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Digest of Supreme Court’s

Benchmark
2006

Libertas et Iusticia
LIBERTAS ET IUSTICIA | DIGEST OF SUPREME COURT’S BENCHMARK 2006

Table of Contents Manila RTC Judge, Personnel Fined


Lawyer, Two CA Attorneys Disciplined
April……………………………………………………………………….. 1 Time for Filing of Pleadings Extended to 5 PM
Disrespectful Lawyers-Spouses Suspended SC Explains Legal Effects of Death Penalty Prohibition

May………………………………………………………………………… 2 October …………………………………………………………………… 11


No Time Limit for Administrative Cases vs Lawyers SC to Withhold Names of Women and Child Victims in Decisions
SCEA President Suspended E-Decisions Follow Cabalquinto Ruling
Judge, Staff Penalized for Spurious Bailbonds and Release Orders Court Clarifies Payment of Corporate Rehabilitation Fees
Award of Damages Not Immediately Executory in Intra-Corporate Disputes
June ………………………………………………………………………. 3 Complaints vs. Retired Justices and Judges Referred to SC
Sandiganbayan Justice Ordered to Inhibit Self in Marcos Graft Cases Revised Guidelines for Enhanced Pre-Trial under JURIS Project Approved
One-Year Suspension for Negligent Lawyer Clerk of Court, Cash Clerk Dismissed for Php8.7M Shortage in Judiciary Fund
Two-Year Suspension for ‘Wily’ Lawyer
July ……………………………………………………………………….. 4 Lawyer Suspended for Negligence, Obstruction
Court Upholds Religious Freedom Decisions of Shari’a District Courts Appealable to SC
'Disgraceful' Clerk Fined Notarial Rules Updates
2 Lawyers Suspended, Notary Commissions Revoked
One-Year Suspension for ‘Moonlighting’ Stenographer November ……………………………………………………………….. 16
Judge Reprimanded for Impropriety SC Clarifies Rules on Indigent Litigants
Lawyer Suspended for Representing Conflicting Interests Judge Suspended, Fined for Failure to Inhibit Self, Improper Conduct
Lawyer Suspended for Shooting Motorist
August…………………………………………………………………….. 6 Disgruntled Complainant Fined for Maligning Court
SC Allows MRs of IBP Resolutions Judge Dismissed for Corruption
Lawyer Suspended for Refusing to Pay Debt PAO Lawyer Reprimanded for Notarizing Receipt Without Commission
Lawyer Suspended for Pocketing Client’s Money SC Clarifies Effects of RA 9346 on Graduation of Criminal Penalties
Deceitful Notary Suspended Lawyer Suspended for Negligence
Clerk of Court Dismissed for Forgery, Falsification Engineer Suspended for Failure to Repair Aircons
Lawyer Suspended for Reneging on Contractual Obligation
September ……………………………………………………………… 8
Court Nullifies Suspension of Sentence of Minor Convict December ………………………………………………………………. 19
Squabbling Judge and Clerk Disciplined Judge, Two Mayors Fined for Contempt
Thirteen SC Employees Disciplined for Habitual Tardiness Retired Clerk of Court and Sheriff Fined for Undue Demolition
Lawyer Suspended for Four Years
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April 2006
Disrespectful Lawyers-Spouses Suspended
By Genevieve B. Zuñiga

THE SUPREME COURT RECENTLY suspended a married lawyer-couple for


using “very disrespectful, insulting, and humiliating” language against a
judge.
Attys. Ellis and Olivia Jacoba were suspended for two years and two
months, respectively, for using the words and phrases, “abhorrent
nullity,” “legal monstrosity,” “horrendous mistake,” “horrible error,”
“boner,” and “an insult to the judiciary and an anachronism in the judicial
process” in their Motion for Reconsideration of the Resolution issued by
Judge Ubaldino Lacurom of the Cabanatuan City Municipal Trial Court,
Branch 30.
In a decision penned by Justice Antonio T. Carpio, the Court said that
“even the most hardened judge would be scarred by the scurrilous attack
made by the 30 July 2001 motion on Judge Lacurom’s Resolution...
Though a lawyer’s language may be forceful and emphatic, it should
always be dignified and respectful, befitting the dignity of the legal
profession,” it added.
The Jacoba spouses have been previously punished for violation of the
Code of Professional Responsibility. Ellis was suspended twice – one for
six months and another for one year – for his failure to file the required
pleadings, while Olivia was fined for appearing in barangay conciliation
proceedings on behalf of a party despite the prohibition in the Local
Government Code. (AC No. 5921, Judge Ubaldino A. Lacurom, Presiding Judge,
Regional Trial Court, Cabanatuan City, Branch 29 and Pairing Judge, Branch 30 vs. Atty.
Ellis F. Jacoba and Atty. Olivia Velasco-Jacoba, March 10, 2006)

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A LAGUNA REGIONAL TRIAL COURT JUDGE and four of his staff members
May 2006 were admonished and suspended, respectively, by the Supreme Court for
issuing spurious bailbonds and release orders.
No Time Limit for Administrative Cases vs Lawyers Judge Leonardo Leonida of the Sta. Cruz, Laguna RTC, Branch 27
By Janice R. Erni
was admonished for failing to carry out his administrative responsibilities
as presiding judge. The Court said that he violated Rules 2.01, 2.03, 3.08,
TIME CANNOT ERASE a lawyer’s administrative culpability.
and 3.09 of the Code of Judicial Conduct for allowing surety agents to
Thus, in a six-page En Banc resolution penned by Justice Renato C.
freely enter his chambers and discuss their business with him and, either
Corona, the Court struck down as void and of no legal effect Section 1 of
wittingly or unwittingly, permit these agents to give instructions or
Rule VIII of the CBD-IBP Rules of Procedure which provides: “A complaint
orders to members of his staff to prepare the release orders.
for disbarment, suspension[ ]or discipline of attorneys prescribes in two
On the other hand, Legal Researcher Alegria Ramos and
(2) years from the date of the professional misconduct.”
Stenographers Irma Agawin and Ma. Veronica Nequinto were suspended
It noted that as early as 1967, it has already ruled that
for six months due to gross neglect of duty for their practice of taking
“prescription does not lie in administrative proceedings against lawyers.”
instructions from surety agents and certifying release orders without
The Court, quoting from a 2004 decision, added, “No matter how
Judge Leonida having signed the original copies thereof. Court Aide
much time has elapsed from the time of the commission of the act
Mauro Callado was also held liable for simple neglect of duty for having
complained of and the time of the institution of the complaint, erring
handed over two release order and bail bonds to a surety agent instead
members of the bench and bar cannot escape the disciplining arm of the
of personally submitting the same to the court where they were
Court.” Otherwise, the Court said, “members of the bar would be
addressed. (AM No. 04-6-332-RTC, Report on the Investigation Conducted on the
emboldened to disregard the very oath they took as lawyers.” Alleged Spurious Bailbonds and Release Orders Issued by the Regional Trial Court,
The case stemmed from an administrative case filed against Atty. Branch 27, Sta. Cruz, Laguna, April 5, 2006)
Carmelita Bautista-Lozada. The Court found Lozada found guilty of
violating the lawyers’ Code of Professional Responsibility and willfully SCEA President Suspended
disobeying a final and executory decision of the Court of Appeals. She By Joshua P. Lapuz
was suspended for two years. She moved for the reconsideration of the
decision raising as defense Sec. 1, Rule VIII of the CBD-IBP Rules of SUPREME COURT EMPLOYEES ASSOCIATION President Jose Dante
Procedure. (AC No. 5565, Bobie Rose V. Frias vs. Atty. Carmelita S. Bautista-Lozada, Guerrero was suspended by the Supreme Court for his failure to swipe
May 4, 2006) his ID card in the Chronolog Time Recorder Machine (CTRM) to register
his times of arrival at and/or departure from the office for 34 days on
Judge, Staff Penalized for Spurious Bailbonds and Release Orders various dates from July 2004 to January 2005. Guerrero, a Court
By Joshua P. Lapuz Secretary II assigned to the Office of the Third Division Clerk of Court, was
found guilty of dishonesty and suspended for six months.

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In a decision penned by Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban, the cases.” The Court emphasized that “any act which would give the
Court said that the fault does not lie with the CTRM or the ID card but appearance of impropriety becomes, of itself, reprehensible.”
with respondent himself who deliberately refused to register his The case stemmed from a remark made by Justice Ong to Special
attendance through the machine. It also said that Guerrero’s tardiness is Prosecutor Wendell E. Barreras-Sulit, when the latter came in to explain
evident from the non-chronological and highly irregular entries in the the motion filed by the government seeking to have the cases assigned to
Report of Absences and Tardiness. the First Division under Presiding Justice Teresita J. Leonardo-De Castro,
“[W]e arrive at the inevitable conclusion that the deliberate non- because of her familiarity with the cases. According to Sulit, Justice Ong
registration by respondent via the CTRM in order to cover up his remarked that he would have dismissed the cases when it was before
tardiness constitutes dishonesty,” said the Court. However, instead of him during trial because Chavez’s testimony was hearsay. Special
dismissal, it suspended Guerrero for six months in consideration of his Prosecutor Dennis Villa-Ignacio later confirmed Justice Ong’s remarks. (GR
good performance rating, his 13 years of satisfactory service in the Nos. 162130-39, People of the Philippines vs. Justice Gregory S. Ong, Chairman, Fourth
Judiciary, and his acknowledgment of and remorse for his infractions. Division, Sandiganbayan, and Mrs. Imelda R. Marcos, May 05, 2006)
(AM No. 2005-07-SC, Re: Failure of Jose Dante E. Guerrero to Register his
Time In and Time Out in the Chronolog Time Recorder Machine on Several One-Year Suspension for Negligent Lawyer
Dates, April 19, 2006) By Joshua P. Lapuz

A LAWYER HAS BEEN SUSPENDED for one year for gross negligence in
handling two civil cases.
June 2006 In one case, Atty. Reynaldo Reyes not only failed to file the pre-
trial brief of his clients within the required period but worse, did not
Sandiganbayan Justice Ordered to Inhibit Self in Marcos Graft Cases submit the brief when he filed a motion for reconsideration of the order
By Genevieve B. Zuñiga of dismissal several months later. In another case, he also failed to file
the necessary pleadings causing its dismissal, which was later on
JUSTICE GREGORY S. ONG, Chairman of the Sandiganbayan’s Fourth reconsidered.
Division, has been directed by the Supreme Court to inhibit himself from Apart from his negligence, Atty. Reyes omitted to apprise his
participating in the criminal cases for violations of the Anti-Graft and clients of the status of the two cases and even assured them that he was
Corrupt Practices Act against former First Lady Imelda R. Marcos. diligently attending to said cases.
In an 11-page decision penned by Justice Adolfo S. Azcuna, the “A lawyer should never neglect a legal matter entrusted to him,
Court said that Justice Ong should have “voluntarily declined to otherwise his negligence in fulfilling his duty will render him liable for
participate in these cases” given that the allegations raised against him disciplinary action,” the Court said. It added that “in failing to inform his
“unavoidably cast doubt on his impartiality to decide these very critical clients of the status of their cases, respondent [Reyes] failed to exercise

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such skill, care, and diligence as men of the legal profession commonly erode the very fabric of the state that will also protect the freedom,” said
possess and exercise in such manners of professional employment.” the Court in its 63-page signed resolution. Concurring were Justices
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines recommended the penalty Leonardo A. Quisumbing, Angelina Sandoval-Gutierrez, Ma. Alicia Austria-
of disbarment but since it was Atty. Reyes’ first offense, the Court instead Martinez, Renato C. Corona, Adolfo S. Azcuna, Dante O. Tinga, Minita V.
suspended him for one year. (AC No. 4676, Spouses Antonio and Norma Soriano Chico-Nazario, and Cancio C. Garcia. Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban
vs. Atty. Reynaldo P. Reyes, May 4, 2006) and Justices Consuelo Ynares-Santiago, Antonio T. Carpio, Conchita
Carpio Morales, and Romeo J. Callejo, Sr. dissented. Justice Presbitero J.
Velasco, Jr. took no part “due to prior action of OCA.”
July 2006 The Court found that that evidence presented by the Solicitor
General "fails to demonstrate 'the gravest abuses, endangering
paramount interests' which could limit or override respondent’s
Court Upholds Religious Freedom
By Gleo SP. Guerra
fundamental rights to religious freedom. Neither did the government
exert any effort to show that the means it seeks to achieve its legitimate
IN A LANDMARK RULING on religious freedom penned by Senior state objective is the least intrusive means."” (AM No. P-02-1651, Alejandro
Associate Justice Reynato S. Puno, the Court ordered the dismissal of the Estrada vs. Soledad S. Escritor, June 22, 2006)
administrative charge of "disgraceful and immoral conduct" against a
court employee who has been living with a man not her husband for the 'Disgraceful' Clerk Fined
past 25 years and had a son by him. By Joshua P. Lapuz
Soledad Escritor, a court interpreter in the Regional Trial Court,
Branch 253 of Las Piñas City, had claimed in her defense that her conjugal FOR MAKING OFFENSIVE and foul remarks, a clerk was recently fined by
arrangement is in conformity with and has the approval of the Jehovah's the Supreme Court.
Witnesses, the congregation to which she and her mate belong, per their Sheryll Madlangbayan of the Mandaluyong City Regional Trial
Declaration of Pledging Faithfulness executed in 1991 and recorded in Court, Branch 210 was fined Php1,000 for her disgraceful conduct against
the Watch Tower Central Office. Only couples who have been baptized Leilani Nacionales, her erstwhile friend.
and are in good standing may execute The Declaration, which allows "Even if respondent acted in retaliation to complainant's calling
members of the congregation who have been abandoned by their her 'Sheryll Maniac' when she uttered 'fuck you' and made a dirty finger
spouses to enter into marital relations. sign, that these were done in public by a court employee who was then
“We find that in this particular case and under these distinct wearing the office uniform creates a bad impression not only against
circumstances, respondent [Soledad] Escritor's conjugal arrangement respondent as an employee but also against the judiciary," the Court
cannot be penalized as she made out a case for exemption from the law said. "Courts are looked upon by the people with high respect.
based on her fundamental right to freedom of religion… [T]he state Misbehavior by their employees within and around their vicinity
interest sought to be upheld must be so compelling that its violation will necessarily diminishes their sanctity and dignity," it added. (AM No. P-06-
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2171, Leilani E. Nacionales vs. Sheryll S. Madlangbayan, Clerk III, Regional Trial Court, misconduct, nonetheless, by the very nature of the position held, it
Mandaluyong City, Branch 210, June 15, 2006) amounts to a malfeasance in office,"” the Court said. (AM No. P-04-1816,
Eusebio M. Baron vs. Emiladie T. Anacan, Court Stenographer III, RTC-Branch 45, San
2 Lawyers Suspended, Notary Commissions Revoked Jose, Occidental Mindoro, June 20, 2006)
By Joshua P. Lapuz
Judge Reprimanded for Impropriety
TWO LAWYERS WERE recently suspended for one year and their By Joshua P. Lapuz
commissions as notaries public revoked by the Supreme Court for
dereliction of duty and inexcusable negligence. JUDGE JOSE NACIONAL of the Naga City Municipal Trial Court, Branch 1
Attys. Romeo Calubaquib and Jimmy Baliga were found guilty of was recently reprimanded by the Supreme Court for improper conduct
violation of Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility for discussing the merits of a pending case pending before his sala with a
and the lawyer's oath for the incorrect entries in their respective notarial party without the latter's counsel and the adverse party.
registers. They were also disqualified from reappointment as notaries “"Respondent had exceeded the boundaries of propriety and
public for two years. regularity. Respondent should have known fully well that in every
“"...[T]he notary public is personally accountable for all entries in litigation, the manner and attitude of a judge are crucial to everyone
his notarial register. Respondents cannot be relieved of responsibility for concerned. It is improper for respondent to meet with the complainant
the violation of the aforesaid sections by passing the buck to their and his wife to discuss the merits of the case without the presence of the
secretaries, a reprehensible practice which to this day persists despite accused and his counsel no matter how noble his intentions may have
our open condemnation,"” the Court said. (AC No. 5377, Victor Lingan vs. Attys. been,"” the Court said. (AM No. MTJ-05-1605, Pedro C. Abesa vs. Judge Jose P.
Romeo Calubaquib and Jimmy P. Baliga, June 15, 2006) Nacional, Municipal Trial Court, Branch 1, Naga City, June 8, 2006.)

One-Year Suspension for ‘Moonlighting’ Stenographer Lawyer Suspended for Representing Conflicting Interests
By Joshua P. Lapuz By Joshua P. Lapuz

JUDICIAL EMPLOYEES OUT to make extra money on the side be warned. ATTY. LUIS LOKIN, JR. was recently suspended for three months by the
Emiladie Anacan, Court Stenographer of the San Jose, Occidental Supreme Court for representing conflicting interests.
Mindoro Regional Trial Court, Branch 45 was recently suspended for one The Court said that when Lokin appeared in the Securities and Exchange
year for "moonlighting."” She was found guilty of conduct grossly Commission (SEC) as counsel for the therein respondents PHILCOMSAT,
prejudicial to the best interest of the service for facilitating payments to et al., he was clearly representing a party which had an interest in
landowners for expropriated lands in Occidental Mindoro for a fee. preventing the implementation of the Compromise Agreement – the
“"[T]he Court frowns upon 'moonlighting' activities of court same agreement which Lokin and his law firm previously negotiated for
employees. While 'moonlighting' is not normally considered a serious Potenciano Ilusorio, the adverse party.

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"The act alone of representing a subsequent client against a the judgment an opportunity to correct any error it may have committed
former client in any manner related to the subject of the previous through a misapprehension of facts or misappreciation of the evidence.”
litigation thus constitutes a violation of the rule against representing In a 13-page unanimous decision penned 10 years later by Justice
conflicting interests,"” the Court said. It added that whatever may be the Minita V. Chico-Nazario, the Court added, “Certainly, prudence dictates
tenor or merit of the arguments Lokin made in behalf of his clients in the that the IBP be given the opportunity to correct its mistakes, if any, by
SEC case, his mere act of appearing therein against a former client way of motions for reconsideration before this Court takes cognizance of
already constituted professional misconduct in view of the clear relation the case. This is to further insure that the grievance procedure will be
of the subject matter in that SEC case to that of the earlier case in the allowed to duly run its course – a form of filtering process, particularly
Sandiganbayan. (AC No. 6554, Erlinda K. Ilusorio-Bildner vs. Atty. Luis K. Lokin, Jr., respecting matters within the competence of the IBP, before we step in.”
and the Board of Governors of the IBP, June 5, 2006) The Court thus laid down the following guidelines to be observed
by the IBP in disciplinary cases against lawyers:
1. The IBP must first afford a chance to either party to file a
August 2006 motion for reconsideration of the IBP resolution containing its findings
and recommendations within fifteen (15) days from notice of receipt by
the parties thereon;
2. If a motion for reconsideration has been timely filed by an
SC Allows MRs of IBP Resolutions
By Gleo SP. Guerra
aggrieved party, the IBP must first resolve the same prior to elevating to
this Court the subject resolution together with the whole record of the
REITERATING ITS 1996 RULING in Halimao v. Villanueva, the Supreme case;
Court stressed that motions for reconsideration of resolutions of the 3. If no motion for reconsideration has been filed within the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) in disciplinary cases may be filed by period provided for, the IBP is directed to forthwith transmit to this
aggrieved parties. Court, for final action, the subject resolution together with the whole
In Halimao, the Court, through Justice Vicente V. Mendoza, has record of the case;
held that the absence of such a remedy in the Rules of Court does not 4. A party desiring to appeal from the resolution of the IBP may
preclude the filing of such a motion: “Although Rule 139-B, §12 (c) makes file a petition for review before this Court within fifteen (15) days from
no mention of a motion for reconsideration, nothing in its text or in its notice of said resolution sought to be reviewed; and
history suggests that such motion is prohibited. It may therefore be filed 5. For records of cases already transmitted to this Court where
within 15 days from notice to a party. Indeed, the filing of such motion there exist pending motions for reconsideration filed in due time before
should be encouraged before resort is made to this Court as a matter of the IBP, the latter is directed to withdraw from this Court the subject
exhaustion of administrative remedies, to afford the agency rendering resolutions together with the whole records of the cases, within 30 days
from notice, and, thereafter, to act on said motions with reasonable
dispatch.
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Consistent with the foregoing, the Court remanded the case to Lawyer Suspended for Pocketing Client’s Money
the IBP for the proper disposition of respondent Atty. Jocelyn P. Reyela’s By Joshua P. Lapuz
motion for reconsideration of the IBP resolution recommending her
suspension for two years. ATTY. MINERVO LANGIT WAS SUSPENDED for two years by the Supreme
Concurring in the decision are Chief Justice Artemio V. Court for appropriating Php255,000 of his client’s money. He was also
Panganiban, Senior Associate Justice Reynato S. Puno and Justices ordered to restitute the amount.
Leonardo A. Quisumbing, Consuelo Ynares-Santiago, Angelina Sandoval- “Respondent committed a flagrant violation of his oath when he
Gutierrez, Antonio T. Carpio, Ma. Alicia Austria-Martinez, Renato C. received the sum of money representing the monthly rentals intended
Corona, Conchita Carpio Morales, Romeo J. Callejo, Sr., Adolfo S. Azcuna, for his client, without accounting for and returning such sum to its
Dante O. Tinga, Cancio C. Garcia, and Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr. (AC No. 7055, rightful owner,” the Court said. It held that his failure to turn over the
Ramientas v. Reyala, July 31, 2006) money to his client despite the latter’s demands gives rise to the
presumption that he had converted the money for his personal use and
Lawyer Suspended for Refusing to Pay Debt benefit.
By Joshua P. Lapuz “Additionally, respondent failed to observe Canon 17 of the Code
of Professional Responsibility which obligates a lawyer to take up the
FOR REFUSING TO PAY HIS DEBT, Atty. Jeremias Vitan was suspended for cause of his client with entire zeal and devotion,” said the Court. It found
six months by the Supreme Court. that Langit’s misconduct was aggravated by his unjustified refusal to
“A lawyer may be disciplined for evading the payment of a debt heed the orders of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines requiring him to
validly incurred. In this case, the failure of Atty. Vitan to pay his debt for file an answer to the complaint-affidavit and to appear at the mandatory
over three years despite repeated demands puts in question his standing conference. (AC No. 7057, David L. Almendarez, Jr. vs. Atty. Minervo T. Langit, July 25,
as a member of the bar,” said the Court. It added that Atty. Vitan 2006)
admitted having incurred the Php100,000 loan but later pointed to his
employee Evelyn Estur as the true debtor. Deceitful Notary Suspended
“We find that his lack of sincerity in fulfilling his obligations is By Joshua P. Lapuz
revealed by his acts of issuing promissory notes and reneging on them;
executing a simulated Deed of Absolute Sale; and breaking his promise to A LAWYER WAS SUSPENDED for one month by the Supreme Court for
redeem the property from the mortgagee,” it added. Atty. Vitan also making a false declaration in a public document.
issued several checks, all of which were dishonored due to closed The Court said that Atty. Vivian Rubia violated Rule 1.01 of Canon
account. (AC No. 6955, Mar Yuson vs. Atty. Jeremias R. Vitan, July 27, 2006) 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility when she prepared a
Memorandum of Joint Venture Agreement for her clients Marilyn Carido
and Yoshimi Nakayama and attested that it was acknowledged before her
on January 9, 2001 when in truth it was notarized in 2002. It found that

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the document was ante-dated in an attempt to exculpate Marilyn from


the Anti-Dummy charge against her in 2002. (AC Nos. 5907 and 5942, Elsa L.
September 2006
Modejar vs. Atty. Vivian G. Rubia, July 21, 2006)

Court Nullifies Suspension of Sentence of Minor Convict


Clerk of Court Dismissed for Forgery, Falsification
By Joshua P. Lapuz
By Joshua P. Lapuz

JUVENILES WHO HAVE been convicted of a crime punishable by reclusion


ATTY. CECILIA T. FAELNAR, Clerk of Court of the Manolo Fortich,
perpetua, life imprisonment, reclusion perpetua to death, or death are
Bukidnon Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 11 was dismissed recently
disqualified from having their sentences suspended. Thus ruled the
from the service by the Supreme Court (SC) for violating the Code of
Supreme Court in the case of Frank Bansales, a minor convicted of
Conduct for Court Personnel, dishonesty, grave misconduct, falsification,
murder.
and forgery.
Bansales was charged for assaulting and stabbing to death with a
The Court found Faelnar guilty of falsely writing the names of SC
knife his high school teacher, Yvonne Declarador. The Roxas City Regional
auditors with corresponding signatures in an attendance sheet to make it
Trial Court (RTC), Branch 14 convicted him but later suspended his
appear that they lunched with her at a clubhouse when actually she and
sentence of reclusion perpetua and ordered his commitment instead to a
her staff were the ones who did so; forging the signature of Judge
rehabilitation center. This prompted the victim’s husband, Rennie, to file
Francisco Rojas in the Certificate of Service; failure to comply with OCA
a petition in the SC questioning the RTC’s suspension of Bansales’
Circular No. 28-2003 regarding the holding of the alleged Judicial Service
sentence.
Team (JST) meeting, particularly the submission of the minutes thereof;
“The disqualification is based on the nature of the crime charged
and using the solicited note from the local government of Manolo Fortich
and the imposable penalty therefore, and not on the penalty imposed by
to cover the aforesaid meals of her staff at the clubhouse after the SC
the court after trial. It is not the actual penalty imposed but the possible
auditors had declined the offer to have lunch there.
one which determines the disqualification of a juvenile,” the Court said. It
The Court noted that Faelnar’s admission to signing the name of
added that the RTC committed grave abuse of discretion in ordering the
Judge Rojas in her Certificate of Service and in some court orders is
suspension of Bansales’ sentence. (GR No. 159208, Rennie Declarador vs. Hon.
sufficient to establish a case of forgery against her. “The argument of
Salvador S. Gubaton, Presiding Judge, Branch 14, Roxas City, and Frank Bansales, August
respondent that she was authorized by Judge Rojas to sign his name is 18, 2006)
immaterial to forgery,” the Court said. (AM No. P-06-2205, Felicidad D. Palabrica
vs. Atty. Cecilia T. Faelnar, Clerk of Court VI, RTC, Branch 11, M. Fortich, Bukidnon,
Squabbling Judge and Clerk Disciplined
August 3, 2006)
By Joshua P. Lapuz

JUDGE CRISPIN BRAVO of the Manila Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch 16


was reprimanded for abusing his authority when he ordered the arrest of
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his former Clerk of Court, Atty. Miguel Morales, on the basis of a mere final warning, while Cadiz was sternly warned that repetition of the same
intent to sue the latter for unjust vexation. Morales, on the other hand, offense will be dealt with more severely.
was fined Php2,000 for conduct unbecoming a public officer when he Program Management Office Deputy Judicial Reform Program
mimicked and ridiculed Bravo in front of other people. Their quarrel Administrator Edilberto A. Davis and Development Management Officer
started when Bravo recommended the dismissal of Morales from the Maria Noemi B. Adriano and Administrative Officer Zosimo D. Labro, Jr. of
service for corrupt practices. Since then, Morales acted discourteously by the OCA Property Division were severely reprimanded and warned, while
mimicking Bravo in a squeaky, comical voice whenever the latter greets a stern warning was given to Attys. Winston R. Baniel of the Office of the
court employees. Clerk of Court En Banc, Belen C. Gatdula of the Court Management Office
“Judge Bravo should have confined himself to filing an (CMO), and Maria Melissa R. Dimson of the Philippine Judicial Academy
administrative complaint or a criminal one and let the wheels of justice (PHILJA). Zienna Punsalan-Duldulao of OCA, Emelda M. Benologa of the
run its course,” the Court said. As for Morales, the Court observed that Printing Services, Susana M. Lubre of the CMO, Gerardo D. Pinca of
his mimicry falls below the “ideal for a court employee to be well- PHILJA, and Maria Nina A. Rayco of OAS, OCA were likewise sternly
mannered, civil, and considerate in his actuations, more particularly with warned.
respect to his relation to the presiding judge he is assigned under.” (AM The Court said that illness, moral obligation to family and
No. P-05-1950, Judge Crispin B. Bravo vs. Atty. Miguel C. Morales, Branch Clerk of Court, relatives, performance of household chores, traffic, and health or
Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch 17 [now detailed with OCC] Manila; AM No. MTJ-1612, physical condition are not sufficient reasons to excuse habitual tardiness.
Atty. Miguel C. Morales vs. Judge Crispin B. Bravo, Presiding Judge, Metropolitan Trial
It stressed that it cannot “countenance such infraction as it seriously
Court, Branch 16, Manila, August 30, 2006)
compromises efficiency and hampers public service.” (AM No. 2006-11-SC,
Re: Supreme Court Employees Incurring Habitual Tardiness in the 2nd Semester of 2005,
Thirteen SC Employees Disciplined for Habitual Tardiness September 13, 2006)
By Arcie M. Sercado

Lawyer Suspended for Four Years


THE SUPREME COURT SUSPENDED two employees, reprimanded three, By Joshua P. Lapuz
and warned eight others for incurring habitual tardiness in the second
semester of 2005. ATTY. ROLANDO DELA CRUZ was suspended by the Supreme Court for a
Utility Worker Fernando Pascual from the Records Division of the total of four years for two offenses.
Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) and Human Resource Dela Cruz, a principal of Saint Louis University-Laboratory High
Management Aide Louella Cadiz from the Office of Administrative School, was suspended for two years for immoral conduct when he wed
Services (OAS) were suspended for 10 and five days, respectively. Pascual Mary Jane Pascua while still married to Teresita Rivera. He was likewise
was 11 times late in July, August, and October, while Cadiz was tardy 13 suspended for another two years for deliberately subscribing and
and 10 times in July and September, respectively. Pascual was issued a notarizing 14 legal documents on different dates from 1988 to 1997
despite the expiration of his notarial commission on December 31, 1987.

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The Court said that Dela Cruz’s bigamy is contrary to honesty, Lawyer, Two CA Attorneys Disciplined
justice, decency, and morality. It also said that by making it appear that By Joshua P. Lapuz
he is duly commissioned when he is not, he is, for all legal intents and
purposes, indulging in deliberate falsehood, which the lawyer’s oath A LAWYER AND TWO COURT ATTORNEYS from the Court of Appeals (CA)
proscribes. (AC No. 6010, St. Louis University Laboratory High School Faculty and Staff were disciplined recently by the Supreme Court.
vs. Atty. Rolando C. dela Cruz, August 28, 2006) Atty. Edna Paña was suspended for three months for making
“reckless” statements about an alleged “pay-off” in the judiciary, while
Manila RTC Judge, Personnel Fined court attorneys Victoriano Muring and Manuel Gatcho were admonished
By Joshua P. Lapuz for engaging in unauthorized private practice of law and filing a petition
for commission as notary public while employed in the judiciary,
A NOW RETIRED Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) judge and six of his respectively.
court personnel were penalized by the Supreme Court for disobedience “Atty. Paña’s reckless statements on alleged schemes of
and misusing the daily attendance logbook, respectively. corruption serve only to tarnish the image of the legal profession and of
Judge Juan Nabong, Jr. of RTC Branch 32 was fined Php1,000 for public office,” the Court said. “The evidence...shows failure on the part of
failing to promptly comply with the directives of the Office of the Court Atty. Paña to comply with the exacting standards of good moral character
Administrator (OCA) and the SC requiring him to explain his failure to required of members of the Bar,” added the Court.
properly supervise the attendance of his personnel. As for Atty. Muring and Gatcho, the Court said that while they
Officer-in-Charge Loida Moralejo, Clerk Heidwig Marie Balicanta, deserve a more severe penalty, like suspension from office, they can only
and Court Stenographers Elma Dabbay and Virginia Peralta were fined be admonished since they have already left government service to go to
Php5,000 each, while Court Aide Paquito del Rosario and Process Server private practice. (AM No. CA-05-19-P, Atty. Victoriano S. Muring, Jr. vs. Atty. Manuel
Andresito Robles were fined Php2,000 each, all for failing to log-in their T. Gatcho, Court Attorney V, Nelpa Lota-Calayag, Executive Assistant V, and Atty. Edna S.
attendance in the logbook. Paña, August 31, 2006)
“Although unintentional mistake and good faith are not valid
defenses, the fact that respondents readily acknowledged their Time for Filing of Pleadings Extended to 5 PM
By Arcie M. Sercado
transgression, sought pardon and vowed to rectify their errors, and the
fact that this is their first administrative offense, militate the reduction of
THE SUPREME COURT has extended the deadline to 5 p.m. for the
the imposable penalty of dismissal from the service to lighter penalties,”
acceptance of petitions and pleadings, except for very urgent instances
the Court said. As to Judge Nabong, the Court said that “while he may
when instructed by the Court or when the parties inform the Judicial
have been suffering from serious ailments,...it does not serve as a valid
Records Office (JRO) or the Clerk of Court En Banc ahead of time of their
excuse for not giving due attention to the directives of the OCA and the
filing of important pleadings beyond that time. The new office hours of
Court.” (AM No. P-04-1838, Re: Audit Report on Attendance of Court Personnel of
Regional Trial Court, Branch 32, Manila, August 31, 2006)

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the JRO receiving section are from 8-5 p.m., with a lunch break from 12-1 an offense where the penalty imposed is reclusion perpetua in lieu of the
p.m. death penalty.
All petitions and pleadings, even those filed beyond 5 p.m., should In another decision, penned by Justice Romeo J. Callejo, Sr., the
now be filed with the JRO receiving section located near the Padre Faura Court reduced accused Roberto Quiachon’s sentence for qualified rape
Gate and not at its main office located at the New Supreme Court from death to reclusion perpetua without parole.
Building Annex. (AM No. 06-8-18-SC, Re: Filing of Petitions/Pleadings After Hours, The Court also ordered Quiachon to pay, among others, the civil
August 22, 2006) indemnity of Php75,000 as the “award is not dependent on the actual
imposition of the death penalty but on the fact that the qualifying
SC Explains Legal Effects of Death Penalty Prohibition circumstances warranting the imposition of the death penalty attended
By Janice R. Erni the commission of the offense.”
Finally, in a decision penned by Justice Consuelo Ynares-Santiago,
A PERSON WHOSE SENTENCE has been reduced to reclusion perpetua the Court found Edilberto Tubongbanua guilty for murder aggravated by
with the effectivity of RA 9346 (An Act Prohibiting the Imposition of taking advantage of superior strength and dwelling. He was sentenced to
Death Penalty in the Philippines) is not eligible for parole. However, the reclusion perpetua with no possibility of parole. The Court also ordered
convict is still bound to pay the amount of civil indemnity provided under him to pay the victim’s heirs Php75,000 as civil indemnity as the award is
the applicable laws. There is no automatic review of judgments of mandatory and needs no proof other than the commission of the crime.
convictions where reclusion perpetua is imposed in lieu of death. Thus (GR No. 169077, People vs. Nicanor Salome; GR No. 170236, People vs. Roberto
the Supreme Court clarified the effects of RA 9346 in three recent Quiachon; GR No. 171271, People vs. Tubongbanua, August 31, 2006)
decisions.
In the first decision penned by Justice Adolfo S. Azcuna, the Court
held that in light of the passage of RA 9346, the penalty to be imposed on
the accused Nicanor Salome for rape aggravated by dwelling shall be
October 2006
reclusion perpetua. However, pursuant to sec. 3 of RA 9346, Salome shall
not be eligible for parole under the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the SC to Withhold Names of Women and Child Victims in Decisions
By Annie A. Laborte
Court ruled.
The Court also sustained the grant of Php75,000 as civil indemnity
TO RESPECT THE DIGNITY and protect the privacy of women and child
to the victim, explaining “that while the new law prohibits the imposition
victims, the Supreme Court has ruled to withhold their names and use
of the death penalty, the penalty provided for by law for a heinous
instead fictitious initials in its decisions. It added that the personal
offense is still death and the offense is still heinous.” It also added that
circumstances of victim-survivors or any other information tending to
since the death penalty’s imposition is now prohibited, there is a need to
establish or compromise their identities, as well as those of their
perfect an appeal, if appeal is desired, from a judgment of conviction for
immediate family or household members, shall not be disclosed.

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The ruling was made in a decision penned by Justice Dante O. (AM No. 99-7-06-SC, In re: Internet Web Page of the Supreme Court, July 27, 2006)
Tinga where the name of the eight-year old victim was withheld and (With reports from SC Library Services Chief Ms. Milagros S. Ong)
instead substituted with the initials “AAA.”
The Court said its ruling effectuates the provisions of RA 7610 or Court Clarifies Payment of Corporate Rehabilitation Fees
the Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and By Arcie M. Sercado
Discrimination Act and its implementing rules; RA 9262 or the Anti-
Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004 and its THE SUPREME COURT RECENTLY clarified the manner of payment of the
implementing rules; and the Rule on Violence Against Women and their increased fees for corporate rehabilitation petitions, which are based on
Children. the value of assets or the amount of monetary claims against the debtor,
This rule has been prospectively applied by the Court as seen in whichever is higher.
the subsequent case of People vs. Mangitngit. (GR No. 167693, People of the Under the new rules, if the fees amount to less than Php100,000,
Philippines vs. Melchor Cabalquinto, September 19, 2006; GR No. 171270, People of the it shall be paid upon the filing of the petition. However, if the fees exceed
Philippines vs. Alexander Mangitngit, September 20, 2006) Php100,000, it may be paid on a staggered basis, Php100,000 to be paid
upon filing and the balance to be paid as follows: 25 percent upon the
E-Decisions Follow Cabalquinto Ruling issuance of an order giving due course to the petition, 25 percent upon
By Madeleine U.V.G. Avanzado the approval of the rehabilitation plan, and 50 percent to be included as
part of the preferred payables to be settled in the rehabilitation plan.
THE COURT HAS TAKEN STEPS to ensure that decisions promulgated prior The amendments will take effect on October 16. (AM No. 04-2-04-SC,
to the Cabalquinto decision will conform to the said ruling. Upon the RE: Amendment of Section 21(i), Rule 141 of The Rules of Court [A.M. No. 04-2-04-SC,
instructions of Committee on Computerization and Library Chairperson August 16, 2004] by Clarifying the Manner of Payment of the Increased Fees for
Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio, the SC Library Services and Public Corporate Rehabilitation Petitions, Taking Into Account the Court’s Issuance in
Amendment on the Clarification on the Legal Fees to be Collected in Cases of Corporate
Information Office have started replacing the names and other
Rehabilitation [A.M. No. 00-8-10-SC, December 10, 2002], September 19, 2006)
information of women and children who are victims of crimes covered by
RA 9262 in the electronic copies to be made available through the E-
Award of Damages Not Immediately Executory in Intra-Corporate
Library and SC website starting with decisions and resolutions of the
Disputes
Court promulgated on March 27, 2004. The matter was also referred to By Arcie M. Sercado
the Committee on Revision of the Rules of Court for further study and
recommendation. EFFECTIVE OCTOBER 16, all decisions and orders in intra-corporate
Even before the Cabalquinto ruling was promulgated on controversies are immediately executory, except awards for moral and
September 19, 2006, the Court has already refrained from posting the full exemplary damages and attorney’s fees.
text of decisions in child sexual abuse and similar cases in the SC website. In a resolution, the Supreme Court said that an appeal or petition
shall not stay the enforcement or implementation of the decision or
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order, unless restrained by an appellate court. (AM No. 01-2-04-SC, Re: the JDR Judge instead of pre-trial judge when pre-trial proper is resumed
Amendment of Section 4, Rule 1 of the Interim Rules of procedure Governing Intra- after the JDR.
corporate Controversies by Clarifying that Decisions Issued Pursuant to said Rule are Cases are also allowed a settlement period of 30 days for first
Immediately Executory except the Awards for Moral Damages, Exemplary Damages and
level courts and 60 days for regional trial courts, extendible only upon
Attorney’s Fees, if any, September 19, 2006)
discretion of the JDR judge. Likewise, settlements reached regarding the
civil aspect of criminal cases, wherein the period of payment exceeds one
Complaints vs. Retired Justices and Judges Referred to SC
By Madeleine U.V.G. Avanzado
year, may be archived upon motion of the prosecution with concurrence
of the private complainant and approval of the judge. Additionally, the
ALL COMPLAINTS FOR DISBARMENT, suspension, and discipline filed civil aspect of theft under Art. 308 of the Revised Penal Code as part of
against retired justices and judges for acts and omissions committed the cases involved is now included for referral to mediation.
during their tenure in the judiciary must be referred to the Supreme Before the implementation of the revised guidelines, judges will
Court for appropriate disposition. be required to undergo orientation and training in mediation,
The Court resolved to approve in principle this procedure as part conciliation, and neutral evaluation. Thereafter, they shall be authorized
of the amendment of the second paragraph of Section 1 of Rule 139-B of to conduct JDR in all model court sites and their adjacent areas after
the Rules of Court dealing with the Disbarment and Discipline of Court-Annexed Mediation (CAM) has not succeeded.
Attorneys. This has been referred to the Committee on Revision of the Under the JURIS Program, two model courts have been set up in
Rules of Court for drafting of the revised provision. (Administrative Case No. Bacolod and San Fernando, Pampanga. Additional model courts will be
7197 [Formerly CBD Case No. 06-1646], International Militia of People against set up in Benguet, La Union, and Cagayan de Oro, to implement CAM and
Corruption and Terrorism, represented by Atty. Elly Velez Pamatong vs. Chief Justice JDR. In these courts, mediatable cases are referred to CAM for mediation
Hilario G. Davide, Jr. [Ret.], September 5, 2006) under accredited mediators in the Philippine Mediation Center (PMC)
and subsequently referred to JDR for further mediation by the judges if
Revised Guidelines for Enhanced Pre-Trial under JURIS Project such are not resolved under the former.
Approved The goal of the JDR is to strengthen conciliation in the model
By Genevieve B. Zuñiga court sites during the pre-trial stage to expedite the resolution of cases
and thus decongest court dockets. (A.M. No. 04-1-12-SC PhilJA, Re: Philja
TO EXPEDITE THE RESOLUTION OF CASES through the use of amicable Resolution No. 06-22, re: Revised Guidelines for the Implementation of an Enhanced
settlement, the Supreme Court has approved revised guidelines for an Pre-Trial Proceeding under the JURIS Project, August 29, 2006)
enhanced pre-trial proceeding under the Justice Reform Initiatives
Support (JURIS) project for implementation in its model courts.
Under the revised guidelines, a raffle replaces the pairing system
for resumption of judicial proceedings after Judicial Dispute Resolution
(JDR) has not succeeded and the judge conducting the JDR will be called
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Clerk of Court, Cash Clerk Dismissed for Php8.7M Shortage in Judiciary against his clients by first filing a “Motion for Leave of Court to Allow
Fund Correction of Caption and Amendment of Judgment.” When his motion
By Joshua P. Lapuz was denied, he was able to obtain a temporary restraining order from the
DAR Adjudication Board Central Office, which prevented the execution of
TWO COURT PERSONNEL were dismissed recently by the Supreme Court aforesaid judgment. When the PARAD’s judgment was upheld with
for failing to account for more than Php8 million in judiciary funds. finality by the Supreme Court, Revilla then filed an action to quiet title
The Court found Clerk of Court Atty. Marilou Dureza-Aldevera and before the Cavite Regional Trial Court to stop its enforcement. He also
Cash Clerk Teresita Elegino of the Davao City Regional Trial Court guilty of signed his pleadings under a group of non-lawyers.
gross neglect of duty, dishonesty, and grave misconduct for the shortage “In the disturbance compensation case, he represented his clients
of Php8,790,552.30 in the Fiduciary Fund. as tenants and acknowledged that complainants were the owners of the
“The safeguarding of funds and collections, submission to this subject land. In the action to quiet title, however, he conveniently
Court of a monthly report of collections for all funds, the proper issuance repudiated his previous admission by falsely alleging that his clients were
of official receipts for collections are essential to an orderly adverse possessors claiming bona fide ownership,” the Court said. The
administration of justice. Hence, respondents’ failure to comply with the Court also noted that Revilla kept silent on the accusation that he held
aforementioned Court Circulars and other relevant rules designed to himself out as a law partner of the “KDC Legal Services, Law Offices and
promote full accountability for public funds constitutes gross neglect of Associates,” a firm purportedly rendering legal services together with
duty and grave misconduct,” said the Court. persons not licensed to practice law. (AC No. 7056, Plus Builders, Inc. and
The cash shortages and fiscal irregularities were discovered after Edgardo C. Garcia vs. Atty. Anastacio E. Revilla, Jr., September 13, 2006)
a surprise audit was conducted in April 2000 and February 2001 by the
Office of the Court Administrator. (AM No. P-01-1499, Office of the Court Lawyer Suspended for Negligence, Obstruction
Administrator vs. Atty. Marilou Dureza-Aldevera, Clerk of Court, RTC, Davao City and By Joshua P. Lapuz
Teresita M. Elegino, Cash Clerk III, same Court, September 26, 2006)
ATTY. JOSE SUING was suspended for six months by the Supreme Court
Two-Year Suspension for ‘Wily’ Lawyer for neglecting to protect his client’s interest and for attempting to delay
By Joshua P. Lapuz and obstruct the investigation being conducted against him.
The Court found Atty. Suing guilty of negligence for failing to
ATTY. ANASTACIO REVILLA, JR. was suspended for two years by the properly ascertain the true and real identities of four complainants who
Supreme Court for intentional falsehood, misusing judicial processes, and executed release waivers and quitclaims and received considerations
collaborating with non-lawyers. therefor. It also held him liable for gross misconduct for attempting to
Revilla sought to delay the execution of the November 15, 1999 coach or influence the answers of his client Manuel Rodil so as not to
judgment rendered by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) incriminate him when the latter testified before the Integrated Bar of the
Provincial Adjudicator (PARAD) in a disturbance compensation case Philippines.

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The Court said that Rodil did not request him [Suing] to go to the Notarial Rules Updates
Labor Arbiter’s office to be a mere passive witness to the signing of the By Gleo Sp. Guerra
Release Waiver and Quitclaims but to exert vigilance to protect his
clients’ interest, which Suing failed to do. It added that not only did Suing THE COURT HAS RECENTLY authorized Clerks of Court of Regional Trial
tried to coach or influence Rodil to answer questions in an attempt not to Courts to notarize private documents subject to the payment of the
incriminate him, but the latter also contradicted his claim that the prescribed notarial fees, which shall be for the account of the judiciary,
Release Waiver and Quitclaims which Suing prepared was not the one and the execution of a certification in the notarized documents that there
presented at the Arbiter’s office. (AC No. 7062, Renerio Sambajon, Ronald are no notaries public within the territorial jurisdiction of the concerned
Sambajon, Crisanto Conos, and Fredilyn Baculbas vs. Atty. Jose A. Suing, September 26, RTC.
2006) It also required notaries public within the National Capital Region
to secure their notarial registers from the Property Division of the Office
Decisions of Shari’a District Courts Appealable to SC of Administrative Services of the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA),
By Joshua P. Lapuz while the others can also secure their notarial registers from the Office of
the Clerk of Court of the RTC under the supervision of the Executive
THE DECISIONS OF SHARI’A DISTRICT COURTS may reach the Supreme Judge who issued their respective notarial commissions. The notarial
Court by way of petition for review on certiorari as a mode of appeal registers shall be available at Php1,200.00 each exclusive of shipping
under Rule 45 or special civil action under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court if charges when sold in the provinces.
there is a question of jurisdiction. Thus ruled the Court in dismissing a In view of the current unavailability of notarial registers, notaries
case on a fixed dower (mahr musama) between Moslem spouses. public may request in writing the Executive Judge who issued their
The Iligan City Fourth Shari’a Circuit Court rendered a decision in commissions for them to use the prescribed temporary form. A copy of
that case which on appeal was reversed by the Shari’a District Court. their current commissions must be attached to the said request.
Mocaral Macawiag then filed a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 to the The Court also denied for lack of merit the motion of Chief Public
SC, which dismissed the same for being used as a substitute for the lost Attorney Persida V. Rueda-Acosta for reconsideration of the January 31,
remedy of appeal through a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 2006 denial of her request to exempt PAO lawyers from the payment of
45. the fees for notarial commission and for the exemption of their clients
“While the Supreme Court en banc authorized the creation of the from the payment of filing fees. (AM No. 02-8-13-SC, Re: 2004 Rules on Notarial
Shari’a Appellate Court, it has not yet been organized; in any case, it Practice, August 15, 2006)
should begin with the appointments of the Presiding Justice and two
Associate Justices. Consequently, aggrieved parties can come up only to
this Court in view of the rule set forth in Article 145 of Presidential
Decree No. 1083,” the Court said. (GR No. 159210, Mocaral Macawiag vs. Judge
Rasad Balindong and Soraida A. Macawiag, September 20, 2006)

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Judge Suspended, Fined for Failure to Inhibit Self, Improper Conduct


November 2006 By Joshua P. Lapuz

SC Clarifies Rules on Indigent Litigants JUDGE CHARLES AGUILAR of the Laoag City Regional Trial Court, Branch
By Gleo Sp. Guerra 12 was recently disciplined by the Supreme Court for failing to inhibit
himself in and dismissing a case wherein he had a personal and direct
EVEN IF AN APPLICANT FOR EXEMPTION from the payment of docket and interest, abusing his authority, and for entering his appearance and
legal fees does not meet the salary and property requirements under attending court proceedings without prior written permission from the
Rule 141, sec. 19, i.e., the applicant’s gross income and that of his Court.
immediate family do not exceed an amount double the monthly The Court held that Judge Aguilar’s reluctance to let go of a case
minimum wage of an employee and the applicant does not own real involving a parcel of land of which he is a co-owner induced doubts and
property with a market value of more than Php300,000.00, the applicant suspicions as to his honest actuations, probity, and objectivity. For this, it
may still be exempted if he can prove that he has “no money or property suspended him for three months without pay.
sufficient and available for food, shelter and basic necessities for himself The Court also held that Judge Aguilar committed an unlawful act
and his family” under Rule 3, sec. 21. when he entered the premises of the said lot and willfully removed the
Thus ruled the Supreme Court in a 19-page decision penned by wires and posts installed thereat. It also said that he practically took the
Justice Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr. and concurred in by Justices Leonardo A. law into his own hands when he entered and caused the leveling of said
Quisumbing, Antonio T. Carpio, and Conchita Carpio Morales. Justice lot. The Court thus fined him Php11,000.
Dante O. Tinga concurred in the result. The Court therefore set aside the The Court also reprimanded Aguilar for failing to obtain a written
orders of the Regional Trial Court, Naga City disqualifying the spouses permission from the Court prior to his court appearance in another case.
Antonio F. Algura and Lorencita S. J. Algura as indigent litigants and (AM No. RTJ-03-1809, Busilac Builders, Inc. and Romeo M. Camarillo vs. Judge Charles A.
ordered the RTC to set for hearing the spouses’ motion to litigate as such. Aguilar, Regional Trial Court, Laoag City, Branch 12, October 17, 2006)
“Recapitulating the rules on indigent litigants, therefore, if the
applicant for exemption meets the salary and property requirements Lawyer Suspended for Shooting Motorist
under Sec. 19 of Rule 141, then the grant of the application is mandatory. By Joshua P. Lapuz
On the other hand, when the application does not satisfy one or both
requirements, then the applicant should not be denied outright; instead FOR SHOOTING AN UNARMED MOTORIST in a traffic altercation, a lawyer
the court should apply the ‘indigency test’ under Section 21 of Rule 3 and was suspended for one year by the Supreme Court.
use its sound discretion in determining the merits of the prayer for The Court found Atty. Arnel Alcaraz guilty of gross misconduct for
exemption,” the Court held. firing at Ramon Gonzalez with a Super .38 caliber pistol along South
Luzon Expressway. The two were involved in a traffic altercation when
Alcaraz’s vehicle overtook and suddenly cut across Gonzalez’s path. After

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angrily confronting Alcaraz, Gonzalez drove on. Alcaraz, however, chased dismissal of the case filed against her. Adaoag was caught in an
him and shot at him twice, missing in both instances. entrapment operation by operatives of the National Bureau of
“The vengeful and violent behavior exhibited by respondent in Investigation.
what should have been a simple traffic altercation reveals his conceit and Aside from dismissal, Adaoag was also ordered to pay a fine of
delusions of self-importance,” the Court said. “By firing his gun openly in Php2,000 for issuing a warrant of arrest while under suspension. (AM No.
a congested highway and exposing complainant and the general public to MTJ-03-1503, National Bureau of Investigation vs. Judge Luisito T. Adaoag, Municipal
danger, he showed his utter lack of a sense of responsibility, as well as of Circuit Trial Court, Gerona-Ramos-Pura, Tarlac, November 16, 2006)
respect for law and order,” it added. (AC No. 5321, Ramon C. Gonzalez vs. Atty.
Arnel C. Alcaraz, September 27, 2006) PAO Lawyer Reprimanded for Notarizing Receipt Without Commission
By Joshua P. Lapuz
Disgruntled Complainant Fined for Maligning Court
By Joshua P. Lapuz
A lawyer of the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) was recently disciplined by
the Supreme Court for performing a notarial act without a commission.
A LITIGANT WAS RECENTLY fined Php20,000 by the Supreme Court for Atty. Noel Mora was reprimanded for notarizing without a
continuously filing pleadings containing innuendos that tend to malign notarial commission an acknowledgment receipt of the initial payment
the integrity of the Court. for a parcel of land. The Court deemed the same a violation of Canon 1,
The Court said that Nestor Ernesto Dequiña went overboard when Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility stating that “a lawyer
in spite of the dismissal of his complaint against Judge Rolando Ramirez shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral, or deceitful conduct.”
and Clerk of Court Sandra Ledesma of the Cadiz City Municipal Trial Court (AC No. 6678, Jocelyn A. Saquing vs. Atty. Noel A. Mora, October 9, 2006)
in Cities, he still persisted in filing numerous pleadings reiterating his
allegation that the said dismissal was brought about by a syndicate SC Clarifies Effects of RA 9346 on Graduation of Criminal Penalties
By Karen M. Martinez
coddling Ramirez and Ledesma. (AM No. MTJ-06-1657, Nestor Ernesto P. Dequiña
vs. Judge Rolando V. Ramirez, Presiding Judge, MTCC, Cadiz and Sandra M. Ledesma,
Clerk of Court, MTCC, Cadiz City, September 27, 2006)
RA 9346 not only prohibits the physical imposition of the death penalty
but effectively removes the penalty of “death” from the graduation of
Judge Dismissed for Corruption criminal penalties under Article 71 of the Revised Penal Code.
By Joshua P. Lapuz The Court clarified RA 9348’s effects in a 53-page decision penned
by Justice Dante O. Tinga, which affirmed with modification the
A JUDGE WAS RECENTLY DISMISSED by the Supreme Court for bribery. conviction of Alfredo Bon for the rapes and attempted rapes of his two
The Court found Judge Luisito Adaoag of the Gerona-Ramos- Pura, Tarlac minor nieces. The Court ruled that it “cannot find basis to conclude that
Municipal Circuit Trial Court guilty of serious misconduct for soliciting and Rep. Act No. 9346 intended to retain the operative effects of the death
accepting Php20,000 from Desiree Legario in consideration of the penalty in the graduation of the other penalties in our laws.” Thus, the
Court reduced Bon’s penalty for each of the six counts of rape to
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reclusion perpetua, while his penalty for each of the two counts of there are other remedies under the law which could be utilized to secure
attempted rape was downgraded to an indeterminate penalty of two the reasonable release of such prisoners. (GR No. 166401, People v. Alfredo
years, four months, and one day of prision correccional as minimum, to Bon, October 30, 2006)
eight years and one day of prision mayor as maximum plus civil
indemnity and damages. Lawyer Suspended for Negligence
Bon had been found guilty by the trial court of eight counts of By Karen M. Martinez
rape and was given eight death sentences. The Court of Appeals had
upheld six of the eight death sentences and downgraded the other two ATTY. ALFREDO ZAPANTA was suspended by the Supreme Court for three
rape convictions to attempted rape. On review, the Supreme Court had months for his failure to follow the proper procedure for withdrawal in a
to determine the proper penalty to be given Bon for the crimes of case, which resulted in the dismissal of his client’s case.
attempted rape: whether he should be sentenced to prision mayor, the The Court held that until Zapanta’s dismissal or withdrawal was
penalty two degrees lower than reclusion perpetua, which is now the made of record, “any judicial notice sent to him was binding upon his
highest remaining penalty with the removal of the death penalty by RA client even though as between them the professional relationship may
9346. have been terminated. Thus, unless properly relieved, respondent is
According to the Court, “the negation of the word ‘death’ as responsible for the conduct of the cases and his failure to attend the
previously inscribed in Article 71 will have the effect of appropriately hearing and comply with the trial court’s directive to file a formal offer of
downgrading the proper penalties attaching to accomplices, accessories, evidence constitute inexcusable negligence.” (AC No. 6266, Estela Anastacio-
frustrated and attempted felonies to the level consistent with our penal Briones vs. Atty. Alfredo A. Zapanta, November 16, 2006)
laws.” It maintained that if RA 9346 was to be interpreted in such a way
as to limit its effects only to matters concerning the physical imposition Engineer Suspended for Failure to Repair Aircons
By Karen M. Martinez
of the death penalty, there would be an anomalous situation where the
penalties for the principals and accomplices are equalized in certain ENGR. CELERINO BUENAVENTURA, Building and Grounds Maintenance
felonies but not in others. Head of the Halls of Justice of Naga City, was suspended for 35 days
The Court also clarified that the prohibition against the death without pay for failing to take charge of the maintenance and repairs of
penalty did not result in the reclassification of those crimes previously the four airconditioning units installed in the Naga City Hall of Justice
defined as “heinous.” It underscored the fact that the amendatory effects despite repeated requests to do so.
of the law pertain only to the application of the death penalty and not to The Court found grossly unsatisfactory Buenaventura’s
the classification of felonies. explanation that the government was able to save money during the time
The Court extended the retroactive benefits of the enactment of the airconditioners were not in use as his inaction caused more damage
RA 9346 in accordance with Article 22 of the RPC to persons previously to the government. (AM No. 2004-15-SC, Prosecutor Agapito B. Rosales,
convicted of capital offenses (except habitual criminals) but stressed that Provincial Prosecutor, Camarines Sur vs. Engr. Celerino Buenaventura,
“this decision does not make operative the release of such convicts” as
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LIBERTAS ET IUSTICIA | DIGEST OF SUPREME COURT’S BENCHMARK 2006

Buildings and Grounds Maintenance Head, Maintenance Section, Halls of Balindongs were likewise fined for continuously filing pleadings in
Justice, Naga City, November 16, 2006) defiance of the Court’s decision of December 16, 2004 in GR No. 159962,
which had already sustained the above informations.
Lawyer Suspended for Reneging on Contractual Obligation The Court said that Judge Lee “impudently” substituted his own
By Karen M. Martinez judgment for that of the Court. As for the four accused, the Court said
FOR REFUSING WITHOUT JUSTIFIABLE REASON to comply with his that their persistent attempts to raise issues long laid to rest by a final
contractual obligation as vendor of a piece of land and for mortgaging the and executory judgment constitute contumacious defiance of its
same property without informing the vendee, Atty. Alexander Bulauitan authority and impede the speedy administration of justice. (GR No. 173290,
was suspended for one year by the Supreme Court. Zenaida M. Limbona vs. Hon. Judge Ralph S. Lee of Regional Trial Court-Quezon City, Br.
“The Court finds the respondent’s act of giving the property in 83, Mayor Anwar Berua Balindong, Lt. Col. Jalandoni Cota, Mayor Amer Oden Balindong
question in mortgage bordering on the fraudulent and surely dishonest,” & Ali Balindong, November 20, 2006)
said the Court. “Respondent had shown, through his dealing with the
complainant involving a tiny parcel of land, a want of professional Retired Clerk of Court and Sheriff Fined for Undue Demolition
By Joshua P. Lapuz
honesty. Such misdeed reflects on the moral stuff which he is made of,” it
added. (AC No. 7280, Dahlia S. Gacias vs. Atty. Alexander Bulauitan, November 16,
2006)
ERIBERTO SABAS, a retired Clerk of Court and Ex-Officio Sheriff of the
Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, was fined
by the Supreme Court from his retirement pay an amount equivalent to
six months salary plus six months leave credits for grave abuse of
December 2006 authority and conduct unbecoming of an officer of the court.
Sabas caused the demolition of a fence and half of the house
Judge, Two Mayors Fined for Contempt owned by the spouses Arthur and Leonora Stilgrove, which were not
By Joshua P. Lapuz included in the MTC’s decision and special order of demolition. He also
shouted unkind words at Arthur Stilgrove.
A JUDGE, TWO MAYORS, and two others were disciplined recently for
The Court said that Sabas’ actions, which were beyond the scope
defying an order of the Supreme Court.
of his authority, deprived the Stilgroves of their property without due
Judge Ralph Lee of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court, Branch
process of law. It added that he further failed to demonstrate courtesy
83 was found guilty of indirect contempt and fined Php5,000 for granting
and civility in the discharge of his functions when he shouted at Arthur
the motions for reconsideration and re-determination of probable cause
Stilgrove. (AM No. P-06-2257, Sps. Arthur and Leonora Stilgrove vs. Clerk of Court
and downgrading the charges of double murder and multiple frustrated
Eriberto R. Sabas and Sheriff III Ernesto Simpliciano, November 29, 2006)
murder against former Poblacion Malabang, Lanao del Sur Mayor Anwar
Balindong and his two sons, Mayor Amer Oden Balindong and Ali
Balindong, and Chief of Police Lt. Col. Jalandoni Cota. Cota and the
www.libertas.ph 19