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Evelio Javier vs COMELEC & Arturo Pacificador

Due Process impartial and competent court


Javier and Pacificador, a member of the KBL under Marcos, were rivals to be members of the
Batasan in May 1984 in Antique. During election, Javier complained of massive terrorism,
intimidation, duress, vote-buying, fraud, tampering and falsification of election returns under duress,
threat and intimidation, snatching of ballot boxes perpetrated by the armed men of Pacificador.
COMELEC just referred the complaints to the AFP. On the same complaint, the 2nd Division of the
Commission on Elections directed the provincial board of canvassers of Antique to proceed with the
canvass but to suspend the proclamation of the winning candidate until further orders. On June 7,
1984, the same 2nd Division ordered the board to immediately convene and to proclaim the winner
without prejudice to the outcome of the case before the Commission. On certiorari before the SC, the
proclamation made by the board of canvassers was set aside as premature, having been made
before the lapse of the 5-day period of appeal, which the Javier had seasonably made. Javier pointed
out that the irregularities of the election must first be resolved before proclaiming a winner. Further,
Opinion, one of the Commissioners should inhibit himself as he was a former law partner of
Pacificador. Also, the proclamation was made by only the 2 nd Division but the Constitute requires that
it be proclaimed by the COMELEC en banc. In Feb 1986, during pendency, Javier was gunned down.
The Solicitor General then moved to have the petition close it being moot and academic by virtue of
Javiers death.
ISSUE: Whether or not there had been due process in the proclamation of Pacificador.
HELD: The SC ruled in favor of Javier and has overruled the Sol-Gens tenor. The SC has repeatedly
and consistently demanded the cold neutrality of an impartial judge as the indispensable imperative
of due process. To bolster that requirement, we have held that the judge must not only be impartial
but must also appear to be impartial as an added assurance to the parties that his decision will be
just. The litigants are entitled to no less than that. They should be sure that when their rights are
violated they can go to a judge who shall give them justice. They must trust the judge, otherwise they
will not go to him at all. They must believe in his sense of fairness, otherwise they will not seek his
judgment. Without such confidence, there would be no point in invoking his action for the justice they
expect.
Due process is intended to insure that confidence by requiring compliance with what Justice
Frankfurter calls the rudiments of fair play. Fair play calls for equal justice. There cannot be equal
justice where a suitor approaches a court already committed to the other party and with a judgment
already made and waiting only to be formalized after the litigants shall have undergone the charade
of a formal hearing. Judicial (and also extrajudicial) proceedings are not orchestrated plays in which
the parties are supposed to make the motions and reach the denouement according to a prepared
script. There is no writer to foreordain the ending. The judge will reach his conclusions only after all
the evidence is in and all the arguments are filed, on the basis of the established facts and the
pertinent law.

INHIBITION AND DISQUALIFICATION OF JUDGES


The rule on inhibition and disqualification of judges is laid down in Section 1, Rule 137 of the Rules of
Court:
Section 1. Disqualification of judges. No judge or judicial officer shall sit in any case in which he, or
his wife or child, is pecuniarily interested as heir, legatee, creditor or otherwise, or in which he is
related to either party within the sixth degree of consanguinity or affinity, or to counsel within the
fourth degree, computed according to the rules of the civil law, or in which he has been executor,
administrator, guardian, trustee or counsel, or in which he has presided in any inferior court when his
ruling or decision is the subject of review, without the written consent of all parties in interest, signed
by them and entered upon the record.
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.
The Rules contemplate two kinds of inhibition: compulsory and voluntary. Under the first paragraph of
the cited Rule, it is conclusively presumed that judges cannot actively and impartially sit in the
instances mentioned. The second paragraph, which embodies voluntary inhibition, leaves to the
sound discretion of the judges concerned whether to sit in a case for other just and valid reasons,
with only their conscience as guide.
In denying the motions for his inhibition, Justice Hernandez explained that petitioner failed to impute
any act of bias or impartiality on his part, to wit:
What can reasonably be gleaned from jurisprudence on this point of law is the necessity of proving
bias and partiality under the second paragraph of the rule in question. The proof required needs to
point to some act or conduct on the part of the judge being sought for inhibition. In the instant
Motions, there is not even a single act or conduct attributed to Justice Hernandez from where a
suspicion of bias or partiality can be derived or appreciated. In fact, it is oddly striking that the
accused does not even make a claim or imputation of bias or partiality on the part of Justice
Hernandez. Understandably, he simply cannot make such allegation all because there is none to be
told. If allegations or perceptions of bias from the tenor and language of a judge is considered by the
Supreme Court as insufficient to show prejudgment, how much more insufficient it becomes if there is
absent any allegation of bias or partiality to begin with.

We find the above explanation well-taken and thus uphold the assailed Resolution upon the grounds
so stated. We have ruled in Philippine Commercial International Bank v. Dy Hong Pi, G.R. No.
171137, June 5, 2009, 588 SCRA 612, 632 that the mere imputation of bias or partiality is not enough
ground for inhibition, especially when the charge is without basis. Extrinsic evidence must further be
presented to establish bias, bad faith, malice, or corrupt purpose, in addition to palpable error which
may be inferred from the decision or order itself. This Court has to be shown acts or conduct of the
judge clearly indicative of arbitrariness or prejudice before the latter can be branded the stigma of
being biased or partial.
An allegation of prejudgment, without more, constitutes mere conjecture and is not one of the just or
valid reasons contemplated in the second paragraph of Section 1, Rule 137 of the Rules of Court for
which a judge may inhibit himself from hearing the case. The bare allegations of the judges partiality,
as in this case, will not suffice in the absence of clear and convincing evidence to overcome the
presumption that the judge will undertake his noble role of dispensing justice in accordance with law
and evidence, and without fear or favor. Verily, for bias and prejudice to be considered valid reasons
for the involuntary inhibition of judges, mere suspicion is not enough.
Petitioner contends that his motions were based on the second paragraph of Section 1, Rule 137, but
a closer examination of the motions for inhibition reveals that petitioner undoubtedly invoked the
second paragraph by underscoring the phrase, for just or valid reasons other than those mentioned
above. This was an express indication of the rule that he was invoking. Moreover, it was specifically
stated in paragraph 7 of both motions that in accused mind, such circumstances militates against the
Hon. Justice Hernandez and constitutes a just and valid ground for his inhibition under the 2nd
paragraph, Section 1 of Rule 137, in so far as the cases against accused are concerned. Hence,
there is no question that petitioner relied on the second paragraph of the Rule which contemplates
voluntary inhibition as basis for his motions for inhibition.
And even if we were to assume that petitioner indeed invoked the first paragraph of Section 1, Rule
137 in his motions to inhibit, we should stress that marital relationship by itself is not a ground to
disqualify a judge from hearing a case. Under the first paragraph of the rule on inhibition, No judge or
judicial officer shall sit in any case in which he, or his wife or child, is pecuniarily interested as heir,
legatee, creditor or otherwise. The relationship mentioned therein becomes relevant only when
such spouse or child of the judge is pecuniarily interested as heir, legatee, creditor or otherwise.
Petitioner, however, miserably failed to show that Professor Carolina G. Hernandez is financially or
pecuniarily interested in these cases before the Sandiganbayan to justify the inhibition of Justice
Hernandez under the first paragraph of Section 1 of Rule 137 (Ramiscal Jr. v. Justice Hernandez et
al., G.R. Nos. 173057-74, September 20, 2010).
In Umale v. Villaluz, 151-A Phil. 563, 568, May 25, 1973, the Court traced the history of the second
paragraph of the above-quoted provision, which had been added only as an amendment to the Rules
of Court in 1964. Prior to that year, the question on whether to take cognizance of the case did not
depend upon the discretion of the judges not legally disqualified to sit in a given case. If those
concerned were not disqualified, it was their official duty to proceed with the case or else risk being
called upon to account for their dereliction. They could not voluntarily inhibit themselves on grounds
of prejudice or bias, extreme delicacy, or even if they themselves took great interest and an active
part in the filing of the case. Gutierrez v. Santos 112 Phil. 184, May 30, 1961 and Del Castillo v.
Javelona 116 Phil. 451, September 29, 1962 paved the way for the recognition of other
circumstances for disqualification those that depended upon the exercise of discretion of the judges
concerned.
The judges right, however, must be weighed against their duty to decide cases without fear of
repression. Verily, the second paragraph of Section 1 of Rule 137 does not give judges the unfettered

discretion to decide whether to desist from hearing a case. The inhibition must be for just and valid
causes. The mere imputation of bias or partiality is not enough ground for them to inhibit, especially
when the charge is without basis. This Court has to be shown acts or conduct clearly indicative of
arbitrariness or prejudice before it can brand them with the stigma of bias or partiality Gohu v.
Spouses Gohu, 397 Phil. 126, October 13, 2000; Abdula v. Guiani, 382 Phil. 757, February 18, 2000).