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February 15, 2017

14. A.M. No. MTJ-17-1891


[Formerly OCA IPI No. 15-2792-MTJ]
DOMINADOR BIADO, MAMERTO BIADO, CARLITO DELA CRUZ, NORMA DELA CRUZ, DANILO DELA CRUZ,
ROMULO MARANO SR., FRANCISCO PADILLA, LOLITA ABLIR AND SONNY TONGCALO, Complainants
vs.
HON. MARIETTA S. BRAWNER-CUALING, PRESIDING JUDGE, MUNICIPAL CIRCUIT TRIAL COURT [MCTC],
TUBA-SABLAN, BENGUET, Respondents
RESOLUTION
LEONEN, J.:
An administrative complaint is not the proper remedy for every action of a judge considered "aberrant or irregular"
especially when a judicial remedy exists. 1

This is an administrative complaint for gross ignorance of the law


2

and manifest partiality relative to an ejectment case and damages docketed as Civil Case No. 302 against Judge Marietta
S. Brawner-Cualing (respondent judge) of the Municipal Circuit Trial Court of Tuba- Sablan, Benguet. Complainants insist
that respondent judge should be faulted for her cognizance of the civil case and her subsequent issuance of the assailed
decision and writ of execution despite lack of jurisdiction. 3

In their Joint Complaint Affidavit dated September 11, 2015 filed before the Office of the Court Administrator, Dominador
4

Biado, Mamerto Biado, Carlito Dela Cruz, Norma Dela Cruz, Danilo Dela Cruz, Romulo Marano Sr., Francisco Padilla, Lolita
Ablir and Sonny Tongcalo (complainants) stated that they were the defendants in Civil Case No. 302 entitled Heirs of
Cariño Sioco v. Dominador Biado et. al. filed before the 5th Municipal Circuit Trial Court of Tuba-Sablan, Benguet, over
5 6

which respondent judge presided.


On December 9, 2011, respondent judge issued a Decision in favor of the Heirs of Cariño Sioco. In her decision,
7 8

respondent judge found that all the elements of unlawful detainer were present in the case. She directed the 9

complainants to vacate the disputed lot and to "turn over the possession to the plaintiffs." She also ordered them to pay 10

monthly rental fees to the heirs until they vacated the premises. 11

Complainants appealed before the Regional Trial Court of La Trinidad, Benguet. However, their appeal was dismissed 12

due to their "failure to appear and participate in it." Since there was no further appeal made, respondent judge's
13

decision became final and executory. 14

On December 14, 2012, through motion of the prevailing party, respondent Judge issued an Order granting the Heirs of
Cariño Sioco's Motion for Execution. Similarly, she issued a Writ for Execution ordering the sheriff to cause the
15 16

immediate implementation of the Decision. 17

Complainants opposed the assailed decision and Writ of Execution, and claimed that respondent judge had no jurisdiction
over the case. They insisted that the disputed property was not within the jurisdiction of Tuba-Sablan, Benguet but
18

within Pangasinan. Moreover, there was an "existing boundary dispute between Pangasinan and Benguet." They
19 20

asserted that they had already brought this matter to respondent judge's attention and "sought deferment on the case
pending the resolution of the boundary issue." To bolster their claim, they even allegedly presented the Municipal Index
21

Map of San Manuel, Pangasinan and the Land Clarification of Benguet and Pangasinan. However, these were ignored by 22

the respondent judge. 23

Complainants averred that respondent judge should have at least "inquired by herself" on the exact location of the
disputed property to determine if she had jurisdiction over the case. Respondent judge showed her gross ignorance of
24

the law and her manifest partiality against them for her failure to know the exact location of the disputed property. For 25

this reason, they were prompted to file this administrative case against her.
In her Comment dated November 23, 2015, respondent judge denied the accusations relative to her alleged manifest
26

partiality and gross ignorance of the law. She claimed that this administrative complaint was a "mere ploy to divert the
27

implementation of the decision in Civil Case No. 302," which already attained finality as of September 17, 2012, per
28

Entry of Judgment dated January 23, 2013. A Writ of Execution had already been issued, which complainants
29

ignored. A Writ of Demolition has likewise been issued after complainants failed to willingly remove their
30

constructions. Instead of obeying the writ, complainants filed a Petition for Annulment of Judgment before the Court of
31

Appeals docketed as CA-G.R. SP. No. 131838. Their petition, however, was dismissed on October 4,2013.
32 33

Due to complainants' "obstinate refusal" to comply with the Municipal Circuit Trial Court's order, the Heirs of Cariño Sioco
filed a Petition for Indirect Contempt against them docketed as Special Civil Action Case No. 03, which has been pending
resolution. 34

Respondent judge maintained that she had jurisdiction to rule over the case. She relied on the plaintiff's complaint and
35

the respondent's answer, which "categorically stated that both parties were residents and/or occupants of the parcels of
land located at Barangay Ansangan, Tuba, Benguet," Several other documents submitted by the complainants, showed
36 37

that they acknowledged the fact that the disputed property was in Benguet and not in San Manuel, Pangasinan. 38

Contrary to complainants' assertion that they immediately raised the issue of lack of jurisdiction as soon as they learned
about it, "it was only in their position paper, by way of a motion to dismiss, that complainants for the first time,
questioned the court's lack of jurisdiction." Also, respondent judge maintained that she did not ignore this issue and
39

even ruled on the matter in her assailed decision. 40

The Office of the Court Administrator, through a Report dated June 28, 2016, recommended the dismissal of this case for
being judicial in nature and for lack of merit. 41

We affirm the recommendation.


I
This administrative complaint is due to respondent judge's cognizance of Civil Case No. 302 and her consequent issuance
of the assailed Decision dated December 9, 2011 as well as the Writ of Execution. Complainants assert that these
decisions were tainted with manifest partiality and that respondent judge's conduct constitutes gross ignorance of the
42

law since she ruled on the case even though she had no jurisdiction over it. 43

"[A]n administrative complaint is not the appropriate remedy for every act of a Judge deemed aberrant or irregular where
a judicial remedy exists and is available[.]" It must be underscored that "the acts of a judge in his judicial capacity are
44

not subject to disciplinary action." He cannot be civilly, criminally, or administratively liable for his official acts, "no
45

matter how erroneous," provided he acts in good faith. 46

In this case, it is apparent that the assailed orders relate to respondent judge's acts in her judicial capacity. These alleged
errors, therefore, cannot be the proper subject of an administrative proceeding, but is only correctible through judicial
remedies. Hence, what complainants should have done was to appeal the assailed orders to the higher court .for review
and not to file an administrative complaint against responden t judge. "Disciplinary proceedings and criminal actions do
not complement, supplement or substitute judicial remedies, whether ordinary or extraordinary." 47

It is to be emphasized that the complainants initially filed a Petition for Annulment of Judgment before the Court of
Appeals relative to the assailed orders. As correctly observed by the Office of the Court Administrator, this act showed
complainants' recognition that the issues they were raising against respondent judge required judicial determination.
Thus,
Finally, it must be pointed out that complainants elevated the alleged erroneous decision of herein respondent judge to
the Court of Appeals by way of a Petition for Annulment of Judgment, which the appellate court dismissed in a Resolution
dated 4 October 2013. To us, such actuation is an indication that complainants indeed recognized that the issue that they
were raising against respondent judge was one that was appropriate for judicial determination. Also noteworthy is the
fact that after their petition for annulment of judgment was dismissed by the Court of Appeals, complainants sought
recourse. On 17 September 2015, they filed an administrative complaint before this Office... (Emphasis supplied)
An issue of jurisdiction is a judicial matter, which can only be decided upon through judicial remedies. A party's recourse,
48

if prejudiced by a judge's orders in the course of a trial, is with the proper reviewing court and not with the Office of the
Court Administrator, through an administrative complaint. 49

II
The complainants' imputation of gross ignorance of the law must also fail. "Gross ignorance transcends a simple error in
the application of legal provisions. In the absence of fraud, dishonesty or corruption, the acts of a judge in his judicial
capacity are generally not subject to disciplinary action, even though such acts are erroneous." 50

To be liable for gross ignorance of the law, the assailed orders of a judge, who acts in his official capacity, should not
only be erroneous; it must be established that his actuation was attended by "bad faith, dishonesty, hatred" or other
similar motive. In this case, complainants failed to do establish this. In their Joint-Complaint Affidavit, they merely
51

claimed that:
11. It is very clear that MCTC-Tuba has no jurisdiction over the Subject Property. As a judge, Judge Brawner-Cualing
should know this very well. 1âw phi 1

12. As an Officer of the Court charged with duty to dispense justice, Judge Brawner-Cualing should have proceeded with
outmost(sic) care and diligence with the aforesaid ejectment case considering that her jurisdiction over the Subject
Property is being disputed. At the very least, she should have inquired by herself as to the territorial jurisdiction or exact
location of the Subject Property. But instead of doing this, Judge Brawner-Cualing proceeded in deciding the case with
recklessness.
13. In deciding the case, despite the fact that MCTC-Tuba has no jurisdiction to try and hear the aforesaid ejectment
case, Judge Brawner-Cualing has clearly showed gross partiality in favor of the plaintiffs.
14. We have executed this joint complaint-affidavit in order to attest to the truth of all the foregoing and to formally file a
complaint against Judge Marietta S. Brawner-Cualing for gross ignorance of the law. 52

In her Comment, respondent judge asserts that contrary to complainants' assertion that they immediately raised the issue
of lack of jurisdiction as soon as they learned about it, "it was only in their position paper, by way of a motion to dismiss,
that complainants for the first time, questioned the court's lack of jurisdiction." Thus,
53

12. It would also be erroneous for the petitioners herein to state in paragraph 5 of their Joint Complaint Affidavit that it
54

was only during the pendency of the ejectment case that they found out and verified that the subject property was
located in San Manuel, Pangasinan and not in Tuba, Benguet because as early as August 26, 2010 in compliance by the
plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 302, it would appear that they have already been raising the apparent location of the subject
property to be in Pangasinan and not in Tuba, Benguet in an earlier Malicious Mischief case filed against them by Ruby
Giron ... Nothing therefore would have precluded petitioners herein from amending their Answer to the Complaint in Civil
Case No. 302 to raise at the start the issue that the Court Lacked any jurisdiction over the same because of the location
of the subject property. It was therefore too late in the proceeding for the petitioners to raise ground in their Position
Paper. It would also be to the prejudice of the respondent to be declared gross ignorance of the law based
on the ground that was never first place raised by petitioners. (Emphasis on the original)
55

Complainants oppose the assailed decision and Writ of Execution and claim that respondent judge has no jurisdiction over
the case. The disputed property is allegedly not within the jurisdiction of Tuba-Sablan, Benguet but in
56

Pangasinan. Complainants assert that while they have already brought the matter to respondent judge's attention, they
57

were nevertheless ignored. 58

Contrary to complainants' claim, this issue was explicitly addressed by respondent judge in her December 9, 2011
Decision which read:
As a final note, defendant's claim that this case should be dismissed as it would appear that the subject parcel of land
falls within the territorial jurisdiction of the Province of Pangasinan[.]
The Court however could not uphold this claim by the defendants because from the previous pleadings as well as their
dealings entered into in connection with the property they are possessing, they have been representing themselves to be
residents of Ansagan, Tuba, Benguet. Because of this representation, defendants were able to secure loan from NIA-CAR
or from the Province of Benguet (Exhibits "1 ", "2", "3" and "4"). Defendants could not therefore state that they are under
the territorial jurisdiction of the Province of Pangasinan considering that with the dismissal of this case, it would greatly
favor them.
Moreover, the Land Classification Map appended to Exhibit "13" clearly states therein that "Municipal boundaries are not
established nor located on the ground but are merely indicated hereon as taken from available references. Such political
boundaries are for purposes of determining Administrative Jurisdiction of Forest District affected."
Clearly, toclaim that the subject property is within the territorial jurisdiction of the Province of Pangasinan concluding only
on a map classifying the forest areas therein could not be accepted by the Court without any further evidence tothat
effect."
59

Though there are opposing claims in this case, it is to be emphasized that in administrative proceedings, the burden of
proof lies with the complainants. Hence, the allegations in their complaints should be proven by substantial
60

evidence. Thus,
61

While the Court will never tolerate or condone any conduct, act, or omission that would violate the norm of public
accountability or diminish the people's faith in the judiciary, the quantum of proof necessary for a finding of guilt in
administrative cases is substantial evidence or such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to
support a conclusion." 62

III.
Similarly, complainants' assertion of respondent judge's manifest partiality against them cannot prosper. Manifest
partiality pertains to "a clear, notorious or plain inclination or predilection to favor one side rather than the other." Thus,
63

a mere imputation of bias and partiality against a judge is insufficient because "bias and partiality can never be
presumed." 64

Since "bad faith or malice cannot be inferred simply because the judgment is adverse to a party," it is incumbent upon
65

the complainants to prove that respondent judge was manifestly partial against them. Their failure to prove this is fatal to
their cause. Apart from their bare allegations, complainants offered no other independent proof to validate this
allegation. 66

Complainants' failure to substantiate their claims in an administrative proceeding can cause the dismissal of the case for
lack of merit. "In the absence of evidence to the contrary, the presumption that a judge has regularly performed his
67

duties will prevail." 68

WHEREFORE, this administrative complaint against Judge Marietta S. Brawner-Cualing is DISMISSED for lack of merit.
15. A.M. No. MTJ-17-1897 [Formerly OCA IPI No. 16-2832-MTJ), November 21, 2018
MA. VICTORIA S.D. CARPIO AND JOHN PERSIUS S.D. CARPIO Complainants, v. JUDGE ELENITA C.
DIMAGUILA, MUNICIPAL TRIAL COURT IN CITIES OF ANTIPOLO CITY, RIZAL, BRANCH 4, Respondent.
RESOLUTION
PERLAS-BERNABE, J.:
For resolution is the Motion for Reconsideration1 dated April 20, 2018 filed by respondent Judge Elenita C. Dimaguila
(respondent) of the Municipal Trial Court in Cities of Antipolo City, Rizal, Branch 4 (MTCC), seeking to reverse and set
aside the Court's Resolution2 dated April 17, 2017 finding her guilty of Gross Ignorance of the Law, and accordingly,
imposing upon her the penalty of a fine in the amount P10,000.00.
The Facts

Respondent presided over a case for Grave Coercion against complainants Ma. Victoria S.D. Carpio and John Persius S.D.
Carpio (complainants), docketed as Criminal Case No. 14-0504. During the proceedings, respondent allegedly refused to
refer the case to the mandatory Court-Annexed Mediation and Judicial Dispute Resolution, pursuant to A.M. No. 11-1-6-
SC-PHILJA, otherwise known as the "Consolidated and Revised Guidelines to Implement the Expanded Coverage of Court-
Annexed Mediation (CAM) and Judicial Dispute Resolution (JDR)." 3 Accordingly, on February 26, 2016, complainants filed
a Joint Complaint Affidavit4 for Gross Ignorance of the Law, Manifest Bias and Partiality, Patently Erroneous and Serious
Irregularity of Judgment, and Grave Abuse of Authority/Discretion against respondent before the Office of the Court
Administrator (OCA).5

In her Comment6 dated May 18, 2016, respondent maintained that she is aware of the Court's guidelines under A.M. No.
11-1-6-SC-PHILJA but opted not to refer Criminal Case No. 14-0504 to the mandatory CAM and JDR in order to avoid
further delay, considering that complainants categorically declared in open court that they were no longer interested in
settling the civil aspect of the case.7

In a Memorandum8 dated January 19, 2017, the OCA recommended that: ( a) the Joint Complaint Affidavit be re-docketed
as a regular administrative matter against respondent; and ( b) respondent be fined in the amount of P10,000.00 for
Gross Ignorance of the Law, with a stern warning that a repetition of the same or similar offense shall be dealt with more
severely.9 In the said Memorandum, the OCA pointed out that Criminal Case No. 14-0504 was indeed among the cases
which require mandatory referral to the CAM and JDR, and that it was incumbent upon respondent to strictly comply
therewith under pain of administrative sanction. 10 However, the OCA noted that the said incident was respondent's first
administrative offense, which is a mitigating circumstance in her favor. 11

In a Resolution12 dated April 17, 2017, the Court adopted and approved the findings and recommendation of the OCA,
and accordingly, found respondent guilty of Gross Ignorance of the Law.

Aggrieved, respondent moved for reconsideration,13 alleging that her failure to refer the case to the mandatory CAM and
JDR was a mere slight deviation from the provisions of A.M. No. 11-1-6-SC-PHILJA, and was thus not intended to
frustrate the ends of justice.14 She added that the same was fully justified, considering that complainants had been taking
steps towards delaying the case.15 Moreover, she insisted that her actions were not brought about by her utter lack of
familiarity and disregard of the rules, since she readily issues orders directing the parties in other cases to report to the
CAM mediator after the accused's arraignment. 16
The Issue Before the Court

The main issue in this case is whether or not the Court's Resolution dated April 17, 2017 finding respondent guilty of
Gross Ignorance of the Law should be reconsidered.
The Court's Ruling

After a judicious study of the case, the Court finds sufficient basis to hold respondent liable only for Violation of Supreme
Cout1 Rules, Directives, and Circulars (a less serious charge), instead of Gross Ignorance of the Law (a serious charge).

Under Section 8, Rule 140 of the Rules of Court, Gross Ignorance of the Law or Procedure is classified as a serious
charge.17 For liability to attach, the assailed order, decision or actuation of the judge in the performance of official duties
must not only be found to be erroneous but, most importantly, it must be established that the issuance thereof was
actuated by bad faith, dishonesty, hatred or some other like motive. 18

On the basis of the foregoing, it can be said that respondent's failure to refer the civil aspect of Criminal Case No. 14-
0504 to the mandatory CAM and JDR proceedings does not amount to Gross Ignorance of the Law. While respondent
deviated from the required procedure under A.M. No. 11-1-6-SC-PHILJA, such act is not outrageous so as to constitute
"gross ignorance." Records reveal that she is fairly acquainted with the guidelines prescribed for the CAM and JDR, as in
fact, she readily implements the same by ordering the parties in other cases to report to the CAM mediator after
arraignment.19 Moreover, she explicitly stated in the said orders20 that her referral to the said mediator is in accordance
with the provisions of A.M. No. 11-1-6-SC-PHILJA. Verily, respondent is well-aware of the rules involving the CAM and
JDR, as well as its application and implementation.

The fault of respondent, however, lies in her belief that an exception to the foregoing was warranted by the
circumstances. Respondent pointed out that the parties had unequivocally expressed their disinterest in settling the civil
aspect of the case. Thus, to her mind, referring the same to the CAM and JDR would be a mere exercise of futility, and
would then cause further delay in the disposition of the case. As such, respondent decided to deviate from the normal
course of procedure in order not to hamper and frustrate the ends of justice.

While respondent had good motives in not referring the case to the CAM and JDR, the Court still finds her administratively
liable for not complying with the provisions of A.M. No. 11-1-6-SC-PHILJA. It bears stressing that under the said rules,
cases involving less grave felonies, where the offended party is a private person, are required to be referred to the CAM
and JDR proceedings, as in this case.21 Such requirement did not carve out any explicit exception and hence, evinces its
mandatory nature, notwithstanding the parties' desire to forego with the settlement of the civil aspect of the case.

In view of the foregoing, the Court finds respondent administratively liable for the less serious charge of Violation of
Supreme Court Rules, Directives, and Circulars under Section 9, Rule 140 of the Rules of Court, which is punishable by:
(a) suspension from office without salary and other benefits for more than three (3) but not exceeding six (6) months; or
(b) a fine of more than P10,000.00 but not exceeding P20,000.00. 22 In Luna v. Mirafuente,23 the Court found respondent
judge therein liable for Violation of Supreme Court Rules, Directives, and Circulars for having violated the Revised Rules
on Summary Procedure, but accordingly, mitigated the penalty of a fine to severe reprimand after taking into account the
absence of malice and corrupt motive on his part.24 Similarly, considering the absence of bad faith in the actuation of
respondent and that this is her first offense, the Court deems it proper to mitigate the penalty imposed upon her from a
fine of P10,000.00 to reprimand.

WHEREFORE, the motion for reconsideration filed by respondent Judge Elenita C. Dimaguila of the Municipal Trial Court
in Cities of Antipolo City, Rizal, Branch 4 is PARTLY GRANTED. The Court's Resolution dated April 17, 2017 is
hereby MODIFIED reducing the administrative liability of respondent from Gross Ignorance of the Law to Violation of
Supreme Court Rules, Directives, and Circulars and imposing the penalty of REPRIMAND with a STERN
WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar acts in the future shall definitely be dealt with more severely. She is
reminded to be more circumspect in the performance of her duties, which should be discharged in accordance with the
duly issued rules, directives, and circulars by the Court.

Let a copy of this Resolution be attached to the personal record of respondent judge.

SO ORDERED.
January 24, 2017
16. A.M. No. RTJ-16-2472 [Formerly OCA IPI No. 13-4141-RTJ]
JUDGE MARTONINO R. MARCOS (Retired), Complainant,
vs.
HON. PERLA V. CABRERA-FALLER, Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court, Branch 90, Dasmariñas City,
Cavite, Respondent.
DECISION
Per Curiam:
Before the Court is an administrative complaint against Judge Perla V. Cabrera-Faller (Judge Cabrera-Faller) of the
1

Regional Trial Court, Branch 90, Dasmariñas City, Cavite (RTC), filed by Martonino R. Marcos, a retired
judge (complainant), for ignorance of the law, misconduct, violation of the anti-graft and corrupt practices act, and for
knowingly rendering an unjust judgment/order.
The Antecedents
The controversy stemmed from the death of complainant's grandson, Marc Andrei Marcos (Marc Andrei), during the
initiation rites of Lex Leonum Fratemitas (Lex Leonum) held on July 29, 2012 at the Veluz Farm, Dasmariñas City, Cavite.
A preliminary investigation was conducted and, thereafter, the Office of the City Prosecutor (OCP) issued its
Resolution, dated May 8, 2013, recommending the prosecution of several members of Lex Leonum for Violation of
2

Republic Act (R.A.) No. 8049, otherwise known as The Anti-Hazing Law. In the same resolution, the OCP also
recommended that Cornelio Marcelo (Marcelo), the person assigned to be the buddy or "angel" of Marc Andrei during the
initiation rites, be discharged as a state witness pursuant to the provisions of Section 12 of R.A. No. 6981. 3

Thereafter, the Information for Violation of R.A. No. 8049 was filed against Jenno Antonio
4

Villanueva (Villanueva), Emmanuel Jefferson Santiago, Richard Rosales (Rosales), Mohamad Fyzee Alim (Alim), Chino
Daniel Amante (Amante), Julius Arsenio Alcancia, Edrich Gomez, Dexter Circa, Gian Angelo Veluz, Glenn Meduen, alias
Tanton, alias Fidel, alias E.R., and alias Paulo, before the RTC. The case was docketed as Criminal Case No. 11862-13.
Finding probable cause to sustain the prosecution of the accused, Judge Cabrera-Faller issued the Order, dated June 3,
5

2013, directing the issuance of a warrant of arrest and, at the same time, the archiving of the entire record of
the case until the arrest of the accused.
On June 13, 2013, acting on the Omnibus Motion filed by Rosales, Alim and Amante, Judge Cabrera-Faller issued another
Order directing the recall of the warrants of arrest of the three accused which she claimed were
6

issued inadvertently.
On August 15, 2013, acting on the separate motions for the determination of probable cause and to withhold issuance of
warrants of arrest and extremely urgent motion to quash warrant of arrest filed by the accused, Judge Cabrera-Faller
7 8

issued the Omnibus Order, quashing, lifting and setting aside the warrants for their arrest and
9

ultimately dismissing the case against all of them for lack of probable cause.
According to Judge Cabrera-Faller, she found no probable cause to indict the accused for violation of R.A. No. 8049 as the
statement of Marcelo and those of the other accused "were not put in juxtaposition with each other for a clearer and
sharper focus of their respective weight and substance." To her, "there were nagging questions left unanswered by the
10

testimony of Marcelo and some improbabilities therein that boggle the mind and disturb the conscience into giving it
absolute currency and credence." In her view, "the statement of Marcelo simply depicted the stages of initiation
11

rites" and failed to show that the accused conspired to inflict fatal injuries on Marc Andrei. She found the statements of
12 13

the prosecution witnesses, Marcelo Cabansag (Cabansag) and Jan Marcel V. Ragaza (Ragaza) either untruthful,
immaterial and incompetent or brimming with flip flopping testimonies. She brushed aside the admission of the accused
that initiation rites were indeed conducted on July 29, 2012 and that they were allegedly present in the different stages of
the initiation rites, and simply believed the version of the accused that it was Marcelo, the recruiter and "angel'' of Marc
Andrei, who inflicted the fatal blows on him, causing his death. Thus, the decretal portion of the Omnibus Order reads:
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the court holds to grant the motions filed by the following accused, to wit:
(a) The motion for determination of probable cause filed by the accused Gian Veluz and Edrich Gomez, which was
received by this court on May 20, 2013;
(b) The motion for determination of probable cause, filed by the accused Julius Arsenio A. Alcancia and Dexter S. Garcia;
(c) The motion for the determination of probable cause, filed by the accused Mahammad Fyzee Alim, Richard Rosales and
Chino Amante, which was received by this court on May 23, 2013; although a warrant was issued inadvertently against
the accused on June 3, 2013, the same was lifted and recalled in view of the subject motion;
(d) The motion for the determination of probable cause, filed by Emmanuel Jefferson A. Santiago, which was received by
this court on May 29, 2013, although a warrant was issued inadvertently against the accused on June 3, 2013; the same
was lifted and recalled in view of the subject motion; [and] (e) The extremely urgent motion to quash the warrant of
arrest, filed by the accused Jenno Antonio Villanueva on June 14, 2013.
ACCORDINGLY, the warrant for the arrest, dated June 3, 2013, is hereby quashed, lifted and set aside, and this case is
hereby DISMISSED in so far as all the accused named in the information is concerned, for the reasons already afore-
stated.
SO ORDERED. [Emphases supplied]
The order of dismissal prompted complainant to file this administrative case against Judge Cabrera-Faller. In his Letter-
Complaint, he alleged, among others, that:
14

1. On June 3, 2013, the Hon. Perla V. Cabrera-Faller issued an Order in Crim. Case No. 11862-13 stating that "Finding
probable cause to sustain the prosecution of the above-named accused for the crime charged in the criminal information,
let a warrant for their arrest be issued, in the meantime sent the entire record of this case to the ARCHIVES until the said
accused shall have been arrested."
However, on June 13, 2013, the Hon. Perla V. Cabrera-Faller issued another order recalling the warrant against accused
Emmanuel Jefferson A. Santiago because the same was allegedly INADVERTENTLY issued.
The actuations of the Hon. Perla V. Cabrera-Faller clearly demonstrate her incompetence and gross ignorance of the law
and jurisprudence. Section 6, Rule 112 of the Rules of Court provides that "the judge shall personally evaluate the
resolution of the prosecutor and its supporting evidence. He may immediately dismiss the case if the evidence on record
clearly fails to establish probable cause. If he finds probable cause, he shall issue a warrant of arrest." When she issued
the Order dated June 3, 2013, she certified that she personally evaluated the resolution of the prosecutor and its
supporting evidence and ruled that there was probable cause so she directed the issuance of warrants of arrest against all
the accused. When she subsequently held that the warrant of arrest was inadvertently issued against accused Emmanuel
Jefferson A. Santiago, does this mean that she did not personally evaluate the records of the case before directing the
issuance of a warrant of arrest against all the accused? Does this mean that the warrants of arrests issued against all the
other accused were also INADVERTENTLY issued? Does this mean that the Order dated June 3, 2013 finding probable
cause against all the other accused was likewise INADVERTENTLY issued considering the fact that the basis for the
issuance of the warrants of arrest against all the accused is the said order dated June 3, 2013? A judge who issues a
warrant of arrest INADVERTENTLY has no place in the judiciary because such actuation clearly shows her incompetence
and gross ignorance of both substantive and procedural laws.
The Hon. Perla V. Cabrera-Faller could likewise not claim that the warrant of arrest was INADVERTENTLY issued because
of the filing of the Omnibus Motion by accused Emmanuel Jefferson A. Santiago. It must be pointed out that when the
Hon. Perla V. Cabrera-Faller issued the Order, dated June 3, 2013, finding probable cause against all the accused and
directed the issuance of a warrant of arrest against all the accused, the said motion was already filed with the Honorable
Court. Despite the fact that the said Omnibus Motion was already filed with the court, the Hon. Perla V. Cabrera-Faller still
found probable cause and directed the issuance of warrants of arrests against all the accused in its Order dated June 3,
2013. Consequently, it could not be said that the warrant of arrest issued against the accused was
INADVERTENTLY issued. It could only be surmised that there are far more other reasons why the warrant
of arrest was recalled but definitely not due to its alleged INADVERTENT issuance. Unless, of course, the Hon.
Perla V. Cabrera-Faller admits issuing the Order dated June 3, 2013 without evaluating the resolution of the public
prosecutor and its supporting evidence.
Very clearly, the Hon. Perla V. Cabrera-Faller manifested her incompetence and/or gross ignorance of the law by issuing
the Order, dated June 13, 2013. She was probably swayed by reasons not based on the law but probably for some other
reasons to the great damage and prejudice of the relatives of Marc Andrei Marcos whose life was lost at such a very
young age.
xxxx
2. On August 15, 2013, Hon. Perla V. Cabrera-Faller again issued an Omnibus Order in Criminal Case No. 11862-13
quashing, lifting and setting aside the warrant of arrest, dated June 3, 2013, and dismissing the case against all the
accused in Criminal Case No. 11862-13. In issuing the said Omnibus Order, the Hon. Perla V. Cabrera-Faller again
demonstrated her incompetence and/ or gross ignorance of the law as well as manifest biased in favor of the accused in
the said case.
In dismissing the case against the accused, the Hon. Perla V. Cabrera-Faller ruled in its Findings and Conclusions that
Marcelo's statement and the statements of the accused were not put in juxtaposition with each other for a clearer and
sharper focus of their respective weight and substance. She then further held that the information in Criminal Case No.
11862-13 was filed by the Office of the City Prosecutor of Dasmariñas City only on the basis of the lone statement of
Cornelio Marcelo, without any corroborating testimony and that the Office of the City Prosecutor of Dasmariñas City,
Cavite, was swayed by public pulse, considering the media mileage caused by the incident. These rulings of the Hon.
Perla V. Cabrera-Faller are based solely on her own conjectures and pre-determined decision to dismiss the
case as clearly shown by the fact that she recalled the warrants of arrests she earlier directed to be issued
even without conducting hearings and without waiting for any comment from the public and private
prosecutors.
A perusal of the Resolution, dated March 1, 2013, will readily show that the counter-affidavits of the accused who
submitted their counter-affidavits were duly considered in the issuance of the resolution. In fact, a summary of their
allegations were even put in the body of the said Resolution. While the Office of the City Prosecutor of Dasmariñas City,
Cavite, might not have presented the resolution in the format desired by the Hon. Perla V. Cabrera-Faller, it does not
mean that the Office of the City Prosecutor did not weigh the substance of the statements of the accused and the
witnesses presented for purposes of determining probable cause. The ruling of the Hon. Perla V. Cabrera-Faller that the
information in the case was filed by the Office of the City Prosecutor only on the basis of the statement of Cornelio
Marcelo, without any corroborating testimony, likewise shows her incompetence and manifests biased in favor of the
accused. The statement of Cornelio Marcelo was corroborated by the statements of Manuel Adrian Cabansag
and Jan Marcel V. Ragasa. A perusal of the statements of the said neophytes clearly shows that they were subjected
to hazing, together with the late Marc Andrei Marcos and other neophytes, at the Veluz Farm in Dasmariñas City, Cavite,
by the members of the Lex Leonum Fraternity. The fact of hazing at the Veluz Farm was likewise corroborated
by statements of Rene Andaya and Roger Atienza, farm overseers at the Veluz Farm. Consequently,
the sweeping ruling by the Hon. Perla V. Cabrera-Faller that the information was filed only on the basis of
the statement of Cornelio Marcelo, without corroborating testimony, and that the Office of the City
Prosecutor was swayed by public pulse is absolutely false and without any basis.
In dismissing the case, the Hon. Perla V. Cabrera-Faller likewise held that the statement of Marcelo merely depicted the
stages of the initiation rites. However, she conceded that there were physical infliction of the neophytes but further ruled
that the statement did not as much show that the accused conspired to inflict fatal injuries on this particular neophyte,
Andrei Marcos, and further ruled that conspiracy was not even established. She further ruled that the story of Marcelo
that the neophytes were subjected to excessive beating with paddles and belts during the initiation rites is incredible and
uncorroborated. These rulings of the Hon. Perla V. Cabrera-Faller show her incompetence and gross
ignorance as a judge. Contrary to said rulings of the Hon. Perla V. Cabrera-Faller, the statement of Cornelio Marcelo
did not just depict the stages of initiation rites but detailed what was actually done to Marc Andrei Marcos and other
neophytes during the initiation rites which resulted to the death of the late Marc Andrei Marcos. This was corroborated by
the statement of Manuel Adrian Cabansag and Jan Marcel V. Ragasa. Cornelio Marcelo stated that Marc Andrei Marcos
was hit with paddle, belt, and/or punched on the thighs and upper arms during the different parts of the initiation rites.
This was corroborated by the statements of Manuel Adrian Cabansag and Jan Marcel V. Ragasa, two (2) neophytes who
underwent initiation rites with Marc Andrei Marcos and other neophytes, who stated that they were likewise beaten with
paddle at their thighs and/or arms during the different stages of the initiation rites. Very clearly, the Hon. Perla V.
Cabrera-Faller is incompetent and/ or blindfolded just like the neophytes and failed or refused to see that the statement
of Cornelio Marcelo was corroborated by the statements of Manuel Adrian Cabansag and Jan Marcel V. Ragasa.
The Hon. Perla V. Cabrera-Faller likewise ruled that the statement of Marcelo did not show that the accused have
conspired to inflict fatal injuries on this particular neophyte, Andrei Marcos, then proceeds to posit the question "Is it
reasonable and normal to suppose that all the accused resolved to paddle and hit Andrei Marcos to death? Then ruled
finally that no one is to be blamed for the death of Andrei Marcos. These rulings of the Hon. Perla V. Cabrera-
Faller clearly shows her incompetenceand gross ignorance of our existing laws. It likewise shows her manifest
bias in favor of the accused in this case. Section 4 of RA 8049 provides that "If the person subjected to hazing
or other forms of initiation rites suffers any physical injury or dies as a result thereof, the officers and
members of the fraternity, sorority or organization who actually participated in the infliction of physical
harm shall be liable as principals x x x. " Based on this provision of law, there is no need to prove that the
accused has conspired to inflict fatal injuries to Marc Andrei Marcos during the latter's initiation rites.
There is no need to prove that the accused resolved to paddle and hit Marc Andrei Marcos to death. It is
more than sufficient to prove that Marc Andrei Marcos was subjected to hazing and initiation rites and he
died as a result thereof. In fact, mere presenceduring the hazing or initiation rites is already a prima
facie evidence of the participation therein as principal unless he prevented the commission of the acts
(Section 4, RA 8049).
The Hon. Perla V. Cabrera-Faller then ruled that she "cannot somehow consign the above-named accused to a life of
untold infamy and cannot in conscience consign all the accused to the dustbin of history simply on the basis of the
uncorroborated and incredible lone statement of Cornelio Marcelo" and proceeded to dismiss the case. In coming up with
this ruling and dismissing the case, the Hon. Perla V. Cabrera-Faller again manifested her incompetence and gross
ignorance of existing laws. It must be pointed out that the Hon. Perla V. Cabrera-Faller is only called upon to determine
the existence of probable cause for purposes of the issuance of warrants of arrest against the accused. She is not being
called upon yet to determine the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. As held by the Supreme Court in Pp. vs.
CA, et al. (G.R. No. 126005 January 21, 1999), the judge should not override the public prosecutor's determination of
probable cause to hold an accused for trial on the ground that the evidence presented to substantiate the issuance of an
arrest warrant was insufficient. If the information is valid on its face, and there is no showing of manifest error, grave
abuse of discretion and prejudice on the part of the public prosecutor, the trial court should respect such determination.
The Supreme Court further held in the same case that the rights of the people from what could sometimes be an
"oppressive" exercise of government prosecutorial powers do need to be protected when circumstances so require. But
just as we recognize this need, we also acknowledge that the State must likewise be accorded due process. Thus, when
there is no showing of nefarious irregularity or manifest error in the performance of a public prosecutor's duties, courts
ought to refrain from interfering with such lawfully and judicially mandated duties. [Emphases and underscoring
15

supplied]
In her Very Respectful Comment, Judge Cabrera-Faller denied the accusations and asserted that:
16

3) The undersigned very respectfully honors the grief of this grandfather who lost a beloved grandson, but, charging the
undersigned judge administratively for performing a judicial function would cause a heavy toll on this respondent judge
that always tries her best to dispose of cases pending in the Regional Trial Court of Dasmariñas City, Branch 90, with
justice and equity, regardless of the personalities involved in a particular case;
4) The grapevine, as well as newspaper accounts, has it that the private complainant in Criminal Case No.
11862-13 has already received settlement from all of the accused, except for the self-proclaimed witness for the
prosecution, Cornelio Marcelo, allegedly for the amount of 5 million pesos, and now Mr. Martonino R. Marcos charges the
undersigned with his perceived notions of corruption and dishonesty. If the alleged "pay-off' is true, then, the cries of
injustice of Mr. Martonino R. Marcos has become a charade.
The undersigned respondent judge humbly and modestly states that the questioned order is a twenty-page resolution,
where the respective postures of the parties were explicitly and painstakingly incorporated, and in the mind of the
undersigned respondent judge, negates corruption, malicious rendering of an unjust judgment and any signs of shoddy
disposition of the case. The private complainant has remedies under the law to question the order of this court in Criminal
Case No. 11862-13 for violation of the Anti-Hazing Law; in fact, the private complainant, through its private counsel, had
filed a motion for reconsideration of the order of this court, and dated August 15, 2013, which is yet pending resolution.
Jurisprudence held that the "alleged errors committed by a judge pertaining to the exercise of his adjudicative functions
cannot be corrected through administrative proceedings but should instead be assailed through judicial remedies (A.M.
No. MTJ-001311, 459 Phil. 214 [2003]." [Emphasis supplied]
17

In his Reply, complainant insisted that Judge Cabrera-Faller did not simply commit an error of judgment but she
18

knowingly rendered an unjust judgment which was contrary to law, and prayed that she be held accountable for having
committed patent gross ignorance of the law, grave abuse of discretion and complete disregard of the law and the rules
of criminal procedure. Furthermore, complainant denied that they had been paid the amount of ₱5 million pesos and
asserted that Judge Cabrera-Faller should not have believed or given credence to the "pay-off," which she heard from the
"grapevine." "Pay-off" was a term that she should not have even used as it did not exist under the rules of criminal
procedure. Granting that there was a "pay-off," Judge Cabrera-Faller should know the basic rule that payment of civil
liability was not equivalent to dismissal of the criminal case.
Report of the OCA
In its Report, dated June 10, 2016, the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) found Judge Cabrera-Faller liable for
19

gross ignorance of the law [1] for inadvertently issuing the warrants of arrest against the accused; [2] for sending the
record of the case to the archives, even prior to the return/report that the accused could not be apprehended in violation
of the six (6)-month period under Administrative Circular (A.C.) No. 7-A-92; and [3] for precipitately dismissing Criminal
Case No. 11862-13. The OCA recommended that Judge Cabrera-Faller be suspended from the service for a period of
six (6) months without salary and other benefits.
The Ruling of the Court
The findings of the OCA are well-taken, but the Court differs as to the recommended penalty.
Without a quibble, Judge Cabrera-Faller demonstrated lack of knowledge and understanding of the basic rules of
procedure when she issued the questioned orders.
A. On the immediate archiving of Criminal Case No. 11862
Judge Cabrera-Faller violated Administrative Circular No. 7-A-92 when she issued the June 3, 2013 Order directing the
immediate archiving of Criminal Case No. 11862-13, after ordering the issuance of the warrants of arrest against the
accused in the same order. The archiving of cases is a generally acceptable measure designed to shelve cases but is done
only where no immediate action is expected. A.C. No. 7-A-92 enumerated the circumstances when a judge may order
20

the archiving of a criminal case as follows:


(a) If after the issuance of the warrant of arrest, the accused remains at large for six (6) months from the delivery of the
warrant to the proper peace officer, and the latter has explained the reason why the accused was not apprehended; or
(b) When proceedings are ordered suspended for an indefinite period because:
(1) 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, or to undergo trial, and he has to be committed to a mental
hospital;
(2) a valid prejudicial question in a civil action is invoked during the pendency of the criminal case unless the civil and the
criminal cases are consolidated; and
3) an interlocutory order or incident in the criminal case is elevated to, and is pending resolution/ decision for an
indefinite period before a higher court which has issued a temporary restraining order or writ of preliminary injunction;
and
4) when the accused has jumped bail before arraignment and cannot be arrested by his bondsman.
When Judge Cabrera-Faller issued the warrants, she also archived the case. She, however, did not cite any ground in A.C.
No. 7-A-92 for the suspension of the proceedings. What she did was unprecedented. She did not even bother to wait for
the return of the warrants or wait for the six-month period. By doing so, she exhibited bias, if not incompetence and
ignorance of the law and jurisprudence. It could also be that she knew it, but she opted to completely ignore the
law or the regulations. Certainly, it was a case of grave abuse of discretion as her actuations were not in accord with
law or justice.
B. On the recall of the warrants of arrest that were allegedly issued inadvertently
Judge Cabrera-Faller showed manifest bias and partiality, if not gross ignorance of the law, when she issued the June 13,
2013 Order recalling the warrants of arrest against accused Alim, Amante and Rosales claiming that they were issued
inadvertently.
In the judicial determination of probable cause, no less than the Constitution mandates a judge to personally determine
the existence of probable cause before issuing a warrant of arrest. This has been embodied in Section 2, Article III of
21

the Philippine Constitution and Section 6, Rule 112 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure.
22

Clearly, Judge Cabrera-Faller was mandated to personally evaluate the report and the supporting documents submitted
by the prosecutor regarding the existence of probable cause and, on the basis thereof, to issue a warrant of arrest.
Though she was not required to personally examine the complainant or his witnesses, she was obliged to personally
evaluate the report and the supporting documents submitted by the prosecutor before ordering the issuance of a warrant
of arrest.
In the June 13, 2013 Order, Judge Cabrera-Faller recalled the warrants of arrest against three of the accused. She,
1aw p++i 1

however, failed to explain why she issued the warrants inadvertently. She merely wrote that the warrants of arrest
were "inadvertently issued" without any explanation why there was such inadvertence in the issuance. The Court cannot
accept this. There was clearly an abdication of the judicial function. The records of the case were forwarded by the OCP
and they contained not only the information but all the supporting documents like the statement of Cornelio Marcelo and
the corroborating statements of Cabansag and Ragaza and those of Rene Andaya and Roger Atienza, the farm overseers
at the Veluz Farm.
It could only mean that she failed to comply with her constitutional mandate to personally determine the existence of
probable cause before ordering the issuance of the warrants of arrest. As the presiding judge, it was her task, upon the
filing of the Information, to first and foremost determine the existence or non-existence of probable cause for the arrest
of the accused. It was incumbent upon her to assess the resolution, affidavits and other supporting documents
23

submitted by the prosecutor to satisfy herself that probable cause existed and before a warrant of arrest could be issued
against the accused. If she did find the evidence submitted by the prosecutor to be insufficient, she could order the
24

dismissal of the case, or direct the investigating prosecutor either to submit more evidence or to submit the entire records
of the preliminary investigation, or she could even call the complainant and the witness to answer the courts probing
questions to enable her to discharge her duty.
Most probably, she did her duty to examine and analyze the attached documents but because she took pity on the young
accused (never mind the victim), she chose to ignore or disregard them. Nonetheless, "when the inefficiency springs
from failure to consider so basic and elemental a rule, law or principle in the discharge of duties, the judge
is either insufferably incompetent and undeserving of the position she holds or is too vicious that
the oversight or omission was deliberately done in bad faith and in grave abuse of judicial authority." 25

C. On the hasty dismissal of Criminal Case No. 11862-13


In the same vein, Judge Cabrera-Faller should be held administratively accountable for hastily dismissing the Criminal
Case No. 11862-13. The Court cannot ignore her lack of prudence for it is the Court's duty to protect and preserve public
confidence in our judicial system.
The well-settled rule that once a complaint or information is filed before the trial court, any disposition of the case,
whether as to its dismissal or the conviction or acquittal of the accused, rests on the sound discretion of the said court is 26

not absolute. Although a motion to dismiss the case or withdraw the Information is addressed to the court, its grant or
denial must always be in the faithful exercise of judicial discretion and prerogative. For the judge's action must
27

neither impair the substantial rights of the accused nor the right of the State and the offended party to due
process of law. In the case of People v. Court of Appeals, the Court elucidated:
28 29

We are simply saying that, as a general rule, if the information is valid on its face and there is no showing of manifest
error, grave abuse of discretion or prejudice on the part of the public prosecutor, courts should not dismiss it for "want of
evidence," because evidentiary matters should be presented and heard during the trial. The functions and duties of both
the trial court and the public prosecutor in "the proper scheme of things" in our criminal justice system should be clearly
understood.
The rights of the people from what could sometimes be an "oppressive" exercise of government prosecutorial powers do
need to be protected when circumstances so require. But just as we recognize this need, we also acknowledge that the
State must likewise be accorded due process. Thus, when there is no showing of nefarious irregularity or manifest error in
the performance of a public prosecutor's duties, courts ought to refrain from interfering with such lawfully and judicially
mandated duties. 30

In the present case, the Court agrees with the observation of the OCA that there was haste in the disposition of Criminal
Case No. 11862-13. It must be noted that the Information for the said case was instituted by the OCP on May 10, 2013.
Thereafter, on June 3, 2013, Judge Cabrera-Faller issued the order finding probable cause for the issuance of a warrant
of arrest. Barely 10 days had lapsed, however, or on June 13, 2013, she recalled the warrants of arrest against
three (3) accused due to oversight or inadvertence. And on August 15, 2013, in the Omnibus Order, she lifted the
warrants of arrest she issued and dismissed the case for lack of probable cause.
Although no direct evidence was presented to show that Judge Cabrera-Faller was influenced by improper considerations,
the Court cannot close its eyes in the manner by which Criminal Case No. 11862-13 was dismissed. Her actuations put in
serious doubts her integrity and honesty, both as a person and a member of the Bench, qualities which every magistrate
should possess. 31

Judge Cabrera-Faller dismissed Criminal Case No. 11862-13 without taking into consideration the earlier resolution of the
OCP and failed to evaluate the evidence in support thereof, which sustained a finding of probable cause against the
accused.
A perusal of the records would show that the OCP resolution was based on the Sinumpaang Salaysay and 32

the Karagdagang Sinumpaang Salaysay executed by Marcelo, who recounted in detail the initiation rites that transpired
33

on July 29, 2012, and his participation as the designated "buddy or angel" of Marc Andrei, and enumerated the names of
those who were present and participated in the said initiation rites. This testimony of Marcelo was corroborated by the
two neophytes who were also present during the initiation rites, Cabansag and Ragaza. In their respective statements,
34 35

they bravely narrated their harrowing experience on that fateful night. The sworn statements and affidavits of these
prosecution witnesses all presented a consistent and coherent version of the events that took place on July 29, 2012.
Considering the strong evidence on hand presented by the OCP, it would have been more prudent for Judge Cabrera-
Faller to conduct summary hearings in view of the conflicting statements of the prosecution and defense witnesses.
Although this is not actually required by the rules, when the direct and circumstantial evidence are so detailed and
corroborative of one another in every particular, it behooved upon her to make further inquiries. Precipitate dismissal of
the case, in the face of overwhelming evidence, can only raise quizzical eyebrows.
Indeed, in her Omnibus Order dismissing the case, her reasoning that there was no probable cause was strained and
36

taxed one's credulity. As earlier stated, Judge Cabrera-Faller wrote that the statement of Marcelo simply depicted the
stages of initiation rites and failed to show that the accused conspired to inflict fatal injuries on Marc Andrei. Despite the
admission on the part of the accused that initiation rites were indeed conducted on July 29, 2012 and that they were
present in the different stages of the initiation rites, she brushed aside these admissions and the narrations of the
prosecution witnesses and simply opted to believe the claim of the accused that it was Marcelo, and Marcelo alone, who
inflicted the fatal blow on his recruit.
Judge Cabrera-Faller should know that the presence or absence of the elements of the crime is evidentiary in nature and
is a matter of defense that may be passed upon after a full-blown trial on the merits. A hearing is absolutely
37

indispensable before a judge can properly determine whether the prosecution's evidence is strong or weak. Under Section
4 of R.A. No. 8049, if the person subjected to hazing or other forms of initiation rites suffers any physical injury or dies as
a result thereof, the officers and members of the fraternity, sorority or organization who actually participated in the
infliction of physical harm shall be liable as principals, and the officers and members presentduring the hazing
are prima facie presumed to have actually participated, unless it can be shown that he or she prevented the commission
of the punishable acts. This disputable presumption arises from the mere presence of the offender during the hazing.
38

Judge Cabrera-Faller must be reminded that a finding of probable cause does not require an inquiry into whether there is
sufficient evidence to procure a conviction. It is enough that it is believed that the act or omission complained of
constitutes the offense charged for it would be unfair to require the prosecution to present all the evidence needed to
39

secure the conviction of the accused upon the filing of the information against the latter. 40

A judge may dismiss the case for lack of probable cause only in clear-cut cases when the evidence on record plainly fails
to establish probable cause - that is when the records readily show uncontroverted, and thus, established facts which
unmistakably negate the existence of the elements of the crime charged. 41

Hazing is commonly characterized by secrecy and silence and to require the prosecution to indicate every step of the
planned initiation rite in the information at the inception of the criminal case would be a strenuous task. Although a
42

speedy determination of an action or proceeding implies a speedy trial, it should be borne in mind that speed is not the
chief objective of a trial. It must be stressed that a careful and deliberate consideration for the administration of justice is
more important than a race to end the trial. 43

Although judges are generally not accountable for erroneous judgments rendered in good faith, such defense in situations
of infallible discretion adheres only within the parameters of tolerable judgment and does not apply where the basic
issues are so simple and the applicable legal principle evident and basic as to be beyond permissible margins of error. 44

Time and again, the Court has earnestly reminded judges to be extra prudent and circumspect in the performance of
their duties. This exalted position entails a lot of responsibilities, foremost of which is proficiency in the law. They are
45

expected to exhibit more than just a cursory acquaintance with statutes and procedural rules and to apply them properly
in all good faith. When the law is sufficiently basic, a judge owes it to his office to simply apply it; anything
46

less than that would be constitutive of gross ignorance of the law. 47

Moreover, judges are duty bound to render just, correct and impartial decisions at all times in a manner free of any
suspicion as to his fairness, impartiality or integrity. The records must be free from the slightest suspicion that the trial
48
court seized upon an opportunity to either free itself from the usual burdens of presiding over a full-blown court battle or
worse, to give undue advantage or favors to one of the litigants. Public confidence in the Judiciary is eroded by
49

irresponsible or improper conduct of judges. The appearance of bias or prejudice can be as damaging to public
50

confidence and the administration of justice as actual bias or prejudice.51

Thus, Rule 1.01 of the Code of Judicial Conduct requires a judge to be the embodiment of competence, integrity and
independence. They are likewise mandated to be faithful to the law and to maintain professional competence at all
1avv phi 1

times. A judge owes the public and the court the duty to be proficient in the law. He is expected to keep abreast of the
52

laws and prevailing jurisprudence. Basic rules must be at the palms of their hands for ignorance of the law by a judge
53 54

can easily be the mainspring of injustice.55

Unfortunately, Judge Cabrera-Faller fell short of this basic canon. Her utter disregard of the laws and rules of procedure,
to wit: the immediate archiving of Criminal Case No. 11862-13, the recall of the warrant of arrest which she claimed were
issued inadvertently and the hasty dismissal of the case displayed her lack of competence and probity, and can only be
considered as grave abuse of authority. All these constitute gross ignorance of the law and incompetence. 56

Under Section 8, Rule 140 of the Rules of Court, as amended by A.M. No. 01-8-10-SC, gross ignorance of the law is a
serious charge, punishable by dismissal from service, suspension from office without salary and other benefits for more
than three (3) but not exceeding six (6) months, or a fine of more than ₱20,000.00 but not exceeding ₱40,000.00. In 57

the case of Chua Keng Sin v. Judge Mangeten, the respondent judge was found guilty of gross ignorance of the law due
58

to procedural lapses in disposing the motions in the criminal case pending before his sala. The Court stated that his
careless disposition of the motions was a reflection of his incompetence as a judge in discharging his official duties, thus,
he could not be relieved from the consequences of his actions simply because he was a newly appointed judge and his
case load was heavy.
Accordingly, considering the blatant violation of the law and rules committed by Judge Cabrera-Faller and her grievous
exercise of discretion, the appropriate penalty should be dismissal from the service, with forfeiture of retirement benefits,
except leave credits, and with prejudice to reemployment in any branch or instrumentality of the government, including
government-owned and controlled corporations.
WHEREFORE, finding respondent Judge Perla V. Cabrera-Faller, Presiding Judge of Regional Trial Court, Branch 90,
Dasmariñas City, Cavite, GUILTY of gross ignorance of the law and for violating Rule 1.01 and Rule 3. 01, Canon 3 of the
Code of Judicial Conduct, the Court imposes the penalty of DISMISSAL from the service, with FORFEITURE of
retirement benefits, except leave credits, and with prejudice to reemployment in any branch or instrumentality of the
government, including government-owned and controlled corporations.
SO ORDERED.
June 06, 2018
17. A.M. No. RTJ-18-2523 (Formerly OCA I.P.I No. 14-4353-RTJ)
EXTRA EXCEL INTERNATIONAL PHlLIPPINES, INC., represented by ATTY. ROMMEL V. OLIVA, Complainant
vs.
HON. AFABLE E. CAJIGAL, Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court, Branch 96, Quezon City, Respondent
DECISION
DEL CASTILLO, J.:
This is an administrative complaint for gross ignorance of the law, gross inefficiency, grave abuse of authority, and
1

evident partiality filed by complainant Extra Excel International Philippines, Inc., through its representative Atty. Rommel
V. Oliva (Atty. Oliva), against respondent Judge Afable E. Cajigal, relative to Criminal Case No. R-QZN-13-00488-
CR (People of the Philippines v. Ike R. Katipunan).
Complainant narrated that an lnformation for qualified theft was filed against Ike R. Katipunan, complainant's former
2

Inventory Control Service Assistant. The case was raffled to Branch 96 of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City with
respondent as Presiding Judge. Complainant alleged that, after the filing of the Information, respondent Judge did not set
the case for arraignment nor issue a warrant of arrest; instead, he granted the accused's Motion for Preliminary
Investigation and Motion to Defer Further Proceedings. Incidentally, in its May 30, 2014Decision in CA-G.R. SP No.
3

132989, the Court of Appeals found grave abuse of discretion on the part of respondent Judge in granting the accused's
motion for preliminary investigation.
Meanwhile, there being no resolution on the preliminary investigation despite the lapse of the 60-day period, and
pursuant to A.M. No. 11-6-10-SC which mandates the accused's arraignment upon the lapse of the 60-day period,
complainant filed a Motion to Set Case for Arraignment. Upon comment of the accused, respondent Judge ordered the
City Prosecution Office of Quezon City to conclude the on-going re-investigation. Thereafter, the City Prosecution Office
resolved to affirm the earlier finding of probable cause.
On March 24, 2014, complainant filed a Motion for Issuance of Hold Departure Order, which motion remains unresolved.
Meanwhile, the accused filed on March 28, 2014 an Omnibus Motion for Judicial Determination of Probable Cause, Recall
of Warrant of Arrest, and Deferment of Proceedings, thereby prompting complainant to file a Comment/Opposition and a
Motion for Inhibition.
Respondent Judge eventually arraigned the accused on June 9, 2014. However, instead of ordering the accused's
commitment, and despite the offense being non bailable, respondent Judge allowed the accused to go home. On June 13,
2014, the accused filed a Petition for Bail. During the bail hearing on June 24, 2014, respondent Judge found the filing
thereof premature and issued a warrant of arrest against the accused. However, instead of committing the accused at the
Quezon City Jail, he was instead detained at the Criminal Investigation and Detention Unit of Central Police District, Camp
Karingal, Quezon City. Thereafter, respondent Judge scheduled the bail hearing on June 30, 2014 despite manifestation
by complainant's counsel of his unavailability on said date.
During the June 30, 2014 bail hearing, respondent Judge declared the Petition for Bail submitted for resolution due to the
absence complainant's counsel. On even date, respondent Judge issued an Order granting the bail petition and denying
the motion for inhibition.
Finally, complainant claimed that respondent Judge attempted to fast-track the proceedings in the criminal case by re-
scheduling the redirect examination of the prosecution's witness from February 17, 2015, as earlier agreed by the parties,
to December 17, 18 and 22, 2014, in view of his impending retirement on December 29, 2014.
According to the complainant, the foregoing events clearly showed respondent Judge's gross inefficiency, incompetence,
gross ignorance of the law, grave abuse of authority and evident partiality. Complainant argued that respondent Judge
was guilty (1) of undue delay in resolving motions when he failed to resolve the motion for issuance of hold departure
order within 90-days or despite lapse of nine months; (2) of gross ignorance of the law when he granted the accused's
motion for preliminary investigation in violation of A.M. No. 11-6-10-SC since the accused was not a subject of a
warrantless arrest or inquest proceedings; (3) of grave abuse of authority when he allowed the accused to go home after
his an-aigrunent for a nonbailable offense; ( 4) of gross ignorance of the law and evident partiality in granting the petition
for bail despite complainant's pending motion for reconsideration and/or motion to set the hearing to another date; and,
(5) of evident partiality when he failed to inhibit himself from further handling the case in view of his bias towards the
accused.
In his Comment, respondent Judge countered that he should not be sanctioned for acts done in the performance of his
4

functions as a judge. He claimed that the allegations against him are unfounded, malicious, and intended solely to harass
and embarrass him, and to cause undue delay in the release of his retirement benefits. In particular, he adverted to A.M.
No. 03-10-01-SC, which bars the filing of an administrative complaint "within six months before the compulsory
5

retirement of a Justice or Judge." According to respondent Judge, the administrative complaint was filed barely a week
6

before his compulsory retirement on December 29, 2014. 7

Respondent Judge justified his failure to resolve the motion for issuance of hold departure order on the fact that the
accused had already filed an omnibus motion for the judicial determination of probable cause, recall of warrant of arrest
and deferment of proceedings. According to respondent Judge, he set for hearing the motion for issuance of hold
departure order alongside the accused's omnibus motion in order to accord both the prosecution and the defense ample
opportunity to exercise their right to due process.8

As regards his alleged failure to order the commitment of the accused after his arraignment and allowing him instead to
go home, respondent Judge explained that there was yet no warrant issued for the arrest of the accused; moreover, a
petition for bail had been filed; hence, there was no reason to detain the accused.
With respect to the order granting bail to the accused, respondent Judge claimed that the same was not at all objected to
by the public prosecutor during trial.
9

As to the Order setting the re-direct examination of the prosecution witness to a date earlier than previously scheduled,
respondent Judge claimed that he did so with the end in view of enabling the prosecution to finish the presentation of its
evidence prior to his impending retirement; and that said Order was in line with the Constitutional right of the accused to
a speedy trial. 10

Finally, respondent Judge posited that Atty. Oliva had no personality to file this administrative complaint considering that
it was Atty. Elmar Malapitan (Atty. Malapitan) who represented the complainant in the qualified theft case.
In sum, respondent prayed for the dismissal of the complaint.
Report and Recommendation of the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA)
In a Report dated September 18, 2015, the OCA made the following evaluation:
11

On the charge of gross inefficiency, records show that there [was] delay in resolving the motion for issuance of the hold
departure order. The motion was filed on 24 March 2014, however, respondent Judge had yet to resolve it. He
rationalized his inaction by stating that, in his opinion, there was no need to issue a hold departure order since accused
had filed an omnibus mot.ion on 28 March 2014 and both motions were set for hearing to give the parties a chance to
comment The rules and jurisprudence are clear on the matter of delay. Failure to resolve cases and other matters within
the reglementary period constitutes gross inefficiency and warrants the imposition of administrative sanction against the
erring magistrate. x x x
On the charge that respondent Judge committed gross ignorance of the law when he grru1ted the motion for preliminary
investigation x x x, the records are bereft of evidence to show that respondent Judge, assuming that he erred, was
motivated by bad faith, fraud, co1ruption, dishonesty in granting the motion. To constitute gross ignorance of the law, it
is not enough that the decision, order or actuation of the judge in the performance of his official duties is contrary to
existing law and jurisprudence. It must be established that he was moved by bad faith, fraud, dishonesty or corruption or
had committed an error so egregious that it amounted to bad faith. Moreover, complainant already availed of a judicial
remedy when it filed a Petition for Certiorari before the Court of Appeals x x x seeking to annul and set aside the
resolution directing the Office of the City Prosecutor to conduct a preliminary investigation, which the Court of Appeals
favorably acted upon. While the assailed Resolution was set aside, this is not enough to render respondent Judge liable
for gross ignorance [of the Jaw].
Jurisprudence is replete with pronouncements that not every error or mistake of a judge in the performance of his official
duties renders him liable. As a matter of policy, in the absence of fraud, dishonesty or co1rnption, the acts of a judge in
his judicial capacity are not subject to disciplinary action even though such acts are erroneous.
On the charge of grave abuse of authority for allowing accused Katipunan to go home after his arraignment instead of
committing him ·directly to the City Jail, the same has no merit. Respondent Judge merely exercised his sound discretion
in not immediately issuing the warrant of arrest and in suspending further proceedings pending reinvestigation of the
case. x x x It is not obligatory, but merely discretionary, upon the investigating judge to issue a warrant for the at Test of
the accused, even after having personally examined the complainant and his witnesses in the form of searching questions
and ru1swers, for the determination of whether a probable cause exists and whether it is necessary to at Test the
accused in order not to frustrate the ends of justice, is left to his sound judgment or discretion.
On the charge of gross ignorru1ce of the law and evident partiality for granting the petition for bail without conducting a
hearing to prove whether the evidence of guilt is strong or not, which will form the basis for granting or denying the
petition for bail, we agree with complainant. x x x In this case, when respondent Judge set the hearing for bail on 30
June 2014, the private prosecutor manifested his unavailability on the said date, but this notwithstru1ding, respondent
Judge pushed through with the hearing. Immediately, complainant, through lawyer, filed an urgent motion for
reconsideration explaining his absence during the 30 June 2014 hearing. Nonetheless, respondent Judge granted the
petition for bail for failure of the private prosecutor and the witnesses to appear and in the absence of any objection from
the public prosecutor. The law ru1d settled jurisprudence demand that a hearing be conducted before bail could be fixed
for the temporary release of the accused, if bail is at all justified. x x x The absence of any objection from the prosecution
in such cases is not a basis for the grant of bail for the judge has no right to presume that the prosecutor knows what he
is doing on account of the familiarity with the case. Said reasoning is tantamount to ceding to the prosecutor the duty of
exercising judicial discretion to determine whether the guilt of the accused is strong. Judicial discretion is the domain of
the judge before whom the petition for provisional liberty will be decided. The mandated duty to exercise discretion has
never been reposed upon the prosecutor. There is gross ignorance because the need for hearing before bail is
fixed/granted is so basic that respondent Judge ought to know that. So in this instance, good/bad faith is of no moment,
unlike in the other instance of gross ignorance exhibited by respondent Judge when he granted the motion of preliminary
investigation.
On the charge of evident partiality when respondent Judge failed to inhibit himself, the issue pertains to the second
paragraph of Rule 137, Section 1 of the Rules of Court regarding voluntary inhibition of a judge, which states that 'a
judge may, in the exercise of his sound discretion, disqualify himself from sitting in a case, for just or valid reasons other
than those mentioned above.' Based on this provision, judges have been given the exclusive prerogative to recuse
themselves from hearing cases for reasons other than those pe1taining to their pecuniary interest, relation, previous
connection, or previous rulings or decisions. The issue of voluntary inhibition in this instance becomes primarily a matter
of conscience and sow1d discretion on the part of the judge.
On the charge of evident partiality when respondent Judge issued an order setting the case for special sessions, the same
ca1mot still1d in the absence of substantial evidence to support the same. In administrative proceedings, the complainant
has the burden of proving by substantial evidence the allegations in his complaint In the absence of evidence to the
contrary, the presumption that the respondent has regularly perfom1ed his duties will prevail.
In sum, we hold that respondent Judge is administratively liable for inefficiency on account of his delay in resolving the
motion for the issuance of the hold departure order. Under AM. No. 01-8-10-SC, undue delay in rendering a decision is
classified as a less serious charge punishable either by: (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 Phpl0,000.00 but not exceeding
Php20,000.00.
Respondent Judge is also liable for gross ignorance of the law for granting the petition for bail without the benefit of a
hearing. Under A.M. No. 01-8-10-SC, gross ignorance of the law or procedure is classified as a serious charge ru1d should
be penalized by (a) dismissal from the service, forfeiture of all or part of the benefits as the Court may determine, and
disqualification from reinstatement or appointment to any public office, including government-owned or controlled
corporations. Provided, however, that the forfeiture of benefits shall in no case include accrued leave credits; (b)
suspension from office without salary and other benefits for more than three [(3)] but not exceeding six (6) months; or
(3) a fine of more than Php20,000.00 but not exceeding Php40,000.00. 12

Pursuant to Section 50, Rule IV of the Revised Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service, which directs
13

the imposition of the penalty corresponding to the most serious charge in the event the respondent is found guilty of two
(2) or more charges or counts, and in view of respondent Judge's retirement on December 29, 2014, the OCA
recommended that respondent Judge be meted the penalty of fine in the amount of ₱40,000.00, for inefficiency on
account of delay in resolving the motion for issuance of a hold departure order and gross ignorance of the law in granting
the petition for bail without the benefit of a hearing, which amount shall be deducted from his retirement benefits.
Issue
Is respondent Judge guilty of gross ignorance of the law, gross inefficiency, grave abuse of authority, and evident
partiality?
Ruling
We substantially adopt the findings and recommendations of the OCA, with the exception of its finding that respondent
Judge acted properly in allowing the accused to go home after arraignment without bail.
We agree with the OCA that respondent Judge's act of granting the accused's Motion for Preliminary Investigation did not
14

constitute gross ignorance of the law.


While the Order granting the Motion for Preliminary Investigation may not be proper inasmuch as respondent Judge
based the Order on accused's bare allegation of non-receipt of notice from the Office of the Prosecutor, we opine that
15

the same did not necessarily amount to gross ignorance of the law. There was no showing that respondent Judge issued
the Order because of the promptings of fraud, dishonesty, corruption, malice, ill-will, bad faith or a deliberate intent to do
injustice. Indeed, it is axiomatic that not all erroneous acts of judges are subject to disciplinary action. As this Court
stressed in Office of the Court Administrator v. Salise:16

Indeed, it is settled that, unless the acts were committed with fraud, dishonesty, com.1ption, malice or ill will, bad faith,
or deliberate intent to do an injustice, the respondent judge may not be [held] administratively liable for gross
misconduct, ignorance of the law, or incompetence of official acts in the exercise of judicial functions and duties,
particularly in the adjudication of cases. x x x
In Sibulo v. Judge Toledo-Mupas, this Court further explained:
17

Moreover, the fact that a judge failed to recognize a ‘basic’ or ‘elementary’ law or rule of procedure would not
automatically warrant a conclusion that he is liable for gross ignorance. What is significant is whether the subject order,
decision[,] or actuation of the judge unreasonably defeated the very purpose of the law or rule under consideration and
unfairly prejudiced the cause of the litigants. x x x
18

However, we do not concur with the evaluation of the OCA that respondent Judge did not err in allowing the accused to
go home after his arraignment. We are neither persuaded by respondent Judge's claim that there was no reason for him
to detain the accused since there was yet no warrant issued for his arrest or that a petition for bail had been filed. Basic
is the principle that upon setting a case for arraignment, the accused must have either been in the custody of the law or 19

out on bail. Another basic principle is that the judge· must conduct his own personal evaluation of the facts and
circumstances which gave rise to the indictment, pursuant to Section 5, Rule 112 of the Rules of Court and Section 2,
Article III of the 1987 Constitution.
Indeed, in the present case, respondent Judge should not have waited for the accused to file an omnibus motion for a
judicial determination of probable cause. As this Court held in Leviste v. Hon. Alameda, "[t]o move the court to conduct
20

a judicial determination of probable cause is a mere superfluity, for with or without such motion, the judge is duty-bound
to personally evaluate the resolution of the public prosecutor and the suppo1ting evidence." Thus, the failure of
21

respondent Judge to comply with this fundamental precept constituted gross ignorance of the law and procedure. His
failure to heed this precept resulted in the said accused's arraignment, without the accused in custody of the law.
Likewise in point is this Court's teaching in Guillen v. Judge Nicolas, where it was stressed that:
22

[B]y setting the cases for arraignment and trial, respondent judge must have found probable cause to hold U1e accused
for trial. [The judge] should have proceeded to examine in writing and under oath the complainants and (the] witnesses
by searching questions and answers. The records do not show that the [judge] set the case for, or conducted, such
examination preparatory to issuing a warrant of arrest. Neither [was) there any subpoena or order requiring the
complainants or [the] witnesses to appear in court for such examination. The inevitable conclusion is that the respondent
judge skipped this procedure. 23

Needless to say, the failure of respondent Judge to conduct a judicial


determination of probable cause under Section 5, Rule 112 of the Rules of Court was exacerbated by his act in allowing
the accused to go home (without bail) after arraignment. These acts were indicative of gross ignorance of the law and
procedure for which respondent must be called to account.
In addition, respondent Judge's failure to conduct a hearing on accused's Petition for Bail constitutes gross ignorance of
24

the law. It is axiomatic that a bail hearing is a must, despite the prosecution's lack of objection to the same. In Balanay v.
Judge White, we said:
25

It is basic, however, that bail hearing is necessary even if the prosecution does not interpose any objection or leaves the
application for bail to the sound discretion of the court. Thus, in Villanueva v. Judge Buaya, therein respondent judge was
held administratively liable for gross ignorance of the law for granting an ex parte motion for bail without conducting a
hearing. Stressing the necessity of bail hearing, this Court pronounced that:
The Court has always stressed the indispensable nature of a bail hearing in petitions for bail. Where bail is a matter of
discretion, the grant or the denial of bail hinges on the issue of whether or not the evidence on the guilt of the accused is
strong and the determination of whether or not the evidence is strong is a matter of judicial discretion which remains with
the judge. In order for the judge to properly exercise this discretion, [the judge] must first conduct a hearing to
determine whether the evidence of guilt is strong. This discretion lies not in the determination of whether or not a
hearing should be held, but in the appreciation and evaluation of the weight of the prosecution's evidence of guilt against
the accused.
In any event, whether bail is a matter of right or discretion, a hearing for a petition for bail is required in order for the
court to consider the guidelines set forth in Section 9, Rule 114 of the Rules of Court in fixing the amount of bail. This
Court has repeatedly held in past cases that even if the prosecution fails to adduce evidence in opposition to an
application for bail of an accused, the court may still require the prosecution to answer questions in order to ascertain,
not only d1e strength of the State's evidence, but also the adequacy of the amount of bail. 26

Hence, it is altogether of no consequence that the Order granting bail "was made in the presence of the public
prosecutor, and the latter made no objection or comment to the oral manifestation of the defense counsel." 27

We agree with the OCA' s finding that respondent Judge was inefficient in failing to resolve the motion for issuance of a
hold departure order despite the lapse of 90 days. We find his contention, that "there is no need to issue an HDO order
[sic] because a Hold Departure Order (HDO) is based on sound judgment and judicial discretion of a
Judge," unmeritorious. While it is true that the law gives respondent Judge considerable discretion whether to issue or
28

not to issue a hold departure order, this grant of considerable discretion in no wise or manner means that respondent
Judge need not resolve at all the pending motion.
Respondent Judge ought to know the difference between a judge's discretionary power to issue a hold departure order
and his mandato1y duty to resolve all kinds of motions within 90 days. Section 15, Article VIII of the Constitution
mandates that all cases and matters must be decided or resolved by the lower courts within three (3) months or ninety
(90) days from date of submission. In addition, Section 5, Canon 6 of the New Code of Conduct for the Philippine
Judiciary directs judges to "perform all judicial duties, including the delive1y of reserved decisions, efficiently, fairly and
with reasonable promptness." Suppletorily, Rule 3.05, Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial Conduct likewise mandates:
Rule 3.05. - A judge shall dispose of the court's business promptly and decide cases within the required periods.
This Court has explained in Biggel v. Judge Pamintuan the reasons for requiring speedy disposition not only of all cases
29

but also all motions, viz.:


Undue delay in the disposition of cases and motions erodes the faith and confidence of the people in the judicia1y and
unnecessarily blemishes its stature. No less than the Constitution mandates that lower courts must dispose of their cases
promptly and decide them within three months from the filing of the last pleading, brief[,] or memorandum required by
the Rules of Court or by the Court concerned. In addition, a judge's delay in resolving, within the prescribed period,
pending motions and incidents constitutes a violation of Rule 3.05 of the Code of Judicial Conduct requiring judges to
dispose of court business promptly.
There should be no more doubt that undue inaction on judicial concerns is not just undesirable but more so detestable
especially now when our all-out effo11 is directed towards minimizing, if not totally eradicating[,] the perennial problem
of congestion and delay long plaguing our courts. The requirement that cases be decided within the reglementary period
is designed to prevent delay in the administration of justice, for obviously, justice delayed is justice denied. An
unwarranted [slowdown] in the disposition of cases erodes the faith and confidence of our people in the judiciary, lowers
its standards[,] and brings it into disrepute.
Thus, respondent's failure to resolve complainant's motion to issue a hold departure order constitutes gross inefficiency
which warrants the imposition of an administrative sanction. 30

While this Court finds respondent Judge administratively liable for gross ignorance of the law and procedure and for gross
inefficiency, we are not at all prepared to conclude that respondent Judge's denial of complainant's motion for inhibition
and rescheduling the redirect examination of the prosecution's witness to an earlier date amounted to bias and partiality.
In Luciano v. Hon. Mariano, this Court niled:
31

To allege partiality, bias[,] and discrimination or over zealousness in siding with the guilty as against the innocent is one
thing, but to show basis for the san1e is quite another. x xx The mere fact that a judge has erroneously ruled against the
same litigant on two or three occasions does not create in our minds a decisive pattern of malice on the part of the judge
against that particular litigant. This is not an unusual occurrence in our courts, and unless something in addition is alleged
and proved, this Court is not inclined to disregard the presumption of good faith in favor of the actuations of courts. x x
x32

Here, respondent Judge did not act improperly at all in denying complainant's motion for inhibition. "[T]he issue of
whether a judge should voluntarily inhibit [one's self] is addressed to [one's] sound discretion pursuant to paragraph 2 of
Section 1 of Rule 137, which provides for the rule on voluntary inhibition xx x." 33

Complainant's motion for inhibition was based on (1) respondent's failure to resolve the motion to issue a hold departure
order; (2) the grant of a preliminary investigation and in view of the appellate court's finding of grave abuse of discretion;
(3) allowing the accused to go home after arraignment; and (4) granting bail without the conduct of a bail
hearing. While three of the four grounds stated therein are grounds for respondent Judge's administrative liability, these
34

do not necessarily equate to bias or partiality. Respondent Judge's reasons behind his actuations seem to be more a
manifestation of respondent's errors in judgment rather than "bias which excites a disposition to see and report matters
as they are wished for rather than as they are. " 35

Neither is respondent's Order dated December 15, 2014, setting the case
36

for earlier dates than previously agreed indicative of bias and partiality. In light of
respondent Judge's claim that he issued the said order to promote a speedy trial, i.e., that the prosecution be allowed at
least to complete the presentation of its evidence prior to his retirement, so that his successor need only continue hearing
the defense's evidence, this Court finds complainant's accusation in this respect quite untenable and respondent's stance
more in keeping with the accused's right to speedy trial under Section 16, Article Ill of the 1987 Constitution.
37

Finally, there is no merit in the contention of respondent Judge that Atty. Oliva lacks personality to file this administrative
complaint because he was not the counsel of record of complainant in the criminal case for qualified theft. First, we are
not aware of any rule that one must be a counsel of record in another case before an administrative complaint can be
filed or prosecuted. Second, contrary to the assertion of respondent Judge, Atty. Oliva was one of the counsels of record
of the complainant in the qualified theft case. An examination of the records reveals that complainant was being
represented by Oliva Finne and Associates Law Firm, with Atty. Malapitan as the handling lawyer.
In sum, we find respondent Judge guilty of gross ignorance of the law and procedure in failing to make a judicial
determination of probable cause and in failing to conduct a hearing on the accused's application for bail in Criminal Case
No. RQZN- 13-00488-CR, and gross inefficiency in failing to resolve complainant's motion for issuance of a hold departure
order.
Incidentally, this is not the first time respondent Judge is being administratively sanctioned. In Dulalia v. Judge
1âwphi 1

Cajigal, this Court had already admonished respondent Judge for his undue delay in resolving motions.
38

By and large, however, we take a holistic approach in the present case and we accord compassion and charity towards
respondent Judge who appeared to have spent the best years of his professional life in the Judiciary. More than that,
considering respondent Judge's retirement from the service on December 29, 2014, this Cou1t believes that the
imposition of a fine in the amount of ₱20,000.00 is appropriate and fair.
WHEREFORE, respondent Judge Afable E. Cajigal is found GUILTY of gross ignorance of the law and procedure and
gross inefficiency and is hereby ordered to pay a FINE of ₱20,000.00 to be deducted from his retirement benefits
SO ORDERED.
20. THIRD DIVISION
A.M. No. RTJ-13-2350 (Formerly OCA IPI No. 10-3507-RTJ), July 23, 2018
SPS. ALBERTO AND LILIAN PACHO, Complainants, v. JUDGE AGAPITO S. LU, REGIONAL TRIAL
COURT, BRANCH 88, CAVITE CITY, Respondent.
DECISION
BERSAMIN, J.:
Complainants Spouses Alberto and Lilian Pacho (Spouses Pacho) brought their administrative
complaint charging respondent Judge Agapito S. Lu (Judge Lu), the former Presiding Judge of the
Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 88, in Cavite City with undue delay in the rendition of the
judgment in Civil Case No. N-7675 entitled Sps. Lilian and Alberto S. Pacho v. Sps. Eric and Roselie
Manongsong.[1]

Antecedents

The Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) summarized the antecedents and contentions of the
parties, as follows:

Complainant Sps. Pacho alleges that the complaint for ejectment they filed against spouses Eric and
Roselie Manongsong on 12 February 2004 was raffled to the Municipal Trial Court in Cities, Branch 1,
Cavite City, presided over by Judge Amalia Samaniego-Cuapiaco. On 9 June 2004, Judge Samaniego-
Cuapiaco rendered a Judgment dismissing the complaint for lack of jurisdiction. Complainant Sps.
Pacho appealed the judgment to the Regional Trial Court, which was raffled to the court of
respondent Judge Lu.

On 30 August 2004, respondent Judge Lu rendered a Decision setting aside the appealed judgment
and remanding the case for further proceedings. On 12 August 2005, Judge Samaniego-Cuapiaco
rendered a decision dismissing the case for the second time for lack of jurisdiction.

Complainant Sps. Pacho elevated the decision of the lower court to the Regional Trial Court, which
case was again raffled to respondent Judge Lu. Although the case was already submitted for
decision, the appeal remained unresolved. Two (2) motions for early resolution, 9 July 2007 and on
21 November 2007, respectively, and almost weekly followups thereafter, remained unacted upon.

In a letter-comment dated 14 December 2010, respondent Judge Lu alleged that on 30 August 2004,
he rendered a decision setting aside the judgment of the lower court and then remanded the case for
further proceedings.

On 26 January 2005, Judge Samaniego-Cuapiaco, by way of 1st Indorsement to respondent Judge Lu,
insisted that remanding the case serves no useful purpose for the parties have already presented
their evidence. By reason of this, respondent Judge Lu issued an Order on 16 February 2005,
directing the former to resolve the issue of possession and all incidental issues.

On 12 August 2005, Judge Samaniego-Cuapiaco rendered a decision, dismissing the ejectment case
for the second time for lack of jurisdiction. The appeal was again raffled to respondent Judge Lu who
immediately drafted a Decision sometime December 2005. Anticipating Judge Samaniego-Cuapiaco's
relentless defiance and the likelihood that the case would again find its way to his sala in a "judicial
ping-pong", respondent Judge Lu deemed it more prudent not to finalize the draft of the Decision.

Further, respondent Judge Lu explained to Mrs. Lilian Pacho that he cannot give due course to their
appeal as the Rules of Court proscribes a second appeal of the same case. He advised Mrs. Pacho to
file an administrative complaint against Judge Samaniego-Cuapiaco instead. He also told Mrs. Pacho
that he would "defer action on her second appeal because if [he] immediately deny due
course to or dismiss the appeal and the dismissal of the appeal becomes final, she may
lose her right and opportunity to seek judicial relief."

Lastly, respondent Judge Lu adopts his letter-comment as an administrative complaint against Judge
Samaniego-Cuapiaco for Gross Ignorance of the Law, Grave Abuse of Discretion and for disregarding
the hierarchy of courts.[2]
After hearing, the OCA issued its report and recommendation dated April 15, 2011, and
recommended as follows:

Respectfully submitted for the consideration of the Honorable Court the recommendations that:

(a) The instant administrative complaint be RE-DOCKETED as a regular administrative complaint;

Hold Judge Agapito S. Lu of Regional Trial Court, Branch 88, Cavite City, be found GUILTY for
(b) the less serious charge of delay in rendering judgment, for which he should
be FINED P11,000.00; and

To APPRISE respondent Judge Lu to file the appropriate verified complaint against Judge
(c)
Amalia Samaniego-Cuapiaco should he decide to pursue his complaint against the latter.[3]
In support of its recommendation, the OCA explained thusly:[4]

Respondent Judge Lu virtually admitted the delay in rendering a decision in Civil Case No. N-7675
and that he failed to act on complainant Sps. Pacho's appeal within the three (3) month period
prescribed in the Constitution. His statement to wit: "But now that Mrs. Pacho has filed a
complaint against me, I will immediately act on her second appeal." Imparts a mere
intention to act in the future thus, reinforcing the fact of delay. From the later part of 2005 (when
the parties have already submitted their respective memorandum thus deeming the appeal submitted
for resolution) up to the purported date of his letter-comment on 14 December 2010, respondent
Judge Lu has yet to act on the appeal. Had it not been for the instant complaint, further delay in
resolving the case is not too remote a possibility.

Presuming that, respondent Judge Lu drafted a Decision on December 2005, such draft Decision did
not interrupt the period for rendering a decision. A draft decision is a mere draft, not "the Decision"
contemplated in the Constitution. While the draft Decision may entail that Judge Lu did a positive act,
[it] had no official bearing on the case as the litigants still remain in limbo for their unsettled
differences.

While the Court takes note of the heavy caseload of judges, and to ease the burden, grants motions
for extension of time to resolve cases, respondent Judge Lu, failed to indicate that he ever filed any.
His concern over the probable loss of Mrs. Pacho's right and opportunity to seek judicial relief is
commendable but speculative. Besides, complainants Sps. Pacho's efforts to pursue their case as
manifested by their two(2) motions for early resolution, the almost monthly follow-ups, and this
administrative complaint, negate such situation. Hence, the fact remains that a decision on
complainant Sps. Pacho's appeal is long overdue. Passing the blame to Judge Samaniego-Cuapiaco,
cannot absolve him from liability.

Section 9 (1) in relation to Section 11 (B), both of Rule 140 of the Rules of Court classify delay in
rendering a decision as a less serious offence, penalized with suspension from office without salary
and other benefits for not less than one (1) nor more than three (3) months; or a fine of more than
P10,000.00 but not exceeding P20,000.00. Considering the peculiar circumstances in this case, and
the fact that respondent Judge Lu initially acted on the first appeal, not to mention his fast
approaching retirement on 27 June 2011, this Office recommends that respondent Judge Lube fined
P11,000.00 for delay in rendering a decision.
In the meantime, the respondent Judge compulsorily retired from the service. In its resolution dated
June 28, 2017,[5] the Court resolved to withhold a total of P40,000.00 from his retirement benefits to
answer for any administrative liability arising from this or any other complaint.

Ruling of the Court

The Court ADOPTS the recommendation of the OCA.

Article VIII, Section 15(1) of the 1987 Constitution mandates that the first and second level courts
should decide every case within three months from its submission for decision or resolution. "A case
or matter shall be deemed submitted for decision or resolution upon the filing of the last pleading,
brief, or memorandum required by the Rules of Court or by the court itself."[6]

The Code of Judicial Conduct mirrors this constitutional edict by requiring all judges to administer
justice impartially and without delay,[7] and to promptly dispose of their courts' business and to
decide their cases within the required periods.[8] The demand for impartiality and efficiency is by no
means an empty platitude. All too often, the Court has expounded on the pressing need for judicial
efficiency, as it has done in Office of the Court Administrator v. Reyes,[9] thus:

The honor and integrity of the judiciary is measured not only by the fairness and correctness of the
decisions rendered, but also by the efficiency with which disputes are resolved. Thus, judges must
perform their official duties with utmost diligence if public confidence in the judiciary is to be
preserved. There is no excuse for mediocrity in the performance of judicial functions. The position of
judge exacts nothing less than faithful observance of the law and the Constitution in the discharge of
official duties.
The period for disposing of judicial matters is mandatory. Yet, the Court recognizes that the
extension of the period may sometimes be proper or necessary, but the judge concerned must
request the extension in writing, and state therein the meritorious ground for the request. The
extension is not loosely granted. The respondent Judge did not request any extension of his period to
resolve the second appeal. He also did not tender in his comment on the administrative complaint the
ground to justify or explain his inability to resolve the appeal within the period mandated by the
Constitution.

Instead, as the OCA correctly observed, the respondent Judge had deliberately not resolved the
appeal within the period allowed by the Constitution. A look at the records discloses that the MTCC
resolved the ejectment case through its decision dated June 9, 2004,[10] and the complainants
appealed the adverse outcome; that the appeal went before the respondent Judge, who disposed of
it on August 30, 2004[11] by remanding the case to the MTCC; and that, in turn, the MCTC resolved
the case on August 12, 2005[12] by again dismissing the case a second time. This was the point when
the whole trouble started. The complainants appealed the second dismissal by the MTCC, and their
appeal went up again to the respondent Judge's court. Normally, the respondent Judge could have
resolved the second appeal in due course, and let the aggrieved parties take it from there. Even if he
sincerely believed that the outcome would not be any different from the previous one, he should not
have desisted from complying with the mandatory period for disposing of the second appeal. But he
did not comply. After nearly two years from the submission of their second appeal for resolution
without its being acted upon, the complainants moved ex parte for its early resolution on July 9,
2007, and again on November 21, 2007. All to no avail, as the respondent Judge did not issue any
resolution. Thus, they were impelled to commence this administrative case by filing their complaint
dated August 31, 2010.

It is clear from the circumstances that the respondent Judge had no excuse for not resolving the
second appeal within the mandatory period despite its being already ripe for judicial adjudication and
despite the complainants' constant follow-ups. Worse, as the OCA noted, the respondent Judge
admitted in his comment that he resolved the appeal only after the administrative complaint had
been lodged against him, thus:

So, when Mrs. Lilian Pacho followed up the case, I informed her that I can no longer entertain, much
less, give due course to her second appeal because a second appeal of the same case involving the
same issue of alleged lack of jurisdiction which has been resolved by me acting as an appellate court
in the previous appeal is not allowed by the Rules of Court.

Instead, I advised Mrs. Pacho to file an administrative complaint against Judge Cuapiaco to compel
the latter to comply with my decision as an appellate court.

I also informed Mrs. Pacho that I will defer action on her second appeal because if I immediately
deny due course to or dismiss her appeal and the dismissal of the appeal becomes final, she may lose
her right and opportunity to seek judicial relief.

It is quite surprising therefore that Mrs. Pacho chose to file an administrative complaint against me
instead of against Judge Amalia Samaniego-Cuapiaco.

But now that Mrs. Pacho has filed a complaint against me, I will immediately act on her
second appeal.[13] [Emphasis Supplied]
In not resolving the appeal until this administrative case was brought, the respondent Judge let five
years from the time he should have resolved it to elapse. In other words, he would have incurred
further delay in the resolution of the appeal were it not for the tiling of the complaint.

To evade liability, the respondent Judge attributes the delay to the stand-off between him and MTCC
Judge Amalia Samaniego-Cuapiaco, the trial judge who had twice decided the case, on the issue of
jurisdiction over the ejectment case.

The attribution of delay to the stand-off was unwarranted. The delay was far from the responsibility
or fault of MTCC Judge SamaniegoCuapiaco; it was the respondent Judge's exclusively. The
complaint for forcible entry filed by the complainants in the MTCC was tried under the 1991 Revised
Rules on Summary Procedure, and the parties submitted all the necessary pleadings and papers.
Judge Samaniego-Cuapiaco rendered her first decision of dismissal for want of jurisdiction after trial
on the merits. With the MTCC having already tried the case on the merits and decided to dismiss the
complaint for ejectment for lack ofjurisdiction, his recourse was to resolve the appeal in due course,
which he did by reversing the MTCC and remanding the case to the MTCC with the order to resolve it
on the merits, not to dismiss it. That Judge Samaniego-Cuapiaco rendered her second decision to still
dismiss the complaint for lack of jurisdiction should not cause the impasse between her court and the
RTC as to cause the five-year delay. If he still disagreed with the MTCC's second disposition, his
recourse, if he sincerely believed that the MTCC had jurisdiction (contrary to Judge Samaniego-
Cuapiaco's persuasion), was to render judgment by stating so and at the same time dismissing the
case for lack of original jurisdiction over it. He should not think of remanding the case again to the
MTCC. Remand, already superfluous, was no longer an option. Thereafter, he should just leave it to
the complainants, if they would feel aggrieved by the judgment he rendered, to choose their
remedies in the usual course. Indeed, the delay was avoidable by him.

Section 9, Rule 140 of the Rules of Court classifies undue delay in resolving a case as a less serious
charge punishable by suspension from office without salary and other benefits for not less than one
nor more than three months; or a fine of more than P10,000.00 but not exceeding
P20,000.00.[14] Due to his intervening retirement from the service, it is now appropriate to impose a
fine of P11,000.00, the amount recommended by the OCA, to be charged against the P40,000.00
withheld from his retirement benefits.

WHEREFORE, the Court FINDS and PRONOUNCES respondent Judge Agapito S. Lu


(retired) GUILTY of undue delay in resolving Civil Case No. N-7675; and IMPOSES a fine amounting
to P11,000.00 to be charged against the P40,000.00 withheld from his retirement benefits.

SO ORDERED.

22.
A.M. No. RTJ-15-2435 (Formerly A.M. No. 15-08-246-RTC), March 06, 2018
OFFICE OF THE COURT ADMINISTRATOR, Complainant, v. JUDGE WINLOVE M. DUMAYAS, BRANCH 59,
REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, MAKATI CITY, Respondent.
DECISION
PER CURIAM:
This case stemmed from the charges against respondent Judge Winlove M. Dumayas of Branch 59, Regional Trial Court
(RTC), Makati City, for allegedly rendering a decision without citing the required factual and legal bases and by ignoring
the applicable jurisprudence, which constitutes gross misconduct and gross ignorance of the law. The antecedents of the
case at bar are as follows: In the July 7, 2015 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Ramon Tulfo wrote an article
entitled "What's Happening to Makati Judges?," where he raised certain issues against three (3) Makati City judges, one
of whom is respondent Judge Dumayas for supposedly imposing a light sentence against the accused in one criminal
case, when he should have found them guilty of committing murder instead. Said case is Criminal Case No. 12-2065,
entitled People v. Juan Alfonso Abastillas, et al.
Upon investigation and review of the July 2, 2014 Decision penned by Judge Dumayas in the aforecited case, the Office
of the Court Administrator (OCA) found two (2) issues with said ponencia, particularly in the imposition of the penalties:
First, he appreciated the presence of the privileged mitigating circumstance of incomplete self-defense by concluding that
there was unlawful aggression on the part of American national George Anikow and that there was no sufficient
provocation on the part of accused Crispin C. Dela Paz and Galiciano S. Datu III. In doing so, he totally ignored the
positive testimony of security guard Jose Romel Saavedra and the physical evidence consisting of closed circuit television
(CCTV) video footages of the incident clearly showing that Anikow had already fled, but was still pursued and viciously
attacked and hit by the accused when they finally caught up with him. It is a well-settled rule that the moment the first
aggressor runs away, unlawful aggression on the part of the first aggressor ceases to exist, and when the unlawful
aggression ceases, the defender no longer has any right to kill or wound the former aggressor; otherwise, retaliation and
not self-defense is committed. Retaliation is not the same as self-defense. In retaliation, the aggression that the injured
party started had already ceased when the accused attacked him, while in self-defense, aggression was still existing when
the aggressor was injured by the accused.
Second, without mentioning any factual or legal basis therefor, Judge Dumayas appreciated in favor of Dela Paz and Datu
III the ordinary mitigating circumstance of voluntary surrender, contrary to Saavedra's positive testimony that the four (4)
accused, including Dela Paz and Datu III, warned him not to report the incident or note their plate number as they were
leaving the scene of the incident. Besides, two (2) other Rockwell security guards testified that they apprehended the four
(4) accused in the vehicle as they were leaving the Rockwell Center before they were turned over to the custody of the
police. In appreciating said ordinary mitigating circumstance, Judge Dumayas never cited any factual or legal reason to
justify the same, as there was nothing in the record that supports his conclusion. In fact, the evidence presented show
otherwise. By deliberately not explaining in his Decision how he arrived at his conclusion that Dela Paz and Datu III
voluntarily surrendered, Judge Dumayas violated Section 14, Article VIII 1 of the Constitution.
In a Resolution dated August 25, 2015, the Court En Banc directed Judge Dumayas to show cause why no disciplinary
action should be taken against him for ignoring existing jurisprudence on unlawful aggression and for inappropriately
appreciating the ordinary mitigating circumstance of voluntary surrender without citing any basis, when he rendered his
Decision dated July 2, 2014 in Criminal Case No. 12-2065.
In his Compliance dated October 18, 2015, Judge Dumayas argued that judges cannot be held civilly, criminally, and
administratively liable for any of their official acts, no matter how erroneous, as long as they act in good faith. He
vehemently denied having conveniently ignored the existing jurisprudence on unlawful aggression. He explained that his
ruling was based on the fact that the mortal wound on Anikow's neck was inflicted when there was still unlawful
aggression on his part against the accused, which placed the latter in legitimate self-defense. It was only after the first
fist fight that Anikow ran away.
He likewise apologized for failing to quote in his Decision the portions of the testimony of the prosecution witnesses
attesting to the voluntary surrender of the accused. He quoted the testimony of Dominador H. Royo, one of the security
guards who apprehended the accused when they were trying to leave Rockwell Center:
xxxx
Q: What did you tell to the driver again?
A: I told him that there was a problem at the upper part of Rockwell Drive so I asked him to surrender his license to me,
sir.
Q: Was there any resistance on his part to surrender his license or he just gave it to you voluntarily?
A: Voluntarily sir.
xxxx
Q: Now if the driver intended to leave he could just left you there and then he could just spread out correct?
A: Yes sir.
Q: But he did not?
A: Yes sir.
Q: So there was really no intention to escape, correct?
A: Yes sir. 2
Judge Dumayas stressed that the aforementioned testimony clearly shows that the accused indeed voluntarily
surrendered to the security guards who stopped them, and later to the police officers, when they were turned over to the
latter's custody.
On April 18, 2017, the OCA recommended the imposition of the extreme penalty of dismissal, thus:
PREMISES CONSIDERED, we respectfully recommend for the consideration of the Court that Judge Winlove M.
Dumayas, Branch 59, Regional Trial Court, Makati City, be ADJUDGED GUILTY of gross ignorance of the law or
procedure and gross misconduct, and be METED the penalty of DISMISSAL from the service, with forfeiture of his
retirement benefits, except his accrued leave credits, and with prejudice to reinstatement in any branch of the
government, including government owned and controlled corporations.
RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED.3
The Court's Ruling
The Court finds no cogent reason to depart from the findings and recommendations of the OCA.
It is clear that Judge Dumayas failed to hear and decide the subject case with the cold neutrality of an impartial judge. As
aptly found by the OCA after its exhaustive investigation, first, Judge Dumayas downgraded the offense charged from
murder to homicide. Second, he inappropriately appreciated the privileged mitigating circumstance of self-defense and
the ordinary mitigating circumstance of voluntary surrender despite the overwhelming testimonial and physical evidence
to the contrary. Third, he sentenced Dela Paz and Datu III to suffer an indeterminate penalty of imprisonment of four (4)
years, two (2) months, and one (1) day, as minimum, to six (6) years of prision correccional, as maximum, which made
them eligible for probation. Finally, he granted the separate applications for probation of Dela Paz and Datu III,
effectively sparing them from suffering the penalties they rightfully deserve. The pattern of said acts appears to be
deliberate, calculated, and meant to unduly favor the accused, and at the same time, can be characterized as flagrant
and indifferent to the consequences caused to the other parties, including the State.
On November 27, 2012, an Information was filed charging Juan Alfonso Abastillas, Crispin Dela Paz, Osric Cabrera, and
Galiciano Datu III with the crime of murder under Article 248 of The Revised Penal Code, thus:
On the 24th day of November 2012, in the City of Makati, Philippines, accused, conspiring and confederating with one
another and all of them mutually helping and aiding, one another, with intent to kill and with the qualifying circumstance
of abuse of superior strength did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault, employ personal
violence and stab one George Anikow with a knife, thereby inflicting upon the latter injuries and wounds on the different
parts of his body, the fatal one of which is the stab wound on his neck, which directly caused his death. 4
In his Decision, Judge Dumayas discussed his findings on the existence of self-defense, thus:
The prosecution's evidence, however, likewise proves that (1) there was unlawful aggression on the part of Anikow; and
(2) there was no provocation on the part of any of the accused.
To quote again from the February 21, 2013 Resolution of the Court, "No Less than the sworn statement of the eyewitness
Saavedra was explicit on this account."
"x x x x at nagulat na lang ako ng may kumalabog at nakita ko na hinampas nitong foreigner gamit ang kanyang kamay
ang gawing kaliwa ng sasakyan, at napatigil ang sasakyan at bumaba ang apat na lalaking sakay nito, at ito naman
foreigner ay sumugod papalapit sa apat, at ako naman ay umawat at namagitan at don nakakasalitaan na at galit na din
itong apat na lalaki, at don biglang sinugod at sinuntok ni foreigner ang isa sa apat at nagkagulo na, at ako naman at
sige pa rin sa ka-aawat at ini-iwas ko rin ang aking hawak na shot gun dahil baka ito ay ma-agaw sa akin at don tumakbo
na itong foreigner papalayo sa direksyon ng Burgos, mga 30 meters siguro ang estimate ko na nilayo niya at sumugod pa
ang dalawa sa suspect, samantalang yung dalawa pang suspect ay naiwan sa tabi ng Volvo nila nang abutan nila ang
foreigner ay nagakasuntokan pa uli hanggang sa bumagsak ang foreigner there be actual and positive attack." [ Exhibit
"C,"emphasis supplied]
In fine, the prosecution's own evidence clearly and convincingly proves: (1) unlawful aggression on the part of Anikow,
the primordial element of self-defense; and (2) lack of sufficient provocation on the part of the accused. Generally,
aggression is considered unlawful when it is unprovoked or unjustified. (People vs. Valencia, 133 SCRA 82) The unlawful
aggression of Anikow resulted in injuries to the accused. This Court takes judicial notice of the Medical Certificates issued
by Dr. Nulud attesting to the said injuries attached to the records of this case.
In so far, however, as the second element of self-defense is concerned, this Court is convinced that the means employed
by accused Dela Paz and Datu were unreasonable - there was no rational equivalence between the means of attack and
the means of defense. Reasonableness of the means employed depends on the imminent danger of the injury to the
person attacked; he acts under the impulse of self-preservation. He is not going to stop and pause to find out whether
the means he has in his hands is reasonable. (Eslabon vs. People, 127 SCRA 785) True, Anikow committed unlawful
aggression against the accused with his fists. However, the means used by the accused were unreasonable. 5
Curiously, Judge Dumayas himself stated in his Decision that the accused never invoked self-defense, and yet, he was
quick to declare that there was unlawful aggression based on clear and convincing evidence, to wit:
xxxx
Accused Abastillas did not invoke self-defense but attempted to cast doubt on the prosecution's evidence
that he inflicted the fatal wound on the neck of Anikow and a wound on his back.
xxxx
The Court attaches great significance and importance to the CCTV video footage and the image frames extracted from it.
Bereft of the aforesaid objectionable evidence of the prosecution, the CCTV footages and images would show that it was
not accused Abastillas who inflicted the fatal blow neither was he who inflicted the wound on the back of Anikow. xxx
xxxx
In this jurisdiction, in self-defense, the burden of proof rests upon the accused and must be established by clear and
convincing evidence. (People vs. Corecor, 159 SCRA 84) In this case, however, the prosecution's own evidence
clearly and convincingly establishes unlawful aggression and lack of provocation on the part of any of the
accused, which relieves them from the duty of proving the same.6
It is settled that self-defense is an affirmative allegation and offers exculpation from liability for crimes only if timely
invoked and satisfactorily proved. When the accused admits the act charged but interposes a lawful defense, the order of
trial may be modified7 and the burden shifts to the accused to prove that he indeed acted in self-defense by establishing
the following with clear and convincing evidence: (1) unlawful aggression on the part of the victims; (2) reasonable
necessity of the means employed to prevent or repel the aggression; and (3) lack of sufficient provocation on his part.
Self-defense cannot be justifiably appreciated when it is extremely doubtful by itself. Indeed, in invoking self-defense, the
burden of evidence is shifted and the accused claiming self-defense must rely on the strength of his own evidence and
not on the weakness of the prosecution.8 Without a doubt, respondent judge seems to have forgotten this established
legal principle.
In his Compliance, Judge Dumayas never denied the existence of evidence showing that Anikow fled from the accused
after the first fist and after that the accused went after him. But he claims that the fatal wound was inflicted on Anikow
during the first scuffle when the aggression on his part was still existing, which placed the accused in legitimate self-
defense. In his Decision, however, it is clear that he appreciated the existence of the mitigating circumstance of
incomplete self-defense even without the accused invoking and proving the same, simply because the prosecution itself
clearly and convincingly proved the existence of unlawful aggression and lack of sufficient provocation from any of the
accused. His complete disregard of the settled rules and jurisprudence on self-defense and of the events that transpired
after the first fight, despite the existence of testimonial and physical evidence to the contrary, in the appreciation of the
privileged mitigating circumstance of incomplete self-defense casts serious doubt on his impartiality and good faith. Such
doubt cannot simply be brushed aside despite his belated justification and explanation.
Under Canon 3 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct, impartiality applies not only to the decision itself, but also to the
process by which the decision is made. When Judge Dumayas chose to simply ignore all the evidence showing that the
accused still pursued Anikow after the latter had already run away, not even bothering to explain the irrelevance or lack
of weight of the same, such act necessarily put the integrity of his entire Decision in question.
Likewise, his failure to cite in the Decision his factual and legal bases for finding the presence of the ordinary mitigating
circumstance of voluntary surrender is not a mere matter of judicial ethics. No less than the Constitution provides that no
decision shall be rendered by any court without expressing clearly and distinctly the facts and the law on which it is
based.9 The Court cannot simply accept the lame excuse that Judge Dumayas failed to cite said bases due to a mere
oversight on his part that was made in good faith.
Moreover, even if Judge Dumayas' explanation to such omission was acceptable, he still failed to sufficiently justify why
he appreciated the ordinary mitigating circumstance of voluntary surrender on the part of the accused. For voluntary
surrender to be appreciated, the following requisites must be present: 1) the offender has not been actually arrested; 2)
the offender surrendered himself to a person in authority or the latter's agent; and 3) the surrender was voluntary. The
essence of voluntary surrender is spontaneity and the intent of the accused to give himself up and submit himself to the
authorities either because he acknowledges his guilt or he wishes to save the authorities the trouble and expense that
may be incurred for his search and capture.10 In the case at bar, it was not shown from the evidence presented that the
accused intended to surrender and admit the commission of the crime; they did not even invoke self-defense during trial.
On the contrary and far from being spontaneous, security guard Saavedra even testified that accused warned him not to
report the incident or note their plate number as they were fleeing the scene of the incident.
Indeed, it is settled that, unless the acts were committed with fraud, dishonesty, corruption, malice or ill-will, bad faith, or
deliberate intent to do an injustice, the respondent judge may not be administratively liable for gross misconduct,
ignorance of the law, or incompetence of official acts in the exercise of judicial functions and duties, particularly in the
adjudication of cases.11 However, when the inefficiency springs from a failure to recognize such a basic and fundamental
rule, law, or principle, the judge is either too incompetent and undeserving of the position and title vested upon him, or
he is too vicious that he deliberately committed the oversight or omission in bad faith and in grave abuse of
authority.12Here, the attendant circumstances would reveal that the acts of Judge Dumayas contradict any claim of good
faith. And since the violated constitutional provision is so elementary, failure to abide by it constitutes gross ignorance of
the law, without even a need for the complainant to prove any malice or bad faith on the part of the judge.
Corollarily, the Court finds Judge Dumayas guilty of gross ignorance of the law and gross misconduct.
Gross ignorance of the law is the disregard of basic rules and settled jurisprudence. A judge may also be administratively
liable if shown to have been motivated by bad faith, fraud, dishonesty or corruption in ignoring, contradicting or failing to
apply settled law and jurisprudence. Though not every judicial error bespeaks ignorance of the law and that, if committed
in good faith, does not warrant administrative sanction, the same applies only in cases within the parameters of tolerable
misjudgment. Such, however, is not the case with Judge Dumayas. Where the law is straightforward and the facts so
evident, failure to know it or to act as if one does not know it constitutes gross ignorance of the law. A judge is presumed
to have acted with regularity and good faith in the performance of judicial functions. But a blatant disregard of a clear
and unmistakable provision of the Constitution upends this presumption and subjects the magistrate to corresponding
administrative sanctions.13
For liability to attach for ignorance of the law, the assailed order, decision or actuation of the judge in the performance of
official duties must not only be found erroneous but, most importantly, it must also be established that he was moved by
bad faith, dishonesty, hatred, or some other similar motive. Judges are expected to exhibit more than just cursory
acquaintance with statutes and procedural laws. They must know the laws and apply them properly in all good faith.
Judicial competence requires no less. Thus, unfamiliarity with the rules is a sign of incompetence. Basic rules must be at
the palm of his hand. When a judge displays utter lack of familiarity with the rules, he betrays the confidence of the
public in the courts. Ignorance of the law is the mainspring of injustice. Judges owe it to the public to be knowledgeable,
hence, they are expected to have more than just a modicum of acquaintance with the statutes and procedural rules; they
must know them by heart.14
Although a judge may not always be subjected to disciplinary actions for every erroneous order or decision he issues, that
relative immunity is not a license to be negligent or abusive and arbitrary in performing his adjudicatory prerogatives. If
judges wantonly misuse the powers granted to them by the law, there will be, not only confusion in the administration of
justice, but also oppressive disregard of the basic requirements of due process. For showing partiality towards the
accused, Judge Dumayas can be said to have misused said powers.
Indubitably, Judge Dumayas violated the Code of Judicial Conduct ordering judges to ensure that his or her conduct, both
in and out of court, maintains and enhances the confidence of the public, the legal profession and litigants in the
impartiality of the judge and of the judiciary. 15 He simply used oversight, inadvertence, and honest mistake as convenient
excuses. He acted with conscious indifference to the possible undesirable consequences to the parties involved.
Indeed, Judge Dumayas is also guilty of gross misconduct. Misconduct is a transgression of some established and definite
rule of action, more particularly, unlawful behavior or gross negligence by the public officer. To warrant dismissal from
service, the misconduct must be grave, serious, important, weighty, momentous, and not trifling. The misconduct must
imply wrongful intention and not a mere error of judgment and must also have a direct relation to and be connected with
the performance of the public officer's official duties amounting either to maladministration or willful, intentional neglect,
or failure to discharge the duties of the office. In order to differentiate gross misconduct from simple misconduct, the
elements of corruption, clear intent to violate the law, or flagrant disregard of established rule, must be manifest in the
former.16
To hold a judge administratively liable for gross misconduct, ignorance of the law or incompetence of official acts in the
exercise of judicial functions and duties, it must be shown that his acts were committed with fraud, dishonesty,
corruption, malice or ill-will, bad faith, or deliberate intent to do an injustice. 17 The Court has repeatedly and consistently
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 arc 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. 18
Interestingly, Judge Dumayas has the following administrative cases filed against him:
Docket Date
Complainant Nature Status
Number Filed

64-03- Aug. 29, Case Dismissed


1. Asuncion, Gliceria Rendering Unjust Decision
CA-J 2003 (Oct. 7, 2003)

Case Dismissed
Jan. 18,
2. Fortun, Raymond A. 08-2784 Gross Ignorance of the Law (March 17,
2008
2008)

Sept. Case Dismissed


08-3002-
3. Co, Felix S. 25, Knowingly Rendering Unjust Judgment (June 17,
RTJ
2008 2011)

Case Dismissed
10-3555- Nov. 17,
4. Reyes, Gemma Gross Ignorance of the Law (March 14,
RTJ 2010
2012)

Case Dismissed
11-3603- Feb. 8, Knowingly Rendering Unjust Order and
5. Estevez, Lourdita (Sept. 12,
RTJ 2011 Ignorance of the Law
2011)

RCBC CAP Corp. rep. RTJ-15- Feb. 6,


6. Gross Ignorance of the Law Pending
by Ramon Posadas 2411 2012

Grave Abuse of Discretion, Incompetence,


Montenegro, 13-4095- July 5, Gross Ignorance of the Law, Viol. of R.A. 3019, Case Dismissed
7.
Gregorio A. RTJ 2013 Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the (Sept. 9, 2015)
Service

Sept. Case Dismissed


Fabularum, Alberto 13-4140-
8. 24, Grave Abuse of Discretion and Bias (June 25,
DC RTJ
2013 2014)

PDIC rep. by Atty. R. 13-4162- Nov. 21,


9. Gross Ignorance of the Law Pending
Mendoza, Jr. RTJ 2013
PCSO rep. by Atty. RTJ-16- Nov. 27, Gross Ignorance of the Law, Grave Abuse of
10. Pending
J.F. Rojas II 2477 2013 Authority, Gross Neglect of Duty

14-4332- Nov. 10,


11. Tanjutco, Carolina Knowingly Rendering Unjust Judgment Pending
RTJ 2014

March
Yuseco, Francis, Jr. 15-4381- Gross Ignorance of the Law, Grave Abuse of
12. 26, Pending
R. RTJ Authority and Gross Incompetence
2015

Sarrosa, Michael, et 16-4534- Feb. 22, Gross Ignorance of the Law, Bias, Partiality,
13. Pending
al. RTJ 2016 and Viol. of Code of Judicial Conduct
That a significant number of litigants saw it fit to file administrative charges against Judge Dumayas, with most of these
cases having the same grounds, i.e., gross ignorance of the law or procedure and knowingly rendering unjust judgment,
only shows how poorly he has been performing as a member of the bench. The Court takes the aforementioned incidents
as evidence of respondent's stubborn propensity to not follow the rule of law and procedure in rendering judgments and
orders. This definitely has besmirched the integrity and seriously compromised the reputation, not only of his court, but
more importantly, of the entire judicial system which he . represents.
WHEREFORE, the Court finds Judge Winlove M. Dumayas of Branch 59, Regional Trial Court, Makati City, GUILTY of
gross ignorance of the law or procedure and gross misconduct and hereby DISMISSEShim from the service
with FORFEITURE of retirement benefits, except leave credits, and with prejudice to re-employment in any branch or
instrumentality of the government, including government-owned and controlled corporations.19
SO ORDERED.
23. SECOND DIVISION
A.M. No. MTJ-17-1893 (Formerly OCA I.P.I. No. 15-2773-MTJ), February 19, 2018
TEODORA ALTOBANO-RUIZ, Complainant, v. HON. RAMSEY DOMINGO G. PICHAY, PRESIDING JUDGE,
BRANCH 78, METROPOLITAN TRIAL COURT, PARAÑAQUE CITY, Respondent.
DECISION
PERALTA, J.:
Before us is the Complaint1 dated June 22, 2015 of complainant Teodora Altobano-Ruiz (Ruiz) against respondent Judge
Ramsey Domingo G. Pichay (Judge Pichay), Presiding Judge, Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC), Branch 78, Parañaque City
for gross ignorance of the law and gross misconduct in connection with the latter's act of granting bail in favor of Francis
Eric Paran (Paran).
The factual antecedents of the case are as follows.
Complainant Ruiz and Paran are the accused in an adultery case, docketed as Criminal Case No. 2562, 2which is pending
before the Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC), Trece Martires City, Cavite, presided by Judge Gonzalo Q. Mapili, Jr. On
March 19, 2014, accused Paran was apprehended at his residence in Quezon City by police authorities from Parañaque
City by virtue of the Warrant of Arrest 3 dated March 12, 2014 issued by Judge Mapili. He was detained for several days at
the Parañaque City Police Station.
On March 22, 2014, accused Paran filed an application for bail before Branch 78, MeTC, Parañaque City, which was
promptly approved by respondent Judge Pichay after the accused posted a cash bond of P12,000.00, to wit:
WHEREFORE, the Police Authorities of Parañaque City Police Station, Warrant and Subpoena Unit, Parañaque City is
hereby DIRECTED to RELEASE IMMEDIATELY WITHOUT ANY FURTHER DELAY the accused FRANCIS ERIC PARAN unless
there are causes or cases warranting his further detention.
The Branch Clerk of Court is hereby DIRECTED to transmit the bond to the Court of origin.
SO ORDERED.4
On the other hand, Ruiz voluntarily surrendered before Judge Mapili and was temporarily released on bail upon posting a
cash bond of P12,000.00.
Ruiz alleged that Judge Pichay had no authority to approve Paran's application for bail since the latter already had a
pending criminal case for adultery in another court, and he was actually arrested in Quezon City which was outside Judge
Pichay's territorial jurisdiction.
On August 10, 2015, the Office of the Court Administrator ( OCA) directed Judge Pichay to submit his comment on the
complaint against him.5
In his Comment6 dated November 27, 2015, Judge Pichay countered that his assailed Order dated March 22, 2014 was
rendered in good faith and in strict adherence to and faithful compliance with his duties mandated under the Constitution
and the Rules of Court. He insisted on his court's jurisdiction over accused Paran's application for bail because the latter
was detained at the Parañaque City Police Station, as shown in the Certificate of Detention issued by SPO4 Dondie Oliva
Aquino. He further averred that he acted on the bail application on the same date that it was filed, which was a Saturday,
in order to give effect to the accused's constitutional right to bail. Finally, Judge Pichay asserted that his action was
neither tainted with malice nor did he receive financial gain in resolving the application with dispatch.
On January 18, 2017, the OCA recommended that the instant administrative complaint be re-docketed as a regular
administrative matter. It further found Judge Pichay guilty of gross ignorance of the law and recommended that he be
meted the penalty of a fine in the amount of P5,000.00 with stern warning. 7
We adopt the findings of the OCA, except as to the recommended penalty.
Section 17 (a) of Rule 114 of the Rules of Court, as amended by Administrative Circular No. 12-94 which governs the
approval of bail bonds for criminal cases pending outside the judge's territorial jurisdiction is instructive, to wit:
Section 17. Bail, where filed. — (a) Bail in the amount fixed may be filed with the court where the case is pending, or in
the absence or unavailability of the judge thereof, with any regional trial judge, metropolitan trial judge, municipal trial
judge, or municipal circuit trial judge in the province, city, or municipality. If the accused is arrested in a province, city, or
municipality other than where the case is pending, bail may also be filed with any Regional Trial Court of said place, or if
no judge thereof is available, with any metropolitan trial judge, municipal trial judge, or municipal circuit trial judge
therein.
xxx
The foregoing provision anticipates two (2) situations. First, the accused is arrested in the same province, city or
municipality where his case is pending. Second, the accused is arrested in the province, city or municipality other than
where his case is pending. In the first situation, the accused may file bail in the court where his case is pending or, in the
absence or unavailability of the judge thereof, with another branch of the same court within the province or city. In the
second situation, the accused has two (2) options. First, he may file bail in the court where his case is pending or,
second, he may file bail with any regional trial court in the province, city or municipality where he was arrested. When no
regional trial court judge is available, he may file bail with any metropolitan trial judge, municipal trial judge or municipal
circuit trial judge therein.8
However, in the instant case, the case where Judge Pichay approved Paran's bail bond and issued release order was not
pending before his sala. As correctly pointed out by the OCA, although accused Paran was detained at the Station
Detention Cell, Parañaque City Police Station, he was nevertheless arrested at his residence in Quezon City. Considering
that Paran was arrested in Quezon City, he could also file his bail application before any branch at the Regional Trial
Court of Quezon City, and in the absence of any judge thereat, then before any branch of the Metropolitan Trial Court of
Quezon City. Paran could have also filed his bail application before the MTCC, Trece Martires City, where his case was
pending.
Indeed, the only circumstance where Judge Pichay can exercise authority to rule on Paran's bail application is if the latter,
who was detained in Parañaque City, was not yet charged with a criminal offense in another court, pursuant to Section
17(c),9 Rule 114 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure. However, in the instant case, there was already a pending criminal
case against Paran before the MTCC, Trece Martires, Cavite as shown in the Certificate of Detention 10 attached in Paran's
application of bail. In fact, Paran's arrest was by virtue of a warrant of arrest issued by Judge Mapili of the MTCC, Trece
Martires City. More importantly, Judge Pichay likewise failed to prove that there was no available judge to act on Paran's
application of bail in the said respective courts. Clearly, Judge Pichay's approval of Paran's bail constituted an irregularity
arising from his lack of the authority to do so.
In Judge Español v. Judge Mupas,11 the Court held that judges who approve applications for bail of accused whose cases
are pending in other courts are guilty of gross ignorance of the law. In Lim v. Judge Dumlao,12 the Court held that:
x x x The requirements of Section 17(a), Rule 114 x x x must be complied with before a judge may grant
bail. The Court recognizes that not every judicial error bespeaks ignorance of the law and that, if committed in good
faith, does not warrant administrative sanction, but only in cases within the parameters of tolerable
misjudgment. Where, however, the law is straightforward and the facts so evident, not to know it or to act as
if one does not know it constitutes gross ignorance of the law.
Respondent judge undeniably erred in approving the bail and issuing the order of release. He is expected to
know that certain requirements ought to be complied with before he can approve [the accuseds] bail and
issue an order for his release. The law involved is rudimentary that it leaves little room for error. x x x13
It must be emphasized that rules of procedure have been formulated and promulgated by this Court to ensure the speedy
and efficient administration of justice. Failure to abide by these rules undermines the wisdom behind them and diminishes
respect for the law. Judges should ensure strict compliance therewith at all times in their respective jurisdictions. 14 Judge
Pichay cannot excuse himself from the consequences of his action by invoking good faith. As a judge, he must have the
basic rules at the palm of his hands as he is expected to maintain professional competence at all times. Since Judge
Pichay presides over MeTC-Br. 78 in Parañaque City, his territorial jurisdiction is confined therein. Therefore, to approve
bail applications and issue corresponding release orders in a case pending in courts outside his territorial jurisdiction,
constitute ignorance of the law so gross as to amount to incompetence. 15
Time and again, the Court has adverted to the solemn obligation of judges to be very zealous in the discharge of their
bounden duties. Nonetheless, the earnest efforts of judges to promote a speedy administration of justice must at all times
be exercised with due recognition of the boundaries and limits of their jurisdiction or authority. 16 Judge Pichay might have
the noble objective to expedite the case and render prompt justice but he cannot do in violation of the rules of procedure.
PENALTY
Section 8, Rule 140 of the Rules of Court, as amended by A.M. No. 01-8-10-SC17 characterizes gross ignorance of the law
and procedure as a grave offense. The penalties prescribed for such offense are: (1) Dismissal from service, forfeiture of
all or part of the benefits as the Court may determine, and disqualification from reinstatement or appointment to any
public office, including government-owned or controlled corporations, provided, however, that the forfeiture of benefits
shall in no case include accrued leave credits; (2) Suspension from office without salary and other benefits for more than
three (3) months but not exceeding six (6) months; or (3) a fine of more than P20,000.00 but not exceeding P40,000.00.
While We agree with the findings of the OCA, We, however, do not agree with its recommendation in so far as the
penalty to be imposed since this is not Judge Pichay's first administrative infraction. In Spouses Marcelo v. Judge
Pichay,18 Judge Pichay was found guilty of violating Section 9, Rule 140 of the Rules of Court for undue delay in resolving
the pending incidents relative to Civil Case No. 2004-286 and was fined in the amount of P12,000.00. In A.M. No. MTJ-
10-1763 (Formerly OCA IPI No. 09-2209-MTJ),19Judge Pichay was also held administratively liable for the same offense.
Thus, considering also Judge Pichay's previous administrative infractions, We find it apt to impose the maximum amount
of fine upon him.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, respondent Judge Ramsey Domingo G. Pichay, Presiding Judge, Branch 78,
Metropolitan Trial Court, Parañaque City is found GUILTY of GROSS IGNORANCE OF THE LAW, and
a FINE equivalent to the amount of P40,000.00 is hereby imposed upon him. He is, likewise, sternly warned that the
commission of the same offense or a similar act in the future will be dealt with more severely.
SO ORDERED.
24. EN BANC
February 14, 2017
A.M. No. RTJ-09-2183
CONCERNED LAWYERS OF BULACAN, Complainant
vs.
PRESIDING JUDGE VICTORIA VILLALON-PORNILLOS, ETC., Respondent
RE: PETITION FOR JUDICIAL CLEMENCY OF THEN JUDGE VICTORIA VILLALON-PORNILLOS.
RESOLUTION
PER CURIAM:
For resolution is a petition for judicial clemency filed by Victoria Villalon-Pomillos (respondent), former Presiding Judge of
the Regional Trial Court, Branch 10, Malolos City, Bulacan, through a letter dated December 28, 2016.
1

The Facts
On July 7, 2009, the Court rendered a Decision, dismissing respondent from service, after having been found guilty of
2

gross misconduct, i.e., borrowing money from a lawyer in a case pending before her court, aggravated by undue delay in
rendering decisions or orders, and violation of Supreme Court rules, directives, and circulars. The dispositive portion of
the subject Decision reads:
WHEREFORE, Judge Victoria Villalon-Pornillos, Presiding Judge of Branch 10 of the Regional Trial Court of Malolos City,
is found guilty of violating paragraph 7, Section 8, Rule 140 of the Rules of Court (borrowing money from a lawyer in a
case pending before her court) which is also a gross misconduct constituting violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct,
aggravated by, inter alia, undue delay in rendering decision or orders, and violation of Supreme Court rules, directives
and circulars. She is DISMISSED from the service, with forfeiture of all retirement benefits, except accrued leave credits,
with prejudice to re-employment in any government agency or instrumentality. Immediately upon service on her of this
decision, she is deemed to have vacated her office and her authority to act as judge is considered automatically
terminated.
SO ORDERED. 3

On August 8, 2016, respondent filed a Petition for Absolute Pardon from 'Dismissal from the Service
Sentence' accompanied by a letter dated August 4, 2016 addressed to the Office of the President (OP), which was
4 5

referred to the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA), for appropriate action. In a Resolution dated November 8, 2016,
6 7

the Court denied the said petition for being an improper pleading.
Meanwhile, on November 3, 2016, respondent also filed a letter addressed to the OCA, informing the OP's transmittal of
8

her petition for judicial clemency to the Court, and requesting that the same be subject for judicial review and,
consequently, the subject Decision be reversed in her favor. The Court, in a Resolution dated November 29, 2016, noted
9

the said letter without action.


On December 28, 2016, respondent filed another letter, reiterating her plea for judicial clemency. Respondent insists
10

that she has endured almost eight (8) years of unfounded punishment as the charges and findings against her were
based on mere gossip. Likewise, she cites the Court's exoneration of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, begging
11

that the same privilege be extended to her in the spirit of Christmas.12

The Court's Ruling


Judicial clemency is an act of mercy removing any disqualification from the erring judge. It can be granted only if there
13

is a showing that it is merited; thus, proof of reformation and a showing of potential and promise are
indispensable. 14

Proof of remorse and reformation is one of the requirements to grant judicial clemency. As held by the Court in Re: Letter
of Judge Augustus C. Diaz, Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 37, Appealing for Judicial Clemency: 15

1. There must be proof of remorse and reformation. These shall include but should not be limited to certifications or
testimonials of the officer(s) or chapter(s) of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, judges or judges associations and
prominent members of the community with proven integrity and probity. A subsequent finding of guilt in an
administrative case for the same or similar misconduct will give rise to a strong presumption of non-reformation.
2. Sufficient time must have lapsed from the imposition of the penalty to ensure a period of reformation.
3. The age of the person asking for clemency must show that he still has productive years ahead of him that can be put
to good use by giving him a chance to redeem himself.
4. There must be a showing of promise (such as intellectual aptitude, learning or legal acumen or contribution to legal
scholarship and the development of the legal system or administrative and other relevant skills), as well as potential for
public service.
1av vphi1

5. There must be other relevant factors and circumstances that may justify clemency. (Emphasis supplied)
16

In this case, records are bereft of showing that respondent has exhibited remorse for her past misdeeds, which occurred
more than eight (8) years ago. Apart from respondent's submission to the Court's disciplinary authority, there were no
signs of repentance showing that at the very least, she accepted the judgment of the Court in her case. In fact, she even
sees nothing wrong with her actions. In her petition, respondent narrates that she "stood her ground against offers of
bribery for her to agree to issue orders that would give a go signal to the anomalous Bullet Train Project of Gloria
Macapagal Arroyo." She even touts herself as a judge who committed "honest acts and deeds," and submits that the
17 18

only way to give her justice is through absolute pardon. In this relation, she firmly insists that she was unduly deprived
19

of her fundamental rights under the constitution when she was unceremoniously disrobed, raising doubts as to the
integrity and impartiality of the court process.
Likewise, respondent points out that the charge of borrowing money from a litigant, for which she was dismissed,
occurred more than fourteen (14) years ago and, at that time, she had a very "slim chance" of borrowing money
20

since: (a) her "salary as a judge was substantially big enough compared against other employees or lawyers or
businessman"; and (b) both her parents are lawyers who left her "substantial real and personal property that would
21

easily be sufficient for her and her children to live for a lifetime." She claims the same of her late husband who was
22

"well-off' and landed thus, making the act imputed against her unbelievable. 23

Far from exhibiting remorse and reformation, the tenor of respondent's petition only demonstrates her attitude of
impenitence, self-righteousness, and even, vindictiveness, which unquestionably renders her undeserving of judicial
clemency. Neither did she show compliance with the other requisites for judicial clemency as cited above. Accordingly,
there is no quibble that the instant petition should be denied.
The Court, in numerous cases, has come down hard and wielded the rod of discipline against members of the judiciary
who have fallen short of the exacting standards of judicial conduct. Judicial clemency is not a privilege or a right that can
24

be availed of at any time, as the Court will grant it only if there is a showing that it is merited. Verily, clemency, as an
25 26

act of mercy removing any disqualification, should be balanced with the preservation of public confidence in the courts. 27

WHEREFORE, the petition for judicial clemency is DENIED.


SO ORDERED.