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A.C. No. 6317. August 31, 2006.*


LUZVIMINDA C. LIJAUCO, complainant, vs. ATTY. ROGELIO P.
TERRADO, respondent.
Attorneys; Gross Misconduct; The practice of law is a privilege
bestowed on those who show that they possessed and continue to possess
the legal qualifications for it.The practice of law is a privilege bestowed
on those who show that they possessed and continue to possess the legal
qualifications for it. Indeed, lawyers are expected to maintain at all times a
high standard of legal proficiency and morality, including honesty, integrity
and fair dealing. They must perform their fourfold duty to society, the legal
profession, the courts and their clients, in accordance with the values and
norms of the legal profession as embodied in the Code of Professional
Responsibility.
Same; Lawyers shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to them,
and this negligence in connection therewith shall render them liable.
Lawyers are prohibited from engaging in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or
deceitful conduct and are mandated to serve their clients with competence
and diligence. They shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to them, and
this negligence in connection therewith shall render them liable.
Same; The canons of the legal profession require that once an
attorney agrees to handle a case, he should undertake the task with zeal,
care and utmost devotion.The duty of a lawyer to safeguard his clients
interests commences from his retainer until his discharge from the case or
the final disposition of the subject matter of litigation. Acceptance of money
from a client establishes an attorney-client relationship and gives rise to the
duty of fidelity to the clients cause. The canons of the legal profession
require that once an attorney agrees to handle a case, he should undertake
the task with zeal, care and utmost devotion.
Same; A member of the Bar may be disbarred or suspended on the
following grounds.Under Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, a
member of the Bar may be disbarred or suspended on the following
grounds: 1) deceit; 2) malpractice, or other gross misconduct in office; 3)
grossly immoral conduct; 4) conviction of a crime involving moral
turpitude; 5) violation of the lawyers oath; 6) willful disobedience to any
lawful order of a superior court; and 7) willfully appearing as an attorney
for a party without authority.
Same; When a lawyer takes a clients cause, he covenants that he
will exercise due diligence in protecting his rights.When a lawyer takes a
clients cause, he covenants that he will exercise due diligence in protecting
his rights. The failure to exercise that degree of vigilance and attention
makes such lawyer unworthy of the trust reposed in him by his client and
makes him answerable not just to his client but also to the legal profession,
the courts and society.
Same; Utmost fidelity is demanded once counsel agrees to take the
cudgels for his clients cause.A lawyer should give adequate attention,
care and time to his clients case. Once he agrees to handle a case, he should
undertake the task with dedication and care. If he fails in this duty, he is not
true to his oath as a lawyer. Thus, a lawyer should accept only as much
cases as he can efficiently handle in order to sufficiently protect his clients
interests. It is not enough that a lawyer possesses the qualification to handle
the legal matter; he must also give adequate attention to his legal work.
Utmost fidelity is demanded once counsel agrees to take the cudgels for his
clients cause.


Roxas v Zuzuarregui
Contracts; Requisites; Words and Phrases; A contract is a meeting
of the minds between two persons whereby one binds himself, with respect
to the other, to give something or to render some service.A contract is a
meeting of the minds between two persons whereby one binds himself, with
respect to the other, to give something or to render some service. Contracts
shall be obligatory, in whatever form they may have been entered into,
provided all the essential requisites for their validity are present. Under
Article 1318 of the Civil Code, there are three essential requisites which
must concur in order to give rise to a binding contract: (1) consent of the
contracting parties; (2) object certain which is the subject matter of the
contract; and (3) cause of the obligation which is established. All these
requisites were present in the execution of the Letter-Agreement.
Attorneys; Legal Ethics; Contingent Fees; It is a deeply-rooted rule
that contingent fees are not per se prohibited by lawthey are sanctioned
by Canon 13 of the Canons of Professional Ethics; In cases where
contingent fees are sanctioned by law, the same should be reasonable under
the circumstances of the case and should always be subject to the
supervision of a court.Under the contract in question, Attys. Roxas and

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Pastor are to receive contingent fees for their professional services. It is a
deeply-rooted rule that contingent fees are not per se prohibited by law.
They are sanctioned by Canon 13 of the Canons of Professional Ethics, viz.:
13. Contingent Fees.A contract for contingent fee, where sanctioned by
law, should be reasonable under all the circumstances of the case including
the risk and uncertainty of the compensation, but should always be subject
to the supervision of a court, as to its reasonableness. and Canon 20, Rule
20.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, viz.: CANON 20A
LAWYER SHALL CHARGE ONLY FAIR AND REASONABLE FEES.
Rule 20.01.A lawyer shall be guided by the following factors in
determining his fees: (a) The time spent and the extent of the services
rendered or required; (b) The novelty and difficulty of the question
involved; (c) The importance of the subject matter; (d) The skill demanded;
(e) The probability of losing other employment as a result of acceptance of
the proffered case; (f) The customary charges for similar services and the
schedule of fees of the IBP chapter to which he belongs; (g) The amount
involved in the controversy and the benefits resulting to the client from the
service; (h) The contingency or certainty of compensation; (i) The character
of the employment, whether occasional or established; and (j) The
professional standing of the lawyer. However, in cases where contingent
fees are sanctioned by law, the same should be reasonable under all the
circumstances of the case, and should always be subject to the supervision
of a court, as to its reasonableness, such that under Canon 20 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility, a lawyer is tasked to charge only fair and
reasonable fees.
Same; Same; Legal Fees; Indubitably entwined with a lawyers duty
to charge only reasonable fee is the power of the Supreme Court to reduce
the amount of attorneys fees if the same is excessive and unconscionable;
Attorneys fees are unconscionable if they affront ones sense of justice,
decency or reasonableness.Indubitably entwined with the lawyers duty
to charge only reasonable fees is the power of this Court to reduce the
amount of attorneys fees if the same is excessive and unconscionable.
Thus, Section 24, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court partly states: SEC. 24.
Compensation of attorneys; agreement as to fees.An attorney shall be
entitled to have and recover from his client no more than a reasonable
compensation for his services, with a view to the importance of the subject
matter of the controversy, the extent of the services rendered, and the
professional standing of the attorney. x x x. A written contract for services
shall control the amount to be paid therefore unless found by the court to be
unconscionable or unreasonable. Attorneys fees are unconscionable if they
affront ones sense of justice, decency or reasonableness. It becomes
axiomatic therefore, that power to determine the reasonableness or the,
unconscionable character of attorneys fees stipulated by the parties is a
matter falling within the regulatory prerogative of the courts.
Same; Same; Same; Considering that there was no full-blown
hearing in the expropriation case, ending as it did in a Compromise
Agreement, the 44% of the just compensation as fee is undeniably
unconscionable and excessive under the circumstances.In the instant
case, Attys. Roxas and Pastor received an amount which was equal to forty-
four percent (44%) of the just compensation paid (including the yield on the
bonds) by the NHA to the Zuzuarreguis, or an amount equivalent to
P23,980,000.00 of the P54,500,000.00. Considering that there was no full
blown hearing in the expropriation case, ending as it did in a Compromise
Agreement, the 44% is, undeniably, unconscionable and excessive under
the circumstances. Its reduction is, therefore, in order. This is in accordance
with our ruling in the earlier case of Tanhueco v. De Dumo, 172 SCRA 760
(1989), where we reduced the amount of attorneys fees from sixty percent
(60%) to fifteen percent (15%), for being excessive and unreasonable.



A.C. No. 5798. January 20, 2005.* (Formerly CBD No. 01-902)
ALEX B. CUETO, complainant, vs. ATTY. JOSE B. JIMENEZ, JR.,
respondent.
Attorneys; Administrative Law; Canon 20, Rule 20.4 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility mandates that [a] lawyer shall avoid
controversies with clients concerning his compensation and shall resort to
judicial action only to prevent imposition, injustice or fraud.Canon 20,
Rule 20.4 of the Code of Professional Responsibility mandates that [a]
lawyer shall avoid controversies with clients concerning his compensation
and shall resort to judicial action only to prevent imposition, injustice or
fraud. Likewise, in Canon 14 of the Canons of Professional Ethics it states
that, [c]ontroversies with clients concerning compensation are to be
avoided by the lawyer so far as shall be compatible with his self-respect and

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with his right to receive reasonable recompense for his service; and lawsuits
with the clients should be resorted to only to prevent injustice, imposition or
fraud.
Same; Same; A lawyer should observe candor, fairness and loyalty in all his
dealings and transactions with his client.There was clearly no imposition,
injustice or fraud obtaining in this case to justify the legal action taken by
respondent. As borne out by the records, complainant Cueto had already
paid more than half of respondents fee. To resort to a suit to recover the
balance reveals a certain kind of shameful conduct and inconsiderate
behavior that clearly undermines the tenet embodied in Canon 15 that [A]
lawyer should observe candor, fairness and loyalty in all his dealings and
transactions with his client. And what can we say about the failure of
respondents son Jose III to pay his own obligation to complainant Cueto? It
in all probability explains why Cueto ran short of funds. Respondent
therefore should have been more tolerant of the delay incurred by
complainant Cueto.



A.C. No. 6711. July 3, 2007.*
MA. LUISA HADJULA, complainant, vs. ATTY. ROCELES F.
MADIANDA, respondent.
Legal Ethics; Attorneys; Attorney-Client Relationship; The moment
complainant approached the then receptive lawyer-friend to seek legal
advice, a veritable lawyer-client relationship evolved between the two
which imposes upon the lawyer certain restrictions circumscribed by the
ethics of the profession.As it were, complainant went to respondent, a
lawyer who incidentally was also then a friend, to bare what she considered
personal secrets and sensitive documents for the purpose of obtaining legal
advice and assistance. The moment complainant approached the then
receptive respondent to seek legal advice, a veritable lawyer-client
relationship evolved between the two. Such relationship imposes upon the
lawyer certain restrictions circumscribed by the ethics of the profession.
Among the burdens of the relationship is that which enjoins the lawyer,
respondent in this instance, to keep inviolate confidential information
acquired or revealed during legal consultations. The fact that one is, at the
end of the day, not inclined to handle the clients case is hardly of
consequence. Of little moment, too, is the fact that no formal professional
engagement follows the consultation. Nor will it make any difference that
no contract whatsoever was executed by the parties to memorialize the
relationship.
Same; Same; Same; Essential Factors to Establish Existence of
Attorney-Client Privilege Communication; A lawyer breached her duty of
preserving the confidence of a client where the documents shown and the
information revealed in confidence to her in the course of the legal
consultation were subsequently used as bases in the criminal and
administrative complaints lodged against the client.Dean Wigmore lists
the essential factors to establish the existence of the attorney-client privilege
communication, viz.: (1) Where legal advice of any kind is sought (2) from
a professional legal adviser in his capacity as such, (3) the communications
relating to that purpose, (4) made in confidence (5) by the client, (6) are at
his instance permanently protected (7) from disclosure by himself or by the
legal advisor, (8) except the protection be waived. With the view we take of
this case, respondent indeed breached his duty of preserving the confidence
of a client. As found by the IBP Investigating Commissioner, the documents
shown and the information revealed in confidence to the respondent in the
course of the legal consultation in question, were used as bases in the
criminal and administrative complaints lodged against the complainant. The
purpose of the rule of confidentiality is actually to protect the client from
possible breach of confidence as a result of a consultation with a lawyer.
Same; Same; Same; At the end of the day, it appears clear to the
Court that respondent lawyer was actuated by the urge to retaliate against
the complainant without perhaps realizing that, in the process of giving vent
to a negative sentiment, she was violating the rule on confidentiality.The
seriousness of the respondents offense notwithstanding, the Court feels that
there is room for compassion, absent compelling evidence that the
respondent acted with ill-will. Without meaning to condone the error of
respondents ways, what at bottom is before the Court is two former friends
becoming bitter enemies and filing charges and counter-charges against
each other using whatever convenient tools and data were readily available.
Unfortunately, the personal information respondent gathered from her
conversation with complainant became handy in her quest to even the score.
At the end of the day, it appears clear to us that respondent was actuated by
the urge to retaliate without perhaps realizing that, in the process of giving

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vent to a negative sentiment, she was violating the rule on confidentiality.



A.C. No. 7023. March 30, 2006.*
BUN SIONG YAO, complainant, vs. ATTY. LEONARDO A. AURELIO,
respondent.
Legal Ethics; Attorneys; Canon 17 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility provides that a lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his client
and shall be mindful of the trust and confidence reposed on him.It is
essential to note that the relationship between an attorney and his client is a
fiduciary one. Canon 17 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides
that a lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his client and shall be mindful of
the trust and confidence reposed on him. The long-established rule is that an
attorney is not permitted to disclose communications made to him in his
professional character by a client, unless the latter consents. This obligation
to preserve the confidences and secrets of a client arises at the inception of
their relationship. The protection given to the client is perpetual and does
not cease with the termination of the litigation, nor is it affected by the
partys ceasing to employ the attorney and retaining another, or by any
other change of relation between them. It even survives the death of the
client.
Same; Same; Forum Shopping; Respondents act of filing multiple
suits on similar causes of action in different venues constitutes forum
shopping. He has inevitably utilized information he has obtained from his
dealings with complainant and complainants companies for his own end.
Notwithstanding the veracity of his allegations, respondents act of filing
multiple suits on similar causes of action in different venues constitutes
forum shopping, as correctly found by the investigating commissioner. This
highlights his motives rather than his cause of action. Respondent took
advantage of his being a lawyer in order to get back at the complainant. In
doing so, he has inevitably utilized information he has obtained from his
dealings with complainant and complainants companies for his own end.
Same; Same; Lawyers cannot be allowed to exploit their profession
for the purpose of exacting vengeance or as a tool for instigating hostility
against any personmost especially against a client or former client.
Lawyers must conduct themselves, especially in their dealings with their
clients and the public at large, with honesty and integrity in a manner
beyond reproach. Lawyers cannot be allowed to exploit their profession for
the purpose of exacting vengeance or as a tool for instigating hostility
against any personmost especially against a client or former client.




Adm. Case No. 5108. May 26, 2005.*
ROSA F. MERCADO, complainant, vs. ATTY. JULITO D. VITRIOLO,
respondent.
Legal Ethics; Attorneys; Attorney-Client Privilege; In engaging the
services of an attorney, the client reposes on him special powers of trust
and confidence, a relationship that is strictly personal and highly
confidential and fiduciary; Abstinence from seeking legal advice in a good
cause is an evil which is fatal to the administration of justice; It is the glory
of the legal profession that its fidelity to its client can be depended on, and
that a man may safely go to a lawyer and converse with him upon his rights
or supposed rights in any litigation with absolute assurance that the
lawyers tongue is tied from ever disclosing it.In engaging the services of
an attorney, the client reposes on him special powers of trust and
confidence. Their relationship is strictly personal and highly confidential
and fiduciary. The relation is of such delicate, exacting and confidential
nature that is required by necessity and public interest. Only by such
confidentiality and protection will a person be encouraged to repose his
confidence in an attorney. The hypothesis is that abstinence from seeking
legal advice in a good cause is an evil which is fatal to the administration of
justice. Thus, the preservation and protection of that relation will encourage
a client to entrust his legal problems to an attorney, which is of paramount
importance to the administration of justice. One rule adopted to serve this
purpose is the attorney-client privilege: an attorney is to keep inviolate his
clients secrets or confidence and not to abuse them. Thus, the duty of a
lawyer to preserve his clients secrets and confidence outlasts the
termination of the attorney-client relationship, and continues even after the
clients death. It is the glory of the legal profession that its fidelity to its
client can be depended on, and that a man may safely go to a lawyer and
converse with him upon his rights or supposed rights in any litigation with

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absolute assurance that the lawyers tongue is tied from ever disclosing it.
With full disclosure of the facts of the case by the client to his attorney,
adequate legal representation will result in the ascertainment and
enforcement of rights or the prosecution or defense of the clients cause.
Same; Same; Same; Essential Factors to Establish Existence of
Attorney-Client Privilege.Now, we go to the rule on attorney-client
privilege. Dean Wigmore cites the factors essential to establish the
existence of the privilege, viz.: (1) Where legal advice of any kind is sought,
(2) from a professional legal adviser in his capacity as such, (3) the
communications relating to that purpose, (4) made in confidence (5) by the
client, (6) are at his instance permanently protected (7) from disclosure by
himself or by the legal advisor, (8) except the protection be waived.
Same; Same; Same; Matters disclosed by a prospective client to a
lawyer are protected by the rule on privileged communication even if the
prospective client does not thereafter retain the lawyer or the latter declines
the employment.Matters disclosed by a prospective client to a lawyer are
protected by the rule on privileged communication even if the prospective
client does not thereafter retain the lawyer or the latter declines the
employment. The reason for this is to make the prospective client free to
discuss whatever he wishes with the lawyer without fear that what he tells
the lawyer will be divulged or used against him, and for the lawyer to be
equally free to obtain information from the prospective client. On the other
hand, a communication from a (prospective) client to a lawyer for some
purpose other than on account of the (prospective) attorney-client relation is
not privileged.
Same; Same; Same; Words and Phrases; The mere relation of
attorney and client does not raise a presumption of confidentialitythe
client must intend the communication to be confidential; A confidential
communication refers to information transmitted by voluntary act or
disclosure between attorney and client in confidence and by means which,
so far as the client is aware, discloses the information to no third person
other than one reasonably necessary for the transmission of the information
or the accomplishment of the purpose for which it was given.The mere
relation of attorney and client does not raise a presumption of
confidentiality. The client must intend the communication to be
confidential. A confidential communication refers to information
transmitted by voluntary act of disclosure between attorney and client in
confidence and by means which, so far as the client is aware, discloses the
information to no third person other than one reasonably necessary for the
transmission of the information or the accomplishment of the purpose for
which it was given. Our jurisprudence on the matter rests on quiescent
ground. Thus, a compromise agreement prepared by a lawyer pursuant to
the instruction of his client and delivered to the opposing party, an offer and
counter-offer for settlement, or a document given by a client to his counsel
not in his professional capacity, are not privileged communications, the
element of confidentiality not being present.
Same; Same; Same; The communication made by a client to his
attorney must not be intended for mere information, but for the purpose of
seeking legal advice from his attorney as to his rights or obligations.The
communication made by a client to his attorney must not be intended for
mere information, but for the purpose of seeking legal advice from his
attorney as to his rights or obligations. The communication must have been
transmitted by a client to his attorney for the purpose of seeking legal
advice. If the client seeks an accounting service, or business or personal
assistance, and not legal advice, the privilege does not attach to a
communication disclosed for such purpose.
Same; Same; Same; Evidence; Without any testimony from the com-
plainant as to the specific confidential information allegedly divulged by
respondent lawyer without her consent, it is difficult, if not impossible to
determine if there was any violation of the rule on privileged
communicationthe Court cannot be involved in a guessing game as to the
existence of facts which the complainant must prove.Applying all these
rules to the case at bar, we hold that the evidence on record fails to
substantiate complainants allegations. We note that complainant did not
even specify the alleged communication in confidence disclosed by
respondent. All her claims were couched in general terms and lacked
specificity. She contends that respondent violated the rule on privileged
communication when he instituted a criminal action against her for
falsification of public documents because the criminal complaint disclosed
facts relating to the civil case for annulment then handled by respondent.
She did not, however, spell out these facts which will determine the merit of
her complaint. The Court cannot be involved in a guessing game as to the
existence of facts which the complainant must prove. Indeed, complainant
failed to attend the hearings at the IBP. Without any testimony from the

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complainant as to the specific confidential information allegedly divulged
by respondent without her consent, it is difficult, if not impossible to
determine if there was any violation of the rule on privileged
communication. Such confidential information is a crucial link in
establishing a breach of the rule on privileged communication between
attorney and client. It is not enough to merely assert the attorney-client
privilege. The burden of proving that the privilege applies is placed upon
the party asserting the privilege.




































A.C. No. 7421. October 10, 2007.*
ELISA V. VENTEREZ, GENARO DE VERA, INOCENCIA V.
RAMIREZ, PACITA V. MILLS, ANTONINA V. PALMA and RAMON
DE VERA, complainants, vs. ATTY. RODRIGO R. COSME, respondent.
Administrative Law; Attorneys; Code of Professional Responsibility;
Among the fundamental rules of ethics is the principle that an attorney who
undertakes an action impliedly stipulates to carry it to its termination that is
until the case becomes final and executory.No lawyer is obliged to
advocate for every person who may wish to become his client, but once he
agrees to take up the cause of a client, the lawyer owes fidelity to such
cause and must be mindful of the trust and confidence reposed in him.
Among the fundamental rules of ethics is the principle that an attorney who
undertakes an action impliedly stipulates to carry it to its termination, that
is, until the case becomes final and executory. A lawyer is not at liberty to
abandon his client and withdraw his services without reasonable cause and
only upon notice appropriate in the circumstances. Any dereliction of duty
by a counsel affects the client. This means that his client is entitled to the
benefit of any and every remedy and defense that is authorized by the law
and he may expect his lawyer to assert every such remedy or defense.
Same; Same; Same; The right of an attorney to withdraw or
terminate the relation other than for sufficient cause is, however,
considerably restricted; A lawyers right to withdraw from a case before its
final adjudication arises only from the clients written consent or from a
good cause.The rule in this jurisdiction is that a client has the absolute
right to terminate the attorney-client relation at any time with or without
cause. The right of an attorney to withdraw or terminate the relation other
than for sufficient cause is, however, considerably restricted. Among the
fundamental rules of ethics is the principle that an attorney who undertakes
to conduct an action impliedly stipulates to carry it to its conclusion. He is
not at liberty to abandon it without reasonable cause. A lawyers right to

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withdraw from a case before its final adjudication arises only from the
clients written consent or from a good cause.
Same; Same; Same; A lawyer may retire at any time from any action
or special proceeding with the written consent of his client filed in court
and with a copy thereof served upon the adverse party.A lawyer may
retire at any time from any action or special proceeding with the written
consent of his client filed in court and with a copy thereof served upon the
adverse party. Should the client refuse to give his consent, the lawyer must
file an application with the court. The court, on notice to the client and
adverse party, shall determine whether the lawyer ought to be allowed to
retire. The application for withdrawal must be based on a good cause.
Same; Same; Same; The lawyer has no right to presume that his
petition for withdrawal will be granted by the court.Assuming,
nevertheless, that respondent was justified in withdrawing his services, he,
however, cannot just do so and leave complainants in the cold, unprotected.
The lawyer has no right to presume that his petition for withdrawal will be
granted by the court. Until his withdrawal shall have been approved, the
lawyer remains counsel of record who is expected by his clients, as well as
by the court, to do what the interests of his clients require. He must still
appear before the court to protect the interest of his clients by availing
himself of the proper remedy, for the attorney-client relations are not
terminated formally until there is a withdrawal of record.
Same; Same; Same; Respondent reminded that the practice of law is
a special privilege bestowed only upon those who are competent
intellectually, academically and morally.All told, we rule and so hold that
on account of respondents failure to protect the interest of complainants,
respondent indeed violated Rule 18.03, Canon 18 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility, which states that a lawyer shall not neglect a
legal matter entrusted to him, and his negligence in connection therewith
shall render him liable. Respondent is reminded that the practice of law is
a special privilege bestowed only upon those who are competent
intellectually, academically and morally. This Court has been exacting in its
expectations for the members of the Bar to always uphold the integrity and
dignity of the legal profession and refrain from any act or omission which
might lessen the trust and confidence of the public.








A.C. No. 6155. March 14, 2006.*
MA. GINA L. FRANCISCO, JOSEPHINE S. TAN and CARLOS M.
JOAQUIN, complainants, vs. ATTY. JAIME JUANITO P. PORTUGAL,
respondent.
Administrative Law; Attorneys; In a criminal case, the lawyer for the
accused has a higher duty to be circumspect in defending the accused.In
a criminal case like that handled by respondent in behalf of the accused,
respondent has a higher duty to be circumspect in defending the accused for
it is not only the property of the accused which stands to be lost but more
importantly, their right to their life and liberty.
Same; Same; It is the counsel, not his client, who has the duty to file
the Notice of Withdrawal.Respondent ought to know that he was the one
who should have filed the Notice to Withdraw and not the accused. His tale
that he sent a registered letter to the accused and gave them instructions on
how to go about respondents withdrawal from the case defies credulity. It
should have been respondent who undertook the appropriate measures for
the proper withdrawal of his representation. He should not have relied on
his client to do it for him if such was truly the case. Without the
presentation of the alleged registry receipt (or the return card, which
confirms the receipt of the mail by the recipient) of the letter he allegedly
sent to PO3 Joaquin, the Court cannot lend credence to respondents naked
claim, especially so that complainants have been resolute in their stand that
they did not hear from respondent after the latter had filed the ad cautelam
petition. He could relieve himself of his responsibility as counsel only first
by securing the written conformity of the accused and filing it with the court
pursuant to Rule 138, Section 26 of the Rules of Court.
Same; Same; A client has the absolute right to terminate the
attorney-client relation at anytime with or without cause.The rule in this
jurisdiction is that a client has the absolute right to terminate the attorney-
client relation at anytime with or without cause. The right of an attorney to
withdraw or terminate the relation other than for sufficient cause is,

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however, considerably restricted. Among the fundamental rules of ethics is
the principle that an attorney who undertakes to conduct an action impliedly
stipulates to carry it to its conclusion. He is not at liberty to abandon it
without reasonable cause. A lawyers right to withdraw from a case before
its final adjudication arises only from the clients written consent or from a
good cause.
Same; Same; The zeal and the degree of fervor in handling the case
should neither diminish nor cease just because of his perceived
insufficiency of remuneration.Even if respondent felt under-compensated
in the case he undertook to defend, his obligation embodied in the Lawyers
Oath and the Code of Professional Responsibility still remains unwavering.
The zeal and the degree of fervor in handling the case should neither
diminish nor cease just because of his perceived insufficiency of
remuneration.
Same; Same; Rule 14.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
clearly directs lawyers not to discriminate clients as to their belief of the
guilt of the latter.The Court does not appreciate the offensive appellation
respondent called the shooting incident that the accused was engaged in. He
described the incident, thus: the accused police officers who had been
convicted of [h]omicide for the salvage of Froilan G. Cabiling and Jose
M. Chua and [a]ttempted [h]omicide of Mario C. Macato. Rule 14.01 of
the Code of Professional Responsibility clearly directs lawyers not to
discriminate clients as to their belief of the guilt of the latter. It is ironic that
it is the defense counsel that actually branded his own clients as being the
culprits that salvaged the victims. Though he might think of his clients as
that, still it is unprofessional to be labeling an event as such when even the
Sandiganbayan had not done so.
















G.R. No. 155224. August 23, 2006.*
VINSON B. PINEDA, petitioner, vs. ATTY. CLODUALDO C. DE JESUS,
ATTY. CARLOS AMBROSIO and ATTY. EMMANUEL MARIANO,
respondents.
Legal Ethics; Attorneys; Actions; A lawyer may enforce his right to
his fees by filing the necessary petition as an incident of the main action in
which his services were rendered or in an independent suit against his
client.A lawyer may enforce his right to his fees by filing the necessary
petition as an incident of the main action in which his services were
rendered or in an independent suit against his client. The former is
preferable to avoid multiplicity of suits. The Pasig RTC, Branch 151, where
the case for the declaration of nullity of marriage was filed, had jurisdiction
over the motion for the payment of legal fees. Respondents sought to collect
P50 million which was equivalent to 10% of the value of the properties
awarded to petitioner in that case. Clearly, what respondents were
demanding was additional payment for legal services rendered in the same
case.
Same; Same; Same; Quantum Meruit; The recovery of attorneys
fees on the basis of quantum meruit is permitted where there is no express
agreement for the payment of attorneys fees, and it is basically a legal
mechanism which prevents an unscrupulous client from running away with
the fruits of the legal services of counsel without paying for it while
avoiding unjust enrichment on the part of the lawyer himself.The
professional engagement between petitioner and respondents was governed
by the principle of quantum meruit which means as much as the lawyer
deserves. The recovery of attorneys fees on this basis is permitted, as in
this case, where there is no express agreement for the payment of attorneys
fees. Basically, it is a legal mechanism which prevents an unscrupulous
client from running away with the fruits of the legal services of counsel
without paying for it. In the same vein, it avoids unjust enrichment on the
part of the lawyer himself.

9
Same; Same; Same; Suits to collect fees should be avoided and
should be filed only when circumstances force lawyers to resort to it;
Demanding P50 million on top of the generous sums and perks already
given to them was an act of unconscionable greed which is shocking to this
Court.Rule 20.4 of the Code of Professional Responsibility advises
lawyers to avoid controversies with clients concerning their compensation
and to resort to judicial action only to prevent imposition, injustice or fraud.
Suits to collect fees should be avoided and should be filed only when
circumstances force lawyers to resort to it. In the case at bar, respondents
motion for payment of their lawyers fees was not meant to collect what
was justly due them; the fact was, they had already been adequately paid.
Demanding P50 million on top of the generous sums and perks already
given to them was an act of unconscionable greed which is shocking to this
Court.
Same; Same; The practice of law is a decent profession and not a
money-making tradecompensation should be but a mere incident.As
lawyers, respondents should be reminded that they are members of an
honorable profession, the primary vision of which is justice. It is
respondents despicable behavior which gives lawyering a bad name in the
minds of some people. The vernacular has a word for it: nagsasamantala.
The practice of law is a decent profession and not a money-making trade.
Compensation should be but a mere incident.
Same; Same; Lawyers could not charge their clients a fee based on
percentage absent an express agreement to that effect.Respondents
claim for additional legal fees was not justified. They could not charge
petitioner a fee based on percentage, absent an express agreement to that
effect. The payments to them in cash, checks, free products and services
from petitioners businessall of which were not denied by respondents
more than sufficed for the work they did. The full payment for settlement
should have discharged













IN THE MATTER OF THE ALLEGATIONS CONTAINED IN THE
COLUMNS OF MR. AMADO P. MACASAET PUBLISHED IN
MALAYA DATED SEPTEMBER 18, 19, 20 AND 21, 2007
Freedom of Expression; Freedom of the Press; Right to Information;
Due to their preferred position in the hierarchy of civil liberties, the
freedoms of speech, of expression, and of the press have progressed
dramatically; Studies show that people rely heavily on the media for their
knowledge of events in the world and for impressions that form the basis for
their own judgmentsthe media exert a strong influence on what people
think and feel.Due to their preferred position in the hierarchy of civil
liberties, the freedoms of speech, of expression, and of the press have
progressed dramatically. As early as 1942, even before the advent of
television, the distinguished U.S. appellate court Judge Learned Hand had
already observed that [t]he hand that rules the press, the radio, the screen,
and the far-spread magazine, rules the country. He concluded that medias
power was an unchangeable fact of life: Whether we like or not, we must
learn to accept it. There is much truth today in those statements. One of the
notable features of recent years is the accelerated development of the media.
They have grown from strength to strength, and have substantially
influenced people, either favorably or unfavorably, towards those in
government. The use of information technology has firmed up the media
networks hold on power. Traditional media for mass communication
newspapers, magazines, radio, and standard televisionhave been joined
by satellite and cable television, electronic mail, short messaging and multi-
media service, and the internet, giving rise to new opportunities for
electronic news and information companies to even intensify their influence
over the general public. Studies show that people rely heavily on the media
for their knowledge of events in the world and for impressions that form the
basis for their own judgments. The media exert a strong influence on what
people think and feel. Certainly, the power of Philippine media is of no
small measure.

10
Same; Same; Same; The mass media in a free society uphold the
democratic way of lifethey provide citizens with relevant information to
help them make informed decisions about public issues affecting their
lives.The mass media in a free society uphold the democratic way of life.
They provide citizens with relevant information to help them make
informed decisions about public issues affecting their lives. Affirming the
right of the public to know, they serve as vehicles for the necessary
exchange of ideas through fair and open debate. As the Fourth Estate in our
democracy, they vigorously exercise their independence and vigilantly
guard against infringements. Over the years, the Philippine media have
earned the reputation of being the freest and liveliest in Asia. Members of
Philippine media have assumed the role of a watchdog and have been
protective and assertive of this role. They demand accountability of
government officials and agencies. They have been adversarial when they
relate with any of the three branches of government. They uphold the
citizens right to know, and make public officials, including judges and
justices, responsible for their deeds or misdeeds. Through their watchdog
function, the media motivate the public to be vigilant in exercising the
citizens right to an effective, efficient and corrupt-free government.
Same; Same; Courts; Open Justice Principle; There is no doubt that the
fundamental freedom to criticize government necessarily includes the right
to criticize the courts, their proceedings and decisions.Closely linked
with the right to freedom of speech and of thepress is the public right to
scrutinize and criticize government. The freedom to question the
government has been a protected right of long-standing tradition throughout
American history. There is no doubt that the fundamental freedom to
criticize government necessarily includes the right to criticize the courts,
their proceedings and decisions. Since the drafting of their Constitution over
200 years ago, American judges have anticipated and sometimes even
encouraged public scrutiny of themselves, if not of the judiciary as a whole.
This open justice principle, which is as fundamental to a democratic society
as freedom of speech, has been an accepted doctrine in several jurisdictions.
It is justified on the ground that if the determination of justice cannot be
hidden from the public, this will provide: (1) a safeguard against judicial
arbitrariness or idiosyncrasy, and (2) the maintenance of the publics
confidence in the administration of justice. While most agree that the right
to criticize the judiciary is critical to maintaining a free and democratic
society, there is also a general consensus that healthy criticism only goes so
far. Many types of criticism leveled at the judiciary cross the line to become
harmful and irresponsible attacks. These potentially devastating attacks and
unjust criticism can threaten the independence of the judiciary.
Same; Same; Same; Checks and Balances; While the judicial branch is
described as the least dangerous branch of government, it holds a
special place in the tripartite system, as it is primarily responsible for
protecting basic human liberties from government encroachment.The
judicial branch is described as the least dangerous branch of government.
But it holds a special place in the tripartite system, as it is primarily
responsible for protecting basic human liberties from government
encroachment. It completes the nations system of checks and balances. It
serves as an arbiter of disputes between factions and instruments of
government. In our constitutional scheme and democracy, our courts of
justice are vested with judicial power, which includes the duty x x x to
settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable
and enforceable, and to determine whether or not there has been a grave
abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of
any branch or instrumentality of the government. The present judicial
system allows the people to rely upon our courts with substantial certainty;
it encourages the resolution of disputes in courtrooms rather than on the
streets.
Same; Same; Same; Judicial Independence; Judicial independence
encompasses two distinct but related concepts of independenceindividual
judicial independence, which focuses on each particular judge and seeks to
insure his or her ability to decide cases with autonomy within the
constraints of the law, and, institutional judicial independence which
focuses on the independence of the judiciary as a branch of government and
protects judges as a class.To accomplish these tasks, an independent
judiciary is very vital. Judicial independence is the backbone of democracy.
It is essential not only to the preservation of our justice system, but of
government as well. Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson of the Wisconsin
Supreme Court has observed that judicial independence encompasses two
distinct but related concepts of independence. One concept is individual
judicial independence, which focuses on each particular judge and seeks to
insure his or her ability to decide cases with autonomy within the
constraints of the law. A judge has this kind of independence when he can

11
do his job without having to hearor at least without having to take it
seriously if he does hearcriticisms of his personal morality and fitness for
judicial office. The second concept is institutional judicial independence. It
focuses on the independence of the judiciary as a branch of government and
protects judges as a class. A truly independent judiciary is possible only
when both concepts of independence are preservedwherein public
confidence in the competence and integrity of the judiciary is maintained,
and the public accepts the legitimacy of judicial authority. An erosion of
this confidence threatens the maintenance of an independent Third Estate.
Same; Same; Same; Contempt; While informed discussion, comment,
debate and disagreement from lawyers, academics, and public officials
have been hallmarks of a great legal tradition and have played a vital role
in shaping the law, there is an important line between legitimate criticism
and illegitimate attack upon the courts or their judges; Personal attacks,
criticisms laden with political threats, those that misrepresent and distort
the nature and context of judicial decisions, those that are misleading or
without factual or legal basis, and those that blame the judges for the ills of
society damage the integrity of the judiciary and threaten the doctrine of
judicial independence.For sure, judicial criticism can be constructive,
uncovering and addressing a problem that merits public attention. Public
awareness, debate, and criticism of the courts ensure that people are
informed of what they are doing that have broad implications for all
citizens. Informed discussion, comment, debate and disagreement from
lawyers, academics, and public officials have been hallmarks of a great
legal tradition and have played a vital role in shaping the law. But there is
an important line between legitimate criticism and illegitimate attack upon
the courts or their judges. Attacks upon the court or a judge not only risk the
inhibition of all judges as they conscientiously endeavor to discharge their
constitutional responsibilities; they also undermine the peoples confidence
in the courts. Personal attacks, criticisms laden with political threats, those
that misrepresent and distort the nature and context of judicial decisions,
those that are misleading or without factual or legal basis, and those that
blame the judges for the ills of society, damage the integrity of the judiciary
and threaten the doctrine of judicial independence. These attacks do a grave
disservice to the principle of an independent judiciary and mislead the
public as to the role of judges in a constitutional democracy, shaking the
very foundation of our democratic government.
Same; Same; Same; Same; Judges have an affirmative duty to defend and
uphold the integrity and independence of the judiciarythe courts need to
be able to sanction those who obstruct their pro-cesses.Judges have an
affirmative duty to defend and uphold the integrity and independence of the
judiciary. The courts need to be able to sanction those who obstruct their
processes. The judiciary itself must continue to be a voice that explains and
preserves its own independence. The respect accorded to judges is an
adjunct of the social-contract necessity for impartial judges in the creation
of a civil society. In the words of the great political philosopher John
LockeThe great and chief end, therefore, for mens uniting into
commonwealths, and putting themselves under government, is the
preservation of their property, to which in the state of nature there are
many things wanting x x x there wants an established, settled, known
law x x x there wants a known and indifferent judge, with authority to
determine all differences according to the established law x x x there
often wants power to back and support the sentence when right, and to give
it due execution.
Same; Same; Same; Same; While the Court has no problems with
legitimate criticisms pointing out flaws in our decisions, judicial reasoning,
or even how we run our public offices or public affairs, respondent
Macasaet has crossed the line, as his are baseless scurrilous attacks which
demonstrate nothing but an abuse of press freedom.We have no problems
with legitimate criticisms pointing out flaws in our decisions, judicial
reasoning, or even how we run our public offices or public affairs. They
should even be constructive and should pave the way for a more responsive,
effective and efficient judiciary. Unfortunately, the published articles of
respondent Macasaet are not of this genre. On the contrary, he has crossed
the line, as his are baseless scurrilous attacks which demonstrate nothing
but an abuse of press freedom. They leave no redeeming value in
furtherance of freedom of the press. They do nothing but damage the
integrity of the High Court, undermine the faith and confidence of the
people in the judiciary, and threaten the doctrine of judicial independence.
Same; Same; Same; Same; It defies reason why any responsible journalist
would go on to publish any material in a newspaper of general circulation
without having ascertained even the five Ws and one H of the storyWho,
What, When, Where, Why and How; The practice of fishing for
information by publishing unverified information in a manner that leads the

12
reading public to believe such is true cannot be tolerated.Respondent
thus admits to having written his articles as means to fish out the Lady
Justice involved in an alleged bribery fed to him by his source, with
reckless disregard of whether or not such bribery indeed took place. It
defies reason why any responsible journalist would go on to publish any
material in a newspaper of general circulation without having ascertained
even the five Ws and one H of the story. That he could not, through his
extensive network of informants, confirm the approximate date when the
alleged bribery took place, the identities of the persons involved, or any
other important detail, before he began his series of articles only leads to the
rational conclusion that he did not care whether or not the story he
published was true. His aim, as he admits, was to go on a fishing expedition
to see if someone would confirm or deny his now clearly baseless
accusations. This practice of fishing for information by publishing
unverified information in a manner that leads the reading public to believe
such is true cannot be tolerated.
Same; Same; Same; Same; Under Section 4 of Rule 71 of the 1997
Rules of Civil Procedure, proceedings for indirect contempt may be
initiated motu proprio by the court against which the contempt was
committed, by an order or any other formal charge requiring respondent to
show why he should not be punished for contempt.Respondent claims that
there is a violation of his right to due pro-cess. From the time his articles
were published, no formal charge has been filed against him as required
under Section 3, Rule 71 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. Respondent
fails to see, however, that under Section 4 of the same Rule, proceedings for
indirect contempt may be initiated motu proprio by the court against which
the contempt was committed, by an order or any other formal charge
requiring respondent to show why he should not be punished for contempt.
Our Resolution dated September 25, 2007 satisfies the Rule. He cannot
validly claim that such resolution is vague. He cannot feign ignorance of the
contents of his September 18, 19, 20, and 21, 2007 articles in the Malaya.
Same; Same; Same; Same; Judgments; Dissenting Opinions; Legal
Research; Elementary decision-making teaches that we cite the majority
opinion as precedent, not lonely dissenting opinions.We are not unaware
of the vigorous dissent of then Associate Justice, now our Chief Justice,
Reynato S. Puno, in an earlier case, in which he so lucidly argued for the
right to journalistic shield, behind which the Dissenting Opinion of an
esteemed colleague, Mr. Justice Carpio, and respondent Macasaet, take full
refuge. While we hold his thesis in high regard, the case at bar does not fall
within his erudite defense of press freedom. The critical issues then were
the right of newsmen to refuse subpoenas, summons, or invitations to
appear in administrative investigations, and not to reveal their confidential
sources of information under R.A. No. 53, as amended. None of these are
the issues at hand. Be that as it may, elementary decision-making teaches
that we cite the majority opinion as precedent, not lonely dissenting
opinions.
Same; Same; Same; Same; Right of Confrontation; The right of an
accused to cross-examine the witnesses against him, although an adjunct of
the Constitutional right to meet the witnesses face to face, can be waived
when not timely asserted.The right of an accused to cross-examine the
witnesses against him, although an adjunct of the Constitutional right to
meet the witnesses face to face, can be waived when not timely asserted. In
the case of Macasaet, never did he assert his right to cross-examine the
witnesses against him despite the opportunity to do so. During the entire
course of the proceedings in the Committee, respondent was vigorously
represented by counsel de parte. Respondent or his counsel could have
moved to cross-examine the adverse witnesses. Respondent had every
opportunity to do so. Lamentably, he failed to exercise the said right.
Interestingly, during the last hearing date, counsel for respondent requested
that respondent be allowed to say something, which the Committee granted.
Respondent then proceeded with a lengthy discourse, all of 45 pages, on
everything and anything, except his right to cross-examination. Verily, it
cannot be validly claimed now that his right to cross-examine was violated.
Same; Same; Same; Same; The role of the press in relation to the judiciary
needs to be regulated, which can be done through voluntary codes of
conduct on the part of the press and through judicial policies, such as the
rule on sub judice and contempt of court rulings; The absence of clear
voluntary codes developed by the press, as its self-regulator, strengthens
the need for the Court to use its power in the meantime to cite critics for
contempt; Criticisms should not impede or obstruct an integral component
of our republican institutions from discharging its constitutionally-
mandated duties.Oftentimes, journalists writing about the judiciary and
court cases lack basic knowledge of the law and judicial procedures, on the
basis of which they draw faulty conclusions which they pass on to their

13
readers as gospel truths. Trial by publicity also influences the independence
of judges as the public is fed with partial information and vocal opinions,
and judges are pressured to decide in accordance with the public opinion.
Faith in the judiciary is undermined when judges rule against the
expectations of the public which has been brainwashed by dramatic reports
and graphic comments. In some cases, unchecked rumors or allegations of
irregularities are immediately published because journalists lack
professional competence to verify the information, or are simply eager to
break the news and attract a wider readership. The role of the press in
relation to the judiciary needs to be regulated. This can be done through
voluntary codes of conduct on the part of the press and through judicial
policies, such as the rule on sub judice and contempt of court rulings. The
absence of clear voluntary codes developed by the press, as its self-
regulator, strengthens the need for the Court to use its power in the
meantime to cite critics for contempt. This is necessary in cases where such
criticism is obviously malicious or in violation of the sub judice rule, or
where there is an evident attempt to influence the outcome of a case. Judges
have the duty to defend and uphold the integrity and independence of the
judiciary. They should sanction those who obstruct or impede the judicial
processes. The effective administration of justice may only be realized with
the strong faith and confidence of the public in the competence and integrity
of the judiciary, free from political and popular pressure. Criticism at every
level of government is certainly welcome. After all, it is an essential part of
the checks and balances in our republican system of government. However,
criticisms should not impede or obstruct an integral component of our
republican institutions from discharging its constitutionally-mandated
duties.



RE: LETTER OF PRESIDING JUSTICE CONRADO M. VASQUEZ, JR.
ON CA-G.R. SP NO. 103692 [Antonio Rosete, et al. vs. Securities and
Exchange Commission, et al.]
Judicial Ethics; Courts; For judicial decisions, which form part of
the law of the land, to be credible instruments in the peaceful and
democratic resolution of conflicts, our courts must be perceived to be and,
in fact be, impartial, independent, competent and just.The Judiciary,
which is acclaimed as the firmest pillar of our democratic institutions, is
vested by the Constitution with the power to settle disputes between parties
and to determine their rights and obligations under the law. For judicial
decisions, which form part of the law of the land, to be credible instruments
in the peaceful and democratic resolution of conflicts, our courts must be
perceived to be and, in fact be, impartial, independent, competent and just.
To accomplish this end, it is imperative that members of the Judiciary from
its highest magistrates to its humblest employees adhere to the strictest code
of ethics and the highest standards of propriety and decorum. Indeed, it is
unfortunate that one of the countrys second highest courts, the Court of
Appeals, should be presently embroiled in scandal and controversy. It is this
Courts bounden duty to determine the culpability or innocence of the
members of the Judiciary involved in the said controversy and to discipline
any one whose conduct has failed to conform to the canons of judicial
ethics, which uphold integrity, independence, impartiality, competence and
propriety in the performance of official functions.
Same; Same; Court of Appeals; Internal Rules of the Court of
Appeals (IRCA); Disqualification and Inhibition of Judges; A justice of the
Court of Appeals, by ignoring or refusing to act on the motion for his
inhibition, violates Rule V, Section 3, third paragraph of the Internal Rules
of the Court of Appeals (IRCA), which provides that he should resolve such
motion in writing with copies furnished the other members of the Division,
the Presiding Justice, the Raffle Committee, and the Division Clerk of
Court; The Court cannot agree with Justice Roxas proposition that the
issuance of the Temporary Restraining Order constitutes an implied denial
of the motion to inhibit since under Internal Rules of the Court of Appeals
(IRCA) the obligation of the Justice to act on such a motion is
mandatory.We agree with the Panel of Investigators that by ignoring or
refusing to act on the motion for his inhibition, Justice Roxas violated Rule
V, Section 3, third paragraph of the IRCA, which provides that he should
resolve such motion in writing with copies furnished the other members of
the Division, the Presiding Justice, the Raffle Committee, and the Division
Clerk of Court. The pertinent portion of the said provision states: Sec. 3.
Motion to Inhibit a Division or a Justice.x x x x x x A motion for
voluntary inhibition of a Justice shall be acted upon by him alone in writing,
copy furnished the other members of the Division, the Presiding Justice, the
Raffle Committee and the Division Clerk of Court. This Court cannot agree

14
with Justice Roxas proposition that the issuance of the TRO constitutes an
implied denial of the motion to inhibit since under IRCA the obligation of
the Justice to act on such a motion is mandatory.
Same; Same; Same; New Code of Judicial Conduct for the
Philippine Judiciary; Code of Judicial Conduct; Speedy Disposition of
Cases; Justice Roxas failure to act on the other motions of the parties
violated Canon 3, Rule 3.05 of the 1989 Code of Judicial Conduct (which
applies in a suppletory manner to the New Code of Judicial Conduct for the
Philippine Judiciary) providing that a judge shall dispose of the courts
business promptly and decide cases within the required periods.The
Court finds well-taken the Panels finding that Justice Roxas failure to act
on the other motions of the parties violated Canon 3, Rule 3.05 of the 1989
Code of Judicial Conduct (which applies in a suppletory manner to the New
Code of Judicial Conduct for the Philippine Judiciary) providing that: Rule
3.05.A judge shall dispose of the courts business promptly and decide
cases within the required periods.
Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Gross Inefficiency; It has become
well-settled in jurisprudence that even just undue delay in the resolving
pending motions or incidents within the reglamentary period fixed by law is
not excusable and constitutes gross inefficiency.Even Section 5, Canon 6
of the New Code of Judicial Conduct mandates that [j]udges shall perform
all judicial duties, including the delivery of reserved decisions, efficiently,
fairly and with reasonable promptness. Thus, it has become well-settled in
jurisprudence that even just undue delay in the resolving pending motions
or incidents within the reglamentary period fixed by law is not excusable
and constitutes gross inefficiency. With more reason, this Court finds
suspicious and reprehensible the failure of Justice Roxas to act at all on
pending motions and incidents in CA-G.R. SP No. 103692.
Same; Same; Same; Dishonesty; The fabrications and falsehoods
that Justice Roxas blithely proferred to the Panel in
explanation/justification of his questioned handling of the Meralco case
demonstrated that he lacks the qualification of integrity and honesty
expected of a magistrate and a member of the appellate court.Indeed, the
fabrications and falsehoods that Justice Roxas blithely proferred to the
Panel in explanation/justification of his questioned handling of the Meralco
case demonstrated that he lacks the qualification of integrity and honesty
expected of a magistrate and a member of the appellate court. Under Rule
140 of the Rules of Court, dishonesty is considered a serious offense that
may warrant the penalty of dismissal from the service. Under the Rule IV,
Section 52 of the Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil
Service, dishonesty is likewise considered a grave offense and warrants the
penalty of dismissal even for the first offense. In the past, the Court has had
the occasion to rule that: . . . dishonesty and falsification are considered
grave offenses warranting the penalty of dismissal from service upon the
commission of the first offense. On numerous occasions, the Court did not
hesitate to impose such extreme punishment on employees found guilty of
these offenses. Dishonesty, being in the nature of a grave offense, carries
the extreme penalty of dismissal from the service with forfeiture of
retirement benefits except accrued leave credits, and perpetual
disqualification for re-employment in the government service. Dishonesty
has no place in the judiciary.
Same; Same; Same; New Code of Judicial Conduct; There is an old adage
which says to gain respect one must learn to give itif judges and justices
are expected to treat litigants, counsels and subordinates with respect and
fairness, with more reason, that judges and justices should give their fellow
magistrates the courtesy and professional regard due to them as their
colleagues in the Judiciary.There is an old adage which says to gain
respect one must learn to give it. If judges and justices are expected to treat
litigants, counsels and subordinates with respect and fairness, with more
reason, that judges and justices should give their fellow magistrates the
courtesy and professional regard due to them as their colleagues in the
Judiciary. Thus, in Canon 5, Section 3 of the New Code of Judicial
Conduct, judges are expected to carry out judicial duties with appropriate
consideration for all persons, such as the parties, witnesses, lawyers, court
staff and judicial colleagues, without differentiation on any irrelevant
ground, immaterial to the proper performance of such duties. This Court
cannot view lightly the discourteous manner that Justice Roxas, in his
apparent haste to promulgate his decision in the Meralco case, treated his
colleagues in the Court of Appeals. It behooves the Court to remind all
magistrates that their high office demands compliance with the most
exacting standards of propriety and decorum.
Same; Same; Same; Same; As the visible representation of the law
and justice, judges are expected to conduct themselves in a manner that
would enhance respect and confidence of the people in the judicial system;

15
The Court will not hesitate to sanction with the highest penalty magistrates
who exhibit manifest undue interest in their assigned cases.We reiterate
here that as the visible representation of the law and justice, judges are
expected to conduct themselves in a manner that would enhance respect and
confidence of the people in the judicial system. The New Code of Judicial
Conduct for the Philippine Judiciary mandates that judges must not only
maintain their independence, integrity and impartiality; but they must also
avoid any appearance of impropriety or partiality, which may erode the
peoples faith in the judiciary. This standard applies not only to the decision
itself, but also to the process by which the decision is made. This Court will
not hesitate to sanction with the highest penalty magistrates who exhibit
manifest undue interest in their assigned cases.
Same; Same; Legal Ethics; Attorneys; Lawyers should refrain from any
impropriety which tends to influence, or gives the appearance of influencing
the Court.In his testimony before the Panel, Chairman Sabio admits that
he called up Justice Sabio on May 30, 2008 from Davao City, in response to
a resquest for help from a member of the Board of Trustees of Meralco.
Notwithstanding the fact that Chairman Sabio called to relay to Justice
Sabio the rightness of the GSIS cause and asked him to help GSIS and
that Justice Sabio allegedly told his brother that he would act in accordance
with his conscience, the same still constituted a violation of Canon 13 of the
Code of Professional Responsibility for lawyers, which provides that: A
lawyer shall x x x refrain from any impropriety which tends to influence, or
gives the appearance of influencing the Court. As they were both
members of the Bar, it is incomprehensible to this Court how the brothers
can justify their improper conversation regarding the Meralco case.
Same; Same; Court of Appeals; It was improper for Justice Sabio to
hold on to the chairmanship of the Ninth Division despite the return of the
regular Chairman; The Court likewise notes with disfavor Justice Sabios
stubborn insistence on his own interpretation of the Internal Rules of the
Court of Appeals (IRCA) and hostile, dismissive attitude towards equally
well-reasoned positions of his colleagues on the proper interpretation of
their rules.Based on the facts on record, the Court is wary of declaring
that Justice Sabio had been influenced by his brother by speculating that he
would have favored GSIS had he been a part of the division which rendered
the decision in the Meralco case. However, we do find that it was improper
for Justice Sabio to hold on to the chairmanship of the Ninth Division
despite the return of Justice Reyes, when Justice Sabios designation as
acting chairman was clearly only for the duration of Justice Reyes leave of
absence. We likewise note with disfavor his stubborn insistence on his own
interpretation of the IRCA and hostile, dismissive attitude towards equally
well-reasoned positions of his colleagues on the proper interpretation of
their rules. Such conduct on the part of Justice Sabio did nothing to aid in
the swift and amicable resolution of his dispute with Justice Reyes but
rather fanned the flames of resentment between them. We deem this sort of
behavior unbecoming for a magistrate of his stature.
Same; Same; Same; Simple Misconduct; Conduct Unbecoming of a Justice;
The continued communications between a Court of Appeals Justice and
another person even after the latters rejected bribery attempt is highly
inappropriate and shows poor judgment on the part of the Justice; Justice
Sabios indiscreet and imprudent conversations regarding a pending case
with his brother and another person and his actuations in the chairmanship
dispute constitute simple misconduct and conduct unbecoming of a justice
of the Court of Appeals.The Court agrees with the Panel that the
allegation of solicitation on the part of Justice Sabio is not credible.
Nevertheless, the continued communications between Justice Sabio and Mr.
De Borjaeven after the latters rejected bribery attempt is highly
inappropriate and shows poor judgment on the part of Justice Sabio who
should have acted in preservation of the dignity of his judicial office and the
institution to which he belongs. Premises considered, this Court is of the
view that Justice Sabios indiscreet and imprudent conversations regarding
the Meralco case with his brother and Mr. De Borja and his actuations in
the chairmanship dispute with Justice Reyes constitute simple misconduct
and conduct unbecoming of a justice of the Court of Appeals which warrant
the penalty of two (2) months suspension without pay.
Same; Same; Same; New Code of Judicial Conduct; Under Canon 5,
Section 3 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct, judges are mandated to
show the appropriate consideration and respect for their colleagues in the
Judiciary.It bears repeating here that under Canon 5, Section 3 of the
New Code of Judicial Conduct, judges are mandated to show the
appropriate consideration and respect for their colleagues in the Judiciary.
Thus, we adopt the finding of the Panel on this point and find Justice Reyes
guilty of simple misconduct, which is mitigated by the fact that he
repeatedly asked Presiding Justice Vasquez to act on his request to rule on

16
the conflicting interpretation of the IRCA. However, Justice Reyes should
be reprimanded for taking part in the decision of the subject case without
awaiting the ruling of the Presiding Justice.
Same; Same; Same; Code of Judicial Conduct; Conduct
Unbecoming a Justice; The act of Justice of the Court of Appeals Justice in
allowing a fellow justice to induce her to deviate from established
procedure constitutes conduct unbecoming a justice.The following
sections of Canon 1 of the Code of Judicial Conduct are instructive in this
regard: SEC. 1. Judges shall exercise the judicial function independently on
the basis of their assessment of the facts and in accordance with a
conscientious understanding of the law, free of any extraneous influence,
inducement, pressure, threat or interference, direct or indirect, from any
quarter or for any reason. SEC. 2. In performing judicial duties, judges shall
be independent from judicial colleagues in respect of decisions which the
judge is obliged to make independently. Allowing a fellow justice to induce
her to deviate from established procedure constitutes conduct unbecoming a
justice for which Justice Dimaranan-Vidal should be ADMONISHED to be
more circumspect in the performance of her judicial duties.
Same; Same; Same; Much of the trouble now being faced by the
Court of Appeals could have been averted by timely, judicious and decisive
action on the part of the Presiding Justice; Presiding Justice Vasquez is
severely reprimanded for his failure to act promptly and decisively on the
controversy as required of him by the Internal Rules of the Court of Appeals
(IRCA).It is the view of the Panel of Investigators that Presiding Justice
Vasquez failed to provide the leadership expected of him as head of the
Court of Appeals. The following quote from the Report summarizes the
perceived lapses on the part of the Presiding Justice: Clearly, Presiding
Justice Vasquez, Jr. had been indecisive in dealing with the turmoil arising
from the Meralco case. He vacillated and temporized on resolving the
impasse between Justice Sabio, Jr. and Justice B. L. Reyes over the
chairmanship of the Division that should hear and decide the Meralco case.
He failed to take action on the reported bribe-offer by Meralco to J. Sabio,
Jr. He hesitated to assert his leadership of the Court even when the parties
repeatedly urged him to lay down the rule for them to follow. Was he
hampered by the fact that he has relativestwo daughtersemployed in
the GSIS, and a sister who is a consultant thereof? He pleaded lack of
authority. Was he not aware then, or did he discover too late, that under
Section 11, Rule VIII of the IRCA, he is in fact authorized to act on any
matter involving the Court and its members? In the light of the foregoing
observations of the Panel, this Court is of the view that much of the trouble
now being faced by the Court of Appeals could have been averted by
timely, judicious and decisive action on the part of the Presiding Justice.
Certainly, this unpleasant and trying episode in failure to act in the early
part of his tenure as Presiding Justice has indelibly impressed upon him
what is required of him as leader of the second highest court in the land.
Nevertheless, Presiding Justice Vasquez is hereby severely reprimanded for
his failure to act promptly and decisively on the controversy as required of
him by the IRCA.




A.M. No. RTJ-91-712. July 9, 1996.*
BEN D. MARCES, SR., complainant, vs. JUDGE PAUL T. ARCANGEL,
Presiding Judge, Branch 12, Regional Trial Court Davao City, respondent.
Administrative Law; Judges; Court finds the actuations of
respondent judge improper and censurable.With the above-cited charges
having been duly proven, in addition to the factual findings of Justice
Purisima, it is clear that (1) respondent judge intervened in the feud between
the complainants family and the Caas family and (2) such interference
was not limited to the barangay mediation proceedings but extended as well
to the various stages of the conflict. These acts of respondent judge must be
viewed not as single, isolated actuations but in their totality and in the
context of the enmity between the two feuding families. Thus viewed we
find the actuations of respondent judge improper and censurable.
Same; Same; Respondent is the visible representation of the law, the
intermediary between conflicting interests and the embodiment of the
peoples sense of justice.Respondent is, as we have so often said, the
visible representation of the law, the intermediary between conflicting
interests, and the embodiment of the peoples sense of justice. Unless it was
a case filed with his court, it was improper for him to intervene in a dispute
or controversy.
Same; Same; A judge should avoid impropriety in all activities.
Respondents request to the judge of a lower court to issue warrants of

17
arrest against the complainant is no less censurable. As the Court had
occasion to state in Sabitsana, Jr. v. Villamor: Cardinal is the rule that a
Judge should avoid impropriety in all activities. The Canons mince no
words in mandating that a Judge shall refrain from influencing in any
manner the outcome of litigation or dispute pending before another Court
(Canon 2, Rule 2.04). Interference by members of the bench in pending
suits with the end in view of influencing the course or the result of litigation
does not only subvert the independence of the judiciary but also undermines
the peoples faith in its integrity and impartiality.
Same; Same; A judges official conduct should be free from
appearance of impropriety and his personal behavior not only upon the
bench and in the performance of official duties but also in everyday life
should be beyond reproach.Nothing can bring courts into disrepute more
than the failure of the occupants thereof to be ever scrupulous in their
conduct. Canon 30 of the Canons of Judicial Ethics cautions judges in
pending or prospective litigation before him [to] be scrupulously careful to
avoid such action as may reasonably tend to waken the suspicion that his
social or business relations or friendships constitute an element in
determining his judicial course. It cannot be overemphasized that a
judges official conduct should be free from appearance of impropriety, and
his personal behavior, not only upon the bench and in the performance of
official duties but also in everyday life, should be beyond reproach.



A.M. No. RTJ-99-1460. March 31, 2006.*
OFFICE OF THE COURT ADMINISTRATOR, petitioner, vs. JUDGE
FLORENTINO V. FLORO, JR., respondent.
A.M. No. 99-7-273-RTC. March 31, 2006.*
RE: RESOLUTION DATED 11 MAY 1999 OF JUDGE FLORENTINO V.
FLORO, JR.
A.M. No. RTJ-06-1988. March 31, 2006.* (Formerly A.M. OCA IPI No.
99-812-RTJ.)
LUZ ARRIEGO, petitioner, vs. JUDGE FLORENTINO V. FLORO, JR.,
respondent.
Judicial Ethics; Judges; Canon 2, Rule 2.02 of the Code of Judicial
Conduct says in no uncertain terms that a judge should not seek publicity
for personal vainglorya parallel proscription for lawyers is found in
Rule 3.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which provides that:
a lawyer shall not use or permit the use of any false, fraudulent,
misleading, deceptive, undignified, self-laudatory or unfair statement or
claim regarding his qualifications or legal services.Canon 2, Rule 2.02
of the Code of Judicial Conduct says in no uncertain terms that a judge
should not seek publicity for personal vainglory. A parallel proscription,
this time for lawyers in general, is found in Rule 3.01 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility: a lawyer shall not use or permit the use of any
false, fraudulent, misleading, deceptive, undignified, self-laudatory or
unfair statement or claim regarding his qualifications or legal services.
This means that lawyers and judges alike, being limited by the exacting
standards of their profession, cannot debase the same by acting as if
ordinary merchants hawking their wares. As succinctly put by a leading
authority in legal and judicial ethics, (i)f lawyers are prohibited from x x x
using or permitting the use of any undignified or self-laudatory statement
regarding their qualifications or legal services (Rule 3.01, Code of
Professional Responsibility), with more reasons should judges be prohibited
from seeking publicity for vanity or self-glorification. Judges are not actors
or actresses or politicians, who thrive by publicity.
Same; Same; In Ulep vs. Legal Clinic, Inc., 233 SCRA 378, 408
(1993), the Supreme Court explained that the use of an ordinary and simple
professional card by lawyers is permittedby including therein the honors
he received from his law school with a claim of being a bar topnotcher,
Judge Floro breached the norms of simplicity and modesty required of
judges.In Ulep v. Legal Clinic, Inc., we explained that the use of an
ordinary and simple professional card by lawyers is permitted and that the
card may contain only a statement of his name, the name of the law firm
which he is connected with, address, telephone number and special branch
of law practiced. In herein case, Judge Floros calling cards cannot be
considered as simple and ordinary. By including therein the honors he
received from his law school with a claim of being a bar topnotcher, Judge
Floro breached the norms of simplicity and modesty required of judges.
Same; Same; Misconduct; The Supreme Court found the act of Judge
Floro in circulating calling cards containing self-laudatory statements
constitutive of simple misconduct in violation of Canon 2, Rule 2.02 of the
Code of Judicial Conduct.We find the act of Judge Floro in circulating

18
calling cards containing self-laudatory statements constitutive of simple
misconduct in violation of Canon 2, Rule 2.02 of the Code of Judicial
Conduct as it appears that Judge Floro was not motivated by any corrupt
motive but, from what we can see from the evidence, a persistent and
unquenchable thirst for recognition. Concededly, the need for recognition is
an all too human flaw and judges do not cease to be human upon donning
the judicial robe. Considering, however, the proscription against judges
seeking publicity for personal vainglory, they are held to a higher standard
as they must act within the confines of the code they swore to observe.
Same; Same; Judges should not use the courtroom as platform for
announcing their qualifications especially to an audience of lawyers and
litigants who very well might interpret such publicity as a sign of
insecurity.As to the charge that Judge Floro, through his branch clerk of
court, had been announcing in open court his qualifications, we find that
this is likewise violative of Canon 2, Rule 2.02 of the Code of Judicial
Conduct as it smacks of unnecessary publicity. Judges should not use the
courtroom as platform for announcing their qualifications especially to an
audience of lawyers and litigants who very well might interpret such
publicity as a sign of insecurity. Verily, the public looks upon judges as the
bastion of justiceconfident, competent and true. And to discover that this
is not so, as the judge appears so unsure of his capabilities that he has to
court the litigants and their lawyers approval, definitely erodes public
confidence in the judiciary.
Civil Procedure; Judgments; No judgment, or order whether final or
interlocutory, has juridical existence until and unless it is set down in
writing, signed and promulgated.As to the argument of Judge Floro that
his Orders for the release of an accused on recognizance need not be in
writing as these are duly reflected in the transcript of stenographic notes, we
refer to Echaus v. Court of Appeals wherein we held that no judgment, or
order whether final or interlocutory, has juridical existence until and unless
it is set down in writing, signed and promulgated, i.e., delivered by the
Judge to the Clerk of Court for filing, release to the parties and
implementation. Obviously, then, Judge Floro was remiss in his duties as
judge when he did not reduce into writing his orders for the release on
recognizance of the accused in Criminal Cases No. 20384, 20371, 202426
and 20442 entitled, People v. Luisito Beltran, People v. Emma Alvarez,
et al., People v. Rowena Camino, and People v. John Richie Villaluz.
From his explanation that such written orders are not necessary, we can
surmise that Judge Floros failure was not due to inadvertence or negligence
on his part but to ignorance of a procedural rule.
Same; Same; Judge Floro committed three fundamental errors in
handling probation cases.We perceive three fundamental errors in Judge
Floros handling of probation cases. First, he ordered the release on
recognizance of the accused without the presence of the prosecutor thus
depriving the latter of any opportunity to oppose said release. Second, Judge
Floro ordered the release without first requiring the probation officer to
render a case study and investigation report on the accused. Finally, the
order granting the release of the accused on recognizance was not reduced
into writing.
Judicial Ethics; Judges; Gross Ignorance of the Law; Judge Floros
insistence that orders made in open court need not be reduced in writing
constitutes gross ignorance of the law.Judge Floros insistence that
orders made in open court need not be reduced in writing constitutes gross
ignorance of the law. Likewise, his failure to follow the basic rules on
probation, constitutes gross ignorance of the law.
Same; Same; One of the fundamental obligations of a judge is to
understand the law fully and uphold it conscientiously.One of the
fundamental obligations of a judge is to understand the law fully and uphold
it conscientiously. When the law is sufficiently basic, a judge owes it to his
office to know and simply apply it for anything less is constitutive of gross
ignorance of the law. True, not every judicial error bespeaks ignorance of
the law and that, if committed in good faith, does not warrant administrative
sanctions. To hold otherwise would be nothing short of harassing judges to
take the fantastic and impossible oath of rendering infallible judgments.
This rule, however, admits of an exception as good faith in situations of
fallible discretion inheres only within the parameters of tolerable judgment
and does not apply where the issues are so simple and the applicable legal
principle evident and as to be beyond permissible margins of error. Thus,
even if a judge acted in good faith but his ignorance is so gross, he should
be held administratively liable.
Same; Same; Like Caesars wife a judge must not only be pure but
above suspicionhis language, both written and spoken, must be guarded
and measured, lest the best of intentions be misconstrued.Canon 2.01 of
the Code of Judicial Conduct states: A judge should so behave at all times

19
as to promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the
judiciary. This means that a judge whose duty is to apply the law and
dispense justice should not only be impartial, independent and honest but
should be believed and perceived to be impartial, independent and honest
as well. Like Caesars wife, a judge must not only be pure but above
suspicion. Judge Floro, by broadcasting to his staff and the PAO lawyer that
he is pro-accused, opened himself up to suspicion regarding his impartiality.
Prudence and judicial restraint dictate that a judge should reserve personal
views and predilections to himself so as not to stir up suspicions of bias and
unfairness. Irresponsible speech or improper conduct of a judge erodes
public confidence in the judiciary. His language, both written and spoken,
must be guarded and measured, lest the best of intentions be misconstrued.
Same; Same; Jurisprudence imposes upon the Judge the duty to
suspend the proceedings if it is found that the accused, even with the aid of
counsel, cannot make a proper defense.SEC. 12. Suspension of
arraignment.The arraignment shall be suspended, if at the time thereof:
(a) The accused appears to be suffering from an unsound mental condition
which effectively renders him unable to fully understand the charge against
him and to plead intelligently thereto. In such case, the court shall order his
mental examination and, if necessary, his confinement for such purpose.
The above-cited rule does not require that the suspension be made pursuant
to a motion filed by the accused unlike Section 11(a), Rule 116 of the
present 2000 Rules of Criminal Procedure which decrees that the
suspension be made upon motion by the proper party. Thus, it was well
within the discretion of Judge Floro to order the suspension of the
arraignment motu proprio based on his own assessment of the situation. In
fact, jurisprudence imposes upon the Judge the duty to suspend the
proceedings if it is found that the accused, even with the aid of counsel,
cannot make a proper defense.
Same; Same; Practice of Law; No judge or other official or
employee of the superior courts or of the Office of the Solicitor General,
shall engage in private practice as member of the bar or give professional
advice to client.Well ensconced is the rule that judges are prohibited from
engaging in the private practice of law. Section 35, Rule 138 of the Rules of
Court unequivocally states that: No judge or other official or employee of
the superior courts or of the Office of the Solicitor General, shall engage in
private practice as member of the bar or give professional advice to client.
Canon 5, Rule 5.07 of the Code of Judicial Conduct, on the other hand,
provides that: A judge shall not engage in the private practice of law.
Same; Same; Respondent judge is guilty of unbecoming conduct for
signing a pleading wherein he indicated that he is the presiding judge of
RTC, Branch 73, Malabon City and for appending to the pleading a copy of
his oath with a picture of his oath-taking.Be that as it may, though Judge
Floro might not be guilty of unauthorized practice of law as defined, he is
guilty of unbecoming conduct for signing a pleading wherein he indicated
that he is the presiding judge of RTC, Branch 73, Malabon City and for
appending to the pleading a copy of his oath with a picture of his oath-
taking. The only logical explanation we can reach for such acts is that Judge
Floro was obviously trying to influence or put pressure on a fellow judge by
emphasizing that he himself is a judge and is thus in the right. Verily,
Canon 2, Rule 2.04 of the Code of Judicial Conduct mandates that a judge
shall refrain from influencing in any manner the outcome of litigation or
dispute pending before another court or administrative agency. By doing
what he did, Judge Floro, to say the least, put a fellow judge in a very
awkward position.
Same; Same; Psychic Phenomena; Psychic Phenomena, even
assuming such exist, have no place in a judiciary duty bound to apply only
positive law and, in its absence, equitable rules and principles in resolving
controversies.Psychic phenomena, even assuming such exist, have no
place in a judiciary duty bound to apply only positive law and, in its
absence, equitable rules and principles in resolving controversies. Thus,
Judge Floros reference to psychic phenomena in the decision he rendered
in the case of People v. Francisco, Jr.sticks out like a sore thumb. In said
decision, Judge Floro discredited the testimony of the prosecutions
principal witness by concluding that the testimony was a fairytale or a
fantastic story. He then went to state that psychic phenomena was
destined to cooperate with the stenographer who transcribed the testimony
of the witness.





PALMARIN Q. HURTADO, petitioner, vs. ISABEL G. JUDALENA and

20
HON. ARSENIO M. GONONG, in his capacity as Judge in the CFI of
Ilocos Norte, Batac branch, respondents.
Judges; The rule that a judge should inhibit himself where one of the parties
is related to the judge within the sixth degree of consanguinity or affinity is
mandatory.Section 1, Rule 137 of the Revised Rules of Court enumerates
without ambiguity the cases in which any judge or judicial officer is
disqualified from acting as such. The said section, in no uncertain terms,
expressly prohibits a judge or judicial officer from sitting in a case where he
is related to either party within the sixth degree of consanguinity or affinity.
This is mandatory. In the case at bar, it is not denied that the respondent
judge is the brother of the respondent Isabel G. Judalena and their close
relationship notwithstanding, and despite the prohibition mentioned above,
the respondent judge took cognizance of the case and issued the
controversial order directing the issuance of a writ of preliminary
injunction, after which he inhibited himself from sitting on the case for the
same reasons. Such action, to our mind, is reprehensible as it erodes the all
important confidence in the impartiality of the judiciary.



















ADM. MATTER No. 2003-CTJ. February 28, 1980.*
ANTONIO RIVERA, complainant, vs. CITY JUDGE SILVINO LU.
BARRO OF GINGOOG CITY, respondent.
Judges; A judge is required to inhibit himself where one of the
accused is related to within the fourth degree, even where the fiscal asked
for the dismissal of the case pending reinvestigation.In his Comment,
respondent admits that one of the accused in said criminal case is his
nephew; that he did not inhibit himself therefrom, although he intended to
do so, because nobody manifested any objection and because he was
informed that the prosecution was going to reinvestigate the case; that he
took into account, the fact that if the case is assigned to another judge, it
would take several months to dispose of, unduly clogging the docket of the
court; and that the dismissal of the case was not premised on the fact that
one of the accused is his nephew. x x x There is no excuse for respondents
failure to inhibit himself from participating in Criminal Case No. 63-78.
Same; Judge who was previously fined one months salary is fined
the equivalent of 3 months pay for not inhibiting himself in a criminal case
where an accused is his nephew.WHEREFORE, in view of all the
foregoing, respondent is found guilty as charged and, taking into account
his previous administrative cases, hereby ordered to pay a fine equivalent to
his salary for three (3) months.
















A.M. No. MTJ 94-995.September 5, 2002.*

21
LUZ ALFONSO, NESTOR ALMOGUERRA, ERNESTO AQUINO,
CARMELITA ARCENAS, IMELDA ARISTORENAS, CARLOS MARY
ANN GONZALES, GLENN CLEMENT KAPUNAN, CECILIA LALIC,
ASUNCION LANSANG, RODELITO LAUNIO, JOSE MARANAN,
ROWENA MATIBAG, JOCELYN MORALDE, HONRICO DAVID
NAVARRO, REBECCA OLLODO, RITA ONGKIKO, ERNESTO
PADOLINA, CARY PAUL RUDI, RENATO SAN JUAN, MARCIANO
SALAMAT, SUSAN TAGROS, TERESITA TESIORNA, ROSALINA L.
TIMBANG, TRANQUILINO TUPAZ, ALICIA VALDEZ, and
GERONIMO VILLANUEVA, complainants, vs. ROSE MARIE ALONZO-
LEGASTO, Executive Judge, Metropolitan Trial Court, Quezon City,
EMELITA CAMAYA, Clerk of Court III, Office of the Clerk of Court,
Metropolitan Trial Court, Quezon City, and REMEDIOS BABY
GARCIA, Records Officer I, Office of the Clerk of Court, Metropolitan
Trial Court, Quezon City, re spondents.
Courts; Judges; An Executive Judge has no authority to cause the
permanent transfer of court employees since the jurisdiction for such action
devolves solely upon the Office of the Court Administrator.Respondent
Judge Legasto violated rules and regulations governing the detail,
reassignment or transfer of court employees including locally-funded court
personnel. It is our considered opinion that her decision to return the forty-
one (41) City Government employees previously detailed with the MeTC
exceeded her authority under Sec. IV of Administrative Order No. 6 which
is limited to the temporary re-assignment of court employees, i.e., for a
period of three (3) months extendible only once for the same period. She
had no authority to cause the permanent transfer of court employees, as was
done in the instant case, since the jurisdiction for such action devolved
solely upon the Office of the Court Administrator and not in her capacity as
Executive Judge.
Same; Same; It is the duty of an Executive Judge to apprise the
Supreme Court of the personnel requirements of the Office of the Clerk of
Court-Metropolitan Trial Court and the alleged need to streamline the
staffing pattern before informing the local government of the return of its
employees, as it might unduly prejudice the services rendered by the court
to the residents of the City.Furthermore, it was Judge Legastos duty to
apprise this Court of the personnel requirements of the OCC-MeTC and the
alleged need to streamline the staffing pattern before informing the local
government of the return of its employees, as it might unduly prejudice the
services rendered by the court to the residents of Quezon City. Instead, what
Judge Legasto did was to refer the matter personally to the office of then
Vice-Mayor Charito Planas for evaluation and assessment, which is
contrary to Sec. Ill of Administrative Circular No. 30-91 vesting in the
Office of the Court Administrator the sole responsibility for all liaison and
coordination activities with the Legislative and Executive departments as
well as with local government officials x x x and to Sec. IV of
Administrative Order No. 6 requiring prior notice to this Court, at least the
Office of the Court Administrator, as regards the purported transfer of a
considerable number of employees, as in the instant case, which would not
only affect the individual employees rights but would also compromise the
administration of justice. The personnel action initiated by Judge Legasto
was a clear derogation of the power of administrative supervision of this
Court over court employees and unfortunately fell short of Rule 3.08 of the
Code of Judicial Conduct requiring judges to maintain professional
competence in court management, among others.
Same; Same; Lest it be again ignored, only the Supreme Court has
the authority to order a personnel accounting of locally-funded employees
assigned in the lower courts to determine the necessity of their detail and
that, accordingly, all requests for detail of locally-funded employees must
pass the Office of the Court Administrator for review and appropriate
action.Judge Legasto cannot hide behind the authorization issued by
Mayor Mathay for the transfer of forty-one (41) court employees to give an
impression of legality to her action. While it was proper for her to consult
the responsible officials of the Quezon City Government, without of course
transgressing the authority of the Office of the Court Administrator, she
undoubtedly had the correlative duty to promote the proper discharge of the
Courts mandate to improve judicial services and facilitate the dispensation
of justice by keeping this Court duly informed of the plan to considerably
reduce court personnel. The courtesy of prior notice, at least, could have
afforded us the opportunity to assess the propriety of such action prior to its
implementation. Needless to stress, it is absolutely essential to the proper
administration of justice that courts have full control over the official
actions of those through whom the administration of the affairs of the court
proceeds. As keenly observed by Chief Justice Fernando in Bagatsing vs.
Herrera, [f]or judicial independence to be a reality, the least interference

22
by or influence from other governmental departments is of the essence.
Lest it be again ignored, we stress in this regard that only this Court has the
authority to order a personnel accounting of locally-funded employees
assigned in the lower courts to determine the necessity of their detail and
that, accordingly, all requests for detail of locally-funded employees,
including complainants herein, must pass the Office of the Court
Administrator for review and appropriate action.
Same; Court Personnel; Daily Time Records; In the case of public
documents, the mere production of an admissible copy is generally
sufficient to satisfy any requirement of proof of due execution of the
document, in accordance with the maxim omnia praesumuntur rite et
solemniter esse acta.The falsified DTRs for December 1989, January and
February 1990, which were offered by complainants as their Exhs. M,
N and 0, are copies certified on file by the Assistant Chief of Office of
the Administrative Services of the Office of the Court Administrator and are
therefore admissible public documents, as respondents themselves would
stipulate. In the case of public documents, the mere production of an
admissible copy is generally sufficient to satisfy any requirement of proof
of due execution of the document, in accordance with the maxim omnia
praesumuntur rite et solemniter esse acta. Accordingly, respondent Garcia
is presumed to be the author of Exhs. M, N and O purposely to
falsify or cover up the fact that she was not reporting for work for two-and-
a-half (2-1/2) months. While this presumption may be rebutted, it may only
be done by clear, strong and convincing evidence.
Same; Same; Same; Handwritings; The test of genuineness ought to
be the resemblance, not to the formation of the letters in some other
specimen or specimens, but to the general character of writing, which is
impressed on it as the involuntary and unconscious result of constitution,
habit, or other permanent course, and is, therefore, itself permanent.
Respondent Garcia was not able to rebut this presumption. Her defense was
mere unsubstantiated denial which of course is a weak defense.
Furthermore, if we are to compare the signatures on Exhs. M, N and
O with the admitted standard signatures of respondent Garcia, Exhs. 33
and 34, we would see no marked difference between them. The test of
genuineness, Chief Justice Moran stressed in his standard treatise, ought
to be the resemblance, not to the formation of the letters in some other
specimen or specimens, but to the general character of writing, which is
impressed on it as the involuntary and unconscious result of constitution,
habit, or other permanent course, and is, therefore, itself permanent. It
appears to the Court that there is a visible general resemblance between the
questioned signatures and the standard signatures, which similarity is
particularly marked in respect of Exhs. M and O.
Same; Same; Same; Same; Although one was not yet the Executive
Judge when the offense of falsification of the DTRs took place, it became
incumbent upon her to initiate the proper investigation when the
dishonorable act finally surfaced during her term as Executive Judge.We
also find respondent Judge responsible for Garcias act of dishonesty in
falsifying the three (3) sets of DTRs. Although Judge Legasto was not yet
the Executive Judge when the offense took place in 1990, it became
incumbent upon her to initiate the proper investigation when the
dishonorable act finally surfaced during her term as Executive Judge. She
was appointed Acting Executive Judge in June of 1992 and was
subsequently reappointed to the post in 1993 yet she did not exert any effort
at all throughout her tenure to seek the truth. The attitude of Judge Legasto
favored respondent Garcia to the point that the latter almost got away with
the fraudulent act. This conduct is anathema to the unmistakable mandate of
Rule 3.10 of the Code of Judicial Conduct to x x x initiate appropriate
disciplinary measures against x x x court personnel for unprofessional
conduct of which the judge may have become aware.
Same; Same; The principle that public office is a public trust
assumes greater importance among judges and court personnel who in the
administration of justice, must always adhere to the tenets of accountability,
responsibility, integrity, loyalty and efficiency.In view of the foregoing,
respondents Judge Legasto and Garcia should both be equally reminded that
public office is a public trust. This principle assumes greater importance
among judges and court personnel who in the administration of justice,
must always adhere to the tenets of accountability, responsibility, integrity,
loyalty and efficiency. From the executive judge to the lowest clerk, each
should ensure that public confidence in the judiciary is maintained. In
sanctioning errant judicial officers and employees, we have always stressed
that the dispensation of justice is a sacred task and that public servants
involved in it must live up to its highest standards. Unfortunately,
respondent Judge and Garcia are found wanting in this regard.
A.M. No. 93-10-1296-RTC. August 12, 1998.*

23
RE: SUSPENSION OF CLERK OF COURT ROGELIO R. JOBOCO,
RTC, BRANCH 16, NAVAL, BILIRAN.
Courts; Court Personnel; Clerks of Court; The positive duties of
Clerk of Court include conducting periodic docket inventory and ensuring
that the records of each case are accounted for.On the charge of
Infidelity in the Custody of Case Records, we find Atty. Joboco guilty
thereof. As Clerk of Court, his positive duties include conducting periodic
docket inventory and ensuring that the records of each case are accounted
for. It is likewise his duty to initiate and cause the search of missing
records. His failure to perform his duties despite a previous reminder by this
Court that he should be vigilant as court custodian of records, constitutes
manifest negligence which cannot be countenanced.
Same; Same; Same; It is incumbent upon the Clerk of Court to
ensure an orderly and efficient record management in the court and to
supervise the personnel under his office to function effectively.It is
incumbent upon the Clerk of Court to ensure an orderly and efficient record
management in the court and to supervise the personnel under his office to
function effectively. The fact that other court employees had access to the
records does not exculpate him. As Clerk of Court, he is also the supervisor
and hence, renders him accountable for the actions of his subordinates. His
contention that the records were left inside the chamber of the judge does
not absolve him considering that he could have continued and completed
the inventory himself.
Same; Same; Same; It is not within the province of a Clerk of
Courts functions to volunteer information which is irrelevant and
unsolicited.As to the charge of Dishonesty, we hold that Atty. Joboco is
not liable therefor. His manifestation that the accidental meeting with the
accused bears no significance to the scheduled hearing should be accorded
credence. It is not within the province of his functions to volunteer
information which is irrelevant and unsolicited. He is under no obligation to
plead for the accused and justify an absence on mere speculation or for any
reason not on record.
Same; Same; Same; Non-Feasance; For a court employee to be held
liable for non-feasance, he should first have a positive duty to perform.
For a court employee to be held liable for non-feasance, he should first have
a positive duty to perform. In this case, Atty. Joboco was not bound to
disclose information relating to the chance meeting especially when the
same is not borne out by the records. The fact that notice was duly served
the parties affirms the proper performance of his duty and negates the
necessity of further proffering information.
Same; Same; Same; Absent any showing of a blatant, malicious and
deliberate effort to undermine or compromise certain judicial reforms, a
Clerk of Court is deemed to have acted in good faith in carrying out the
duties of his office.With regard to the charge of Sabotaging Judicial
Reforms, we find no culpability on the part of Atty. Joboco there being only
an isolated case of erroneously implementing an approval of property bond
application. Absent any showing of a blatant, malicious and deliberate
effort to undermine or compromise such judicial reforms, he is deemed to
have acted in good faith in carrying out the duties of his office.
Same; Same; Same; Judges; Oppression; A judge may not be held
administratively accountable for every erroneous order or decision he
renders, and it is only when the error is gross or patent, when the judge acts
fraudulently or with gross ignorance, that administrative sanctions are
called for as an imperative duty of the Supreme Court.The above-
mentioned suspension orders and alleged harsh treatment by Judge Maceda
form part of Atty. Jobocos charges of Oppression and Continuing
Oppression. In this respect, we do not find any patently oppressive scheme
or design on the part of Judge Maceda to weigh down Atty. Joboco.
Although the second order of suspension for Dishonesty may have been
erroneously and unjustly issued by Judge Maceda, this alone will not
establish a contemptuous predisposition against Atty. Joboco upon which
the charge of Oppression may be founded. Judge Macedas actuations were
undertaken in the context of enforcing disciplinary measures in his court
and untainted with any palpable bad faith on his part. As such, he may not
be held administratively liable therefor. The acts of a judge which pertain to
his judicial capacity are not subject to disciplinary power, unless they are
committed with fraud, dishonesty, corruption and bad faith. It is a matter of
public policy that in the absence of fraud, dishonesty or corruption, the acts
of a judge in his judicial capacity are not subject to disciplinary action even
though such acts are erroneous. A judge may not be held administratively
accountable for every erroneous order or decision he renders, and it is only
when the error is gross or patent, when the judge acts fraudulently or with
gross ignorance, that administrative sanctions are called for as an imperative
duty of the Supreme Court.

24
Same; Same; Same; Same; While scolding an employee in front of
litigants may not be the most appropriate action, it is well within the ambit
of a judges prerogative to discipline his staff for negligence and/or
mistake.Likewise, while scolding an employee in front of litigants may
not have been the most appropriate course of action, it is well within the
ambit of Judge Macedas judicial prerogative to discipline his staff for
negligence and/or mistake. Judge Maceda should, however, not make a
habit of showing fits of temper and resorting to verbal abuse against erring
employees. He should be mindful of the need to maintain professional and
harmonious relations with his court personnel with a view to the speedy and
efficient administration of justice.
Same; Same; Same; Same; Usurpation of Judicial Authority; A Clerk
of Court is liable for the charge of Grave Abuse of Discretion, Usurpation
of Judicial Authority and Tampering of Subpoena by acting on an oral
motion for postponement; The Branch Clerk of Court is the administrative
assistant of the presiding judge whose duty is to assist in the management of
the calendar of the court and in all other matters not involving the
discretion or judgment of the judge.We find Atty. Joboco liable for the
charge of Grave Abuse of Discretion, Usurpation of Judicial Authority and
Tampering of Subpoena by acting on an oral motion for postponement. By
his act of giving due course to the informal motion for resetting despite
being notified of the reassignment of Judge Maceda to Naval, he arrogated
unto himself the authority to exercise judicial discretion which is clearly
beyond the pale of his prerogative. The Branch Clerk of Court is the
administrative assistant of the presiding judge whose duty is to assist in the
management of the calendar of the court and in all other matters not
involving the discretion or judgment of the judge. Clearly, Atty. Joboco
overstepped the boundaries of his function as such by undertaking the
aforementioned act which falls squarely within the discretion or judgment
of the Presiding Judge.
Same; Same; Same; Same; Preventive Suspension; Judge is directed
to be more circumspect in the issuance of preventive suspension orders to
ensure that the administrative/supervisory authority of the Supreme Court is
not encroached upon.The charges of Gross Ignorance of the Law, Abuse
of Position and Grave Abuse of Discretion Using his Position in connection
with the two preceding suspension orders are hereby dismissed for lack of
factual and legal basis. However, Judge Maceda is directed to be more
circumspect in the issuance of preventive suspension orders to ensure that
the administrative/supervisory authority of this Court is not encroached
upon.
Same; Judges; The congenial relationship of a Governor and a
Judge does not in itself tarnish the image of an independent judiciary.The
congenial relationship of the Governor and Judge Maceda does not in itself
tarnish the image of an independent judiciary. Neither does the support
extended by the former to the latter impinge on such judicial independence.
In the absence of any showing that their close relationship formed basis for
the achievement of corrupt ends and/or anomalous undertakings, the charge
of conduct unbecoming of a judge should be dismissed for lack of merit.
Same; Court Personnel; Clerks of Court; Certificates of Service;
Falsification; The omission in a certificate of service respecting a Clerk of
Courts 1/2 day absence constitutes falsification.Atty. Jobocos
contention that he was compelled to execute a second certificate of service
to correct his omission respecting his 1/2 day absence in the first certificate
of service is untenable. The uncontroverted fact remains that he incurred a
half-day absence but did not reflect the same in the first certificate of
service. Regardless of the subsequent execution of the second certificate of
service, the omission in the first certificate of service already constituted the
consummation of the falsification. The second certificate of service only
served to expose the irregularity and was not the cause from which the
administrative offense arose. As such, Atty. Joboco is liable for falsification
in the execution of his certificate of service.
Same; Same; Same; Misconduct; A Clerk of Court is liable for
Misconduct for attempting to recruit the court employees in the furtherance
of the cause of a local chapter of the Integrated Bar of the Philippinesthe
court employees have no involvement and should not be thrown into the
controversy concerning alleged irregularities in the designation of
judges.Although Atty. Joboco may not be held liable for Agitating
Workers to Go On Mass Leave, considering the foregoing, he is nonetheless
liable for Misconduct for attempting to recruit the court employees in the
furtherance of the cause of the IBP, Biliran Chapter. The court employees
have no involvement and should not be thrown into the controversy
concerning alleged irregularities in the designation of judges. Atty. Joboco
should have drawn the line between his duty as Clerk of Court and as an
officer of the local IBP.

25
Same; Same; Same; Judges; Abuse of Authority; The unwarranted
refusal by a judge to sign the certificates of service of his Clerk of Court
constitutes abuse of authority.The unwarranted refusal to sign the
certificates of service of his Clerk of Court constitutes abuse of authority on
the part of Judge Maceda. The allegation of falsification and
recommendation for the dismissal of an employee are not valid and
reasonable grounds for refusal to certify the attendance of such employee
and thereby cause the withholding of his salary. His contention that he
could not account for Atty. Jobocos attendance so much so that he could
not certify the latters certificate of service is untenable. It is worth noting
that it was Judge Maceda himself who assigned Atty. Joboco to the Capitol
Building to which the dubious attendance record may be attributed. Having
arranged for Atty. Jobocos detail therein, he should have foreseen the
difficulty of attendance verification and devised means by which he could
monitor attendance effectively.
Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; It would be an undue burden to
any court employee, to be required to report to two places thrice a day, that
is, to report to the courthouse before going to his other assignment in the
morning, then do the same at lunch break to time in his afternoon
attendance and one more time late in the afternoon to register his time
out before going home.While it may be true that Atty. Jobocos
attendance could not be accounted for, this does not justify inaction on the
certificates of service for it is not disputed that Judge Maceda himself
caused the transfer of Atty. Joboco to a place away from the courthouse
where it would be difficult to monitor attendance. It would be an undue
burden to any court employee, to be required to report to two places thrice
every day, that is, to report to the courthouse before going to Biliran
Provincial Capitol Building in the morning, then do the same at lunch break
to time in his afternoon attendance and one more time late in the
afternoon to register his time out before going home.
Same; Same; Same; Absence Without Official Leave; As a court
employee, a Clerk of Court should secure first the approval of his leave
application before going on leave and should immediately resume his work
after serving the period of his suspension order.Upon careful review of
the certificates of service, Atty. Joboco should be considered Absent
Without Official Leave (AWOL) for his absences: (a) pending application
for leave of absence; (b) during the appeal on the suspension orders; and (c)
unaccounted absences on August 16 and 31, 1993; September 8-10 and 15-
17, 1993; October 25-29, 1993; November 1-5, 8-12, 15-19, 22-23, 24-26
and 29, 1993; and December 1-3, 6-10, 13-17, 20-22 and 27-29, 1993. As a
court employee, Atty. Joboco should have secured first the approval of his
leave application before going on leave and should have immediately
resumed his work after serving the period of the suspension order.
Same; Same; Same; The defiant demeanor and contumacious
character of a Clerk of Court cannot be countenanced in the judiciary.
Although we are inclined to impose the penalty of suspension on Atty.
Joboco, his subsequent appointment as 3rd Assistant City Prosecutor of
Calbayog City has made the aforesaid sanction impracticable. The diversity
and multiplicity of Atty. Jobocos transgressions clearly reflect his defiant
demeanor and contumacious character which cannot be countenanced in the
judiciary. Such recalcitrant attitude manifested by Atty. Joboco in his
capacity as Branch Clerk of Court not only diminishes his integrity as an
officer of the court but degrades the dignity of the judicial system as well.



A.M. No. MTJ-04-1563. September 8, 2004.* (Formerly A.M. OCA IPI
No. 02-1207-MTJ)
LUCILA TAN, complainant, vs. Judge MAXWEL S. ROSETE, respondent.
Courts; Judges; Duties; Gross Misconduct; When the judge himself
becomes the transgressor of any law which he is sworn to apply, he places
his office in disrepute, encourages disrespect for the law and impairs public
confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary itself.We have
repeatedly admonished our judges to adhere to the highest tenets of judicial
conduct. They must be the embodiment of competence, integrity and
independence. Like Caesars wife, a judge must not only be pure but above
suspicion. This is not without reason. The exacting standards of conduct
demanded from judges are designed to promote public confidence in the
integrity and impartiality of the judiciary because the peoples confidence in
the judicial system is founded not only on the magnitude of legal
knowledge and the diligence of the members of the bench, but also on the
highest standard of integrity and moral uprightness they are expected to
possess. When the judge himself becomes the transgressor of any law which
he is sworn to apply, he places his office in disrepute, encourages disrespect

26
for the law and impairs public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of
the judiciary itself. It is therefore paramount that a judges personal
behavior both in the performance of his duties and his daily life, be free
from any appearance of impropriety as to be beyond reproach.
Respondents act of sending a member of his staff to talk with complainant
and show copies of his draft decisions, and his act of meeting with litigants
outside the office premises beyond office hours violate the standard of
judicial conduct required to be observed by members of the Bench. They
constitute gross misconduct which is punishable under Rule 140 of the
Revised Rules of Court.



Adm. Matter No. R-281-RTJ. August 26, 1986.*
PONCIANO A. ARBAN, complainant, vs. JUDGE MELECIO B. BORJA,
Regional Trial Court. Branch 20, Naga City, respondent.
Judges; Pistol-whipping of an engineer by a Judge in a restaurant
constitutes serious misconduct and is a blow to the image of the entire
Judiciary. Penalty is dismissal with prejudice.Whatever the motive may
have been, the violent action of the respondent in a public place constitutes
serious misconduct and the resultant outrage of the community in Naga City
is a blow to the image of the entire judiciary. Judge Borja violated the
established norm for judicial behavior that a judges official conduct
should be free from appearance of impropriety, and his personal behavior
not only upon the bench and in the performance of judicial duties, but also
in his everyday life, should be beyond reproach.
Same; Complainants withdrawal of his charge will not stop
continuation of administrative case against a Judge.Hence, the fact that
the complainant filed a motion to withdraw his complaint and the fact that
the public apology of Judge Borja satisfied the petitioner as far as his
personal interests in the case were concerned is not very material nor
controlling. The truth is what is important. Did the respondent Judge
commit an act of serious misconduct, one which degrades the integrity of
the judicial office and serves as a demoralizing example to the public?
Same; Nature of office of a Judge.The judge is the visible
representation of the law and, more importantly, of justice. From him, the
people draw their will and awareness to obey the law. They see in him an
intermediary of justice between two conflicting interests, specially in the
station of municipal judges, like respondent Judge, who have that close and
direct contact with the people before anybody else in the judiciary. Thus,
for the judge to return that regard, he must be the first to abide by the law
and weave an example for the others to follow. He should be studiously
careful to avoid even the slightest infraction of the law.
Same; Penalty for serious judicial misconduct.WHEREFORE,
Judge Melecio B. Borja is found guilty of grave misconduct and is hereby
ordered DISMISSED from the service, with forfeiture of retirement benefits
and with prejudice to reinstatement in any branch of the government or any
of its agencies or instrumentalities. However, he shall be paid any back
salaries or accrued leaves which are due to him as of this date. This decision
is immediately executory.


G.R. No. 127107. October 12, 1998.*
PETER PAUL DIMATULAC and VERONICA DIMATULAC, petitioners,
vs. HON. SESINANDO VILLON in his capacity as Presiding Judge of the
Regional Trial Court of Pampanga, Branch 54; HON. TEOFISTO
GUINGONA, in his capacity as Secretary of Justice; MAYOR SANTIAGO
YABUT, SERVILLANO YABUT, MARTIN YABUT and FORTUNATO
MALLARI, respondents.
Criminal Procedure; Appeals; Department of Justice Order No. 223
recognizes the right of both the offended parties and the accused to appeal
from resolutions in preliminary investigations or reinvestigations.DOJ
Order No. 223 of 30 June 1993 recognizes the right of both the offended
parties and the accused to appeal from resolutions in preliminary
investigations or reinvestigations.
Same; Same; Nothing in the ruling in Crespo v. Mogul, reiterated in
Roberts v. Court of Appeals, forecloses the power or authority of the
Secretary of Justice to review resolutions of his subordinates in criminal
cases despite an information already having been filed in court.The
underlined portion indisputably shows that the section refers to appeals by
respondents or accused. So we held in Marcelo v. Court of Appeals that
nothing in the ruling in Crespo v. Mogul, reiterated in Roberts v. Court of
Appeals, forecloses the power or authority of the Secretary of Justice to
review resolutions of his subordinates in criminal cases despite an

27
information already having been filed in court. The Secretary of Justice is
only enjoined to refrain, as far as practicable, from entertaining a petition
for review or appeal from the action of the prosecutor once a complaint or
information is filed in court. In any case, the grant of a motion to dismiss,
which the prosecution may file after the Secretary of Justice reverses an
appealed resolution, is subject to the discretion of the court. In Roberts we
went further by saying that Crespo could not have foreclosed said power or
authority of the Secretary of Justice without doing violence to, or
repealing, the last paragraph of Section 4, Rule 112 of the Rules of Court
which is quoted above.
Same; To hold that arraignment is a prerequisite to the issuance of a
hold departure order could obviously defeat the purpose of said order.As
to the second issue, we likewise hold that Judge Roura acted with grave
abuse of discretion when, in his order of 26 March 1996, he deferred
resolution on the motion for a hold departure order until such time that all
the accused who are out on bail are arraigned and denied the motion to
defer proceedings for the reason that the private prosecution has not shown
any indication that [the] appeal was given due course by the Secretary of
Justice. Neither rhyme nor reason or even logic, supports the ground for
the deferment of the first motion. Precisely, immediate action thereon was
called for as the accused were out on bail and, perforce, had all the
opportunity to leave the country if they wanted to. To hold that arraignment
is a prerequisite to the issuance of a hold departure order could obviously
defeat the purpose of said order.
Same; Fiscals; Prosecutors are the representatives not of an
ordinary party to a controversy, but of a sovereignty whose obligation to
govern impartially is as compelling as its obligation to govern at all; and
whose interest in a criminal prosecution is not that it shall win every case
but that justice be done.Prosecutors must never forget that, in the
language of Suarez v. Platon, they are the representatives not of an ordinary
party to a controversy, but of a sovereignty whose obligation to govern
impartially is as compelling as its obligation to govern at all; and whose
interest, therefore, in a criminal prosecution is not that it shall win every
case but that justice be done. As such, they are in a peculiar and every
definite sense the servants of the law, whose two-fold aim is that guilt shall
not escape or innocence suffer.
Same; Judges; The judge should always be imbued with a high
sense of duty and responsibility in the discharge of his obligation to
promptly and properly administer justice."The judge, on the other hand,
should always be imbued with a high sense of duty and responsibility in
the discharge of his obligation to promptly and properly administer justice.
He must view himself as a priest, for the administration of justice is akin to
a religious crusade. Thus, exerting the same devotion as a priest in the
performance of the most sacred ceremonies of religious liturgy, the judge
must render service with impartiality commensurate with the public trust
and confidence reposed in him. Although the determination of a criminal
case before a judge lies within his exclusive jurisdiction and competence,
his discretion is not unfettered, but rather must be exercised within
reasonable confines. The judges action must not impair the substantial
rights of the accused, nor the right of the State and offended party to due
process of law.
Same; When the State is deprived of due process in a criminal case
by reason of grave abuse of discretion on the part of the trial court, the
acquittal of the accused or the dismissal of the case is void, hence double
jeopardy cannot be invoked by the accused.It is settled that when the
State is deprived of due process in a criminal case by reason of grave abuse
of discretion on the part of the trial court, the acquittal of the accused or the
dismissal of the case is void, hence double jeopardy cannot be invoked by
the accused. If this is so in those cases, so must it be where the arraignment
and plea of not guilty are void, as in this case as above discussed.



A.M. No. RTJ-87-104. August 23, 1995.*
OFFICE OF THE COURT ADMINISTRATOR, petitioner, vs. JUDGE
JOSE M. ESTACION, JR., respondent.
Courts; Judges; Dismissal is the appropriate retribution for the
failure of a judge to honestly divulge all that the appointing authority ought
to know to correctly discern whether he is indeed fit for the judicial post.
After taking another hard look at the records of the case, still, we are not
inclined to accede to respondents renewed plea. Respondents purported
good reputation in his community (as a local community church head and
previous officer of a fraternal organization) hardly mitigates the gravity of
the offense he committed. Respondent did not honestly divulge all that the

28
appointing authority ought to know to correctly discern whether he is
indeed fit for the judicial post. He continuously suppressed vital information
on his personal circumstances under the false belief that he can mislead the
Court and get away with it for good. What respondent did, or omitted to do,
was a calculated deception committed not only against the Court but against
the public as well, clearly indicative of his lack of moral rectitude to sit as
magistrate, and sufficiently repulsive that it detracts from public confidence
in the integrity of the judiciary. Dismissal indeed is the appropriate
retribution for such kind of transgression.
Same; Same; Judges are held to higher standards of integrity and
ethical conduct than attorneys or other persons not invested with the public
trust.Be it stressed that judges are held to higher standards of integrity
and ethical conduct than attorneys or other persons not invested with the
public trust (In re Piper, 534 P. 2d 159 [Or. 1975]; Hayes v. Alabama Ct. of
the Judiciary, 437 So. 2d 1276, 1278 [Ala. 1983]). They should inspire trust
and confidence, and should bring honor to the judiciary. And because of
their critical position in the judicial bureaucracy, this Court as overseer is
duty-bound to insure that the integrity of the judicial system is preserved
and maintained, by pursuing that ever-vigilant search for the virtues of
competence, integrity, probity and independence mandated by no less than
the Constitution itself (Article VIII, Section 7[3]).



A.M. No. RTJ-99-1483. September 17, 1999.* (OCA-IPI No. 98-578-
RTJ)
ATTY. LAURO D. GACAYAN and NOEL SAROL, complainants, vs.
Hon. FERNANDO VIL PAMINTUAN in his capacity as Presiding Judge,
Regional Trial Court, Branch 3, Baguio City, respondent.
Administrative Law; Judges; A judge is not only required to be
impartial; he must appear to be impartial.A judge is not only required to
be impartial; he must appear to be impartial. Fraternizing with litigants
tarnishes this appearance. It was, thus, held that it is improper for a judge to
meet privately with the accused without the presence of the complainant.
Talking privately alone to an alleged eyewitness to the incident in the
seclusion of his chambers, as what transpired in this case, likewise taints
this image much more so considering the circumstances surrounding the
production of said witness.
Same; Same; A magistrate of the law must comport himself at all
times in such a manner that his conduct, official or otherwise can bear the
most searching scrutiny of the public that looks up to him as an epitome of
integrity and justice.Verily, [n]o position exacts a greater demand on
[the] moral righteousness and uprightness of an individual than a seat in the
judiciary. A magistrate of the law must comport himself at all times in such
a manner that his conduct, official or otherwise can bear the most searching
scrutiny of the public that looks up to him as an epitome of integrity and
justice. Indeed, more than simply projecting an image of probity, a judge
must not only appear to be a good judge; he must also appear to be a
good person.
Same; Same; Inhibition and Disqualification; While the second
paragraph does not expressly enumerate the specific grounds for inhibition
and leaves it to the sound discretion of the judge, such should be based on
just and valid reasons.The rule on inhibition and disqualification of
judges is laid down in Section 1, Rule 137 of the Rules of Court, x x x
While the second paragraph does not expressly enumerate the specific
grounds for inhibition and leaves it to the sound discretion of the judge,
such should be based on just and valid reasons. The import of the rule on
voluntary inhibition of judges is that the decision on whether or not to
inhibit is left to the sound discretion and conscience of the trial judge based
on his rational and logical assessment of the circumstances prevailing in the
case brought before him. It points out to members of the bench that outside
of pecuniary interest, relationship or previous participation in the matter that
calls for adjudication, there might be other causes that could conceivably
erode the trait of objectivity, thus calling for inhibition for, indeed, the
factors that lead to preferences and predilections are many and varied.
Same; Same; Same; At the very first sign of lack of faith and trust in
his actions, whether well-grounded or not, the judge has no other
alternative but to inhibit himself from the case.A presiding judge, to be
sure, must maintain and preserve the trust and faith of the parties-litigants.
He must hold himself above reproach and suspicion. At the very first sign
of lack of faith and trust in his actions, whether well-grounded or not, the
judge has no other alternative but to inhibit himself from the case. He
should exercise his discretion in a way that the peoples faith in the Courts
of Justice is not impaired. The better course for the judge under such

29
circumstances is to disqualify himself. That way, he avoids being
misunderstood, his reputation for probity and objectivity is preserved. What
is more important, the ideal of impartial administration of justice is lived up
to.
Same; Same; Gross Ignorance of the Law; Judges are expected to
keep abreast of all laws and prevailing jurisprudence.Anent the charge of
gross ignorance of the law, it needs be stressed that to be able to render
substantial justice and to maintain public confidence in the legal system,
judges are expected to keep abreast of all laws and prevailing jurisprudence,
consistent with the standard that magistrates must be the embodiment of
competence, integrity and independence.
Same; Same; Same; Conception of good judges has been, and is, of
men who have a mastery of the principles of law, who discharge their duties
in accordance with law.As aptly stated in Borromeo v. Mariano [O]ur
conception of good judges has been, and is, of men who have a mastery of
the principles of law, who discharge their duties in accordance with law x x
x. Thus, it has been held that when the judges inefficiency springs from a
failure to consider so basic and elemental a rule, a law or a principle in the
discharge of his duties, a judge is either too incompetent and undeserving of
the position and title he holds or he is too vicious that the oversight or
omission was deliberately done in bad faith and in grave abuse of judicial
authority.
Same; Same; Same; When the law is so elementary, not to be aware
of it constitutes gross ignorance of the law; It is imperative that a judge be
conversant with basic legal principles and that he be aware of well-settled
authoritative doctrines.Indeed, everyone, especially a judge, is presumed
to know the law. When, as in this case, the law is so elementary, not to be
aware of it constitutes gross ignorance of the law. Judges are expected to
exhibit more than just a cursory acquaintance with statutes and procedural
rules. They must know the laws and apply them properly in all good faith.
Judicial competence requires no less. It is imperative that a judge be
conversant with basic legal principles and that he be aware of well-settled
authoritative doctrines. He should strive for excellence exceeded only by his
passion for truth, to the end that he be the personification of justice and the
rule of law.


LETECIA MIL CAAMIC, complainant, vs. JUDGE VICTORIO
GALAPON, JR., Municipal Trial Court, Dulag, Leyte, respondent.
Courts; Judges; Words and Phrases; Subpoena, defined.As a
Municipal Trial Court Judge, who, as asserted by him in his Comment, is
well known in the legal profession, here in Leyte Province, and in the town
of Dulag, as being considered by the Judicial and Bar Council for
promotion as RTC Judge in either Branch 15, Burauen, Leyte or Branch 36,
Carigara, Leyte and, anteriorly, for having been nominated for promotion
as Presiding Judge of Branch 13, RTC, Carigara, Leyte, which he
nevertheless, failed to get as someone else more lucky was appointed,
respondent should have known or ought to know that under Section 1, Rule
23 of the Rules of Court, a subpoena is a process directed to a person
requiring him to attend and to testify at the hearing or the trial of an action,
or at any investigation conducted under the laws of the Philippines, or for
taking of his deposition.
Same; Same; Gross Ignorance; In the absence of a case in his sala
in connection with which a party could be subpoenaed, a judge has
absolutely no power or authority to issue a subpoena to such party.
Although the subpoena he caused to be issued purports to be in a form for
criminal cases pending in his court, it was not, in fact, issued in connection
with a criminal case or for any other pending case in his court nor for any
investigation he was competent to conduct pursuant to law or by direction
of this Court. It was designated for a specific purpose, viz., administrative
conference. That purpose was, in no way connected with or related to some
of his administrative duties because he knew from the beginning that it was
for a confrontation with the complainant as solicited by Generosa Sandagan
for the latter to get a share in the death benefits of Edgardo Sandagan which
was received by the complainant. Generosa had not filed any action in
respondents court for her claim; neither is there any case in respondents
court concerning such death benefits. What Generosa wanted was for
respondent to act as mediator or conciliator to arrive at a possible
compromise with the complainant, which was, obviously, non-official and
absolutely a private matter. Not being then directly or remotely related to
his official functions and duties, accommodating the request and using his
official functions and office in connection therewith was, by any yardstick,
improper. The public trust character of his office would have been enough
reason for him to decline the request. And, there being no case in his sala in

30
connection with which complainant could be subpoenaed, respondent then
had absolutely no power or authority to issue one to the complainant. He
thus exhibited his ignorance of the elementary rule on issuance of
subpoenas.
Same; Same; The judge, in using a subpoena form for criminal cases
to summon a party upon the request of another who had no case before his
court, invited legitimate criticism against his office as an instrument of
oppression.There is something more, however, in this case. In using the
subpoena form for criminal cases, which was never explained by
respondent, nothing could have been intended but to sow fear in the mind of
the complainant and compel her attendance, for her failure to do so would
have subjected her to the penalty of law. There was, therefore, some
element of intimidation, oppression or abuse of authority, which aggravates
his apparent ignorance of the law on issuance of subpoenas. Considering
that it was done upon request of a party which has no case before his court,
he invited legitimate criticism against his office as an instrument of
oppression.
Same; Same; A judge should administer his office with a due regard
to the integrity of the system of the law itself, remembering that he is not a
depositary of arbitrary power, but a judge under the sanction of law, and
never for a moment must he act like a petty tyrant or provide any
opportunity to be perceived as such through the abuse or misuse of the
compulsory processes of the law.The courts exist to promote justice
(Canon 2, Canons of Judicial Ethics); accordingly, a judges official
conduct should be free from appearance of impropriety, and his personal
behavior, not only upon the bench and in the performance of official duties,
but also in his every day life, should be beyond reproach (Canon 3, id.). He
is the visible representation of the law and, more importantly, of justice
(Office of the Court Administrator vs. Gines, 224 SCRA 261 [1993];
Inciong vs. De Guia, 154 SCRA 93 [1987]; De la Paz vs. Inutan, 64 SCRA
540 [1975]). He should administer his office with a due regard to the
integrity of the system of the law itself, remembering that he is not a
depositary of arbitrary power, but a judge under the sanction of law (Canon
18, id.). Never for a moment must he act like a petty tyrant or provide any
opportunity to be perceived as such through the abuse or misuse of the
compulsory processes of the law, otherwise the faith of the people in the
courts could be irreparably eroded.
A.M. No. MTJ-98-1144. July 22, 1998.*
FLORIDE DAWA, NORALIZ L. JORGENSEN, FEMENINA LAZARO-
BARRETO, complainants, vs. Judge ARMANDO C. DE ASA,
Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch 51, Caloocan City, respondent.
A.M. No. MTJ-98-1148. July 22, 1998.*
Clerk of Court MONA LISA A. BUENCAMINO, complainant, vs. Judge
ARMANDO C. DE ASA, Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch 51, Caloocan
City, respondent.
Administrative Law; Judges; More than simply projecting an image
of probity, a judge must not only appear to be a good judgehe must also
appear to be a good person. The peoples confidence in the judicial
system is founded not only on the magnitude of legal knowledge and the
diligence of the members of the bench, but also on the highest standard of
integrity and moral uprightness they are expected to possess. More than
simply projecting an image of probity, a judge must not only appear to be a
good judge; he must also appear to be a good person.
Same; Same; A judges official conduct should be free from the
appearance of impropriety, and his personal behavior, not only upon the
bench and in the performance of judicial duties, but also in his everyday
life, should be beyond reproach.The Canons of Judicial Ethics further
provides: A judges official conduct should be free from the appearance of
impropriety, and his personal behavior, not only upon the bench and in the
performance of judicial duties, but also in his everyday life, should be
beyond reproach.
Same; Same; The Code dictates that a judge, in order to promote
public confidence in the judiciary, must behave with propriety at all
times.By the very nature of the bench, judges, more than the average
man, are required to observe an exacting standard of morality and decency.
The character of a judge is perceived by the people not only through his
official acts but also through his private morals, as reflected in his external
behavior. It is therefore paramount that a judges personal behavior, both in
the performance of his duties and in his daily life, be free from the
appearance of impropriety as to be beyond reproach. For this reason, [t]he
Code dictates that a judge, in order to promote public confidence in the
judiciary, must behave with propriety at all times. This mandate has
special import for municipal and metropolitan trial court judges, like herein
respondent, since they are the front-liners of the judiciary who serve more

31
people at the grass-roots level of society.
Same; Same; Respondents severely abusive and outrageous acts,
which are an affront to women, unmistakably constitute sexual harassment
because they necessarily result in an intimidating, hostile, or offensive
environment for the employees.In the present case, we find totally
unacceptable the temerity of the respondent judge in subjecting herein
complainants, his subordinates all, to his unwelcome sexual advances and
acts of lasciviousness. Not only do the actions of respondent judge fall short
of the exacting standards for members of the judiciary; they stand no chance
of satisfying the standards of decency even of society at large. His severely
abusive and outrageous acts, which are an affront to women, unmistakably
constitute sexual harassment because they necessarily x x x result in an
intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment for the employee[s]. Let it
be remembered that respondent has moral ascendancy and authority over
complainants, who are mere employees of the court of which he is an
officer.
Same; Same; The Court concludes with moral certainty that
respondent acted beyond the bounds of decency, morality and propriety and
violated the Code of Judicial Conduct.In view of the stature of
respondent judge, as well as his authority and official responsibility over the
complainants, who were his subordinates in the Metropolitan Trial Court of
Caloocan City, the Court concludes with moral certainty that he acted
beyond the bounds of decency, morality and propriety and violated the
Code of Judicial Conduct. The bench is not a place for persons like him. His
gross misconduct warrants his removal from office.












A.M. No. 97-2-53 RTC. July 6, 2001.*
RE: COMPLAINT OF MRS. ROTILLA A. MARCOS AND HER
CHILDREN AGAINST JUDGE FERDINAND J. MARCOS, RTC, BR. 20,
CEBU CITY.
Courts; Judges; Telecommunications; Service providers like phone
companies rely on the information given by the applicant desirous of its
services and would not be sending a Statement of Account to a Judge if he
did not apply for a phone line nor sent it to an address he did not furnish
them.The Islacom Statement of Account dated June 3, 1996 was
addressed to Judge Marcos not in his conjugal dwelling at San Jose Village,
Lawaan 3, Talisay Cebu, but at 615 ZA P. del Rosario Ext., Cebu City that
Mrs, Marcos later discovered to be the residence of Maydelane Tacaldo.
While Judge Marcos denied owning a cell phone there is an improbability
that Islacom would send a phone bill to him if he were not the real owner
thereof. Service providers like phone companies rely on the information
given by the applicant desirous of its services. Islacom would not have sent
Judge Marcos a Statement of Account if he did not apply for a phone line
nor sent it to an address he did not furnish them.
Same; Same; Immorality; A judge has no right to flaunt another
woman as if she were his wifesuch conduct is certainly unbecoming of a
judge whose conduct must at all times be beyond reproach.We cannot
gloss over the incident that happened during the Fun Run as recounted by
Chief Justice Davide, Judge Marcos candidly and frankly admitted to the
Chief Justice that he had been living with Ms. Tacaldo for the last three
years as he was already separated from his wife. Bringing Ms. Tacaldo to
public functions was not in good taste considering that Judge Marcos was
still very much married even if he and his wife Rotilla were already living
separately. He had no right to flaunt Maydelane Tacaldo as if she was his
wife, This conduct is certainly unbecoming of a judge whose conduct must
at all times be beyond reproach.
Same; Same; Same; The personal behavior of a judge should be free
from the appearance of impropriety, and his personal behavior, not only in
the bench and in the performance of his judicial duties, but also in his
everyday life, should be beyond reproach.As held in Galang vs. Santos,
the personal behavior of a judge should be free from the appearance of
impropriety, and his personal behavior, not only in the bench and in the
performance of judicial duties, but also in his everyday life, should be

32
beyond reproach. The Code of Judicial Ethics mandates that the conduct of
a judge must be free of a whiff of impropriety not only with respect to his
performance of his judicial duties, but also to his behavior outside his sala
and as a private individual. There is no dichotomy of morality: a public
official is also judged by his private morals. The Code dictates that a judge,
in order to promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the
judiciary, must behave with propriety at all times. As we have very recently
explained, a judges official life cannot simply be detached or separated
from his personal existence. Thus: Being the subject of constant public
scrutiny, a judge should freely and willingly accept restrictions on conduct
that might be viewed as burdensome by the ordinary citizen. A judge should
personify judicial integrity and exemplify honest public service. The
personal behavior of a judge, both in the performance of official duties and
in private life should be above suspicion.
Same; Same; Same; Keeping a mistress is certainly not an act one
would expect of a judge who is expected to possess the highest standard of
morality and decency.In Leynes vs. Veloso, it was held that if good moral
character is required of a lawyer, with more reason is the requirement
exacted of a member of the judiciary who at all times is expected to observe
irreproachable behavior and is bound not to outrage public decency.
Keeping a mistress is certainly not an act one would expect of a judge who
is expected to possess the highest standard of morality and decency. If a
judge fails to have high ethical standards, the confidence and high respect
for the judiciary diminishes as he represents the judiciary. Jurisprudence is
rich in cases where the Court has inflicted on judges the punishment of
dismissal for immorality especially when it is committed openly and
flagrantly, causing scandal in the place where his court is situated.
Same; Same; Same; The Court once again reminds all those who
don judicial robes to maintain good moral character and at all times
observe irreproachable behavior so as not outrage public decency.No
position exacts a greater demand on the moral righteousness and
uprightness of an individual than a seat in the judiciary. A magistrate of the
law must comport himself at all times in such a manner that his conduct,
official or otherwise, can bear the most searching scrutiny of the public that
looks up to him as the epitome of integrity and justice. The Court once
again reminds all those who don judicial robes to maintain good moral
character and at all times observe irreproachable behavior so as not to
outrage public decency.
Same; Same; Same; Affidavits of Desistance; Generally, the Court
attaches no persuasive value to affidavits of desistance, especially when
executed as an afterthought.Herein respondent cannot find comfort in the
affidavit of desistance signed by his wife and children. Generally, the
Court attaches no persuasive value to affidavits of desistance, especially
when executed as an afterthought x x x. As held in People v. Ubina: It
would be a dangerous rule for courts to reject testimonies solemnly taken
before the courts of justice simply because the witnesses who had given
them later on changed their mind for one reason or another; for such rule
would make solemn trials a mockery and place the investigation of truth at
the mercy of unscrupulous witness(es).


A.M. No. 93-10-1296-RTC. August 12, 1998.*
RE: SUSPENSION OF CLERK OF COURT ROGELIO R. JOBOCO,
RTC, BRANCH 16, NAVAL, BILIRAN.
Courts; Court Personnel; Clerks of Court; The positive duties of
Clerk of Court include conducting periodic docket inventory and ensuring
that the records of each case are accounted for.On the charge of
Infidelity in the Custody of Case Records, we find Atty. Joboco guilty
thereof. As Clerk of Court, his positive duties include conducting periodic
docket inventory and ensuring that the records of each case are accounted
for. It is likewise his duty to initiate and cause the search of missing
records. His failure to perform his duties despite a previous reminder by this
Court that he should be vigilant as court custodian of records, constitutes
manifest negligence which cannot be countenanced.
Same; Same; Same; It is incumbent upon the Clerk of Court to
ensure an orderly and efficient record management in the court and to
supervise the personnel under his office to function effectively.It is
incumbent upon the Clerk of Court to ensure an orderly and efficient record
management in the court and to supervise the personnel under his office to
function effectively. The fact that other court employees had access to the
records does not exculpate him. As Clerk of Court, he is also the supervisor
and hence, renders him accountable for the actions of his subordinates. His
contention that the records were left inside the chamber of the judge does
not absolve him considering that he could have continued and completed

33
the inventory himself.
Same; Same; Same; It is not within the province of a Clerk of
Courts functions to volunteer information which is irrelevant and
unsolicited.As to the charge of Dishonesty, we hold that Atty. Joboco is
not liable therefor. His manifestation that the accidental meeting with the
accused bears no significance to the scheduled hearing should be accorded
credence. It is not within the province of his functions to volunteer
information which is irrelevant and unsolicited. He is under no obligation to
plead for the accused and justify an absence on mere speculation or for any
reason not on record.
Same; Same; Same; Non-Feasance; For a court employee to be held
liable for non-feasance, he should first have a positive duty to perform.
For a court employee to be held liable for non-feasance, he should first have
a positive duty to perform. In this case, Atty. Joboco was not bound to
disclose information relating to the chance meeting especially when the
same is not borne out by the records. The fact that notice was duly served
the parties affirms the proper performance of his duty and negates the
necessity of further proffering information.
Same; Same; Same; Absent any showing of a blatant, malicious and
deliberate effort to undermine or compromise certain judicial reforms, a
Clerk of Court is deemed to have acted in good faith in carrying out the
duties of his office.With regard to the charge of Sabotaging Judicial
Reforms, we find no culpability on the part of Atty. Joboco there being only
an isolated case of erroneously implementing an approval of property bond
application. Absent any showing of a blatant, malicious and deliberate
effort to undermine or compromise such judicial reforms, he is deemed to
have acted in good faith in carrying out the duties of his office.
Same; Same; Same; Judges; Oppression; A judge may not be held
administratively accountable for every erroneous order or decision he
renders, and it is only when the error is gross or patent, when the judge acts
fraudulently or with gross ignorance, that administrative sanctions are
called for as an imperative duty of the Supreme Court.The above-
mentioned suspension orders and alleged harsh treatment by Judge Maceda
form part of Atty. Jobocos charges of Oppression and Continuing
Oppression. In this respect, we do not find any patently oppressive scheme
or design on the part of Judge Maceda to weigh down Atty. Joboco.
Although the second order of suspension for Dishonesty may have been
erroneously and unjustly issued by Judge Maceda, this alone will not
establish a contemptuous predisposition against Atty. Joboco upon which
the charge of Oppression may be founded. Judge Macedas actuations were
undertaken in the context of enforcing disciplinary measures in his court
and untainted with any palpable bad faith on his part. As such, he may not
be held administratively liable therefor. The acts of a judge which pertain to
his judicial capacity are not subject to disciplinary power, unless they are
committed with fraud, dishonesty, corruption and bad faith. It is a matter of
public policy that in the absence of fraud, dishonesty or corruption, the acts
of a judge in his judicial capacity are not subject to disciplinary action even
though such acts are erroneous. A judge may not be held administratively
accountable for every erroneous order or decision he renders, and it is only
when the error is gross or patent, when the judge acts fraudulently or with
gross ignorance, that administrative sanctions are called for as an imperative
duty of the Supreme Court.
Same; Same; Same; Same; While scolding an employee in front of
litigants may not be the most appropriate action, it is well within the ambit
of a judges prerogative to discipline his staff for negligence and/or
mistake.Likewise, while scolding an employee in front of litigants may
not have been the most appropriate course of action, it is well within the
ambit of Judge Macedas judicial prerogative to discipline his staff for
negligence and/or mistake. Judge Maceda should, however, not make a
habit of showing fits of temper and resorting to verbal abuse against erring
employees. He should be mindful of the need to maintain professional and
harmonious relations with his court personnel with a view to the speedy and
efficient administration of justice.
Same; Same; Same; Same; Usurpation of Judicial Authority; A Clerk
of Court is liable for the charge of Grave Abuse of Discretion, Usurpation
of Judicial Authority and Tampering of Subpoena by acting on an oral
motion for postponement; The Branch Clerk of Court is the administrative
assistant of the presiding judge whose duty is to assist in the management of
the calendar of the court and in all other matters not involving the
discretion or judgment of the judge.We find Atty. Joboco liable for the
charge of Grave Abuse of Discretion, Usurpation of Judicial Authority and
Tampering of Subpoena by acting on an oral motion for postponement. By
his act of giving due course to the informal motion for resetting despite
being notified of the reassignment of Judge Maceda to Naval, he arrogated

34
unto himself the authority to exercise judicial discretion which is clearly
beyond the pale of his prerogative. The Branch Clerk of Court is the
administrative assistant of the presiding judge whose duty is to assist in the
management of the calendar of the court and in all other matters not
involving the discretion or judgment of the judge. Clearly, Atty. Joboco
overstepped the boundaries of his function as such by undertaking the
aforementioned act which falls squarely within the discretion or judgment
of the Presiding Judge.
Same; Same; Same; Same; Preventive Suspension; Judge is directed
to be more circumspect in the issuance of preventive suspension orders to
ensure that the administrative/supervisory authority of the Supreme Court is
not encroached upon.The charges of Gross Ignorance of the Law, Abuse
of Position and Grave Abuse of Discretion Using his Position in connection
with the two preceding suspension orders are hereby dismissed for lack of
factual and legal basis. However, Judge Maceda is directed to be more
circumspect in the issuance of preventive suspension orders to ensure that
the administrative/supervisory authority of this Court is not encroached
upon.
Same; Judges; The congenial relationship of a Governor and a
Judge does not in itself tarnish the image of an independent judiciary.The
congenial relationship of the Governor and Judge Maceda does not in itself
tarnish the image of an independent judiciary. Neither does the support
extended by the former to the latter impinge on such judicial independence.
In the absence of any showing that their close relationship formed basis for
the achievement of corrupt ends and/or anomalous undertakings, the charge
of conduct unbecoming of a judge should be dismissed for lack of merit.
Same; Court Personnel; Clerks of Court; Certificates of Service;
Falsification; The omission in a certificate of service respecting a Clerk of
Courts 1/2 day absence constitutes falsification.Atty. Jobocos
contention that he was compelled to execute a second certificate of service
to correct his omission respecting his 1/2 day absence in the first certificate
of service is untenable. The uncontroverted fact remains that he incurred a
half-day absence but did not reflect the same in the first certificate of
service. Regardless of the subsequent execution of the second certificate of
service, the omission in the first certificate of service already constituted the
consummation of the falsification. The second certificate of service only
served to expose the irregularity and was not the cause from which the
administrative offense arose. As such, Atty. Joboco is liable for falsification
in the execution of his certificate of service.
Same; Same; Same; Misconduct; A Clerk of Court is liable for
Misconduct for attempting to recruit the court employees in the furtherance
of the cause of a local chapter of the Integrated Bar of the Philippinesthe
court employees have no involvement and should not be thrown into the
controversy concerning alleged irregularities in the designation of
judges.Although Atty. Joboco may not be held liable for Agitating
Workers to Go On Mass Leave, considering the foregoing, he is nonetheless
liable for Misconduct for attempting to recruit the court employees in the
furtherance of the cause of the IBP, Biliran Chapter. The court employees
have no involvement and should not be thrown into the controversy
concerning alleged irregularities in the designation of judges. Atty. Joboco
should have drawn the line between his duty as Clerk of Court and as an
officer of the local IBP.
Same; Same; Same; Judges; Abuse of Authority; The unwarranted
refusal by a judge to sign the certificates of service of his Clerk of Court
constitutes abuse of authority.The unwarranted refusal to sign the
certificates of service of his Clerk of Court constitutes abuse of authority on
the part of Judge Maceda. The allegation of falsification and
recommendation for the dismissal of an employee are not valid and
reasonable grounds for refusal to certify the attendance of such employee
and thereby cause the withholding of his salary. His contention that he
could not account for Atty. Jobocos attendance so much so that he could
not certify the latters certificate of service is untenable. It is worth noting
that it was Judge Maceda himself who assigned Atty. Joboco to the Capitol
Building to which the dubious attendance record may be attributed. Having
arranged for Atty. Jobocos detail therein, he should have foreseen the
difficulty of attendance verification and devised means by which he could
monitor attendance effectively.
Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; It would be an undue burden to
any court employee, to be required to report to two places thrice a day, that
is, to report to the courthouse before going to his other assignment in the
morning, then do the same at lunch break to time in his afternoon
attendance and one more time late in the afternoon to register his time
out before going home.While it may be true that Atty. Jobocos
attendance could not be accounted for, this does not justify inaction on the

35
certificates of service for it is not disputed that Judge Maceda himself
caused the transfer of Atty. Joboco to a place away from the courthouse
where it would be difficult to monitor attendance. It would be an undue
burden to any court employee, to be required to report to two places thrice
every day, that is, to report to the courthouse before going to Biliran
Provincial Capitol Building in the morning, then do the same at lunch break
to time in his afternoon attendance and one more time late in the
afternoon to register his time out before going home.
Same; Same; Same; Absence Without Official Leave; As a court
employee, a Clerk of Court should secure first the approval of his leave
application before going on leave and should immediately resume his work
after serving the period of his suspension order.Upon careful review of
the certificates of service, Atty. Joboco should be considered Absent
Without Official Leave (AWOL) for his absences: (a) pending application
for leave of absence; (b) during the appeal on the suspension orders; and (c)
unaccounted absences on August 16 and 31, 1993; September 8-10 and 15-
17, 1993; October 25-29, 1993; November 1-5, 8-12, 15-19, 22-23, 24-26
and 29, 1993; and December 1-3, 6-10, 13-17, 20-22 and 27-29, 1993. As a
court employee, Atty. Joboco should have secured first the approval of his
leave application before going on leave and should have immediately
resumed his work after serving the period of the suspension order.
Same; Same; Same; The defiant demeanor and contumacious
character of a Clerk of Court cannot be countenanced in the judiciary.
Although we are inclined to impose the penalty of suspension on Atty.
Joboco, his subsequent appointment as 3rd Assistant City Prosecutor of
Calbayog City has made the aforesaid sanction impracticable. The diversity
and multiplicity of Atty. Jobocos transgressions clearly reflect his defiant
demeanor and contumacious character which cannot be countenanced in the
judiciary. Such recalcitrant attitude manifested by Atty. Joboco in his
capacity as Branch Clerk of Court not only diminishes his integrity as an
officer of the court but degrades the dignity of the judicial system as well.






Adm. Case No. 137-J. March 27, 1971.
MARCIANA BUENAVENTURA, complainant, vs. HON. MARIANO V.
BENEDICTO, respondent.
Judicial ethics; Judges; Serious misconduct as ground for removal,
defined.Section 67 of Republic Act 296, as amended, provides two
grounds for the removal of judges; serious misconduct and inefficiency. The
complainant seeks the removal of the respondent judge on the first ground
and enumerates a number of facts allegedly constituting the imputed charge
of serious misconduct, five of which acts the Honorable Justice Alvendia
found unsupported by evidence. The remaining onethat the respondent
judge sanctioned the practice of his deputy clerk of court of delegating to
the clerk-messenger the promulgation of decisions of acquittal in criminal
casesfails to fit into the accepted definition of serious misconduct.
Serious means important, weighty, momentous, and not trifling, and
misconduct refers to a transgression of some established and definite
rule of action, more particularly, unlawful behavior or gross negligence by
the public officer. Misconduct also implies a wrongful intention and not
a mere error of judgment.
Same; Same; Leniency of judge in administrative supervision of his
employees an undesirable trait.The Supreme Court found the inclination
of the respondent judge to leniency in the administrative supervision of his
employees an undesirable trait. Oftentimes, such leniency provides the court
employees the opportunity to commit minor transgressions of the laws and
slight breaches of official duty ultimately leading to vicious delinquencies.
The respondent judge should constantly keep a watchful eye on the conduct
of his employees. He should realize that big fires start small. His constant
scrutiny of the behavior of his employees would deter any abuse on the part
of the latter in the exercise of their duties. Then, his subordinates would
know that any misdemeanor will not remain unchecked. The slightest
semblance of impropriety on the part of the employees of the court in the
performance of their official duties stirs ripples of public suspicion and
public distrust of the judicial administrators. The slightest breach of duty by
and the slightest irregularity in the conduct of court officers and employees
detract from the dignity of the courts and erode the faith of the people in the
judiciary.
Same; Same; Sec. 24, Canons of Judicial Ethics require judges to
refrain from private business ventures or charitable enterprises.Section

36
24 requires a judge to refrain from private business ventures or charitable
enterprises so as not to give occasion for any suspicion that he utilizes the
power of his office or the influence of his name for the success of such
undertakings or to give rise to any situation wherein his personal interest
might conflict with the impartial performance of his official duties.


Nos. L-39516-17. January 28, 1975.*
ROSARIO CASTILLO and SONIA VILLASANTA, petitioners, vs. THE
HONORABLE JUDGE CELESTINO JUAN, respondent.
Judges; Criminal procedure; Judicial ethics; Manner and attitude of
judges in every litigation is crucial to everyone concerned. He should not
yield to first impressions or reach hasty conclusions or prejudge matters.
In every litigation, perhaps much more so in criminal cases, the manner and
attitude of a trial judge are crucial to everyone concerned, the offended
party, no less than the accused. It is not for him to indulge or even to give
the appearance of catering to the at-times human failing of yielding to first
impressions. He is to refrain from reaching hasty conclusions or prejudging
matters. It would be deplorable if he lays himself open to the suspicion of
reacting to feelings rather than to facts, of being imprisoned in the net of his
own sympathies and predilections. It must be obvious to the parties as well
as the public that he follows the traditional mode of adjudication requiring
that he hear both sides with patience and understanding to keep the risk of
reaching an unjust decision at a minimum. It is not necessary that he should
possess marked proficiency in law, but it is essential that he is to hold the
balance true. What is equally important is that he should avoid any conduct
that casts doubt on his impartiality.
Same; Same; Same; Due process; A judges objectivity is impressed
with due process significance.That has been said is not merely a matter of
judicial ethics. It is impressed with constitutional significance. As set forth
in Mateo vs. Villaluz: It is now beyond dispute that due process cannot be
satisfied in the absence of that degree of objectivity on the part of a judge
sufficient to reassure litigants of his being fair and being just. Thereby there
is the legitimate expectation that the decision arrived at would be the
application of the law to the facts as found by a judge who does not play
favorites. For him, the parties stand on equal footing.
Same; Same; Same; Same; Supreme Court may disqualify a judge
from hearing a case if the latter is unable to discern for himself his inability
to meet test of cold neutrality.It is in line with the above due process
requirement that the Rules of Court provide for disqualification of judges
outside of the instances referring to their pecuniary interest, relationship,
previous connection, or his having presided in an inferior court when his
ruling or decision is the subject of review. x x x What is more, in the event
that a judge may be unable to discern for himself his inability to meet the
test of the cold neutrality required of him, this Court has seen to it that he
should disqualify himself.
Same; Same; Same; Same; A judge who told the offended parties that
their case is weak even before they had been fully heard will be disqualified
from further hearing the case.This is not to discount in its entirety the
submission of respondent Judge, who argued on his own behalf, that his
final decision would be dependent on the evidence that could be presented
by petitioners. What cannot be denied, however, is that after such
conferences, they could no longer be expected to have faith in his
impartiality. Even before they had been fully heard, they were told that their
cases were weak. They could very well conclude then that there was a
prejudgment. Under the circumstances, the fact that he acted as he did
because any monetary settlement would benefit petitioners, considering
their straitened financial circumstances, was of no moment. Even if it be
admitted that, according to his best light, respondent Judge acted from a
sense of sympathy or charity, his conduct cannot be said to be consonant
with the exacting standard of the cold neutrality of an impartial judge. The
administration of justice would thus be subject to a reproach if there be a
rejection of the plea for disqualification.












37
A.M. No. RTJ-92-876. December 11, 1995.*
STATE PROSECUTORS, complainants, vs. JUDGE MANUEL T. MURO,
respondent.
Administrative Law; Judges; Misconduct; Egregious legal error,
legal error motivated by bad faith or a continuing pattern of legal error do
amount to misconduct subject to discipline, ranging from admonishment to
removal from office.It may be conceded that respondent, in acting the
way he did, committed a legal error which usually is remediable by appeal
or by any other modes sanctioned by the Rules of Court and does not raise
a question of improper judicial conduct subject to judicial discipline. But
egregious legal error, legal error motivated by bad faith, or a continuing
pattern of legal error do amount to misconduct subject to discipline, ranging
from admonishment to removal from office. And legal error is egregious
and serious enough to amount to misconduct when judges deny individuals
their basic or fundamental rights, such as when defendants were not advised
of their constitutional right to counsel, coerced to plead guilty, sentenced to
jail when only a fine is provided by law, sentenced to jail for a period
longer than the maximum sentence allowed by law, or particularly similar
to this case when defendants were denied a full and fair hearinga
constitutional right equally afforded to the prosecution but unceremoniously
ignored by respondent. The gravity of his actuation cannot be shrugged off
casually. Respondent has followed a course of judicial conduct which is in
utter disregard of the law, established rules of practice and basic notions of
fair play, and his impressive scholastic record as student of law all the more
punctuates his blunder rather than temper it.
Same; Same; Same; Respondent ought to be reminded of certain
fundamental legal precepts which just might have escaped him and which
will keep him guarded against committing the same or similar mistake a
second time.These indeed are favorable considerations warranting the
commutation of respondents penalty of dismissal, if only to give him the
chance to redeem himself from an error of this magnitude which he
committed only for the first time. After all, this Court is not bereft of
compassion and mercy. But respondent ought to be reminded of certain
fundamental legal precepts which just might have escaped him momentarily
and which will keep him guarded against committing the same or similar
mistake a second time.


A.M. No. RTJ-00-1573. August 2, 2000.* (Formerly A.M. No. OCA-IPI-
97-300-RTJ)
LEOPOLDO G. DACERA, JR., complainant, vs. Judge TEODORO A.
DIZON, JR., RTC, Branch 37, General Santos City, respondent.
Administrative Law; Judges; A judge is not only required to be
impartial, he must also appear to be impartial; It is improper for a judge to
meet privately with the accused without the presence of the complainant.
In the present case, there indeed is no clear proof of malice, corrupt motives
or improper considerations which attended the acts of respondent.
Nonetheless, the acts of respondent still leave much to be desired and is
deserving of reproof. A judge is not only required to be impartial; he must
also appear to be impartial. Fraternizing with litigants tarnishes this
appearance. It was, thus, held that it is improper for a judge to meet
privately with the accused without the presence of the complainant. It need
not be overemphasized that making private phone calls to, sending for and
talking to the complainant in the judges chambers, as in this case,
undermines even more the peoples faith and confidence in the judiciary.
Same; Same; The judge must at all times maintain the appearance of
fairness and impartiality.A judge should avoid impropriety and the
appearance of impropriety in all his activities. Stated differently, It is an
ironclad principle that a judge must not only be impartial; he or she must
also appear to be impartial. Hence, the judge must, at all times, maintain
the appearance of fairness and impartiality. His language, both written and
spoken, must be guarded and measured, lest the best of intentions be
misconstrued.
Same; Same; A judges private as well as official conduct must at all
times be free from all appearances of impropriety and be beyond
reproach.Public confidence in the judiciary is eroded by irresponsible or
improper conduct of judges. As stressed by the Court in Magarang v. Judge
Galdino B. Jardin, Sr., Judges must adhere to the highest tenets of judicial
conduct. They must be the embodiment of competence, integrity and
independence. A judges conduct must be above reproach. Like Caesars
wife, a judge must not only be pure but above suspicion. A judges private
as well as official conduct must at all times be free from all appearances of
impropriety and be beyond reproach.


38
G.R. No. 118882. September 26, 1996.*
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS,
HON. PEDRO S. ESPINA, CRISTETA REYES, JOHNY SANTOS,
ANTONIO ALEGRO, ROGELIO MENGUIN, PETE ALVERIO, ROGEN
DOCTORA and JANE GO, respondents.
Courts; Due Process; One of the essential requirements of
procedural due process in a judicial proceeding is that there must be an
impartial court or tribunal clothed with judicial power to hear and
determine the matter before it.One of the essential requirements of
procedural due process in a judicial proceeding is that there must be an
impartial court or tribunal clothed with judicial power to hear and determine
the matter before it. Thus, every litigant, including the State, is entitled to
the cold neutrality of an impartial judge which was explained in Javier vs.
Commission on Elections (144 SCRA 194 [1986]), in the following words:
This Court has repeatedly and consistently demanded the cold neutrality of
an impartial judge as the indispensable imperative of due process. To
bolster that requirement, we have held that the judge must not only be
impartial but must also appear to be impartial as an added assurance to the
parties that his decision will be just. The litigants are entitled to no less than
that. They should be sure that when their rights are violated they can go to a
judge who shall give them justice. They must trust the judge, otherwise they
will not go to him at all. They must believe in his sense of fairness,
otherwise they will not seek his judgment. Without such confidence, there
would be no point in invoking his action for the justice they expect.
Same; Same; Judges; Inhibition of Judges; A judge who had earlier
enjoined the preliminary investigation of the accused at the Regional State
Prosecutors Office level can not be considered to adequately possess such
cold neutrality of an impartial judge in the trial proper.In the case at bar,
Judge Pedro Espina, as correctly pointed out by the Solicitor General, can
not be considered to adequately possess such cold neutrality of an impartial
judge as to fairly assess both the evidence to be adduced by the prosecution
and the defense in view of his previous decision in Special Civil Action No.
92-11-219 wherein he enjoined the preliminary investigation at the
Regional State Prosecutors Office level against herein respondent Jane Go,
the principal accused in the killing of her husband Dominador Go. Judge
Espinas decision in favor of respondent Jane Go serves as sufficient and
reasonable basis for the prosecution to seriously doubt his impartiality in
handling the criminal cases. Verily, it would have been more prudent for
Judge Espina to have voluntarily inhibited himself from hearing the
criminal cases.



No. L-27934. September 18, 1967.
CONSTANTE PIMENTEL, petitioner, vs. THE HONORABLE JUDGE
ANGELINO C. SALANGA, respondent.
Judges; Disqualification from sitting in a litigation; A judge not
disqualified merely because he is a counsels adversary in an
administrative case brought against him by said counsel.The exercise of
sound discretion mentioned in paragraph 2, Section 1, Rule 137 of the Rules
of Court, has reference exclusively to a situation where a judge disqualifies
himself, not when he goes forward with the case. For, the permissive
authority given a judge in the said paragraph is only in the matter of
disqualification, not otherwise. In other words, when a judge does not
inhibit himself, and he is not legally disqualified by the first paragrapL of
Section 1, Rule 137, he has to continue with the case. In the case at bar,
respondent judge is not disqualified under the said first paragraph. Hence,
he cannot be prevented from sitting, trying and rendering judgment in the
cases in which petitioner, who is respondent judges adversary in an
administrative case lodged against him by said petitioner, is counsel of
record.
Same; Remedy where a judge who is not legally disqualified
proceeds with the case and denies a litigant fair and impartial trial.
However, even if a judge cannot be legally prevented from trying a case
because he is not disqualified therefrom and he refuses to inhibit himself,
not all avenues of relief are closed to a party properly aggrieved. If a litigant
is denied a fair and impartial trial induced by the judges bias or prejudice,
this Court will not hesitate to order a new trial, if necessary, in the interest
of justice.
Same; A judges bias not to be presumed.It ill behooves this Court
to tar and feather a judge as biased or prejudiced simply because counsel for
a party litigant happens to complain against him. In the case at bar,
respondent judge has not as yet crossed the line that divides partiality and
impartiality. He has not thus far stepped to one side of the fulcrum.

39
Therefore, this Court may not assume what respondent judge, not otherwise
disqualified, will do in a case before him. To disqualify or not to disqualify
himself, then, is a matter of conscience.
Same; When self-examination becomes necessary for a judge.
Where a judge is not legally disqualified from sitting in a litigation, but
suggestion is made of record that he might be induced to act in favor of one
party or with bias or prejudice against a litigant arising out of circumstances
reasonably capable of inciting such a state of mind, he should conduct a
careful pelf-examination. He should exercise his discretion in a way that the
peoples faith in the courts of justice is not impaired. On the result of his
decision to sit or not to sit may depend to a great extent the all-important
confidence in the impartiality of the judiciary.


G.R. No. 163155. July 21, 2006.*
ALFREDO HILADO, MANUEL LACSON, JOSE MA. TUVILLA,
JOAQUIN LIMJAP, LOPEZ SUGAR CORPORATION and FIRST
FARMERS HOLDING CORPORATION, petitioners, vs. JUDGE AMOR
A. REYES, PRESIDING JUDGE, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF
MANILA, BRANCH 21 and ADMINISTRATRIX JULITA CAMPOS
BENEDICTO, respondents.
Administrative Complaints; Judges; Judgments; Res Judicata; The
doctrine of res judicata applies only to judicial or quasi-judicial
proceedings, and not to the exercise of administrative powers; Resort to
and exhaustion of judicial remedies are prerequisites for the taking of,
among other measures, an administrative complaint against the person of
the judge concerned.It is well settled that the doctrine of res judicata
applies only to judicial or quasi-judicial proceedings, and not to the exercise
of administrative powers. The non-existence of forum shopping
notwithstanding, this Court proscribes the filing of an administrative
complaint before the exhaustion of judicial remedies against questioned
errors of a judge in the exercise of its jurisdiction. Resort to and exhaustion
of judicial remedies are prerequisites for the taking of, among other
measures, an administrative complaint against the person of the judge
concerned.
Right to Information; The right to information on matters of public
concern or of public interest is both the purpose and the limit of the
constitutional right of access to public documents.On the merits of the
petition for mandamus, Section 7 of Article III of the Constitution provides:
SECTION 7. The right of the people to information on matters of public
concern shall be recognized. Access to official records, and to documents,
and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, or decisions, as well as to
government research data used as basis for policy development, shall be
afforded the citizen, subject to such limitations as may be provided by
law. (Emphasis and italics supplied) The above-quoted constitutional
provision guarantees a general rightthe right to information on matters of
public concern and, as an accessory thereto, the right of access to official
records and the like. The right to information on matters of public
concern or of public interest is both the purpose and the limit of the
constitutional right of access to public documents.
Judicial or Court Records; Words and Phrases; The term judicial
record or court record does not only refer to the orders, judgment or
verdict of the courtsit comprises the official collection of all papers,
exhibits and pleadings filed by the parties, all processes issued and returns
made thereon, appearances, and word-for-word testimony which took place
during the trial and which are in the possession, custody, or control of the
judiciary or of the courts for purposes of rendering court decisions.
Insofar as the right to information relates to judicial records, an
understanding of the term judicial record or court record is in order.
The term judicial record or court record does not only refer to the
orders, judgment or verdict of the courts. It comprises the official collection
of all papers, exhibits and pleadings filed by the parties, all processes issued
and returns made thereon, appearances, and word-for-word testimony which
took place during the trial and which are in the possession, custody, or
control of the judiciary or of the courts for purposes of rendering court
decisions. It has also been described to include any paper, letter, map, book,
other document, tape, photograph, film, audio or video recording, court
reporters notes, transcript, data compilation, or other materials, whether in
physical or electronic form, made or received pursuant to law or in
connection with the transaction of any official business by the court, and
includes all evidence it has received in a case.
Courts; It bears emphasis that the interest of the public hinges on its
right to transparency in the administration of justice, to the end that it will
serve to enhance the basic fairness of the judicial proceedings, safeguard

40
the integrity of the fact-finding process, and foster an informed public
discussion of public affairs.In determining whether a particular
information is of public concern, there is no right test. In the final analysis,
it is for the courts to determine on a case to case basis whether the matter at
issue is of interest or importance as it relates to or affect the public. It bears
emphasis that the interest of the public hinges on its right to transparency in
the administration of justice, to the end that it will serve to enhance the
basic fairness of the judicial proceedings, safeguard the integrity of the fact-
finding process, and foster an informed public discussion of governmental
affairs. Thus in Barretto v. Philippine Publishing Co., 30 Phil. 88 (1915),
this Court held: x x x The foundation of the right of the public to know what
is going on in the courts is not the fact that the public, or a portion of it, is
curious, or that what is going on in the court is news, or would be
interesting, or would furnish topics of conversation; but is simply that it has
a right to know whether a public officer is properly performing his duty. In
other words, the right of the public to be informed of the proceedings in
court is not founded in the desire or necessity of people to know about the
doing of others, but in the necessity of knowing whether its servant, the
judge, is properly performing his duty. x x x
Right to Information; Justice requires that all should have free
access to the opinions of judges and justices, and it would be against sound
public policy to prevent, suppress or keep the earliest knowledge of these
from the public.Decisions and opinions of a court are of course matters of
public concern or interest for these are the authorized expositions and
interpretations of the laws, binding upon all citizens, of which every citizen
is charged with knowledge. Justice thus requires that all should have free
access to the opinions of judges and justices, and it would be against sound
public policy to prevent, suppress or keep the earliest knowledge of these
from the public. Thus, in Lantaco Sr. et al. v. Judge Llamas, 108 SCRA 502
(1981), this Court found a judge to have committed grave abuse of
discretion in refusing to furnish Lantaco et al. a copy of his decision in a
criminal case of which they were even the therein private complainants, the
decision being already part of the public record which the citizen has a
right to scrutinize.
Same; Unlike court orders and decisions, pleadings and other
documents filed by parties to a case need not be matters of public concern
or interest.Unlike court orders and decisions, however, pleadings and
other documents filed by parties to a case need not be matters of public
concern or interest. For they are filed for the purpose of establishing the
basis upon which the court may issue an order or a judgment affecting their
rights and interests. In thus determining which part or all of the records of a
case may be accessed to, the purpose for which the parties filed them is to
be considered.
Same; Information regarding the financial standing of a person at
the time of his death and the manner by which his private estate may
ultimately be settled is not a matter of general, public concern or one in
which a citizen or the public has an interest by which its legal rights or
liabilities may be affected; If the information sought is not a matter of
public concern or interest, denial of access thereto does not violate the
citizens constitutional right to information.In intestate proceedings, the
heirs file pleadings and documents for the purpose of establishing their right
to a share of the estate. As for the creditors, their purpose is to establish
their claim to the estate and be paid therefor before the disposition of the
estate. Information regarding the financial standing of a person at the time
of his death and the manner by which his private estate may ultimately be
settled is not a matter of general, public concern or one in which a citizen or
the public has an interest by which its legal rights or liabilities may be
affected. Granting unrestricted public access and publicity to personal
financial information may constitute an unwarranted invasion of privacy to
which an individual may have an interest in limiting its disclosure or
dissemination. If the information sought then is not a matter of public
concern or interest, denial of access thereto does not violate a citizens
constitutional right to information.
Same; Once a particular information has been determined to be of
public concern, the accessory right of access to official records, including
judicial records, are open to the public.Once a particular information has
been determined to be of public concern, the accessory right of access to
official records, including judicial records, are open to the public. The
accessory right to access public records may, however, be restricted on a
showing of good cause. How good cause can be determined, the Supreme
Judicial Court of Massachusetts in Republican Company v. Appeals Court,
442 Mass, 218, 812 N.E.2d 887, teaches: The publics right of access to
judicial records, including transcripts, evidence, memoranda, and court
orders, maybe restricted, but only on a showing of good cause. To

41
determine whether good cause is shown, a judge must balance the rights of
the parties based on the particular facts of each case. In so doing, the
judge must take into account all relevant factors, including, but not
limited to, the nature of the parties and the controversy, the type of
information and the privacy interests involved, the extent of community
interest, and the reason for the request. (Emphasis and italics supplied;
citations omitted) And even then, the right is subject to inherent supervisory
and protective powers of every court over its own records and files.
Same; Access to court records may be permitted at the discretion
and subject to the supervisory and protective powers of the court, after
considering the actual use or purpose for which the request for access is
based and the obvious prejudice to any of the parties.In fine, access to
court records may be permitted at the discretion and subject to the
supervisory and protective powers of the court,after considering the actual
use or purpose for which the request for access is based and the obvious
prejudice to any of the parties. In the exercise of such discretion, the
following issues may be relevant: whether parties have interest in privacy,
whether information is being sought for legitimate purpose or for improper
purpose, whether there is threat of particularly serious embarrassment to
party, whether information is important to public health and safety, whether
sharing of information among litigants would promote fairness and
efficiency, whether party benefiting from confidentiality order is public
entity or official, and whether case involves issues important to the public.
Same; As long then as any party, counsel or person has a legitimate
reason to have a copy of court records and pays court fees, a court may not
deny access to such records.As long then as any party, counsel or person
has a legitimate reason to have a copy of court records and pays court fees,
a court may not deny access to such records. Of course as this Court held in
Beegan v. Borja, 261 SCRA 474 (1996), precautionary measures to prevent
tampering or alteration must be observed: We are not unaware of the
common practice in the courts with respect to the photocopying or xeroxing
of portions of case records as long as the same are not confidential or
disallowed by the rules to be reproduced. The judge need not be bothered as
long as the permission of the Clerk of Court has been sought and as long as
a duly authorized representative of the court takes charge of the
reproduction within the court premises if warranted or if not, the said court
representative must bring along the case records where reproduction takes
place and return the same intact to the Clerk of Court. In fine, this Court
finds the petition for mandamus meritorious, petitioners being interested
persons who have a legitimate reason or purpose for accessing the records
of the case.
Judges; Disqualification and Inhibition of Judges; Parties; Persons
who are not parties to a case may not seek the inhibition of the presiding
judge.Since petitioners are not parties to the case, they may not seek
public respondents inhibition, whether under the first paragraph of above-
quoted Section 1 which constitutes grounds for mandatory disqualification,
or under the second paragraph of the same section on voluntary
disqualification.



A.M. No. MTJ-02-1418. December 10, 2003.* (Formerly OCA IPI No.
00-871 MTJ)
CARMENCITA D. CACATIAN, complainant, vs. JUDGE RICARDO P.
LIWANAG, MUNICIPAL TRIAL COURT, SAN JOSE DEL MONTE,
BULACAN, respondent.
Courts; Judges; Being the subject of constant public scrutiny, a
judge should freely and willingly accept restrictions on conduct that might
be viewed as burdensome by the ordinary citizen.The personal behavior
of a judge, not only upon the bench but also in everyday life, should be
above reproach and free from the appearance of impropriety. The Code of
Judicial Ethics dictates that a judge, in order to promote public confidence
in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary, must behave with propriety
at all times. Being the subject of constant public scrutiny, a judge should
freely and willingly accept restrictions on conduct that might be viewed as
burdensome by the ordinary citizen. He should personify judicial integrity
and exemplify honest public service. The personal behavior of a judge, both
in the performance of official duties and in private life, should be above
suspicion. Irresponsible or improper conduct of judges erodes public
confidence in the judiciary.
Same; Same; A judge should know that his dealings with a party
litigant outside of the courtroom could give rise to doubts as to the
propriety of the same.The respondents behavior in this case fell short of
the exacting standards required of him as a magistrate. He transacted

42
business with a party litigant who had a pending case in his sala.
Notwithstanding the fact that this was done after office hours as he claimed,
the respondent should not have put himself in such a position as to arouse
suspicion of improper conduct. He should have known that his dealings
with a party litigant outside of the courtroom would give rise to doubts as to
the propriety of the same.
Same; Same; Court Personnel; Franking Privilege; Prudence
dictates that a judge should be aware of the goings-on in his courtroom,
particularly where what is involved is the use of his franking privilege.
The respondent also used his official position and authority as a judge to
deliver a demand letter to the complainant. He cannot hide behind his court
personnel and claim that the letter was mistakenly commingled with
official correspondence. Prudence dictates that a judge should be aware of
the goings-on in his courtroom, particularly in this case where what is
involved is the use of his franking privilege. Furthermore, the tenor of the
respondents letter seeking the return of his 9mm gun and the amount of
P10,000 was clearly meant to intimidate the complainant into compliance,
as he signed the same as Ricardo P. Liwanag, Judge. The respondent even
had the letter delivered to the complainant by Clerk of Court Rogelio
Montero III and Court Interpreter Corazon Espaola, both employees under
him.
Same; Same; Serious Misconduct; The acts of a judge in filing a case
for estafa against the complainant in his own sala, and in assisting in the
issuance of a warrant of arrest against the same, constitute serious
misconduct.The respondent also filed a case for estafa against the
complainant in his own sala, the MTC of San Jose, and assisted in the
issuance of a warrant of arrest against the same. Although the said warrant
was issued by another magistrate, Judge Aznar D. Lindayag, the filing of
the case before the respondents sala may be construed as the judges
attempt to influence the outcome of a case where he himself is an interested
party. This placed the court in a bad light. The respondent should have
known that under the circumstances, the more prudent thing to do was to
file the case with the provincial prosecutors office. The respondent should
have remembered the ironclad principle that a judge must not only be
impartial, but must also appear to be impartial.
Same; Same; Same; Words and Phrases; Misconduct implies a
wrongful intention and not a mere error of judgment; corrupt, or inspired
by an intention to violate the law or a persistent disregard of well-known
legal rules.These instances are clear manifestations that the respondent
judge is not fit to remain as a member of the Judiciary. Such acts constitute
serious misconduct, which, under Section 8, Rule 140 of the Rules of Court
is classified as a serious charge. Misconduct implies wrongful intention
and not mere error of judgment; corrupt, or inspired by an intention to
violate the law or a persistent disregard of well-known legal rules.


A.M. No. RTJ-98-1402. April 3, 1998.*
ONOFRE A. VILLALUZ, complainant, vs. JUDGE PRISCILLA C.
MIJARES REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, BRANCH 108, PASAY CITY,
respondent.
Administrative Law; Judges; Courts; While the court does not make
a categorical finding that respondent made use of the money deposited with
him, nonetheless, Court holds that by his actuations, respondent placed his
honesty and integrity under serious doubt.We affirm the above findings
of Justice Valdez which, after an exhausting review, we find to be amply
supported by the evidence on record. However, we take note of Justice
Valdezs own admission that except for the testimony of Anita Domingo,
there is no direct and hard evidence that Judge Mijares got and made
personal use of the rental deposits before they were turned over to the Clerk
of Court. Despite the foregoing statement, his conclusion that respondent
deposited the rentals in her private bank account and kept for herself the
interests earned is based, nonetheless, on circumstantial evidence. In Dia-
Aonuevo v. Bercallo , we made a pronouncement that: While the court
does not make a categorical finding that respondent made use of the money
deposited with him, nonetheless, We hold that by his actuations, respondent
placed his honesty and integrity under serious doubt, and consequently
penalized the erring judge.
Same; Same; Same; Court finds Anita Domingo to have been remiss
in her duties as acting Branch Clerk of Court.In addition, we find Anita
Domingo to have been remiss in her duties as acting Branch Clerk of Court.
She should have strictly adhered to the clear and mandatory procedure
provided under Circular No. 5 (before it was replaced by Circular No. 13-
92) regarding the collection and deposit of rentals with the court. Being a
responsible officer of the court she should not have been swayed to do

43
otherwise.
Same; Same; Respondent is clearly disqualified from trying the case
under Section 1, Rule 137 of the Rules of Court and also under Rule 3.12
(d), Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial Conduct.Respondent is clearly
disqualified from trying the case under the aforequoted section and also
under Rule 3.12 (d), Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial Conduct. Being related
within the sixth degree of consanguinity to one of the parties (petitioner) in
Special Proceedings No. 9346, it was mandatory for respondent to have
inhibited herself from hearing the case. While respondent or her daughter
may not have pecuniary interest in the case as heir, legatee, creditor or
otherwise, which is her contention for her exculpation, what is violated in
Section 1 of Rule 137 was her taking cognizance of the case despite her
relationship to a party within the sixth degree of consanguinity or affinity.
Same; Same; Respondent violated Rule 2.03, Canon 2 of Code of
Judicial Conduct which states that: A judge shall not allow family, social
or other relationships to influence judicial conduct or judgment.Apart
from the rules already cited, respondent violated Rule 2.03, Canon 2 of
Code of Judicial Conduct which states that: A Judge shall not allow
family, social or other relationships to influence judicial conduct or
judgment. The prestige of judicial office shall not be used or lent to advance
the private interests of others, nor convey or permit others to convey the
impression that they are in a special position to influence the judge.
Same; Same; A member of the bench must continuously keep himself
abreast of legal and jurisprudential developments because the learning
process in law never ceases.The Court, once again, earnestly reminds
judges to be extra prudent and circumspect in the performance of their
duties for (a) judge owes it to the public and to the legal profession to
know the factual basis of the complaint and the very law he is supposed to
apply to a given controversy. He is called upon to exhibit more than cursory
acquaintance with the statutes and procedural rules. Party litigants will have
greater faith in the administration of justice if judges are not cursorily
excused of apparent deficiency in the analysis of the facts of the case and in
the grasp of the legal principles. For service in the judiciary means a
continuous study and research on the law from beginning to end (Roa vs.
Imbing, 231 SCRA 58 [1994]; Wingarts vs. Mejia, 242 SCRA 436 [1995]).
A member of the bench must continuously keep himself abreast of legal and
jurisprudential developments because the learning process in law never
ceases.


A.M. No. RTJ-04-1823. August 28, 2006.*
ARCELY Y. SANTOS, complainant, vs. JUDGE UBALDINO A. LA-
CUROM, Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court, Cabanatuan City, Branch
29 and Pairing Judge, Branch 30, respondent.
Actions; Attorneys; Parties; A partys representation on his own
behalf is not considered to be a practice of law as one does not practice
law by acting for himself, any more than he practices medicine by rendering
first aid to himself.The Rules recognize the right of an individual to
represent himself in any case in which he is a party. The Rules state that a
party may conduct his litigation personally or by aid of an attorney, and that
his appearance must be either personal or by a duly authorized member of
the Bar. The individual litigant may personally do everything in the
progress of the action from commencement to the termination of the
litigation. A partys representation on his own behalf is not considered to be
a practice of law as one does not practice law by acting for himself, any
more than he practices medicine by rendering first aid to himself.
Therefore, Santos can conduct the litigation of the cases personally. Santos
is not engaged in the practice of law if he represents himself in cases in
which he is a party. By conducting the litigation of his own cases, Santos
acts not as a counsel or lawyer but as a party exercising his right to
represent himself. Certainly, Santos does not become a counsel or lawyer by
exercising such right.
Same; Same; Same; A party must choose between self-representation
or being represented by a member of the Bar; For orderly administration of
justice, a judge should not allow a party to litigate personally where he is
already represented by counsel.The Court notes the use of the disjunctive
word or under the Rules, signifying disassociation and independence of
one thing from each of the other things enumerated, to mean that a party
must choose between self-representation or being represented by a member
of the bar. During the course of the proceedings, a party should not be
allowed to shift from one form of representation to another. Otherwise, this
would lead to confusion, not only for the other party, but for the court as
well. If a party, originally represented by counsel, would later decide to
represent himself, the prudent course of action is to dispense with the

44
services of counsel and prosecute or defend the case personally. For the
orderly administration of justice, respondent judge should not have allowed
Santos to litigate personally because Santos was already represented by
counsel. Respondent judge should have required Santos to choose between
self-representation or being represented by counsel.
Same; Same; Same; Words and Phrases; The lead counsel is the
lawyer on either side of a litigated action who is charged with the principal
management and direction of the partys case, as distinguished for his
collaborating counsels or subordinates.Respondent judge should not
have recognized Santos as lead counsel. The lead counsel is the lawyer on
either side of a litigated action who is charged with the principal
management and direction of the partys case, as distinguished from his
collaborating counsels or subordinates. In recognizing Santos as lead
counsel, respondent judge made it appear that Santos was a counsel or
lawyer when he is not. To repeat, when a party represents himself in his
own case, he does so not as a counsel or lawyer but as a party exercising his
right of self-representation.
Courts; Judges; Judges, as occupants of exalted positions in the
administration of justice, must pay a high price for the honor bestowed on
them; Respondent judge should have advised his son not to accept any favor
from a corporation which has a pending case before his sala, or from any of
its officers or principal stockholders.On respondent judges admission
that Dr. Lacurom received a favor from the officers of Faberns Inc.,
respondent judge violated Rule 5.04 of the Code. Faberns Inc. is the
petitioner in Cadastral Case No. 384-AF, which was then pending before
respondent judges sala. Respondent judge should have advised Dr.
Lacurom not to accept any favor from Faberns Inc. or from any of its
officers or principal stockholders. Judges, as occupants of exalted positions
in the administration of justice, must pay a high price for the honor
bestowed on them. Their private, as well as their official conduct, must
always be free from the appearance of impropriety.
Same; Same; It would have been more prudent if respondent judge
avoided hearing the cases where a close friend was a party because their
close friendship could reasonably tend to raise suspicion that respondent
judges social relationship would be an element in his determination of the
subject cases.On respondent judges close friendship with Santos, such
fact did not render respondent judge guilty of violating any canon of
judicial ethics as long as his friendly relations with Santos did not influence
his official conduct as a judge in the cases where Santos was a party.
Complainant failed to present any convincing proof that respondent judge
gave any undue privileges in his court to Santos, or that Santos benefited
from his personal relations with respondent judge, or that respondent judge
used his influence, if any, to favor Santos. However, it would have been
more prudent if respondent judge avoided hearing the cases where Santos
was a party because their close friendship could reasonably tend to raise
suspicion that respondent judges social relationship with Santos would be
an element in his determination of the cases of Santos. This may erode the
trust of the litigants in respondent judges impartiality and eventually,
undermine the peoples faith in the administration of justice. Judges must
not only render a just, correct and impartial decision but should do so in
such a manner as to be free from any suspicion as to his fairness,
impartiality and integrity.



A.M. No. RTJ-91-657. June 21, 1993.*
LOURDES PRESADO, complainant, vs. HON. JUDGE MANUEL C.
GENOVA, respondent.
A.M. No. RTJ-91-704. June 21, 1993.*
DOMINADOR SIA, complainant, vs. HON. JUDGE MANUEL C.
GENOVA, respondent.
A.M. No. RTJ-91-721. June 21, 1993.*
JOSE DE JESUS, complainant, vs. HON. JUDGE MANUEL GENOVA,
respondent.
A.M. No. RTJ-91-746. June 21, 1993.*
MANUEL O. ZURBITO, complainant, vs. HON. JUDGE MANUEL C.
GENOVA, respondent.
A.M. No. RTJ-91-767. June 21, 1993.*
DELFIN RICARTE, complainant, vs. HON. JUDGE MANUEL C.
GENOVA, respondent.
A.M. No. RTJ-92-816. June 21, 1993.*
DEBORAH PERINO, complainant, vs. HON. JUDGE MANUEL C.
GENOVA, respondent.
A.M. No. RTJ-92-823. June 21, 1993.*

45
RIZALINA Q. VALENCIA, complainant, vs. HON. JUDGE MANUEL C.
GENOVA, respondent.
Judges; The Supreme Court, as a rule, does not dismiss an
administrative case on mere desistance.As a rule, the Court does not, as a
matter of course, dismiss administrative complaints (especially those
charging offenses as serious as those here charged) against members of the
Bench on account of withdrawal of the charges or desistance of the
complainant from prosecuting the complaint. The Court, however, in the
complaint at bar, has very little choice save to adopt the recommendation of
the Investigating Justice to dismiss A.M. No. RTJ-91-657; the desistance of
the complainant, for reasons satisfactory to herself, left the charges against
respondent judge unsubstantiated.
Same; Evidence; Offer of exhibits validly denied if made late.
Evaluating the allegations and counter-allegations of complainant and
respondent Judge, as well as the available evidence on record, the Court
agrees with the recommendation of the Investigating Justice to exonerate
respondent judge from any liability arising from his Order denying
complainants Formal Offer of Evidence in Civil Case No. 321 in view of
complainants tardiness in filing the Formal Offer of Evidence and of
complainants failure to raise as a matter of defense, in a seasonable
manner, the decision in Civil Case No. 163-II.
Same; A judge cannot use his chambers as his familys residence
even with the Governors permission.The Investigating Justice
concluded: It need not be stated that government property is for official use
only and not for the personal use of the official. The permit issued by the
Provincial Governor of Masbate did not confer on the respondent judge the
right to utilize his chambers as his living and residential quarters. The
permit was only for those occasions where the respondent judge had to
work overnight in connection with his official work. (Italics supplied)
Respondent Judge did not try to prove his assertion that he had been given
oral permission to use his chambers as his family and residential quarters.
The Court agrees with the above conclusion reached by the Investigating
Justice and finds the respondent judge guilty of serious misconduct and
conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.
Same; Failure to observe properly the rules of self-defense is gross
ignorance of the law.After careful examination of the decision of
respondent Judge in Criminal Case No. 5739 as well as the underlying
records of that case, the Court agrees with the findings of fact of the
Investigating Justice. There is in this case the same gross ignorance on the
part of respondent Judge of the very basic substantive rules of self-defense
that were obvious in A.M. No. RTJ-91-746 (Zurbito v. Genova) which law
students learn in their first year in law school. There is also failure on the
part of respondent Judge to take account of the facts as shown by the
evidence made of record during the trial, such that some of the conclusions
reached by the respondent Judge found no basis in the evidence of record.


A.M. No. MTJ-02-1431. May 9, 2003.*
SPO2 JOSE B. YAP, complainant, vs. JUDGE AQUILINO INOPIQUEZ,
JR., respondent.
Criminal Procedure; Bail; If the accused is arrested in a province,
city or municipality other than where the case is pending, bail may be filed
with any RTC of said place, or, if no judge thereof is available, with any
metropolitan trial judge, municipal trial judge or municipal circuit trial
judge therein.Section 14, Rule 114 of the Revised Rules of Criminal
Procedure, as amended, provides that if the accused is arrested in a
province, city or municipality other than where the case is pending, bail
may be filed with any RTC of said place, or, if no judge thereof is available,
with any metropolitan trial judge, municipal trial judge or municipal circuit
trial judge therein. Criminal Case No. 9458 against Antonio Laurente, Jr.
was filed with the MTCC of Ormoc City but he was arrested in Matag-ob,
Leyte. Since there was no RTC in Matag-ob, respondent judge, as Presiding
Judge of MCTC, Kananga-Matag-ob, was then authorized under Rule 114
to approve the bail of Antonio Laurente, Jr. and order his release.
Same; Same; Evidence; It is a basic rule of evidence that between a
documentary and oral evidence, the former carries more weight.It is a
basic rule of evidence that between documentary and oral evidence, the
former carries more weight. The cash bond was posted on March 8
(Monday), not on March 6, 1999, as shown by O.R. No. 9215725. The
property bond, in substitution of the cash bond, was filed, not on March 6,
but on March 10 (Wednesday), as shown by the jurat. Both Orders of
Release were issued on March 6 (Saturday). Therefore, there is no doubt
that respondent judge ordered the release of the accused despite the fact that
there was yet no bail filed and approved for his provisional liberty.

46
Same; Same; An accused may only be released on bail after the
corresponding cash or property bond has been properly posted.Section 3,
Rule 114 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, as amended, provides
that an accused may only be released on bail after the corresponding cash or
property bond has been properly posted. Respondent judge violated this
Rule when he issued the two Orders of Release on March 6, 1999 in favor
of accused Antonio Laurente, Jr. despite the fact that the corresponding cash
or property bond was posted only thereafter, or on March 8 and March 10,
1999, respectively.
Courts; Judges; When the judge himself becomes a transgressor of
any law which he is sworn to apply, he places his office in disrepute,
encourages disrespect for the law and impairs public confidence in the
integrity of the judiciary itself.We have held that the exacting standards
of conduct demanded from judges are designed to promote public
confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary. When the judge
himself becomes a transgressor of any law which he is sworn to apply, he
places his office in disrepute, encourages disrespect for the law and impairs
public confidence in the integrity of the judiciary itself. This Court cannot
countenance such act as it erodes the publics trust in the judiciary.
Same; Same; Gross Misconduct; Retirement; Where the actuations
of a judge constitutes gross misconduct, he may be sanctioned even if he
has already retired.In the instant case, respondent not only failed to
perform his judicial duties in accordance with the rules, he acted in bad
faith. Despite the fact that he ordered the release of a person lawfully
arrested even before he had posted bail, he tried to hide his culpability by
altering the dates of the cash bond and property bond. His actuations
constitute gross misconduct which merits sanctions even if he already
retired on January 1, 2002.
Same; Same; Same; Words and Phrases; Gross Misconduct,
Explained.In Canson vs. Garchitorena, this Court explained the concept
of gross misconduct, thus: Misconduct is defined as any unlawful conduct
on the part of a person concerned in the administration of justice prejudicial
to the rights of parties or to the right determination of the cause (Blacks
Law Dictionary, Fourth Ed., p. 1150). It generally means wrongful,
improper, unlawful conduct motivated by a premeditated, obstinate or
intentional purpose (Words and Phrases, Vol. 27, p. 466, citing Sewell vs.
Sharp, La App. 102 So 2d 259, 261). The term, however, does not
necessarily imply corruption or criminal intent (Ibid., citing State Ex Rel
Asbaugh v. Bahr, 40 N.E. 2d 677, 680, 68 Ohio App. 308). On the other
hand, the term gross connotes something out of all measure; beyond
allowance; not to be excused; flagrant; shameful (Blacks Law Dictionary,
Fourth Ed., p. 832). For administrative liability to attach it must be
established that the respondent was moved by bad faith, dishonesty, hatred
or some other like motive (Atty. Antonio T. Guerrero v. Hon. Adriano
Villamor, A.M. No. RTJ-90-483; George Carlos v. Hon. Adriano Villamor,
A.M. No. RTJ-90-617, 25 September 1998, 296 SCRA 88). As defined
Bad faith does not simply connote bad judgment or negligence; it imputes
a dishonest purpose or some moral obliquity and conscious doing of a
wrong; a breach of a sworn duty through some motive or intent or ill-will; it
partakes of the nature of fraud (Spiegel v. Beacon Participation, 8 NE 2nd
Series, 895, 1007). It contemplates a state of mind affirmatively operating
with furtive design or some motive of self-interest or ill will for ulterior
purposes (Air France v. Carrascoso, 18 SCRA 155, 166-167 [1966]).
Evident bad faith connotes a manifest deliberate intent on the part of the
accused to do wrong or cause damage (Llorente, Jr. v. Sandiganbayan, 287
SCRA 382 [1998], citing Marcelo v. Sandiganbayan, 185 SCRA 346
[1990]).


A.M. No. MTJ 98-1168. April 21, 1999.* (OCA I.P.I. No. 95-72-MTJ)
LUALHATI M. LIWANAG, complainant, vs. JUDGE PATERNO H.
LUSTRE, Presiding Judge, Municipal Trial Court, Calamba, Laguna,
respondent.
Courts; Judges; Administrative Law; As a rule, proof beyond
reasonable doubt is not necessary in deciding administrative casesonly
substantial evidence is required.As a rule, proof beyond reasonable doubt
is not necessary in deciding administrative cases. Only substantial evidence
is required, as clearly provided for under Rule 133 of the Revised Rules of
Evidence: Sec. 5. Substantial evidence.In cases filed before
administrative or quasi-judicial bodies, a fact may be deemed established if
it is supported by substantial evidence, or that amount of relevant evidence
which a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to justify a conclusion.
Same; Same; Immorality; Evidence; Photographs; By their very
nature, acts of sexual congress are not proper subjects of photographs.It

47
is true that the pictures do not show respondent and complainant actually
engaging in any form of sexual congress. However, this is understandable
since by their very nature, such acts are not proper subjects of photographs.
Often, as in this case, what is available to us is only the narration of the
parties involved.
Same; Same; Same; Serious Misconduct; The Court cannot countenance
any act or omission, on the part of the officials at every level in the
administration of justice, which erodes rather than enhances the publics
faith and trust in the judiciary.The Court cannot countenance any act or
omission, on the part of the officials at every level in the administration of
justice, which erodes rather than enhances the publics faith and trust in the
judiciary. Respondents disgraceful conduct surely merits sanctions even if
he has already retired as of November 1, 1998. For the serious misconduct
of respondent, the penalty provided for in Rule 140, Section 10, of the
Rules of Court, by way of fine in the maximum amount should be imposed.


Adm. Matter No. RTJ-01-1660. August 25, 2005.* (In connection with
G.R. No. 139519.)
OFFICE OF THE COURT ADMINISTRATOR, complainant, vs. JUDGE
MAXIMO G.W. PADERANGA, Regional Trial Court, Branch 38, Misamis
Oriental, Cagayan de Oro City, respondent.
Courts; Judges; Administrative Complaints; Desistance; Withdrawal
of the complaint or the execution of affidavit of desistance does not
automatically result in the dismissal of the administrative case.It must be
noted that the present administrative case did not reach the stage of a full-
blown investigation owing to the manifestation by Atty. Oclarit and
respondent of their willingness to put an amicable closure to the instant case
and for their failure to present evidence and attend the hearings set by the
investigating Justice. However, we agree with Justice de Leon that the
withdrawal of the complaint or the execution of an affidavit of desistance
does not automatically result in the dismissal of the instant administrative
case. Thus, we have held in Pineda vs. Pinto that: an affidavit of
desistance by a complainant in an administrative case against a member of
the judiciary does not divest the Supreme Court of its jurisdiction to
investigate the matters alleged in the complaint or otherwise to wield its
disciplinary authority because the Court has an interest in the conduct and
behavior of its officials and employees and in ensuring the prompt delivery
of justice to the people. Its efforts in that direction cannot thus be frustrated
by any private arrangement of the parties. Neither can the disciplinary
power of this Court be made to depend on a complainants whims. To rule
otherwise would undermine the discipline of court officials and personnel.
Same; Same; Contempt; Attorneys; Granting that a lawyer may have
indeed committed acts of dishonesty towards the court, these acts do not
justify a judge from immediately resorting to his contempt powersa judge
should be the last person to be perceived as a petty tyrant holding
imperious sway over his domain.Respondent claimed that his patience
and forbearance were stretched to the hilt because of Atty. Oclarits act of
discourtesy towards the court which consisted of his persistent
interruptions while respondent was talking. Granting that Atty. Oclarit may
indeed have committed acts of discourtesy towards the court, we likewise
agree with Justice de Leon that these acts do not justify respondent from
immediately resorting to his contempt powers, without even giving Atty.
Oclarit the benefit of a warning, considering that the penalty imposed was
deprivation of liberty in addition to fine. It has time and again been stressed
that besides the basic equipment of possessing the requisite learning in the
law, a magistrate must exhibit that hallmark judicial temperament of utmost
sobriety and self-restraint which are indispensable qualities of every judge.
A judge anywhere should be the last person to be perceived as a petty tyrant
holding imperious sway over his domain.
Same; Same; Same; Same; The role of a judge in relation to those
who appear before the court must be one with temperance, patience and
courtesya judges act of unceremoniously citing a lawyer in contempt
while declaring himself as having absolute power is a clear evidence of
his unjustified use of authority vested upon him by law.We have held that
the role of a judge in relation to those who appear before his court must be
one of temperance, patience and courtesy. A judge who is commanded at all
times to be mindful of his high calling and his mission as a dispassionate
and impartial arbiter of justice is expected to be a cerebral man who
deliberately holds in check the tug and pull of purely personal preferences
which he shares with his fellow mortals. In the present case, respondent
judges act of unceremoniously citing Atty. Oclarit in contempt while
declaring himself as having absolute power is a clear evidence of his
unjustified use of the authority vested upon him by law. He has lost sight of

48
the fact that the power to cite persons in contempt is at his disposal for
purposes that are impersonal, because that power is intended as a safeguard
not for the judges as persons but for the functions that they exercise.
Respondent is guilty of grave abuse of authority.
Same; Same; Same; Gross Misconduct; Words and Phrases; The
term gross connotes something out of all measure, beyond allowance, not
to be excused, flagrant, shameful; While a judges acts may be
condemnable, they are not totally inexcusable when the judge has been
provoked by a seemingly defiant attitude of a lawyer.This Court also finds
respondent guilty of simple misconduct. Misconduct is defined as any
unlawful conduct on the part of a person concerned in the administration of
justice prejudicial to the rights of parties or to the right determination of the
cause. It generally means wrongful, improper or unlawful conduct
motivated by a premeditated, obstinate or intentional purpose. Respondent
may not be held guilty of gross misconduct because the term gross
connotes something out of all measure; beyond allowance; not to be
excused; flagrant; shameful. In the present case, respondents actuations,
while condemnable, are not totally inexcusable as he has also been
provoked by the seemingly defiant attitude of Atty. Oclarit. Hence, this
Court only finds him guilty of simple misconduct.


A.M. No. RTJ-04-1833. June 28, 2005.*
ALEXANDER B. ORTIZ, complainant, vs. JUDGE IBARRA B.
JACULBE, JR., REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF DUMAGUETE CITY,
BRANCH 42, respondent.
Courts; Judges; Disqualification and Inhibition of Judges; A judges
failure to inhibit himself when his son-in-law appeared as counsel in a case
he was trying is a patent violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct and the
Rules of Court.The prohibition against the Judges sitting in the case is
found in the Rule 3.12 of Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial Conduct as
quoted above and in Section 1 of Rule 137 of the Rules of Court, which
states: SECTION 1. Disqualification of judges.No judge or judicial
officer shall sit in any case in which he, or his wife or child, is pecuniarily
interested as heir, legatee, creditor or otherwise, or in which he is related to
either party within the sixth degree of consanguinity or affinity, or to
counsel within the fourth degree, computed according to the rules of the
civil law, or in which he has been executor, administrator, guardian, trustee
or counsel, or in which he has presided in any inferior court when his ruling
or decision is the subject of review, without the written consent of all
parties in interest, signed by them and entered upon the record. The
prohibition under the rules is clear. Therefore, Judge Jaculbes failure to
inhibit himself when his son-in-law appeared as counsel in a case he was
trying is a patent violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct and the Rules of
Court. In Sales v. Calvan, the Court found that Judge Calvan violated the
rule on disqualification of judges as set out in the Code of Judicial Conduct
and the Rules of Court when he conducted the preliminary investigation of
a criminal case where his wife was the niece of the private complainant.
Same; Same; Same; A violation of Supreme Court rules falls under a
Less Serious Charge.Section 9 of Rule 140 of the Rules of Court
provides that a violation of Supreme Court rules falls under a Less Serious
Charge. Section 11 of the same rule states that the following sanctions may
be imposed for Less Serious Charges: 1. Suspension from office without
salary and other benefits for not less than one (1) nor more than three (3)
months; or 2. A fine of more than P10,000.00 but not exceeding
P20,000.00. In the present case, since Judge Jaculbe was earlier
reprimanded by the Court in RTJ-97-1393, the recommendation of the
Office of the Court Administrator to impose a fine of P11,000 is
appropriate.
Adm. Matter No. RTJ-03-1802. September 21, 2004.*
J. KING & SONS COMPANY, INC., represented by its President, Richard
L. King, complainant, vs. JUDGE AGAPITO L. HONTANOSAS, JR.,
Presiding Judge of RTC, Branch 16, Cebu City, respondent.
Administrative Law; Judges; The trial judges, in this case, the
investigating justices findings of facts and assessment of the credibility of
witnesses are accorded finality, exceptions.It is a wellentrenched rule that
the trial judges, in this case, the investigating justices findings of facts and
assessment of the credibility of witnesses are accorded finality. However,
such rule is not without exceptions. Such findings may be reviewed if there
appears in the record some fact or circumstance of weight which the lower
court may have overlooked, misunderstood or misappreciated, and which, if
properly considered, would alter the result of the case. Among the
circumstances which had been held to be justifiable reasons for the Court to
reexamine the trial court or appellate courts findings of facts are, when the

49
inference made is manifestly mistaken; when the judgment is based on
misapprehension of facts; and when the finding of fact of the trial court or
appellate court is premised on the supposed absence of evidence and is
contradicted by evidence on record.
Same; Same; Being a trial judge, respondent is not expected to be
careless enough to document his extortion activities on paper.In this
case, complainant is quite fortunate to even have two witnesses to
corroborate each other. Verily, to require that there be any documentary
evidence or a paper trail of the commission of extortion would be quite
absurd for, naturally, respondent would not allow such incriminating
evidence to exist. In Velez vs. Flores, we observed that being a trial judge,
respondent is not expected to be careless enough to document his extortion
activities on paper. Therefore, the King brothers testimonies cannot be
automatically disregarded simply because there is no additional evidence
presented by complainant.
Same; Same; Remedial Law; Motions; Although Section 4, Rule 15
of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure provides that the court, for good
cause, may set the hearing on shorter notice, the rule is explicit that notice
of the hearing cannot be altogether dispensed with. Although Section 4,
Rule 15 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure provides that the court, for
good cause, may set the hearing on shorter notice, the rule is explicit that
notice of the hearing cannot be altogether dispensed with. In this case,
common knowledge dictates that it would be impossible for a copy of the
motion, mailed only on July 3, 2002, to be delivered by registered mail to
counsel for the plaintiff on or before July 5, 2002. Obviously, therefore, the
plaintiff had no notice whatsoever of the filing of the motion and the
hearing date for the same.
Same; Same; Judges cannot be held to account or answer crimi-
nally, civilly or administratively for an erroneous judgment or decision
rendered by him in good faith, or in the absence of fraud, dishonesty or
corruption; When the law violated is elementary, a judge is subject to
disciplinary action; Court finds respondent guilty of gross ignorance of the
law for violating the three-day notice rule and failing to give therein
complainant due notice and the opportunity to be heard.It is has been oft
repeated that judges cannot be held to account or answer criminally, civilly
or administratively for an erroneous judgment or decision rendered by him
in good faith, or in the absence of fraud, dishonesty or corruption. However,
it has also been held that when the law violated is elementary, a judge is
subject to disciplinary action. The principles of due notice and hearing are
so basic that respondents inability to accord a litigant their right thereto
cannot be excused. In this case, we believe that respondents actuations reek
of malice and bad faith. Thus, we find respondent guilty of gross ignorance
of the law for violating the three-day notice rule and failing to give herein
complainant due notice and the opportunity to be heard on the matter as
mandated by Section 12, Rule 57 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure.
Same; Same; Respondent should know the basic requirements before
approving a surety bond or a judicial bond such as a counter-bond;
Requirements for Accepting a Surety Bond as Bail.As to the matter of the
approval of the counter-bond, respondent utterly failed to exercise due care
in examining the supporting papers therefor. The respondent should know
the basic requirements before approving a surety bond or a judicial bond
such as counter-bond. In Mangalindan vs. Court of Appeals, the Court
enumerated the requirements for accepting a surety bond as bail. Since
surety bail bonds are closely analogous to judicial bonds and counter-bonds
required for the issuance of writs of attachment or the lifting thereof, the
respondent should know that the requirements for acceptance of said surety
bail bonds are the same for all other bonds such as acceptance bonds or
counter-bonds except the requirement for photographs of the accused. Said
requirements are: (1) affidavit of justification, including a statement that the
company has no pending obligation demandable and outstanding in any
amount to the Government or any of its agencies as of the last day of the
month preceding the date the bond is issued or posted; (2) Clearance from
the Supreme Court, valid only for thirty days from the date of issuance; (3)
Certificate of compliance with the Circular from the Office of the Insurance
Commissioner; (4) Authority of the agent in case the bond is issued through
a branch office or through an agent; and (5) current certificate of authority
issued by the Insurance Commission with the financial statement showing
the maximum underwriting capacity of the company.
Same; Same; By entertaining a litigant in his home and receiving
benefits given by said litigant, respondent miserably failed to live up to the
standards of judicial conduct.Respondents defense that his wife offered
to pay but the management of the karaoke bar did not allow her to do so, is
feeble. The testimonies of the waiters at said bar are quite clear that
respondents wife would sign the order slips, but no payment was ever

50
given by respondent or his wife. Respondent should have insisted on
paying, especially considering that complainant has a total of three cases
pending before his court. Nothing on record shows that respondent even
exerted any effort to so insist. He appeared only too ready and willing to
enjoy the facilities of complainants karaoke for free. By entertaining a
litigant in his home and receiving benefits given by said litigant, respondent
miserably failed to live up to the standards of judicial conduct.
Same; Same; Forum Shopping; Complainant is not guilty of forum
shopping in filing a criminal complaint against respondent before the Office
of the Ombudsman (Visayas).It cannot be said that complainant is guilty
of forum-shopping in filing a criminal complaint against respondent before
the Office of the Ombudsman (Visayas). We held in Bejarasco, Jr. vs.
Judge Buenconsejo that: . . . it is a settled rule that administrative cases may
proceed independently of criminal proceedings, and may continue despite
the dismissal of the latter charges. As the disciplining arm of the judiciary,
it is the Courts duty to investigate and determine the truth behind every
matter in complaints against judges and to mete the necessary penalties
therefor.




A.M. No. RTJ-04-1864. December 16, 2004.* (Formerly OCA IPI No.
03-1819-RTJ)
ATTY. ANTONIO D. SELUDO, complainant, vs. JUDGE ANTONIO J.
FINEZA, Regional Trial Court, Branch 131, Caloocan City, respondent.
Administrative Law; Judges; Judges admonished to observe judicial
decorum which requires that they must at all times be temperate in their
language, refraining from inflammatory or excessive rhetoric or from
resorting to the language of vilification.We have admonished judges
to observe judicial decorum which requires that they must at all times be
temperate in their language, refraining from inflammatory or excessive
rhetoric or from resorting to the language of vilification. In the same vein,
in Fidel vs. Caraos,we held that although, respondent judge may attribute
his intemperate language to human frailty, his noble position in the bench
nevertheless demands from him courteous speech in and out of the court.
Judges are demanded to be always temperate, patient and courteous both in
conduct and in language.
Same; Same; Respondent judge guilty of gross misconduct
constituting violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct.We thus find
respondent judge guilty of gross misconduct constituting violation of the
Code of Judicial Conduct. Under Rule 140 of the Revised Rules of Court, as
amended, this administrative offense is considered serious, punishable
under Section 8, paragraph 1(3), and Section 11, paragraph A(3).



A.M. No. RTJ-04-1876. February 23, 2005.* (Formerly OCA I.P.I. No.
04-1944-RTJ)
NORA C. PEREZ and ENGRACIA G. RONQUILLO, complainants, vs.
JUDGE JOVEN COSTALES, RTC, Branch 45, Urdaneta City, Pangasinan,
respondent.
Administrative Law; Judges; A judge should avoid impropriety and
the appearance of impropriety in all activities; This includes a judges
behavior in the performance of his judicial duties, outside of it, and in his
private capacity.Canon 2 of the Code of Judicial Conduct decrees that a
judge should avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all
activities. Specifically, Rule 2.01 mandates that a judge should so behave at
all times as to promote public confidence in the impartiality of the judiciary.
This includes a judges behavior in the performance of his judicial duties,
outside of it, and in his private capacity.
Same; Same; It cannot be gainsaid that respondent Judge is aware
that his judicial position alone could exert influence or authority over the
university officials, and he took advantage of such authority.In writing to
the administrative officials of the DMMMSU-SLUC, respondent judge
obviously sought to influence or put pressure on them with regard to the
actions to be taken against the four professors. His wife could have written
the letter herself, as she is the complainant in the criminal cases against the
four professors. Instead, it was respondent judge who did, and he even used
and stated his judicial position in his letter, thereby insinuating that it should
not be ignored or trifled with. It cannot be gainsaid that respondent Judge is
aware that his judicial position alone could exert influence or authority over
the university officials, and he took advantage of such authority.


51
A.M. No. RTJ-05-1910. April 15, 2005.* (Formerly A.M. OCA I.P.I. No.
03-1904-RTJ)
ALFREDO HILADO, LOPEZ SUGAR CORPORATION and FIRST
FARMERS HOLDING CORPORATION, complainants, vs. JUDGE
AMOR A. REYES, Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 21, respondent.
Courts; Right to Information; Courts in the United States have
recognized the general right to inspect and copy public records and
documents, including judicial records and documents.The Court holds
that the respondent Judge erred in denying the complainants access to the
court records of Sp. Proc. No. 00-97505. Admittedly, the complainants
could not demand that they be furnished with the courts orders and the
pleadings filed by the parties, in as much as the respondent Judge had
already ruled that they were not parties-in-interest. However, the Court
finds that the respondent Judge should not have prohibited the complainants
from going over the records of the case and securing copies of pertinent
orders and pleadings. Courts in the United States have recognized the
general right to inspect and copy public records and documents, including
judicial records and documents. In our jurisdiction, the right is enshrined in
Section 7, Article III of the Constitution, which provides: Sec. 7. The right
of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be
recognized. Access to official records, and to documents and papers
pertaining to official acts, transactions or decisions, as well as to
government research data used as basis for policy development, shall be
afforded the citizen, subject to such limitations as may be provided by law.
Same; Same; The presumption that the public has a right to see and
copy judicial records attaches to those documents which properly come
before the court in the course of an adjudicatory proceeding and which are
relevant to the adjudication.The presumption that the public has a right to
see and copy judicial records attaches to those documents which properly
come before the court in the course of an adjudicatory proceeding and
which are relevant to the adjudication. Hence, relevant documents which are
submitted to, and accepted by, a court of competent jurisdiction in the
course of adjudicatory proceedings, become documents to which the
presumption of public access applies. The policy reasons for granting public
access to criminal proceedings include the publics right to monitor the
functioning of our courts, thereby ensuring quality, honesty and respect for
our legal system. Such policy reasons apply to the grant of public access to
civil cases as well.
Same; Administrative Complaints; It is settled that as a matter of
policy, the acts of a judge in his judicial capacity are not subject to
disciplinary actiononly judicial errors tainted with fraud, dishonesty,
gross ignorance, bad faith or deliberate intent to do an injustice will be
administratively sanctioned; An administrative complaint against a judge
cannot be pursued simultaneously with the judicial remedies accorded to
parties aggrieved by his erroneous order or judgmentuntil there is a final
declaration by the appellate court that the challenged order or judgment is
manifestly erroneous, there will be no basis to conclude whether a judge is
administratively liable.The respondent Judge cannot be similarly
chastised for ruling that the complainants were not parties-in-interest in the
subject case. It is settled that as a matter of policy, the acts of a judge in his
judicial capacity are not subject to disciplinary action. He cannot be
subjected to liabilitycivil, criminal or administrativefor any of his
official acts, no matter how erroneous, as long as he acts in good faith. Only
judicial errors tainted with fraud, dishonesty, gross ignorance, bad faith or
deliberate intent to do an injustice will be administratively sanctioned. To
hold, otherwise, would be to render judicial office untenable, for no one
called upon to try the facts or interpret the law in the process of
administering justice can be infallible in his judgment. Indeed, an
administrative complaint against a judge cannot be pursued simultaneously
with the judicial remedies accorded to parties aggrieved by his erroneous
order or judgment. Administrative remedies are neither alternative nor
cumulative to judicial review where such review is available to the
aggrieved parties and the same has not yet been resolved with finality. For
until there is a final declaration by the appellate court that the challenged
order or judgment is manifestly erroneous, there will be no basis to
conclude whether respondent judge is administratively liable. Thus, the
remedy of the aggrieved party is not to file an administrative complaint
against the judge, but to elevate the assailed decision or order to the higher
court for review and correction, which in this case the complainants have
already done. The Court notes that in a Decision dated February 27, 2004,
the CA dismissed the petition questioning the ruling of the respondent
Judge that the complainants were not parties-in-interest in Sp. Proc. 00-
97505, and that the complainants elevated such dismissal to this Court via a
petition for review.

52
A.M. No. MTJ-99-1203. June 10, 2003.*
NELIA A. ZIGA, complainant, vs. JUDGE RAMON A. AREJOLA,
respondent.
Administrative Law; Constitutional Law; Due Process; Due Process
does not mean or require a hearing, but simply an opportunity or right to be
heard; A trial-type hearing is not always de rigueur in administrative
proceedings.As the OCA correctly observed, no hearing was conducted
by the Executive Judge when the instant case was referred to him for
investigation, report and recommendation. However, we find that the
requirements of due process have been met. Due process does not mean or
require a hearing, but simply an opportunity or right to be heard. A trial-
type hearing is not always de rigueur in administrative proceedings. One
may be heard not solely through oral presentation but also, and perhaps
many times more creditably and practicable than oral arguments, through
pleadings, for as long as the element of fairness is not ignored. In this case,
respondent was afforded ample opportunity to be heard.
Same; Judges; Practice of Law; The term practice of law is not
limited to the conduct of cases in court or participation in court
proceedings but also includes preparation of pleadings or papers in
anticipation of a litigation, giving advice to clients or persons needing the
same, the preparation of legal instruments and contracts by which legal
rights are secured and the preparation of papers incident to actions and
special proceedings.The term practice of law is not limited to the
conduct of cases in court or participation in court proceedings but also
includes preparation of pleadings or papers in anticipation of a litigation,
giving advice to clients or persons needing the same, the preparation of
legal instruments and contracts by which legal rights are secured, and the
preparation of papers incident to actions and special proceedings.
Same; Same; Same; Respondents act of writing pleadings and
defending the rights of his co-heirs amounts to private practice of law.
His rationalization that he represented the heirs as a co-heir and not as
counsel is hair-splitting. The respondents act of writing pleadings and
defending the rights of his co-heirs amounts to private practice of law. The
tenor of the letters and pleadings, taken with his acts of appearing,
representing and defending the rights of the heirs over the property, show
that respondent, as representative of the heirs, was defending the latters
rights over the disputed property, and these constituted private practice of
law.
Same; Same; Same; Judges are prohibited from engaging in the
private practice of law or giving professional advice to clients.Under
Rule 138, Section 35 of the Revised Rules of Court, judges are prohibited
from engaging in the private practice of law or giving professional advice to
clients. This is reiterated in Canon 5 of the Code of Judicial Conduct which
enjoins members of the bench to regulate their extrajudicial activities to
minimize the risk of conflict with their judicial duties.
Same; Same; Same; As a Civil Service employee, respondent cannot
engage in private practice without the written permission from the Court.
As a Civil Service employee, he cannot engage in private practice without
the written permission from this Court. The public expects him to devote
full time to his judicial work. As a general rule, the appointment or election
of an attorney to a government office disqualifies him from engaging in the
private practice of law. The reason for the disqualification is that a public
office is a public trust, and a public officer or employee is obliged not only
to perform his duties with the highest degree of responsibility, integrity,
loyalty, and efficiency but also with exclusive fidelity. The disqualification
is intended to preserve the public trust in a public office, avoid conflict of
interests or a possibility thereof, assure the people of impartiality in the
performance of public functions and thereby promote the public welfare.
Same; Same; Same; The prohibition of a public officer from
undertaking certain business transactions or doing certain acts which may
compromise his position as a public official applies to judges.Also,
Section 7 of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials
and Employees (R.A. No. 6713) prohibits a public officer from undertaking
certain business transactions or doing certain acts which may compromise
his position as a public official.
Same; Same; Same; An unauthorized practice of law of a judge
constitutes a less serious charge.Under Section 9 (3) of the amended
Rule 140 of the Rules of Court, which took effect on October 1, 2001, an
unauthorized practice of law of a judge constitutes a less serious charge.
Under Section 11, if a judge is guilty of a less serious charge, he may be
imposed either (a) suspension from office without salary and other benefits
for not less than one (1) nor more than three (3) months, or (b) a fine of
more than P10,000.00 but not exceeding P20,000.00.


53

A.M. No. MTJ-97-1120. February 21, 2000.*
NATIONAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, complainant, vs. JUDGE
RAMON B. REYES, respondent.
Administrative Law; Judges; Judges have been admonished to
refrain from conducting in-chambers sessions in the absence of the
opposing party and his counsel.We have reviewed the record and
thereby conclude that the charge of bribery against respondent is well-
substantiated. Respondents disavowal of the events that transpired in his
chambers cannot be given credence. His assertion that his initial meeting
with the private complainants was an accommodation borne out of a casual
acquaintance with Nelia Evangelista fails to persuade us. The fact alone that
he conferred privately with them in his chambers merits reproof. Judges
have been admonished to refrain from conducting in-chambers sessions in
the absence of the opposing party and his counsel. We note that these
private sessions occurred twice, on November 20 and 27, 1996.
Same; Same; The alleged infringement of the constitutional rights of
the accused while under custodial investigation is relevant and material
only where an extrajudicial confession or admission from the accused
becomes the basis of his conviction.Respondent raises by way of
defense the alleged deprivation of his right to counsel during the
investigation in the NBI Regional Office. Suffice it to state, however, that
the alleged infringement of the constitutional rights of the accused while
under custodial investigation is relevant and material only where an
extrajudicial confession or admission from the accused becomes the basis of
his conviction. In the case at bench, there is sufficient evidence on record,
consisting principally of the testimonies of the witnesses presented by
complainant, to warrant the imposition of the proper penalty on respondent.
Same; Same; Disbarment; Grounds for disbarment or suspension of
an attorney; Court decreed the disbarment of judges, apart from their
dismissal from service, who were charged with bribery. Section 27,
Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of Court provides that a member of the bar
may be disbarred or suspended from his office as attorney on the following
grounds: (1) deceit; (2) malpractice or other gross misconduct in office; (3)
grossly immoral conduct; (4) conviction of a crime involving moral
turpitude; (5) violation of the lawyers oath; (6) wilful disobedience of any
lawful order of a superior court; and (7) wilfully appearing as an attorney
for a party without authority. In The Court Administrator v. Hermoso and
Bautista v. Guevarra, we decreed the disbarment of judges, apart from their
dismissal from service, who were charged with bribery. The case at bar
should be no different. All lawyers who desire to practice their profession in
this jurisdiction are required to take an oath of office whereby they
undertake, among other obligations, to do no falsehood, nor consent to the
doing of any in court x x x without any mental reservation or purpose of
evasion. The practice of law is a privilege, and only those adjudged
qualified are permitted to do so. Respondents conduct falls short of the
exacting standards demanded by the legal profession, such that his
malfeasance in office merits the ultimate penalty, that of expulsion from our
esteemed brotherhood.


Adm. Matter No. 697-CFI. October 30, 1975.*
IN RE: ANONYMOUS COMPLAINT VERSUS JUDGE JUAN
ECHIVERRI, respondent.
Judges; Courts; A trial judge is not permitted not to work on
Wednesdays oil the ground that he needs a mid-week pause on
Wednesdays.We cannot sanction the allegation of respondent that he
needs a mid-week pause on Wednesdays. The law regulating court
sessions does not permit any mid-week pause. x x x Judges are duty
bound to comply with the above (Section 58 of the Judiciary Act of 1948, as
amended) to insure the maximum efficiency of the trial courts for a speedy
administration of justice. Daily trials at a minimum of five hours per
working day of the week will enable the judge to calendar as many cases as
possible and to dispose with regular dispatch the increasing number of
litigations pending with the court. All other matters needing the attention of
the judge are to be attended to outside of this five-hour schedule of trial.









54

A.M. No. MTJ-99-1238. January 24, 2003.*
ENGR. EDGARDO R. TORCENDE, complainant, vs. JUDGE AGUSTIN
T. SARDIDO, Municipal Trial Court in Cities, Koronadal City, South
Cotabato, respondent.
Courts; Judges; Motions for Postponement; The grant or denial of a
motion for postponement is addressed to the sound discretion of the court,
which should always be predicated on the consideration that more than the
mere convenience of the courts or of the parties in the case, the ends of
justice and fairness should be served thereby.Admittedly, complainants
motion to postpone trial was filed on the very day of the hearing. The
prosecutors, however, had likewise earlier filed urgent motions for post-
ponement on three (3) successive hearings scheduled where they did not
appear, which motions for continuance were all granted. These incidents
should have been considered by respondent together with the fact that the
motion for postponement was the first filed by the accused in court.
Fundamental dictates of fairness should have prompted respondent to give
complainant the same measure of liberality he accorded the prosecution.
The grant or denial of a motion for postponement is addressed to thesound
discretion of the court, which should always be predicated on the
consideration that more than the mere convenience of the courts or of the
parties in the case, the ends of justice and fairness should be served thereby.
After all, postponements and continuances are part and parcel of our
procedural system of dispensing justice. When no substantial rights are
affected and the intention to delay is not manifest with the corresponding
motion to transfer the hearing having been filed accordingly, it is sound
judicial discretion to allow the same to the end that the merits of the case
may be fully ventilated. Unless grave abuse of discretion is shown, such
discretion will not be interfered with either by mandamus or appeal.
Same; Same; Contempt; The courts must exercise the power of
contempt for purposes that are impersonal because that power is intended
as a safeguard not for the judges but for the functions they exercise.With
regard to the matter of contempt, it must be remembered that the power to
punish for contempt is inherent in all courts so as to preserve order in
judicial proceedings as well as to uphold the administration of justice. The
courts must exercise the power of contempt for purposes that are impersonal
because that power is intended as a safeguard not for the judges but for the
functions they exercise. Thus, judges have time and again been enjoined to
exercise their contempt power judiciously, sparingly, with utmost restraint
and with the end in view of utilizing the same for correction and
preservation of the dignity of the court, not for retaliation or vindication.
Same; Same; Same; The act of a judge in summarily imposing a fine
on counsel for the accused, as well as ordering him to reimburse the
expenses of private complainant without giving the accused and his counsel
an opportunity to explain their side, is highly improper and only too
deserving of reproof.In the case at bar, the fine imposed on counsel for
complainant as well as the order for him to reimburse the expenses of
private complainant are unjust because both he and his counsel were not
given an opportunity to explain their side. In short, respondent summarily
imposed the sanctions on complainant and counsel. Such conduct of
respondent is highly improper and only too deserving of reproof.
Same; Same; Same; Words and Phrases; Contempt, Classified
and Explained.In this case, respondent judge displayed a deplorable
deficiency in his grasp of the basic principles governing contempt.
Contempt is defined as [a] disobedience to the court by setting up an
opposition to its authority, justice and dignity. Indirect contempt is one
committed out of or not in the presence of the court that tends to belittle,
degrade, obstruct or embarrass the court and Justice. On the other hand,
direct contempt consists of or is characterized by misbehavior committed
in the presence of or so near a court or judge as to interrupt the proceedings
before the same within the meaning of Section 1, Rule 71. There is no
question that disobedience or resistance to a lawful writ, process, order,
judgment or command of a court or injunction granted by a court or judge
constitutes indirect contempt.
Same; Same; Same; Same; Written charge means either (1) that
an order requiring the person to be charged with contempt to show cause
why he should not be punished for contempt, be issued by the court, or, (2)
that a petition for contempt by way of a special civil action under Rule 71
be initiated in order for contempt proceedings to prosper.Nazareno v.
Barnes interpreted a written charge to mean that either: 1.] an order
requiring the person to be charged with contempt to show cause why he
should not be punished for contempt, be issued by the court; or 2.] a petition
for contempt by way of a special civil action under Rule 71 be initiated in
order for contempt proceedings to prosper: At the outset, let it be stated that

55
the contempt proceeding against the petitioner was wrongly initiated. The
nature thereof being that of indirect contempt, a written charge is necessary
pursuant to Section 7, Rule 71 of the Rules of Court, the written charge may
partake of the nature of (1) an Order requiring the respondent (not accused)
to show cause why he should not be punished for contempt for having
committed the contemptuous acts imputed against him; or (2) a petition for
contempt by way of special civil action under Rule 71 of the Rules of Court.
The first procedure applies only where the indirect contempt is committed
against a court or judge possessed and clothed with contempt powers. The
second, if the contemptuous act was committed not against a court nor a
judicial officer with authority to punish for contemptuous acts.
Same; Same; Same; The salutary rule is that the power to punish for
contempt must be exercised in on the preservative not vindictive principle,
and on the corrective not retaliatory idea of punishment.The degree of
restraint respondent should have observed in the exercise of his judicial
powers was anything but exemplary, especially considering that the same
bears with it the taint of personal hostility and passion against the party to
whom it is directed. Magistrates have been continuously reminded that. . .
the salutary rule is that the power to punish for contempt must be exercised
in on the preservative not vindictive principle, and on the corrective not
retaliatory idea of punishment. The courts and other tribunals vested with
the power of contempt must exercise the power for contempt for purposes
that are impersonal, because that power is intended as a safeguard not for
the judges as persons but for the functions that they exercise.
Same; Same; A judge should be the last person to be perceived as
petty, sharp-tongued tyrant holding imperious sway over his domain, an
image evoked by the acts of respondent judge as underscored by the
derogatory terms in which he described complainant and his counsel in his
comment.Besides possessing the requisite learning in the law, a
magistrate must exhibit that hallmark judicial temperament of utmost
sobriety and self-restraint which are indispensable qualities of every judge.
A judge should be the last person to be perceived as petty, sharp-tongued
tyrant holding imperious sway over his domain. Such an image is, however,
evoked by the acts of respondent judge in this case as underscored by the
derogatory terms in which he described complainant and counsel in his
comment.
Same; Same; Describing complainant and counsel as
unscrupulous, senile men whose perturbed, phantasmagoric
minds are prone to hallucinations and who, as brazen liars who
devastatingly pervert truth, resort to fiendish ploys to delay the speedy
disposition of the cases filed against them is hardly the kind of circumspect
words expected of a magistrate.The role of a judge in relation to those
who appear before his court must be one of temperance, patience and
courtesy. A judge who is commanded at all times to be mindful of his high
calling and his mission as a dispassionate and impartial arbiter of justice is
expected to be a cerebral man who deliberately holds in check the tug and
pull of purely personal preferences which he shares with his fellow
mortals. Describing complainant and counsel as unscrupulous, senile
men whose perturbed, phantasmagoric minds are prone to
hallucinations and who, as brazen liars who devastatingly pervert
truth, resort to fiendish ploys to delay the speedy disposition of the cases
filed against them is hardly the kind of circumspect words expected of a
magistrate. Judges have been admonished to observe judicial decorum
which requires that a magistrate must at all times be temperate in his
language refraining from inflammatory or excessive rhetoric or from
resorting to the language of vilification.
Same; Same; Patience is an essential part of dispensing justice and
courtesy is a mark of culture and good breeding.Respondent judge needs
to be reminded that government service is people-oriented. Patience is an
essential part of dispensing justice and courtesy is a mark of culture and
good breeding. Belligerent behavior has no place in government service
where personnel are enjoined to act with self-restraint and civility at all
times even when confronted with rudeness and insolence.
Same; Same; Bias and Partiality; Branding complainant as a
brazen liar, an unscrupulous and indiscriminate issuer of bouncing
checks who charges usurious interest even before the contending parties
have completed their offer of evidence is a damning indictment against his
impartiality and objectivity.A party-litigants right to nothing less than
the cold neutrality of an impartial judge has, at best, become an empty and
hollow rhetoric. To be sure, branding complainant as a brazen liar, an
unscrupulous and indiscriminate issuer of bouncing checks who
charges usurious interest even before the contending parties have
completed their offer of evidence is a damning indictment against his
impartiality and objectivity.

56
Same; Same; A judicial office traces a line around the judges
official as well as personal conduct beyond which he may not freely
venture.Case law repeatedly teaches that judicial office circumscribes the
personal conduct of a judge and imposes a number of restrictions thereon
which he must pay for accepting and occupying an exalted position in the
administration of justice. A judicial office traces a line around his official as
well as personal conduct beyond which he may not freely venture. He must
conduct himself in a manner that gives no ground for reproach. The
irresponsible or improper conduct of a judge erodes public confidence in the
judiciary. It is thus the duty of all members of the bench to avoid any
impression of impropriety to protect the image and integrity of the
judiciary.



A.M. No. MTJ 04-1537. March 25, 2004.* (Formerly A.M. OCA IPI No.
01-998-MTJ)
ARTEMIO SABATIN, complainant, vs. JUDGE EFREN B. MALLARE,
MUNICIPAL CIRCUIT TRIAL COURT, NATIVIDAD-LLANERA,
NUEVA ECIJA, respondent.
Administrative Law; Judges; The dismissal or withdrawal of charges
and the desistance of witnesses does not automatically result in the
dismissal of an administrative case; The need to maintain the faith and
confidence of the people in the government and its agencies and
instrumentalities should not be made to depend on the whims and caprices
of the complainants who are in a real sense, only witnesses therein.The
Court would like to stress that the dismissal or withdrawal of charges and
the desistance of witnesses does not automatically result in the dismissal of
an administrative case. The withdrawal of the complaint does not have the
legal effect of automatically exonerating the respondent from any
administrative disciplinary action. It does not operate to divest this Court
with jurisdiction to determine the truth behind the matter stated in the
complaint. Furthermore, the need to maintain the faith and confidence of the
people in the government and its agencies and instrumentalities should not
be made to depend on the whims and caprices of the complainants who are,
in a real sense, only witnesses therein.
Same; Same; Undue delay in resolving a pending motion constitutes
gross inefficiency and constitutes a less serious charge.Furthermore, in
resolving the complainants motion to quash almost four months after it was
filed, the respondent violated Rule 3.05 of The Code of Judicial Conduct,
which requires judges to dispose of the courts business promptly and to act,
one way or the other, on pending cases within the prescribed period
therefor. Undue delay in resolving a pending motion constitutes gross
inefficiency, and constitutes a less serious charge, punishable under Section
9 of Rule 140 of the Rules of Court.
Same; Same; Judges are duty-bound to be faithful to the law and to
maintain professional competence at all times.Judges are duty-bound to
be faithful to the law and to maintain professional competence at all times.
The pursuit of excellence must be their guiding principle. This is the least
that judges can do to sustain the trust and confidence which the public
reposed on them and the institution they represent. Judges are also human,
although they are expected to rise above human frailties. At the very least,
there must be an earnest and sincere effort on his part to do so. Considering
that they are the visible representation of the law and of justice, the citizenry
expects their official conduct as well as their personal behavior to always be
beyond reproach.



A.M. No. RTJ-04-1821. August 12, 2004.*
JOSE E. FERNANDEZ, complainant, vs. JUDGE JAIME T. HAMOY,
Regional Trial Court, Branch 130, Caloocan City, respondent.
Courts; Administrative Law; Judges; The judge is responsible for
ensuring that court personnel perform their tasks and that the parties are
promptly notified of his orders and decisionsit is his duty to devise an
efficient recording and filing system in his court to enable him to monitor
the flow of cases and to manage their speedy and timely disposition.
Respondent Judge cannot be absolved from liability for the inefficiency of
his court personnel. Judges are charged with the administrative
responsibility of organizing and supervising his court personnel to secure
the prompt and efficient dispatch of business, requiring at all times the
observance of high standards of public service and fidelity. Indeed, he is
ultimately responsible for ensuring that court personnel perform their tasks
and that the parties are promptly notified of his orders and decisions. It is

57
his duty to devise an efficient recording and filing system in his court to
enable him to monitor the flow of cases and to manage their speedy and
timely disposition.
Same; Same; Judges have a duty to decide their cases within the
reglementary periodon meritorious grounds, they may ask for additional
time.Judges have a duty to decide their cases within the reglementary
period. On meritorious grounds, they may ask for additional time. It must be
stressed, however, that their application for extension must be filed before
the expiration of the prescribed period. A close scrutiny of the records does
not disclose any attempt by respondent Judge to request for a reasonable
extension of time to dispose of the aforementioned cases. Not only did he
consign the cases in limbo for an unreasonable period of 13 years, worse,
respondent Judge brought the records of the unresolved cases to his new
station without clearance from the Office of the Court Administrator. Upon
his transfer to another post, respondent Judge should have asked the
permission of the Court Administrator to bring the records of the cases to
his new assignment or should have apprised the parties of his action with
respect thereto. This way, the Office of the Court Administrator and the
parties involved are aware of the progress of the cases instead of leaving
them in the dark. More importantly, this would dispel any suspicion that the
respondent Judge was unduly holding on to the records for corrupt or ill
motives.
Same; Same; Members of the judiciary have the sworn duty to
administer justice without undue delay.Members of the judiciary have the
sworn duty to administer justice without undue delay. A judge who failed to
do so has to suffer the consequences of his omission. Any delay in the
disposition of cases undermines the peoples faith in the judiciary.
Same; Same; The office of a judge exists for one solemn endto
promote the ends of justice by administering it speedily and impartially.
The office of a judge exists for one solemn endto 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.
These are self-evident dogmas which do not even have to be emphasized
but which we always advert to when some members of the judiciary commit
legal missteps or stray from the axioms of judicial ethics. More importantly,
failure to resolve cases submitted for decision within the period fixed by
law constitutes a serious violation of the constitutional right of the parties to
a speedy disposition of their cases.
Same; Same; A judges inability to decide a case within the required
period is not excusable and constitutes gross inefficiency warranting the
imposition of administrative sanctions.A judges inability to decide a
case within the required period is not excusable and constitutes gross
inefficiency warranting the imposition of administrative sanctions. A judge
should, at all times, remain in full control of the proceedings in his sala and,
more importantly, should follow the time limit set for deciding cases.
Same; Same; Judges should respect the orders and decisions of
higher tribunals, much more so this Court from which all other courts
should take their bearings.Judges should respect the orders and decisions
of higher tribunals, much more so this Court from which all other courts
should take their bearings. A resolution of the Supreme Court is not to be
construed as a mere request and should not be complied with partially,
inadequately or selectively. Respondent Judges impious defiance of the
directives of the OCA and of this Court borders on contumacy which
deserves no compassion. He cannot simply shrug off his non-compliance
and pass the blame to his faltering memory to justify his inaction. His
explanation displays a cavalier attitude which mocks the lawful authority of
this Court.
Same; Same; In the Judiciary, moral integrity is more than a
cardinal virtue, it is a necessity.In the Judiciary, moral integrity is more
than a cardinal virtue, it is a necessity. Respondent Judge must bear in mind
that the exacting standards of conduct demanded of judges are designed to
promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.
When the judge himself becomes the transgressor of the law which he is
sworn to apply, he places his office in disrepute, encourages disrespect for
the law and impairs public confidence in the integrity of the judiciary itself.
Same; Same; A judge who fails to decide cases within the prescribed period
but collects his salary upon a false certificate is guilty of dishonesty
amounting to gross misconduct and deserves the condemnation of all right
thinking men.The records show that despite the pendency of the cases
subject hereof, he was able to collect his salaries upon his certification that
he has no pending cases to resolve. A certificate of service is an instrument
essential to the fulfillment by the judges of their duty to speedily dispose of
their cases as mandated by the Constitution. A judge who fails to decide
cases within the prescribed period but collects his salary upon a false

58
certificate is guilty of dishonesty amounting to gross misconduct and
deserves the condemnation of all right thinking men. In view of the
primordial role of judges in the administration of justice, only those with
irreproachable integrity and probity must be entrusted with judicial powers.



A.M. No. MTJ-88-184. October 13, 1989.*
CALI A. IMPAO, DANIEL M. ESPERAT and NENA E. HERRERA,
petitioners, vs. JUDGE JACOSALEM D. MAKILALA, respondent.
A.M. No. MTJ-88-217. October 13, 1989.*
ROSAMAR V. MAREGMEN, ELLEN G. VILLARUEL and GINA D.
NATIVIDAD, petitioners, vs. JUDGE JACOSALEM D. MAKILALA,
respondent.
A.M. No. MTJ-88-221. October 13, 1989.*
EMPLOYEES OF THE MTC, MAGANOY AND MCTC OF
AMPATUAN-SULTAN SA BARONGIS, PROVINCE OF
MAGUINDANAO, petitioners, vs. JUDGE JACOSALEM D.
MAKILALA, respondent.
Judges; Court agrees with the investigating judge that the
testimonial and documentary evidence presented by the complainants
convincingly established the charges against the respondent.After a
careful review of the records of the case, the Court finds that the findings
and conclusions contained in the report of Investigating Judge Bagundang
are supported by the evidence on record. The Court agrees with the
investigating judge that the testimonial and documentary evidence
presented by the complainants convincingly established the charges against
the respondent. The Court finds nothing in the records which would warrant
the reversal of the investigating judges findings and conclusion.
Same; Same; Contention that respondent was not given the
opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses who testified against him is
manifestly devoid of merit.It is readily apparent from the records of the
case that the above contention is manifestly devoid of merit. Respondent
and his counsel were present during the hearings on November 17 and 18,
1988 [TSN, November 17, 1988, pp. 2-3; TSN, November 18, 1988, pp. 2-
3]. Respondents counsel cross-examined witnesses Nena Herrera and
Daniel Esperat during the November 18, 1988 hearing [TSN, November 18,
1988, pp. 3-37.] As to the other five witnesses, namely, Cali Impao, Noemi
Socias, Belen Pasaforte, Ellen Villaruel and Rosamar Maregmen, the failure
of respondents counsel to cross-examine them was entirely the fault of
respondent and his counsel. They failed to heed the warning of the
investigating judge that the hearings on January 16 to 20 would continue
even without the presence of respondent. Despite due notice both
respondent and his counsel did not appear in the scheduled hearings nor did
they explain the reason therefor. By their unexplained absence, respondent
and his counsel effectively waived respondents right to cross-examine the
other witnesses.
Same; Same; Same; Respondent should know that it is not incumbent
upon the investigating judge to call up respondents counsel to inquire into
the reason for their non-appearance in the scheduled hearings.The above
contentions sadly reflect ignorance of the requirements of due process. As a
lawyer and a municipal judge for a number of years, respondent should
know that it is not incumbent upon the investigating judge to call up
respondents counsel to inquire into the reason for their non-appearance in
the scheduled hearings. Nor is it for the investigating judge to prove that he
gave respondent an opportunity to be present. It is the duty of the
respondents counsel to be present during the hearings and to inform the
court of the reason for their absence.
Same; Same; The seriousness of respondents illness cannot justify
his failure to perform his duties nor does it excuse him from the
consequences of his misconduct and abuse of authority.The Court is not
unmindful of the fact that respondent Judge Makilala is suffering from a
lingering illness. Respondent himself alleges in his Comment on the
Resolution of the Hearing Officer that he cannot travel long distances nor
do any job requiring physical exertion because the nature of his illness,
known as polycythemia vera, requires that his blood be drained periodically.
However, the seriousness of respondents illness cannot justify his failure to
perform his duties nor does it excuse him from the consequences of his
misconduct and abuse of authority. If indeed respondent found it difficult to
discharge the functions of a municipal judge, then he should have retired
voluntarily instead of clinging to his office at the expense of the litigants,
his staff and the general public. Considering the number and the serious
nature of offenses committed by respondent judge, the Court believes that
the penalty of dismissal with forfeiture of retirement benefits should be

59
imposed upon him.
Same; Same; The behavior of respondent judge complained of and
proven in this case shows beyond doubt his unfitness to occupy the position
of a municipal judge.The behavior of respondent judge complained of
and proven in this case, i.e., his acceptance of a bribe, his holding office and
conducting hearings at his residence, his falsification of his daily time
record, his failure to observe proper decorum in conducting court
proceedings, his intemperate language and threats against the personnel of
his courts, and his use of physical violence against Daniel Esperat, among
others, shows beyond doubt his unfitness to occupy the position of a
municipal judge. Respondent judge violated the established norms for
judicial behavior, and the best interest of the judiciary demands that
respondent be dismissed from the service.
Same; Same; Same; Respondent found guilty of serious misconduct and
abuse of authority.WHEREFORE, the Court finds respondent Judge
Jacosalem D. Makilala guilty of serious misconduct and abuse of authority
and is hereby DISMISSED from the service. Any retirement benefits due
him are hereby ordered FORFEITED to the government.

ATTY. MELVIN D.C. MANE, complainant, vs. JUDGE MEDEL
ARNALDO B. BELEN, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, BRANCH 36,
CALAMBA CITY, respondent.
Administrative Law; Judges; For a judge to determine the fitness or
competence of a lawyer primarily on the basis of his alma mater is clearly
an engagement in an argumentum ad hominem.An alumnus of a
particular law school has no monopoly of knowledge of the law. By
hurdling the Bar Examinations which this Court administers, taking of the
Lawyers oath, and signing of the Roll of Attorneys, a lawyer is presumed
to be competent to discharge his functions and duties as, inter alia, an
officer of the court, irrespective of where he obtained his law degree. For a
judge to determine the fitness or competence of a lawyer primarily on the
basis of his alma mater is clearly an engagement in an argumentum ad
hominem.
Same; Same; Court has reminded members of the bench that even on
the face of boorish behavior from those they deal with, they ought to
conduct themselves in a manner befitting gentlemen and high officers of the
court.A judge must address the merits of the case and not on the person
of the counsel. If respondent felt that his integrity and dignity were being
assaulted, he acted properly when he directed complainant to explain why
he should not be cited for contempt. He went out of bounds, however, when
he, as the above-quoted portions of the transcript of stenographic notes
show, engaged on a supercilious legal and personal discourse. This Court
has reminded members of the bench that even on the face of boorish
behavior from those they deal with, they ought to conduct themselves in a
manner befitting gentlemen and high officers of the court.

A.M. No. MTJ-94-921. March 5, 1996.*
DR. AMPARO A. LACHICA, complainant, vs. JUDGE ROLANDO A.
FLORDELIZA, MCTC, Jose Abad Santos-Sarangani, Davao del Sur,
respondent.
Judges; Administrative Investigation of Judges; Evidence;
Substantial evidence is the quantum of proof required in administrative
cases.From all the foregoing, as well as the evidence on record, this
Court is convinced that the charge of misconduct against the respondent
judge has been established by substantial evidence, which is the quantum of
proof required in administrative cases. His undue interest in having
complainant sign the Death Certificate is highly questionable, to say the
least.
Same; Same; Intoxication; Inebriated demeanor and incoherent
behavior during festivities is reprehensible in a judge and should be
subjected to disciplinary action.Further, his inebriated demeanor and
incoherent behavior during the festivities, as attested to by a witness, is
reprehensible in a judge and should be subjected to disciplinary action. As
previously held by this Court: The undue surrender of respondent Judge to
the proddings of his self-defined pleasure failed him in his duty to conduct
himself within the confines of propriety and to behave in a manner shorn of
reproach. When he yield to the strength of the spirits, losing judicial
composure and acting like an uninhibited drunkard in the streets and public
places, he not only stripped himself of his dignity as a man but disrobed the
court of the respect of the people it serves. Such act demeans his judicial
office and elicits suspicion of his capacity to discharge justice. The
apprehension may lie where such suspicion may be stretched too far by the
people themselves and may unduly include the whole judicial machinery.
And that would lay the way for the people to weaken, if not lose, their faith

60
in the administration of justice.