aggravated by the fact that
the complainant is one of his subordinates over whom he
exercises control and supervision, he being the executive
judge. He took advantage of his position and power in order
to carry out his lustful and lascivious desires. Instead of being
in loco parentis over his subordinate employees, respondent
was the one who preyed on them, taking advantage of his
superior position. 24
WHEREFORE, Respondent Judge Armando C. de Asa is hereby DISMISSED
from the service for gross misconduct and immorality, with forfeiture of
all retirement benefits and leave credits and with prejudice to
reemployment in any branch of the government, including governmentowned or controlled corporations.
SO ORDERED.
Narvasa, C.J., Regalado, Davide, Jr., Romero, Bellosillo, Melo Puno, Vitug,
Kapunan, Mendoza, Panganiban, Martinez, Quisumbing and Purisima, JJ.,
concur.
7. A.M. No. 1906-MJ May 13, 1981
JOSEPHINE
LUCIO
vs.
Hon. CLARITO DEMAALA, respondent.

MANALO, complainant,

DE CASTRO, * J.:1wph1.t
This is an administrative case against above-named respondent with
respect to which the Court Administrator submitted a memorandum dated
8 January 1981, from which the following is quoted: 1wph1.t

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Municipal Judge Clarito Demaala of Aborlan, Palawan is


charged by Josephine Lucio-Manalo for alleged failure to pay a
contractual obligation amounting to P10,000.00.
Complainant alleged that in December 1972 she sold a Toyota
mini bus to respondent for P12,000.00. They agreed that
Judge Demaala will make a downpayment of P2.000.00
followed by ten (10) equal monthly installments of P1,000.00
beginning April 30, 1973. After respondent paid the P2,000.00
downpayment he did not pay a single centavo more despite
repeated demands. Later, she learned that Judge Demaala
sold the same vehicle to Leopoldo Socrates who assumed the
obligation of paying the complainant. Mrs. Manalo claimed
that she was not made a party to the aggrement between
Judge Demaala and Leopoldo Socrates.
On the other hand, respondent explained that he bought the
vehicle from complainant for and in the name of his daughter
Eden Demaala. He admitted the terms and conditions of the
sale as alleged by complainant. Respondent, however,
claimed that because the piston rings of the vehicle were
defective and the replacements sent by complainant were
oversized, the vehicle's operation as a public transportation
had to be stopped and subsequently, respondent's friend
Leopoldo Socrates, who was also operating a transportation
business, put the vehicle back in running condition, operated
it and assumed the obligation of paying Mrs. Manalo the
P10,000.00 through her brother Andres Lucio.
Executive Judge Eufrocinio S. dela Merced of the Court of First
Instance of Palawan, to whom this case was referred to for
investigation, reported: 1wph1.t
From the evidence presented and adduced during
the investigation, fact of sale of the Toyota Mini
Bus was not disputed even the price agreed upon
and the manner of payments of the balance after
the advance payment was made by the
respondent to the complainant was admitted by
the respondent Judge Demaala. However, he
alleged that there was a verbal conversation
condition agreed upon by them that he will duly
pay the installment payments if the said Toyota
Mini Bus was in good running condition. But this
was denied by the complainant and besides, the
respondent who was a knowledgeable person in
law, failed to placed the condition into writing. The
allegation that he spent another Two Thousand
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(P2,000.00) Pesos for the Toyota vehicle after he


bought and possessed it, has no legal basis for
under the law on sale of personal property, the
defect is at the buyer's risk (Article 1561 of the
New Civil Code) considering that the defects
pointed out were visible at the time of the sale.
Evidence for the respondent presented have
shown that the vehicle was used and after repair
of the body and repainted, the Toyota was used
for a year although not continuous (affidavit of
Leopoldo Socrates) as it also suffered troubles in
the engine.
Proponderantly, the complaint of Florante L.
Manalo and his wife Josephine Lucio Manalo
against Judge Clarito A. Demaala has been clearly
established both by documentary and oral
testimony. There is really a good cause of action
against the respondent Judge. But considering the
Counter-claim of the respondent regarding the
verbal conversation condition on the condition of
the vehicle after the sale, the prayer for the
respondent that the complainant brings this suit
to the Court so he can ventilate his claim is also
meritorious. For in this case, he believes that his
money claim cannot be given due course.
and recommended that respondent be "admonished to morraly attend to
his obligations for it is a just one where he profiled also. A Judge must not
consider himself above any ordinary citizen in the payment of a just and
moral obligation."
Presidential Decree No. 807, entitled "Providing for the Reorganization of
the Civil Service Commission in Accordance with the Provisions of the
Constitution, Prescribing its Powers and Functions and for Other Purpose,"
and otherwise known as the Civil Service Decree, provides in Section 36
(b) thereof: 1wph1.t
Sec. 36. Discipline General Provisions. (a) No officer or
employee in the Civil Service shall be suspended or dismissed
except for cause as provided by law and after due process.
(b) The following shall be grounds for disciplinary action:
xxx xxx xxx1wph1.t
(22) Willful failure to pay just debts or willful
failure to pay taxes due to the government.
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With respondent's admission of the existence and justness of his


indebtedness and willful failure to pay the same, disciplinary
administrative action is warranted. 1 Respondent's alleged "counter-claim"
and explanation may not be considered satisfactory, considering that the
aforesaid indebtedness has up to this time been unsettled after a period
of over eight (8) years since December 1972, the date when the
agreement of sale was entered into.
Neither does it appear that the respondent has taken steps to settle his
indebtedness in accordance with the agreement of sale he entered into, in
spite of his affidavit of 16 January 1973, 2 acknowledging his
indebtedness to complainant "in the amount of TEN THOUSAND PESOS
(P10,000.00), Philippine currency" and binding himself to pay the
complainant in "the amount of not less than ONE THOUSAND PESOS
every end of the month" effective 30 April 1973 until the abovementioned
amount of Ten Thousand Pesos will be fully paid, even up to as late as the
filing of this complaint on 5 November 1977. The fact of the non-filing of a
civil case for collection against the respondent is no bar to this
administrative proceeding, the trust of which is directed at respondent's
actuations as unbecoming of a public official, specially of a member of the
bench, for the Court action does not exculpate the respondent from
administrative liability. 3
It cannot be overemphasized that respondent's willful failure to pay his
just debt is unbecoming of a public official and is a ground for disciplinary
action against him, including suspension from the service. 4 It may not be
amiss to state that respondent, like any other member of the Judiciary, is
"expected to be a model of uprightness, fairness and honesty not only in
all his official conduct but also in his personal actuations, including
business and commercial transactions" 5 and avoid any act or conduct
that would be a bane to. and an emasculation of, the public trust and
confidence reposed on the Judiciary.
WHEREFORE, respondent Judge Clarito Demaala is hereby suspended
from office for a period of three (3) months without pay, and is directed
to pay the complainant, Josephine Lucio Manalo, the amount of ONE
THOUSAND (P1,000) PESOS every month until the entire balance of TEN
THOUSAND (10,000) PESOS is fully paid. Respondent is further enjoined
to pay his just debts when they become due.
SO ORDERED.
Teehankee Chairman Makasiar, Fernandez Guerrero, and MelencioHerrera JJ., concur.
1w ph1.t

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8. G.R. No. L-26826

August 29, 1969

BALDOMERO
S.
LUQUE, petitioner,
vs.
JUDGE UNION C. KAYANAN, in his capacity as Presiding Judge of
Branch IV of the Court of First Instance of Quezon Province and
Lucena City, respondent.
Baldomero
S.
Luque
in
his
own
behalf
as
Judge Union C. Kayanan in his own behalf as respondent.

petitioner.

SANCHEZ, J.:
Upon the averment that respondent judge is without authority and is
disqualified to act, petitioner comes to this Court on prohibition and
mandamus to stop the judge, presiding over Branch IV, Court of First
Instance of Quezon, from taking cognizance of, and to require him to
return to Branch I of the same court, Civil Case 4871, 1 in which
petitioner, a member of the Bar, is one of the defendants and crossdefendants. And this, because petitioner's original petition for the same
purpose was thwarted by the Court of Appeals.
The better to understand this case, it is necessary to narrate in some
detail the events that transpired between petitioner Baldomero S. Luque
and respondent Judge Union C. Kayanan that spawned the legal
controversy now before us.
Judge Union C. Kayanan's oath of office described his position as "Judge,
CFI of Quezon Prov. and Lucena City Branch IV, with Station at
Calauag." On August 13, 1965, by Administrative Order 268, he was
authorized "in addition to his regular duties, to hold court in Lucena City,
effective September 1, 1965, or as soon thereafter as practicable, for the
purpose of trying all kinds of cases and to enter judgments therein." By
virtue of this order, Judge Kayanan proceeded to hold court sessions in
Lucena City on September 21, 1965 in addition to his duty to attend to
case filed at Calauag, Quezon. On December 1, 1965, Administrative
Order 425 came out with the same authority,i.e., "to hold court in Lucena
City, effective December 1, 1965, or as soon thereafter as practicable, for
the purpose of trying all kinds of cases and to enter judgments therein."
All these administrative orders had for their source of authority Section 56
of the Judiciary Act of 1948. 2
Turning back to the case before us, on April 15, 1948, Civil Case 4871
was commenced in the Court of First Instance of Quezon by Bibiano Ilao,
Natalio A. Enriquez and Susana Enriquez against Florencio Ona,
Baldomero Luque (petitioner herein), Andrea Africano, Enriqueta Castillo,
and Romeo, Adelaida, Clarito, all surnamed Baldeo. Plaintiffs therein
sought to set aside the April 17, 1944 decision in Civil Cases 6 and 26 of
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the Court of First Instance of Quezon approving the parties' April 15, 1944
compromise agreement which allegedly was procured thru duress and
intimidation, and questioned Luque's attorneys' fees as counsel for
Sinforoso Ona in said cases. Enriqueta Castillo, in the same Civil Case
4871, filed a cross-claim against petitioner Baldomero Luque and others.
By notice of hearing dated October 7, 1965, Civil Case 4871 was set for
trial on November 5, 1965 before Branch I of the Court of First Instance
of Quezon at Lucena City, presided over by Judge Gabriel Valero. It was
on November 5, 1965 that Judge Kayanan first took cognizance of said
Civil Case 4871. According to plaintiffs' attorney in the case below, 3 on
November 5, 1965, at 8:30 in the morning, he found that Civil Case 4871
"was not included in the calendar of cases scheduled for Branch I"; that
"he looked up the calendar of the other sala," and finding his case there,
he thus appeared therein. The "other sala" is that of Judge Kayanan.
Defendant and cross-defendant Baldomero S. Luque (petitioner herein)
was absent therein. Going by petitioner's version, he was at Branch I
"where he should be"; after he was informed by Judge Gabriel Valero
hearing cases at Branch I that Civil Case 4871 was in Branch IV, he
proceeded to said branch but was informed by a clerk that respondent
Judge Kayanan had already left for Manila.
Respondent judge's order of November 5 was prefaced by the following
words: "When this case was called today for hearing, neither the counsel
for the defendants and cross-claimant as well as counsel for the crossdefendant appeared." That order reset the hearing for December 1, 1965
at 8:30 in the morning. Petitioner submits to be inaccurate that part of
the order that says that he did not appear. Because, so he says, he was
there in court, although at Branch I.
The next pertinent order by respondent judge was made on January 31,
1966, which set the case for hearing on February 28, 1966. This last
mentioned date was admittedly erroneous because the parties agreed on
January 31, 1966 to reset the hearing for March 8.
At the start of the hearing on February 28, 1966, petitioner was present,
the other parties absent. Counsel for plaintiffs came 20 minutes late; he
got wind of the hearing on that date after he left the other sala attending
to another case. He thought all along that the case was to be heard on
March 8. Another order of the same date (February 28) reset the case for
March 8, as originally scheduled.
Before the March 8 hearing, petitioner sent by registered mail on March 3
(received by the court on March 7) a motion for postponment. He did not
appear on March 8. This prompted the court to order the resetting of the
hearing to March 23; but the court also directed petitioner Baldomero S.
Luque and another attorney for defendants in "twenty-four (24) hours

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upon receipt hereof, to explain why they should not be cited for
contempt."
Petitioner again decries that this order is wrong because his explanation
on in writing was already made in his motion for postponement; and that
furthermore since his motion for postponement was dated May 3, not May
7 as stated in the order, said motion was not in violation of the three-day
rule. Be that as may, the explanation in writing thereafter made by
petitioner was considered satisfactory by respondent judge.
On March 18, 1966, petitioner lodged a motion to dismiss the case upon
the ground of estoppel. Respondent judge on April 12, 1966 denied this
motion for the reason that estoppel is not one of the rounds for a motion
to dismiss under the Rules of Court.
On April 11, 1966, petitioner moved to disqualify respondent judge from
the case, alleging that:
Judge Union C. Kayanan doctored the records of this case in that he
suppressed the TRUE and GENUINE proceedings had in open Court
of February 28, 1966 (1) that the undersigned defendant moved to
dismiss this case; (2) that this case was set for hearing on March
21, 1966; and (3) that the undersigned defendant was ordered to
make his motion to dismiss in writing and to set it for hearing also
on March 21, 1966.
He also doctored the records by issuing an Order defending the
plaintiffs, and in which it is stated that it was given in open Court
although it can no longer be legally done, because after the case
was called and the parties have left, as this case was already called
and I had already left, the Court can no longer legally issue any
order in open Court.
The said doctorings of the records of this case are serious. If they
were done in the past days, then they may be done again in the
coming days, unless Judge Kayanan is disqualified to continue to
hear and to act on this case.
The Order about those TRUE and GENUINE proceedings was not
issued by Judge Kayanan. In other words, they were doctored by
suppressing them. When I was in Court on March 23, 1966, for a
hearing of this case, I looked at the records, and I found that there
was none.
But the records were again doctored, by the issuance of an UNTRUE
and an UNGENUINE Order dated February 28, 1966, copy of which I
received on March 15, 1966, in which the plaintiffs were defended
and which stated it was given in open Court, although after a case
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was already called and the parties had left, the Court can no longer
legally issue an order in open Court. In this case, on the date, this
case had already been called and I had already left after a TRUE
and GENUINE order was issued in open Court.
Why? Instead, Judge Kayanan issued the aforequoted UNTRUE and
UNGENUINE Order of February 28, 1966 in defense of the plaintiffs
and their attorney.
So it is conclusive that there are gross ERRORS in the Order of
March 8, 1966. Probably they were due either to gross
incompetence or that they were deliberately made so that there
could be a basis for requiring me to explain within 24 hours why I
should not be cited for contempt.
But considering that more anomalies followed, there is now reason
to believe that the anomalies committed are intentional.1wph1.t
The foregoing series of anomalies show the evident bias and
partiality of Judge Union C. Kayanan in favor of the plaintiffs and
against me, which will prevent him from resolving the questions in
this case with impartiality and solely on the merits.
On April 12, 1966, petitioner was again ordered by respondent judge to
explain why he should not be cited for contempt of court for "using clearly
insolent, disrespectful, and contemptuous language therein, which
insinuations or imputations are highly derogatory and served nothing but
to discredit the judge presiding this Court in an attempt to secure his
disqualification, considering that they have no basis in truth and in fact
and palpably unwarranted, in violation of the Canons of Professional
Ethics and Rule 71 of the Rules of Court." Petitioner's explanation was
filed on April 21, 1966.
On April 26, 1966, respondent judge declared the explanation to be
unsatisfactory, adjudged petitioner in direct contempt, and sentenced the
latter to pay a fine of P100 "to be remitted to the Clerk of Court not later
than May 3, 1966," the next scheduled hearing of the case, or upon
failure or refusal to pay, to five (5) days' imprisonment in the provincial
jail. A copy of this order does not appear to have been received by
petitioner before May 3, 1966.
On April 30, 1966, petitioner registered with this Court a petition for
impeachment of respondent judge. 4 On June 27, 1966, this Court
dismissed the same for lack of merit.
In the meantime, at the hearing of May 3, 1966, respondent judge asked
petitioner to withdraw his pleading moving for respondent judge's
disqualification. Petitioner refused. Thereupon, the judge asked if
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petitioner was going to pay the fine or not. Petitioner informed the court
that he had not received copy of any order sentencing him for contempt
and that he had a right to move for reconsideration after receipt of a copy
of such order. It was at this juncture that the judge verbally ordered a
guard to commit petitioner to jail (according to respondent judge, he
instructed the guard to detain petitioner merely at the Office of the
Warden). Petitioner was restrained of his liberty for two hours from 10:00
o'clock a.m. to 12:00 o'clock p.m., at which time the judge reconsidered
his verbal order of commitment and set petitioner free with the following
order: "Acting on the oral manifestation of defendant Atty. Baldomero S.
Luque to the effect that up to this date he has not received the Order of
this Court dated April 26, 1966, the Order of his Commitment to the
Provincial Jail at Lucena City is hereby held in abeyance until after said
defendant shall have received a copy thereof and given a chance to
explain why the said Order shall not be carried out."
The petition to disqualify respondent judge was denied by the latter on
the same day, May 3, 1966, as follows: "It appearing that there is neither
a legal nor moral ground to disqualify the Presiding Judge of this Court in
hearing this case, the Petition to disqualify the trial Judge by defendant
Baldomero S. Luque is hereby denied. Reset the hearing of this case on
June 7, 1966."
On July 26, 1966, following a series of pleadings, respondent judge
signed an order which in part reads:
The defendant, Atty. Baldomero Luque insists that the Presiding
Judge of this Court should not try this case for which he requests
that he be given one (1) month from today within which to file his
Petition of either Certiorari or Prohibition, so that he again requests
for postponement, which is not objected to by the other counsel, if
only to settle this issue once and for all and to afford said defendant
all conceivable remedies he may choose to take advantage of.
Unless said defendant secures a restraining order from the Supreme
Court, the trial shall proceed definitely on September 6 and 9,
1966, at 9 a.m. and the Court will not countenance any further
postponement. ... .
Petitioner next went to the Court of Appeals with a petition for prohibition
and mandamus with preliminary injunction,5 praying, inter alia, for the
return of Civil Case 4871 to Branch I of the Quezon Court of First
Instance. On September 9, 1966, the Court of Appeals dismissed the
petition. Petitioner's move to reconsider was thwarted by the Court of
Appeals' resolution of October 10, 1966. The Court of Appeals, through a
reasoned resolution of October 26, 1966, denied petitioner's second
motion for reconsideration.

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Petitioner then came to this Court on November 14, 1966 on appeal


by certiorari with a prayer for preliminary injunction. We gave due course
on November 17, 1966 and directed the issuance of a preliminary
injunction upon a P1,000-bond.
Having received the foregoing resolution on November 22, 1966,
petitioner on the same day telegraphed respondent judge asking that the
case be held in abeyance because this Court gave due course to his
petition and that he was filing the injunction bond the day following.
Notwithstanding the receipt of the foregoing telegram, on November 23,
1966 respondent judge denied postponement and directed that trial on
the merits proceed.
As it turned out, respondent judge cancelled the succeeding hearings he
set for the case after receiving the preliminary injunction of this
Court.1wph1.t
We treat the case before us as an original petition for certiorari,
prohibition and mandamus. Enough averments there are in the petition
and the return to do so. 6
1. This case presents an unedifying picture of animosity, hostility and bad
blood between petitioner, a lawyer and party defendant and crossdefendant, and respondent, a judge. From the events that occurred in the
court below, we gather the impression that the courtroom had been
converted into an arena of recriminations between the two. Opprobrious
language has been employed by both.
It is the duty of both counsel and judge to maintain, not to destroy, the
high esteem and regard for courts. Any act on the part of one or the other
that tends to undermine the people's respect for, and confidence in, the
administration of justice is to be avoided. And this, even if both may have
to restrain pride from taking the better part of their system. To be
expected then of petitioner and respondent is a sense of shared
responsibility, a crucial factor in the administration of justice. And yet lack
thereof is painfully apparent in the record of this case. It would appear
that both petitioner and respondent were seized by a kind of ennui which
immobilizes the sense of proportion of men trapped in situations where
emotion runs loose.
2. A lawyer is an officer of court. Canon I of the Canons of Professional
Ethics enjoins him "to maintain towards the Courts a respectful attitude,
not for the sake of the temporary incumbent of the judicial office, but for
the maintenance of its supreme importance." When a lawyer goes past
respectful disagreement with the judge and enters into the forbidden area
of uncontrolled criticism, he trenches upon this canon.

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Let us look into the language employed by petitioner. Petitioner, in his


motion to disqualify respondent judge, charged that the latter had
"suppressed the true and genuine proceedings" and had "doctored the
records" in reference to what took place in court on February 28, 1966;
that the other order of March 8, 1966 was either due to gross
incompetence or deliberately made as a basis for requiring him to explain
within 24 hours why he should not be cited for contempt.
Suppression of the true and genuine proceedings is a charge serious
enough. Doctoring is no less grave. The word "doctored" connotes a
deliberate act to conceal the truth. But then, the mere omission in the
order of February 28 of the facts that petitioner moved to dismiss the
case, that petitioner was ordered to make his motion to dismiss in writing,
and that the motion was set for hearing on March 21, 1966, in our
opinion, are not serious enough to warrant the use of the word
"doctored." As thus explained by respondent judge, there was a mere
mistake; there was no purpose to mislead. Petitioner could have suffered
exasperation at respondent's order to show cause why he should not be
held in contempt of court for failure to appear at the trial of March 8. We
do say that a lawyer may be under a trying ordeal; he may have a
grievance. But he should not give vent to his feelings by employing in a
pleading language which is crude. Refinement in language is a trait ideal
in the relations between man and man, between lawyer and judge.
Undignified language rarely escapes reproof from courts of justice. It
would accordingly be but a demonstration of lack of discipline and selfrestraint for a lawyer to characterize a judge's actions with some such
words as "doctored," "fabrications" or "distortion of truth." 7
A lawyer must at all times comport himself with respect to judicial
officers. This is so necessary to the orderly administration of justice. The
person of the judge is immaterial. While a "lawyer possesses the privilege
of standing up for his rights even in the face of a hostile court," 8 he
should not be given to intemperate outbursts which only tend to promote
distrust in the administration of justice. Failure of respect is failure of
duty. Petitioner's conduct deserves reprobation.
3. Neither has respondent placed himself on a higher plane.
The judge has been displaying impatience and anger at petitioner.
Petitioner claims that when he refused to pay the fine for contempt of
court, the judge angrily barked at a guard to commit him to jail; that at
one instance, respondent judge irately told him, "I will have you
disbarred"; 9 that at the July 26 hearing, respondent judge would not give
him leeway to speak in court, interrupting him and continuing to say
things against him in a derisive tone and in a humiliating and abusive
manner that respondent judge even said: "Why don't you want me to
hear and decide this case? Just because you are older you want to impose
your will on this Court"; 10 that after the judge became tired of talking,
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the judge told petitioner, who was not given a chance to speak fully:
"That is enough, sit down," and strongly, banged the gavel. 11 These are
not seriously disputed.
Really, from the manner respondent judge answered the petition before
us, it would seem that he has lost his composure, has been emotionally
unstrung. He had not been sparing in his language either. The members
of this Court feel that as befits his exalted position, a District Judge is
expected to measure his words. The following from page 5 of
respondent's answer before this Court is quite revealing:
... . For the poor taste of Petitioner to deduce that we have
"doctored" the records just for a simple mistake in the date of
hearing, which is sometimes inevitable and not our own making,
is sheer deviltry and plain cussedness, 12 nay a display of little, if
not lack of, respect to the authority on the bench. ... .
Timely to be recalled here is the following from Ysasi vs. Hon. Jose F.
Fernandez, viz.: "We prefer to think that restraint still is a trait desirable
in those who dispense justice." 13
Petitioner and respondent judge are really at loggerheads with each
other; hostility runs deep. This situation is, indeed, unfortunate. But it is
in this context that we now view the position of respondent judge in this
case.
While it is true that upon the facts thus far recited, and under Section 1,
Rule 137 of the Rules of Court, 14respondent judge may not be legally
disqualified from hearing Civil Case 4871, still it may not be amiss to
repeat what we have said not so long ago in Pimentel vs. Salanga (1967),
21 SCRA 160, 167-168, as follows:
All the foregoing notwithstanding, this should be a good occasion as
any to draw attention of all judges to appropriate guidelines in a
situation where their capacity to try and decide a case fairly and
judiciously comes to the fore by way of challenge from any one of
the parties. A judge may not be legally prohibited from sitting in a
litigation. But when suggestion is made of record that he might be
induced to act in favor of one party or with bias or prejudice against
a litigant arising out of circumstances reasonably capable of inciting
such a state of mind, he should conduct a careful self-examination.
He should exercise his discretion in a way that the people's faith in
the courts of justice is not impaired. A salutary norm is that he
reflect on the probability that a losing party might nurture at the
back of his mind the thought that the judge had unmeritoriously
tilted the scales of justice against him. That passion on the part of a
judge may be generated because of serious charges of misconduct
against him by a suitor or his counsel is not altogether remote. He
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is a man, subject to the frailties of other men. He should, therefore,


exercise great care and caution before making up his mind to act or
withdraw from a suit where that party or counsel is involved. He
could in good grace inhibit himself where that case could be heard
by another judge and where no appreciable prejudice would be
occasioned to others involved therein. On the result of his decisions
to sit or not to sit may depend to a great extent the all-important
confidence in the impartiality of the judiciary. If after reflection he
should resolve to voluntarily desist from sitting in a case where his
motives or fairness might be seriously impugned, his action is to be
interpreted as giving meaning and substance to the second
paragraph of Section 1, Rule 137. He serves the cause of the law
who forestalls miscarriage of justice.
Very recently, on May 6, 1969, in Buenaventura
Administrative Case. 137, we resolved the following:

vs.

Benedicto,

Upon consideration of the motion for reconsideration praying that


the resolution of this Court of January 29, 1969 be reconsidered and
that respondent judge be ordered to inhibit himself from hearing
Civil Case No. 300 of the Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija and
considering that the issues, in said Civil Case No. 300 apparently
are the same as those in Criminal Case No. 420, respondent's
actuations in which is the subject of the present administrative
case, and while technically, respondent judge may not be compelled
to inhibit himself from sitting in the trial of Civil Case No. 300 upon
the provisions of Section 1 of Rule 137 of the Rules of Court; but
that nonetheless having in mind that a litigant is entitled to nothing
less than the cold neutrality of an impartial judge and that whatever
action may be taken by the respondent judge in said Civil Case No.
300 may be subject to interpretation not conducive to faith in courts
of justice: the Court RESOLVED to express its view that the ends of
justice will better subserved if respondent judge should inhibit
himself from hearing Civil Case No. 300 aforesaid. 15
All suitors, we must say, are entitled to nothing short of the cold
neutrality of an independent, wholly-free, disinterested and impartial
tribunal. 16 It has been said that "next in importance to the duty of
rendering a righteous judgment is that of doing it in such a manner as will
beget no suspicion of the fairness and integrity of the judge." 17Let it not
be said that the administration of justice in this country suffers from too
many human imperfections. To our mind, respondent judge should inhibit
himself since it has become apparent that his further continuance in Case
4871 would not be in the best interest of justice, which he is bound to
serve.
4. But consideration of the petition herein does not end here. There is the
order of respondent judge of November 23, 1966 issued after the
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herein petition was lodged with this Court. Said order came about, thus:
On November 17, 1966, this Court gave due course to the present
petition, directed that cease-and-desist order issue upon a P1,000-bond.
Notice of this resolution reached petitioner only on November 22. That
same day November 22, petitioner wired respondent judge informing the
latter that the herein petition was given due course and that he would file
the necessary injunction bond the following day. That telegram reads:
"Respectfully reiterate motion hold abeyance hearing Case No. 4871,
Ilaw, et al. vs. Ona, et al. Stop Supreme Court gave due course petition
certiorari G.R. No. L-26826 Stop injunction bond filed tomorrow.
Baldomero S. Luque, Defendant." It will be recalled that respondent judge
received the telegram on November 23.
He held sessions on that day. When he received that telegram from
petitioner, caution should have suggested to respondent to first ascertain
from this Court as to whether or not the petition herein was really given
due course and injunction granted if he doubted the veracity of the
telegram. But he did not. Right away, he disbelieved petitioner.
Here is what respondent judge in part said in his order of November 23,
1966:
After hearing the views of counsel for the plaintiffs and for other
defendants as well as cross-claimant in connection with the Petition
for Certiorari filed by defendant Atty. Baldomero S. Luque before
the Supreme Court on November 14, 1966, as well as his pleading
entitled "Special Appearance to Move for Holding Hearing in
Abeyance," received on November 22, 1966, coupled with the
telegram he sent which we received only today reiterating his
motion to hold in abeyance again the hearing of this crime on the
alleged ground that the Supreme Court gave due course to the
petition without furnishing us a copy of the order, the Court is of the
considered opinion that in order to protect the interests of all
concerned who are desirous to terminate this case as soon as
practicable since it has been pending way back in April, 1948, and
to assert the dignity of the Court, we are constrained to proceed to
the trial on the merits after several postponements at the behest of
defendant Atty. Luque, evidently intended as dilatory tactics. We
share the view of all counsel that the petition for certiorari before
the Supreme Court without including the Court of Appeals as corespondent is patently irregular, and we have grave doubts whether
the Supreme Court, with due respect, will give this petition due
course. At any rate, since there is no restraining order from a
higher court, as previously understood, and if only to appear
consistent to our repeated orders that we shall not countenance any
further postponement, there is no course of action left for us to take
but to proceed to trial in the exercise of our discretion. ... .

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This order of November 23 is plainly indicative of the judge's frame of


mind. It is evident that petitioner has not merely fallen in his disfavor;
respondent judge had by then formed a hardened idea that petitioner is
incapable of telling the truth. Respondent judge should have taken stock
of the fact that petitioner, besides being an attorney, is also a party
defendant and cross-defendant in Civil Case 4871. The fate of that case
mainly hinges upon whether or not the compromise agreement entered
into in Civil Cases Nos. 6 and 26 of the Court of First Instance of Quezon
were obtained through duress and intimidation. It is quite reasonable to
assume that the petitioner as defendant in the case before respondent
judge would take the stand. For, counsel had a hand in that compromise
agreement. Respondent, too, must meet the evidence against him on the
cross-complaint. Is it farfetched then to say that if Case 4871 is to be
heard before respondent judge, there is a great probability that His Honor
would not give petitioner's testimony the credit that nominally should be
given to it?
The factual setting of the "present case goes beyond that in Pimentel vs.
Salanga, supra. There, petitioner, counsel in a number of cases, sought
the judge's disqualification in said cases, because counsel was
complainant in an administrative case against respondent judge upon
averments of "serious misconduct, inefficiency in office, partiality,
ignorance of the law and incompetence." 18 Here, complainant is not
merely an attorney but also a defendant and cross-defendant.
In Pimentel, "[n]o act or conduct of his (respondent judge) would show
arbitrariness or prejudice." 19 There, whether or not petitioner's clients
would get a fair trial was still in the speculative stage. Here, the case
went farther. Respondent's prejudice against a suitor has concretely
manifested itself. The animosity between respondent judge and petitioner
a party to the case below, had developed through a long period of time,
became patent in the order of November 23, 1966, and is even evident in
this case before this Court. By now, it is quite difficult to take out of
petitioner's mind the impression that he cannot get a fair trial from
respondent judge.
In the circumstances presented, we are constrained to state that
respondent's taking cognizance of said case does not square with our
sense of justice. It is to be stressed once again that parties have a right
to have their cases tried fairly by an impartial tribunal.
It is because of all of these that we rule that it would be a grave abuse of
discretion on the part of respondent judge to further take cognizance of
Civil Case 4871.
5. But another reason as potent exists why respondent judge should not
be insulated from the charge of abuse of discretion in taking cognizance
of Case 4871. It is that respondent judge got hold of that case under
circumstances which were far from regular.
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Of course, it must be conceded that respondent judge of Branch IV had


authority to hold court in Lucena City for the purpose of trying all kinds of
cases and entering judgments therein. But the fact is that Case 4871 had
beenpreviously assigned and belonged to Branch I. Precisely, the formal
notice to the parties for the hearing scheduled for November 5, 1965, in
plain terms, states that "the above-entitled case will be heard in the 1st
Branch of this Court." 20 But when the case came up for hearing on
November 5, 1965, this Case 4871 no longer appeared in the calendar of
cases corresponding to Branch I. We are confronted by information put
forward by petitioner in his reply to respondent's answer, dated
November 24, 1966 (which was made complete on January 4, 1967), that
on November 5, 1965 "Judge Valero did not fail to report, but on the
contrary, he reported early on November 5, 1965 in his Branch I in
Lucena City and he called up a high pile of cases that day." 21 He
appended as Annex A to his printed memorandum filed on February 8,
1967, a certification coming from Deputy Clerk Pedro B. Zara that "Hon.
Gabriel V. Valero held Court sessions on November 5, 1965 at the City of
Lucena, Capital of this province." In the face of these averments, we find
respondent judge standing mute. He has made no effort to deny that
Judge Gabriel Valero was in Lucena City On November 5, 1965 hearing
cases for Branch I. He had two opportunities to deny the same before us,
after petitioner twice once in petitioner's said reply and then on pages
24-25 of his printed memorandum represented this point of fact. The
judge waived his right to oral argument and to the submission of his
memorandum. That he did not refute the proffered fact just mentioned
we consider very significant.
We have to give due credence to petitioner's assertion of fact not only
because it is unrebutted on record and supported by an official
certification, but also because it is corroborated by the narration of facts
given by the attorney for the other side the plaintiffs in the case
below. It will be recalled that, as earlier stated, plaintiffs' attorney came
to court that day November 5, 1965 and found that Case 4871 was
not included in the list of cases to be heard by Branch I but was included
in the calendar of the "the other sala." Implicit from the foregoing is that
on November 5 there was a list of cases for Branch I which did not include
Case 4871, as should be the case, for Case 4871 properly belonged to
Branch I.
Upon the other hand, the explanation given by respondent judge does not
appear to be reasonable. It is contrary to the facts. It surely is not in
keeping with the sound administration of justice for a judge of a branch of
a court to take for himself a case belonging to another branch of the
same court without justifiable reason therefor. Such a procedure breeds
confusion. It could even be suspect. It opens up a charge such as here
presented that respondent has demonstrated "unusual interest" in this

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case and refused to return it to Branch I in spite of petitioner's move for


the purpose. 22
One important judicial norm is that "[a] judge's official conduct should be
free from the appearance of impropriety."23 A creed to which a judge is
hidebound is, in the words of the preamble of the Canons of Professional
Ethics, that: "The future of the Republic, to a great extent, depends upon
our maintenance of Justice pure and unsullied."
In the factual environment just presented we hold that respondent judge
also committed a grave abuse of discretion in taking cognizance of Civil
Case No. 4871 of the Court of First Instance of Quezon. He should,
therefore, be prohibited from hearing the same.
For the reasons given
(1) the writs of certiorari, prohibition and mandamus are hereby
granted;
(2) the proceedings taken by respondent judge in Civil Case 4871 of
the Court of First Instance of Quezon are hereby declared null and
void;
(3) respondent judge is hereby directed to refrain from taking
cognizance of said Civil Case 4871;
(4) the preliminary injunction heretofore issued by this Court is
hereby made permanent;
(5) respondent judge is hereby, directed to return Civil Case 4871
of the Court of First Instance of Quezon to Branch I; and
(6) we admonish petitioner, Atty. Baldomero S. Luque, for his use
of improper language with a warning that repetition thereof will be
dealt with accordingly; and we direct that copy of this decision be
attached to his record in this Court, as a member of the Bar.
No costs allowed. So ordered.1wph1.t
Concepcion, C.J., Dizon, Makalintal, Castro,
Teehankee,
and
Barredo,
Reyes, J.B.L., and Zaldivar, JJ., are on leave.

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Fernando,
JJ.,

Capistrano,
concur.

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9. G.R. Nos. L-41213-14 October 5, 1976


JORGE P. TAN, JR., CESAR TAN, LIBRADO SODE TEOFANIS
BONJOC, OSMUNDO TOLENTINO and MARIANO
BARTIDO, petitioners,
vs.
JUDGE PEDRO GALLARDO, in his capacity as Presiding Judge of
Circuit Criminal Court, 13th Judicial District, Tacloban City, and
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.
Pelaez, Jalandoni & Adriano for petitioner Jorge P. Tan, Jr.
K.V. Faylona & Associates for petitioner Cesar Tan.
Ruperto Kapunan, Jr. for petitioner Teofanis Bondoc.
Amadeo Seno, Artemio Derecho & Manuel Quimbo for petitioners Librado
Isode, Osmundo, Tolentino and Mariano Bartido.
Solicitor General Estilito P. Mendoza, Assistant Solicitor General Alicia
Simpio-Diy and Solicitor Eduardo L. Kilayko for respondents.
Estanislao A. Fernandez and Dakila F. Castro & Associate as private
prosecutors.

ANTONIO, J.:
In this Special Civil Action for certiorari with Prohibition, petitioners seek
the annulment of respondent Judge's Orders in Criminal Cases Nos. CCC
XIII-50-L-S'72 and CCC-XIII-51-L-S'72, 1 to wit: (a) Order of July 21,
1975, denying petitioners' motion for respondent Judge to disqualify or to
inhibit himself from hearing and acting upon their Motion for New Trial
and/or Reconsideration and Supplemental Motion for New Trial; (b) Order
of July 23, 1975, denying petitioners' Motion for New Trial and/or
Reconsidertion and Supplemental Motion for New Trial; and (c) Order of
July 25, 1975, ordering the transfer of the accused (petitioners herein)
from Camp Bumpus PC headquarters, Tacloban city, to the Nationial
Penitentiary, New Bilibid Prisons, Muntinlupa, Rizal. It is likewise sought,
by way of prohibition, to compel respondent Judge to desist from further
proceeding with the afore-mentioned criminal cases.
By Resolution of this Court dated August 27, 1975, the respondent Judge
was required to file his answer within ten (10) days from notice, and in
connection therewith, a temporary restraining order was issued to enjoin
the respondent from further proceeding with the afore-mentioned criminal
cases. The petition was subsequently amended to include the People of
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the Philippines and thereafter, on January 14, 1976, the Solicitor General,
on behalf of the People of the Philippines, submitted his Comment to the
petition. The Solicitor General informed this Court, thus: that they are
"persuaded that there are bases for stating that the rendition of
respondent Judge's decision and his resolution on the motion for new trial
were not free from suspicion of bias and prejudice ... . Considering the
circumstances of the instant case, the seriousness of the charges and
counter-charges and the nature of the evidence on hand to support them,
we feel that respondent Judge "appeared to have been heedless of the
oft-reiterated admonition addressed to trial judges to avoid even the
impression of the guilt or innocence of the accused being dependent on
prejudice or prejudgment" and, therefore, it was the submission of said
official "that the case should he remanded to the trial court for the
rendition of a new decision and with instruction to receive additional
evidence proferred by the accused with the right of the prosecution to
present rebuttal evidence as inay be warranted" and, therefore, they
interpose no objection to the remand of the aforementioned criminal
cases "for the rendition of a new decision by another trial judge, after the
parties shall have adduced such additional evidence as they may wish to
make, under such terms and conditions as this Honorable Court may
deem fit to impose. 2
On January 30, 1976, private prosecutors submitted their Comment in
justification of the challenged Orders of the respondent Judge and
objected to the remand of this case.
On February 12, 1976, the petitioners moved to strike out the "Motion to
Admit Attacked Comment" and the "Comment" of the private prosecutor
on the ground that the latter has "absolutely no standing in the instant
proceedings before this Honorable Court and, hence, without any
personality to have any paper of his entertained by this Tribunal.
The private prosecutors now contend that they are entitled to appear
before this Court, to take part in the proceedings, and to adopt a position
in contravention to that of the Solicitor General.
The issue before Us is whether or not the private prosecutors have the
right to intervene independently of the Solicitor General and to adopt a
stand inconsistent with that of the latter in the present proceedings.
There are important reasons which support the view that in the present
proceedings, the private prosecutors cannot intervene independently of
and take a position inconsistent with that of the Solicitor General.
To begin with, it will be noted that the participation of the private
prosecution in the instant case was delimited by this Court in its
Resolution of October 1, 1975, thus: "to collaborate with the Solicitor
General in the preparation of the Answer and pleadings that may be
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required by this Court." To collaborate means to cooperate with and to


assist the Solicitor General. It was never intended that the private
prosecutors could adopt a stand independent of or in contravention of the
position taken by the Solicitor General.
There is no question that since a criminal offense is an outrage to the
sovereignty of the State, it is but natural that the representatives of the
State should direct and control the prosecution. As stressed in Suarez v.
Platon, et al., 3the prosecuting officer "is the representative not of. an
ordinary party to a controversy, but of a sovereignty whose obligation to
govern impartially is as compelling as its obligation to govern at all; and
whose interest, therefore, in a criminal prosecution is not that it shall win
a case, but that justice shall be done. As such, he is in a peculiar and very
definite sense the servant of the law, the twofold aim of which is that guilt
shall not escape or innocence suffer. He may prosecute with earnestness
and vigorindeed, he should do so. But, while he may strike hard blows,
he is not at liberty to strike foul ones. It is as much his duty to refrain
from improper methods calculated to produce a wrongful conviction as it
is to use every legitimate means to bring about a just one." Thus, it was
stressed in People v. Esquivel, et al., 4 that there is an absolute necessity
for prosecuting attorneys to lay "before the court the pertinent facts at
their disposal with methodical and meticulous attention, clarifying
contradictions and filling up gaps and loopholes in their evidence, to the
end that the court's mind may not be tortured by doubts, that the
innocent may not suffer and the guilty not escape unpunished. Obvious to
all, this is the prosecution's prime duty to the court, to the accused, and
to the state." It is for the purpose of realizing the afore-mentioned
objectives that the prosecution of offenses is placed under the direction,
control, and responsibility of the prosecuting officer.
The role of the private prosecutors, upon the other hand, is to represent
the offended parts, with respect to the civil action for the recovery of the
civil liability arising from the offense. 'This civil action is deemed instituted
with the criminal action, unless the offended party either expressly waives
the civil action or reserves to institute it separately.5 Thus, "an offended
party may intervene in the proceedings, personally or by attorney,
specially in case of offenses which can not be prosecuted except at the
instance of the offended party. 6 The only exception to this is when the
offended party waives his right to civil action or expressly reserves his
right to institute it after the termination of the case, in which case he lost
his right to intervene upon the theory that he is deemed to have lost his
interest in its prosecution. 7 And in any event, whether an offended party
intervenes in the prosecution of a criminal action, his intervention must
always be subject to the direction and control of the prosecuting official.
" 8 As explained in Herrero v. Diaz, supra, the "intervention of the
offended party or his attorney is authorized by section 15 of Rule 106 of
the Rules of Court, subject to the provisions of section 4 of the same Rule

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that all criminal actions either commenced by complaint or by information


shall be prosecuted under the direction and control of the Fiscal."
(Emphasis supplied)
Therefore, although the private prosecutors may be permitted to
intervene, they are not in control of the case, and their interests are
subordinate to those of the People of the Philippines represented by the
fiscal. 9 The right which the procedural law reserves to the injured party is
that of intervening in the prosecution for the sole purpose of enforcing the
civil liability for the criminal action and not of demanding punishment of
the accused. 10 As explained in People v. Orais: 11
... the position occupied by the offended party is
subordinate to that of the promotor fiscal
because, as promotor fiscal alone is authorized to
represent the public prosecution, or the People of
the Philippine Islands, in the prosecution of
offenders, and to control the proceeding, and as it
is discretionary with him to institute and
prosecute a criminal proceeding, being at liberty
to commence it or not, depending upon whether
or not there is, in his opinion, sufficient evidence
to establish the guilt of the accused beyond
reasonable doubt, except when the case is
pending in the Court of First Instance, the
continuation of the offended party's intervention
depends upon the continuation of the proceeding.
Consequently, if the promotor fiscal desists from
pressing the charge or asks the competent Court
of first Instance in which the case is pending for
the dismissal thereof, and said court grants the
petition, the intervention of the person injured by
the commission of the offense ceases by virtue of
the principle that the accessory follows the
principal. Consequently, as the offended party is
not entitled to represent the People of the
Philippine Islands in the prosecution of a public
offense, or to control the proceeding once it is
commenced, and as his right to intervene therein
is subject to the promotor fiscal's right of control,
it cannot be stated that an order of dismissal
decreed upon petiton of the promotor fiscal
himself deprives the offended party of his right to
appeal from an order overruling a complaint or
information, which right belongs exclusively to the
promotor fiscal by virtue of the provisions of
section 44 of General Orders, No. 58. To permit a

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person injured by the commission of an offense to


appeal from an order dismissing a criminal case
issued by a Court of First Instance upon petition
of the promotor fiscal, would be tantamount to
giving said offended party of the direction and
control of a criminal proceeding in violation of the
provisions of the above-cited section 107 of
General Orders, No. 58.
Consequently, where from the nature of the offense, or where the law
defining and punishing the offense charged does not provide for an
indemnity, the offended party may not intervene in the prosecution of the
offense. 12
There is no question that the Solicitor General represents the People of
the Philippines or the State in criminal proceedings pending either in the
Court of Appeals or in this Court. Thus, Section 1 of Presidential Decree
No. 478, "Defining the Powers and Functions of the Office of the Solicitor
General", provides:
SECTION 1. Function and Organization. (1) The Office of the
Solicitor General shall represent the Government of the
Philippines, its agencies and instrumentalities and its officials
and agents in any litigation, proceeding, investigation or
matter requiring the services of a lawyer. ... The office of the
Solicitor General shall constitute the law office of the
Government, and such, shall discharge duties requiring the
services of a lawyer. It shall have the following specific
powers and functions:
(a) Represent the Governemnt in the Supreme Court and the
Court of Appeals in all criminal proceedings; represent the
Government and its officers in the Supreme Court, the Court
of Appeals, and all other courts or tribunals in all civil actions
and special proceedings in which the Government or any
officer thereof in his official capacity is the party.
xxx xxx xxx
(k) Act and represent the Republic and/or the people before
any court, tribunal, body or commission in any matter, action
or proceeding which in his opinion, affects the welfare of the
people as the ends of justice may require.
xxx xxx xxx
It is evident, therefore, that since the Solicitor General alone is authorized
to represent the State or the People of the Philippines the interest of the
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private prosecutors is subordinate to that of the State and they cannot be


allowed to take a stand inconsistent with that of the Solicitor General, for
that would be tantamount to giving the latter the direction and control of
the criminal proceedings, contrary to the provisions of law and the settled
rules on the matter.
Moreover, the position taken by the Solicitor General in recommending
the remand of the case to the trial court is not without any plausible
justification. Thus, in support of his contention that the rendition of the
decision and the resolution on the subsequent motions by the respondent
Judge were not free from suspicion of bias and prejudice, the Solicitor
General stated:
In alleging bias and manifest partiality on the part of
respondent judge, petitioners assert that:
(a) Respondent judge kept improper contact with and was
illegally influenced by the Larrazabals in connection with the
decision of the two cases against petitioners herein;
(b) In the latter part of 1973, with the trial of the Tan cases
still in progress, respondent judge received, through one of
his court stenographers, two bottles of whisky from Mayor
Inaki Larrazabal, brother and uncle of the deceased victims
Feliciano and Francisco Larrazabal;
(c) On one occasion, Mayor Larrazabal had a short talk with
respondent judge, after which the latter received from one of
the private prosecutors a bottle of wine wrapped in a
newspaper which was "thick" and "bulky" and which allegedly
contained "something else inside";
(d) Respondent judge prepared the decision in the Tan cases
based on the memorandum of the prosecution which was
literally copied in said decision although with some
corrections; and
(e) After an alleged meeting with Mayor Inaki Larrazabal,
respondent judge amended his already prepared decision in
the two criminal cases involved herein by changing the
penalty of double life sentence for the double murder charge
against the petitioners to the death penalty.
The foregoing alleged irregularities are mainly supported by
an affidavit executed on June 26, 1975 by Gerardo A.
Makinano Jr., court stenographer of the Circuit Criminal Court,
Tacloban City (Annex "E", Petition). The truth of the charges
made in such affidavit are denied by respondent judge (in his
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answer to the instant petition dated October 11, 1975), who


in turn claims that it was petitioners who tried to bribe him
into acquitting them in the aforesaid criminal cases, after they
were illegally furnished a copy of the draft of his decision of
conviction by the same court stenographer Gerardo A.
Makinano Jr. (please see Answer of respondent judge, pp. 1213). Unlike in the cases of Mateo vs. Villaluz, 50 SCRA 191
(1973), and Castillo vs. Juan, 62 SCRA 124 (1974) relied
upon mainly by herein petitioners, the facts alleged as
constituting the grounds for disqualifying the respondent
judge in the instant petition are disputed.
Apart from the sworn statements submitted before this Court
in support or in denial of the alleged bribery of respondent
judge, we have been informed of evidence obtained by the
National Bureau of Investigation when it cannot appropriate
for us at this time, however, and we are unable to do so, to
submit to this Court definite conclusions on the charges and
counter-charges. An exhaustive inquiry and open hearing
should perhaps precede the making of categorical conclusions.
But we are persuaded that there are bases for stating that the
rendition of respondent Judge's decision and his resolutions
on the motions for new trial were not free from suspicion of
bias and prejudice (SeeMartinez Gironella, 65 SCRA 245 [July
22, 1975]).
Considering the circumstances of the instant case, the
seriousness of the charges and counter-charges and the
nature of the evidence on hand to support them, we feel that
respondent Judge appeared to have been heedless to the oftreiterated admonition addressed to trial judges to avoid even
the impression of the guilt or innocence of the accused being
dependent on prejudice or prejudgment (Fernando, J.,
Concurring opinion, Martinez Gironella, supra, at 252). ...
It is undisputed that the sole purpose of courts of justice is to enforce the
laws uniformly and impartially without regard to persons or their
circumstances or the opinions of men. A judge, according to Justice
Castro, now Chief Justice of this Court, should strive to be at all times
"wholly free, disinterested, impartial and independent. Elementary due
process requires a hearing before an impartial and disinterested tribunal.
A judge has both the duty of rendering a just decision and the duty, of
doing it in a manner completely free from suspicion as to its fairness and
as to his integrity. 13 Thus, it has always been stressed that judges should
not only be impartial but should also appear impartial. For "impartiality is
not a technical conception, It is a state of mind" 14 and, consequently, the
"appearance of impartiality is an essential manifestation of its reality. 15 It

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must be obvious, therefore, that while judges should possess proficiency


in law in order that they can competently construe and enforce the law, it
is more important that they should act and behave in such a manner that
the parties before them should have confidence in their impartiality.
It appears, however, that respondent Judge is no longer in the judicial
service, hence, the question as to whether or not he should be
disqualified from further proceeding with the aforementioned criminal
cases has already become moot.
WHEREFORE, this Court grants the petition and hereby demands the case
to the trial court in order that another Judge may hear anew petitioners'
motion for new trial and to resolve the issue accordingly on the basis of
the evidence. No Special pronouncement as to costs.
Fernando, (Chairman), Barredo, Aquino, and concepcion Jr. JJ., concur.
10.A.M. No. 1733-CFI September 30, 1981
IRENEO CABREANA and ANNA ROSE CABREANA, complainants,
vs.
HON. JUDGE CELSO AVELINO, Presiding Judge of Branch XIII, CFI
of CEBU, respondent.

MAKASIAR, J.:
This is an administrative case filed by complainant-spouses Ireneo
Cabreana and Anna Rose Cabreana against Judge Celso Avelino, Presiding
Judge of Branch XI I I of the Court of First Instance of Cebu for "serious
misconduct, abuse of authority, prevarication and oppression. "
The backdrop of the case is as follows:
Complainant-spouses Ireneo Cabreana and Anna Rose Cabreana are the
plaintiffs in Civil Case No. R-15988 before Branch XIII of the Court of First
Instance of Cebu, presided by herein respondent judge, against the
defendant T & E Tumakay Enterprises, owned and operated by Teody O.
Tumakay, seeking rescission of sale, with damages against therein
defendant firm for having sold to plaintiffs therein and complainants
herein pieces of furniture which were not made in accordance with
specifications and/or defectively manufactured.
On August 4, 1977, a motion was filed by plaintiff-spouses for an ocular
inspection of the furniture sold, which was granted by respondent judge.
In the same motion, plaintiff-spouses proposed the appointment of the

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clerk of court of Branch XIII, Atty. Alejandro Grengia, as the


commissioner.
It was on the occasion of this ocular inspection that the incidents
complained of took place, thus
xxx xxx xxx
5. That pursuant to the order of the respondent judge, the
ocular inspection was set in the afternoon of August 31, 1977,
on which occasion the said respondent judge rode in the car
of defendant Tumakay, with the said defendant Tumakay
himself driving the same, to and from the place where the
ocular inspection was to be conducted at the home of
complainants at Estaca Minglanilla Cebu, where the
respondent judge himself conduct the ocular inspection
6. That when respondent judge arrived in the place where the
ocular inspection was to be conducted, but before the actual
or formal ocular inspection started, the respondent judge
started to behave strangely and queerly, by showing hostility
on complainants right in their home, treating them shabbily
and rudely talking to complainants in a harsh, sarcastic and in
an insulting manner, while being friendly and chummy to
defendant Tumakay, as shown by the joint affidavit of the
herein complainants, a copy of which is hereto attached as
Annex 'C',
7. That when the ocular inspection commenced, and the
herein complainant Anna Rose Cabreana was asked in the
direct examination to point out to the respondent where the
defects of workmanship were in the furniture, and the said
Anna Rose Cabreana would point at the cracks in the
furnitures, the respondent judge would distort the facts
through his grossly erroneous observation and orders the
same to be placed on record in the stenographic notes that
the cracks were merely 'scratches', or if the crack were
extensive or severe for a fine furniture, respondent judge
would put it on record that the crack was only an inch long
although the crack extends the entire length of the furniture.
8. That in another instance, when the ocular inspection was
conducted on the dresser inside the bedroom of complainant
Anna Rose Cabreana, and the latter pointed at the crack in
the said dresser, the respondent judge who was seated on the
bed nearby, but far enough not to enable him to see the
defect being pointed to, did not even care to rise up to see or
look at the defect referred to and cryptically made his
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prevaricated observation that the defect referred to was not a


crack but merely a 'Scratch', although the same was in fact
really a crack. (These facts are reflected in the various
dialogue in the stenographic notes duly certified by
stenographer Graciana on the proceedings on August 31,
1977, a xerox copy of which is hereto attached as Annex 'D');
9. That when complainant Anna Rose Cabreana pointed at the
defects in the bookshelf and in the foot stool, the respondent
judge refused to see the defective workmanship, but instead
described them merely as either an 'art' or said 'I can't see
the defect ',
10. That such a blatant and brazen display of deceit,
misrepresentation and prevarication constitutes a case of
serious conduct, abuse of authority, prevarication and
oppression, since said act was committed for the purpose of
clearly and patently favoring the defendant Tumakay;
11. That when the subject of materials used was taken up in
the same ocular inspection, that where the parties-litigants
agreed that the materials to be used in the manufacturing of
the furnitures should be narra, as said wood makes a superior
quality of furnitures as same would not be attacked by wood
borers (bokbok), and the 'bokbok' dust were shown to the
respondent judge to show that proves that the material used
was not narra, the said respondent brushed aside
complainant's allegation stating that the dust may have been
just applied by complainants themselves to simulate 'bokbok'
dust, which fact is reflected in the dialogue found in Annex
"D";
12. That with the clever deceit employed by respondent
judge,complainants cannot expect to obtain a fair and honest
dispensation of justice from respondent or even on appeal, as
cases on appeal are adjudicated on the basis of the facts
reflected from the records of the case (pp. 2-4, rec.).
Asked to comment on the administrative case filed against him,
respondent judge filed his comment dated December 1, 1977 traversing
complainants' allegations, and alleging that:
Respondent admits the truth of the allegations contained in
paragraphs 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 of the complaint, but denies the
allegations in paragraphs 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12. In the
joint affidavit submitted (Annex "C") in support of the
complaint, there are assertions that are false and baseless.
For example, complainants state that the Branch Clerk of
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Court, Atty. Alejandro C. Grengia (not Gengia as appearing in


the affidavit), was appointed commissioner for purposes of
the ocular inspection as prayed for in complainants' motion
(Annex "B" of complaint) and that on the date and time when
said ocular inspection was to take place, the Presiding Judge,
out of the blues, ordered that he would conduct the ocular
inspection himself (emphasis supplied), This is farthest from
the truth since respondent never appointed the Branch Clerk
of Court to conduct the ocular inspection, although it is
admitted that the complainants' motion for ocular inspection
proposes the appointment of the Branch Clerk. To belie
complainants' contention, it needs only a reference to the
Court Order dated August 8, 1977 that resolved complainants'
motion for ocular inspection.
It is emphasized that the complaint is premised on the alleged
partiality and bias of respondent, solely on the basis of the
proceedings taken during the actual ocular inspection
conducted on August 31, 1977, copy of which has been
attached to the complaint (Annex 'D').
Respondent denies vehemently the charge of partiality and
bias, but maintains the view that all remarks made by him
during the ocular inspection and incorporated in the transcript
of proceedings are but a necessary consequence of the
inspection in order to record all the observations of the Court
so that it may later on be properly and clearly guided in the
determination of the issues raised by the parties in their
respective pleadings. If some of the remarks made by
respondent in the course of the ocular inspection are not
complimentary to complainants, the same are but incidental
to the primordial purpose of an ocular inspection, which is for
the Court to inform itself of the actual state of matters
relevant to the cause of action.
During the ocular inspection, complainants pointed to minor
scratches on the floor of their bedroom with the aid of a
flashlight, notwithstanding the fact that the inspection was
conducted on a very bright afternoon at the early hour of past
2:00 o'clock P.M. or thereabouts. These are the scratches
which, in the hearing of August 4, 1977 plaintiff Anna Rose
Cabreana while testifying claims as constituting damage worth
P1,500.00 representing the deduction in the total purchase
price of the furniture.
For a more thorough and detailed further understanding of
the circumstances which complainants base their complaint,
certain pleadings that form part of the records of Civil Case
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No. R-15988 are herewith submitted, marked as Annexes and


forming integral parts of this comment, and more particularly
specified in the enumeration below.
It is humbly contended that the complaint has no factual nor
legal basis upon which a possible administrative action may lie
against the respondent, since the acts complained of have
been doned in the performance of his official duties as Judge"
(pp. 10-11, rec.).
Respondent judge prayed that the complaint should be dismissed for lack
of merit.
After considering the complaint under oath and respondent judge's
comment thereon, complainants' reply thereto as well as respondent's
rejoinder to said reply, the Court resolved to refer the complaint to
Associate Justice Jose A. R. Melo of the Court of Appeals for investigation,
report and recommendation.
At the hearing set by the Investigating Justice on January 7, 1981,
complainants manifested that they were submitting, without further
argument or presentation of evidence, their case on the basis of their
joint affidavit and the transcripts of stenographic notes taken during the
ocular inspection on August 31, 1977. Likewise, respondent judge
manifested that he was submitting the case on the basis of his answer.
In his report submitted on February 3, 1981, the Investigating Justice
made the following findings:
xxx xxx xxx
Respondent does not deny that he arrived at the house of
complainants in Estaca Minglanilla Cebu which is situated
some 20 kilometers away from the court house in Cebu City,
in the company of and riding in the car of defendant Tumakay
Neither does he dispute his description, as appearing in the
transcript of stenographic notes, of defects in the furniture
inspected as scratches. Undersigned investigator could have
gone to Cebu to inspect and see for himself the defects in the
furniture but considering the time that has elapsed, which is
around 6 years, from the time the ocular inspection was
conducted by respondent judge, undersigned thought it better
to desist therefrom for, indeed, in the meantime, the furniture
may have developed additional defects and blemishes during
the years that have passed. It is, therefore, upon the basis of
the transcript of stenographic notes taken during the ocular
inspection upon which the complaint may be resolved.

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Altogether, upon a reading of the transcript of stenographic


notes of the ocular inspection conducted on August 31, 1977
appearing on pages 57 to 92 of the records, undersigned is
given the impression that, indeed, respondent judge behaved
in such a manner as to give the impression that he is biased
against complainants. Thus, when a certain dining set was
inspected, alleged cracks thereon were described by
respondent as mere scratches:
Mrs. Cabreana:
Here are the cracks over here and then here on
this side also right here is the crack and then over
here, Your Honor, this is cracking also, and then
we have these scratches over there on the glass
and then over here, Your Honor, if look at it you
can see the cracks all way to the chairs.
Court:
This is not a crack or the glass. That is a scratch.
Mrs. Cabreana:
These are scratches on the glass. And on this
chair if you stand right there, Your Honor, you
could see the cracks. These cracks here are
marked.
Atty. Varela, Jr.
I notice that on these chairs there are pieces of
strings. What are those pieces of strings, what do
they indicate.
Mrs. Cabreana:
They indicate the cracks on the chairs.
Court:
Where is that crack?
Mrs. Cabreana
It is here, your Honor.
Court:

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I can't see the crack.


Mrs. Cabreana:
This one here is a crack.
Court
It is a slight crack about one inch.
Mrs. Cabreana:
And then here, your Honor ...
Court:
Slowly because the stenographer cannot indicate
all the alleged defects.
Court Interpreter:
The witness is pointing to the base of the dining
table.
Mrs. Cabreana:
From here up to here and this one here and also
on the other side, your Honor. This one is also
starting to crack.
Court:
That is not a crack, that is a scratch.
Mrs. Cabreana:
Here is another one, Your Honor.
Court:
out one inch long.
Mrs. Cabreana:
Don't you notice on this chair here, then down
here'? (Witness referring to the base of the dining
table). It's starting to crack right there, Your
Honor. Can you see it?

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Court:
It is like a scratch, not a crack. You discovered all
these scratches after two months?
Witness:
Before two months. (Tsn., August 31, 1977, pp.
3-6, Records, pp. 59-62).
It is, of course, not disputed that respondent may
make his own observations but the better
procedure for him to have followed would have
been to ask the opposing counsel who was also
present during the proceedings to make his
observations, and for respondent to reserve his
findings. But as it was, respondent directly
contradicted the witness, describing obvious
cracks as appearing in the photograph as
submitted by complainants, as simple scratches.
Concerning a certain cabinet, the following
dialogue took place.
Mrs. Cabreana:
This is straight and this one is not.
Court:
What do you mean by this is straight?
Mrs. Cabreana:
The left side is straight and the right side is not.
Court:
When we are facing it, this is the left side.
Atty. Varela, Jr.:
Facing the cabinet, the right side is straight and
the left side is not.
Court:

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But the Court does not see any curve or any sign
that the left side is not straight.
Mrs. Cabreana:
This is supposed to be a sliding door. There are no
ball bearings put on the sliding doors.
Court:
Is there in the contract that there should be ball
bearings?
Mrs. Cabreana:
That was supposed to be a sliding door.
Court:
Is there in your contract between the defendant
that there should be a ball bearing?
Mrs. Cabreana:
No, it was not specified to be sliding doors
Court:
What do you call these doors now'?
Mrs. Cabreana:
Sliding doors that won't slide.
Court:
Atty. Grengia, you see if it will slide or not.
Atty. Grengia (after opening the door):
It will slide, however when we have to move the
glass it will not really slide smoothly
Court:
Let me see (after opening the doors It will slide;
the door is sliding. Maybe you want the American

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way of making things, the perfect way of making


in America.
Mrs. Cabreana:
It is like this one here, Your Honor.
Court:
Is there in your contract that the bookcase which
the defendant would make would be like that one
you pointed to us?
Mrs. Cabreana:
Yes.
Court:
Where is that portion of the contract:
Mrs. Cabreana:
I don't have it. (Tsn., Aug. 31. 1997, pp. 19-12;
Record, pp. 66- 68).
Again, respondent judge appeared to be brusque
curt with the witness. He was practically crossexamining her in regard to the contract. But the
irritating and insulting treatment of complainant
Mrs. Cabreana by respondent judge becomes the
more obvious when he said upon inspecting the
door, that perhaps complainant would want the
American way of making things. He was actually
personally insulting complainant Mrs. Anna Rose
Cabreana who is an American.
Again, when some footstools were inspected, the
legs of which are not straight, respondent judge
immediately arrived at the conclusion that such
mis-aligned legs of the stools is art and not a
defect. Once more. We beg to quote the following
from the transcript of stenographic notes:
Mrs. Cabreana:
The two front legs are not straight.

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Atty. Varela, Jr.


How about the other one?
Mrs. Cabreana:
That one is all right, Vicente.
Court:
What do you mean by they are not straight?
Mrs. Cabreana:
This one is pointing this way and this one is
pointing that way.
Court:
I don't understand you.
Mrs. Cabreana:
This is supposed to be done like this, not like that:
Court:
Atty. Varela, I don't understand your client.
Atty. Varela, Jr.
My client is stating that the legs are not straight.
If you sit on this footstool, the front leg is veered
to the right while the right leg is verred to the left.
Court:
I think that is an art. Don't you like that. All of
them are curving inside. I think that is an art. I
don't see any defect there. Is there any portion of
the contract which says that the legs of that stool
should be straight?
Mrs. Cabreana:
No.
Court:

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That looks like an art. (Tsn., Aug. 31, 1977, pp.


13-14; Record, pp. 69-70).
In regard to the presence of borers (bokbok) in
the furniture complained of, the following dialogue
took place:
Mrs. Cabreana:
The drawers don't shut real good. There are signs
of 'bokboks' in this one and in here.
Court:
Where is the "bokbok" there?
Mrs. Cabreana:
This is from the "bokbok", Your Honor.
Court:
When there are "bokboks" there are holes from
where they come from. This one has no holes of
"bokboks". Your lawyer can see.
Atty. Varela, Jr.
I would like to make an observation that when
this dresser was opened by the Witness there was
a sign of 'bokbok'.
Court:
No, there was none. fool the court,
Atty. Varela Jr.
I am not fooling the court, Your Honor. We
request the court not to wipe the thing there.
Court:
We are looking if there is a hole where the
"bokbok" comes from because you can put white
substance there.
Atty. Varela, Jr.

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It is not necessary that there must be holes.


Court:
Where will the 'bokbok' come from?
Mrs. Cabreana:
Open that one, please.
Atty. Varela, Jr.
I would like to make of record that when Atty.
Grengia, the Clerk of Court, opened the third
drawer, he had difficulty in opening it, and in fact
Atty. Son had to hold the dresser to help Atty.
Grengia open the third drawer. The right fide has
three drawers and the middle drawer is opened by
the witness. Inside the drawer there is ... how do
we call this?
Court:
You don't like that to be touched. How can we
know if it is a white substance. You are very
delicate; you don't like that to be touched. (Tsn.,
Aug. 31, 1977, pp. 15-17; Record, pp. 71-73).
In this exchange, respondent judge was
practically accusing complainants or their counsel
of planting evidence when he said "because you
can put white substance there". The situation
became so exacerbated that Atty. Varela, Jr.
counsel for complainants, had to remind
respondent judge not to wipe the powdery
substance which was supposed to have been the
traces of borers.
During the entire proceedings at the ocular
inspection it was only once that counsel for
defendant therein was consulted by respondent
judge and it was in regard to the presence of
'bokbok' or borers:
Court:
Do you agree that is 'bokbok?'

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Atty. Son:
We cannot agree, Your Honor.' (Tsn., Aug. 31,
1977; Record, p. 73).
Rather, during the entire ocular inspection
respondent judge participated most actively,
asking questions and Making comments and
observations. The definite impression conveyed to
the undersigned is that the behavior of
respondent judge during the proceedings is that
he was brusque and severe towards the witness,
Mrs. Cabreana. He displayed undue interference in
the conduct of the inspection or trial and showed
unwarranted intolerance and unjustified
impatience to the point of almost maliciously
distorting facts in the presence of complainants
and despite their protest. He practically charged
complainants with planting evidence in regard to
the "bokbok" all of which of course, is conduct(ed)
reprehensible of one who is supposed to be an
impartial person.
Further compounding, the situation of respondent judge is the
fact that he went to the residence of complainants when the
ocular inspection was conducted in the company of and riding
in the car of defendant Tumakay It must be said that a judge
is precisely given transportation allowance in order that he
may not compromise himself, no matter how innocently, in
hitching a ride with parties.
It is the duty of a member of the Bench to maintain at all
times the high esteem and regard to which Our courts of
justice must be entitled if the administration of justice is to
succeed. It is said that the office of a judge exists for one
solemn end - to promote justice and thus aid in securing the
contentment and happiness of the people. This primary and
principal end consequently imposes on a member of the
Bench heavy responsibilities. Certain duties are cast upon him
in respect to behavior, in relation to the State and the
citizens, the litigants, the practitioners of law, and the
witnesses, and court officials (Canons of Judicial Ethics, 1). In
fine, heavy and tremendous as are the burdens of a judicial
office, the occupant thereof must exercise extreme restraint
in such a way that his independent frame of mind would not
be compromised, and thus remaining uncompromised, evoke
respect, perhaps admiration even, from litigants. Any act
which tends to undermine the people's respect for, and
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confidence in, the administration must be avoided, and if


committed, immediately and swiftly censured. The language
employed by respondent judge as well as his demeanor
during the ocular inspection leave much to be desired. A
judge must comport himself with respect for the parties and
the witnesses if he expects respect from them. He must not
display impatience and anger, and most especially bias and
predilection in favor of or against one or the other party. But
as it is, respondent judge appears to have thrown to the
winds his facade of impartiality" (pp. 2-12, Justice Melo's
Report).
The Investigating Justice of the Court of Appeals recommended that
respondent judge be suspended for a period of one month, and severely
admonished to refrain from such behavior in the future.
WE have meticulously gone over the records of the case and WE are
satisfied that the observations and conclusions made by the Investigating
Justice are fully substantiated and supported by the evidence on record.
However, the penalty recommended by the Investigating Justice is too
light for such a misconduct committed by respondent judge in the
performance of his official duties.
Indeed, it appears clear to US that respondent judge falls short of the
required judicial norm of conduct. That the acts complained of have been
done in the performance of official duties, as respondent (contends,
aggravates his intolerance, lack of restraint and impatience.
Moreover, respondent judge's hitching a ride in the car of a party litigant
in going to and from the place of the ocular inspection, deserves the stern
reprobation of this Court. Respondent-judge ought to know that by riding
in the car of defendant therein, he openly exposed himself and the office
he holds to suspicion, thus impairing the trust and faith of the people in
the administration of justice.
Time and again, We have stated that a judge's official conduct should be
free from the appearance of impropriety and his personal conduct and
behavior should be beyond reproach. He should be temperate, patient,
and impartial, having always iii mind that every litigant is entitled to
"nothing short of the cold neutrality of an independent, wholly-free
disinterested and impartial tribunal (30 Am. Jur 56; Luque vs. Kayanan L26826, August 29,1969,29 SCRA 165.173).
WHEREFORE, FINDING RESPONDENT JUDGE OF BRANCH XIII OF THE
COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE OF CEBU GUILTY OF SERIOUS MISCONDUCT,
HE IS HEREBY ORDERED TO PAY A FINE EQUIVALENT TO THREE

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MONTHS' SALARY WITH A WARNING THAT A REPETITION OF THE SAME


OR SIMILAR ACTS WILL BE DEALT WITH MORE SEVERELY.
LET A COPY OF THIS DECISION BE ENTERED IN RESPONDENT'S
PERSONAL RECORD.
SO ORDERED.
Fernandez, Guerrero, De Castro* and Melencio-Herrera, JJ., concur.
11. A.M. No. 1578-CFI February 20, 1981
GIL F. ECHANO and CAYETANO LUKBAN, complainants,
vs.
HON. DELFIN VIR. SUGA, respondent.

ABAD SANTOS, J.:


This is an administrative case against Judge Delfin Vir Suga of the Court
of First Instance of Camarines Sur, Branch I. The verified complaint of
Attorneys Gil F. Echano and Cayetano Lukban charges respondent judge
with (1) serious misconduct in office; (2) including a court stenographer
to falsify a court record; and (3) acts highly prejudicial to the best
interests and to the proper administration of justice.
The charges stemmed from the proceedings had in Civil Case No. R512, Jovito Cu vs. Lorenzo Bienvenuto, et al.
As to the first and second charges, it appears that during the hearing on
February 10, 1977, a motion to lease a rice mill and a bodega which were
under receivership was opposed by Atty. Echano In the course of the
hearing, the following took place:
ATTY. ECHANO: The leasing will be improper
because it will become moot and academic.
COURT: Submitted.
ATTY. ECHANO: We have a right - this is already
dictatorship. We have the right to speak. It is
miscarriage of justice and
COURT: The case is submitted. Call the sheriff.
Sheriff, sheriff, take this man away.

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ATTY. ECHANO: We have a very good argument


to advance.
COURT: Submitted. Buntalin kita dian Do not take
that.
ATTY. ECHANO: Let it appear in the record that
the Honorable Judge said to counsel, buntalin kita
dian
COURT: Next case. (TSN of Mrs. Consolacion B.
Bulao pp. 5-6)
The respondent did not dispute the above-quoted proceedings but
explained his behavior thus:
... Since said complainant's arguments had already been the
subject of his written opposition, and that there were many
other cases waiting to be called, respondent considered the
matter submitted. But said complainant insisted on speaking,
saying "This is already dictatorship" and "It is miscarriage of
justice". Again, respondent said that the case is submitted,
and when said complainant was acting in a defiant manner,
respondent had to call for a sheriff to bring him away so as to
restore order in the courtroom. Because there was no sheriff
who came, said complainant more defiant than before,
shouted to respondent that he had a good argument to
advance. To stop said complainant's already unruly conduct,
respondent once more said, "Submitted". However, due to
emotional stress precipitated by said complainant's defiant
attitude and derogatory statements which were aggravated all
the more by disorder resulting therefrom without any sheriff
on hand with the milling of people as in a market place on the
groundfloor temporarily occupied by the court with other
offices of the government, respondent involuntarily uttered
the words: "Buntalin kita diyan," in a soft voice without
addressing the same to anyone in particular, much less to
complainant Echano The said words translated into English,
are: "I box you there", which obviously were in the present
tense. The statement was never meant to be a threat,
otherwise it would have been, "Bubuntalin kita diyan", in the
future tense. Rather, it was an entirely innocent and harmless
utterance in the present tense, without any intent
whatsoever, as in fact, it was not accompanied by the
corresponding act. It may just be deemed a mere "slip of the
tongue". But involuntary as it was, the said statement made
by respondent at least relieved him of his emotional stress, so
much so that he then no longer thought of punishing said
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complainant for contempt of court, for his derogatory remarks


of "dictatorship" and "miscarriage of justice" against
respondent, in the light of the ruling of this Honorable
Tribunal, that "Imputations derogatory to the character of a
judge expressed in intemperate language and amounting to
vilification are contemptuous." (Fontolera vs. Judge A.
Amores, G. R. No. L-41361, March 8, 1976). However,
realizing that he actually uttered the words, "Buntalin kita
diyan", which is clearly an off the record statement,
respondent asked the stenographer not to take the same in
the record, just like any person who would not want his
statement which is irrelevant or immaterial to be placed on
record. Nonetheless, complainant Echano taking undue
advantage of such statement, asked the stenographer to put
it on record, that the words: "Buntalin kita diyan" were
uttered by respondent against him, obviously in order to
make it appear, as he has now made it appear, that
respondent threatened him with fistic blow, when he fully well
knew that respondent never did so. To this act of said
complainant asking the stenographer to put on record said
words, respondent did not make any counter-move, thinking
that the same was merely trivial and that he had other
important work to do which was the consideration of other
cases waiting to be called. (Comment, pp. 3-5.)
The charge that the respondent committed acts highly prejudicial to the
best interests and to proper administration of justice also relates to his
actuations in the aforesaid civil case where the complainants were unable
to obtain what they desired. Suffice it to say that the specifications in this
charge are not appropriate in an administrative proceeding; the
appropriate venue to ventilate them is in a judicial forum.
As to the first and second charges, we find that the respondent did not
comport himself in a manner that befits one who holds the exalted office
of dispenser of justice which requires serenity and the ability to keep
one's cool. However, we find the respondent's explanation to be
extenuating.
WHEREFORE, the respondent is hereby admonished to be more prudent
and restrained in his judicial behaviour. Let a copy of this resolution be
placed in his personal file.
SO ORDERED.
Barredo (Chairman), Aquino, Concepcion Jr. and De Castro, JJ., concur.

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12. A.M. No. 491-MJ October 30, 1980


PRIMITIVO SANTOS, ET Al., petitioners,
vs.
MUNICIPAL JUDGE ARTURO E. CRUZ, respondent.

FERNANDEZ, J.:
In a sworn-letter complaint dated November 16, 1972, addressed to the
then Secretary of Justice, the complainant, PrimitivoSantos charged
Municipal Judge Arturo E. Cruz of the Municipal Court of Bulacan with
partiality and conduct unbecoming a judge for having intervened with
and/or prevented the complainant in filing cases in the Municipal Court of
Bulacan. 1
The then Secretary of Justice referred to Municipal Judge Arturo E. Cruz
the complaint of Primitivo Santos for immediate comment. 2
In his comment dated November 22, 1972, the respondent Judge denied
the charges. 3
The complaint was referred to the Executive District Judge of the Court of
First Instance of Bulacan at Malolos for investigation, report and
recommendation. 4
In her Report dated August 23, 1973, District Judge Floreliana CastroBartolome made the following findings:
The complaint of Primitivo Santos, therefore, was the only one
that stood for hearing.
On the first paragraph of the letter-complaint, it was adduced
by the testimony of Roberto G. Garcia, a police corporal of
Bulacan, Bulacan, who brought the police blotter subpoenaed
for containing the following entry:
June 1, 1972. Sa ganap na ika-10 ng umaga ay nagsadya
sa himpilan si Gng. Leonila Rodriguez-Santos at
ipinagsumbong si Teresita Cruz sa ginawang pagmumura at
pagsasara ng daanan sa kusina ng kanilang tindahan.
Nagbigay ng kusang loob na pahayag si Leonila Santos kay.
... Walang saksi naiharap si Gng. Santos kaya pinagpayuhang
magbalik at kailangan din ang pahayag ng saksi. (two
charges: slander & closing of the "daan").

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that as a standard operating procedure, he gave the statement to his


Chief and no other entry shows that the complainant returned to the
Police Headquarters. Judge Cruz is here wrongfully blamed for the failure
of its filing, as the portion where a complainant's jurat should be, was not
signed by Judge Cruz, but complainant Primitivo Santos could not state
that his wife ever appeared before Judge Cruz to execute the oath nor
was any evidence presented that the same was ever forwarded to Judge
Cruz. The latter seems to be blamed for a failure which was not of his own
making and no evidence appears that Judge Cruz had moved heaven and
earth to prevent the filing of aforesaid offenses in the Municipal Court of
Bulacan.
On the sixth paragraph of the letter-complaint, the only
testimony of Primitivo Santos on which his suspicion that
Judge Cruz was interfering with a criminal case filed by
Teresita Cruz was he saw Judge Cruz enter the room where
an investigation was being conducted in a case between him
and Teresita Cruz and the latter was saying: "Hindi totoo 'yan,
nandyan sa labas si Judge Cruz," and when he looked, Judge
Cruz was there. Yet, the case was admittedly dismissed upon
the complainant's instance. Primitivo Santos believed that the
case being investigated by the Fiscal's Office would also fall
within the jurisdiction of the Municipal Court of Bulacan where
Judge Cruz presides and so he mistakenly believed that Judge
Cruz's presence amounted to following up the case.
The last paragraph containing the last ground for the
complaint is trivial and does not need further comment. The
testimony of Primitivo Santos has failed to confirm that Judge
Cruz ever said the words complained of : "Bakit, UTUSAN MO
BA KAMI RITO SA JUZGADO!" but admitted that he signed the
pleading to undertake service on his lawyer.
The letter-complaint asks that Judge Cruz voluntarily inhibit
himself from trying Civil Case No. 250 and allow another
judge to hear it, and Judge Cruz suspended the proceedings.

A careful review of the records of this case shows that the investigating
Judge correctly found that the complainant was not able to prove the
charges of partiality and conduct unbecoming a judge.
However, the transcript of the stenographic notes shows that during the
formal investigation conducted on February 9, 1973 6 the respondent
judge, while cross-examining the witness, Alberto T. Cano, lost his temper
and said: "You can go to hell I don't care or where do you want to go Mr.
Cano". This language of the Judge is unbecoming of a municipal judge
and deserves administrative penalty.

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WHEREFORE, the respondent Judge is hereby EXONERATED of the charge


of partiality but is found guilty of conduct unbecoming a judge by uttering
intemperate language during the trial of the case. The respondent judge
is hereby imposed a penalty of a fine equivalent to one (1) month salary
and warned that a repetition of the same or similar offense shall be dealt
with more severely.
SO ORDERED.
Teehankee Acting C.J., Makasiar, Guerrero and Melencio-Herrera, JJ.,
concur.
___________________________________
13. Adm. Case No. 2252-CFI January 18, 1982
RUFINO IGNACIO, complainant,
vs.
HON. MANUEL E. VALENZUELA, Presiding Judge, Court of First
Instance of Rizal, Branch XXIX, Pasay City,respondent.

ABAD SANTOS, J.:


The issue in this administrative case is legality versus propriety. It should
be obvious that propriety should prevail.
Respondent Manuel Valenzuela, judge of the Court of First Instance at
Branch XXIX in Pasay City, stands charged of serious misconduct by
Rufino Ignacio, a litigant in respondent's sala. Capsulated, the charge is
that the respondent took an undue personal interest in a case by
resolving favorably a motion to quash a temporary restraining order
despite the fact that he was on vacation.
It all started when Rufino Ignacio, among other persons, filed an action
for damages in the Court of First Instance of Rizal. The case which was
docketed as Civil Case No. 7159-P also prayed for a restraining order to
maintain the status quo pending the hearing on the merits. The Executive
Judge (not the respondent) issued a restraining order on May 2, 1979 and
set the case for hearing on May 4, 1979. Two days later, the defendants
in the case filed a motion to quash the restraining order which was duly
opposed by the plaintiffs. In the meantime, the case was raffled to Branch
XXIX presided by the respondent who was on vacation from May 1 to 31,
1979, as shown in his certificate of service - New Judicial Form No. 86.
On May 8, 1979, the respondent heard the motion to quash the
restraining order in his chambers wearing only a polo jacket and on the
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next day he granted the motion. It should be noted that on both days the
respondent was on leave as stated in his certificate of service.
Rufino Ignacio and his co-plaintiffs questioned the legality of the
respondent's act quashing the restraining order in the Court of Appeals.
In CA-G.R. No. 09226-SP the appellate court upheld the respondent
judge; it said, among other things, the following:
The petitioners, in their memorandum filed before this Court,
maintain that the order of May 9, 1979, is null and void
because it was issued by the respondent judge at a time when
he was supposed to be on official leave of absence (Rollo, pp.
77-78). There is no showing, however, that the respondent
judge had a replacement who had taken over the performance
of his functions. Even assuming that the respondent judge
officially continued to act on the case despite his replacement,
he cannot simply be considered to be totally without proper
authority when he issued the questioned order. Thus, in an
analogous case decided by the Supreme Court, it was held
that, in even assuming the erroneous designation of a judge
to act as Justice of the Peace whereby he took cognizance of a
case, it cannot be denied that he was and have acted, at
least, as a de facto judge, and his erroneous designation did
not in any way affect the jurisdiction of the court he presided
(Bacabac vs. Delfin, 1 SCRA 1194).
We now quote the well-written report of Justice Vicente V. Mendoza of the
Court of Appeals who investigated the case:
On the basis of these facts, it is charged that the respondent
Judge manifested undue personal interest in Civil Case No.
7159-P. The evidence does not warrant a finding that the
interest shown by respondent Judge proceeded from some
corrupt motive. It is believed that at most he is guilty of
impropriety in acting on a case when he was on leave.
Indeed, the excerpt from the calendar of cases for May 1979
of Branch XXIX of the Court of First Instance of Rizal, over
which the respondent Judge presides, bears opposite each
case the handwritten notations "No hearing, " "Judge on
vacation," and "No hearing, Judge on leave," except with
respect to Civil Case No. 7159-P (Rufino Ignacio v. Remedios
Tan) opposite which the notation 'hearing' appears. (Exh. 1,
Exh. 10) The excerpt was duly certified by the Branch Clerk of
Court, Basilio B. Bolante. (Transcript, pp. 39-40, Oct. 1,
1981) It thus appears that out of 71 cases calendared during
the period May 2 to May 9, 1979, only Civil Case No. 7159-P
was heard.
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During the investigation, the respondent Judge explained that


very often not all cases calendared for a day are heard. Thus,
he testified:
[INVESTIGATOR:]
Q There were many cases scheduled for that date,
May 8, 1979. . . are you saying that only one case
was heard?
A Yes, sir, it is my experience that even if there
are 20 cases calendared for hearing, we can only
hear one or two at most.
(Transcript, pp. 33-34, Oct. 1, 1981)
But the notations on the calendar of cases (Exh. I; Exh. 10)
indicate that there was no hearing because the Judge was on
vacation and not because of lack of time. Moreover, it has not
been explained why Civil Case No. 7159-P, which is listed as
No. 14, should be heard ahead of other cases fisted first in
the calendar of the same date. It does not appear that the
hearing in those cases was postponed either by the court or at
the request of any of the parties. This is evident from the
following portion of the transcript of stenographic notes of the
hearing on October 1, 1981:
QUESTIONS FROM THE COURT:
Q This exhibit shows that there were 16 cases
scheduled for that day and cc 7159-P
entitled IGNACIO vs. Remedios Tan, No. 14, a
motion was the only one heard, do you mean to
tell us that no hearing was held whatsoever on
cases 1 to 13?
A Yes, Your Honor.
Q Nor was there any hearing on cases Nos. 15
and 16?
A None, Your Honor. It takes LRC cases to be
published for quite some time.
Q Are these cases preceding cc 7159-P
particularly the case of Lourdes Poral vs.
Lacsonand Corazon M. vs. Antonio for ejection,
this should be heard first?
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A They submitted their cases, Your Honor.


Q You heard these cases if only briefly?
A Sometimes they just see my Clerk of Court.
Q What about the pre-trial?
A I don't remember, it is quite a long time ago,
Your Honor.
(Transcript, pp. 37-38, Oct. 1, 1981)
The respondent judge asserts that he had to hear the motion
to quash the restraining order and the opposition because,
while it was true he had applied for vacation leave for the
period May 1-31, 1979 (Exh. J), until May 8, 1981 he had not
been notified of the approval of his application.
The evidence shows that respondent Judge's application for
vacation was approved on March 19, 1979 (Exh. K). Notice of
the approval of the application, according to the records of
the Supreme Court, was sent by ordinary mail to the
respondent on April 20, 1979. (Exh. M; transcript, pp. 8-9,
Oct. 6. 1981) The respondent does not deny that he received
the notification of the Supreme Court. What he claim is that
he did so after May 8, 1979. (Transcript, pp. 35-36, Oct. 1,
1981) However, the mail was posted in Manila and addressed
to respondent's court in Pasay City. Even granting the present
sorry state of our postal service, mail sent from Manila to
Pasay City would not take more than 18 days to reach the
addressee, as the respondent claims. The Rules of Court
provide that service by ordinary mail is complete upon the
expiration of 5 days. (Rule 13, sec. 8) That is based on the
estimated period of the time a letter sent by mail reaches its
destination anywhere in the Philippines, except in a few
instances and that is when a court may provide for a special
period. (1 Moran, Rules of Court 427 [1979]) Here there is no
basis for providing a special period considering the destination
of the mail. Indeed, the fact that cases calendared on May 2,
1979 (that is, 12 days after April 20, 1979) were not heard
because the Judge [is] on leave' indicates that the respondent
Judge had received notice of the approval of his application
for leave on or before May 2. Moreover, that the hearing on
May 8 was held in chambers, with the Judge dressed casually
(in polo jacket), would seem to indicate that the court was not
open for regular business precisely because the Judge was on
vacation.
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The respondent's claim that the hearing in chambers was held


by agreement of the parties and that at any rate the
performance of judges should not be based on "sartorial
elegance" misses the point. For these circumstances are not
cited as independent grounds for discipline action but rather
as proof of the fact that the respondent judge knew he was
not supposed to hear cases because he was on vacation - as
in fact he did not hear other cases - but that, in the case of
Civil Case No. 7159-P, he made an exception.
Respondent Judge invokes the decision of the Court of
Appeals ... .
As already noted, the case was filed by the complaint t to
nullify the order of May 9, 1979 of the respondent Judge.
One thing, however, is legality-, another is propriety. A
judge's performance is to be measured not only by its
conformity to the law but to propriety as welt He must avoid
all appearance of partiality or interest. Such quality of
detachment and disinterestedness must be ,nourished in fact
and in appearance.
In the case at bar, the holding of the hearing in Civil Case No.
7159-P in chambers, with the conformity of the parties, is not
unlawfully (See Garcia v. Domingo, 52 SCRA 143 [1973]) And
since there were no other persons except the wife of one of
the parties and the counsel and the court personnel present,
the informal attire of the respondent could be excused.
Neither was his order issued the next day after the hearing
illegal, having been issued in the exercise of jurisdiction, as
the Court of Appeals ruled in the action for certiorari,
prohibition and mandamus. Nonetheless, because he held a
hearing in Civil Case No. 7159-P while he was on vacation,
while cancelling the scheduled hearings of other cases, the
respondent Judge opened himself to suspicion that he was
personally interested in the case before him.
As the Supreme Court held in Tan v. Gallardo, 73 SCRA 306,
315 (1976) 'judges should not only be impartial but should
also appear impartial . . . [and] while judges should possess
proficiency in law in order that they can competently construe
and enforce the law, it is more important that they should act
and behave in such a manner that the parties before them
should have confidence in their impartiality. This ruling was
reiterated in Fernandez v. Presbitero, 79 SCRA 60 (1977),
where a municipal judge was found guilty of grave
misconduct, partiality, and oppression and ordered to pay a
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fine equivalent to two months salary for conducting a


preliminary investigation of a criminal case at night and at the
residence of a relative of the political opponent of the
complainant's father, and thereafter issuing a warrant of
arrest against the complainant knowing that the next days
were holidays when government and private offices would be
closed, thus precluding the timely filing of a bail bond.
As already stated, the evidence does not warrant a finding
that the respondent took undue personal interest in the case
before him. The legality of his order was in fact sustained by
the Court of Appeals.
Nevertheless in his memorandum, dated October 16, 1981,
the complainant calls attention to additional evidence of
partiality and personal interest on the part of the respondent.
According to the complainant, following the decision of the
Court of Appeals in CA G.R. No. 09226-SP 'Ignacio v.
Valenzuela,' and the resumption of hearing in Civil Case No.
7159-P, the plaintiffs, one of whom is the complainant, asked
the respondent Judge to inhibit himself from the case for the
same reason that he had inhibited himself from trying another
case filed by the complainant against another party, but that
the respondent Judge refused; on the contrary, he granted a
writ of execution for the demolition of the building being
leased by the complainant, prompting the latter on October 9,
1981 to file another petition for certiorari and prohibition (CAG.R. No. SP-13171) with the Court of Appeals, where the case
is at present pending.
It will suffice to say that since this question is the subject of
review by the Court of Appeals in which the validity of the
order of respondent Judge is being questioned, this matter
cannot properly be taken up in these administrative
proceedings. (See Bonjoc v. Tupas, 67 SCRA 277 (1975);
Barroso v. Arche 67 SCRA 161 (1975) Lucman v. Hontanosas,
70 SCRA 449 (1976)
Recommendation
The impropriety committed by respondent Judge is not as
serious as that found to have been committed in Fernandez v.
Presbitero, 79 SCRA 60, where a fine equal to two months'
pay was imposed.
ACCORDINGLY, it is RECOMMENDED that respondent Judge be ordered to
pay a fine equal to his salary for one month.

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We agree with the investigator that the respondent is guilty of


impropriety.
WHEREFORE, as recommended, the respondent judge is hereby ordered
to pay a fine equivalent to his salary for one month. He is further warned
that misconduct on his part in the future will place him in grave peril.
SO ORDERED.
Fernando, C.J., Teehankee, Barredo, Makasiar, Aquino, Fernandez,
Melencio-Herrera, Plana and Escolin, JJ., concur.
Concepcion, Jr., J, is on leave.
14. A.M. No. MTJ-92-713 March 27, 1995
GLENITA S. LEGASPI, LANIE F. PAMA LALAINE F. PAMA AND
LESLIE ESPINOLA, complainants,
vs.
JUDGE FRANCISCO A. GARRETE, respondent.

PER CURIAM:
This is an administrative complaint charging Judge Francisco A. Garrete of
the 3rd Municipal Circuit Trial Court (MCTC) of Loreto-La Paz, Agusan del
Sur, and designated Acting Presiding Judge of the 4th MCTC, EsperanzaSan Luis-Talacogon, and of the 5th Luis-Talacogon, and of the 5th MCTC
of Bayugan-Sibagat, with grave misconduct, abuse of authority,
dishonesty and immorality.
The first three (3) complainants, namely, Glenita Legaspi, Lanie F. Pama
and Lalaine F. Pama are his Stenographic Reporters. Both Glenita and
Lanie are assigned at Loreto while Lalaine at Esperanza. The temporary
appointment of Glenita took effect on 22 July 1991 and those of the Pama
sisters Lanie and Lalaine on 15 August 1991. The fourth complainant,
Leslie Espinola, is not a court employee. She claims that she was formerly
hired by respondent judge as salesgirl in the refreshment parlor of Ms.
Elsa Pontimayor at Trento, Agusan del Sur, from 30 December 1991 to 20
July 1992. Glenita Legaspi executed her affidavit-complaint on 7 August
1992, while the Pama sisters and Leslie Espinola on 18 August 1992. 1
On 21 August 1992 respondent Judge wrote the Office of the Court
Administrator requesting that the temporary appointments of Glenita and
Lanie be immediately terminated because of inefficiency and
incompetence. 2

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On 22 October 1992 the Court issued a resolution directing that the


termination of the services of the aforenamed Court Stenographers be
held in abeyance and that Executive Judge Zenaida P. Placer, RTC,
Bayugan, Agusan del Sur, conduct an investigation on the charges of
immorality and misconduct against respondent judge in order to
immediately resolve the conflict and to submit her report and
recommendation thereon within sixty (60) days from receipt of the
records. We also granted respondent judge the opportunity to file his
comment/answer to the complaint-before the investigating judge. 3
On 2 December 1993 Judge Placer submitted a 54-page report 4 on her
investigation where she concluded that
VIEWED IN THE LIGHT OF THE FOREGOING, it is felt that the
acts of respondent are inimical to the good of public service
and would further tarnish the image of the judiciary. The oftrepeated dictum that serves as a yardstick on a judge's
deportment that "a judge, just like Caesar's wife, should not
only be chaste but beyond suspicion," applies.
On 13 January 1994 the Court referred the aforesaid investigation report
to the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) for evaluation and
recommendation on the specific penalty to be imposed. 5
On 1 June 1994 the OCA submitted a Memorandum recommending that
for grave misconduct, abuse of authority, dishonesty and immorality,
respondent judge be dismissed from the service . . . ." 6
We fully agree with the recommendation of OCA. From the onset of their
service in the court, complainant-stenographers were already at a
disadvantage. They were made to sign undated letters of resignation. In
addition, they were told to remain single if they wanted to extend their
employment.
Respondent judge insists that there was no malice in requiring
complainants to sign undated letters of resignation. He explains that he
did so for convenience as it would be easier for him to terminate their
services in case there were eligible applicants. 7 As regards their
requirement for complainants to stay single, he claims that it was only a
joke. 8
The explanation does not persuade us. As a judge of long standing he
ought to have known that a temporary appointment by its nature may be
terminated any time. Being therefore unnecessary, the undated
resignation letters could have no other effect except to become, as it did,
a "sword of Damocles" hanging over the heads of complainants.

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The purported joke of respondent requiring complainants to remain single


as a precondition to their continued employment is not amusing at all
Granting that such statement was made in jest, it was done in poor taste.
Respondent forgets that a judge should be prudent and more circumspect
in his utterances, remembering that his conduct in and outside the
courtroom is under constant observation. 9 To make matters worse,
respondent has not shown that he made any clarification of his facetious
statement. He allowed his remarks to stand uncorrected thereby giving
the color of veracity and, consequently, force to his words. Naturally,
being temporary employees, Lanie and Glenita who was made to sign an
undated letter of resignation, would unquestionably comply with the
directives of respondent judge as their continuance in office depended on
his good graces.
Further, we find that respondent, taking advantage of his position,
employed oppressive measures to coerce complainants to withdraw their
formal complaints. On 21 August 1992, he wrote the OCA requesting the
immediate termination of the services of Glenita and Lanie for alleged
inefficiency and incompetence. Shortly after, respondent disallowed both
Glenita and Lanie to report to work as they were already
terminated, 10 and returned all salary checks due them for the months of
September, October and November 1992. 11 Their tables and chairs were
also taken away and brought to the house of respondent. 12 Despite all
these, Glenita and Lanie continued to report for work because they were
afraid that they may be declared absent without leave.
Indeed, we have serious misgivings regarding the termination of the
services of Glenita and Lanie. The records reveal that respondent had just
recommended the renewal of their temporary appointments. 13 Such
recommendation simply meant that respondent judge was satisfied with
their performance. Obviously, the complaints filed in this case prompted
respondent to change his mind. Even granting that such grounds for
termination exist, respondent nonetheless cannot claim good faith. His
precipitate action in discontinuing the services of Glenita and Lanie and
ensuring that they would not have any place to work in the office clearly
indicated his intention to silence them and the other complainants. It was
not only a harsh act but also unauthorized. While Glenita and Lanie may
hold temporary appointments, they are still entitled to remain in office
until we pass upon the merits of respondent's plea for the termination of
their employment. Respondent's highhanded tactics are regretfully
deplorable considering that he knows fully well that the power to dismiss
court personnel belongs exclusively to the Supreme Court. 14
Noteworthy too is the unwarranted action of respondent judge of utilizing
the services of court personnel outside their official station. Admittedly,
he designated Ranulfo Vargas, Court Process Server, MCTC of EsperanzaSan Luis-Talacogon, as his driver although he was not his driver but

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Valentine Sustiguer, Court Process Server, MCTC of Loreto-La Pat.


Whenever respondent judge was in his other salas, he was accompanied
by Ranulfo and Valentine together with Ms. Concepcion Laurel, Court
Interpreter, MCTC of Loreto-La Paz.
Respondent judge submits that his actuations were proper and sanctioned
by the OCA. He contends that he sought from and was granted prior
permission by the OCA to utilize the services of some of his court
personnel outside their official stations.
We do not fully agree. The letter of then Deputy Court Administrator, now
Court Administrator, Ernani Cruz Pao, addressed to respondent judge
dated 18 September
1991 15 pertinently reads
In reply to your guery on whether or not you could legally
Utilize one of the personnel of your sala as your personal
driver in commuting between the courts you preside, please
be informed that, as there is no driver item in the inferior
courts, whatever service a personnel will render in the abovestated capacity will have to be the subject of a voluntary
arrangement between the personnel concerned and yourself .
...
Needless to state, the implied authority for respondent to avail of the
services of one of his employees as driver should not prejudice the latter's
work in the court. As it turned out, Ranulfo, the designated driver of
respondent, abandoned his job as Court Process Server of Esperanza.
Milagros Patete, Clerk of Court of the 4th MCTC, confirmed that Ranulfo
was not actually holding office thereat but was instead rendering personal
service to respondent judge; that, in fact, Ranulfo was not driving
respondent's vehicle but Valentine Sustiguer, Court Process Server of
Loreto-La Paz; that in his trips to his court in Esperanza, respondent
judge was accompanied by Ranulfo and Valentine as well as Court
Interpreter Concepcion Laurel of Loreto-La Pat; that both Ranulfo and
Concepcion did not assist respondent because the MCTC, at Esperanza,
has its own staff; that, thereafter, Valentine stopped driving respondent's
vehicle because by then the latter was being brought by a police car to
the MCTC at Esperanza-San Luis-Talacogon, and back to his permanent
station at Loreto. 16 Ranulfo himself declared that notwithstanding the
police escort, he went along with respondent judge as his companion. 17
Verily, respondent's whims had caused the idleness of Ranulfo and
Concepcion who could have been productive in their respective stations.
He also set a bad example of work ethics in government service. The time
records of Ranulfo showed full time service duly signed by respondent
judge. 18 Without doubt, Concepcion's trips to Esperanza were also
considered official when in truth it was without authority. As a result, they
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received their salaries even though they did not actually discharge the
functions of their office.
Such anomalous office practice was not isolated. Without prior court
approval, Lalaine who was officially assigned at Esperanza was detailed by
respondent to Loreto from May to September 1991, and at Trento in the
house of Ms. Pontimayor doing household chores from October to
November 1991.
While respondent denied this charge, his unsubstantiated disavowal
however cannot overrule the positive and detailed account of Lalaine on
her stay at Ms. Pontimayor's house. 19 Significantly, there is no evidence
to prove that Lalaine and Ms. Pontimayor knew each other before the
former's employment in the court. On the other hand, respondent himself
confirmed his close friendship with Ms. Pontimayor. Consequently, Lalaine
could not have just gone over to Trento without respondent's directive;
But more importantly, Lalaine's detail was not sanctioned by this Court.
Respondent knows without being told that his authority to detail
employees to laces other than their official station is at all times subject
to our approval.
These highly irregular and anomalous actuations of respondent plainly
contravene the mandates of the Code of Judicial Conduct, particularly
Rules 3:08 and 3:09 of
Canon 3. 20 He has demonstrated that he cannot maintain professional
competence in court management, organize and supervise court
personnel for efficient dispatch of business, and observe unceasingly the
high standards of public service. Indeed, the conduct of respondent could
hardly create in his salas an atmosphere conducive to industry, dedication
and commitment to excellence. 21 We have held that a judge must be at
the forefront of all efforts to preserve and enhance the public trust
character of a public office and anyone who cannot do so should not be
allowed to stay a minute longer in any judicial seat. 22
On the charge of dishonesty, the evidence proves that respondent judge
took portions of the allowances or benefits of complaint-stenographers
Re Cost of Living Allowance (COLA)
In October 1991, the staff of the MCTC Loreto-La Pat, received their COLA
in the amount of P1,700.00 each with the exception of Glenita who claims
that at first she thought she was not entitled to the benefit as she was
relatively new in the service. Later she learned about her check from Ms.
Marilyn Cullantes, the Clerk of Court. She claims that although she
received from. respondent the supposed cash value of her check on 4
November 1991, she did not endorse her check, and that she actually
received from respondent P1,500.00.

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For her part, Lalaine avers that respondent got P500.00 from her COLA on
the pretext that he would buy a cassette tape recorder for her she being
new in the Service. But respondent neither bought the adhesive recorder
for her nor returned the amount he took from her.
Respondent judge vehemently denies these charges. He asserts that
Glenita requested him to encash her COLA check because there was no
payee bank at Loreto; that she signed on 4 November 1991 an
acknowledgment receipt for her COLA; that he never had any agreement
with Lalaine to buy a cassette recorder for her; and, that subsequently,
Lalaine allowed Lanie, impliedly at least, to use the cash value of her
check for the latter's expenses in their Bohol trip.
The protestations of respondent judge, regretfully, fail to impress us. It
may be noted that all salary checks, including allowances and fringe
benefits of the MCTC personnel of Loreto-La Pat, were addressed to and
received by respondent. He distributed the checks himself. Since the
checks arrived in bunch respondent would have to distribute arrived in
bunch, respondent would have to distribute them to the personnel then
present. Yet, he offers no corroborative evidence to show that Glenita
requested his assistance for the encashment of her check.
On the other hand, Glenita's non-receipt of the COLA in October 1991 was
attested by no less than respondent's recommend, Ms. Marilyn Cullantes,
the Clerk of Court of Loreto-La Paz, who proved to be a disinterested
witness. She stated that Glenitars check arrived together with the rest but
respondent held on to it for reasons of his own; that weeks after, she
confided to respondent judge the ire of Glenita's father who intended to
report the matter to higher authorities; and that respondent later gave to
Glenita the cash value of her COLA. 23
The likelihood that respondent judge held on to Glenita's COLA longer
than necessary cannot be discounted. His proffered reason that there was
no payee bank in Loreto is weak considering that the store owned by
Henet Morente at Loreto accepts checks for encashment. In one instance,
respondent directed Concepcion and Glenita to encash the latter's check
for her fringe benefit of P2,000.00 in that store. Consequently,
respondents unexplained delay in giving the cash value of the COLA to
Glenita only intensifies the suspicion of wrongdoing. Reason dictates that
had Glenita received her check, she would have gone promptly to Rene
Morente's' store for immediate encashment rather than wait longer for
respondent's return to Loreto.
Concerning Lalaine's plaint, respondent's unsupported denial cannot stand
against the positive testimony of Milagros Patete, 24 Clerk of Court of the
MCTC of Esperanza, a witness to respondent's machinations. She testified

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Atty. Patrick R. Battad, counsel for respondent


Q. You also testified that the said check was
voluntarily indorsed in your presence by Miss
Lalaine Pama?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. It was voluntary because nobody was
pressuring her to indorse her check in your
presence?
A. Because she was told by Judge Garrete to have
the check indorsed as they had agreed where the
check would be utilized (emphasis supplied).
Q. . . . . Did you hear when Judge Garrete actually
asked Miss Lalaine Pama about the P1,700.00.
A. Yes.
Q. Where exactly did you hear Judge Garrete ask
Miss Lalaine Pama?
A. In our court in Talacogon.
Q. Particularly where in your court in Talacogon,
Mrs. Witness?
A. In the sala, sir.
xxx xxx xxx
Q. How did Judge Garrete ask Lalaine Pama about
the P1,700.00 check?
A. He suggested to Miss Lalaine Pama that the
P1,700.00 will be purchased for a cassette
recorder.
Re Personal Economic Relief Allowance (PERA)
In February 1992, Glenita and Lanie received their Personal Economic
Relief Allowance (PERA) of P500.00 each. They charge respondent of
directing them to endorse their checks to him as payment for the repair of
a typewriter which was never brought to the office.

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Respondent judge argues that the repair of the typewriter donated by the
Municipal Government to the court was urgently needed because it was
the only typewriter in the office. 25 According to him, he went twice to this
Court to request for a typewriter but none was available. Upon his
suggestion, the employees contributed P100.00 each and he shouldered
the rest of the expenses amounting to P1,200.00. 26
The allegations of respondent judge are misleading and untrue. A
certification from the Property Division, this Court, dated 9 November
1994 discloses that on 9 September 1989 a typewriter was issued to the
MCTC, Loreto-La Paz, which was received by respondent judge on the
same date. On 5 December 1991, another typewriter was sent to the
same court. In between those dates, respondent did not file any written
request for an additional typewriter with the Property Division. A written
request is required as a standard-operating procedure to serve as basis
for the Property Division to release a typewriter to the office concerned if
immediately available or as soon as the equipment would be available. No
written request appears to have been made by respondent. Instead, on
12 July 1989 respondent asked for and received on 17 July 1989 an
electric fan as evidenced by his signed receipt. Again, in March 1992 he
requested for an additional electric fan which Edgardo Cullantes received
for him on 29 January 1993. Respondent's misrepresentation certainly
placed the Court's reputation in bad light. As a lawyer and judge, his
conduct ought to be marked with candor. Hence, respondent's devious
strategy to bolster his claim at the expense of truth should be strongly
condemned.
Moreover, the reason of respondent for soliciting contributions from
Glenita and Lanie appears implausible. He knew upon receipt of the
donated typewriter that it was almost junk. 27 Instead of requesting this
Court for an additional typewriter, he resorted to soliciting contributions
purportedly to fix a typewriter that was already beyond repair. Be that as
it may, his solicitation was absolutely illegal and uncalled for, Sec, 7, par.
(d), of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and
Employees 28 implicitly prohibits public officials in the course of their
official duties from soliciting directly or indirectly anything of monetary
value from any person. Notwithstanding his alleged good intentions,
respondent's transgression cannot be countenanced. For judges must be
the first to abide with the law and weave an example for others to
follow. 29 Thus, solicitations made by judges for reasons of refurbishing
and improving the office 30 or of donating to a Judiciary Welfare
Fund 31 or to a Common Fund 32 were declared unlawful and violative not
Common Fund only of the law but also of Canons 1 and 2 of the Code of
Judicial Conduct. The erring judges were dismissed from the service with
prejudice to reinstatement in public office. Respondent's case is no
different as the law makes no distinction whether those who made the
contributions were litigants, private persons or court employees.

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Interestingly, respondent claims that he merely asked Lanie and Glenita


to contribute the sum of P100.00 each. Yet, he took from each of them
P500.00. While respondent asserts that he returned P400.00 each to
Glenita and Lalaine, such assertion seems dubious, The testimony of his
witness, Court Interpreter Concepcion Laurel, confirming respondent's
return militates against respondent's position. Concepcion admitted that
she cannot recall when respondent gave back the amount, Subsequently,
with the aid of a leading question propounded by counsel, Concepcion
added that respondent returned P400.00 to Lanie at his house and
another office. 33
But this contradicts the testimony of respondent that it was Concepcion
who returned their P400.00 each after deducting their contribution Of
1100.00 from their PERA. 34
Re Fringe Benefit Checks
On 21 July 1992 the court personnel of the MCTC at Loreto received their
fringe benefit checks in the amount of 12,000.00 each. According to
Glenita and Lanie, upon receipt of their checks they promptly endorsed
them to respondent as he allegedly demanded the full payment for the
sunglasses he sold to them at P900.00 each, although their agreement
was to pay on three (3) equal installments. 35 In spite of their immediate
compliance, respondent did not encash their checks. As a result,
complainants did not get the balance owing to them until 12 August 1992,
or for almost two (2) weeks, as evidenced by their acknowledgment
receipts.
On her part, Lalaine narrates that respondent judge through Ranulfo
Vargas took P500.00 out of her fringe benefit of P2,000.00.
In his defense, respondent judge offers the acknowledgment receipts of
both Glenita and Lanie dated 12 August 1992 to prove his innocence. He
also claims that the P500.00 taken from Lalaine was a partial payment of
her indebtedness to Ranulfo, who confirmed Lalaine's obligation to him.
The acknowledgment receipts of Glenita and Lanie cannot exculpate
respondent from liability. There is an avowed purpose in the grant of
fringe benefits to court employees, i.e., to alleviate their economic needs.
Respondent appears to be oblivious of such objective. His indifference can
be gleaned not only from the delay with which he encashed the checks
and returned the remaining amounts to Glenita and Lanie but also from
his demand for the full payment of the sunglasses despite his knowledge
of a prior agreement to pay on installment basis. In fact, the act of selling
sunglasses to his employees was improper . His behavior thus constitutes
abuse of authority. Nevertheless, Glenita and Lanie could not help
submitting to respondent considering his official and moral ascendancy
over them, aside from the fact that Glenita had a pre-signed resignation
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letter. For the same reason which prompted Glenita to yield, Lalaine could
not likewise refuse to give P500.00 to respondent through Ranulfo
Vargas.
We are not swayed by Ranulfo's claim that Lalaine was indebted to him.
For one, it lacks supportive evidence. Secondly, Ranulfo was admittedly
close to respondent, a neighbor in Bohol, who was responsible for his
appointment in the court. Such close relationship is further shown when
respondent favored Ranulfo with the privilege of being his companion in
his trips and reporting only to his official station to get his paycheck. 36
In rebuttal, Lalaine presented Clerk of Court Cullantes who was with her
and Ranulfo when the latter demanded the amount of P500.00. In a
straight-forward manner, Ms. Cullantes asserted that
Atty. Battad, counsel for respondent.
Q: You mentioned also in your affidavit, Mrs.
Witness, that Judge Garrete demanded P500.00
from Miss Lalaine Pama. Am I correct, Mrs.
Witness?
A: That is correct.
Q: And the alleged demand of P500.00 was
allegedly coursed through Ranulfo Vargas?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: Am I correct to say, Mrs. Witness, that when
Judge Garrete allegedly requested or directed
Ranulfo Vargas to demand P500.00 from Lalaine
Pama you were not around if at all there was a
request?
A: I was present, sir.
Q: You mean to say that when Judge Garrete
allegedly directed Ranulfo Vargas to demand
P500.00 from Lalaine Pama, you were around?
A: Yes, sir.
xxx xxx xxx
Q: When did Ranulfo Vargas allegedly inform you
about it that it was Judge Garrete who allegedly

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directed him to demand P500.00 from Lalaine


Pama?
A: We were together in going to Esperanza.
Q: And what was or how did Ranulfo Vargas
allegedly inform you?
A: He did not inform me but he told Lalaine "Lan,
ang P500.00 kuno."
Q: How did you know that Judge Garrete directed
Ranulfo Vargas or you only assumed that Judge
Garrete allegedly directed him to demand P500.00
from Lalaine Pama?
A: I heard when Ranulfo Vargas told Lalaine.
Q: So, you only heard Ranulfo Vargas uttered
"Lalaine, ang P500.00 kuno ni Judge." Other than
that, you did not hear anything from Ranulfo
Vargas?
A: None, sir.
xxx xxx xxx
Q: And this along of what you heard a limited
brief statement from Ranulfo Vargas, you
assumed that Judge Garrete directed Ranulfo
Vargas to extort P500.00 from Lalaine Pama, Mrs.
Witness?
A: Yes.
Q: You consider that brief statement as a form of
extortion from Judge Garrete. Am I correct, Mrs.
Witness?
A: Well, as far as I know, when I asked Lalaine
about it, she doesn't (sic) have any account from
Judge Garrete.
xxx xxx xxx
Q: How soon did you ask Lalaine Pama if she
owed anything to Judge Garrete?

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A: That very moment. I asked Lalaine whether


she had any account with Judge Garrete and then
she replied that she does (sic) not have any
account. 37
Indubitably, respondent's culpability to the charge of dishonesty is clear.
By his conduct, he has stained the noble image of the judiciary. Judges
should bear in mind that those involved in the administration of justice
from the highest to the lowest level must live up to the strictest standard
of honesty and integrity in the public service. 38
Anent the charge of immorality, complainant Leslie Espinola claims that
aside from her work as salesgirl in the refreshment parlor of Ms. Elsa
Pontimayor at Trento she also performed household chores and other
errands for Ms. Pontimayor. She initially believed that respondent and Ms.
Pontimayor were married because whenever respondent's schedule was in
Esperanza-San Luis-Talacogon, Bayugan and Sibagat, he would go home
to and spend the night in Ms. Pontimayor's house particularly in her room,
and if respondent's was in Loreto he would arrive at Trento on Monday
mornings and then on Friday afternoons when he would pass the night
with Ms. Pontimayor and leave the following day. During those times, she
saw both respondent judge and Ms. Pontimayor taking their shower
together in her bathroom and lying also together in the latter's
waterbed. 39
Glenita declares that in the first few days on the job in the MCTC at Loreto
she saw two pictures placed on top of the table of respondent judge. On
her query, respondent judge informed her that the person in one picture
was his legal wife. As regards the woman in the other picture, respondent
merely smiled and kept silent as to her identity although she later found
out she was Ms. Pontimayor. 40
Lanie recounts that sometime in November 1991 she and some of the
court employees with Ms. Pontimayor attended a town fiesta in Bohol.
They stayed in the house of the Sister of respondent judge where both he
and Ms. Pontimayor shared the same room. She (Lanie) and Ms. Luisa
Paway saw respondent and Ms. Pontimayor take a bath together as their
hands and feet could be seen. Later, she saw Ms. Pontimayor washing
respondent's pants, T-shirt and brief and hung them to dry. In another
instance, Lanie saw the two lying together in one bed as she got inside
the room to get her clothes which Ms. Pontimayor mistakenly took from
the clothesline. Upon their return from Bohol, she together with
respondent judge and Ranulfo Vargas went directly to the house of Ms.
Pontimayor where respondent not only slept in her room but also took his
bath together with her (Ms. Pontimayor). 41
Lalaine likewise asserts that sometime in the middle part of October up to
the later part of November 1991, while some court personnel were in
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Bohol, respondent judge detailed her to the house of Ms. Pontimayor to


do household chores and supervise other housemaids. She allegedly saw
respondent and Pontimayor sleep together. On one occasion, she saw
respondent judge and Ms. Pontimayor with her legs on top of him. That
was when she tried to get the adopted child of Ms. Pontimayor who
entered the latter's bedroom. There were other occasions when she saw
them kissing as the adopted child of Ms. Pontimayor would go in and out
of their room. These situations embarrassed her because she knew of the
real status of respondent. 42
Against these incriminating testimonies, respondent judge maintains that
the immorality charge is baseless. His closeness with Ms. Pontimayor was
due to the length of time he has been her transient boarder. He questions
the credibility of complainant Leslie Espinola. He asserts that she could
not have witnessed the alleged immoral acts as the room of the transients
are located at the first floor whereas the servants' quarters is at the
second floor.
As regards the immoral acts in Bohol, respondent judge avers that he
could not have been that callous to do such acts before his court
employees and his sister who would never consent to the perpetration of
an immoral act within the sanctity of her home. 43
His strong denial notwithstanding, the detailed circumstances under which
respondent's scandalous conduct was described would rule out the notion
that the immorality charge simply arose from complainants' imagination
or their intention to harass him. The records show that rumors were
already circulating about respondent's liaison with Ms. Pontimayor 44 and
respondent added fuel to the fire, so to speak, when he prominently
displayed the picture of Ms. Pontimayor on his table. His indiscretion did
not fail to catch the attention of Clerk of Court Cullantes who testified
Atty. Calonia, counsel for complainants
Q: While you were having a vacation in Bohol in
November 1991, Elsa Pontimayor slept upstairs in
the house of the sister of the respondent in Bohol
while the respondent himself slept downstairs. Is
this true, Mrs. Witness?
A: That is not true.
Q: What is the truth, Mrs. Witness?
A: We were only four of us sleeping upstairs.
Q: Who?

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A: Miss Lanie Pama, Miss Laurel, Lorna Paway and


myself .
xxx xxx xxx
Q: How many rooms does the house of the sister
of the respondent has (sic) in Bohol where you
stayed?
A: There are four bedrooms, upstairs there are
two bedrooms .
Q: And downstairs?
A: And downstairs, one bedroom in the sala and in
the kitchen there is also one bedroom.
xxx xxx xxx
Court:
Well, you have to be honest, Mrs. Cullantes. Did
you see them sleep together in one room or what?
xxx xxx xxx
A: There is a room downstairs and above that
room we slept there the four of us. The
downstairs room was one occupied by judge and
Miss Pontimayor . . . 45
The denials interposed by respondent cannot prevail over the positive
testimonies of complainants and their witness. His mere denial constitutes
self-serving negative defense which, in the absence of any proof to
substantiate it, cannot be given any probative value and more so if, in
this case, there is a declaration from a credible witness who can testify on
affirmative matters. 46
On the other hand, the account of respondent's witnesses fail to inspire
belief. Ranulfo is unquestionably close to respondent judge. Similarly,
Concepcion's testimony veers towards bias for respondent judge. As the
OCA noted, "Concepcion Laurel is a trusted employee and the eyes and
ears of respondent" who "promptly confessed that she has developed a
professional closeness to respondent." 47
We have repeatedly held that although every office in the government
service is a public trust, no position exacts a greater demand on moral
righteousness and uprightness of an individual than a seat in the

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judiciary. 48 Members of the judiciary should conduct themselves in such


a manner as to be beyond reproach and suspicion, and free from any
appearance of impropriety in their personal behavior, not only in the
discharge of their official duties but also in their everyday life. 49 They are
strictly mandated to maintain good moral character at all times and to
observe irreproachable behavior so as not to outrage public decency. 50
Sadly, respondent judge has failed to abide with these stringent judicial
norms. His abusive and unwarranted display of authority, his oppression
and dishonesty as well as his highly immoral behavior are serious
offenses that doubtless render him unfit to continue in office. We
therefore affirm the recommendation of the Office of the Court
Administrator based on the report of the investigating judge for the
dismissal of respondent judge.
WHEREFORE, respondent Judge Francisco A. Garrete of the 3rd Municipal
Circuit Trial Court, Loreto-La Paz, Agusan del Sur, is DISMISSED from the
service with prejudice to reinstatement or appointment to any public
office, including government-owned or controlled corporation, with
forfeiture of all retirement benefits and privileges.
This dismissal shall be immediately executory, hence, respondent judge is
ordered to VACATE his position forthwith and to CEASE AND DESIST from
further performing his official functions.
SO ORDERED.
Narvasa, C.J., Feliciano, Padilla, Bidin, Regalado, Romero, Bellosillo, Melo,
Quiason, Puno, Vitug, Kapunan, Mendoza and Francisco, JJ., concur.
15. A.M. No. 2112-CFI December 29, 1980
JOSE MANGULABNAN, complainant,
vs.
JUDGE JOSE TECSON and ATTY. RAYMUNDO MAGNO, respondents.
A. M. No. 2123-CFI December 29, 1980
DOLORES BOLILAN, complainant,
vs.
JUDGE JOSE TECSON and ATTY. RAYMUNDO MAGNO, respondents.

MAKASIAR, J.:
These two complaints dated February 9 and 19, 1980, filed by Jose
Mangulabnan and Dolores Bolilan, respectively (pp. 1 2, AM 2112, rec.;
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pp. 1-2, AM 2123, rec.), charge Honorable Jose Tecson, in his capacity as
Presiding Judge of Branch V, Court of First Instance of Manila, and his
Branch Clerk of Court, Atty. Raymundo Magno, with Non-Feasance in
violation of Section 11 (1), Article X of the Constitution in relation to
Article 27 of the New Civil Code and contrary to complainant's right as
guaranteed by Section 16, Article IV of the Constitution. The two
complainants are the complaining witnesses in Crim. Cases Nos. 22622 &
22623, both entitled "People vs. Jose Calderon & Josefa Calderon" for
estafa, which were tried and decided jointly by respondent Judge on
February 24,1978 (pp. 15-30, AM 2112 rec.).
The complainants alleged in their sworn complaints that the said criminal
cases were submitted for decision as early as August 16, 1977 (p. 1, AM
2112 rec. & p. 1, AM 2123 rec.). After that date, they had been inquiring
from respondent Clerk of Court about the decision, but they were not
answered. On January 17, 1978, they both wrote the same respondent
(p. 3, AM 2112; p. 3, AM 2123 rec.) asking whether or not a decision had
already been rendered and requesting copies of the decision, if any.
Several follow-up letters (pp. 4 & 16, AM 2123 rec.) written by
complainant Bolilan yielded no response.
It turned out that a joint decision was rendered by respondent Judge
on February 24, 1978 in the two criminal cases, but a copy thereof was
delivered to complainant Mangulabnan only on September 28, 1979, over
19 months later (pp. 30, AM 2112 rec.). The said cases were elevated to
the Court of Appeals on appeal by the accused on August 7, 1979 (p. 18,
AM 2123 rec.).
The respondent Judge gave his written explanations in his letters dated
March 5 and 14, 1979 (pp. 4-5, AM 2112 rec.; pp. 6-7, AM 2123 rec.),
pursuant to the Ist Indorsements of Deputy Court Administrator Arturo
Buena dated February 20 and March 9, 1979. In his comments,
respondent Judge confirmed that the above- mentioned criminal cases
were disposed of on February 24, 1978. However, due to the honest
mistake and excusable neglect of one of their filing clerks who had since
resigned, the records of the said cases were inadvertently included among
the finished cases kept in a separate cabinet. He overlooked the said
cases in his efforts to duplicate his past records as one of the judges with
the most number of disposed cases per year. He also vouched for the
integrity and honesty of his clerk of court.
This Court's First Division, in its resolution of July 25, 1980 (p. 8, AM
2112), referred these cases to Associate Justice Rodolfo A. Nocon of the
Court of Appeals for investigation, report and recommendation. After
hearing, the said Justice submitted his report dated September 17, 1980
(pp. 73-86, AM 2112 rec.), recommending that both respondents be
exonerated from the charges but they should be admonished to be more
meticulous in seeing to it that submitted cases are decided with dispatch
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and within the period ordained by the Constitution, with a warning that a
repetition of the same will be dealt with drastically (p. 86, AM 2112 rec.).
It appears that the decision (joint) in the subject criminal cases was
rendered on February 24, 1978, or six (6) months and eight (8) days
from submission on August 16, 1977. The several letters written by the
complainants inquiring about the cases and requesting copies of the
decision were received by respondent clerk of court but not answered. It
was only their letter written in late September, 1979, which were
answered with the information that the cases had been elevated to the
Court of Appeals on August 7, 1979. A copy of the decision was furnished
complainant Mangulabnan on September 28, 1979, more than one year
and seven months after rendition of the decision. The records do not show
when the decision was actually promulgated.
During the investigation, both respondents denied malice or bad faith as a
cause for the delay. In his testimony, respondent Judge attributed such
delay to unavoidable circumstances, such as misfiling by their filing clerk,
a certain Ricardo Norberte, now resigned (t.s.n., pp. 86-87), and the
cramped space they temporarily occupied in 1978 (t.s.n., p. 89). He
explained, however, that when the letter of complainant Mangulabnan
dated January 17, 1978 was brought to his attention, he ordered his clerk
of court to locate the records, then he immediately prepared the decision
on February 24, 1978 (t.s.n., pp. 86-87). He also admitted that
complainant Bolilan visited him in his office sometime in July 1978,
inquiring about the decision; however, he inadvertently thought she was
referring to another case so he told her that it was still under
consideration (t.s.n., p. 88).
Respondent Mago justified the delay in furnishing a copy of the decision
to the complainants by stating that it is only the defense counsel, private
prosecutor and fiscal who are furnished copies of the decision. Partieslitigants are given only upon request, without discrimination (t.s.n., pp.
62-63). He denied ever ignoring the complainants. He also cited his
achievements as a branch clerk of court as well as those of respondent
Judge, being among the topnotchers for several years in number of yearly
dispositions of cases (t.s.n., pp. 60 & 67).
In spite of all the glowing achievements cited by the respondents, it is
obvious that they had been remiss in the performance of their official
duties. This should not be countenanced, as it negates the principle of
speedy dispensation of justice as ordained by the Constitution.
The respondent Judge, who is so interested in maintaining his record as
among the topnotchers in the number of yearly disposition, should
exercise more diligence and more vigilance in attending to cases
submitted for decision. It would be wen for him to institute some form of
control not only over court records but also among his personnel, and not
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snow mere clerks to misplace or mishandle such valuable records. He


should not entrust a decision to a subordinate until after its promulgation,
in order to guard against the temptation to make money out of it. It is not
enough that judges write their decisions; it is also important to
promulgate and make it known to all concerned. Otherwise, what good
would a favorable decision be if the interested party is kept in the dark
about it? It could only be a tool for maneuvers on the part of the losing
party, or a valuable commodity for sale by unscrupulous persons.
Respondent Magno could have abated the long delay had he exercised
more diligence in attending to the several communications of the
complainants. It is true that courts' standard operating procedures allow
copies of decisions to be finished only to the lawyers of parties-litigants.
But it is equally true that court decisions are part of the public records.
Interested parties may be given copies thereof upon payment of the
necessary fees. To deny them such right breeds suspicion.
WHEREFORE, RESPONDENTS ARE HEREBY REPRIMANDED AND WARNED
THAT A REPETITION OF THE SAME OR SIMILAR OFFENSE WILL BE DEALT
WITH MORE SEVERELY.
LET COPIES OF THIS DECISION BE ATTACHED TO THE PERSONAL
RECORDS OF EACH OF THE RESPONDENTS.
SO ORDERED.
Teehankee (Chairman), Fernandez, Guerrero and Melencio-Herrera, JJ.,
concur.

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