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Republic of the Philippines advanced the amount of ₱50,000, which

SUPREME COURT she later reimbursed. The sixth handover
Manila took place on July 20, 2000 inside Barrio
Fiesta Restaurant in Edsa, where she
FIRST DIVISION delivered ₱100,000 to Judge Fineza in the
presence of Mr. Cheng.
A.M. No. RTJ-03-1808 October 15,
2003 Complainant Sy claimed that when she was
unable to complete the remaining balance,
RADELIA SY and ERWIN Judge Fineza began harassing her. One
CATO, complainants, instance of harassment she described was
vs. when Judge Fineza cited her for direct
HON. JUDGE ANTONIO FINEZA, Presiding contempt on December 8, 2000.
Judge, RTC-Branch 131, Caloocan Complainant Sy recounted that after the
City, respondent. hearing of December 8, 2000, Judge Fineza
inquired if she had renewed her bail bond,
DECISION in response to which complainant Sy
showed a receipt issued by one Evelyn
AZCUNA, J.: delos Santos of Pacific Union Insurance
Company. Judge Fineza then directed his
branch clerk of court to verify the
A verified complaint1 dated May 22, 2001
authenticity of the receipt. In the meantime,
was filed by Radelia C. Sy with the Office of
complainant Sy was told not to leave the
the Court Administrator, charging the
court room. However, complainant Sy
Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court
decided to fetch Evelyn delos Santos, who
of Caloocan City (Branch 131), Judge
was just minutes away, to attest personally
Antonio J. Fineza, of bribery, grave
to the authenticity of the bond receipt. Upon
misconduct, conduct unbecoming of a judge
returning with Ms. delos Santos,
and conduct prejudicial to the best interest
complainant Sy learned that Judge Fineza
of the service. Complainant Sy is the
had cited her in contempt and had ordered
accused in Criminal Case No. C-53098
her arrest for having left the court room
for estafa pending before Judge Fineza.
against his instructions. Complainant Sy
According to complainant Sy, Judge Fineza
moved to reconsider the arrest order
exerted undue and improper pressure on
contending that she merely left to fetch the
her by offering to dismiss the estafa case in
agent of the bonding company to manifest
exchange for ₱300,000. Otherwise, he
in person the authenticity of the bail bond.
threatened to convict complainant Sy
Despite the explanation, the motion was
of estafa regardless of her innocence.
denied.
Complainant Sy declared that she delivered
As the first order failed to mention the exact
money to Judge Fineza six times on
penalty imposed upon complainant Sy for
separate occasions. The first payment
contempt, Judge Fineza issued an
occurred on March 22, 2000, inside Steak
amended arrest order directing that she be
Town Restaurant in West Avenue, Quezon
imprisoned for five days and fined in the
City, wherein she handed over cash worth
amount of ₱5,000. Then on March 29, 2001,
₱30,000 to Judge Fineza in the presence of
just when complainant Sy was about to
her lawyer, Atty. Petronilo dela Cruz and a
finish serving her sentence for contempt,
legal researcher named Robert Cheng. The
Judge Fineza increased the bail of
second payment took place during the first
complainant Sy from ₱200,000 to
week of May 2000, this time inside Judge
₱1,000,000.
Fineza’s chambers, where she gave
₱20,000. The third time was later that same
week, while inside Steak Town Restaurant, A second verified complaint2 dated July 3,
where she gave ₱30,000 to Judge Fineza in 2001 was jointly filed by complainant Sy and
the presence of Atty. dela Cruz, Mr. Cheng Erwin Cato charging Judge Fineza with
and a certain Cristy Yambao. Again in the abuse of authority, grave misconduct and
same restaurant, for the fourth time, on or oppression. The second complaint alleged
about May 19, 2000, she delivered ₱25,000 that during the hearing of complainant
to Judge Fineza, as witnessed by Atty. dela Sy’s estafa case on May 21, 2001, Judge
Cruz, Mr. Cheng and a certain Erwin Cato. Fineza shouted the following remarks in
The fifth delivery occurred in the month of open court:
June 2000, through Atty. dela Cruz, who

Labitoria. in the state. As found by the look. attaching documentary evidence and the affidavits of Ano pa? Ang (sic) susunod na witnesses. his office. dela Cruz.5 They pa? submitted instead position papers. 2001 complainant Sy’s counsel complainants Sy and Cato on February 12. Again. following the ruling in Calimag He admits having increased the bail bond case (id). 2002. evidence other than the doubtful and having uttered such remarks in open court questionable verbal testimony of a lone and presented the affidavits of two of his . 2001. He argues support of such an accusation. 2001 and xxx xxx xxx having called him "sinungaling" for executing a false affidavit. recommended that Judge Fineza be reprimanded and fined The second complaint also alleged that one month’s salary. 2003." This eventually led to the withdrawal but found Judge Fineza guilty of simple of Atty. the investigating no longer appear or set foot in Caloocan Justice saw no merit in the charge of bribery City. Judge Fineza denies tale. 2002. or pointing a finger or lawyers mo! throwing dagger looks at him. Supreme Court. bribery is easy to concoct and difficult to disprove. Yan si Atty.000. memoranda filed. report and ako ang binastos mo! Sinungaling recommendation. admits having chanced upon complainant Cato in the hallway on June 26. thus complainant Judge Fineza denies the allegations must present a panoply of evidence in contained in the two complaints. Judge Fineza came out from 1. favor. He. Jubay as complainant Sy’s counsel. The pertinent portions complainant Cato was likewise harassed by of Associate Justice Labitoria’s Report Judge Fineza. as follows: morning of June 26. but he denies Sobra na! Abusado ang mga shouting at him.000 but claims that this was done well within the "x x x In order that the allegation of a charge performance of his official duty. while waiting at the hallway. Dismissed na! Ano forego with the reception of evidence. xxx xxx xxx During the hearing of the case before the O! Bumaba na ang decision sa investigating Justice. Judge Fineza filed his Reply7 thereto on The second complaint further alleged that January 14. along with the documents and warned that if she does so. Atty. As stated therein. sinungaling ka! Gumawa ka The undersigned gives scant consideration pa ng affidavit!" then gave him a dagger on the complaint for bribery. Complainant that the circumstances under which the herein has only her friends to support her bribes were allegedly given to him are too claims who would naturally testify in her incredible and preposterous to be believed. ilong lang court employees in support of his denial. In accordance with the ipapa-file mo? O! Sige nakahanda agreement. had relayed to 2003 which was answered by Judge Fineza her that Judge Fineza warned him that with his own Rejoinder on February 27. Lock filed his Sinungaling ka binastos mo ang report3 and recommended that the case be Court. pointed a finger at him and shouted: "Ikaw. He ang walang sakit. Jubay. been paying her other lawyers. therefore. Deputy Court Administrator Christopher O. 2002 referred the case to Associate Justice Eugenio S. morning during a hearing that she had not 2003. Judge Fineza added that complainant Sy had been After assessing the pleadings and threatening to file a case against the former. the Supreme Court said – from ₱200. in other cases. A Rejoinder8 was filed by on May 23. their memorandum6 on November 26.000 to ₱1. both parties agreed to Court of Appeals. The Court in a ka! resolution4 dated June 5. misconduct. As for the of this nature may not be considered a fairy second complaint. complainants Sy and Cato filed ako. "she could and affidavits attached. xxx xxx xxx On March 13. The complaint for bribery must fail. hindi referred to an Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals for investigation.

the amount involved in the Estafa should been presented. No. 2001 denying the motion to IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING. the suspend the execution of the Order of undersigned finds the accusation for bribery Arrest earlier issued and issuing an to be without merit. of said Order of December 8. for which a penalty of reprimand and a fine of one (1) On the issue of raising the bailbond from month salary [are] recommended. would resort to increasing the bailbond Even the urgent motion for reconsideration except for some ill-motives and malice. Criminal Procedure. 2 reason has been sufficiently explained and respondent’s A reading of respondent Judge’s Order of opinion of "fake receipt" had been aptly December 8.000.00. Complainant has not shown any of the above. The utterances.00 without hearing Associate Justice Labitoria correctly found therefore. remained in hiding from December 8. explanation of one Evelyn delos Santos. raising the bail from first reason is not among the guidelines set ₱200. was the period when complainant agent of the insurance company.600. its specific denominations and the manner respondent 2. The affidavits and other emphasized that "excessive bail shall not be documents submitted by the complainants required. The fine of ₱5.000. guilty of simple misconduct. Radelia Sy had tried to mislead accepted and disposed of it should have the Court that she had renewed her been clearly shown.000.00 to ₱1. Entrapment Respondent [relies] on – should have been pursued. just and fair. Undersigned receipt. the bribe money came from. 3. respondent is Amended Order of Arrest.000. 2000 shows that the reason refuted and contested by the agent of the for the issuance of the Order of Arrest was insurance company.00 to an unconscionable and excessive ₱1. attaching therewith the xxx xxx xxx renewed bailbond and affidavit of said Evelyn delos Santos was never taken into 2. 2000 was the date of the bailbond was being verified. about to be released from detention due to The accusation of bribery is a very serious her 5-day imprisonment on the contempt charge that would entail not only the order. complainant has no In respondent’s haste in issuing the Order of cause of action. 2000 until her arrest on March 27. putting her in prison and ordering her to pay for increasing complainant’s bailbond. to her lawyers and who would be affected and the manner by which complainant thereby. contempt of court for a very trivial reason." .000.000. 2000 filed by complainant. However. benevolent. are clearly forth by the Revised Penal Code on acts which show abuse of authority.witness should be adduced.00.000.000. It was only cudgels for her lawyers. respondent was accused of uttering defamatory words. Evidence of a reasonable report to police authorities 1. the 2001. Record of where case is as big as ₱4. The date her official receipt for the renewal of her December 8. at the time when complainant was that the charge of bribery was not proven. except the affidavits of her friends. ₱200. corrected when respondent issued an Order on January 24. granting Arrest. Respondent issuance of the contempt order and order of Judge did not even care to listen to the arrest. However. It is prosecution. As to the second complaint wherein consideration. Radelia Sy had jumped bail and who are expected to side with her. which if he only did he would be could not find any reason why respondent more humane. the same is motivated by malice and dismissal of a judge but also criminal bad faith and constitutes misconduct. There was no showing complainant’s leaving the court room while that complainant jumped bail. respondent Judge’s acts of 2001 and thus the presence of the harassing the complainant by citing her in risk of her jumping bail again. he failed to state the penalty for that they were defamatory were addressed allegedly defying the order of the former. who was trying to move for the reconsideration personally went to him to explain and of the aforesaid arrest order and the putting confirm the authenticity of the official up of the increased bailbond." bailbond by presenting a fake receipt. From said date up to March 27. Complainant should not take the would serve the penalty.

already detracts from the been presented by Judge Fineza. Honorado. by an intention to violate the law. the records of cases is not whether the complainant has a the case categorically reveal other acts of cause of action against the respondent. resort findings of the investigating Justice. raising of her bail bond from ₱200. not a mere error of judgment. "For undersigned counsel was called by serious misconduct to exist.000.13 is another misconduct. Cheng and complainant Cato in court on that day.000 to ₱1. to say the complainant Sy for direct contempt and the least.000 to leaving her with no cause of action against ₱1. in whether or not Judge Fineza indeed made Judge Fineza’s Comment to the Complaint such utterances. the admitted act of Judge Fineza in their charge.10 this Court first instance.000. the intent. 2001. finger pointing and menacing complainants insufficient to substantiate stares. even assuming the absence finds the affidavits presented by of shouting. hence increase of her bond from ₱200. regardless of the complainant’s immediate 2001. or were in persistent disregard of well-known legal Nonetheless.000 unmistakably show abuse of Lastly.000 were motivated by malice and Judge Fineza. 1. especially considering that calling complainant Cato "sinungaling" in contradicting evidence of equal weight has the hallway. as they are not acts of simple counsel for complainant Sy after having misconduct but rather of serious talked to Judge Fineza. wherein he withdrew as and fine. to the incident.set forth allegations that are simply not acts complained of were corrupt or inspired credible." Second. The issue in administrative bad faith. this Court agrees with the a pleading filed before this Court. he admitted having seen complainant interest. the allegations contained in Atty. pointed a finger or glared at misconduct and inefficiency of its judges complainant Cato in the morning of June 26. 2001. submitted their respective affidavits. These two incidents clearly show Judge Given that the quantum of proof needed to Fineza’s utter disrespect for the office he sustain an administrative case against a holds as a member of the judiciary." the view of the investigating Justice that Judge Fineza should be exonerated of the There was a definite finding by the charge of uttering defamatory words against investigating Justice that the order of arrest complainant Sy’s lawyers for the reason that of complainant Sy for contempt and the they were not uttered against her. the investigating Cato on that day along the hallway and Justice refrained from further determining having called him "sinungaling. therein that they did not see Mr. while Judge Fineza denied Court has a duty to investigate and root out having shouted. but misconduct committed by Judge Fineza whether the respondent has breached the which the aforecited report did not norms and standards of the judiciary. 2001. authority. equanimity and judiciousness that are required of a judge." Judge Fineza denied having uttered such in its fullest sense. the alleged witnesses Now as far as Robert Cheng is concerned.11 this disconcerting proof of Judge Fineza’s abuse Court defined what constitutes serious of authority: misconduct: 1. Thus. but also because even in remarks and presented affidavits of his a very minor aspect of his identification. In addition to this. That during the hearing of this Misconduct implies malice or a wrongful case on May 23. this Court takes exception to rules. However.12 he had the temerity to write about one of the complainants’ witnesses in the To support the claim that Judge Fineza following manner: uttered derogatory remarks at complainant’s lawyers in open court. In Suroza v. this Court finds that Jubay’s Manifestation and Motion dated such acts do not merit a mere reprimand June 25. In the judge is substantial evidence. Cheng and complainant this person should not be given any Cato. this Court is of Erwin Cato and Radelia Sy dated August constrained to look at the evidence. credence for not only that he is a "BAKLA.9 This discuss: First. he stenographer and court aide who declared could not be consistent nor relied [upon]. As for describing one of On the charge that Judge Fineza abused the complainants’ witnesses as "BAKLA" in his authority. The to argumentum ad hominem is certainly circumstances surrounding the arrest of most unbecoming of a judge. there must be the Honorable Presiding Judge of reliable evidence showing that the judicial this Court [who] inquired if . Unfortunately. Mr.

Jubay is not the proper decorum counsel had been paid to which the expected of judges who preside over courts Honorable Presiding Judge had of law. elemental a rule. and said that refusing to order the execution of a final and if Ms. WARNING that one more transgression will merit dismissal from the service.000 with the warning that a Caloocan City. It was made Fineza is. That undersigned counsel replied incompetent and undeserving of the position that he is the original counsel of Ms. for the appropriate penalty. not as a repository of arbitrary power. the judge's dismissal is in order. In either instance. justice but also upon the perception and confidence of the community that the people who run the system have done justice. not only in the discharge of their official duties. respondent Judge Fineza is SUSPENDED Jubay for making such allegations. Judge Fineza’s offenses are manifestation of Atty. Judge 3.14 The assumption of office by a judge places upon him duties and restrictions peculiar to his exalted position.18 He was reprimanded longer appear or set foot in and fined ₱30. repetition of the same will be dealt with more severely.000. it bears noting that dismissal from the service. but also in their daily life. The integrity of the judiciary rests not only upon the fact that it is able to administer SO ORDERED. the Nevertheless. For no position exacts a greater demand for moral righteousness and uprightness of an individual than a seat in the judiciary. Jubay cannot easily not beyond rectification.000 to ₱1. therefore. That the Hon. In this case. a judge is either too 2. authority. as they had not been paid their legal Moreover. she could no executory judgment. Jr. undersigned is also the counsel of In Castanos v. Respondent Judge be dismissed as a fabrication. While Judge Fineza denies that the conversation ever happened. with the STERN Now. the fact that Judge Fineza was recently Sy had been threatening to file a found guilty of serious misconduct for complaint against him. a law.17 this Court held Radelia C. Presiding Judge of Fineza is found to have acted with malice this Court had told the undersigned and bad faith in ordering the arrest of counsel that the other counsel of Ms. Sy will do it. complainant Sy and in increasing her bail Sy had not been appearing in Court bond from ₱200. Sy who is an accused in that when the judge’s inefficiency springs another case pending before this from a failure to consider so basic and Honorable Court. Finally. Sy in in bad faith and in grave abuse of judicial her other cases. from office without salary and other benefits for six (6) months. this Court also takes note of volunteered the information that Ms. of ever having imposed sanctions on Atty. but as one who dispenses justice under the sanction of the rule of law. At this point.15 This Court has repeatedly reminded members of the judiciary to be irreproachable in conduct and to be free from any appearance of impropriety in their personal behavior. his use of arrogant and fees or professional fees to which intemperate language in his pleading and in the undersigned counsel had replied his verbal remarks to complainant Cato and that he did not know if the other Atty. Escano. He must be perceived.16 . or a principle in the discharge of his duties. or is too vicious that the Sy in her other cases and earlier that oversight or omission was deliberately done (sic) the other counsel of Ms.. the manifestation was filed with the court of Judge Fineza and that he made no mention ALL THE FOREGOING CONSIDERED.000. and title he holds. given one last chance by an officer of the court who could be held to correct his ways and is sternly warned liable for contempt if the same is proven to that one more transgression will merit his be false.