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however, released from detention

THIRD DIVISION
despite the dismissal of the criminal
case, prompting him on July 20, 1994,
to file a petition for habeas corpus. The
[A.M. RTJ-94-1266. August 21, 1996] petition was raffled to the branch (No.
21) presided over by herein
respondent Judge Cesar M.
ARMANDO Solis. Respondent, in an order dated
CONTRERAS, complainant, July 27, 1994, dismissed the petition
vs. JUDGE CESAR M. for lack of merit. On August 4, 1994,
SOLIS, respondent. acting on a motion for reconsideration
filed by Mamangon, respondent issued
DECISION an order authorizing the release of
Mamangon from the provincial jail
MELO, J.:
upon the posting of a cash bond in the
The instant administrative case amount of P25,000.00. A motion for
against respondent Judge Cesar M. reconsideration was filed by the
Solis stemmed from his orders provincial prosecutor which prompted
releasing the accused on bail in respondent judge to cancel the cash
a habeas corpus proceeding and his bond posted by Mamangon and to
subsequent order directing the re- order his re-arrest. Thereupon,
arrest of the said accused. Armando Contreras, brother of the
victim Gener Contreras, filed the
The antecedent facts of the case instant complaint.
are as follows:
Complainant alleged that on the
On November 8, 1992, prior to the morning of August 1, 1994, when he
filing of a petition for habeas went to the office of respondent he
corpus before the sala of herein was told by the latter that Mamangon
respondent Judge Solis, and is willing to give P25,000.00 for his
information was filed against Rufino release. It appears, according to
Mamangon, a PNP member, for the complainant, that if he would give the
murder of Gener Contreras. The case same amount of money, respondent
was raffled to Branch 18 of the would no longer release Mamangon.
Regional Trial Court of the Third
Judicial Region stationed in Malolos, According to complainant,
Bulacan, presided over by Judge respondent also gravely abused his
Demetrio Macapagal Sr. On May 31, discretion and authority when he
1994, Judge Macapagal dismissed the ordered the release of the accused
criminal case for lack of jurisdiction upon the posting of the cash bond; that
and accordingly directed the branch it is not within the authority of
clerk of court to forward the complete respondent to release the accused
record of the case to the considering that his authority in
Sandiganbayan. Mamangon was not, a habeascorpus proceeding is to
determine whether or not the detention
of the accused is legal or Solis could have very well notified
illegal. Moreover, it was contended, complainant about the proceeding as soon
respondent has no authority to order as the petition was filed by simply
the re-arrest of the accused in the furnishing him copy of his Order setting
same proceeding. the case for hearing on 26th July. But he
did not. Strangely enough, he waited until
On July 3, 1996, Deputy Court
after the last working hour of Friday, 29th
Administrator Zenaida N. Elepao
July, to notify Contreras of his desire to
submitted her report with the following
meet him at the very early hour of 7 oclock
evaluation:
in the morning of 1 August. Why then did
A. On the Charge of the judge schedule the meeting at an early
Dishonesty/Extortion hour that morning even before court
employees arrived for work? Was it only
Respondent insists he never asked money for the purpose of telling complainant that
from complainant. He merely instructed he can participate in the proceeding, or
one of his staff to advise Armando more specifically, in the hearing of the
Contreras about Motion for Reconsideration, and that he
the habeas corpusproceeding so that he should engage the services of a good
can participate in it. It was quite late in the lawyer for P20,000.00? If it was, then in
afternoon of that day and the clerks were my view, the meeting was absolutely
no longer available to type the notice or unnecessary. The judge denies that he
order. He also explains that complainant propositioned complainant, and
misconstrued his mentioning an amount, complainant informs the Court that he did
i.e., P20,000.00 to be extortion when all he not pay the amount proposed. At any rate
meant was that this would be how much he on 8 August 1994 Judge Solis motu
will spend to hire a lawyer to represent his proprio issued two Orders for the posting
cause in the proceedings. of a cash bond for P25,000.00 by accused
Mamangon and his release from jail, and
The protestations of respondent Judge are transmittal of the records of the case to
not exactly persuasive. At once certain Sandiganbayan.
questions beg to be asked. For instance, if
his sole interest in asking Contreras to see While no proof has been submitted to the
him in his office was to afford the former Court by complainant as to attempted
the opportunity to participate in extortion by respondent judge other than
the habeas corpus case, why express such his verified letter-complaint, still, the
interest at a very late stage, i.e., after he actuations of respondent leave much to be
had issued a decision thereon and after desired since these easily lend[s] to
petitioner filed a Motion for suspicions of dishonesty. On this score
Reconsideration of the alone, respondent should be properly
decision? Noteworthy is that the petition advised to avoid occasions where his acts
was filed on 20 July 1994, set for hearing may arouse suspicions of irregularity.
six (6) days later or on 26 July, and the
decision rendered the following day. Judge B. On the Grant and Subsequent
Cancellation of Bail Constituting Grave
Abuse of Authority, Grave Misconduct committed, and is plainly and specifically
and Incompetence charged in the warrant of commitment
with an offense punishable by death, he
Section 3, Rule 114 of the Rules of Court shall not be released, discharged, or
provides that all persons in custody shall, bailed. If he is lawfully imprisoned or
before final conviction, be entitled to bail restrained on a charge of having
as a matter of right, except when charged committed an offense not so punishable,
with a capital offense or an offense which, he may be recommitted to imprisonment or
under the law at the time of its commission admitted to bail in the discretion of the
and at the time of the application for bail, court or judge. If he be admitted to bail, he
is punishable by reclusion perpetua when shall forthwith file a bond in such sum as
evidence of guilt is strong. the court or judge deems reasonable,
considering the circumstances of the
Criminal Case No. 2406-M-92 for prisoner and the nature of the offense
MURDER was filed on 5 November 1992 charged, conditioned for his appearance
when the penalty imposable at the time for before the court where the offense is
the crime of murder was reclusion properly cognizable to abide its order or
temporal in its maximum period judgment; and the court or judge shall
to reclusion perpetua. Significantly, the certify the proceedings, together with the
records do not show that an application for bond, forthwith to the proper court. If such
bail was filed with the court trying the bond is not so filed, the prisoner shall be
criminal case. Neither do they show that recommitted to confinement.
such an application was filed with
respondent Judge in the habeas In the Order dated 24 August 1994
corpus proceedings. Complainant has (p. 16, Rollo) respondent Judge
pointed this out in his complaint because it justified his reliance on the
appears that the grant of bail to the accused aforequoted provision pointing to
by respondent Judge Cesar M. Solis and Section 2, Rule 72 of the Rules of
the corresponding approval of his cash Court which provides that in the
bond in the amount of P25,000.00 as absence of special provisions, the
shown in the Orders dated 4 August 1994 rules provided for in ordinary actions
(p. 27) and 8 August 1994 (p. 28), shall, as far as practicable, be
respectively, was in the thinking of the applicable in special
judge, a matter of right for the accused. proceedings. A habeas corpus belongs
to the category of special proceedings.
An analysis of the submissions of
respondent Judge on this point shows that In the same Order, Judge Solis
in issuing the aforesaid Orders, he relied further argued that because of Sec. 14
on the provisions of Sec. 14 of Rule 102 of Rule 102, he took into consideration
which state: the fact that since the penalty for the
crime at the time was only reclusion
Sec. 14. When person lawfully imprisoned, perpetua and not death, he did not find
recommitted, and when let to bail. If it it necessary to apply the provisions of
appears that the prisoner was lawfully criminal procedure on bail.
I am not convinced of the reasons he granted bail which was not even
proffered by respondent Judge. necessary. This however cannot be
construed as malicious, it appearing
The accused never applied for
merely to be an error of judgment.
bail. Consequently, it was improper for
and erroneous of respondent judge to Respondents misapplication of the
advocate for the accused and motu law was further aggravated when upon
proprio grant him motion by prosecution and
bail sans application. Compounding complainant herein, he cancelled the
this was that despite the fact that the cash bond posted by Mamangon and
penalty for the crime for which the ordered his re-arrest for the reason
accused was detained was reclusion that such is allowed by the self-same
perpetua, no hearing was ordered by provision upon which he based his
the judge to give prosecution a chance Order granting bail to Mamangon, and
to show that the evidence against the considering further that [the]
accused was strong as to preclude Mamangons release would endanger
bail. It is my position that the grant of the life of complainant and that of his
bail under Sec. 14 of Rule 102 of the family and relatives.
Rules does not do away with the basic
A close reading of the rule alluded
requirements set forth in Rule 114 of
to shows that while discretion is
the Rules on Criminal Procedure on
afforded the judge to grant bail, no
Bail since the former merely prescribes
discretion is authorized in the
supplemental rules on bail for habeas
cancellation thereof, for the rules limit
corpus proceedings. The argument of
the instances under which bail may be
respondent that he merely interpreted
cancelled. Thus, Sec. 22 of Rule 114
Sec. 14 of Rule 102 to the best interest
applies, quoted hereunder:
of justice and fair play considering that
the murder case had been dismissed Cancellation of bail bond. Upon
by Branch 18, the accused had been application filed with the court and after
detained for a long period and that he due notice to the prosecutor, the bail bond
had a family to support are specious, may be cancelled upon surrender of the
being irrelevant, in the face of the accused or proof of his death.
express requirements of the
Rules. More importantly, the The bail bond shall be deemed
application of Sec. 14 of Rule 102 of automatically cancelled upon acquittal of
the Rules is erroneous because while the accused or dismissal of the case or
Sec. 14 speaks of a prisoner lawfully execution of the final judgment of
restrained, Mamangon in this case conviction.
was being unlawfully restrained
despite the dismissal of the case In all instances, the cancellation
against him on the ground of lack shall be without prejudice to any
jurisdiction (sic).Respondent therefore liability of the bond.
should have forthwith ordered
Mamangons release from jail. Instead,
The grounds cited by respondent in ill thoughts in reference to respondents
cancelling Mamangons bail find no motives. Any person with a reasonable
support in the abovequoted mind would deduce that respondents
provision. Thus grave misconduct was actuation meant something much more
committed by respondent when he than what he explicitly suggested, for
arbitrarily cancelled Mamangons bail what could be respondents reason, in
and ordered the latters re-arrest. For mentioning the potency of Mamangons
this reason, respondent must be motion for reconsideration and the
sanctioned. amount of money which complainant
might spend in resisting the same,
On the basis of the above, the
than to insinuate that complainant
imposition of an unspecified fine was
could save on expenses and be
recommended.
certain of the result by spending the
We partly agree with the findings same amount for the judge. Certainly,
and recommendation of the Office of it is simply naive to say that a proposal
the Court Administrator. to that effect could be done only
On the Charge of Extortion and through the use of direct words
Dishonesty expressing respondents intention to be
willing and able to decide the case in
Our minds can not sit easy with complainants favor for a
regard to the charge of extortion. consideration. Respondents pretended
Respondent admitted having met innocence over the perceived meaning
complainant in the early morning of of his insinuation is unpersuasive
August 1, 1994, for the purpose of considering his long years in the
informing complainant that he could practice of law. Thus, the intention of
participate in the habeas respondent in meeting with
corpus proceeding. During said complainant and in giving him advise
meeting, respondent also admitted is, to say the least, far from the
having told complainant of the potency behavior of a member of judiciary, who
of Mamangons motion for should, at all times, avoid the slightest
reconsideration and the amount of of hint of anomaly and corruption.
money which complainant would
spend to hire a good lawyer to Verily, the duty of a judge is not
represent him in the proceeding. only to administer justice but also to
Respondents seemingly benign conduct himself in a manner that
conduct of advising complainant on would avoid any suspicion of
matters pending before respondent irregularity. He has the avowed duty of
puzzle our minds since we are not told promoting confidence in the judicial
of any special circumstance which system. Thus, the Code of Judicial
would justify respondents special Conduct provides:
interest over complainants
Canon I
concern. Respondent, however, gives
no other reason for meeting and
advising complainant that could dispel
Rule 1.01 : A judge should be the or a motion for reconsideration against
embodiment of competence, integrity and the order of Judge Macapagal
independence. declaring his court to be without
jurisdiction had then not yet
Canon II lapsed. However, respondent, upon
Mamangon filing a motion for
Rule 2.00 : A judge should avoid reconsideration, released Mamangon
impropriety and the appearance of on bail. Maliciously made it is
impropriety in all activities. suggested, for it was made several
days after an alleged extortion attempt
Rule 2.01 : A judge should so behave at all by respondent judge upon herein
times as to promote public confidence in complainant Armando Contreras. The
the integrity and impartiality of the order, nonetheless, according to
judiciary. respondent is not devoid of any legal
basis. Respondent judge cites, in this
A judges official conduct and his regard, Section 14 of Rule 102 of the
behavior in the performance of his Revised Rules of Court as his legal
duties should be free from appearance ground for such an order, to wit:
of impropriety and must be beyond
reproach (Alazar vs. Reyes, When person lawfully imprisoned
131 SCRA 445, 453). Any act which recommitted, and when let to bail. If it
would give the appearance of appears that the prisoner was lawfully
impropriety is in itself reprehensible, committed, and is plainly and specifically
calling for disciplinary action. This is charged in the warrant of commitment
the price which must be paid by one with an offense punishable by death, he
who joins the Judiciary. Whatever may shall not be released, discharged, or
have been respondent judges motive bailed. If he is lawfully imprisoned or
in meeting complainant, such action restrained on a charge of having
certainly could but be said as giving committed an offense not so punishable,
rise to questions on his he may be recommitted to imprisonment or
honesty. Respondent judge is thus admitted to bail in the discretion of the
guilty of committing acts of impropriety court or judge. If he be admitted to bail, he
prejudicial to the integrity of the shall forthwith file a bond in such sum as
judiciary. the court or judge deems reasonable,
On Grave Abuse of Authority and considering the circumstances of the
Grave Misconduct and Incompetence prisoner and the nature of the offense
charged, conditioned for his appearance
At the outset, let it be said that before the court where the offense is
respondent judge correctly ruled that properly cognizable to abide its order or
the granting of the petition for habeas judgment; and the court or judge shall
corpus would unduly intervene with the certify the proceedings, together with the
functions of a co-equal branch of the bond, forthwith to the proper court. If such
court, considering that the period bond is not so filed, the prisoner shall be
within which to file a notice of appeal recommitted to confinement.
Clear as the basis may be, its Philippines Vol. V-B; citing the case
application is, however, of Banayo vs. President of San Pablo,
erroneous. Even assuming that 2 Phil. 413; Collins vs. Wolfe, 4 Phil.
Mamangon was lawfully imprisoned at 534; Malinao et al. vs. Peterson, No. L-
the outset, at the time he filed his 16464 July 26, 1960). But this remedy
motion for reconsideration, the should not be secured before a court
decision of Judge Macapagal declaring of equal rank in order to avoid undue
his court to be without jurisdiction had interference upon the functions of
already become final and considering another branch unless the former court
that no information had been re-filed, has declared itself to be without
the detention of Mamangon was jurisdiction, as in the instant case.
untenable and illegal. An accused
Considering that the petition
against whom the information has
for habeas corpus should have been
been dismissed for lack of jurisdiction
granted, and the accused released
may no longer be detained; the
from jail without bail, respondent judge
information under which the accused is
acted erroneously when he ordered
being held for trial loses its force and
the re-arrest of the
effect. There is simply nothing to hold
accused. Apparently, the order of
the accused answerable for. Section
respondent to re-arrest the accused
14 of Rule 102 of the Revised Rules of
was prompted by the filing of the
Court speaks of a person lawfully
motion for reconsideration by the
imprisoned. The accused Mamangon
prosecution alleging that respondent
was no longer lawfully imprisoned at
committed error when he ordered the
the time the motion for reconsideration
release of the accused charged with a
was filed. Thus, respondent should not
capital offense. Believing that an error
have applied Section 12 of Rule 114
has been committed, respondent
but instead reversed his former
ordered the cancellation of the cash
decision by granting the petition and
bond and the re-arrest of the accused
ordering the release of the accused
by invoking the inherent power of the
without requiring him to post
court to protect and preserve the rights
bail. When the court where the criminal
of the parties and for the safety of the
case was filed is without jurisdiction,
victims family. Unfortunately, in trying
the authority of the court to hold the
to correct his error, respondent fell into
accused in confinement pending trial is
another error by ordering the re-arrest
a valid subject of a petition for habeas
of the accused.
corpus. Where the petitioner is held
upon a judicial order, the writ will lie The erroneous application of the
where the order is void because the rule by respondent nevertheless
court issuing it had no jurisdiction over cannot be the sole basis for
the crime charged or over the person disciplining him. As we have ruled in
accused where the latter had the past, in order to discipline a judge,
challenged on time, the jurisdiction of it must clearly be shown that the
the court over his person (Francisco, judgment or order is unjust as being
p. 665, Rules of Court in the contrary to law and that the judge
rendered it with conscious and bail and for ordering the cancellation of
deliberate intent to do injustice (Re his cash bond and his re-arrest.
Climaco, 55 SCRA 107). Judges
WHEREFORE, we find respondent
cannot be subjected to liability civil,
judge guilty of committing acts of
criminal or administrative for any of
impropriety prejudicial to the integrity
their official acts, no matter how
of the Judiciary, for which infraction he
erroneous, so long as they act in good
is hereby ordered to pay a fine of Two
faith. It is only when they act
Thousand (P2,000.00), with the
fraudulently or corruptly, or with gross
warning that a repetition of a similar
ignorance may they be held criminally
conduct shall be dealt with more
or administratively responsible (Valdez
severely.
vs. Valera,
81 SCRA 246). Considering the SO ORDERED.
circumstances of the case at bar, we Narvasa, C.J. (Chairman), Davide,
cannot hold respondent liable for his Jr., Francisco, and Panganiban, JJ.,
erroneous action. An erroneous concur.
decision or order is presumed to have
been issued in good faith in the
absence of proof to the
contrary. Complainant herein alleged
that the order of respondent judge
releasing the accused on bail was
maliciously motivated for having been
issued several days after the
attempted extortion.We find the
decision of respondent erroneous but
its malicious intent, however, may not
be presumed in the absence of any
evidence to prove the same. It might
be suggested that, respondents ill
motives may be presumed considering
his actuation prior to the issuance of
the questioned erroneous order. We
are, however, unable to find a clear
and definite connection between an
attempt at extortion and the
subsequent erroneous orders. It would
be unjust to presume wrong intentions
considering that respondents
questioned orders are not totally
unjustifiable.
Withal, respondent judge cannot be
held liable for releasing Mamangon on