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1.[G.R. No. 142762.

March 04, 2005]


LILANY YULO y BILLONES, petitioner, vs. THE PEOPLE OF THE
PHILIPPINES, respondent.
DECISION

When no payment was forthcoming, Myrna lodged a complaint against


petitioner with the Office of the City Prosecutor of Caloocan City.
On August 23, 1993, three (3) Informations were filed by the Caloocan City
Prosecutor with the Regional Trial Court, Branch 130, same city, for violation
of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22, docketed as Criminal Cases Nos. C-44774,
44775, and 44776.

SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J.:
Before us is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules
of Civil Procedure, as amended, seeking to reverse the Decision [1] of the Court
of Appeals dated January 31, 1997 in CA-G.R. CR No. 17513 and its
Resolution[2] dated March 16, 2000.
The facts, as culled from the findings of the trial court and affirmed by the Court
of Appeals are:

When arraigned with the assistance of counsel de parte, petitioner pleaded not
guilty to the charges. The cases were then consolidated and jointly heard.
Petitioner admitted having issued the checks in question but claimed that she
merely lent them to Josefina. In turn, Josefina delivered the checks to her
friend who showed them to a jeweler as show money. It was understood that
the checks were not to be deposited. Petitioner vehemently denied having any
transaction with Myrna.

Sometime in August 1992, Lilany B. Yulo, petitioner, and Josefina Dimalanta


went to the house of Myrna Roque, private complainant, in Caloocan City.
Josefina, introduced to Myrna petitioner Yulo as her best friend and a good
payer. Josefina told Myrna that petitioner wanted her checks encashed. In
view of Josefinas assurance that petitioner is trustworthy, Myrna agreed to
encash the checks. Petitioner then issued to Myrna three checks: (a)
Equitable Bank (EB) Check No. 237936 in the amount of P40,000.00,
postdated September 30, 1992; (b) EB Check No. 237941 in the amount
of P16,200.00; and (c) Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) Check No. 656602
in the amount of P40,000.00, postdated November 18, 1992.

Petitioner also claimed that that when she issued the checks, she knew she
had no funds in the banks; and that she was aware that the checks would be
dishonored if presented for payment.

When Myrna presented the checks for payment to the drawee banks, they
were dishonored. The EB checks were Drawn Against Insufficient Funds,
while the BPI check was stamped Account Closed.

(1) In Criminal Case No. C-44774, to an imprisonment of ONE (1) YEAR,


and to indemnify the offended party Myrna Roque in the amount
of P16,200.00, representing the face value of Equitable Bank Check No.
227941, and to pay the costs;

As Myrna did not know petitioners address, she immediately informed Josefina
about the dishonored checks. The latter told Myrna not to worry and repeated
her assurance that petitioner is her best friend and a good payer. Myrna tried
to get petitioners address from Josefina, but the latter refused and instead
made the assurance that she will inform petitioner that the checks were
dishonored.

After hearing, the trial court rendered its Decision, the dispositive portion of
which reads:
WHEREFORE, the Court finds the accused LILANY YULO y BILLONES, guilty
beyond reasonable doubt of a violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22, and is hereby
sentenced as follows:

(2) In Criminal Case No. C-44775, to an to an imprisonment of ONE (1)


YEAR, and to indemnify the offended party Myrna Roque in the amount
of P40,000.00, representing the face value of Bank of the Philippine
Islands Check No. 656602, and to pay the costs;

(3) In Criminal Case No. C-44776, to an imprisonment of ONE (1) YEAR,


and to indemnify the offended party Myrna Roque in the amount
of P40,000.00, representing the face value of Equitable Bank Check No.
237936, and to pay the costs.

In his comment, the Solicitor General counters that the Appellate Court has
explained satisfactorily why petitioners motion for reconsideration was not
resolved immediately.
Article III, Section 16 of the Constitution provides:

Pursuant to Rule 114, Section 2(a) of the Rules of Court, as amended, the bail bond of
the accused is cancelled and the accused is hereby committed to the City Jail.

SEC.16. All persons shall have the right to a speedy disposition of their cases before all
judicial, quasi-judicial, or administrative bodies.

SO ORDERED.[3]
Upon appeal, docketed as CA-G.R. CR No. 17513, the Court of Appeals
affirmed in toto the Decision of the trial court.
Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration but was denied.

Under the foregoing provision, any party to a case has the right to demand on
all officials tasked with the administration of justice to expedite its disposition.
However, the concept of speedy disposition is a relative term and must
necessarily be a flexible concept.[5] A mere mathematical reckoning of the time
involved is not sufficient.[6] In applying the Constitutional guarantee, particular
regard must be taken of the facts and circumstances of each case.

Hence, the instant petition raising the following assignments of error:


I. WHETHER OR NOT THE PETITIONER WAS DEPRIVED OF HER
RIGHT TO SPEEDY DISPOSITION OF CASES;
II. WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN
AFFIRMING THE CONVICTION FOR VIOLATION OF BATAS
PAMBANSA BLG. 22. EVEN IF THE REQUISITES THEREFORE ARE
NOT COMPLETE;
III. WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN
AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE TRIAL COURT ALTHOUGH THE
LATTERS DECISION WAS BASED ON THE UNCORROBORATED,
INCREDIBLE,
AND
UNNATURAL
STATEMENTS
OF
THE
COMPLAINANT AND ALTHOUGH THE TESTIMOMY OF THE
ACCUSED WAS SUPPORTED BY CORROBORATING EVIDENCE.[4]
The issues for our resolution are: (1) whether the Court of Appeals violated
petitioners right to a speedy trial; and (2) whether the same court erred in
holding that the prosecution has proved petitioners guilt beyond reasonable
doubt.
On the first issue, petitioner contends that the Court of Appeals resolved her
motion for reconsideration only after three (3) years from its filing. Such
inaction violates her right to a speedy disposition of her case.

The right to a speedy disposition of a case, like the right to speedy trial, [7] is
deemed violated only when the proceedings are attended by vexatious,
capricious, and oppressive delays, or when unjustified postponements of the
trial are asked for and secured, or when without cause or justifiable motive a
long period of time is allowed to elapse without the party having his case tried.
[8]
To determine whether the right has been violated, the following factors may
be considered: (1) the length of the delay; (2) the reasons for such delay; (3)
the assertion or failure to assert such right by the accused; and (4) the
prejudice caused by the delay.[9]
In the instant case, we agree with the Solicitor General that the delay was
sufficiently explained by the Court of Appeals. The ponente of the decision in
CA-G.R. CR No. 17513, Associate Justice Jainal D. Rasul, retired during the
pendency of petitioners motion for reconsideration filed on March 4, 1997.
However, the case was assigned to Associate Justice Mercedes Gozo-Dadole
only on February 28, 2000 and brought to her attention on March 2, 2000. We
note that it took Justice Gozo-Dadole only two (2) weeks from notice to
resolve the motion. Clearly, she did not incur any delay. We, therefore, rule
that there has been no violation of the petitioners right to a speedy trial.
On the second issue, petitioner submits that the prosecution failed to prove her
guilt beyond reasonable doubt. Not all the elements of the offense of violation
of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 were adequately established. For one, Myrna
Roque, private complainant, did not send her any notice of dishonor. It was

Josefina whom Myrna contacted, not her. For another, petitioner merely lent
the checks to Josefina to be shown by her friend to a jeweler.
Petitioners arguments are simply untenable.
The elements of the offense penalized by Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 are: (1) the
making, drawing, and issuance of any check to apply for account or for value;
(2) the knowledge of the maker, drawer, or issuer that at the time of issue he
does not have sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee bank for the
payment of the check in full upon its presentment; and (3) the subsequent
dishonor of the check by the drawee bank for insufficient funds or credit or
dishonor for the same reason had not the drawer, without any valid cause,
ordered the bank to stop payment.[10]
We agree with the Court of Appeals that the prosecution has proved all the
elements of the offense.

The Court of Appeals affirmed the findings of the trial court. Settled is the rule
that factual findings of the trial court which have been affirmed in toto by the
Court of Appeals are entitled to great weight and respect by this Court and will
not be disturbed absent any showing that the trial court overlooked certain
facts and circumstances which could substantially affect the outcome of the
case.[13] This exception is not present here. That Myrna was the sole witness
for the prosecution is of no moment. There is no law requiring that the
testimony of a single witness must be corroborated. The rule in this jurisdiction
is that the testimony of witnesses is weighed, not numbered, and the
testimony of a single witness, if found trustworthy and credible, as in this case,
is sufficient to sustain a conviction.[14]
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals
dated January 31, 1997 and its Resolution dated March 16, 2000, in CA-G.R.
CR No. 17513, sustaining the Joint Decision of the trial court in Criminal
Cases Nos. C-44774, C-44775, and C-44776 are AFFIRMED. Costs against
petitioner.

Petitioner admitted having issued the three dishonored checks for value. Her
purpose was to encash them. She also admitted that at the time she issued SO ORDERED.
the checks, she was aware that she had only P1,000.00 in her account with
the Equitable Bank and that her BPI account was already closed. Significantly,
what Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 penalizes is the issuance of a bouncing check. 2. DOMINGO NEYPES, LUZ G.R. No. 141524
It is not the non-payment of an obligation which the law punishes, but the act FAUSTINO, ROGELIO FAUSTINO,
of making and issuing a check that is dishonored upon presentment for
LOLITO VICTORIANO, JACOB
payment.[11] The purpose for which the check was issued and the terms and
OBANIA AND DOMINGO Present :
conditions relating to its issuance are immaterial. What is primordial is that the
issued checks were worthless and the fact of worthlessness was known to the CABACUNGAN,
petitioner at the time of their issuance, as in this case. This is because under Petitioners, DAVIDE, JR., C.J.
Batas Pambansa Blg. 22, the mere act of issuing a worthless check is malum PUNO,
PANGANIBAN,
prohibitum.[12]
QUISUMBING,
We likewise find no reason to sustain petitioners contention that she was not YNARES-SANTIAGO,
given any notice of dishonor. Myrna had no reason to be suspicious of SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ,
petitioner. It will be recalled that Josefina Dimalanta assured Myrna that CARPIO,
petitioner is her best friend and a good payer. Consequently, when the checks - v e r s u s - AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
bounced, Myrna would naturally turn to Josefina for help. We note that CORONA,
Josefina refused to give Myrna petitioners address but promised to inform CARPIO MORALES,
CALLEJO, SR.,
petitioner about the dishonored checks.
AZCUNA,
TINGA,

CHICO-NAZARIO and
GARCIA, JJ.
HON. COURT OF APPEALS, HEIRS
OF BERNARDO DEL MUNDO,
namely: FE, CORAZON, JOSEFA,
SALVADOR and CARMEN, all
surnamed DEL MUNDO, LAND BANK
OF THE PHILIPPINES AND HON.
ANTONIO N. ROSALES, Presiding
Judge, Branch 43, Regional Trial
Court, Roxas, Oriental Mindoro,
Respondents. Promulgated :
September 14, 2005
x-----------------------------------------x
DECISION
CORONA, J.:

In the course of the proceedings, the parties (both petitioners and


respondents) filed various motions with the trial court. Among these
were: (1) the motion filed by petitioners to declare the respondent
heirs, the Bureau of Lands and the Bureau of Forest Development in
default and (2) the motions to dismiss filed by the respondent heirs
and the Land Bank of the Philippines, respectively.
In an order dated May 16, 1997, the trial court, presided by public
respondent Judge Antonio N. Rosales, resolved the foregoing motions
as follows: (1) the petitioners motion to declare respondents Bureau of
Lands and Bureau of Forest Development in default was granted for
their failure to file an answer, but denied as against the respondent

Petitioners Domingo Neypes, Luz Faustino, Rogelio Faustino, Lolito

heirs of del Mundo because the substituted service of summons on

Victoriano, Jacob Obania and Domingo Cabacungan filed an action for

them was improper; (2) the Land Banks motion to dismiss for lack of

annulment of judgment and titles of land and/or reconveyance and/or


reversion with preliminary injunction before the Regional Trial Court,
Branch 43, of Roxas, Oriental Mindoro, against the Bureau of Forest
Development, Bureau of Lands, Land Bank of the Philippines and the

cause

of

action

was

denied

because

there

were

hypothetical

admissions and matters that could be determined only after trial, and
(3) the motion to dismiss filed by respondent heirs of del Mundo,
based on prescription, was also denied because there were factual
matters that could be determined only after trial.[1]

heirs of Bernardo del Mundo, namely, Fe, Corazon, Josefa, Salvador


and Carmen.

The respondent heirs filed a motion for reconsideration of the order


denying their motion to dismiss on the ground that the trial court

could very well resolve the issue of prescription from the bare

period to appeal started to run only on July 22, 1998 since this was

allegations of the complaint itself without waiting for the trial proper.

the day they received the final order of the trial court denying their
motion for reconsideration. When they filed their notice of appeal on

In an order[2] dated February 12, 1998, the trial court dismissed


petitioners complaint on the ground that the action had already

July 27, 1998, only five days had elapsed and they were well within
the reglementary period for appeal.[7]

prescribed. Petitioners allegedly received a copy of the order of


dismissal on March 3, 1998 and, on the 15th day thereafter or on

On September 16, 1999, the Court of Appeals (CA) dismissed the

March 18, 1998, filed a motion for reconsideration. On July 1, 1998,

petition. It ruled that the 15-day period to appeal should have been

the trial court issued another order dismissing the motion for

reckoned from March 3, 1998 or the day they received the February

reconsideration[3] which petitioners received on July 22, 1998. Five

12, 1998 order dismissing their complaint. According to the appellate

days later, on July 27, 1998, petitioners filed a notice of appeal [4] and

court, the order was the final order appealable under the Rules. It

paid the appeal fees on August 3, 1998.

held further:

On August 4, 1998, the court a quo denied the notice of appeal, holding
that it was filed eight days late. [5] This was received by petitioners on

Perforce the petitioners tardy appeal was correctly dismissed for the
(P)erfection of an appeal within the reglementary period and in the
manner prescribed by law is jurisdictional and non-compliance with
such legal requirement is fatal and effectively renders the judgment
final and executory.[8]

July 31, 1998. Petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration but this
too was denied in an order dated September 3, 1998.[6]
Via a petition for certiorari and mandamus under Rule 65 of the 1997
Rules of Civil Procedure, petitioners assailed the dismissal of the
notice of appeal before the Court of Appeals.
In the appellate court, petitioners claimed that they had seasonably
filed their notice of appeal. They argued that the 15-day reglementary

Petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration of the aforementioned


decision. This was denied by the Court of Appeals on January 6,
2000.
In this present petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules,
petitioners ascribe the following errors allegedly committed by the
appellate court:

The foregoing issues essentially revolve around the period within which
I
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN DISMISSING
THE
PETITIONERS PETITION FOR CERTIORARI AND
MANDAMUS AND IN AFFIRMING THE ORDER OF THE HON.
JUDGE ANTONIO N. ROSALES WHICH DISMISSED THE
PETITIONERS APPEAL IN CIVIL CASE NO. C-36 OF THE
REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, BRANCH 43, ROXAS, ORIENTAL
MINDORO, EVEN AFTER THE PETITIONERS HAD PAID THE
APPEAL DOCKET FEES.
II
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS LIKEWISE ERRED IN
RULING AND AFFIRMING THE DECISION OR ORDER OF THE
RESPONDENT HON. ANTONIO M. ROSALES THAT PETITIONERS
APPEAL WAS FILED OUT OF TIME WHEN PETITIONERS
RECEIVED THE LAST OR FINAL ORDER OF THE COURT ON JULY
22, 1998 AND FILED THEIR NOTICE OF APPEAL ON JULY 27, 1998
AND PAID THE APPEAL DOCKET FEE ON AUGUST 3, 1998.
III
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS FURTHER ERRED IN
RULING THAT THE WORDS FINAL ORDER IN SECTION 3, RULE
41, OF THE 1997 RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE WILL REFER TO
THE [FIRST] ORDER OF RESPONDENT JUDGE HON. ANTONIO
M. MORALES DATED FEBRUARY 12, 1998 INSTEAD OF THE LAST
AND FINAL ORDER DATED JULY 1, 1998 COPY OF WHICH WAS
RECEIVED BY PETITIONERS THROUGH COUNSEL ON JULY 22,
1998.
IV.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS FINALLY ERRED IN
FINDING THAT THE DECISION IN THE CASE OF DENSO, INC. V.
IAC, 148 SCRA 280, IS APPLICABLE IN THE INSTANT CASE
THEREBY
IGNORING
THE
PECULIAR
FACTS
AND
CIRCUMSTANCES OF THIS CASE AND THE FACT THAT THE SAID
DECISION WAS RENDERED PRIOR TO THE ENACTMENT OF THE
1997 RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE.[9]

petitioners should have filed their notice of appeal.


First and foremost, the right to appeal is neither a natural right nor a
part of due process. It is merely a statutory privilege and may be
exercised only in the manner and in accordance with the provisions of
law. Thus, one who seeks to avail of the right to appeal must comply
with the requirements of the Rules. Failure to do so often leads to the
loss of the right to appeal.[10] The period to appeal is fixed by both
statute and procedural rules. BP 129,[11] as amended, provides:
Sec. 39. Appeals. The period for appeal from final orders, resolutions,
awards, judgments, or decisions of any court in all these cases shall
be fifteen (15) days counted from the notice of the final order,
resolution, award, judgment, or decision appealed from. Provided,
however, that in habeas corpus cases, the period for appeal shall be
(48) forty-eight hours from the notice of judgment appealed from. x x x

Rule 41, Section 3 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure states:


SEC. 3. Period of ordinary appeal. The appeal shall be taken
within fifteen (15) days from the notice of the judgment or final
order appealed from. Where a record on appeal is required, the
appellant shall file a notice of appeal and a record on appeal within
thirty (30) days from the notice of judgment or final order.
The period to appeal shall be interrupted by a timely motion for new
trial or reconsideration. No motion for extension of time to file a
motion for new trial or reconsideration shall be allowed. (emphasis
supplied)

Based on the foregoing, an appeal should be taken within 15 days from

motion to set it aside. When the omnibus motion was filed, 12 days of

the notice of judgment or final order appealed from. A final judgment

the 15-day period to appeal the order had lapsed. He later on received

or order is one that finally disposes of a case, leaving nothing more for

another order, this time dismissing his omnibus motion. He then filed

the court to do with respect to it. It is an adjudication on the merits

his notice of appeal. But this was likewise dismissed for having

which, considering the evidence presented at the trial, declares

been filed out of time.

categorically what the rights and obligations of the parties are; or it


may be an order or judgment that dismisses an action.[12]

The court a quo ruled that petitioner should have appealed within 15
days after the dismissal of his complaint since this was the final order
that was appealable under the Rules. We reversed the trial court and

As already mentioned, petitioners argue that the order of July 1, 1998


denying their motion for reconsideration should be construed as the
final order, not the February 12, 1998 order which dismissed their

declared that it was the denial of the motion for reconsideration of an


order of dismissal of a complaint which constituted the final order as it
was what ended the issues raised there.

complaint. Since they received their copy of the denial of their motion
for reconsideration only on July 22, 1998, the 15-day reglementary

This pronouncement was reiterated in the more recent case of Apuyan

period to appeal had not yet lapsed when they filed their notice of

v. Haldeman et al.[14] where we again considered the order denying

appeal on July 27, 1998.

petitioner Apuyans motion for reconsideration as the final order which


finally disposed of the issues involved in the case.

What therefore should be deemed as the final order, receipt of which


triggers the start of the 15-day reglementary period to appeal the

Based on the aforementioned cases, we sustain petitioners view

February 12, 1998 order dismissing the complaint or the July 1, 1998

that the

order

dated

July

1,

1998

denying

their

motion

order dismissing the MR?

reconsideration was thefinal order contemplated in the Rules.

for

In the recent case of Quelnan v. VHF Philippines, Inc.,[13] the trial court

We now come to the next question: if July 1, 1998 was the start of the

declared petitioner Quelnan non-suited and accordingly dismissed his

15-day reglementary period to appeal, did petitioners in fact file their

complaint. Upon receipt of the order of dismissal, he filed an omnibus

notice of appeal on time?

Under Rule 41, Section 3, petitioners had 15 days from notice of


judgment or final order to appeal the decision of the trial court. On the
15thday of the original appeal period (March 18, 1998), petitioners did
not file a notice of appeal but instead opted to file a motion for
reconsideration. According to the trial court, the MR only interrupted
the running of the 15-day appeal period.[15] It ruled that petitioners,
having filed their MR on the last day of the 15-day reglementary
period to appeal, had only one (1) day left to file the notice of appeal
upon receipt of the notice of denial of their MR. Petitioners, however,
argue that they were entitled under the Rules to a fresh period of 15

at risk of occasional error, the judgments and awards of courts must


become final at some definite time fixed by law.[18]
Prior to the passage of BP 129, Rule 41, Section 3 of the 1964 Revised
Rules of Court read:
Sec. 3. How appeal is taken. Appeal maybe taken by serving upon
the adverse party and filing with the trial court within thirty (30)
days from notice of order or judgment, a notice of appeal, an
appeal bond, and a record on appeal. The time during which a
motion to set aside the judgment or order or for new trial has been
pending shall be deducted, unless such motion fails to satisfy the
requirements of Rule 37.
But where such motion has been filed during office hours of the last
day of the period herein provided, the appeal must be perfected within
the day following that in which the party appealing received notice of
the denial of said motion.[19] (emphasis supplied)

days from receipt of the final order or the order dismissing their motion
for reconsideration.
In Quelnan and Apuyan,

According to the foregoing provision, the appeal period previously


both

petitioners

filed

motion

for

reconsideration of the decision of the trial court. We ruled there that


they only had the remaining time of the 15-day appeal period to file
the notice of appeal. We consistently applied this rule in similar cases,
[16]

premised on the long-settled doctrine that the perfection of an

appeal in the manner and within the period permitted by law is not
only mandatory but also jurisdictional.

[17]

The rule is also founded on

deep-seated considerations of public policy and sound practice that,

consisted of 30 days. BP 129, however, reduced this appeal period to


15

days.

In

the

deliberations

of

the

Committee

on

Judicial

Reorganization[20] that drafted BP 129, the raison d etre behind the


amendment was to shorten the period of appeal[21] and enhance the
efficiency and dispensation of justice. We have since required strict
observance of this reglementary period of appeal. Seldom have we
condoned late filing of notices of appeal,[22] and only in very exceptional
instances to better serve the ends of justice.

In National Waterworks and Sewerage Authority and Authority v.

existed a clear need to prevent the commission of a grave injustice.

Municipality of Libmanan,[23] however, we declared that appeal is an

Our judicial system and the courts have always tried to maintain a

essential part of our judicial system and the rules of procedure should

healthy balance between the strict enforcement of procedural laws and

not be applied rigidly. This Court has on occasion advised the lower

the guarantee that every litigant be given the full opportunity for the

courts to be cautious about not depriving a party of the right to

just and proper disposition of his cause.[25]

appeal and that every party litigant should be afforded the amplest

The Supreme Court may promulgate procedural rules in all courts. [26] It

opportunity for the proper and just disposition of his cause, free from

has the sole prerogative to amend, repeal or even establish new rules

the constraint of technicalities.

for a more simplified and inexpensive process, and the speedy

In de la Rosa v. Court of Appeals,[24] we stated that, as a rule, periods


which require litigants to do certain acts must be followed unless,
under exceptional circumstances, a delay in the filing of an appeal
may be excused on grounds of substantial justice. There, we condoned

disposition of cases. In the rules governing appeals to it and to the


Court of Appeals, particularly Rules 42,[27] 43[28] and 45,[29] the Court
allows extensions of time, based on justifiable and compelling reasons,
for parties to file their appeals. These extensions may consist of 15
days or more.

the delay incurred by the appealing party due to strong considerations


of fairness and justice.

To standardize the appeal periods provided in the Rules and to afford

In setting aside technical infirmities and thereby giving due course to

litigants fair opportunity to appeal their cases, the Court deems it

tardy appeals, we have not been oblivious to or unmindful of the

practical to allow a fresh period of 15 days within which to file the

extraordinary situations that merit liberal application of the Rules. In

notice of appeal in the Regional Trial Court, counted from receipt of

those situations where technicalities were dispensed with, our

the order dismissing a motion for a new trial or motion for

decisions were not meant to undermine the force and effectivity of the

reconsideration. [30]

periods set by law. But we hasten to add that in those rare cases
where procedural rules were not stringently applied, there always

Henceforth, this fresh period rule shall also apply to Rule 40 governing
appeals from the Municipal Trial Courts to the Regional Trial Courts;

Rule 42 on petitions for review from the Regional Trial Courts to the

Neither does this new rule run counter to the spirit of Section 39 of BP

Court of Appeals; Rule 43 on appeals from quasi-judicial agencies[31] to

129 which shortened the appeal period from 30 days to 15 days to

the Court of Appeals and Rule 45 governing appeals by certiorari to

hasten the disposition of cases. The original period of appeal (in this

the Supreme Court.[32] The new rule aims to regiment or make the

case March 3-18, 1998) remains and the requirement for strict

appeal period uniform, to be counted from receipt of the order denying

compliance still applies. The fresh period of 15 days becomes

the motion for new trial, motion for reconsideration (whether full or

significant only when a party opts to file a motion for new trial or

partial) or any final order or resolution.

motion for reconsideration. In this manner, the trial court which

We thus hold that petitioners seasonably filed their notice of appeal

rendered the assailed decision is given another opportunity to review

within the fresh period of 15 days, counted from July 22, 1998 (the

the case and, in the process, minimize and/or rectify any error of

date of receipt of notice denying their motion for reconsideration). This

judgment. While we aim to resolve cases with dispatch and to have

pronouncement is not inconsistent with Rule 41, Section 3 of the

judgments of courts become final at some definite time, we likewise

Rules which states that the appeal shall be taken within 15 days from

aspire to deliver justice fairly.

notice of judgment or final order appealed from. The use of the


disjunctive word or signifies disassociation and independence of one
thing from another. It should, as a rule, be construed in the sense in
which it ordinarily implies.[33] Hence, the use of or in the above
provision supposes that the notice of appeal may be filed within 15

In this case, the new period of 15 days eradicates the confusion as to


when the 15-day appeal period should be counted from receipt of
notice of judgment (March 3, 1998) or from receipt of notice of final
order appealed from (July 22, 1998).

days from the notice of judgment or within 15 days from notice of the

To recapitulate, a party litigant may either file his notice of appeal

final order, which we already determined to refer to the July 1, 1998

within 15 days from receipt of the Regional Trial Courts decision or file

order denying the motion for a new trial or reconsideration.

it within 15 days from receipt of the order (the final order) denying his
motion for new trial or motion for reconsideration. Obviously, the new
15-day period may be availed of only if either motion is filed;

otherwise, the decision becomes final and executory after the lapse of
the original appeal period provided in Rule 41, Section 3.
Petitioners here filed their notice of appeal on July 27, 1998 or five days
from receipt of the order denying their motion for reconsideration on
July 22, 1998. Hence, the notice of appeal was well within the fresh
appeal period of 15 days, as already discussed.[34]

We deem it unnecessary to discuss the applicability of Denso


(Philippines), Inc. v. IAC[35] since the Court of Appeals never even
referred to it in its assailed decision.

DECISION
VITUG, J.:
Following a judicial audit and physical inventory of records conducted by a
Judicial Audit Team[1] in the Regional Trial Court ("RTC") of Santiago City,
Branches 21, 35 and 36; RTC of Cabarroguis, Quirino, Branch 31; RTC of
Ilagan, Isabela, Branch 17; Municipal Trial Court in Cities ("MTCC") of
Santiago City, Branches 1 and 2; and Municipal Trial Court ('MTC") of
Cauayan and Echague, Isabela, and considering the recommendations of the
Office of the Court Administrator ("OCA") in its memorandum, dated 23
February 1998, to the Chief Justice, the Court, in its 23rd June 1998
resolution, resolved, among other things, to (1) Direct Judge Serio A. Plan of MTC, Cauayan, Isabela, to explain the delay
in the resolution of the following cases:
1. CV-1896 - Submitted for Resolution on August 29, 1996;
2. CV-1894 - Submitted for resolution on November 4, 1996;
3. CV-1932 - Submitted for resolution on December 16, 1996;
4. CV-1946 - Submitted for decision on November 5, 1997;

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby GRANTED and the assailed


decision

of

the

Court

of

Appeals REVERSED and SET

ASIDE.

5. CV-2034 - Submitted for decision on November 12, 1997; and


6. CV-1706 - Submitted for decision on March 17, 1997."[2]

Accordingly, let the records of this case be remanded to the Court of

(2) Direct Judge Wilfredo P. Ambrosio of RTC, Cabarroguis, Quirino, Branch


31, to explain the delay in the resolution of the following cases:

Appeals for further proceedings.

1. 426 - Submitted for decision on June 16, 1997;


2. 427 - Submitted for decision on June 16, 1997;

No costs. SO ORDERED

3. 434 - Submitted for decision on June 16, 1997;


4. 387 - Submitted for decision on June 16, 1997;
5. 194 - Submitted for decision on October 19, 1995;

[A.M. No. 98-3-119-RTC. October 18, 2000]

6. 256 - Submitted for decision on July 26, 1995;


7. 430 - Submitted for decision on August 25, 1997;

JUDICIAL AUDIT REPORT, Regional Trial Court, Branches 21, 35 & 36 and
Municipal Trial Court in Cities, Branches 1 & 2, Santiago City; Regional
Trial Court, Branch 17, Ilagan, Isabela; Regional Trial Court, Branch 31,
Cabarroguis, Quirino and Municipal Trial Court, Cauayan & Echague,
Isabela.

8. 292 - Submitted for decision on January 27, 1997;


9. 169 - Submitted for decision on July 7, 1997
10. 373 - Submitted for decision on August 25, 1997;
(with draft decision)

11. 324 - Submitted for decision on May 15, 1996;


12. 425 - Submitted for decision on August 25, 1997;

1. 1283 3. 1043 5. 975


2. 718 4. 951 6. 1116"[4]

13. 393 - Submitted for resolution on March 3, 1997;


14. 408 - Submitted for resolution on August 25, 1996;
15. 83 - Submitted for resolution on October 10, 1997;
16. 368 - Submitted for resolution on August 7, 1994; and

(3) Direct Judge Fe Albano Madrid of RTC, Santiago City, Branch 21, to explain
the delay in the resolution of Civil Case No. 0105, submitted for decision on
09 October 1997, and to explain why the following cases were unacted upon
for a considerable length of time; to wit:

17. 370 - Submitted for resolution on August 20, 1996." [3]

"CIVIL CASES

Judge Ambrosio was likewise required to explain why the following cases were
unacted upon for a considerable length of time; to wit:

1. 2348 4. 2425 7. 2433 10. 2432

"CIVIL CASES
1. 392 14. 45916
2. 444 15. LRC-92-9
3. 188 16. 311
4. 283 17. 261
5. 302 18. 295
6. 394 19. 459
7. 96-11 20. Sp. Proc. 93-002
8. 228 21. Sp. Proc. 96-08
9. 320 22. Sp. CV 173
10. LRA 184 23. LRC Case No. 182
11. 399 24. Sp. CV Action 91-02
12. 309 25. Sp. Proc. 97-10
13. 243 26. LRC Case No. 181
"CRIMINAL CASES

2. 2441 5. 2230 8. 2312 11. 2313"[5]


3. 2317 6. 2383 9. 503
(4) Direct Judge Demetrio D. Calimag, Jr., RTC of Santiago City, Branch 35, to
explain the delay in the resolution of the following cases:
"CRIMINAL CASES
1. 1898 - Submitted for decision on October 10, 1997;
2. 1977 - Submitted for decision on October 10, 1997;
3. 1978 - Submitted for decision on October 10, 1997; and
4. 1979 - Submitted for decision on October 10, 1997;
"CIVIL CASES
1. LRC Case-35-2161 - Submitted for decision on July 28, 1997;
2. 2077 - Submitted for decision on May 22, 1997; and
3. 2318 - Submitted for decision on February 19, 1997."[6]
Judge Calimag, furthermore, was required to explain why the following cases
were unacted upon for a considerable length of time; to wit:
"CIVIL CASES

1. LRC 2095 3. LRC 2087 5. 2396

13. 2339 - Submitted for resolution on June 17, 1997;

2. 2165 4. Sp. Proc. 0205 6. 204"[7]

14. 2052 - Submitted for resolution on January 16, 1997;

(5) Direct Judge Efren A. Lamorena, RTC of Santiago City, Branch 36, to
explain the delay in the resolution of the following cases:

15. 2158 - Submitted for resolution on August 8, 1996;


16. 2156 - Submitted for resolution on March 1, 1996

"CRIMINAL CASES
17. 2232 - Submitted for resolution on March 28, 1996;
1. 1931 - Submitted for decision on December 13, 1995;
18. 2143 - Submitted for decision on October 24, 1995;
2. 2287 - Submitted for decision on September 18, 1997;
19. 2147 - Submitted for decision on August 22, 1995;
3. 2094 - Submitted for decision on January 15, 1997; and
20. 2292 - Submitted for decision on December 11, 1996;
4. 0226 - Submitted for decision on July 2, 1997.
21. 2243 - Submitted for decision on October 29, 1997;
"CIVIL CASES
22. LRC 1921 - Submitted for decision on August 13, 1997;
1. 2151 - Submitted for decision on October 24, 1995;
23. Spc. Proc. 0182 - Submitted for decision on January 31, 1997;
2. 21521 - Submitted for decision on October 24, 1995
24. Spc. Proc. 0206 - Submitted for decision on January 20, 1997;
3. 2128 - Submitted for decision on November 7, 1995;
25. 2300 - Submitted for decision on October 6, 1997;
4. 2150 - Submitted for decision on January 8, 1996;
26. 0103 - Submitted for decision on February 12, 1996; and
5. 1047 - Submitted for decision on September 10, 1997
27. 2220 - Submitted for decision on October 23, 1997."[8]
6. 2181 - Submitted for decision on January 17, 1997;
7. 2141 - Submitted for decision on August 14, 1997;

Judge Lamorena was also asked to explain why the following cases were
unacted on for a considerable length of time; to wit:

8. 2248 - Submitted for decision on May 30, 1997;

"CRIMINAL CASES

9. 1076 - Submitted for decision on September 18, 1996;

1. 1605 2. 2283 3. 2071 4. 1943

10. 2089 - Submitted for decision on June 6, 1996;

"CIVIL CASES

11. 2154 - Submitted for decision on May 16, 1995;

1. 0810 6. 0811 11. 2067 15. 1044

12. 2137 - Submitted for resolution on March 13, 1997;

2. 1082 7. 0910 12. 540 16. 0449

3. 2186 8. 2187 13. 2142 17. 2355

"b. Unacted cases for a considerable length of time.

4. 2294 9. 2443 14. 2352 18. 0108[9]

1. Civil Case 2348 For Declaration of Nullity of Marriage - Summons to the


defendant was returned unserved on October 23, 1977 with the
information that the defendant is abroad. There is still no action by the
plaintiff to have summons effected by publication.

5. 2220 10. 2309


(6) Direct Judge Ruben R. Plata, MTCC, Santiago City, to explain his delay in
acting on the following cases:
"CRIMINAL CASES
1. 3433 3. 3434 5. 3435 7. 5570
2. 3071 4. 2778 6. 2840
"CIVIL CASES
1. 320 4. 322 6. 325 8. 326
2. 327 5. 328 7. 330 9. 331"[10]
3. 399
Judge Fe Albano Madrid, Judge Demetrio Calimag, Jr., Judge Efren Lamorena
and Judge Sergio Plan submitted their respective compliances. In its
Memorandum, dated 11 May 1999, the OCA reported thusly:
"JUDGE FE ALBANO MADRID
RTC, Branch 21, Santiago City
"Judge Madrid gave no explanation for the delay in the resolution of Civil Case No.
0105 and why there were cases which were unacted on for a considerable length of
time. All she stated were the present status of the said cases, (pp. 54-56, rollo).

2. Civil Case 2441 For Damages - Submitted for resolution after the
plaintiff submitted his written opposition within ten days to the Motion to
Dismiss which was filed by the defendants on August 7, 1998.
3. Civil Case 2230 For Damages - Proceedings were suspended by the
Court of Appeals on October 3, 1996. The Court of Appeals decision was
received on February 14, 1997 and the proceedings resumed. On July 7,
1998 the case was dismissed upon the manifestation of the parties that
they already entered into an amicable settlement.
4. Civil Case 2425 For Specific Performance - No answer was filed by the
defendant. A motion to declare in default was filed by the plaintiff only on
June 23, 1998 which was granted on June 26, 1998.On July 21, 1998,
during the scheduled ex-parte reception of evidence, the plaintiff moved
for the suspension of the proceedings for ninety days to restudy the
complaint. The motion was granted.
5. Civil Case 2317 For Damages - Summons was returned unserved with
the information that the defendant is not known in the address
given. There is still no action by the defendant.
6. Civil Case 2383 For Forcible Entry - This is an appeal from the MTCC,
Santiago City. Appellant was directed to submit his appeal memorandum
within thirty days. He failed to submit. Appeal was dismissed on August
17, 1998.
7. Civil Case 2433 For Unlawful Detainer - This is an appeal from the
MTCC, Santiago City. Appellant was directed to submit his appeal
memorandum within thirty days. He failed to submit. Appeal was
dismissed on August 17, 1998.
8. Civil Case 2312 For Specific Performance - Complaint was dismissed
on August 17, 1998.

"a. Delay in the Resolution of Civil Case No. 0105.

9. Civil Case 503 - This is an old case which was dismissed as early as
January 20, 1987.

Judge Madrid informed that Civil Case No. 0105 has long been dismissed on February
7, 1984. What might have been referred to was Spc. Proc. No. 0105 where there is a
pending Motion for Reconsideration. The petitioner in the said case submitted his
Supplemental Offer of Documentary Evidence on October 10, 1997 but was
inadvertently missed. Thus, the Motion for Reconsideration was resolved only on
February 10, 1998.

10. Civil Case 2432 For Unlawful Detainer - This is an appeal from the
MTCC, Santiago City. It was dismissed on July 22, 1998 for failure of the
appellant to submit his appeal memorandum.
11. Civil Case 2313 For Annulment of Sale - On trial.

"JUDGE DEMETRIO D. CALIMAG, JR.

1. 35-2052 - Archived on February 26, 1998.

RTC, Branch 35, Santiago City

2. 35-2055 - Archived on February 26, 1998

"Judge Calimag likewise offered no explanations for the delay in the resolution of
some cases in his sala. Instead he simply gave the statuses of the cases as follows, (pp.
70-72, rollo):

3. 35-2118 - Archived on March 26, 1998.

"Criminal Cases:

5. 35-2184 - Archived on March 30, 1998.

1. 35-1898 - Decided on September 17, 1998.

6. 35-2243 - Archived on August 25, 1998.

2. 35-1977 - Decided on September 17, 1998.

7. 35-2257 - Archived on May 28, 1998

3. 35-1978 - Decided on September 17, 1998.

8. 35-2215 - Archived on May 28, 1998

4. 35-1979 - Decided on September 17, 1998.

9. 35-2143 - Archived on April 30, 1998.

"Civil Cases:

10. 35-1969 - Archived on February 26, 1998.

1. (LRC) 35-2161 - Decided on September 1, 1998.

11. 35-1515 - Archived on February 25, 1998.

2. 35-2077 - Decided on August 10, 1998.

12. 35-2277 - Archived on June 29, 1998.

3. 35-2318 - Decided on September 1, 1998.

13. 35-2407 - Archived on August 25, 1998.

4. (LRC) 35-2095 - for Pre-Trial Conference on September 3, 1998.

14. 35-2415 - Archived on August 25, 1998.

5. (LRC) 35-2087 - DISMISSED without prejudice on August 20, 1998.

15. 35-1945 - Archived on February 26, 1998.

6. 35-2396 - DISMISSED on August 21, 1998.

16. 35-2454 - Archived on August 25, 1998.

7. 35-2165 - Archived on August 20, 1998.

17. 35-2259 - Archived on June 29, 1998.

"Special Proceedings:

18. 35-2284 - Archived on August 25, 1998.

1. 35-0205 - DISMISSED without prejudice on August 31, 1998.

19. 35-2323 - Archived on April 30, 1998.

2. 35-0206 - DISMISSED without prejudice on August 31, 1998.

20. 35-2332 - DISMISSED on February 3, 1998.

"Archived Criminal Cases:

21. 35-2362 - Archived on May 28, 1998.

4. 35-2126 - Archived on April 30, 1998.

22. 35-1958 - Transferred to RTC 36 on June 30, 1995.

43. 35-2442 - Archived on August 25, 1998.

23. 35-2041 - Archived on February 26, 1998.

44. 35-2334 - Archived on May 28, 1998.

24. 35-1791 - Archived on February 25, 1998.

45. 35-2377 - Raffled at RTC 36.

25. 35-2078 - Archived on February 26, 1998.

46. 35-1966 - Archived on February 26, 1998.

26. 35-2130 - Archived on April 30, 1998.

47. 35-2046 - Archived on February 26, 1998.

27. 35-2124 - Archived on April 30, 1998.

48. 35-2079 - Archived on February 26, 1998.

28. 35-2171 - Archived on April 30, 1998

49. 35-2104 - Archived on March 30, 1998.

29. 35-2223 - Archived on May 28, 1998.

50. 35-2148 - Archived on April 30, 1998.

30. 35-2240 - Archived on June 29, 1998.

51. 35-2178 - Archived on April 30, 1998.

31. 35-1849 - Archived on February 25, 1998.

52. 35-2224 - Archived on May 28, 1998.

32. 35-2141 - Archived on April 30, 1998.

53. 35-2244 - Archived on June 29, 1998.

33. 35-2387 - Archived on August 25, 1998.

54. 35-2339 - DISMISSED on February 3, 1998.

34. 35-2019 - Archived on April 30, 1998.

55. 35-2142 - Archived on April 30, 1998.

35. 35-0022 - DECIDED by RTC 21 on December 29, 1986.

56. 35-1907 - Archived on February 26, 1998.

36. 35-2312 - Archived on August 25, 1998.

57. 35-1159 - Archived on February 26, 1998.

37. 35-2408 - Archived on August 25, 1998.

58. 35-2220 - RAFFLED at RTC 36.

38. 35-1922 - Archived on February 26, 1998.

59. 35-2314 - Archived on May 28, 1998.

39. 35-1976 - Archived on February 26, 1998.

60. 35-2410 - Archived on August 25, 1998.

40. 35-2455 - Archived on August 25, 1998.

61. 35-1905 - Archived on February 26, 1998.

41. 35-2263 - Archived on August 25, 1998.

62. 35-2030 - Archived on February 26, 1998.

42. 35-2290 - Archived on August 25, 1998.

63. 35-2454 - Archived on August 25, 1998.

64. 35-2280 - Archived on June 29, 1998.

85. 35-2031 - Archived on February 26, 1998.

65. 35-2315 - Archived on May 28, 1998.

86. 35-0973 - Archived on August 25, 1998.

66. 35-2325 - Archived on May 28, 1998.

87. 35-2282 - Archived on June 29, 1998.

67. 35-2334 - Archived on May 28, 1998.

88. 35-2316 - Archived on May 28, 1998.

68. 35-2366 - Archived on May 28, 1998.

89. 35-2329 - Archived on August 25, 1998.

69. 35-1991 - Archived on February 26, 1998.

90. 35-2377 - Raffled to RTC 36.

70. 35-1687 - Archived on February 25, 1998.

91. 35-1906 - Archived on February 26, 1998.

71. 35-2093 - Archived on February 26, 1998.

92. 35-2018 - Archived on April 30, 1998.

72. 35-2105 - DISMISSED on November 17, 1997.

93. 35-1274 - Archived on February 25, 1998.

73. 35-2155 - Archived on April 30, 1998.

"JUDGE EFREN A. LAMORENA

74. 35-2182 - Archived on May 28, 1998.

RTC, Branch 36, Santiago City

75. 35-2232 - Archived on June 29, 1998.

Judge Efren A. Lamorena, RTC, Branch 36, Santiago City, submitted his reasons (pp.
60-61, rollo) for the delay in the resolution of some cases in his sala as follows:

76. 35-2256 - Archived on June 29, 1998.


77. 35-2214 - Archived on May 28, 1998.
78. 35-2143 - Archived on April 30, 1998.
79. 35-1914 - Archived on March 28, 1998.
80. 35-1513 - Archived on February 25, 1998.
81. 35-2275 - Archived on June 29, 1998.
82. 35-2081 - Archived on February 26, 1998.
83. 35-2411 - Archived on August 25, 1998.
84. 35-1924 - Archived on February 26, 1998.

1. Due to his health problem (a vision impairment) caused by a cataract


disease clouding his eyes with intense pain and compromising as it
compromised his eyesight thus, preventing him to carry his normal work;
(Judge Lamorena informed that as soon as his economic life improves, he
will try to submit himself for an eye operation. Just recently he suffered a
stroke).
"2. His health problem is compounded by the hard working condition of his
office. It is very small and crowded. All the equipments of the court are
stocked without any airconditioning unit. (The Team noted that Judge
Lamorena has no court and staff room.) He conducts his trials at the
corridors and shares the room with the Office of the Clerk of Court.
"3. His sala was designated to try heinous crimes;
"4. He likewise revealed that he commutes daily in a public transportation
at a distance of seventy two (72) kilometers one way with a travel time of
at least four (4) hours a day.

"On November 12, 1998 (p. 80, rollo) Judge Lamorena informed that of the thirty-one
(31) cases mentioned in Item No. 5-a, only six (6) cases remain to be decided or
resolved, while seven (7) of the cases listed in Item No. 5-c are likewise being
resolved.
"Judge Lamorena informed that had it not been for the Super Typhoon Iliang and later
Loleng whose destructive fury devastated the province of Isabela, including his
residence, he would have resolved already all the said cases.
"He likewise manifested that he is already ready to resume trying cases in his sala.
"It is should be noted that Judge Lamorena however did not furnish this Office copies
of his decisions.
"JUDGE SERGIO A. PLAN
MTC, Cauayan, Isabela
"In his letter dated August 27, 1998 (p. 68, rollo), Judge Plan simply informed the
status of the following cases:
"1. Civil Case No. 1706 - Not submitted for decision because defendants
have not been served with summons as they could not be located.
Due to the inaction of the plaintiff, the case is ordered archived.
"2. Civil Case Nos. 1894 & 1896 - The Court archived said cases due to
the inaction of the plaintiff for unreasonable length of time.
"3. Civil Case No. 1932 - Not immediately acted upon due to the
withdrawal of counsel Atty. Agustin Ladera for the plaintiff and substituted
by new counsel Atty. Bernard Olalia who has not filed a formal
appearance as counsel for the plaintiff and to have the motion to declare
defendants in default set for hearing with notice to the
defendants. Hence, due to the inaction of the plaintiff, the Court archived
the case.
"4. Civil Cases Nos. 1946 & 2034 - Not immediately decided due to the
failure of the plaintiff to submit the exhibits offered as evidence and as
the Court was about to archive the cases, the plaintiff submitted the
required exhibits and thereupon, the Court rendered its decision dated
March 23 and March 31, 1998, respectively."[11]
Judge Wilfredo Ambrosio failed to comply with the directive of the Court. The
OCA advised the Court that Judge Ambrosio had resigned from the service
upon the filing of his certificate of candidacy although his resignation papers,
for purposes of payment of his benefits, were yet being processed.

With respect to Judge Fe Albano Madrid, the OCA observed that the delay, for
only a number of days, in the resolution of Civil Case No. 0105, was
excusable. The slow movement in the other cases was found to be
attributable, not to the Judge, but mainly to the parties.
The OCA noted that Judge Calimag, in not proffering a single explanation, had
tacitly admitted his failure to resolve the cases assigned to him within the
reglementary period.
The OCA said that Judge Plan had given no explanation for his delay in
disposing the cases in his sala except to state that it was due to the fault of
the parties.
The OCA expressed its sympathy over the plight of Judge Lamorena who
suffered a stroke and eventually died while in service. Judge Wilfredo
Tumaliwan was forthwith designated as Acting Presiding Judge of Branch
36 vice Judge Lamorena.
In his compliance made on 11 May 1999, Judge Plata averred that Criminal
Cases No. 3433, 3434, 2778, 3435, 3071, 2840 and 3570 (instead of 5570),
as well as Civil Cases No. 320, 327, 399, 322, 328, 325, 330, 326, and 331,
were already decided. The Judge, however, failed to submit copies of his
orders and decisions in the criminal cases. The OCA, in its 28 January 2000
memorandum, observed that Judge Plata's orders and decisions were issued
only about four (4) months after the judicial audit was conducted. The OCA
noted that Civil Cases No. 331, 330, 322 and 327, while all dated 05 June
1998, were released for mailing only on 07 August 1998 or almost two (2)
months after they were decided.
The OCA recommended that "1. Judge Fe Albano Madrid, RTC, Branch 21, Santiago City,
be REPRIMANDED for the delay in the resolution of Sp. Proc. No. 0105;
"2. Judge Demetrio Calimag, RTC, Branch 35, Santiago City,
be FINED P5,000.00 for his failure to justify the delay in the resolution of
the following cases:
CRIMINAL CASES CIVIL CASES
1. 1898 3. 1978 1. LRC Case 35-2161
2. 1977 4. 1979 2. 2077
3. 2318

"3. Judge Sergio Plan, MTC, Cauayan, Isabela, be FINED P5,000.00 for
the delay in the resolution of the following cases, deductible from his
retirement benefits:

2. 327 5. 328 8. 326

1. CV-1896 4. CV-1946

The OCA did not suggest any administrative sanction against the late Judge
Lamorena for "humanitarian reasons."

2. CV-1894 5. CV-2034
3. CV-1932 6. CV-1706
"4. Judge Wilfredo Ambrosio, RTC, Branch 31, Cabarroguis, Quirino,
be FINED P10,000.00 for his failure to decide the following cases:
1. 426 7. 430 13. 393
2. 427 8. 292 14. 408
3. 434 9. 169 15. 83
4. 387 10. 373 16. 368
5. 194 11. 324 17. 370
6. 256 12. 425
and willful disregard of the resolutions of the Honorable Court, to be deducted from the
retirement benefits he may receive;
"5. Judge Ruben Plata, MTCC, Santiago City, be SEVERELY
REPRIMANDED for his failure to act with dispatch on the following
cases:
CRIMINAL CASES
1. 3433 4. 2778 7. 5570
2. 3071 5. 3435
3. 3434 6. 2840
CIVIL CASES
1. 320 4. 322 7. 330

3. 399 6. 325 9. 331"[12]

The Court agrees with the findings, and adopts the recommendations, of the
OCA.
In A.M. No. 97-9-283-RTC (Report on the Judicial Audit Conducted in Regional
Trial Court, Branch 1, Bangued, Abra, 31 May 2000), the Court deemed it
inappropriate to impose sanction upon Judge Francisco O. Villarta who died
during the pendency of the case against him. For like reasons, no
administrative sanction would here be imposed on Judge Efren A. Lamorena.
In the resolution of the Court on 20 July 1999, the parties were required to
manifest within ten (10) days from notice if they would be willing to submit the
case for resolution on the basis of the reports on record. The parties having
failed to comply with its directive, the Court resolved to dispense with their
manifestation.
The Court agrees with the OCA that the lapses on the part of the judges can be
traced to their failure in the proper observance of the following circulars of the
Court; to wit:
(1) Administrative Circular No. 1, dated 28 January 1988, which states:
"1. Effective Docket Control:
1.1 All presiding judges of trial courts must, upon assumption of
office, and every semester thereafter on June 30th and December 31st of
every year conduct a physical inventory of their dockets for the purpose
of determining the actual number of cases pending in their salas.
1.2 An inventory shall be prepared to indicate the cases pending
trial, the cases submitted for decision and the cases that have been
archived. Copy of such inventory shall be submitted to the Supreme
Court through the Court Administrator within thirty (30) days from receipt
of this Circular and the Inventory Form.
"1.3 The Presiding Judge and the Clerk of Court shall initial the Records
or Rollos of each case to indicate the date of actual inventory. The
inventory shall include a list of cases submitted for decision,indicating
the title and case number and the date of filing of said case. An updated
inventory is to be submitted to the Supreme Court every six (6) months
thereafter as required in Paragraph 1.1. hereof." [13]

The circular has been restated by the Court in Administrative Circular No. 1094 of 29 June 1994.
(2) Circular No. 13, dated 01 July 1987, reiterated in Administrative Circular No.
3-99, dated 15 January 1999, which mandates:
"To insure speedy disposition of cases, the following guidelines must be faithfully
observed:
I. The session hours of all Regional Trial Courts, Metropolitan Trial Courts,
Municipal Trial Courts in Cities, Municipal Trial Courts, and Municipal
Circuit Trial Courts shall be from 8:30 A.M. to noon and from 2:00 P.M. to
4:30 P.M., from Monday to Friday. The hours in the morning shall be
devoted to the conduct of trial, while the hours in the afternoon shall be
utilized for (1) the conduct of pre-trial conferences; (2) writing of
decisions, resolutions, or orders; or (3) the continuation of trial on the
merits, whenever rendered necessary, as may be required by the Rules
of Court, statutes, or circulars in specified cases.
However, in multi-sala courts in places where there are few practicing
lawyers, the schedule may be modified upon request of the Integrated
Bar of the Philippines such that one-half of the branches may hold their
trial in the morning and the other half in the afternoon. Except those
requiring immediate action, all motions should be scheduled for hearing
on Friday afternoons, or if Friday is a non-working day, in the afternoon of
the next business day. The unauthorized practice of some judges of
entertaining motions or setting them for hearing on any other day or time
must be immediately stopped.

Conduct requiring the disposition of the court business and of pending cases
or incidents promptly and seasonably.[15] All that a judge really needs to do, in
case of great difficulty, would be to request for an extension of time over which
the Court has, almost invariably, been sympathetic.
WHEREFORE, the Court RESOLVED, conformably with the recommendations
of the OCA, that 1. Judge Fe Albano Madrid, RTC, Branch 21, Santiago City,
be REPRIMANDED for the delay in the resolution of Sp. Proc. No. 0105;
2. Judge Demetrio D. Calimag, Jr., RTC, Branch 35, Santiago City,
be FINED P5,000.00 for his failure to amply justify the delay in the resolution
of the following cases:
CRIMINAL CASES CIVIL CASES
1. 1898 3. 1978 1. LRC Case 35-2161
2. 1977 4. 1979 2. 2077
3. 2318
3. Judge Sergio A. Plan, MTC, Cauayan, Isabela, be FINED P5,000.00 for his
failure to amply justify the delay in the resolution of the following cases,
deductible from his retirement benefits:
1. CV-1896 4. CV-1946

"II. Judges must be punctual at all times.


"III. The Clerk of Court, under the direct supervision of the Judge, must
comply with Rule 20 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure regarding the
calendar of cases.
"IV. There should be strict adherence to the policy on avoiding
postponements and needless delay.
Sections 2, 3 and 4 of Rule 30, 1997 Rules on Civil Procedure on
adjournments and postponements and on the requisites of a motion to
postpone trial for absence of evidence or for illness of a party or counsel
should be faithfully observed.
Lawyers, as officers of the court, are enjoined to cooperate with judges to
ensure swift disposition of cases."[14]
The Court, here again, must stress that while it is not unaware of the heavy
caseload of judges nor is it impervious to the plight of judges, it cannot,
however, take too lightly Rule 3.05, of Canon 3, of the Code of Judicial

2. CV-1894 5. CV-2034
3. CV-1932 6. CV-1706
4. Judge Wilfredo Ambrosio, RTC, Branch 31, Cabarroguis,
be FINED P10,000.00 for his failure to decide the following cases:
1. 426 7. 430 13. 393
2. 427 8. 292 14. 408
3. 434 9. 169 15. 83
4. 387 10. 373 16. 368
5. 194 11. 324 17. 370

Quirino,

Before us is a petition for review on certiorari assailing the Decision[1] of the


Court of Appeals (CA for brevity) dated November 13, 1998 in CA-G.R. SP No.
and for willful disregard of the resolutions of the Honorable Court, said fine to 43884, denying Atty. Reynaldo P. Dimayacyacs petition for certiorari and ruling
be deducted from the retirement benefits he might be entitled to;
that the Regional Trial Court (Branch 227) of Quezon City (RTC for brevity) was
5. Judge Ruben R. Plata, MTCC, Santiago City, be SEVERELY correct in denying petitioners motion to quash the information charging
REPRIMANDED for while he was able to heretofore decide the following petitioner with falsification of public documents, docketed as Criminal Case No.
cases, to wit:
Q-93-49988.
6. 256 12. 425

CRIMINAL CASES

The antecedent facts as borne out by the records of the case are
accurately narrated in the CA Decision dated November 13, 1998, thus:

1. 3433 4. 2778 7. 3570

An information for falsification of public documents docketed as Criminal Case No. Q91-18037 at the RTC of Quezon City was filed against petitioner along with some
others. That information reads:

2. 3071 5. 3435
3. 3434 6. 2840

The undersigned Assistant City Prosecutor accuses LOURDES ANGELES,


ESTRELLA MAPA, ATTY. PONCIANO R. GUPIT, and ATTY. REYNALDO
P. DIMAYACYAC of the crime of FALSIFICATION OF PUBLIC DOCUMENT (under
Article 172, first and last paragraph in relation to Article 171 paragraph 2 of the Revised
Penal Code), committed as follows:

CIVIL CASES
1. 320 4. 322 7. 330
2. 327 5. 328 8. 326
3. 399 6. 325 9. 331
he, nevertheless, had failed to act therein with dispatch.
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J., Bellosillo, Melo, Puno, Kapunan, Mendoza, Panganiban,
Quisumbing,
Purisima,
Pardo,
Buena,
Gonzaga-Reyes,
YnaresSantaigo, and De Leon, Jr., JJ., concur
[G.R. No. 136264. May 28, 2004]

That on or about the 5th day of 1986, in Quezon City, Philippines and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, all private individuals,
conspiring together, confederating with and mutually helping one another, did then and
there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously commit the act of falsification of public
documents, by then and there falsifying or causing the falsification of the following
documents, to wit:
a) Certification dated March 10, 1986 purportedly signed by a certain Fernando Dizon,
Record Management Analyst of the Bureau of Land, Central Office, Manila;

(b) Report dated May 5, 1986 purportedly signed by a certain Jose Mariano, Chief
ATTY. REYNALDO P. DIMAYACYAC, petitioner, vs. HON. COURT OF
Record Management Division of Bureau of Land, Central Office, Manila; and
APPEALS, HON. VICENTE Q. ROXAS, IRENE AGBADACRUZ, SIXTO AGBADACRUZ,
MERCEDES ARISTORENAS and
(c) Sales Certificate and Deed of Assignment allegedly issued by the Bureau of Land in
ROMEO GOMEZ and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.
favor of Lourdes Angeles; that despite the fact that said accused knew all the time that
said documents are fake and spurious used the same in the Petition for Reconstitution of
DECISION
Records of the technical description of Lots Nos. 755, 777, 778 and 783 of
the Piedad Estate covered by TCT No. 14, Decree No. 667, GLRORecord No. 5975 and
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.:
the issuance of Title thereto filed by Estrella Mapa over and involving the aforesaid lots

in Land Registration Case docketed as LRC Case No. 3369 (86) before Branch 99,
Regional Trial Court, Quezon City and that by virtue of said falsification and the use of
the same as evidence in Court Honorable Presiding Judge Godofredo Asuncion issued
an order dated June 30, 1986 granting said petition, and pursuant thereto the Register of
Deeds of Quezon City issued Transfer Certificates of Titles Nos. 348156, 348291 and
348292 in the name of Estrella Mapa thereby embracing and/or encroaching the portions
of the properties belonging to Romeo D. Gomez, Sixto Agbada, Irene Agbada-Cruz and
Mercedes Aristorenas whose properties were embraced and included in the said Transfer
Certificates of Titles and in such amount as may be awarded under the provisions of the
Civil Code.

By the assailed Order of December 18, 1996, public respondent, Judge Vicente Q.
Roxas of Branch 227 of the RTC of Quezon City to which the two (2) informations
against petitioner, et al, were eventually lodged, held that the information in Criminal
Case No. Q-93-49988 involved a different document as that involved in Criminal Case
No. Q-91-18037 which had already been quashed. Resolution of the motion to quash the
information in Criminal Case No. Q-93-49989 was stayed pending the submission by
petitioner of the documents required by the court a quo. Public respondent thus denied
the motion to quash the information in Criminal Case No. Q-93-49988 and ordered
petitioners arraignment, he holding that said case did not place petitioner in double
jeopardy.[2]

CONTRARY TO LAW.

Herein petitioner then filed a petition for certiorari before the CA which
denied his petition stating in its Decision that since the Information in Criminal
Case No. Q-91-18037, on petitioners motion, was quashed on the ground that
more than one offense was charged pursuant to Sec. 3 (e) of Rule 117 of the
Revised Rules of Court,[3] he is not placed in double jeopardy by the filing of
another Information for an offense included in the charge subject of the
Information in Criminal Case No. Q-91-18037.[4]

Before his arraignment, petitioner moved to quash the information on two (2)
grounds. First, that the officer who filed the information had no legal authority to do so,
and second, that more than one offense was charged in the information.
Pending resolution of the motion to quash, petitioner was arraigned.

Hence, herein petition for review on certiorari assigning the following errors
By Order of August 23, 1991, Judge Benigno T. Dayaw of Branch 80 of the Regional
of
the
CA, to wit:
Trial Court of Quezon City to whose sala Criminal Case No. Q-91-18037 was raffled,
holding that the grant or denial of Motion to Dismiss whether the accused is arraigned or
I. That the Honorable Court of Appeals ERRED in disregarding the
not is discretionary on the part of the Court, it citing People vs. IAC, L-66939legal doctrine that THERE IS DOUBLE JEOPARDY, in the case
41, January 10, 1987, granted the petitioners motion to quash upon the second
now pending before Respondent Judge Vicente Q. Roxas;
ground. Accordingly, the information was quashed.
More than two (2) years after the quashal of the information in Criminal Case No. Q-9118037 or on October 19, 1993, the Quezon City Prosecutor filed against the same
accused including petitioner two (2) informations for falsification of public documents
docketed at the Quezon City RTC as Criminal Case Nos. Q-93-49988 and 49989. The
Informations arose from the questioned acts of falsification subject of the earlier
quashed information in Criminal Case No. Q-91-18037.
Petitioner later filed with Branch 103 of the RTC of Quezon City to which the
informations were raffled a motion for the quashal thereof on the ground of double
jeopardy, citing Section 3(h) of Rule 117 of the Revised Rules of Court.
Petitioner argued at the court a quo that he would be placed in double jeopardy as he
was indicted before for the same offenses and the case was dismissed or otherwise
terminated without his express consent.

II. That the Honorable Court of Appeals ERRED in not adhering to the
decisions of this Honorable Supreme Court, as well as to
applicable jurisprudence on the matter;
III. That the Honorable Court of Appeals ERRED in not taking into
account that based on the Manifestation and Motion (To Grant
Petition) In Lieu of Comment filed by the Office of the Solicitor
General,
the
ORDER
of
dismissal
of
Honorable
Judge Benigno T. Dayaw in Criminal Case No. Q-91-18037
on August 23, 1991 has become final and executory; and
IV. That the Honorable Respondent Court of Appeals ERRED in
concluding that an ORDER sustaining the motion to quash is not a

bar to another prosecution for the same offense, as it has no legal


basis.[5]
On the other hand, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) contends that
petitioner, by filing the motion to quash and refusing to withdraw it after he was
arraigned, is deemed to have waived his right against double jeopardy, as his
motion to quash constituted his express consent for the dismissal of the
information. However, the OSG advances the view that the criminal case
against herein petitioner may be dismissed for the inordinate delay in the
conduct of preliminary investigation for the purpose of filing the proper
information, which is a violation of the accuseds constitutional right to due
process of law and to speedy disposition of cases.
Private respondent complainant Irene Agbada-Cruz, in turn, submits that
the Court of Appeals committed no error since the dismissal or quashal of an
information is not a bar to another prosecution except when the motion to quash
is based on the ground that (1) the criminal action or liability has been
extinguished or that (2) the accused has previously been convicted or in
jeopardy of being convicted or acquitted of the offense charged, pursuant to
Section 6 in relation to Section 3, Rule 117 of the Rules of Court, to wit:
Section 6. Order sustaining the motion to quash not a bar to another prosecution;
exception. - An order sustaining the motion to quash is not a bar to another prosecution
for the same offense unless the motion was based on the grounds specified in Section 3,
sub-sections (f) and (h) of this Rule.
Section 3. Grounds. The accused may move to quash the complaint or information on
any of the following grounds:
(a) That the facts charged do not constitute an offense;
(b) That the court trying the case has no jurisdiction over the
offense charged or the person of the accused;
(c) That the officer who filed the information had no
authority to do so;
(d) That it does not conform substantially to the prescribed
form;

(e) That more than one offense is charged except in those


cases in which existing laws prescribe a single
punishment for various offenses;
(f) That the criminal action or liability has been
extinguished;
(g) That it contains averments which, if true, would constitute
a legal excuse or justification; and
(h) That the accused has been previously convicted or in
jeopardy of being convicted, or acquitted of the
offense charged. (Emphasis supplied)
Thus, private respondent Cruz argues that since the previous information was
quashed on the ground of duplicity of offenses charged, the subsequent filing of
a proper information is, therefore, not barred.
In their Memorandum, private respondents-complainants Romeo Gomez
and Mercedes Aristorenas contend that (1) jeopardy does not attach where the
dismissal of the information was effected at the instance of the accused; and (2)
there was no violation of petitioners right to a speedy disposition of his case
since he never raised this issue in the trial court nor in the appellate court,
hence, his silence should be interpreted as a waiver of said right to a speedy
trial.
The issues boil down to (1) whether or not the prosecution of petitioner
under the Information docketed as Criminal Case No. Q-93-49988 would
constitute double jeopardy, considering that when the Information in Criminal
Case No. Q-91-18037 was previously quashed, he had already been arraigned,
and (2) whether or not petitioners constitutional right to a speedy disposition of
his case has been violated.
With regard to the first issue, we are in accord with the ruling of the CA that
not all the elements for double jeopardy exist in the case at bench. In People
vs. Tac-An,[6] we enumerated the elements that must exist for double jeopardy to
be invoked, to wit:
Thus, apparently, to raise the defense of double jeopardy, three requisites must be
present: (1) a first jeopardy must have attached prior to the second; (2) the first jeopardy

must have been validly terminated; and (3) the second jeopardy must be for the same
offense as that in the first.
Legal jeopardy attaches only (a) upon a valid indictment, (b) before a competent court,
(c) after arraignment, (d) a valid plea having been entered; and (e) the case was
dismissed or otherwise terminated without the express consent of the accused (People
vs. Ylagan, 58 Phil. 851).

expressly given his consent to such dismissal. There could then be no double
jeopardy in this case since one of the requisites therefore, i.e., that the dismissal
be without accuseds express consent, is not present.

As to whether the subsequent filing of the two informations docketed as Q93-49988 and Q-93-49989 constitutes a violation of petitioners constitutional
right to a speedy disposition of cases, [10] we rule in the negative. We are not
convinced by the OSGs assertion that the cases of Tatad vs.
Was the duplicitous information a valid indictment? We answer in the Sandiganbayan[11] or Angchangco, Jr. vs. Ombudsman,[12] are applicable to the
affirmative. In People vs. Bugayong,[7] we ruled that when an appellant fails to case before us. We see differently. There is no factual similarity between this
file a motion to quash within the time prescribed under Section 1, Rule 117 of case before us and the cases of Tatad and Angchangco.
the Rules of Court, he is thus deemed to have waived the defect in the
Information. In People vs. Manalili,[8] we held that an accused, who fails to object
In the Tatad case, there was a hiatus in the proceedings between the
prior to arraignment to a duplicitous information, may be found guilty of any or termination of the proceedings before the investigating fiscal on October 25,
all of the crimes alleged therein and duly proven during the trial, for the 1982 and its resolution on April 17, 1985. The Court found that political
allegation of the elements of such component crimes in the said information has motivations played a vital role in activating and propelling the prosecutorial
satisfied the constitutional guarantee that an accused be informed of the nature process[13] against then Secretary Francisco S. Tatad. In the Angchangcocase,
of the offense with which he or she is being charged.Verily, a duplicitous the criminal complaints remained pending in the Office of the Ombudsman for
information is valid since such defect may be waived and the accused, because more than six years despite the respondents numerous motions for early
of such waiver, could be convicted of as many offenses as those charged in the resolution and the respondent, who had been retired, was being unreasonably
information and proved during trial.
deprived of the fruits of his retirement because of the still unresolved criminal
complaints against him. In both cases, we ruled that the period of time that
The validity of the information having been established, we go on to elapsed for the resolution of the cases against the petitioners therein was
examine whether the other requisites for double jeopardy to attach are deemed a violation of the accuseds right to a speedy disposition of cases
present. In the present case, although there was a valid indictment before a against them.
competent court and petitioner, as the accused, had already been arraigned
therein, entering a valid plea of not guilty, the last requisite that the case was
In the present case, no proof was presented to show any persecution of the
dismissed or otherwise terminated without his express consent, is not present.
accused, political or otherwise, unlike in the Tatad case. There is no showing
that petitioner was made to endure any vexatious process during the two-year
It should be noted that the termination of Criminal Case No. Q-91-18037 period before the filing of the proper informations, unlike in
was upon motion of petitioner who, on April 1, 1991, filed with the court an the Angchangco case where petitioner therein was deprived of his retirement
Urgent Motion to Quash which was granted by Resolution dated August 23, benefits for an unreasonably long time. Thus, the circumstances present in
1991. In Sta. Rita vs. Court of Appeals, [9] we held that the reinstatement of the Tatad and Angchangco cases justifying the radical relief granted by us in
criminal cases against the accused did not violate his right against double said cases are not existent in the present case.
jeopardy since the dismissal of the information by the trial court had been
effected at his own instance when the accused filed a motion to dismiss on the
We emphasize our ruling in Ty-Dazo vs. Sandiganbayan[14] where we held
grounds that the facts charged do not constitute an offense and that the RTC that:
had no jurisdiction over the case. In this case, considering that since the
dismissal of the previous criminal case against petitioner was by reason of his The right to a speedy disposition of cases, like the right to a speedy trial, is deemed
motion for the quashal of the information, petitioner is thus deemed to have violated only when the proceedings is attended by vexatious, capricious, and oppressive

delays; or when unjustified postponements of the trial are asked for and secured, or
when without cause or unjustifiable motive, a long period of time is allowed to elapse
without the party having his case tried. In the determination of whether or not that right
has been violated, the factors that may be considered and balanced are: the length of the
delay the reasons for such delay, the assertion or failure to assert such right by the
accused, and the prejudice caused by the delay.
A mere mathematical reckoning of the time involved, therefore, would not be
sufficient. In the application of the constitutional guarantee of the right to speedy
disposition of cases, particular regard must also be taken of the facts and circumstances
peculiar to each case. (Emphasis supplied)

believe that there was any violation of his right to a speedy disposition of the
case against him.
The case which is more in point with the present one before us is Dela Pea
vs. Sandiganbayan[15] where we ruled that petitioner therein, for failing to assert
their right to a speedy disposition of their cases, was deemed to have waived
such right and thus, not entitled to the radical relief granted by the Court in the
cases of Tatad and Angchangco. The factual circumstances surrounding herein
petitioners case do not demonstrate that there was any violation of petitioners
right to a speedy disposition of his case.

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED for lack of merit. The


Thus, we shall examine how such aforementioned factors affected herein temporary restraining order issued pursuant to our Resolution dated January 17,
petitioners right.
2000 is hereby LIFTED and the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City (Branch
227) is hereby ORDERED to proceed with dispatch with petitioners arraignment
As to the length of delay, it is established that the prosecution did not take in Criminal Case No. Q-93-49988.
any action on petitioners case for two years. From the time that Criminal Case
No. Q-91-18037 was dismissed on August 23, 1991, the prosecution failed to
SO ORDERED.
effect the very simple remedy of filing two separate informations against
petitioner until October of 1993. Indeed, there was a delay in the refiling of the
proper informations. However, the prosecution was never given the opportunity
[A.M. No. RTJ-02-1691. January 16, 2004]
to explain the circumstances that may have caused such delay precisely
because petitioner never raised the issue of the length of time it took the
prosecution to revive the case. There is nothing on record to show what
happened during the two-year lull before the filing of the proper THE OFFICERS AND MEMBERS OF THE IBP BAGUIO-BENGUET
informations. Hence, it could not be ascertained that peculiar situations existed
CHAPTER, CESAR G. ORACION, PRESIDENT, complainant, vs.
to prove that the delay was vexatious, capricious and oppressive, and therefore,
FERNANDO VIL PAMINTUAN, Presiding Judge, Regional Trial
Court, Branch III, Baguio City, respondent.
a violation of petitioners constitutional right to speedy disposition of cases.
What the records clearly show is that petitioner never asserted his right to a
speedy disposition of his case. The only ground he raised in assailing the
subsequent filing of the two informations is that he will be subjected to double
jeopardy. It was only the OSG that brought to light the issue on petitioners right
to a speedy disposition of his case, and only when the case was brought to the
appellate court on certiorari. Even in this petition before us, petitioner did not
raise the issue of his right to a speedy disposition of his case. Again, it was only
the OSG that presented such issue to us in the Brief for the State which was
only then adopted by petitioner through a Manifestation dated August 3,
1999. We are not convinced that the filing of the informations against petitioner
after two years was an unreasonable delay. Petitioner himself did not really

DECISION
CALLEJO, SR., J.:
Before the Court is the Administrative Complaint filed by the officers and
members[1] of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), Baguio-Benguet
Chapter against Judge Fernando Vil Pamintuan of the Regional Trial Court
(RTC), Branch 3 of Baguio City, for gross ignorance of the law, gross violation of
constitutional rights of the accused, arrogance, violations of the Code of Judicial
Conduct, oppression and graft and corruption.
In their Complaint, the complainants charge the respondent judge of gross
ignorance of law stating that:

1. His decision in Criminal Case No. 14054-R . . . and in Criminal


Cases Nos. 15776-R, 15777-R, 15778-R, 15779-R and 15780-R . . .
show his complete ignorance of the Indeterminate Sentence Law;
2. He continues to violate the provision of Section 3, Rule 71 of the
Rules of Court by immediately imposing a fine of P500.00 on any
lawyer who does not answer the first call, without giving the lawyer an
opportunity to show cause why he should not be cited for contempt;
3. He fined Atty. Miguel B. Liceralde P500.00 for allegedly being
absent during a hearing when in fact he was present;
4. He dismisses cases if the counsel or a litigant does not appear
even for the first time, without giving the concerned party a chance to
explain his absence;
5. He limits the period of appeal in criminal cases. In a case handled
by Atty. George Florendo, he rendered a decision convicting the
accused. After the promulgation of the decision, he told the accused
that he was giving him three (3) days only within which to file his
notice of appeal to the Court of Appeals or to file an application for
probation. He further declared that in case the accused files his notice
of appeal, he will double his bail bond and immediately order his
arrest;
6. In the case of PEOPLE VS. ANGELINA MAMARIL, Criminal Case
No. 16187-R for THEFT of the amount of Fourteen Thousand One
Hundred Pesos (P14,100.00), the accused, who was seventeen (17)
years old, pleaded GUILTY to FRUSTRATED THEFT with the consent
of the Prosecution. In his decision, Judge Pamintuan imposed a
penalty one degree lower than that which is imposed for
Consummated Theft and ordered the accused to be recommitted to
the DSWD Rehabilitation Center by virtue of her minority. However, he
failed to reduce the penalty imposed by another degree by reason of
said minority in accordance with the clear and explicit provision of
Article 68 [2] of the Revised Penal Code. . .;
7. In the case of PEOPLE VS. BENJIE GOSE, MARK JOSEPH
OCHARAN, ET AL., Criminal Case No. 14935-R for Robbery, the
respondent did the same thing.[2]
The complainants likewise charge the respondent judge of gross violation
of the constitutional rights of the accused alleging, as follows:
1. In PEOPLE VS. CEFERINO BANIQUED, Criminal Case No. 13949R, for alleged violation of Section 3 [e] of RA 3019 (Anti-Graft and
Corrupt Practices Act) the respondent has yet to act on a motion for
the preventive suspension of the accused filed way back in 1996 and
which was reiterated after he took over the case in April 1998. The

said incident was deemed submitted for resolution by then Acting


Presiding Judge Joven F. Costales on December 2, 1997. When
Judge Pamintuan took over, the prosecution reiterated the motion
which, on August 18, 1998, he ordered as deemed submitted for the
resolution of the court. For more than one (1) year, and as of date,
Judge Pamintuan has not resolved the motion;
2. In the case of SURLA VS. DIMLA, Civil Case No. 3322-R for
Collection of Sum of Money, Judge Pamintuan dismissed the
complaint because the plaintiff-witness arrived at about 8:32 in the
morning or just two (2) minutes later, the counsel asked for
reconsideration of the dismissal, manifesting that the witness was
ready to testify. In the interest of justice and fair play, the adverse
party even manifested his conformity to the reconsideration of the
order of dismissal. However, Judge Pamintuan did not rule on the
motion and simply considered the same submitted for resolution. For
more than four (4) months, the respondent did not resolve the motion;
3. He refused to furnish a copy of the decision to the accused, but
when notice of appeal was filed, he directed the counsel for the
accused to amend the notice to reflect receipt of the decision although
no such decision was really received. This was done in, at least, two
(2) instances, particularly, in People vs. Remedios Malapit, et al.
(Criminal Cases Nos. 15320, 15323, 15327, 15570 and 15571) and in
People vs. Alejandro Cas (Criminal Case No. 15306-R).[3]
The complainants also claim that the respondent judge is arrogant in that:
1. He waves at lawyers and tells them to approach his bench; if, by
chance, a lawyer touches a portion of his bench he shouts at him and
berates him saying he has not given him permission to touch his
bench;
2. He tells lawyers appearing before him to give priority to his court at
the expense of their other court duties;
3. He insults lawyers by means of harsh and intemperate words in the
presence of litigants and the public;
4. He impresses to the lawyers and parties litigants that he is a
convicting judge. He boasts that since he sat as judge all his decisions
in criminal cases except two (2) were convictions;
5. He berates the lowly security guards in the Justice Hall of Baguio
City every time they fail to salute him;
6. He insults litigants who want to settle their cases for allegedly
wasting his time;

7. He insults doctors and other expert witnesses who cannot appear


because of previous commitments;
8. In one occasion, he interrupted Atty. Federico J. Mandapat, Jr., in
the course of his cross-examination of a witness and told him: that is
not the way to cross-examine, ask questions only that are answerable
by yes or no. Atty. Mandapat explained that he was laying the basis
for his succeeding questions. The respondent curtly replied that he
was giving him only ten (10) minutes to conduct his crossexamination, to which Atty. Mandapat countered by telling the
respondent that it was tantamount to obstruction of justice and
violation of the right of the accused to cross-examine a witness being
presented against him.[4]
The respondent judge is also allegedly guilty of violating the Code of
Judicial Conduct, as follows:
1. He is discourteous
inexperienced;

to

lawyers,

especially

the

new

and

2. He tells the client in the presence of the lawyer to engage the


services of another lawyer because his lawyer does not know
anything or he does not deserve to be paid (Atty. Joris Karl Dacawi);
3. He verbally assaults lawyers;
4. He does not give even a little respect to old lawyers;

might think that he was the accused but the judge in utter disregard of
elementary courtesy that befits a lawyer did not budge. Instead, he
berated Atty. Agranzamendez and told him to shut up and dont argue
with the court. When Atty. Agranzamendez got tired during the reading
of the long decision, he slightly leaned to his side. When the Judge
noticed this, he shouted at him and told him to stand up properly. This
he did in the presence of lawyers and litigants who could only look at
Atty. Agranzamendez with sympathy and compassion;
4. He cited Atty. Nicasio M. Aliping, Jr., for contempt for not appearing
as a witness in one case before his sala. When Atty. Aliping learned
about this, he explained to the judge that he was not notified of the
date of hearing and presented records clearly showing that indeed he
was not notified. Atty. Aliping prayed that the order be lifted and set
aside. The judge refused and told Atty. Aliping that it was a different
matter. To this day, the order citing him for contempt has not been
lifted;
5. In one case where Atty. Cirilo Cawed is the private complainant, the
latter executed an affidavit of desistance praying, among others, for
the dismissal of the case. The respondent did not act on it and instead
issued an order threatening his arrest if he will not appear before him
and explain.[6]
Finally, the respondent judge is allegedly guilty of corruption:

Respondent had a certain EUFEMIO M. GULA, his long-time bodyguard, appointed as


driver assigned to his branch despite his knowledge that Mr. Gula has no drivers license,
and worse, he does not know how to drive. This supposed driver draws his salary from
the City of Baguio. The driver fills up the required itinerary forms, which indicate that
he supposedly drives for the respondent from Baguio City toManila and back, but the
truth is that they commute by bus. It is a certain WILLIAM DANNANG, personnel
from the maintenance department of the Baguio City Justice Hall, who actually drives
The respondent judge is allegedly guilty of oppressive conduct committed for the respondent.[7]
as follows:
In his Comment, the respondent judge vehemently denies the charges
1. He unreasonably limits the presentation of evidence to the
hurled against him.
detriment of party-litigants;
5. He insulted in open court retired Court of Appeals Justice Sixto
Domondon because he came to court late once. For such act, he was
even admonished by the Honorable Supreme Court for his
unbecoming conduct towards a former Justice of the Court of Appeals,
yet, his arrogance continues unabated and is more manifest,
apparently in defiance to the admonition he received. [5]

2. He scolds and insults lawyers who stand up and walk while


propounding questions to witnesses. He pursues a strategy of assault
and appeasement. He verbally assaults lawyers, and if they re-act, he
tries to appease some of them in an effort to get them to his side;
3. He directed Atty. Reynaldo U. Agranzamendez (immediate past
President of the IBP Baguio-Benguet Chapter) to stand up, in lieu of
the accused who jumped bail, during the promulgation of the
decision in absentia. Atty. Agranzamendez acting as de oficio counsel
requested that he be allowed to sit down because the people in court

On the charge of gross ignorance of the law, the respondent judge avers:
1. Criminal Cases Nos. 15776-R to 15780-R, entitled People of
the Philippines vs. Danilo Dumez, et al. are now pending appeal
before the Court of Appeals. . . Whether or not the decision of the
Respondent Judge in the aforecited cases is correct will be a matter
only the appellate [court] can decide. The perceived errors in the
imposition of the penalty imposed should be addressed in the
Accused-Appellants brief. Assuming arguendo that the Respondent
Judge erred in applying the [I]ndeterminate [S]entence [L]aw, which of

course he denies, the proper remedy would have been Appeal, and
not to file Administrative Case against the Judge;
2. In Criminal Case No. 14054-R entitled People vs. Polic-ew,
Respondent Judge submits the same argument . . . ;
3. In Criminal Case No. 16187-R entitled People vs. Mamaril and
Criminal Case No. 14935 entitled People vs. Gose, the decisions of
the Respondent Judge had become final and executory without the
Counsels appealing. Had the Counsels appealed their cases, or at
least Moved for Reconsideration, they could have properly raised the
mitigating circumstances, which they claim were not appreciated by
the Respondent Judge. Again the remedy is not the filing of
administrative case against the Judge;
4. The Administrative Case against the Respondent Judge in A.M. No.
RTJ-99-1483 was resolved by the Supreme Court in a Decision
dated September 17, 1999 and received by the Respondent Judge
on October 4, 1999. Respondent Judge has FIFTEEN (15) DAYS to
file a Motion for Reconsideration, which he will comply with. Suffice it
to say that in this case, the Respondent Judge believed, as he
believes in good faith that he had no cogent reason to inhibit himself
from the case . . .;
5. The imposition of fines for tardiness or non-appearance in
scheduled cases is inherent upon any court as part of its disciplining
authority. The remedy would have been to seek reconsideration and
not an Administrative Case. The Court has never collected on the fine,
provided the reasons cited in the reconsideration are meritorious. The
Complainants cite the case of Atty. Miguel Liceralde. Said lawyer was
never fined by the Respondent Judge. The fact is, as of date, the
Respondent Judge never issued a writ of execution for the collection
of fines from lawyers. . . There were only four (4) instances when fines
were paid by lawyers who volunteered to pay the fine on their own
without filing a motion for reconsideration. . .;
5. The dismissal of the case for failure of the parties or counsel to
appear in their scheduled hearings is so provided by the Rules. Again
the remedy is a motion for reconsideration and not an administrative
case on petty grounds. . .;
6. Atty. George Florendo who is not even a signatory to this Petition is
mentioned, albeitly [sic] without his consent regarding People vs.
Joseph Santos, Criminal Case No. 15171-R for Illegal Possession of
Marijuana where he appears for the accused. Nowhere in the records
does it show that he limited the fifteen (15) day period to appeal. [8]
On his alleged violation of the constitutional rights of the accused, the
respondent judge counters:

1. In Criminal Case No. 13949-R, People vs. Baniqued for Violation of


Section 3(e) of R.A. 3019, which was inherited by the Respondent
Judge, he submits that no violation was ever made as the
complainants would want to imply. Complainants wanted the accused
preventively suspended. The defense insisted that the entire
prosecution evidence first be heard, as a pre-suspension hearing
which was granted by the respondent judges predecessor, Hon. Joven
Costales, and by the respondent judge himself. Thereafter, despite the
opposition of the Accused to the preventive suspension, an order was
issued on September 2, 1999. The move for suspension was
complicated by the incomplete prosecution evidence as well as the
constant absence of the Manila-based private prosecutor.The Court
has given wide latitude to the accused and he has no cause to
complain;
2. Civil Case No. 3322-R entitled Surla vs. Dimla for Sum of Money, is
a continuing attempt by the Complainants to mislead the Supreme
Court. This case had been dismissed and the dismissal has become
final and executory. The case was earlier dismissed for failure to
prosecute on the part of the Plaintiff for failure to appear during the
scheduled hearings of the case, but a Motion for Reconsideration was
filed and granted by the Respondent Judge. Several postponements
at the instance of the plaintiff were tolerably allowed but then again
the plaintiff failed to appear during the scheduled hearing. The
Respondent Judge dismissed the case on the same grounds. No
motion for reconsideration was filed and the decision became
final. Clearly no fault can be attributed to the Respondent Judge;
3. Respondent Judge denies refusing to furnish copies of the decision
to the accused in Criminal Cases Nos. 15321-R, 15323-R, 15327-R,
15770-R and 15771-R entitled People vs. Malapit, et al. as these are
matters of public record available and accessible to the public. He
could not and never will prevent or obstruct any litigant, much more a
lawyer to access of records pertaining to a case;
4. Respondent Judge denies directing the defense counsel to amend
his Notice of Appeal to allegedly reflect receipt of the decision in
Criminal Case No. 15306-R entitled People vs. Alejandro Cas, as
such an action will gain him nothing. The Manifestation of Apology by
the concerned defense counsel says it all.[9]
Anent the charge that he is arrogant, the respondent judge declares:
1. The pettiness of the charges (3A to G) are completely wasteful of
the Supreme Courts precious time as they are bereft of the specifics
and are mere general allegations;
2. As to 3H involving Atty. Federico Mandapat, said defense counsel
together with Atty. Juan Alberto and Prosecutor Raymond Tabangin

were requested to approach the bench. Atty. Mandapat was advised


by the respondent judge to ask questions answerable by yes or no as
it was observed that he was repeating questions asked on direct
examination. Certainly, the court can advise counsel on how to
conduct proper cross-examination so as not to tax the time of both the
court and the witnesses. When the Respondent Judge said ten
minutes, he was referring to the time left for him to conduct the crossexamination on that trial day, as there were other ready cases. It was
not limiting his time to cross-examine the witness, as the records
would show that the next trial date, Atty. Mandapat was allowed to his
hearts content to continue the cross-examination. [10]
On the charge of violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct, the respondent
judge states:
1. Respondent Judge denies 4A to D on his non-support for new
lawyers. The fact is he encourages old practitioners to help new
lawyers and he announces this in open court as a matter of policy. . . ;
2. Atty. Primitivo Jularbal, 72 years old, a former Professor in the
College of Law of Saint Louis University and a long time distinguished
practitioner in the City of Baguio, and Atty. Juan Valdez, 70 years old,
former City Legal Officer of Mayors Luis L. Lardizabal and Mauricio G.
Domogan can affirm the respect, deference and dignified treatment he
habitually accord these senior lawyers;
3. As to the case of former Justice Sixto Domondon for which the
Respondent Judge was admonished by the Supreme Court, your
Respondent Judge was barely one month in office when he asked the
former justice, whom he did not know at that time to come on time for
his hearings. Said justice was more than forty-five (45) minutes late
for the pre-trial conference and Respondent Judge applied the rule on
him, like he did to all lawyers.[11]

standing up to show decorum and respect to the judicial


processes . . .;
3. Atty. Nicasio Aliping was never cited for contempt, contrary to what
the complainants want to impress. No order was ever issued by the
Court to the effect . . .;
4. Atty. Cirilo Cawed, who is not a signatory to the complaint, is the
private complainant in Criminal Cases No. 13535-R entitled People
vs. Licayayo for Estafa. Despite several orders for him to appear in
the scheduled hearings, he refused, ignored and neglected the
same. He was warned that his continued defiance would constrain the
court to order his arrest. The Respondent Judge submits that it is the
rule and practice and even the responsibility, and duty of the court to
summon the complaining witness who executed an Affidavit of
Desistance to determine the authenticity or genuineness of the
affidavit. The Respondent Judge should not be condemned for
ensuring the integrity of affidavits submitted in court. [12]
Regarding the charge of corruption against him, the respondent judge
asserts that:
1. As a public officer, he is ready to face all kinds of charges as an
inherent risk that comes with the territory. It hurts him; however, to be
accused of the baseless charge of Graft and Corruption, for he values
his honor and his name, presumably like the Complainants
themselves;

It is a matter of public and judicial knowledge that courts have no employment item for
drivers. On this point alone, how could Respondent Judge appoint a driver as alleged in
the complaint? Had the Complainants asked or in the least conducted a thorough
investigation, they would have discovered that in the RTC, Baguio City, Branch 3, there
was a vacant item for City-paid Utility Worker. In 1988, the RTC Clerk of Court, Atty.
As to his alleged oppressive conduct, the respondent judge states as Delilah G. Muoz, made a project proposal to the City Government of Baguio for the
revival of item. . .
follows:
1. Respondent Judge denies 5A and B as they are mere general
statements without basis in fact and in law;
2. In the case of Atty. Reynaldo U. Agranzamendez, as defense
counsel in Criminal Case No. 7304-R, entitled People vs. Liwayway
Cruz, he required said counsel in the absence of the accused to rise
as a matter of procedure during the promulgation of decisions. This is
by way of proper decorum and discipline, which the Respondent
Judge submits as part of the inherent power of the court. The
allegation that the Respondent Judge berated Atty. Agranzamendez
and told him to shut up is a patent lie. The Respondent Judge recalls
asking him politely not to argue with the Court, on matters like

Almost a year later, the City Government approved the request, and it was Mayor
Mauricio G. Domogan who appointed Mr. Eufemio Gula to the position and not the
Respondent Judge. The item approved was for a driver and not as Utility Worker. A
correction was sought and again Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan and the City Council of
Baguio approved the amendment for the appointment of Utility Worker and not as
Driver. . . Mr. Eufemio Gula is not a Court-paid Employee and performs his duty as a
utility worker paid by the City Government of Baguio. He has no drivers license, as he
did not apply as a driver. The respondent judge did not appoint Gula and no judiciary
funds were used for his pay. Neither did the respondent judge screen his qualification as
to whether or not it conforms to the minimum criteria set by the city for the item - utility
worker.[13]

The respondent judge prays that the administrative complaint against him Gross Ignorance of the Law and
be dismissed for lack of merit.
Violation of the Constitutional
Rights of the Accused
In its Memorandum dated November 17, 1999, the Office of the Court
Administrator revealed that since his appointment to the judiciary on February
23, 1998, four (4) administrative cases had been filed against the respondent
Attorneys Lauro Gacayan and Jurgenson Lagdao were presented to
judge:
substantiate the charges of gross ignorance of law and violation of the
constitutional rights of the accused against the respondent judge.
1. RTJ-99-1450 Justice Sixto Domondon vs. Judge Fernando Vil
Pamintuan Respondent was REPRIMANDED by the Court on June
14, 1999;
2. RTJ-99-1483 Lauro Gacayan vs. Judge Fernando Vil Pamintuan
Respondent was FINED P10,000.00 and REPRIMANDED for
Violation of Canon 2 of the Code of Judicial Conduct and Canon 3
of the Code of Judicial Ethics which amount to grave misconduct,
conduct unbecoming an officer of the Judiciary and conduct
prejudicial to the best interest of the service and WARNED that a
repetition of the foregoing or similar transgressions shall be dealt
with more severely;

Atty. Gacayan executed the Affidavit dated March 15, 2000[16] and during
his testimony affirmed the truthfulness of its contents. Atty. Gacayan stated that
he is a practicing lawyer based in Baguio City. He was the counsel for the
accused in People vs. Ceferino Baniqued (Criminal Case No. 13949-R) for
Violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and for the defendant
in Albert Surla vs. Nelson Dimla (Civil Case No. 3322-R) for collection of sum of
money. These two cases were pending before the RTC, Branch 3 of Baguio
City, presided over by the respondent judge.

According to Atty. Gacayan, in People vs. Ceferino Baniqued, the


prosecution filed a motion for the preventive suspension of the accused. The
latter duly opposed said motion. In his Order dated August 18, 1998, the
3. OCA IPI No. 99-808-RTJ The instant case under consideration;
respondent judge submitted for resolution the aforesaid motion. However, it was
4. OCA IPI No. 99-832-RTJ Mr. Galo R. Reyes vs. Judge Fernando Vil
only on September 29, 1999, or more than one (1) year after its submission for
Pamintuan for willful violation of the Rules of Court and
resolution, that Atty. Gacayan, as counsel for the accused, received an order
incompetence. Awaiting comment of the respondent judge.[14]
resolving the motion. Upon further verification, Atty. Gacayan discovered that the
said order was received by the RTCs Office of the Clerk of Court only
Considering the seriousness of the charges against the respondent judge, on September 23, 1999, after the instant administrative complaint had already
the OCA recommended that an investigation be conducted thereon. In the been filed against the respondent judge. Incidentally, the respondent judges
Resolution of December 8, 1999, the Court referred the instant case, together failure to act on the motion for preventive suspension in the Baniqued case is
with OCA IPI No. 99-832-RTJ (Mr. Galo R. Reyes vs. Judge Fernando Vil one of the infractions raised in this administrative complaint. [17]
Pamintuan), to the Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeals for immediate raffle
among the incumbent appellate court justices.[15]
Further, during the hearing of Surla vs. Dimla on May 18, 1998, the
respondent judge dismissed the case on account of the fact that when the case
The cases were raffled to Justice Mercedes Gozo-Dadole (Investigating was called at 8:30 in the morning, the plaintiffs first witness was not
Justice) who forthwith set the cases for preliminary conference in accordance around. When the witness arrived at 8:32 a.m., or barely two (2) minutes after,
with Section 1, Rule 58 of the Revised Rules of Court. Thereafter, hearings were the plaintiffs counsel manifested his readiness to present the witness. The
held where the complainants and the respondent judge were allowed to present respondent judge denied the same. On even date, the plaintiffs counsel moved
their witnesses in support of their respective allegations.
for a reconsideration of the said dismissal, which was not opposed by Atty.
Gacayan as counsel for the defendant. The motion for reconsideration was
submitted for resolution at the hearing on June 5, 1998. However, it took the
respondent judge almost four (4) months to resolve this simple and unopposed
The Evidence of the Complainants
motion.[18]
Atty. Gacayan likewise narrated that he was in the sala of the respondent
The complainants presented Lauro Gacayan, Jurgenson Lagdao, Federico
judge
during the promulgation of his decisions in People vs. Danilo Dumez et
Mandapat, Jr., Reynaldo Agranzamendez, Reynaldo Cortes, Joris Karl Dacawi,
al
(Criminal
Cases Nos. 15776-R up to 15780-R), People vs. Bernardo PolicMaria Ligaya Rivera, Rogelio Daet and Edgardo Ancheta. Except for Ancheta,
ew
(Criminal
Case No. 14054-R), People vs. Angelina Mamaril (Criminal Case
all the witnesses are lawyers and members of the IBP Baguio-Benguet Chapter.
No. 16187-R), People vs. Benjie Gose et al. (Criminal Case No. 14935-R). The

last case particularly caught Atty. Gacayans attention because the penalty Decision in Criminal Case No. 14776-R is marked as Exhibit M;
imposed on the accused, who was then a minor, was the same as that of all the
other accused who were of legal age.
Decision in Criminal Case No. 15932-R is marked as Exhibit N;
Atty. Lagdao, also one of the complainants in this case, executed an
Affidavit dated August 27, 1999[19] and Reply-Affidavit dated March 17, Decision in Criminal Case No. 15653-R is marked as Exhibit O;
2000[20] and during his testimony, affirmed the truthfulness of the contents
thereof. Atty. Lagdao is connected with the Public Attorneys Office (PAO) in Decision in Criminal Case No. 13379-R is marked as Exhibit P;
Baguio City and handled People vs. Remedios Malapit (Criminal Cases Nos.
15321-R, 15323-R, 15327-R, 15770-R and 15771-R) and People vs. Alejandro Decision in Criminal Case No. 13367-R is marked as Exhibit Q;
Cas (Criminal Case No. 15306-R) pending before the sala of the respondent
judge.
Decision in Criminal Case No. 14929-R is marked as Exhibit R;
In these two cases, the respondent judge failed to immediately furnish the
accused copies of the decisions after their respective promulgation. In Decision in Criminal Case No. 7304-R is marked as Exhibit S; and,
the Malapit case, a copy of the decision was served on the accused seventeen
(17) days after the judgment was promulgated; in the Cas case, fifteen (15) Decision in Criminal Case No. 14925-R is marked as Exhibit T.[21]
days after promulgation of judgment. Moreover, in the latter case, one of the
court personnel approached Atty. Lagdao and told him that the respondent judge
wanted the tenor of the notice of appeal changed by deleting therein the phrase
copies of which [referring to the decision] the Honorable Court has yet to Arrogance, Oppression
and Violations of the
release. In order not to prejudice the accused, Atty. Lagdao did as instructed.
Code of Judicial Conduct
Atty. Lagdao admitted that, to support their charge of gross ignorance of
law, he secured certified true copies of the following decisions of the respondent
judge where he misapplied the Indeterminate Sentence Law:
Atty. Federico Mandapat, Jr. was presented to support the complainants
charges of arrogance and violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct against the
respondent judge.
Decision in Criminal Case No. 11363-R is marked as Exhibit D;
Decision in Criminal Case No. 15108-R is marked as Exhibit E;
Decision in Criminal Case No. 15544-R is marked as Exhibit F;
Decision in Criminal Case No. 3200-R is marked as Exhibit G;
Decision in Criminal Case No. 7703-R is marked as Exhibit H;
Decision in Criminal Case No. 13646-R is marked as Exhibit I;
Decision in Criminal Case No. 14054-R is marked as Exhibit J;
Decision in Criminal Case No. 14524-R is marked as Exhibit K;
Decision in Criminal Case No. 15600-R is marked as Exhibit L;

As one of the complainants in the instant case, Atty. Mandapat executed


the Affidavit dated December 14, 1999[22] and affirmed the truthfulness of its
contents. Atty. Mandapat, a councilor of Baguio City, is also engaged in the
practice of law. He appears in various courts in Baguio City, including that
presided by the respondent judge.
He recalled that during the hearing of People vs. Andrade presided by the
respondent judge, his (Atty. Mandapats) cross-examination of the witness was
interrupted by the respondent judge. Atty. Mandapat, the other defense counsel
and the prosecutor, were instructed to approach the bench. In a loud voice, the
respondent judge directed Atty. Mandapat to refrain from asking questions that
were already asked in the direct-examination. Atty. Mandapat explained that he
was just trying to test the credibility of the witness and in fact, the witness gave
different answers on cross-examination. The respondent judge then limited Atty.
Mandapats time to cross-examine the witness to ten (10) minutes. When Atty.
Mandapat inquired from the respondent judge whether he was limiting the right
of the accused to cross-examine the witness, the respondent judge replied that
he did not want to argue.

Atty. Mandapat opined that in Baguio City, the respondent judge had the
The respondent judge eventually cancelled the hearing that day but stated
reputation of being arrogant, and is known for treating litigants in an arrogant that the same be deducted from the number of trial dates allotted for the
and rude manner.
plaintiff. The respondent judge further ordered Mr. Cabreros to stand up and told
the latter not to pay Atty. Dacawi as no service was rendered by him as counsel
To further substantiate the charges of violations of the Code of Judicial that day; hence, did not deserve to be paid.
Conduct and oppression against the respondent judge, the complainants
presented Atty. Reynaldo Agranzamendez. He executed the Affidavit
dated March 20, 2000[23] and during his testimony affirmed the truthfulness of its
Violation of the Anti-Graft
contents.
and Corrupt Practices Act
Atty. Agranzamendez, also one of the complainants in this case, was the
Past President of the IBP Baguio-Benguet Chapter. He narrated that he
appeared as defense counsel for accused Liwayway Cruz in an estafa case
The complainants likewise charge the respondent judge with graft and
pending before the sala of the respondent judge. During the promulgation of corruption. In support thereof, they presented Atty. Reynaldo Cortes who
judgment on July 29, 1999, Atty. Agranzamendez manifested that the accused executed the Affidavit dated July 14, 2000.[25]
was not in court. The respondent judge ordered Atty. Agranzamendez to stand
Atty. Cortes is a practicing lawyer in Baguio City and also one of the
up in place of the accused during the reading of the decision. Atty.
complainants
in this case. He averred that on July 1, 1999, a certain Eufemio
Agranzamendez requested that he be allowed to sit down because if he stood
up, it would seem that he was the accused. The respondent judge curtly told Dula was appointed as driver by the City Government of Baguio City and was
assigned to the respondent judge. According to Atty. Cortes, he had observed
him not to argue with the court.
that Dula accompanied the respondent judge everywhere he went.Despite his
During the reading of the decision, every time the clerk of court mentioned designation as driver, Dula never drove the car of the respondent judge. Upon
the word estafa, Atty. Agranzamendez would cringe in embarrassment. Since verification by the complainants, it was discovered that Dula had no license to
the decision was quite long, Atty. Agranzamendez leaned on his side at one drive. In September 1999, the RTC of Baguio City, through its clerk of court,
point. The respondent judge immediately banged his gavel and sternly told Atty. requested that the item of Dula be amended from driver to utility worker.
Agranzamendez to stand up properly. Several lawyers witnessed the incident. In
fact, Atty. Jose Molintas playfully stood beside Atty. Agranzamendez and
pretended to be his counsel.
Other Corroborative Evidence
Atty. Agranzamendez felt so humiliated at the time. Even after the incident,
several people, including his students at the Baguio Colleges Foundation where
Atty. Maria Ligaya Rivera, Branch Clerk of Court of the RTC, Branch 3 of
he was Dean of the Collegeof Law, approached Atty. Agranzamendez and asked
Baguio
City, was also presented as one of the witnesses of the
him why he was convicted for estafa.
complainants. She testified that she received the notice of appeal filed in the
Atty. Joris Karl Dacawi was likewise presented, also to substantiate the case of People of the Philippines vs. Alejandro Cas and, following the standard
charge of violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct by the respondent procedure, forwarded it to Edgardo Ancheta, the clerk-in-charge of the criminal
judge. He executed the Affidavit datedMarch 23, 2000 [24] and during his docket, for submission to the respondent judge for his action. However, the
testimony, affirmed the truthfulness thereof. He worked as an associate at the respondent judge did not then act on the matter. Instead, he called Atty. Rivera
Sanidad and Villanueva Law Offices in Baguio City. One of the cases assigned to his chamber and instructed her to tell Atty. Lagdao, the PAO lawyer handling
to him was Alejo Cabreros vs. Sussie Edralin which was pending before the sala the case, to change the notice of appeal; otherwise, he would not act on it. Atty.
of the respondent judge. During one of the hearings of the said case, Atty. Rivera took the notice of appeal and talked to Ancheta regarding the respondent
Dacawi manifested to the respondent judge that although he was ready to judges instructions.
present the plaintiff Mr. Cabreros as first witness, the latter was not feeling
Thereafter, Atty. Lagdao told Atty. Rivera that he could no longer change
well. Atty. Dacawi thus moved that the hearing be reset to another day. The
respondent judge angrily remarked that Atty. Dacawi was just not ready to the notice of appeal as the same already formed part of the records. The
present his case and suggested that Mrs. Cabreros, who was also in the court, respondent judge insisted that the notice of appeal be changed. Atty. Lagdao
be presented as witness instead. Atty. Dacawi explained that he could not do as maintained that he could no longer do so because a later date would be
reflected as the date of its receipt. In such a case, it would appear as if the
suggested because it would destroy his manner of presenting the evidence.

same was filed out of time. Atty. Lagdao was eventually constrained to change lawyer to his sala. Atty. Daet felt that this was an encroachment on his
the notice of appeal by deleting the phrase copies of which [referring to the prerogative as regional director of the PAO.
decision] the Honorable Court has yet to release. According to Atty. Rivera, the
Edgardo Ancheta, clerk-in-charge of the criminal docket in the sala of the
decision on People of the Philippines vs. Alejandro Cas was released fifteen
respondent
judge, testified to corroborate Atty. Lagdaos testimony. He recalled
(15) days after its promulgation.
that at one time, Atty. Ma. Ligaya Rivera, his immediate superior, directed him to
Atty. Rivera also confirmed that Dula was a part of the respondent judges talk to Atty. Lagdao regarding the notice of appeal and manifestation that he filed
staff. Dulas designation was originally as driver of the respondent judge but was in the Cas case. Atty. Rivera instructed Ancheta to tell Atty. Lagdao to delete the
later on changed to utility worker. Per the respondent judges instruction, Atty. phrase copies of which the Honorable Court has yet to release in the notice of
Rivera signed Dulas accomplishment report. This report falsely stated that he appeal in order that the respondent judge would act on it. Atty. Lagdao initially
drove for the respondent judge. Atty. Rivera admitted that, by signing Dulas refused to change the notice of appeal but when he was told that the
accomplishment report, she was abetting the crime of falsification of public respondent judge would not act on the same unless the objectionable phrase
document. However, she maintained that she could not go against the was deleted, Atty. Lagdao was constrained to obey the respondent judges
instruction of the respondent judge on the matter.
directive.
Atty. Rivera was the one who read the decision in People v. Liwayway
Cruz during its promulgation. She corroborated Atty. Agranzamendez allegation
that he was made to stand up to take the place of the accused during the
promulgation of the judgment. She confirmed that Atty. Agranzamendez
expressed his objection to this procedure but the respondent judge merely told
him to shut up.
Atty. Rogelio Daet, the Regional Director of the Public Attorneys Office of
the Cordillera Administrative Region including Baguio City, was presented to
corroborate the testimony of Atty. Lagdao regarding the changing of the notice of
appeal in People vs. Remedios Malapit.
Atty. Daet testified that as the immediate superior of Atty. Lagdao, he
assigned the latter to handle the PAO cases before the sala of the respondent
judge. At one time, Atty. Lagdao approached Atty. Daet to express his
apprehension that they had not yet received the decision in the Malapit case
despite the fact that almost fifteen (15) days had already passed since its
promulgation. Atty. Lagdao informed Atty. Daet that he would file a notice of
appeal even without receiving a copy of the decision. Atty. Lagdao showed to
Atty. Daet the notice of appeal and manifestation that were subsequently filed in
connection with the Malapit case.
Some time in July 1999, the respondent judge called Atty. Daet to his
chamber and informed the latter that he disliked the tone of Atty. Lagdaos notice
of appeal and manifestation. The respondent judge returned the said pleadings
to Atty. Daet and instructed him to direct Atty. Lagdao to change them. Atty. Daet
did as he was told and later on learned that Atty. Lagdao had complied with the
respondent judges directive and deleted the phrase that he found objectionable
so as not to prejudice the accused.

In order that the second notice of appeal would not be considered as filed
out of time, it was the date of receipt of the first notice of appeal that was
stamped on the second notice of appeal. This was done presumably with the
respondent judges knowledge and consent, since it was him who ordered the
alteration.

The Evidence of the Respondent Judge


On the other hand, to refute the charges against him, the respondent judge
presented thirteen (13) witnesses: Atty. Victoria C.M. Sturch, Atty. Primitivo C.
Jularbal, Atty. Ma. Inglay Capuyon-Fokno, Justice Sixto Domondon, Atty.
Lourdes Maita Andres, Atty. Juan B. Valdez, Lina de Guzman Dalusong,
Prosecutor Lilian Dris S. Alejo, Sister Mercedes del Rosario Nicolas, Atty.
Johnico Alim, Prosecutor Raymond Tabangin, Ret. RTC Judge Concepcion B.
Buencamino and Atty. Lyssa G.S. Pagano-Calde.
Atty. Victoria C.M. Sturch, a member of the IBP Baguio-Benguet Chapter,
executed the Affidavit dated January 18, 2001.[26] As a practicing lawyer, Atty.
Sturch has appeared before the sala of the respondent judge. She averred that
the respondent consistently starts the hearings at exactly 8:30 in the morning
and that he is strict in the observance of decorum inside the courtroom. She has
not witnessed any instance when the respondent acted in an arrogant or
offensive manner. She was of the opinion that the respondent judge could not
be influenced or bribed by anyone.

Atty. Primitivo C. Jularbal also a member of the IBP Baguio-Benguet


Chapter, executed an Affidavit dated January 22, 2001.[27] He is seventy-one
Thereafter, upon the instance of the respondent judge, Atty. Daet (71) years old and has been in the practice of law for over thirty-four (34) years
transferred Atty. Lagdao to another sala. Atty. Daet did not assign another and in the course thereof has appeared before the respondent judge.
lawyer to take Atty. Lagdaos place because the respondent judge insinuated
that his approval should first be sought regarding the assignment of the PAO

Atty. Jularbal revealed that he was asked to sign the complaint against the
respondent judge but that he declined. He believed that filing an administrative
charge against a judge whenever he committed an error would set a bad
precedent. He dismissed the charge of gross ignorance of the law against the
respondent judge as very easy to make, but whether it can be proven is another
matter.

lawyers (1) wear the proper attire; and (2) refrain from making unnecessary
noises when the court is in session. In Atty. Valdez view, the strictness of the
respondent judge is necessary for orderly court proceedings.

Aside from handling cases, Atty. Valdez acted as the City Legal Officer
of Baguio City from 1992 up to 1996. As such, he confirmed the practice of the
local government of Baguio Cityof hiring contractual employees and assigning
He knew of only one instance when the respondent judge imposed a fine them to the various courts in the city.
of P500 on the counsel for tardiness. But, according to Atty. Jularbal, the
Lina de Guzman Dalusong was one of the parties in a civil case that was
respondent judge did not make any effort to enforce the payment of the fine. He
pending
in the sala of the respondent judge. She executed the Affidavit
has not witnessed any arrogant or oppressive conduct by the respondent
dated
April
2, 2001.[32] She testified that prior to the respondent judges
judge. Neither has he seen the respondent judge act discourteously or
appointment to the court, the civil case where she was one of the parties had
disrespectfully towards senior lawyers like him (Atty. Jularbal).
been pending for almost twelve (12) years. When the respondent judge took
Atty. Ma. Inglay Capuyan-Fokno another member of the IBP Baguio- over the said sala, Dalusong noticed that he closely monitored the status of the
Benguet Chapter, executed the Affidavit dated January 22, 2001.[28]
cases pending therein. He enforced a strict system where the litigants, as well
as their counsel, were enjoined to come on time. Consequently, the pending
Atty. Fokno admitted that in 1998, the respondent judge, when newly- cases, including that of Dalusong, were resolved with dispatch. Dalusong also
appointed, intimidated the lawyers who appeared before his sala, including attested to the respondent judges fairness in dealing with the parties and
herself. She noticed, however, that over the lapse of time, the respondent judge deciding the cases assigned to him.
had become more considerate towards the lawyers. Atty. Fokno maintained that
the respondent judge is diligent and serious in the performance of his job as he
Lilian Doris Alejo is a State Prosecutor in the Department of Justice. She
starts the hearings at promptly 8:30 in the morning.
executed the Affidavit dated February 23, 2001.[33] She has appeared before the
respondent judge and found him to be accommodating. She noted that the
Retired Justice Sixto Domondon, a member of the IBP Baguio-Benguet respondent judge would see to it that both parties are present before he talked
[29]
Chapter, executed the Affidavit dated May 24, 2000 in the respondents to either of them. Since Alejo and her opposing counsel were based in Manila,
brief. Justice Domondon manifested that as a practicing lawyer, he has three (3) they often requested for cancellation of hearings and the respondent judge
civil cases pending before the sala of the respondent judge. He confirmed that invariably granted the same.
while he filed an administrative case against the respondent judge for which the
latter was sanctioned by this Court, he could vouch for the respondents integrity,
Sister Mercedes Nicolas is a nun belonging to the Franciscan Sisters,
capacity and moral will to dispense justice fairly.
Immaculate Conception Congregation and resides at the Little Flower Convent
in Baguio City. She executed the Affidavit dated February 26, 2001.[34] Sister
Atty. Lourdes Maita Andres executed her Affidavit in January 2001. [30] As a Nicolas knows the respondent judge because he used to visit their convent to
practicing lawyer, she has appeared several times before the respondent pray and attend their retreats. There was likewise an occasion when Sister
judge. Atty. Andres considered the respondent judge to be fair and even-handed Nicolas appeared as witness in a case pending before the respondent
in dealing with the litigants. On one occasion, Atty. Andres approached the judge. During the hearing, Sister Nicolas saw that the respondent judge treated
respondent ex-parte to ask for a resetting of a case. The respondent judge the people with patience and kindness.
refused, explaining that the other party should be present para walang masabi.
Atty. Andres realized that the respondent judge could not be easily approached
Atty. Johnico Alim, a member of the IBP Baguio-Benguet Chapter, executed
for any favor.
the Affidavit dated December 18, 2000.[35] As a practicing lawyer, he has also
appeared before the respondent judge. Atty. Alim claimed that he has personally
Atty. Juan Valdez also a member of the IBP Baguio-Benguet Chapter, observed the respondent judges deportment in and out of the courtroom, and
executed the Affidavit dated January 11, 2001.[31] Atty. Valdez has been in the that he could vouch for the latters neutrality, competence and integrity.
practice of law for over thirty (30) years and has appeared before the
respondent judge. According to him, the respondent judge strictly requires the
Prosecutor Raymond Tabangin, a trial prosecutor assigned to the sala of
observance of proper decorum inside the courtroom. For example, the lawyers the respondent judge, executed the Affidavit dated October 15, 1999.
are enjoined to arrive at the hearings on time; otherwise, a fine is imposed on [36] Prosecutor Tabangin asserted that the respondent judge is a strict and
them for tardiness. Upon proper motion and explanation, however, the idealistic judge, who starts the hearings promptly at 8:30 in the morning and
respondent judge would lift the fine. Further, the respondent judge requires that ends them at 12:00. He requires the lawyers to be punctual and imposes a fine

on them if they are late. The orders and processes issued by the respondent
judge are carried out promptly. The respondent judges strictness has resulted in
the unclogging of the court docket as he reduced the same from over 300 cases
to a manageable level. Civil cases that were pending for several years had been
disposed of and in criminal cases, the accused would opt to enter into plea
bargaining because the respondent judge has a reputation of being honest and
incorruptible. According to Prosecutor Tabangin, the respondent judge, for all his
strictness, has a soft spot for young lawyers as he patiently teaches them what
to do. He takes great care not to arouse suspicion of partiality and bias in
dealing with the parties. He carefully uses his words when admonishing lawyers
and, contrary to the complainants allegation, telling a lawyer to shut up is
definitely not his style. Despite his stern and uncompromising countenance, the
respondent judge is a God-fearing and deeply religious man.

Ethics that respondent Judge Fernando Vil Pamintuan be meted the severest of
administrative penalties, that is, he should be stripped of his robe.
IN VIEW THEREOF, recommendation is hereby made that respondent Judge Fernando
Vil Pamintuan be dismissed from the service with forfeiture of all retirement benefits
and privileges with prejudice to reinstatement to re-employment in any branch of the
government or its corporation for Gross Ignorance of the Law, Gross Violation of the
Constitutional Rights of the Accused, Arrogance, Oppressive Conduct, and Violations of
the Canons of Judicial Ethics.[39]

The Ruling of the Court

Retired Judge Concepcion Buencamino is eighty-three (83) years old and,


The Court finds the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating
upon her retirement from the judiciary, has engaged in the practice of law, albeit
on a limited basis. She executed the Affidavit dated February 24, 2000.[37] She Justice well-taken.
averred that she has appeared before the respondent judge in connection with a
case involving a property dispute among siblings.Through the efforts of the
respondent judge, the parties reached an amicable settlement sparing them
On Gross Ignorance of the Law
from what could have been an expensive and long litigation.
Judge Buencamino stated that the respondent judge possesses a good
The respondent judges ignorance of the Indeterminate Sentence Law is
knowledge of the law. She observed that the respondent judge is never arrogant
palpable.
In People vs. Dumez, et al. (Criminal Cases Nos. 15776-R up to
or overbearing. He listens to the witnesses and asks clarificatory questions in a
15779-R),
the respondent judge sentenced the accused who were found guilty
polite manner. Judge Buencamino confirmed that the respondent judge is strict
of theft to suffer imprisonment from seven (7) years, four (4) months and one (1)
about the attendance of the lawyers during hearings.
day as minimum to eight (8) years and eight (8) months as maximum of prision
Through Atty. Lyssa G.S. Pagano-Calde, the respondent judge presented mayor for each case. The penalty imposed by the respondent judge was
several documentary evidence[38] to further refute the charges against him.
contrary to the Indeterminate Sentence Law which prescribes that the minimum
of the imposable penalty shall be within the range of the penalty next lower to
that prescribed by the Revised Penal Code. Since the penalty for theft is prision
mayor, the minimum of the penalty imposable on the accused should have been
The Investigating Justices Report and Recommendation
within the range of prision correccional, the penalty next lower to prision mayor.
Upon careful evaluation of the evidence presented by the complainants
and the respondent judge, the Investigating Justice found that the charges
against the respondent judge for gross ignorance of the law, violation of the
constitutional rights of the accused, arrogance, oppression, impropriety and
violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct are well-grounded, while the charge
of graft and corruption was unsubstantiated. The Investigating Justice made the
following recommendation:
On the basis of the foregoing evaluation on the evidence presented by both the
complainants and the respondent, undersigned Investigating Justice recommends, for
Gross Ignorance of the Law, Gross Violation of the Constitutional Rights of the
Accused, Arrogance, Oppressive Conduct and Violations of the Canons of Judicial

A perusal of the other decisions rendered by the respondent judge shows


that his erroneous application of the Indeterminate Sentence Law in imposing
the penalties was committed in not just one or two instances. Rather, as
correctly raised by the complainants, the respondent judge had repeatedly
misapplied the Indeterminate Sentence Law in at least seventeen (17) other
cases, to wit:
1. People vs. Rose Dalmacio, et. al.
Crim. Case No. 11363-R, for
Theft (Exhibit D)
The amount stolen was P10,000.00. Under Art. 309, Par. 2 of the Revised Penal Code,
the penalty imposable is prision correccional in its medium and maximum

period. However, the sentence imposed by Respondent Judge was from four (4) years,
nine (9) months and eleven (11) days as minimum, to six (6) years, as maximum. Worse,
he imposed subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency when no fine was imposed as
penalty.
2. People vs. Joel Ramos, et al.
Crim. Case No. 15108-R,
for Robbery With Violence
(Exhibit E)
As found by respondent, the provision applicable is Article 294, Par. 5 of the Revised
Penal Code which provides a penalty of prision correccional in its maximum period to
prision mayor in its medium period. However, he imposed upon the accused
imprisonment from six (6) years and one (1) day, as minimum, to eight (8) years, as
maximum. Again, he disregarded Article 39 of the Revised Penal Code and imposed
subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency.
3. People vs. Manuel Carino
Crim. Case No. 15544-R, for
Frustrated Homicide (Exhibit F)
The accused pleaded guilty to Attempted Homicide and thus, the imposable penalty is
prision correccional (Art. 51 in rel. to Art. 249, RPC). Respondent, however, imposed
the penalty of four (4) years, two (2) months and one (1) day, as minimum, to six (6)
years, as maximum. Notably, it was imposed in its maximum period without any finding
of aggravating circumstance.
4. People vs. German Abarquez,
et al. Crim. Case No. 3200,
for Robbery (Exhibit G)
As found by respondent, the penalty imposable is prision mayor. However, what he
imposed was imprisonment from ten (10) years and one (1) day, as minimum, to twelve
(12) years, as maximum. Again, the penalty imposed is in its maximum period without
any express finding of aggravating circumstance.
5. People vs. Rolando Tawanna, et. al.
Crim. Case No. 7703-R, for Frustrated
Homicide (Exhibit H)
The penalty imposed is prision correccional (Art. 50 in rel. to Art. 249, RPC) but
respondent sentenced all accused to ten (10) years and one (1) day, as minimum, to
twelve (12) years, as maximum, without any express finding of aggravating
circumstance.

6. People vs. Jose Tamo, et. al.


Crim. Case No. 13646-R, for
Frustrated Murder (Exhibit I)
The imposable penalty is prision mayor in its maximum period to reclusion temporal in
its medium period (Art. 50 in rel. to Art. 248, RPC) but the penalty imposed by
respondent was fourteen (14) years, eight (8) months and one (1) day, as minimum, to
seventeen (17) years and four (4) months, as maximum.
7. People vs. Bernardo Polic-ew
Crim. Case No. 14054-R, for
Frustrated Murder (Exhibit J)
The penalty imposable is prision mayor (Art. 50 in rel. to Art. 249, RPC) but respondent
fixed the sentence at eleven (11) years, four (4) months and one (1) day, as minimum, to
twelve (12) years, as maximum. Note that the penalty is in the maximum period without
any express finding of aggravating circumstance.
8. People vs. Johnson Simsim
Crim. Case No. 14524-R, for
Attempted Rape (Exhibit K)
It being in its attempted stage, the penalty imposable is prision mayor. However, the
penalty imposed by respondent was ten (10) years and one (1) (sic), as minimum, to
twelve (12) years, as maximum.
9. People vs. Moses Polic-ew
Crim. Case No. 15600-R, for
Malversation of Public
Property (Exhibit L)
As found by respondent, accused violated Par. 2 of Art. 217, RPC, which provides a
penalty of prision mayor in its minimum and medium periods. However, what he
imposed was seven (7) years, four (4) months and one (1) day, as minimum, to eight (8)
years, as maximum.
10. People vs. Renato Bernal
Crim. Case No. 14776-R, for
Homicide (Exhibit M)
The imposable penalty for Homicide is reclusion temporal. Again, in complete disregard
of the Indeterminate Sentence Law, respondent imposed fourteen (14) years, eight (8)
months and one (1) day, as minimum, to seventeen (17) years and four (4) months, as
maximum.

11. People vs. John Baliling


Crim. Case No. 15932-R,
for Frustrated Homicide
(Exhibit N)
The offense charged is punishable by prision mayor. However, respondent imposed
eight (8) years and one (1) day, as minimum, to ten (10) years, as maximum.
12. People vs. Melchor Bawalan, et al.
Crim. Case No. 15653-R, for
Robbery with Violence (Exhibit O)
The offense charged is punishable under Par. 5, Art. 294, RPC, which provides a penalty
of prision correccional in its maximum period to prision mayor in its medium period.
However, respondent imposed eight (8) years and one (1) (sic) as minimum, to ten
years, as maximum.
13. People vs. Paul Afiagan
Crim. Case No. 13379-R, for
Frustrated Homicide (Exhibit P)

16. People vs. Liwayway Cruz


Crim. Case No. 7304-R,
for Estafa (Exhibit S)
The amount involved is P29,470.00. Hence, pursuant to Art. 315, Par. 1, Revised Penal
Code, the imposable penalty is prision correccional in its maximum period to prision
mayor in its minimum period. The penalty imposed by respondent was six (6) years,
eight (8) months and twenty (21) days, as minimum, to eight (8) years, as maximum.
17. People vs. Benjie Gose, et al.;
Crim. Case No. 149935-R, for
Robbery (Exhibit T)
The penalty imposable is prision mayor there being no evidence that accused carried
arms during the robbery (Art. 299, RPC). Respondent, however, imposed a sentence of
six (6) years and one (1) day, as minimum, to eight (8) years, as maximum. Note, too,
that he imposed the same penalty upon accused Mark Joseph Ocharan despite his
findings that he was a minor during the commission of the crime. Minority is a privilege
mitigating circumstance and thus, accused Ocharans penalty should have been lowered
by one degree.[40]

The application of the Indeterminate Sentence Law in the imposition of


Accused pleaded guilty to Attempted Homicide punishable with imprisonment of prision
correccional, but respondent fixed the penalty at four (4) years, two (2) months, and one penalties in crimes punishable by the Revised Penal Code is a basic
precept. The respondent judges repeated misapplication thereof in quite a
(1) day, as minimum, to six (6) years, as maximum.
number of criminal cases he had rendered constitutes gross ignorance of the
law. As this Court has consistently ruled, a judge is presumed to know the law
14. People vs. Edwin Longaquit, et. al.
and when the law is so elementary, not to be aware of it constitutes gross
Crim. Case No. 13367-R, for
ignorance of the law.[41] Indeed, judges are duty bound to have more than a
Frustrated Homicide (Exhibit Q)
cursory acquaintance with laws and jurisprudence. Failure to follow basic legal
commands constitutes gross ignorance of the law from which no one may be
The offense charged is punishable by imprisonment of prision mayor. Respondent
excused, not even a judge.[42]
imposed eight (8) years and one (1) day, as minimum, to ten (10) years, maximum.
The Code of Judicial Conduct mandates that a judge shall be faithful to the
law
and
maintain professional competence.[43] It bears stressing that
15. People vs. Joseph Samir Kairuz, et al.
Crim. Case No. 14929-R, for Estafa
. . . Competence is a mark of a good judge. When a judge displays an utter lack of
(Exhibit R)
familiarity with the rules, he erodes the publics confidence in the competence of our
courts. Such is gross ignorance of the law. Having accepted the exalted position of a
The amount involved was P90,000.00. Under the first paragraph of Art. 315 of the
judge, he owes the public and the court the duty to be proficient in the law.[44]
Revised Penal Code, the imposable penalty is prision correccional in its maximum
period to prision mayor in its minimum period, plus one year for every P10,000.00 since
The respondent judge has utterly failed to live up to the standard of
the amount involved exceeds P22,000.00. The sentence imposed by respondent,
competence required of him. His erroneous application of the Indeterminate
however, is twelve (12) years, eight (8) months, and twenty (21) days, as minimum, to
Sentence Law committed not just once or twice but in at least seventeen (17)
fourteen (14) years, as maximum. Note that aside from not applying the Indeterminate
Sentence Law, the minimum of the penalty he imposed is beyond the penalty imposable instances is a compelling evidence of his gross ignorance of the law.
under the law.

On Gross Violation of
the Constitutional Rights
of the Accused

submitted for decision within the period fixed by law constitutes violation of the
constitutional right of the parties to a speedy disposition of their cases.[45]

The unreasonable delay of the respondent judge in resolving the motions


submitted for his resolution clearly constituted a violation of the parties
In People vs. Ceferino Baniqued (Criminal Case No. 13949-R) for violation constitutional right to a speedy disposition of their cases.
of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, the prosecution filed a motion for
preventive suspension and the accused filed his opposition thereto. In his Order
of August 18, 1998, the respondent judge submitted the said motion for
resolution. However, it took the respondent judge more than one (1) year to On Arrogant, Oppressive
resolve the same. As correctly found by the Investigating Justice, the delay in and Improper Conduct and
resolving this motion constituted violation of the right of the accused to a speedy Violations of the Code of
Judicial Conduct
trial.
In Surla vs. Dimla (Civil Case No. 3322-R), the respondent judge resolved
an unopposed motion for reconsideration after almost four (4) months. Again,
As correctly enumerated by the Investigating Justice, the following
this contravened the mandate of the Constitution that "all persons shall have the incidents establish the respondent judges arrogant and oppressive conduct:
right to a speedy disposition of cases.
Rule 1.02 of Canon 1 and Rule 3.05 of Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial
Conduct provide:
Rule 1.02. A judge should administer justice impartially and without delay.
Rule 3.05. A judge shall dispose of the courts business promptly and decide cases within
the required periods.
SC Administrative Circular No. 13-87 enjoins that:
3. Judges shall observe scrupulously the periods prescribed by Article VIII, Section 15
of the Constitution for the adjudication and resolution of all cases or matters submitted
in their courts. Thus, all cases or matters must be decided or resolved within twelve
months from dates of submission by all lower collegiate courts while all other lower
courts are given a period of three months to do so . . .
Further, SC Administrative Circular No. 1-88 reads:
6.1. All Presiding Judges must endeavor to act promptly on all motions and
interlocutory matters pending before their courts . . .
Conformably with the foregoing mandate, this Court has pronounced
The office of a judge exists for one solemn end to promote the ends of justice by
administering it speedily and impartially. The judge as the person presiding over that
court is the visible representation of the law and justice. Failure to resolve cases

a. Arrogance
When he tried to limit the cross examination by Atty. Fernando Manapat Jr., who was
representing the accused in People vs. Andrada, of the prosecution witness to ten (10)
minutes with an advice of not repeating questions that were already asked during the
direct examination;
b. Arrogance and Oppression
Atty. J[o]ris Karl B. Dacaw[i], a young lawyer, who became the beneficiary of
respondents arrogance and oppressive conduct on 11 March 1999. On said date, Atty.
Dacaw[i], as plaintiffs lawyer, moved for the cancellation of the hearing of the case
entitled Alejo Cabre[r]os vs. Susie Edralin alleging although his witness Alejo
Cabre[r]os was present, said witness however was not feeling well. This simple
manifestation caught the ire of respondent judge who instantaneously ordered Alejo
Cabre[r]os to stand and told him not to pay his lawyer his attorneys fees because he did
not do anything for that day;
c. Oppression and Violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct
1. Atty. Reynaldo U. Agranzamendez, while appearing as counsel de oficio for
Liwayway Cruz in Criminal Case No. 7304-R, for estafa last 29 July 1999, was
extremely embarrassed when he was ordered by respondent judge to stand in behalf of
accused, who was then absent despite due notice, and face the Clerk of Court during the
reading of the full text of the decision when said case was called for
promulgation. Accordingly, Atty. Agranzamendez asked respondent judge to allow him
to take his seat as there were several people inside the courtroom who, being unmindful
of the rules might think that he was the accused. But his pleas, however, got respondent

mad, for instead of allowing him to sit down, respondent instead banged his gavel and
told Atty. Agranzamendez not to argue with the court and to stand straight as he leaned
over avoid the glances of the Clerk of Court.
2. Evidence on hand also reveals respondents casual disregard of procedural rules, that
is, when he promulgated a decision that has yet to be released as shown in the case of
People vs. Malapit, et al., docketed as Criminal Case Nos. 15320-R, 15323-R, 15[327]R and 15571-R and in People vs. Cas, docketed as Criminal Case No. 15306-R.[46]

. . . hereby gives notice that she is appealing to the Supreme Court decision of the
honorable Court promulgated on 18 September 1999, copies of which the honorable
Court has yet to release despite the fact that the reglementary period for filing a motion
for reconsideration or a notice of appeal is about to expire. . .
In the Cas case:

. . . hereby gives notice that she is appealing to the court of appeals the decision of the
honorable Court promulgated on 22 June 1999, a copy of which the Honorable Court
The behavior of the respondent judge towards Atty. Mandapat, i.e. berating has yet to release.. .[49]
the latter in his cross-examination for repeating the questions already asked
during the direct examination, betrayed his impatience in the conduct of the
What is even more reprehensible were the respondent judges directives to
hearing. A display of petulance and impatience in the conduct of trial is a norm Atty. Lagdao to delete the phrase copies of which the Honorable Court has yet
of behavior incompatible with the needful attitude and sobriety of a good judge. to release from the notices of appeal otherwise he (the respondent judge) would
[47]
not act thereon. This conduct of the respondent judge was utterly unbecoming a
The respondents statement to the client that Atty. Dacawi did not deserve magistrate and violated the following canons of the Code of Judicial Conduct:
to be paid as he did not do anything during the trial was uncalled for. Further, his
act of requiring Atty. Agranzamendez to take the place of the accused during the CANON 1 - A JUDGE SHOULD UPHOLD THE INTEGRITY
reading of the decision at the promulgation thereof was improper. These AND INDEPENDENCE OF THE JUDICIARY
actuations of the respondent judge cannot be countenanced as they clearly
violated Rule 3.04 of Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial Conduct:
Rule 1.01. A judge should be the embodiment of competence, integrity, and
independence.
Rule 3.04. A judge should be patient, attentive, and courteous to lawyers, especially the
inexperienced, to litigants, witnesses, and others appearing before the court. A judge
CANON 2 - A JUDGE SHOULD AVOID IMPROPRIETY AND APPEARANCE OF
should avoid unconsciously falling into the attitude of mind that the litigants are made
IMPROPRIETY IN ALL ACTIVITIES
for the courts, instead of the courts for the litigants.
Rule 2.01. - A judge should so behave at all times as to promote public confidence in the
Apropos, this Court has held:
integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.
. . . A judge should be courteous both in his conduct and in his language especially to
CANON 3 - A JUDGE SHOULD PERFORM OFFICAL DUTIES HONESTLY, AND
those appearing before him. He can hold counsels to a proper appreciation of their duties WITH IMPARTIALITY AND DILIGENCE
to the court, their clients, and the public without being petty, arbitrary, overbearing, or
tyrannical. He should refrain from conduct that demeans his office and remember
Rule 3.01. - A judge shall be faithful to the law and maintain professional competence.
always that courtesy begets courtesy. Above all, he must conduct himself in such a
manner that he gives no reason for reproach.[48]
Clearly, the respondent judge has failed to observe courtesy and civility to
the lawyers as well as to the litigants who appeared before him.

On Graft and Corruption

While the Investigating Justice absolved, for insufficiency of evidence, the


Finally, the Court frowns upon the highly irregular practice of the
respondent judge of promulgating a decision, copies of which were not then respondent judge of the charge of graft and corruption in connection with the
ready for release to the parties.Consequently, Atty. Lagdao of the PAO, who appointment of Mr. Gula as driver, nonetheless, she found the respondent judge
guilty of impropriety. As found by the Investigating Justice, the respondent
represented the accused, filed the notices of appeal stating as follows:
judges recommendation of Mr. Gula to be his driver despite the latters lack of
drivers license and inability to drive not only casts doubt in his integrity but also
In the Malapit case:

his honesty as a judge.[50] Indeed, the personal behavior of the judge, not only
Complainant Anastacio E. Gaudencio filed charges against respondent
while in the performance of his duties but also outside the court must be beyond Judge Edward D. Pacis of the Municipal Trial Court of Marilao, Bulacan, Branch
reproach for he is the visible representation of the law and of justice. [51]
3, for inefficiency, absenteeism and incompetence.
The Court also notes that this is not the respondents first administrative
case. In Gacayan vs. Pamintuan,[52] the Court found him guilty of violating
Canon 2 of the Code of Judicial Conduct and Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial
Ethics which amount to grave misconduct, conduct unbecoming an officer of the
judiciary and conduct prejudicial to the best interests of the service. Despite the
fact that the accused already filed a Demurer to Evidence, the respondent,
without resolving the same and in blatant disregard for the rules of criminal
procedure, still called witnesses who were not listed in the information as well as
those who had already testified to appear before him, resulting in the re-opening
of the case with respect to the presentation of evidence for the
prosecution. When the accused filed a motion for inhibition and a motion to
suspend further proceedings, the respondent judge denied the same. He was
also seen conferring with the witnesses for the prosecution, and later set the
case for hearing without notice to the counsel of the accused. The respondent
was meted a fine of P10,000 and sternly warned that a repetition of similar
transgressions would be dealt with more severely.[53]

In a letter-complaint[1] dated June 30, 1999 addressed to the Office of the


Chief Justice, complainant states that he has a case dragging on for years
before the sala of respondent. Complainant attributes the delay to respondents
constant resetting of hearings, inefficiency, absenteeism and inexpertise in the
field of law.

In his comment[2] dated October 4, 1999, respondent characterizes the


complaint to be a mere demolition job against him. Respondent avers that the
alleged complainant is a fictitious person; he is neither a party nor a witness in
any of the cases pending in his sala. Respondent denies having been absent,
except when he attended a monthly meeting conducted by the Executive Judge
of Malolos, Bulacan. He disclaims re-setting an arraignment, except when an
accused has no lawyer and asks for one of his own choice. Respondent adds
that the only instances when pre-trial and trial of cases are reset are when
Considering all the foregoing, we find that the penalty of suspension for a
witnesses are absent, or when the public prosecutor is absent. In both cases the
period of one (1) year is appropriate.
re-setting is always with the acquiescence of the parties, respondent states.
WHEREFORE, Respondent Judge Fernando Vil Pamintuan of the
Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 3 of Baguio City, is SUSPENDED for a
On the matter of his caseload, respondent explains that he has inherited
period of one (1) year effective immediately. He is sternly WARNED that a
766
cases
from his predecessor and that about 40 to 100 cases are added
repetition of the same or similar acts shall be dealt with more severely.
monthly. He explains that as of October 4, 1999, he had 593 pending cases,
The respondent is DIRECTED to report the date of his receipt of this which he avers to be very low compared to [those in] other first class
Decision to the Court to enable it to determine when his suspension shall have municipalities.[3] As to his schedule, he says he conducts preliminary
taken effect.
investigations daily from Monday to Friday, subject to the availability of
SO ORDERED.
witnesses. For civil cases, he holds hearings on Mondays, Tuesdays and
Wednesdays, or any day except Thursday, subject to the availability of the
[A.M. No. MTJ-03-1502. August 6, 2003]
parties and counsels, or as agreed upon by both parties.
ANASTACIO E. GAUDENCIO, complainant, vs. Judge EDWARD D. PACIS,
Then Court Administrator, Alfredo Benipayo, referred the complaint and
MTC, Branch 3, Marilao, Bulacan, respondent.
respondents comment to Executive Judge Danilo Manalastas of the RTC,
Malolos, Bulacan, for investigation, report and recommendation. For the
RESOLUTION
investigation, Judge Manalastas sought the assistance of Mario F. Fumera, Jr.,
Court Interpreter of the RTC, Branch 7, Bulacan, who posed as a representative
QUISUMBING, J.:
of a litigant. The staff of respondent informed Mr. Fumera that respondent
conducts preliminary investigations every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday,
hears civil and criminal cases every Thursday, while Friday is a free day. [4]

In a follow-up report dated October 11, 1999, the investigating judge


confirmed his initial report that respondent is usually absent on Friday; he holds
hearings of civil and criminal case only every Thursday, conducts preliminary
investigations only in the morning of Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and
leaves his office afterwards. Further, the investigating judge found that
respondent regularly sets more than thirty cases for the once a week hearing on
Thursday mornings, but only two or three of these cases are actually heard for
each sitting due to time constraints. The investigating judge reported he
interviewed law practitioners in Bulacan, they characterized respondent as
indifferent in regard to disposing speedily cases pending before his sala. Finally,
Judge Manalastas recommended an audit of cases pending before the MTC of
Marilao, Bulacan, to be conducted by a team from the Office of the Court
Administrator to find out the actual number of the backlog of cases in
respondents court.[5]
Deputy Court Administrator Jose Perez seconded Judge Manalastas
recommendation for the conduct of judicial audit. According to DCA Perez, said
audit will lay the basis as to whether or not Judge Pacis should be held
administratively liable.[6] He adds that in respondents six years as a judge, this is
not respondents first brush with an administrative complaint. In OCA IPI No. 011092-MTJ entitled Abelardo S.M. Rosales vs. Judge Edward D. Pacis, still
pending investigation, the latter was charged with Gross Ignorance of
Procedure.

(a.4) failure to observe the guidelines set forth under paragraph no[s].
I and IV, Administrative Circular No. 3-99 dated January
15, 1999 specifically on the observance of session hours
and adherence to the policy on avoiding postponements;
(a.5) not holding court session [o]n the following dates: October 1, 8,
14, 15, 22, November 5, 12, 16, 19, 26 and December 3,
16, 17, 21, 22, 23, 27, 28, 29, all in the year 1999;
xxx
The Court Administrator also reported that respondent failed to:
xxx
(b) Undertake the appropriate action, pursuant to Administrative Circular No.
7-A-92 dated June 21, 1993, re: Guidelines in the Archiving of Cases,
on the following criminal cases with pending warrant of arrest, to
wit: 99-268 to 99-270, 99-091, 99-104, 99-054, 99-082, 99-017 to 99033, 99-258, 9983, 9534, 9964, 10005 to 10008, 99-050, 99-088, 99218 and 99-080.[7]
As summarized by the Court Administrator, hereunder is the corresponding
explanation of the respondent:

By order of this Court, Court Administrator Alfredo Benipayo organized an


audit team to conduct a judicial audit and physical inventory of cases pending a. Failure to decide Civil Case Nos. 814 and 815 to 816 within the reglementary period before respondents sala. In his report dated March 10, 2000, the Court he stated that Civil Case No. 814 was decided on July 24, 1997 and Civil Case Nos. 815
Administrator enumerates the irregularities found in respondents sala:
and 816 were decided on 21 July 1997 by the then Acting Judge Amante Bandayrel.
(a.1) failure to decide Civil Cases Nos. 814 to 816 within the
reglementary period to decide;
(a.2) failure to set in the court calendar or take further action after
lapse of considerable period of time the following Civil
Cases Nos.: 831, 811, 875, 918, 872, and 914;
(a.3) failure to resolve the following criminal cases after the conclusion
of the preliminary investigation, to wit: 99-520, 99-521, 99558, 99-388, 99-532, 99-526, 99-529, 99-501, 99-502, 99547, 99-548, 99-482, and 99-465 to 99-475;

b. Failure to set in the court calendar or take further action after lapse of considerable
period of time Civil Case Nos. 831, 811, 875, 918, 872 and 914 - Judge Pacis gave the
following explanations to wit:
(b.1) In Civil Case Nos. 831, 811 and 872 which involves collection cases, the plaintiff
corporation was given authority to serve the corresponding summons to the defendants.
(b.2) Anent Civil Case Nos. 875 and 918 plaintiffs representatives were given authority
to cause the service of summons to the defendants.

In all the above-mentioned cases Judge Pacis reasoned out that during the time of the
judicial audit and physical inventory of cases conducted, no returns have yet been made
by the plaintiffs representatives so he could not act on these cases yet.

(d.6) There are also instances when court processes were served by the Process Server
and returned with a notation that the addresses cannot be found at the given address or
unknown within the community.

(b.3) With regard to Civil Case No. 914 according to Judge Pacis, the same has been
decided on 26 June 2000.

e. Relative to not holding court sessions on the following dates: October 1, 8, 14, 15, 22,
November 5, 12, 16, 19, 26 and December 3, 16, 17, 21, 22, 23, 27, 28, 29 all in the year
1999, he stated that:

c. Failure to resolve the following Criminal Cases after the conclusion of the preliminary
investigation to wit: 99-520, 99-521, 99-558, 99-388, 99-532, 99-526, 99-529, 99-501,
99-502, 99-547, 99-548, 99-482 and 99-465 to 99-475 - these cases were still under
preliminary investigation during the months of November and December 1999 and the
accused on these cases were given ample time within which to file their respective
counter-affidavits and supporting documents, accordingly, the court has to wait or defer
further action on the cases before concluding the preliminary investigation.
d. Failure to observe guidelines set forth under paragraph Nos. I and IV, Administrative
Circular No. 3-99 dated 15 January 1999 specifically on the observance of session hours
and adherence to the policy on avoiding postponements and for unduly granting motion
for postponements or repeated resetting in court calendar - these alleged infractions
should not be taken against him due to the following:
(d.1) The Assistant Prosecutor assigned in his sala is available only for one-half (1/2) a
day a week and only in the afternoon, and the worst part of it is that most of the time she
fails to appear during the scheduled trial/hearing, thus, reducing the number of sessions
in a month from two (2) days to one and one-half (1 1/2) days a month.
(d.2) There are only few practicing lawyers who appear in his court and the public
attorney assigned to his court usually moves for a resetting of the trial.
(d.3) The trial/hearing were also reset by mutual agreement of the parties.
(d.4) A case has to be postponed also because the parties have not received their
respective notices on time, most especially when notices were sent thru the post office.
(d.5) The Police Officers who were tasked to cause the services of the notices,
subpoenas/summons are no longer given the privilege to use the free postage mailing
thus the court encounters the difficulty of waiting for the return of service.

(e.1) October 1, 8 and 22; November 5, 12, 19 and 26 and December 17, 1999, these
dates fell on a Friday and were supposed to be motion day but lawyers still prefer to
appear in the Regional Trial Court.Counsels of litigants, particularly in civil cases prefer
Monday to Wednesday and refuse to set any hearing on these dates.
The court accordingly cannot set any hearing/trial or motions on the criminal cases
because of the unavailability of an Assistant Provincial Prosecutor, who is available on a
Thursday afternoon.
(e.2) On October 14 and 15, he attended the Philippine Trial Judges League Convention
held in Bacolod City where he is the Public Relations Officer and convention
coordinator.
(e.3) On November 16, the court held a hearing regarding Civil Case No. 810 entitled
Teodorico Rivera vs. Pedro Manalang.
(e.4) December 3 this was the date set for the Oath Taking of the Officers of the
Philippine Trial Judges League where he is a coordinator and the Public Relations
Officer.
(e.5) December 16, was the date set for the Christmas Party of the Municipal Trial Court
Judges of the Province of Bulacan.
(e.6) December 21, 22, 27 and 29, the lawyers refused to set their cases for hearing/trial
however according to Judge Pacis the court set a pre-trial in December 23 but the parties
failed to appear. He added that on December 28, a B.P. 22 case was set for clarificatory
hearing.
f. Relative to the directive to Judge Pacis to undertake the appropriate action, pursuant to
Administrative Circular 7-A-92 dated 21 June, 1993 re: Guidelines in Archiving of
Cases with pending warrant of arrest to wit: 99-268 to 99-270, 99-091, 99-104, 99-054,

99-082, 99-017 to 99-033, 99-258, 9983, 9534, 9964, 10005 to 10008, 99-050, 99-088,
99-218 and 99-080 he informed the Court of the following action he had taken:
(f.1) Criminal Cases Nos. 99-091, 99-104, 99-054, 99-218, 9983 and 9534 were
archived on February 4, 2000;
(f.2) Criminal Cases Nos. 99-082, 99-258, 99-080, 99-050, 9964, 10005 to 10008 were
archived on April 4, 2000;
(f.3) Criminal Cases Nos. 99-268 to 99-270 were not archived because after the judicial
audit conducted on 6 January, 2000, a motion for issuance of an alias warrant was filed
by the Private Prosecutor and the accused was arraigned and the case is still active;
(f.4) Criminal Case No. 99-017 and 99-033 were not also archived because after judicial
audit, accused posted bail bond on 9 February 2000 and the pre-trial was terminated on
5 October 2000. The case is still active.
(f.5) Criminal Case No. 99-088 was not archived but forwarded to RTC, Malolos,
Bulacan on 12 January 2000.[8]
On September 3, 2001, considering the abovecited explanations of Judge
Pacis and Ms. Esguerra, the OCA recommended that the explanations be
deemed satisfactory. Judge Edward D. Pacis was, however, advised to: (a)
observe strict adherence to the guidelines set forth under paragraphs I and IV of
Administrative Circular 3-99, dated January 15, 1999, and refrain from frequent
granting of motions for postponement; and (b) regularly conduct hearings to
avoid giving the public the impression that the Hon. Judge is remiss in the
performance of his judicial functions.[9]
It must be stressed in this regard that guidelines for trial courts have been
repeatedly circularized, precisely to obviate possible public misimpression
concerning the prompt conduct of judicial business.

specifically from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon and from 2:00 to 4:30 p.m. as required by par.
5 of the Interim Rules issued by the Supreme Court on January 11, 1983, pursuant to
Sec. 16 of B.P. 129.
Early on, Section 5 of Supervisory Circular No. 14, issued October 22,
1985, similarly provides:
5. Session Hours. - Regional Trial Courts, Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial
Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts shall hold daily sessions from Monday to
Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon and from 2:00 to 4:30 p.m. assisted by a skeletal
force, also on rotation, primarily to act on petitions for bail and other urgent matters.
Further, Administrative Circular No. 3-99 dated January 15, 1999 mandates
the Strict Observance Of Session Hours Of Trial Courts And Effective
Management Of Cases To Ensure Their Speedy Disposition. ThusTo insure speedy disposition of cases, the following guidelines must be faithfully
observed:
I. The session hours of all Regional Trial Courts, Metropolitan
Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts in Cities, Municipal Trial
Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts shall be from
8:30 A.M. to noon and from 2:00 P.M. to 4:30 P.M., from
Monday to Friday. The hours in the morning shall be
devoted to the conduct of trial, while the hours in the
afternoon shall be utilized for (1) the conduct of pre-trial
conferences; (2) writing of decisions, resolutions or orders;
or (3) the continuation of trial on the merits, whenever
rendered necessary, as may be required by the Rules of
Court, statutes, or circulars in specified cases.
xxx

Circular No. 13 issued on July 1, 1987, has set the Guidelines in the
Administration of Justice. In particular, Section 1 of the guidelines for trial courts
states:

II. Judges must be punctual at all times.

1. Punctuality and strict observance of office hours. - Punctuality in the holding of


scheduled hearings is an imperative. Trial judges should strictly observe the requirement
of at least eight hours of service a day, five hours of which should be devoted to trial,

IV. There should be strict adherence to the policy on avoiding


postponements and needless delay.

xxx

xxx
VI. All trial judges must strictly comply with Circular No. 38-98,
entitled Implementing the Provisions of Republic Act No.
8493 (An Act to Ensure a Speedy Trial of All Cases Before
the Sandiganbayan, Regional Trial Court, Metropolitan
Trial Court, Municipal Trial Court in Cities, Municipal Trial
Court and Municipal Circuit Trial Court, Appropriating
Funds Therefor, and for Other Purposes) issued by the
Honorable Chief Justice Andres R. Narvasa on 11 August
1998 and which took effect on 15 September 1998.

Statement of the Case

Before this Court is a Petition[1] filed by Spouses Kiat and Teresa Reaport praying
for the REMOVAL/DISCHARGE from office and/or other disciplinary sanctions
against Judge Efren S. Mariano of the Municipal Trial Court of Zamboanga City, Branch
2. The Petition stems from his alleged violation of Section 7 of the New Rules on
Summary Procedure and Rule 1.02 of the Code of Judicial Conduct.
The Facts

The facts in the present case are aptly summarized in the Court Administrators
Report[2] dated November 16, 1999, as follows:

These cited circulars are restatements of fundamentals in the Canons of


Judicial Ethics which enjoin judges to be punctual in the performance of their
xxxxxxxxx
judicial duties, recognizing that the time of litigants, witnesses, and attorneys are
of value, and that if the judge is not punctual in the performance of his functions, Complainants, x x x allege that:
he sets a bad example to the bar and tends to create public dissatisfaction in
the administration of justice.[10]
a. On March 6, 1995, they, together with Spouses Nilo and Lourdes Uro, filed
an ejectment case (unlawful detainer) against Spouses Guillermo B.
WHEREFORE, respondent Judge Edward D. Pacis of Municipal Trial Court
Natividad, Jr. and Elsie C. Natividad with the MTC, Zamboanga City. The
of Marilao, Bulacan, Branch 3, is hereby ADVISED AND ADMONISHED to be
case was docketed as Special Civil Action No. 4862, and later raffled to
more prompt and conscientious in the performance of his duties, with the stern
Branch 2 of the said court presided by respondent;
warning that any repetition of similar acts will be dealt with more severely.
b. On April 25, 1995, summons under the New Rule on Summary Procedure
and copies of the complaint were duly served on defendants;

SO ORDERED.
[A.M. No. MTJ-00-1253. July 11, 2001]

c. On May 3, 1995, defendants filed their Answer;

Spouses KIAT & TERESA REAPORT, petitioners, vs. Judge EFREN S.


MARIANO, Municipal Trial Court, Branch 2, Zamboanga
City, respondent.

d. In an Order dated July 4, 1995, respondent set the subject ejectment case
for preliminary conference on July 26, 1995 or exactly eighty-four (84)
days after the answer of the defendants was filed;

DECISION

e. On July 24, 1995, defendants filed a Manifestation with Omnibus Motion


praying that the ejectment case be suspended or held in abeyance on the
ground that there [was] a case (Civil Case No. 4406) pending before the
RTC, Branch 12, Zamboanga City involving the same parties;

PANGANIBAN, J.:
Justice delayed is justice denied. A magistrate who deliberately consents to or
abets needless, groundless and obviously unmeritorious motions for postponement,
especially in ejectment cases, is administratively liable.

f. On November 6, 1995, respondent Judge ordered the dismissal of the


subject ejectment case for lack of jurisdiction although the defendants

only prayed for the suspension of the proceeding therein and said
dismissal was appealed with the RTC, Zamboanga;
g. In a Resolution dated March 10, 1996, Judge Vicente L. Cabatingan, RTC,
Branch 15, Zamboanga City reversed and set aside the aforesaid Order,
holding that:
. . . firmly settled is the rule that the pendency of an action questioning the
ownership of property will not abate ejectment suits or bar the execution of
the judgments therein. The rationale for the rule is that an ejectment suit
involves only the issue of material possession or possession de facto. There
may be identity of the parties and subject matter but not of the cause of the
action or the relief prayed for. (San Pedro vs. CA, 235 SCRA 145, 146);
h. On April 23, 1996, the MTC, Branch 2, Zamboanga City received the
complete records of the subject ejectment case from the appellate court
(RTC, Branch 15, Zamboanga City); and
i. From April 23, 1996, up to the present (March 1997), or for a period of
eleven (11) months, respondent Judge made a mockery of the New Rules
on Summary Procedure by setting the subject ejectment case several times
for preliminary conference, only to cancel the same upon motion/s for
postponement/resetting filed by the defendants.
Complainants assert that respondent Judge is guilty of violating the mandate of Sections
7 and 19 (i) of the Revised Rules on Summary Procedure. According to them, the Order
of the respondent Judge setting the preliminary conference only on July 26, 1999 or
exactly eighty-four (84) days after the Answer was filed on May 3, 1995, contravened
the provision of Section 7, supra, which provides thus:
SEC. 7. Preliminary conference; appearance of parties. Not later than thirty (30) days
after the last answer is filed, a preliminary conference shall be held. The rules on pretrial in ordinary cases shall be applicable to the preliminary conference unless
inconsistent with the provisions of this Rule.
In addition, complainants alleged that for almost two (2) years or from May 3, 1995 up
to March 1997, no preliminary conference took place.
Finally, complainants allege that the act of the respondent of granting several motions
for postponement/resetting of the scheduled preliminary conference on the ground that

the defendants counsel, Atty. Rosendo Castillo, Sr., was sick without any medical
certificate attesting to such fact, as required by the Rules of Court, violated the provision
of Section 19 (i), supra, prohibiting dilatory motions for postponement. Complainants
further assert that defendants counsel was not Atty. Rosendo Castillo, Sr. but the law
partnership of Castillo and Castillo and that even if in reality Atty. Castillo, Sr. was sick,
the preliminary conference could have taken place with another member of the firm in
attendance.
xxxxxxxxx
Respondent argued that the material allegations in the complaint [were] false, baseless
and malicious. He admitted that although there was delay in the proceedings, the same
was not his fault. In support of his argument he alleged that:
3. The fact and truth of the matter being that petitioners and counsel contributed [i]n
great measure to such delay because (a) petitioners complete address in Metro Manila
[had] not [been] given or indicated in the Complaint for ejectment, for the purpose of
notice; (b) their lawyer, Atty. Jesus F. Balicanta, when he left the City of Zamboanga to
run [for] his dear life never left any forwarding address nor that of his clients[,] and
lawyers in Zamboanga City could not provide the court with the desired information; (c)
Atty. Abelardo A. Climaco, Jr. entered his appearance for plaintiff Spouses Nilo C. Uro
and Lourdes Uro only and he informed the court that he [did] not have the other
plaintiffs, petitioners herein, and he [did] not have the address of Atty. Balicanta in
Manila nor that of the other plaintiffs in Manila. The undersigned does not know the
petitioners and does not remember having seen them in his court.
4. Atty. Rosendo M. Castillo, Sr., attorney-in-fact and counsel for the defendants in the
ejectment suit, suffered a stroke and was hospitalized at the Zamboanga A.E. Colleges
Community Hospital, for many days, and up to now, has not fully recovered from his
illness;
5. The court tried to know and get the exact address of petitioners in Manila to send
them notices, as well as their lawyer, but to no avail, as no lawyer here could furnish
information on the matter;
xxxxxxxxx
7. The subject ejectment case was called several times for pre-trial conference, but had
to be postponed due to the absence of counsels and parties (petitioners and defendants),
and on those occasions, only Mr. Nilo C. Uro was present, but he never informed the

court of the exact address of his co-plaintiffs in [M]anila, much less of the fact that he
was designated as their attorney-in-fact. What more, no objection was interposed to the
motions for postponement and the court granted them in the interest of justice. Atty.
Climaco also requested x x x postponements;
8. On February 11, 1997, Atty. Climaco registered objection to the motion for
postponement filed by Atty. Rosendo U. Castillo, Jr. after the court asked him if he was
not objecting to the motion because the court desire[d] to terminate the proceedings at
the earliest possible time because of the many cases he ha[d] to attend to;
9. Again, it was only on March 25, 1997 [that] for the first time, x x x plaintiff Nilo C.
Uro brought out and submitted to his counsel, Atty. Climaco, in open court, a copy of
the Special Power of Attorney executed in his favor by the petitioners on July 24,
1995. Apparently, there [was] some kind of concealment of material facts done with evil
intent to leave the court in limbo and them blame the Judge for the delay.
Respondent asserts that his integrity, competence and independence of mind were
attested to by his record as a lawyer and as a judge. According to him, thirteen (13)
lawyers recommended him to the City Mayor for appointment to the position of City
Legal Officer, resulting in his appointment as such. The IBP, Zamboanga City Chapter,
recommended him for appointment to the Judiciary. The RTC and MTC judges and the
City Prosecutor of Zamboanga City certified to his moral character, competence and
independence of mind.
Respondent alleges that the filing of the instant administrative complaint against him
was done in order that herein complainants[] counsel, Atty. Balicanta, could get back at
him since he suffered some setbacks in his court.
Finally, respondent avers that the subject ejectment case had already been decided by
him on May 27, 1997.[3]

Offices. These motions were grounded on the alleged continued illness of Rosendo
Castillo, Sr., of the same law firm, who had originally appeared for said defendants.
Had respondent been more aware of the purposes underlying the adoption of the
Summary Procedure in first level courts, he would not have countenanced such long
delay. It certainly was within his powers to order Atty. Castillo, Jr. to appear for the
defendants since the latter were being represented by a law firm to which he
belonged. Or he could have validly required the said defendants to secure the services of
a substitute counsel considering that the date of the recovery of their counsel was not
certain.
xxxxxxxxx
That respondent violated the provisions of Section 19 of the Rule on Summary
Procedure is patent. One of the prohibited pleadings and motions listed by said rule is
[a] dilatory motion for postponement. The repeated grant of the defendants motions for
postponement based on the ground that their counsel was ill, can be clearly
characterized as dilatory and as such were prohibited pleadings under the rule referred to
above. This [was] aggravated by the fact that respondent did not require the presentation
of the medical certificate under oath attesting to the counsels inability to attend trial.
The inordinate liberality of respondent in granting the repeated motions for
postponement based on the same ground, which resulted in his failure to terminate the
preliminary conference for two years, effectively set at naught the very purpose of
adopting the summary procedure in ejectment cases where the continued occupation of
the disputed premises results in irreparable damages to the person who may be
ultimately entitled to its possession. Respondent, by his inaction, had brought this result
about. For this failure, he must be disciplined.[4]
The court administrator then made this recommendation:

In his Memorandum-Report, then Court Administrator Alfredo L. Benipayo made x x x [A] FINE in the amount of P5,000.00 [should] be imposed on respondent Judge
the following evaluation:
Efren S. Mariano for his failure to observe the Rule on Summary Procedure, with a
warning that a repetition of the same or similar act in the future would be dealt with
more severely.[5]
It is evident from the record that respondent does not deny the fact that he had set the
preliminary conference, for the first time, 84 days after the filing of the defendants
The Courts Ruling
answer. Neither does he deny the fact that no preliminary conference was conducted for
two years after the issues had been joined with the filing of the answer. This delay,
complainants lament, was principally caused by respondents grant of the many motions
We agree with the findings and recommendations of the court administrator.
for postponement filed by Atty. Rosendo Castillo, Jr., of the Castillo and Castillo Law

Petitioners contend that respondent judge contravened Sections 7 and 19 (i) of the
Revised Rules on Summary Procedure by setting the preliminary conference relative to
their complaint for ejectment[6]84 days after the Answer[7] was filed. Moreover, the
holding of the preliminary conference was postponed several times and was finally held
only after almost two years. Section 7, however, requires that such conference should be
held not later than 30 days after the last answer has been filed.
For his part, respondent maintains in his Comment [8] that the delay complained of
was not his fault, but was due to petitioners failure to indicate their full address in their
Complaint. Also, their counsel, Atty. Jesus F. Balicanta, had not left any forwarding
address when he left Zamboanga City. Likewise, counsel for the defendants, Atty.
Rosendo M. Castillo Sr., had asked for several postponements because of illness.

Respondent does not deny that after the last Answer had been filed, the preliminary
conference was first set only after 84 days and actually held only after almost two
years. He was duty-bound to comply with the summary rules, considering that their very
purpose is the speedy disposition of cases falling under the procedure. Yet, his actions
clearly and directly contravened them.
Consequently, respondent also violated Rule 1.02 of Canon 1 of the Code of
Judicial Conduct, which states that judges should administer justice without
delay. Delay in the disposition of cases undermines the peoples faith and confidence in
the judiciary. Hence, judges are enjoined to decide cases with dispatch. Their failure to
do so constitutes gross inefficiency and warrants the imposition of administrative
sanctions on them.[9]

After due consideration of all attendant circumstances, this Court finds respondent
The flimsy explanations of respondent do not detract from his liability, considering
guilty of violating Sections 7 and 19 (i) of the Rules on Summary Procedure. We quote the very long delay incurred. More important, the delay could have been avoided had he
Section 7 below:
exercised more diligence and determination in disposing of the case.
Sec. 7. Preliminary conference; appearance of parties. - Not later than thirty (30) days
after the last answer is filed, a preliminary conference shall be held. The rules on pretrial in ordinary cases shall be applicable to the preliminary conference unless
inconsistent with the provisions of this Rule.
The failure of the plaintiff to appear in the preliminary conference shall be a cause for
the dismissal of his complaint. The defendant who appears in the absence of the plaintiff
shall be entitled to judgment on his counterclaim in accordance with Section 6 hereof.
All cross-claims shall be dismissed.
If a sole defendant shall fail to appear, the plaintiff shall be entitled to judgment in
accordance with Section 6 hereof. This Rule shall not apply where one of two or more
defendants sued under a common cause of action who had pleaded a common defense
shall appear at the preliminary conference.
Section 19 (i) reads as follows:
SEC. 19. Prohibited pleadings and motions. The following pleadings, motions, or
petitions shall not be allowed in the cases covered by this Rule:

Although the Rules provide that notice should be served on both counsel and
parties, the requirement is deemed to have been complied with when notice is served on
the counsel of record, who in turn is bound to inform the client or else be liable for
administrative sanctions. In the alternative, the absent plaintiffs could have been
declared non-suited and the preliminary conference held with the rest of the plaintiffs in
appearance.
Respondent judge should not have accommodated so many Motions for
Postponement filed by the then ailing Atty. Rosendo Castillo Sr. Because a law firm
(Castillo & Castillo), to which the latter belonged, was really representing the
defendants, there certainly were other competent lawyers who could have handled the
matter. Respondent, however, continued to entertain and grant several Motions for
Postponement based on the same ground. He did not even ascertain the gravity of
counsels illness or require the presentation of a medical certificate.
Respondent judge was instead quite liberal, too liberal, in granting postponements
which greatly contributed to the long delay in the disposition of petitioners ejectment
suit. In Arquero v. Mendoza,[10]this Court said that when the motion for postponement
based on illness is not supported by documentary evidence such as a medical certificate,
the grant of postponement is without sufficient basis.

xxxxxxxxx
(i) Dilatory motions for postponement; x x x.

WHEREFORE, Respondent Judge Efren S. Mariano is hereby found GUILTY of


gross misconduct and ORDERED to pay a fine of P5,000 for failure to comply with the

Rules on Summary Procedure.He is sternly warned that the commission of the same or a On July 10, 1992, petitioner Dansal was directed to submit her verified answer
similar act in the future shall be dealt with more severely.
to respondent Monteras additional charge of violation of Section 3(e) of
Republic Act No. 3019.
SO ORDERED.
On September 9, 1992, petitioner Dansal submitted her answer with a countercharge.
[G.R. No. 126814. March 2, 2000]
JUDY CAROL L. DANSAL, RAFAEL T. FLORES, HERMINIO C. ELIZON,
ARNULFO S. SOLORIA, petitioners, vs. THE HON. GIL. P. FERNANDEZ,
SR., in his capacity as the Presiding Judge of the RTC, Quezon City,
Branch 217 and Benigno S. Montera, respondents.
DECISION
PURISIMA, J.:
This is a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court to enjoin
further proceedings in Criminal Case Nos. Q-96-66607-08, and to annul the
Order, dated August 27, 1996, of Branch 217 of the Regional Trial Court in
Quezon City, which denied petitioners Motion to Quash the Informations.
Petitioner Judy Carol L. Dansal was the Department Manager of the
Enforcement, Investigation, and Prosecution Department of the National Food
Authority ("NFA"), with office address at E. Rodriguez Sr. Avenue, Quezon City.
Petitioner Rafael T. Flores was the Assistant Manager of the said department of
NFA. Petitioner Herminio C. Elizon was the chief of the Security Division of the
same department of NFA, while Petitioner Arnulfo S. Soloria was a security
officer of the said department of NFA. Respondent Benigno S. Montera, on the
other hand, was employed with the Enforcement, Investigation, and Prosecution
Department of NFA.[1]
On December 16, 1991, respondent Montera filed an "Affidavit of Complaint"
with the Office of the Ombudsman, charging the herein petitioners and one
Ronaldo Vallada, a casual security guard of NFA, with the offense of estafa
through falsification of public document.

On January 15, 1993, petitioner Dansal filed her rejoinder to respondent


Monteras reply-affidavit, after which the cases were ripe for resolution. [2]
On May 30, 1994, or after one (1) year and four (4) months, the office of the
Ombudsman came out with its Resolution, copy of which petitioners allegedly
received on February 5, 1996.[3]Said Resolution ruled:
"Wherefore, in view of the foregoing, it is respectfully
recommended that respondents Judy Carol Dansal, Rafael
Flores, Herminio Elizon, Arnulfo Soloria, Ronaldo Vallada be
prosecuted for one count of estafa through falsification of public
document.
In addition thereto, a separate information for violation of
Section 3(e) of R. A. No 3019 be filed against respondent Judy
Carol Dansal alone while the additional charge for violation of
Section 3(e) of R. A. No 3019 against the other respondents be
dismissed for lack of merit."[4]
On May 13, 1996, after the denial of petitioners motion for reconsideration, the
aforesaid cases were referred to the deputized prosecutor of Quezon City,
together with two Informations, dated October 20, 1995 and January 15, 1996,
respectively, accusing Judy Carol L. Dansal of estafa through falsification of
public document, and violation of Section 3(e) of R. A. No. 3019; [5] and the other
petitioners of estafa through falsification of public document.
On July 18, 1996, petitioners interposed a Motion to Quash, contending that the
delay in terminating the preliminary investigation violated their constitutional
rights to due process and to a speedy disposition of their cases. [6]

On January 14, 1992, petitioners were required by the Office of the Ombudsman
On August 27, 1996, the respondent court denied the said motion, ruling thus:
to submit their respective counter-affidavits and other controverting evidence.
Petitioners complied. On April 1, 1992, respondent Montera sent in a replyaffidavit.

"After careful evaluation of the grounds raised by the accused in


their Motion to Quash viz--viz the Opposition filed by the
prosecution, finding no basis in fact and in law to warrant the
quashal of the two informations against the accused, as there
appears no unreasonable delay in the conduct of the
preliminary investigation amounting to violation of the accuseds
constitutional right to due process and to a speedy disposition
of the cases, the instant Motion is hereby DENIED. Reset the
arraignment and pre-trial anew on November 25, 1996 at 8:30
oclock in the morning."[7]
Undaunted, petitioners found their way to this Court via the present petition
under Rule 65 with a prayer for Preliminary Injunction and/or Temporary
Restraining Order, theorizing that:
RESPONDENT JUDGE COMMITTED A GRAVE ABUSE OF
DISCRETION IN DENYING PETITIONERS MOTION TO
QUASH, FINDING NO BASIS IN FACT AND IN LAW TO
WARRANT THE QUASHAL OF THE TWO (2) INFORMATIONS
AGAINST THE PETITIONERS.
RESPONDENT JUDGE COMMITTED GRAVE ERRORS OF
FACTS AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW WHEN HE
ERRONEOUSLY HELD THAT THERE APPEARS NO
UNREASONABLE DELAY IN THE CONDUCT OF THE
PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATION AMOUNTING TO VIOLATION
OF THE PETITIONERS CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO DUE
PROCESS AND TO A SPEEDY DISPOSITION OF THE
CASES."[8]
On December 18, 1996, without giving due course to the Petition, the Court
required the respondents to comment and denied the prayer for a writ of
preliminary injunction and/or temporary restraining order.[9]
In his Manifestation and Motion in lieu of Comment, the Solicitor General
recommended the granting of the petition.[10]
The accusation against the petitioners is based on the "Affidavit of Complaint"
alleging that petitioners falsified the Daily Time Record (DTR) of one Ronaldo
Vallada, by making it appear that the latter reported for work during the month of

July 1991 when, in truth and in fact, he did not so report, and that the petitioners
collected the amount of P2,244.04 paid on the basis of the falsified DTR.
In their answer, petitioners countered that the imputation against them is a mere
harassment by complainant Benigno S. Montera, so as to silence, embarrass
and destroy their (petitioners) credibility, and that the complainant lodged the
complaint because prior to the filing thereof, petitioner Dansal initiated an
investigation of the complainant for alleged irregularities involving the latters
daily time record, which investigation was set by petitioner Dansal after Ronaldo
Vallada admitted having illegally punched in the Bundy Clock the DTRs of
several employees and the complainant, who requested him to do so, and as a
result, an administrative case was instituted against the complainant before the
Director for Legal Affairs, docketed as Administrative Case No. 1-05-92 for
Dishonesty, Falsification of Public Documents, Grave Misconduct and Conduct
Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service. [11]
Placing reliance on the ruling in the case of Tatad vs. Sandiganbayan,
[12]
petitioners seek redress for what they theorized upon as a violation of their
right to due process and speedy disposition of their cases by reason of the
alleged unreasonable delay of the preliminary investigation against them.
The petition is barren of merit.
To begin with, the petition is flawed by the failure of petitioners to move for
reconsideration of the assailed Order. Settled is the rule that, except in some
recognized exceptions, the filing of a motion for reconsideration is a
condition sine qua non to the filing of a petition for certiorari.[13] The rationale
behind the rule is to give the respondent court an opportunity to correct its
supposed mistake and to rectify its questioned Order.
Section 16, Article III of the 1987 Constitution, reads:
"Sec. 16. All persons shall have the right to a speedy disposition
of their cases before all judicial, quasi-judicial, or administrative
bodies"
Initially embodied in Section 16, Article IV of the 1973 Constitution, the aforesaid
constitutional provision is one of three provisions mandating speedier
dispensation of justice.[14] It guarantees the right of all persons to "a speedy
disposition of their case"; includes within its contemplation the periods before,

during and after trial, and affords broader protection than Section 14(2), [15] which
guarantees just the right to a speedy trial. It is more embracing than the
protection under Article VII, Section 15, which covers only the period after the
submission of the case.[16] The present constitutional provision applies to civil,
criminal and administrative cases.[17]
Section 16 was first given flesh and blood in the Tatad case, which also involved
a petition seeking to reverse an order of the trial court denying a motion to
quash the Information. Applying Section 16, Article IV of the 1973 Constitution,
the Court opined in that case:
"x x x We find the long delay in the termination of the
preliminary investigation by the Tanodbayan in the instant case
to be violative of the constitutional right of the accused to due
process. Substantial adherence to the requirements of the law
governing the conduct of preliminary investigation, including
substantial compliance with the time limitation prescribed by the
law for the resolution of the case by the prosecutor, is part of
the procedural due process constitutionally guaranteed by the
fundamental law. Not only under the broad umbrella of the due
process clause, but under the constitutional guarantee of
"speedy disposition" of cases as embodied in Section 16 of the
Bill of Rights (both in the 1973 and the 1987 Constitutions), the
inordinate delay is violative of the petitioners constitutional
rights."[18]
But the concept of "speedy disposition of cases," like "speedy trial," is a relative
term and a flexible concept. It is consistent with reasonable delay.[19]
In the determination of whether or not the constitutional right invoked by
petitioners has been violated, the factors to consider and balance are the
duration of the delay, reason thereof, assertion of the right or failure to assert it
and the prejudice caused by such delay.[20] The desideratum of a speedy
disposition of cases should not, if at all possible, result in the precipitate loss of
a partys right to present evidence and either in a plaintiffs being non-suited or
the defendants being pronounced liable under an ex parte judgment. [21]
The Court believes, and so holds, that the aforecited doctrine laid down in Tatad
vs. Sandiganbayan is inapplicable in light of the attendant facts and
circumstances in this case. Records disclose that the original complaint against

petitioners was brought before the Office of the Ombudsman on December 16,
1991. The same was deemed submitted for resolution on January 15, 1993. On
May 30, 1994, the investigator issued a Resolution finding a probable cause,
which finding was later approved by the Ombudsman. Petitioners were
furnished a copy of the said Resolution on February 5 and 6, 1996. On June 30,
1996 were filed the Information dated October 20, 1995, docketed as Criminal
Case No. Q-96-66607, and the other Information dated January 15, 1996,
docketed as Criminal Case No. Q-96-66608.[22]
The preliminary investigation in subject cases against the petitioners took more
than one year and four months to finish. But such a happenstance alone, or any
like delay, for that matter, should not be cause for an unfettered abdication by
the court of its duty to try cases and to finally make a determination of the
controversy after the presentation of evidence. In Francisco Guerrero vs. Court
of Appeals,[23] et al., the Court had this to say:
"While this Court recognizes the right to speedy disposition
quite distinctly from the right to a speedy trial, and although this
Court has always zealously espoused protection from
oppressive and vexatious delays not attributable to the party
involved, at the same time, we hold that a party's individual
rights should not work against and preclude the people's
equally important right to public justice. In the instant case,
three people died as a result of the crash of the airplane that the
accused was flying. It appears to us that the delay in the
disposition of the case prejudiced not just the accused but the
people as well. Since the accused has completely failed to
assert his right seasonably and inasmuch as the respondent
judge was not in a position to dispose of the case on the merits
due to the absence of factual basis, we hold it proper and
equitable to give the parties fair opportunity to obtain (and the
court to dispense) substantial justice in the premises."
The protection under the right to a speedy disposition of cases should not
operate as to deprive the government of its inherent prerogative in prosecuting
criminal cases or generally in seeing to it that all who approach the bar of justice
be afforded a fair opportunity to present their side.
Contrary to the stance of the Solicitor General, the delay adverted to in the
cases under consideration does not measure up to the unreasonableness of the

delay of disposition in Tatad vs.Sandiganbayan, and other allied cases. It cannot As stressed upon by the Solicitor General, the Rules of Procedure of the
be said that the petitioners found themselves in a situation oppressive to their
Ombudsman[26] do not specifically prescribe a period within which a criminal
rights simply by reason of the delay and without more.
complaint may be investigated and decided. But the same Rules adopt the
Rules of Court on Preliminary Investigation, as modified by the Rules of
Procedure of the Ombudsman. Under the Rules of Court, [27] the Investigating
In Magsaysay et al. vs. Sandiganbayan et al.,[24] this Court ruled that:
Officer has ten (10) days from submission of the case to come out with the
"x x x the right to a speedy disposition of a case, like the right to resolution.
a speedy trial, is deemed violated only when the proceedings is
But it bears stressing that the period fixed by law is merely "directory", although
attended by vexatious, capricious, and oppressive delays; or
it can not be disregarded or ignored completely, with absolute impunity.[28] The
when unjustified postponements of the trial are asked for and
records of the case do not show any such complete disregard. In like manner,
secured, or when, without cause or justifiable motive a long
the circumstances averred in the petition do not suffice to overcome the
period of time is allowed to elapse without the party having his
presumption of regularity in the performance by the Ombudsman of his
case tried. Equally applicable is the balancing test used to
functions, especially those involving the review of numerous resolutions and
determine whether a defendant has been denied his right to a
speedy trial, or a speedy disposition of a case for that matter, in recommendations of his investigating officers.
which the conduct of both the prosecution and the defendant is
weighed, and such factors as the length of the delay, the
In a number of cases, this Court has not hesitated to grant the so-called "radical
reasons for such delay, the assertion or failure to assert such
relief" and to spare the accused from undergoing the rigors and expense of a full
right by the accused, and the prejudice caused by the delay.
blown trial where it is clear that he has been deprived of due process of law
The concept of speedy disposition is a relative term and must
and/or other constitutionally guaranteed rights.[29] But here, the Court finds none.
necessarily be a flexible concept.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED, and the respondent Regional Trial Court
A mere mathematical reckoning of the time involved, therefore,
is hereby ordered to attend with dispatch to the trial of Criminal Case No. Q-96would not be sufficient. In the application of the constitutional
66607, entitled "People of the Philippines vs. Judy Carol L. Dansal, Rafael T.
guarantee of the right to a speedy disposition of cases,
Flores, Herminio T. Elizon and Arnulfo S. Soloria", and Criminal Case No. Q-96particular regard must also be taken of the facts and
66608, entitled "People of the Philippines vs. Judy Carol L. Dansal". No
circumstances peculiar to each case"
pronouncement as to costs.
From the facts and circumstances at bar, the Court cannot glean any grave
abuse of discretion tainting the denial by the respondent court of petitioners
motion to quash.

SO ORDERED.

[A.M. No. 00-3-50-MTC. July 21, 2003]


The Court is not unmindful of the duty of the Ombudsman under the Constitution
and Republic Act No. 6770 to act promptly on Complaints brought before him.
[25]
But such duty should not be mistaken with a hasty resolution of cases at the
expense of thoroughness and correctness. Judicial notice should be taken of
REPORT ON THE JUDICIAL AUDIT CONDUCTED IN THE MUNICIPAL
the fact that the nature of the Office of the Ombudsman encourages individuals
TRIAL COURT, BOCAUE, BULACAN
who clamor for efficient government service to freely lodge their Complaints
against wrongdoings of government personnel, thus resulting in a steady stream
DECISION
of cases reaching the Office of the Ombudsman.
CARPIO-MORALES, J.:

On account of an anonymous letter [1] dated January 3, 2000 received by


the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) complaining against Judge Lauro G.
Bernardo (respondent), presiding judge of the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of
Bocaue, Bulacan, about his deplorable attitude and inefficiency in the disposition
of cases, the Judicial Audit Team of the OCA conducted on February 8-11, 2000
an audit in the said court.
The report[2] dated March 3, 2000 submitted by the audit team showed that
963 cases (847 criminal and 116 civil/other) were pending in the court as of
February 8, 2000, the status of which are shown in the following tabulation:
CASE STATUS/STAGE
OF PROCEEDINGS
With decisions for
promulgation
Submitted for decision
With incidents for
resolution
On trial/Set for hearing
Set for pre-trial
For arraignment of accused
Set for preliminary
conference
For preliminary
investigation
For ex parte reception of
evidence
With orders for compliance
by parties
Subject of inhibition of
Judge Bernardo

TOTAL
2

CRIMINAL
2

126

86

504

446

39

34

71

71

126

126

Without further action or


setting despite the lapse of
considerable length of time
With warrants of
arrest/summons
TOTAL

12

52

52

963

847

In light of the report, and on recommendation of the OCA, this Court, by


Resolution of May 2, 2000, directed:
(a) [respondent] (1) to EXPLAIN within ten (10) days from notice, why no
administrative sanction should be imposed on him for his failure to
decide/resolve within the reglementary period reckoned from February
11, 2000 (last day of audit) the following one hundred and three (103)
cases submitted for his decision, to wit: Criminal Cases Nos. 90-333,
92-215, 93-013, 93-208, 93-210, 94-067, 070-94, 94-202, 94-210 to
94-212, 94-218, 94-227, 94-234, 94-282, 94-283, 94-399, 94-403, 94438, 94-441, 94-461, 94-503, 94-508, 94-553, 94-595, 94-602, 94-652,
94-659, 95-001, 95-002, 95-051, 94-052, 95-170 to 95-172, 95-189,
95-218, 95-431, 95-505, 95-749 to 95-752, 96-268, 96-417 to 96-420,
96-431, 96-437 to 96-440, 96-489, 96-761, 97-258, 97-259, and
Civil/other Cases Nos. 94-2294, 95-2357, 96-2513, 96-2541, 96-2602
to 96-2613, 96-2615, 96-2616, 96-2619 to 96-2625, 96-2671, 97-2678,
97-2716, 97-2730, 98-2882, 98-2899, 98-2907, 98-2924, 98-2941, 982942, 99-2953, 2960, LRC-P-98-05 and LRC-P-98-06, and the
pending motion in Civil Case No. 95-2466; (2)
to DECIDE immediately the aforementioned one hundred and three
(103) cases and the pending motion in Civil Case No. 95-2466,
including the following twenty-three (23) cases submitted for his
decision, to wit[:] Criminal Cases Nos. 94-120, 94-174 to 94-179, 95035, 95-069 to 95-071, 95-092 to 95-096, 95-281, 97-397, 97-640, 97872, 98-544 and 99-220 and Civil Case No. 96-2497, and the
following seven (7) cases with motions for resolution, to wit: Criminal
Cases Nos. 99-360, 99-654, 99-678, MM-039 and MM-075 and Civil
Cases Nos. 94-2191 and 99-3073, although these cases were still
within the period to decide/resolve as of audit, otherwise his salaries
will be WITHHELD effective May, 2000, and will be released only
upon showing proof that he has rendered his decisions and/or
resolutions in the aforestated cases; (3) to EXPLAIN within ten (10)
days from notice, why no court sessions are scheduled on Tuesdays, in
the afternoon of Mondays and Thursdays, and in the morning of
Wednesdays; (4) to immediately TAKE APPROPRIATE ACTION on
the following twelve (12) cases which were not further acted on or

without further setting, to wit: Criminal Cases Nos. 98-803, 99-693,


MM-024, MM-033 and MM-034, and Civil Cases Nos. 98-2922, 992964, 99-3074, 99-3075, 99-3076, 99-3077 and 99-3081, and on the
following eleven (11) criminal cases in accordance with
Administrative Circular No. 7-A-92 dated June 21, 1993, re:
Guidelines in the Archiving of Cases, to wit: Criminal Cases Nos. 99246, 99-339, 99-259, 99-269, 99-336, 99-367, 99-368, 99-369, 99-380,
99-421 and 99-428; (5) to AVOID unnecessary delay in the issuance of
writs of execution of final judgments; (6) to REFRAIN from
conducting lengthy preliminary investigation of cases cognizable by
his court; and (7) to SUBMIT within fifteen (15) days from notice
corresponding reports of his compliance with the preceding directives;
and
(b) Clerk of Court Ma. Fe O. Dimagiba, same court, (1) to INFORM this Court,
through the Office of the Court Administrator, within five (5) days
from notice, whether or not the joint decision in Criminal Cases Nos.
95-179 and 95-180 [has] been promulgated as scheduled on February
21, 2000; and (2) to CAUSE the proper accomplishment of certificates
of arraignment of the accused in criminal cases and the attachment
thereof to the corresponding records of cases.[3]
Complying with paragraph (b) of the above directiveresolution of this Court,
the MTC of Bocaue Clerk of Court Ma. Fe O. Dimagiba,
by 1st Indorsement[4] dated May 30, 2000, informed that the joint decision in
Criminal Case Nos. 95-179 and 95-180, which was scheduled for promulgation
on February 21, 2000, was reset to February 28, 2000 in view of the absence of
Public Prosecutor Frederick F. Malapit; was again reset to April 10, 2000 in the
absence of proof of service of the subpoena and notice sent to the accused and
her counsel;[5] and was finally ordered entered into the docket of the court on
April 10, 2000 in view of the absence of the accused and her counsel despite
due notice.[6]
For his part, respondent filed on August 7, 2000 a motion for extension of
time[7] to submit his explanation and comment on the matters subject of this
Courts May 2, 2000 Resolution. To the motion respondent attached a status
report[8] of the cases mentioned in the resolution and his alleged written request
for further extension of time to resolve/decide the pending cases audited as of
February 2000 which was included in his Certificate of Service [for February,
March and April 2000] and for which [he] is still awaiting approval. By
resolution[9] of July 3, 2000, this Court granted the motion for extension.
On August 1, 2000, respondent filed a motion for additional extension of
time[10] to comply with this Courts May 2, 2000 Resolution. To the motion he
attached his Certificate of Service for June 2000 wherein he claimed that a
request was made x x x for extension of time to render decision on the cases
therein listed.

By Resolution[11] of August 21, 2000, this Court granted the second motion
for extension, with warning that no further extension would be allowed.
On October 30, 2000, respondent again filed a motion for last and ultimate
extension of time[12] to comply with the May 2, 2000 Resolution which was, by
Resolution[13] of November 22, 2000, granted with warning that it would definitely
be the last extension.
Respondent finally filed on February 1, 2001 an undated Manifestation of
Compliance[14] to the May 2, 2000 Resolution wherein he stated that the 103
cases enumerated in paragraph (a) (1) thereof have been decided except for
Civil Case Nos. 97-2716, 98-2882, 98-2942 and 98-2953, [15] and that he had
already decided the 23 cases submitted for decision and resolved the 7 cases
with motion for resolution mentioned in paragraph (a) (2) of the same resolution.
[16]
As to the 23 cases mentioned in paragraph (a) (4) of the resolution, he stated
that appropriate action had already been taken and the therein listed 11 cases
had been archived in accordance with Administrative Circular No. 7-A-92
(Guidelines in the Archiving of Cases).[17]
Complying with paragraph (a) (3) of still the same resolution, respondent
explained that no court sessions were held on Tuesdays, Monday afternoons,
Wednesday and Thursday mornings because with respect to criminal cases, no
prosecutor is available on said days and time, [18] and with respect to civil cases,
only one day sufficed for hearing them. [19] Respondent hastened to add,
however, that when the court is not in session, he conducts preliminary
examination of witnesses for purposes of issuing warrants of arrest and
preliminary investigation of cases cognizable by the Regional Trial Court;
solemnizes marriages; and resolves pending motions and writes decisions of
cases.[20] Further, respondent informed that in compliance with this Courts
Resolution, he has avoided delays in the issuance of writs of execution on final
judgments
and
refrained
from
conducting
lengthy
preliminary
investigations/examinations.[21]
By Memorandum[22] of May 4, 2001, the OCA recommended that
respondent be:
xxx
(a) DIRECTED to
(a-1) SUBMIT within ten (10) days from notice copies of the
decisions promulgated/rendered in the following cases:
Criminal Cases Nos. 95-001, 95-002, 95-051, 95-052, 95-431
and 95-505 and Civil Cases Nos. 97-2678, 95-092 to 096, 97640, 97-782 and the resolutions in Criminal Nos. 99-360, 99654, 99-678, MM-039, MM-075 and Civil Cases Nos. 94-219
and 99-3073, and

(b-1) INFORM this Court through the Office of the Court


Administrator within ten (10) days from notice, the actual
dates when the decisions in the following cases were
promulgated/rendered: Criminal cases Nos. 94-202, 94-282,
94-283, 94-339, 94-403, 94-461, 94-553, 94-595, 96-431, 96489, 96-761 and 97-258 to 259; and Civil Cases Nos. 952357, 97-2730, 98-2907, 98-2941, 94-120, 95-035, 97-397
and 98-544.
(b) ADVISED that he should file a formal request for extension of
time for approval of the Court and not just indicate in his
Certificate of Service said request; and
(2) the 1st Indorsement dated 30 May 2000 of Clerk of Court Ma. Fe Dimagiba be
considered satisfactory compliance with the resolution dated 2 May 2000. (Emphasis
and underscoring supplied)
which this Court approved by Resolution dated July 11, 2001.
On August 27, 2001, respondent submitted another undated Manifestation
of Compliance[23] to this Courts July 11, 2001 Resolution to which he attached
duplicate original/photocopies of his decisions in the cases mentioned therein
except for Criminal Case Nos. 95-092 to 95-096 which he claimed [24] to be still
pending trial but were erroneously included as having been decided. [25] He also
stated that beginning October 2001, a formal request for additional time to
render/promulgate decisions would be filed for approval by this Court. [26]

requested for additional time to decide the cases submitted for decision. As
correctly observed by the OCA, the only instance that he attempted to seek
approval for additional time was when he submitted certificates of
service after the conduct of the audit.[31]
This Court notes that as found by the OCA and reflected in the record on
hand, the following reasons aggravated the delay of respondent in the
disposition of cases:
1. Sessions are held only three days a week;
2. Administrative Circular No. 7-A-92 dated June 21, 1993 was not faithfully
complied with;
3. Cases cognizable by the court still go through the preliminary investigation
process; and
4. Failure to properly observe the following circulars:
a) Administrative Circular No. 1 dated January 28, 1998, reiterated in
Administrative Circular 10-94 dated June 29, 1994 regarding
effective docket control; and
b) Circular No. 13 dated July 1, 1987, reiterated in Administrative
Circular No. 3-99 dated January 15, 1999 regarding the
guidelines to insure the speedy disposition of cases.

By Memorandum[27] of April 3, 2002, the OCA recommended that the matter


be re-docketed as a regular administrative matter which recommendation this
Respondents delayed disposition of a big number of cases reflects the
Court finds well-taken.
cramming done by him in rendering of decisions, which should not be the
Rule 3.05 of the Code of Judicial Conduct enjoins a judge to dispose of the manner in which judges should render decisions. For decision-making entails a
courts business promptly and decide cases within the required periods. The thorough study of the evidence presented and the applicable laws for each
Constitution in fact mandates that lower courts should resolve cases within 3 case.
months, clearly intended to prevent delay in the administration of justice which
The administrative complaint against respondent arose in 2000. Hence,
erodes the faith and confidence of our people in the judiciary, lowers its Rule 140 of the Revised Rules of Court, before it was amended by A.M. No. 01standards, and brings it into disrepute.[28]
8-10-SC, which took effect on October 1, 2001, applies, for the amendment
[32]
Respondent did not indicate in his undated Manifestation of cannot apply retroactively. Section 10 of said Rule 140 provides for the
following:
Compliance when he decided a total of 115 cases. Unquestionably though, they
were decided beyond the reglementary period. Why he did not comply with the
Section 10. Sanctions.
reglementary period of 90 days to render a decision, he did not also explain. [29]
When judges are unable to render a decision within the required period,
xxx
they are not without remedy. It is not uncommon for this Court, upon proper
application and in meritorious cases, especially when difficult questions of law or
complex issues are involved, to grant judges of lower courts additional time to B. If the respondent is found culpable of having committed a less serious charge, any of
decide beyond the 90-day period.[30] In respondents case however, he never the following sanctions shall be imposed:

1. Suspension from office without salary and other benefits for one (1)
to two (2) months and twenty-nine days; or
2. A fine not less than P10,000 but not more than P19,999.
xxx

WHEREFORE, Judge Lauro G. Bernardo is adjudged administratively


liable for undue delay in rendering decisions and is hereby FINED in the amount
of P19,000.00, with a STERN WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar
acts in the future shall be dealt with more severely. Let a copy of this decision be
filed in the records of Judge Bernardo.
SO ORDERED.