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Digest of Supreme Courts

Benchmark
January June 2007

Libertas et Iusticia
LIBERTAS ET IUSTICIA | DIGEST OF SUPREME COURTS BENCHMARK 2006

Table of Contents SC Acquits Illiterate Fisherman of Double Murder


SC Settles LP Leadership Controversy
January.. 3 SC Clarifies Evidentiary Value of Duplicate Originals
Two Lawyers Suspended for Misappropriating Clients Vehicle SC OKs Graft Charge Against PIATCO Chairman and President

May 17
February.. 4 No Time Limit for Administrative Cases vs Lawyers
Love in the Words of the Court
SCEA President Suspended
Clerk of Court Gets One-Year Suspension for Missing Funds
Judge, Staff Penalized for Spurious Bailbonds and Release Orders
Double-Dealing, Deceitful, and Immoral Lawyer Suspended for Three Years
Dishonest Notarys Commission Revoked
June . 26
Makati RTC Judge Fined
SC Disciplines More Judges, Court Personnel
Utility Worker Disciplined for False DTR
SC Clarifies Conditions for Discharge of State Witness
SC Clarifies Rules on Initiating Contempt Proceedings; Absolves Lawyer
SC Orders PEA to Pay Php94 Million in Just Compensation
Judge Dismissed for Neglect of Duty, Inefficiency
Mercury Drug Liable for Selling Wrong Medication
Administrative Proceedings: Not Arena for Squabbling Lawyers
March.. 7 SC Orders Dismissal of Rebellion Charges against Beltran, et al.
SC Bans Coterminous Employment of Justices Spouses SC Upholds Textbook Supply Deal
SC Designates Special Courts to Try and Decide Cases of Extrajudicial Killings SC Allows OWWA to Proceed with Reorganization
SC Affirms Reinstatement of Employee Dismissed on Account of Pregnancy CJ Enjoins Officials and Employees to Strictly Observe Gambling Prohibition in
Negligent, Irresponsible Lawyer Suspended Court
Lawyer Suspended for Failure to Turn Over Clients Money
Court Upholds Retainer Contract
SC Adopts Addl Rules re TROs on Foreclosures of Real Estate Mortgages
Court Orders Release of Salaries, Benefits Earned But Fines Sheriff For
Improperly Serving Suspension
SC Directs Removal of Pandacan Oil Terminals
SC Dismisses Four CA Employees for Case-Fixing
MERALCO Ordered to Pay Damages to Subscriber

April.. 13
Court Cleanses Judiciary
SC Upholds Suspension of BIR Official for Non-Disclosure of Wealth
Bail Can Be Granted to Potential Extraditee on Basis of Clear and Convincing
Evidence
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January 2007

Two Lawyers Suspended for Misappropriating Clients Vehicle


By Joshua P. Lapuz

TWO LAWYERS were recently suspended by the Supreme Court for


misappropriating their clients vehicle, allegedly as payment for their
services.
Attorneys Salvador and Nancy Quimpo were suspended for three
months for gross misconduct. The Court found that the Quimpos caused
the filling in of a signed blank Deed of Sale of Rosemarie Hsiehs
Mitstubishi Eclipse without Hsiehs consent and authority.
If the Deed of Sale was originally intended to serve as security
for the payment of complainants outstanding account with respondents,
as claimed by the latter, why was not the name of the oblige for whom
the security was allegedly executed respondents not also printed out?
And why did not respondents bother to advise complainant of the
eventual sale of the car and account the proceeds thereof? It is on this
account that this Court finds the above-quoted ratiocination of the IBP
Investigator in holding respondents to have committed breach of
contract well-taken, said the Court. (AC No. 6128, Rosemarie L. Hsieh vs. Atty.
Salvador Quimpo and Atty. Nancy Quimpo, December 19, 2006)

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The nuptial vows which solemnly intone the matrimonial


February 2007 promise of love (f)or better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in
sickness and in health, till death do us part, are sometimes easier said
than done, for many a marital union figuratively ends on the reefs of
Love in the Words of the Court
Compiled by Atty. Richard Pascual, Office of the Reporter
matrimonial shoals. In the case now before us for appellate review, the
marriage literally ended under circumstances which the criminal law,
IN THIS MONTH OF HEARTS, we have compiled the following passages disdainful of romanticism, bluntly calls the felony of parricide. (GR No.
from decisions of the Court throughout the decades that speak of that 102984. People of the Philippines v. Ruben Takbobo, June 30, 1993)
mysterious thing called LOVE. Marital union is a two-way process. An expressive interest in
Love of country should be something permanent and lasting, each others feelings at a time it is needed by the other can go a long way
ending only in death; loyalty should be its worth of offspring. The in deepening the marital relationship. Marriage is definitely not for
outward manifestation of one or the other may for a time be prevented children but for two consenting adults who view the relationship with
or thwarted by the irresistible action of the occupant; but this should not love respect, sacrifice and a continuing commitment to compromise,
in the least extinguish nor obliterate the invisible feelings, and conscious of its value as a sublime social institution. (GR No. 119190, Chi
promptings of the spirit. (GR No. L-409. Anastacio Laurel v. Eriberto Misa, January Ming Tsoi v. Court of Appeals and Gina Lao- Tsoi, January 16, 1997)
30, 1947) Parents have the natural right, as well as the moral and legal
There is nothing objectionable in her taking advantage of the law duty, to care for their children, see to their proper upbringing, and
to give tangible expression to her maternal love, which is, without any safeguard their best interest and welfare. Even when the parents are
doubt, universally considered the most sublime feeling nature has estranged and their affection for each other is lost, the attachment and
infused in human hearts. The feeling is so elemental that it is not feeling for their offspring invariably remain unchanged. Neither the law
unknown even to the lowest phyla of the animal kingdom. That even the nor the courts allow this affinity to suffer absent, of course, any real,
fiercest wild animals are not devoid of such feeling is a wonder that grave and imminent threat to the well-being of the child. (GR No. 114742,
cannot fail to move [the] most indifferent person. (GR No. L- 1663, Carlitos E. Silva v. Hon. Court of Appeals and Suzanne T. Gonzales, July 17, 1997)
Florentina Villahermosa v. The Commissioner of Immigration, March 31, 1948) We cannot castigate a man for seeking out the partner of his
Men may differ and do differ on religious beliefs and creeds, dreams, for marriage is a sacred and perpetual bond which should be
government policies, the wisdom and legality of laws, even the entered into because of love, not for any other reason. (GR No. 97369,
correctness of judicial decisions and decrees; but in the field of love of Patricia Figueroa, v. Simeon Barranco, Jr., July 31, 1997)
countrythey can hardly afford to differ, for these are matters in which That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the
they are mutually and vitally interested, for to them, they mean national manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction,
existence and survival as a nation. (GR No. L-13954, Genaro Gerona, et al. v. The not by force or violence; and therefore, all men are equally entitled to
Honorable Sec. of Education, et al., August 12, 1959) the free exercise of religion according to the dictates of conscience; and
that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love,
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and charity towards each other. (AM P-02-1651, Estrada v. Escritor, August 4, Double-Dealing, Deceitful, and Immoral Lawyer Suspended for Three
2003) Years
The Court, like all well-meaning persons, has no desire to dash By Gleo Sp. Guerra
romantic fancies, yet in the exercise of its duty, is all too willing when
necessary to raise the wall that tears Pyramus and Thisbe asunder. (AM THE SUPREME COURT recently suspended from the practice of law for
No. P-02- 1564, Concerned Employee v. Glenda Espiritu Mayor, November 23, 2004) three years Atty. Luciano D. Valencia for misconduct and violation of
Clerk of Court Gets One-Year Suspension for Missing Funds Canons 21, 10, and 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
By Madeleine U.V.G. Avanzado Atty. Valencia was found to have violated Canon 21 stating that a
lawyer shall preserve the confidences and secrets of his client even after
A CLERK OF COURT was recently suspended for one year for failing to the attorney-client relation is terminated when he appeared as counsel
account for funds entrusted to her in a civil case. against a former client in a related action. The Court said that the rule is
The Supreme Court found Clerk of Court Marissa Angeles of the founded on the principles of public policy and good tastefor only then
Pantabangan Municipal Trial Court of Nueva Ecija guilty of dishonesty and can litigants be encouraged to entrust their secrets to their lawyers,
conduct unbecoming of a clerk of court and ordered her to pay which is of paramount importance in the administration of justice.
complainant Beatriz Vilar Php75,000 for failing to remit funds that were The Court also found that Atty. Valencia failed to comply with
entrusted to her in a civil case involving the complainant. Canon 10, which provides that a lawyer shall not do any falsehood nor
In its decision, the Court reiterated that the failure of a public consent to the doing of any in court; nor shall he mislead, or allow the
officer to remit funds upon demand by an authorized officer constitutes Court to be misled by any artifice, when he presented as evidence in a
prima facie evidence that the public officer has put such missing funds or case a certificate of title that had already been cancelled.
property to personal use. As Angeles failed to explain what she did with Finally, the Court found Atty. Valencia to have sired three
the money entrusted to her, the Supreme Court suspended her for one illegitimate children in violation of Canon 1, Rule 1.01 stating that a
year without pay, with a stern warning that a repetition of the same or lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral, or deceitful
similar act shall be dealt with more severely. conduct. However, it mitigated his liability considering that he eventually
Though Section 52 of Rule IV of the Uniform Rules on married the mother of the said children after the death of his first wife
Administrative Cases in the Civil Service called for the penalty of and that it was his first offense of that nature. (Adm. Case No. 5439, Clarita J.
dismissal, the Court adopted the recommendations of the Office of the Samala v. Atty. Luciano D. Valencia, January 22, 2007)
Court Administrator and decided to temper the penalty as Angeles was a
first-time offender and had been with the judiciary for 22 years. (AM No. P- Dishonest Notarys Commission Revoked
06-2276, Beatriz F. Vilar vs. Marissa Angeles, Clerk of Court, Municipal Trial Court, By Madeleine U.V.G. Avanzado
Pantabangan, Nueva Ecija, February 5, 2007)
THE SUPREME COURT recently revoked the notarial commission of Atty.
Salud P. Beradio and suspended her for six months from the practice of

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law for having notarized a document which she knew contained a Judge Marianos January 2005 monthly report also revealed that
material falsehood. there were cases submitted for decision that remained undecided
The Court found that Atty. Beradio violated Canon 1 and Rule 1.01 beyond the 90-day reglementary period despite the additional time she
of the Code of Professional Responsibility when she notarized the was given to decide them. (AM No. RTJ-06-2010, Marissa R. Mondala v. Judge
affidavit of adjudication of a certain Alfonso Villanueva while she had Rebecca R. Mariano, January 25, 2007)
personal knowledge that his claim of being the sole heir to the estate
concerned was untrue. The affidavit stated Villanueva as the sole heir to Utility Worker Disciplined for False DTR
his parents estate even though there were other compulsory heirs living By Arcie M. Sercado
at the time it was executed, a fact which Atty. Beradio admitted to the
Court. A UTILITY WORKER was reprimanded by the Supreme Court recently for
Where admittedly the notary public has personal knowledge of a habitually making false entries in his daily time record (DTR).
false statement or information contained in the instrument to be Manuel Araya, Jr., utility worker of the Ozamiz City Municipal Trial
notarized, yet proceeds to affix his or her notarial seal on it, the Court Court in Cities, Branch 2, was also warned that a more severe sanction
must not hesitate to discipline the notary public accordingly as the will be imposed on him should he repeat the said offense. The Court
circumstances of the case dictate. Otherwise, the integrity and sanctity of noted that Araya only came to work for six hours and 45 minutes per
the notarization process may be undermined and public confidence on working day, instead of the mandated eight hours. Because of this, Araya
notarial documents diminished, the Court said. (AC No. 6270, Heirs of did not perform his responsibilities in the office.
Spouses Villanueva vs. Atty. Salud P. Beradio, January 22, 2007) The Court also reprimanded Ozamis Judge Rio Concepcion Achas
and Clerk of Court III Renato Zapatos for allowing Araya to come to work
Makati RTC Judge Fined on a flexi-time basis without prior authorization from the Court. (AM No. P-
By Arcie M. Sercado 05-1960, Concerned Litigants v. Manuel Z. Araya, Jr., Utility Worker, Municipal Trial
Court in Cities, Branch 2, Ozamiz City, January 26, 2007)
JUDGE REBECCA R. MARIANO of the Regional Trial Court of Makati City,
Branch 136, was fined Php40,000 by the Court for violating the Canons of SC Clarifies Rules on Initiating Contempt Proceedings; Absolves Lawyer
the Code of Judicial Conduct and Supreme Court Administrative Circular By Madeleine U.V.G. Avanzado
No. 4-2004 for making untruthful statements in her monthly reports.
The Court ruled that Judge Mariano intentionally misrepresented THE SUPREME COURT recently absolved Atty. Ma. Concepcion L.
the date of promulgation of the decision in the Amanet Inc. v. Eastern Regalado of indirect contempt as the proceedings against her had been
Telecommunications Philippines, Inc. case. The January 2005 monthly improperly initiated.
report of Branch 136 included Amanet in its list of decided cases when The Court held that Section 4, Rule 71 of the Rules of Court
the decision had not yet been promulgated on the date of the submission provides for two ways to initiate indirect contempt proceedings: (1)
of the report on March 7, 2005. motu proprio by the court; or (2) through a verified petition and upon

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compliance with the requirements for initiatory pleadings. It found that and fourth quarters of 2004. The Court dismissed Judge Legaspi, saying,
the contempt proceedings against Atty. Regalado were improperly The wheels of justice would hardly move if respondent is allowed to
initiated by the filing of an unverified Manifestation with Omnibus continue working in the judiciary. (AM No. MTJ-06-1661, Office of the Court
Motion. Administrator v. Hon. Ramon R. Legaspi, Jr., January 25, 2007)
Evidently, the proceedings attendant to the conviction of
petitioner Atty. Regalado for indirect contempt suffered a serious
procedural defect to which this Court cannot close its eyes without
offending the fundamental principles enunciated in the Rules that we,
ourselves, had promulgated, the Court said, even as it accorded respect March 2007
to the Court of Appeals factual findings that Atty. Regalados acts
constitute indirect contempt.
The Court of Appeals earlier had convicted Atty. Regalado of SC Bans Coterminous Employment of Justices Spouses
indirect contempt and fined her Php5,000 for facilitating a compromise By Jay B. Rempillo
agreement in an illegal dismissal case on appeal with the appellate court STARTING APRIL 1, spouses of incumbent Justices are banned from
without the presence of the opposing partys counsel. (GR No. 167988, Ma. working as coterminous employees in the Judiciary.
Concepcion L. Regalado vs. Antonio S. Go, February 6, 2007) Prohibited is the employment of spouses of Justices in the
Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, Sandiganbayan, and Court of Tax
Judge Dismissed for Neglect of Duty, Inefficiency Appeals. Spouses presently employed and covered by the ban are
By Arcie M. Sercado deemed resigned at the close of office hours on March 31.
The Court found it necessary to control and regulate the
A JUDGE WAS DISMISSED from the service recently by the employment of the spouses of Justices to enforce the letter and the
Supreme Court. spirit of the New Code of Judicial Conduct for the Philippine Judiciary
Judge Ramon R. Legaspi, Jr. of the 3rd Municipal Circuit Trial Court calling for an ethical judiciary that is above suspicion. [That] is premised,
of Kinoguitan- Sugbongcogon, Misamis Oriental was found liable for gross among others, on the fact that public confidence in the judicial system
neglect of judicial duty for failing to decide or resolve within the and in the moral authority and integrity of the judiciary is of utmost
reglementary period 228 cases assigned to his sala. The Office of the importance in a modern democratic society; andit is essential that
Court Administrator discovered this in an audit conducted in October judges, individually and collectively, respect and honor judicial office as a
2002. Judge Legaspi was given several opportunities to decide the cases, public trust and strive to enhance and maintain confidence in the judicial
which stretched over more than two years, but he still failed to comply. system. (AM No. 07-3-02-CA, In re: Rule Banning the Employment of Spouses of
After more than three years, Judge Legaspi still had 89 cases left Justices in the SC, CA, Sandiganbayan, and CTA as Coterminous Employees, March 6,
to be decided, all of which have been submitted for decision since 1996 2007)
but were not stated in the judges Monthly Report of Cases for the third
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SC Designates Special Courts to Try and Decide Cases of Extrajudicial and branch clerks of court concerned without prejudice to whatever
Killings administrative sanction the High Court may impose on them.
By Jay B. Rempillo Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno has said that the creation of Special
Courts to resolve extrajudicial killings is high in the Judiciarys priority list.
THE SUPREME COURT has designated 99 Regional Trial Courts nationwide He made the announcement even before Malacaang made public the
to try and decide cases involving extrajudicial killings of political activists findings of the Independent Commission to Address Media and Activists
and members of the media. Designated as Special Courts are 23 RTCs in Killings, headed by retired SC Justice Jose Melo, confirming the
the National Judicial Capital Region (NCJR) and 76 RTCs in the 12 other extrajudicial killings of political activists and members of the media.
Judicial Regions. The first and foremost of human rights is the right to life. It has
Under Court-issued guidelines, to be considered in determining long been accorded universal status for the existence of all other rights is
whether a crime is a political killing are (1) political affiliation of the premised on the preservation of life. The extrajudicial taking of life is the
victim; (2) method of attack; and (3) reports that state agents are ultimate violation of human rights. It cannot be allowed anywhere, and it
involved in the commission of the crime or have acquiesced in them. has to be resisted everywhereExtrajudicial killings also constitute
All single-sala courts are considered Special Courts for the cases brazen assaults on the rule of law. It is the constitutional duty of our
involving killings of political ideologists and members of the media, which judiciary to protect the rule of law and we will link with all efforts to
shall be given priority in their respective trial calendars. In stations where prevent its erosion, declared Chief Justice Puno.
there are no designated Special Courts, the branches where the SPECIAL COURTS FOR EXTRAJUDICIAL KILLINGS
concerned cases are raffled shall observe the guidelines. NATIONAL CAPITAL JUDICIAL REGION
The Special Courts shall conduct continuous trial for said cases, to Manila RTC Branches 26, 39, 50;
be terminated within 60 days from commencement of the hearing. A Quezon City RTC Branches 95, 97, & 219;
judgment on said case shall be rendered within 30 days upon its Makati City RTC Branches 133, 148, & 150;
submission for decision unless a shorter period is provided by the law or Pasay City RTC Branches 114 & 118;
otherwise directed by the High Court. Kalookan City RTC Branches 129 & 131;
Where trial has already begun, the same shall continue to be Pasig City RTC Branches 157 & 265;
heard by the respective branches to which they have been originally Taguig RTC Branch 271;
assigned. A criminal case is considered begun when the accused had San Juan RTC Branch 160;
already been arraigned. Malabon RTC Branch 73;
The Special Courts are required to submit a report on the status Marikina RTC Branch 263;
of the concerned cases which shall be attached to their respective Mandaluyong RTC Branch 212;
Monthly Report of Cases. Failure to submit such report shall be a ground Paraaque RTC Branch 260;
for withholding the salaries and allowances of the judges, clerks of court, Las Pias RTC Branch 255;
Muntinlupa RTC Branch 204
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Negligent, Irresponsible Lawyer Suspended


SC Affirms Reinstatement of Employee Dismissed on Account of By Arcie M. Sercado
Pregnancy
By Arcie M. Sercado A LAWYER WAS RECENTLY SUSPENDED for six months from the practice
of law by the Supreme Court for lacking legal ethics and for falling short
IT IS ILLEGAL to terminate an employee on account of her pregnancy. of the diligence required of a lawyer entrusted with a case. He was also
The Supreme Court found that Del Monte Philippines, Inc. illegally directed to return with interest the attorneys fee paid to him.
terminated the employment of its field laborer Lolita Velasco after she Atty. Manuel G. San Jose, from Libmanan, Camarines Sur, was
had been absent from work due to a urinary tract infection contracted suspended for violating Canon 18 of the Code of Professional
during pregnancy. It ruled that absences due to a justified cause cannot Responsibility which stresses that when a lawyer takes a clients cause,
be a ground for dismissal, even if the dates of her absences do not he covenants that he will exercise due diligence in protecting the latters
correspond to those in her medical certificates because pregnancy is a rights.
long-term condition accompanied by an assortment of related illnesses. The Court found that Atty. San Jose failed to file a civil case
The Court found that Velasco was able to justify her absences in against a lessee of a clients property who had defaulted in paying
accordance with company rules and policy. Prior to her absences, Velasco monthly rentals, despite his receipt of attorneys fees. He also refused to
consulted the companys doctor, who advised her to have rest-in- return pertinent documents and failed to pay the salary of his clients
quarters for several days. Likewise, she attempted to file leaves of daughter who was his employee after the client had withdrawn the case
absence, which Del Montes supervisor unjustifiably refused to receive. from him. (AC No. 3569, Fidela vda. De Enriquez v. Atty. Manuel G. San Jose, February
The Court also ruled that Del Monte had no legal basis to 23, 2007)
terminate Velasco on the ground that the latter had an alleged long
history of unauthorized absences committed several years beforehand Lawyer Suspended for Failure to Turn Over Clients Money
and that these absences should also be considered. The Court held that By Gleo Sp. Guerra
Velascos last string of absences is justifiable and had been subsequently
explained. These cannot be considered together with her previous THE COURT RECENTLY SUSPENDED Atty. Ponciano G. Hernandez from the
infractions as gross and habitual neglect. practice of law for six months for violation of the attorneys oath and of
Article 137 of the Labor code states that it is unlawful for any serious professional misconduct. It also warned him that repetition of the
employer to discharge a woman on account of her pregnancy, while on same or similar offense will be dealt with more severely.
leave or in confinement due to her pregnancy. (GR No. 153477, Del Monte The Court found that Atty. Hernandez refused to deliver to a
Philippines, Inc. v. Lolita Velasco, March 6, 2007) client a check representing a court award in the amount of Php1,060,800.
It was only after he had been ordered by the lower court to hand over
the check that Atty. Hernandez partially delivered the amount of

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Php502,838.79 to his client, while retaining Php557,961.21 as payment written contract of attorneys fees. (GR No. 127520, Aurora Fe B. Camacho v.
for his attorneys fees. Court of Appeals and Angelino Banzon, February 9, 2007)
The Court held that a lawyer is not entitled to unilaterally
appropriate clients money by the mere fact alone that the client owes SC Adopts Addl Rules re TROs on Foreclosures of Real Estate Mortgages
the said lawyer attorneys fees. It said that Atty. Hernandez should have By Jay B. Rempillo
provided his client with an accounting before deducting his attorneys
fees and turned over the remaining balance to his client. THE SUPREME COURT has issued additional guidelines on the issuance of
Pursuant to its power to supervise a contingent fee arrangement temporary restraining orders (TROs) or writs of preliminary injunctions
as to its reasonableness, the Court held that a fee of 35% of the amount enjoining foreclosures of real estate mortgages, effective March 10,
awarded to his client is fair compensation for Atty. Hernandezs services. 2007.
It thus ordered him to return Php290,109.21 to the latter with legal The following guidelines are contained in the Courts three-page
interest from the date of finality of the Courts judgment until full resolution adopting the following additional rules on Extrajudicial or
payment. (GR No. 169079, Francisco Rayos v. Atty. Ponciano G. Hernandez, February Judicial Foreclosure of Real Estate Mortgages as recommended by the SC
12, 2007) Committee on Revision of the Rules of Court:
1. No TRO or writ of preliminary injunction against the
Court Upholds Retainer Contract extrajudicial foreclosure of real estate mortgage shall be issued on the
By Gleo Sp. Guerra allegation that the loan secured by the mortgage has been paid or is not
delinquent unless the application is verified and supported by evidence
THE COURT UPHELD the validity of a retainer contact between Aurora B. of payment;
Camacho and Atty. Angelino Banzon whereby the former undertook to 2. No TRO or writ of preliminary injunction against the
convey 5,000 sq. m of her property as payment for the latters legal extrajudicial foreclosure of real estate mortgage shall be issued on the
services. It, however, ruled that Atty. Banzon is no longer entitled to an allegation that the interest on the loan is unconscionable, unless the
additional 1,000 sq.m., it appearing that the parties had agreed upon debtor pays the mortgagee at least 12 percent per annum interest on the
specific sums of money as attorneys fees for their other cases. principal obligation as stated in the application for foreclosure sale,
The Court held that Lawyers areas much entitled to judicial which shall be updated monthly while the case is pending;
protection against injustice on the part of their clients as the clients are 3. Where a writ of preliminary injunction has been issued against
against abuses on the part of the counsel. The duty of the court is not a foreclosure of mortgage, the disposition of the case shall be speedily
only to see that lawyers act in a proper and lawful manner, but also to resolved. To this end, the court concerned shall submit to the SC, through
see to it that lawyers are paid their just and lawful fees. If lawyers are the Office of the Court Administrator, quarterly reports on the progress
entitled to fees even if there is no written contract, with more reason of the cases involving Php10 million and above;
that they are entitled thereto if their relationship is governed by a 4. All requirements and restrictions prescribed for the issuance of
a TRO/writ of preliminary injunction, such as the posting of a bond, which
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shall be equal to the amount of the outstanding debt, and the time SC Directs Removal of Pandacan Oil Terminals
limitation for its effectivity, shall apply By Jay B. Rempillo
as well to a status quo order. (AM No. 99-10-05-O, Re: Procedure in Extrajudicial
Or Judicial Foreclosure of Real Estate Mortgages, February 20, 2007) THE SUPREME COURT recently ordered Manila City Mayor Jose L.
Atienza, Jr. to comply with his ministerial duty to immediately enforce
Court Orders Release of Salaries, Benefits Earned But Fines Sheriff For Ordinance No. 8027, which reclassifies portions of the Manila districts of
Improperly Serving Suspension Pandacan and Sta. Ana from industrial to commercial, by removing the
By Arcie M. Sercado Pandacan Oil Terminals.
The Court described Ordinance No. 8027 as a measure enacted
THE SUPREME COURT recently ordered the release of the salaries and pursuant to the delegated police power of local government units to
benefits of a sheriff suspended for neglect of duty, but fined him promote the order, safety, and health, morals, and general welfare of the
Php5,000 for having served his period of suspension during a different society. Approved by the Manila City Council on November 28, 2001 and
period than that directed by the Court. taking effect on December 28, 2001, the ordinance reclassifies portions
Joel Francis C. Camino, Sheriff III of the Municipal Trial Court in of Pandacan and Sta. Ana from industrial to commercial and directs the
Cities in the Island Garden City of Samal, who was suspended by the owners and operators of businesses disallowed under it to cease and
Court for two months for dereliction of duty, received a copy of the desist from operating their businesses in the area concerned within six
resolution penalizing him on March 20, 2006. Although he should have months from its effectivity. Among the businesses in the area are the so-
served the period of suspension from March 20 to April 20, 2006, he called Pandacan Terminals being operated by Caltex (Philippines), Inc.,
continued reporting to work until he received the denial of his motion for Petron Corporation, and Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation.
reconsideration, which prompted him to be absent from work from July The Supreme Court said that there is nothing that legally hinders
20 to September 20, 2006. [Mayor Atienza] from enforcing Ordiinance No. 8027, taking into
The Court found that Camino was entitled to his salaries and consideration a June 26, 2002 Memorandum of Understanding entered
benefits for the period of April 21 to July 19, 2006 as his supposed into by the City of Manila, Department of Energy, and the oil companies
suspension should have been lifted on April 21, 2006, entitling him to pay involved in which they agreed that the scaling down of the Pandacan
for work rendered from that date. However, the Court said that Camino Terminals [was] the most viable and practicable option.
should be fined for disobeying the directives of the Court and be Ordinance No. 8027 was enacted right after the Philippines,
considered to have been on leave without pay during the period of his along with the rest of the world, witnessed the horror of that September
unauthorized absences. (AM P-06-2115, Angeles Mangubat v. Joel Francis C. 11, 2001 attack on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New
Camino, Sheriff III, Municipal Trial Court in Cities, Island Garden City of Samal, February York City. The objective of the ordinance is to protect the residents of
22, 2007) Manila from the catastrophic devastation that will surely occur in case of
a terrorist attack on the Pandacan Terminals. No reason exists why such a

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protective measure should be delayed, the Court said. (GR No. 156052, MERALCO Ordered to Pay Damages to Subscriber
Social Justice Society, et al. v. Atienza, Jr., March 7, 2007) By Madeleine U.V.G. Avanzado

SC Dismisses Four CA Employees for Case-Fixing THE SUPREME COURT recently ordered the Manila Electric Company
By Katrina M. Martinez (MERALCO) to desist from collecting an unjustified billing adjustment
from its subscriber Ma. Victoria Jose and to pay her moral and exemplary
FOR THEIR INVOLVEMENT in a case-fixing incident, four Court of damages.
Appeals (CA) employees were dismissed from service recently by the MERALCO previously issued a differential billing adjustment after
Supreme Court. alleging that defects caused Joses meter to register only 50% of her
Feliciano S. Calinga (Utility Worker I), Evelyn L. Caguitla (Court actual electric consumption for a period of two years. Jose filed a petition
Stenographer IV), Luis N. Gnilo (Utility Worker I), and Atty. Edwin Michael with the lower court seeking to permanently restrain the collection of the
P. Musico (Court Attorney IV) were found guilty of grave misconduct and adjustment, which amounted to Php232,385.20, and prevent MERALCO
dismissed from service. The Court, however, dismissed the charges of from discontinuing electrical services.
dishonesty and grave misconduct against Frankie N. Calabines (Utility The Supreme Court held that although MERALCO has the right to
Worker I) for lack of sufficient evidence. collect on differential billings, it was unable to establish the factual basis
The Court adopted the report of Justice Martin Villarama stating for arriving at the amount of the adjustment. The Court found that the
that the evidence on record has satisfactorily established that adjustment was merely based on MERALCOs company policy, as testified
respondents Caguitla, Calinga, Atty. Musico, and Gnilo acted in by its billing clerk, and its own records of Joses billings, which revealed
conspiracy and actively cooperated with one (1) another to defraud no dramatic increase nor decrease in electric consumption in the billing
complainant [Dolor] Catoc who was misled into believing that they can cycles preceding, during, and succeeding the period concerned.
facilitate the resolution or secure a favorable judgment in CV-73287, a The Court also found that MERALCO was grossly negligent in
case involving the registration of a property for which Catoc acted as the failing to conduct regular precautionary tests on its meters and, thus,
broker. The Court agreed with Justice Villarama that respondents could not pass its liability for losses arising from defective meters onto
behavior constitutes a serious violation of their sworn duties as the consumer by issuing a differential billing and threatening
employees of this Court and which undermines the publics faith and disconnection for non-payment.
trust in the administration of justice. (A.M. No. 04-5-20-SC, In re: Affidavit of MERALCO was thus ordered to pay Jose Php100,000 in moral
Frankie N. Calabines, A Member of the Co-Terminous Staff of Justice Josefina Guevara- damages and Php50,000 in exemplary damages for its callousness
Salonga, Relative to Some Anomalies Related to No. 73287 Candy Maker Inc. v. toward its customers and its inattention to its duty of keeping its facilities
Republic of the Philippines, March 14, 2007) and equipment well maintained. (GR No. 152769, Manila Electric Company v.
Ma. Victoria Jose, February 14, 2007)

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hold inviolate the principle solemnly enshrined in our Constitution: that a


April 2007 public office is a public trust.
Also dismissed from service was Judge Lorinda B. Toledo-Mupas
of the MTC of Dasmarias, Cavite, after the High Court, in a per curiam
Court Cleanses Judiciary
By Anna Katrina M. Martinez
resolution, found her guilty of gross ignorance of the law for the fourth
time.
THE JUDICIARY MUST BE PURGED of corruption and incompetence so as The Court held that Judge Mupas practice of issuing orders
not to run the risk of losing public confidence. dubbed as Detention Pending Investigation of Cases in criminal cases
Furthering its efforts to discipline its ranks, the Supreme Court instead of requiring the accused to execute a written waiver of rights
imposed sanctions on 10 erring members of the Judiciary in separate under Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code falls short of the measure of
administrative cases. Ordered dismissed from service, with forfeiture of responsibility expected from a judge. It is gross ignorance of the law,
benefits and perpetual disqualification from office, were a Municipal Trial pure and simple, said the Court.
Court (MTC) judge and a Regional Trial Court (RTC) process server, while The Court lamented that When the gross inefficiency springs
two sheriffs were suspended without pay. Three more judges and three from a failure to consider so basic and elemental a rule, a law, or a
clerks of court were ordered to pay fines, with stern warnings that a principle in the discharge of his or her duties, a judge is either too
repetition of the same or similar acts will be dealt with more incompetent and undeserving of the exalted position and title he or she
severely.We cannot overly emphasize our previous pronouncements holds, or the oversight or omission was deliberately done in bad faith and
that, circumscribed as it is with a heavy burden of responsibility, the in grave abuse of judicial authority.
official and nonofficial conduct required of court personnel from the The Court also meted the penalty of suspension without pay to
presiding judge to the rank and file must always be beyond reproach, Edmundo B. Barriga (Sheriff III of MTC, Branch 5, Cebu City), who was
stressed the Court in a per curiam resolution involving the dismissal from suspended for one year without pay and fined Php 20,000 for grave
service of Jaime C. Eugenio, Process Server of the RTC, Branch 123, misconduct after he had insinuated to the complainants in a civil case
Caloocan City. Eugenio was found guilty of gross misconduct for having that a pay-off of Php 50,000 could defer the execution of a writ of
solicited and received money from a complainant for the dismissal of a demolition, and after he had demolished the property subject of the
criminal case. execution despite being informed of a court order enjoining said
The Court held that it is imperative upon its personnel to demolition, and Samuel G. Basco (Sheriff IV, RTC, Branches 29 & 30,
maintain the good name and standing of the court as a true temple of Surigao City), who was suspended for six months for simple neglect of
justice, the administration of which is a sacred task. By the very nature of duty after he had failed to implement a court order directing him to
their duties and responsibilities, all those involved in it from the highest proceed with the public sale of levied properties in a civil case.
officials to the lower court employees must faithfully adhere to and The other court personnel who were disciplined by the High Court
are Atty. Romulo V. Paredes (former Clerk of Court, RTC, Branch 2 of
Bangued, Abra), who was fined Php 5,000 for simple neglect of duty after
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failing to properly supervise and manage the financial transactions in his his wife in his sworn Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth
court; Atty. Raquel G. Kho (Clerk of Court IV, RTC of Oras, Eastern Samar), (SALN).
who was fined Php 5,000 for unlawful conduct after his failure to make a In affirming the petition of the Fact-Finding and Intelligence
timely remittance of judiciary funds in his custody; Judge Benedicto G. Bureau of the Office of the Ombudsman to nullify and set aside the
Cobarde (RTC, Branch 53 of Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu), who was fined Php decision and resolution of the Court of Appeals which sought to clear
15,000, for undue delay in rendering a decision, and an additional Nestor Valeroso of criminal and administrative charges, the Court said
amount of Php 5,000, for his prolonged and repeated refusal to comply Valerosos non-disclosure in his SALN from 1995 to 2002 essentially
with the directives of the Office of the Court Administrator; Judge Edison embraced or comprehended concealment of unexplained wealth; a
F. Quintin (Executive Judge, MTC, Branch 56 of Malabon City), who was violation of RA No. 3019 otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt
fined Php 3,000 for gross inefficiency after his delayed action in an order Practices Act.
of inhibition of a fellow judge; Alexander C. Rimando (Clerk of Court IV, The Court explained that Section 8 of RA No. 3019 speaks of
Municipal Trial Court in Cities of Olongapo City), who was fined Php unlawful acquisition of wealth, the evil sought to be suppressed and
10,000 for having sent letters to a party to a civil case which created the avoided, and Section 7, which mandates full disclosure of wealth in the
impression that relief can be obtained from the courts without filing a SALN, is a means of preventing said evil and is aimed particularly at
case; and Judge Iluminada M. Ines (MTC of Sinait, Ilocos Sur), who was curtailing and minimizing the opportunities for official corruption and
fined Php 20,000 for gross ignorance of the law, after she failed to maintaining a standard of honesty in the public service. Unexplained
properly apply the rule on bail bond application in accordance with the matter normally results from non-disclosure or concealment of vital
Rules of Court. (AM No. RTJ-06-2216, Rodriguez v. Eugenio, April 20, 2007; AM No. facts.
03-1462-MTJ, Espaol v. Toledo-Mupas, April 19, 2007; AM No. P-05-2016, Salazar v. The Court added that the CA, instead of saying that Valeroso was
Barriga, April 19, 2007; AM No. P-07-2310, Sulapas v. Basco, April 19, 2007; AM No. P- denied due process, should have considered his unexplained increase in
06-2103, Office of the Court Administrator v. Paredes, April 17, 2007; AM No. P-06-
2177, Re: Report on the Financial Audit Conducted on the Books of Accounts of Atty.
net worth, a superfluity that should bolster or strengthen the charge of
Raquel G. Kho, Clerk of Court IV, RTC, Oras, Eastern Samar, April 13, 2007; AM No. RTJ- dishonesty rather than a reason to invalidate the preventive suspension
07-2042, Paquing v. Cobarde, April 19, 2007; AM No. MTJ-07-1674, Kara-an v. Lindo, order.
April 19, 1977; AM No. P-04-1926, Spouses Inot v. Rimando, April 19, 2007; and AM No. The SALN is the means to achieve the policy of accountability of
MTJ-07-1673, Savella v. Ines, April 19, 2007) all public officers in the government, the Court stressed. (G.R. No. 167828,
The Ombudsman, Fact-Finding and Intelligence Bureau, Office of the Ombudsman, and
SC Upholds Suspension of BIR Official for Non-Disclosure of Wealth Preliminary Investigation and Administrative Adjudication Bureau, Office of the
By Annie Rose A. Laborte Ombudsman v. Nestor S. Valeroso, April 2, 2007)

THE SUPREME COURT recently affirmed the preventive suspension of an


official of the Bureau of Internal Revenue for failure to disclose his
ownership of several properties as well as certain business interests of

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Bail Can Be Granted to Potential Extraditee on Basis of Clear and post bail. The RP and Hong Kong signed in 1995 an extradition treaty,
Convincing Evidence which became effective in 1997. Later, Muoz was charged before the
By Jay B. Rempillo Hong Kong Court with three counts of the offense of accepting an
advantage as agent, in violation of sec. 9 (1) (a) of the Prevention of
THE SUPREME COURT recently held that a potential extraditee may be Bribery Ordinance, Cap. 201 of Hong Kong. He also faces seven counts of
granted bail on the basis of clear and convincing evidence that the person the offense of conspiracy to defraud, penalized by the common law of
is not a flight risk and will abide with all the orders and processes of the Hong Kong.
extradition court. The Supreme Court remanded the case to the Manila RTC, Branch
Citing the various international treaties giving recognition and 8 to determine whether Muoz is entitled to bail on the basis of clear
protection to human rights, the Court saw the need to reexamine its and convincing evidence. If Muoz is not entitled to such, the trial court
ruling in Government of United States of America v. Judge Purganan that should order the cancellation of his bail bond and his immediate
limited the exercise of the right to bail to criminal proceedings. detention; and thereafter, conduct the extradition proceedings with
It said that while our extradition law does not provide for the dispatch. (GR No. 153675, Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region v.
grant of bail to an extraditee, there is no provision prohibiting him or her Judge Olalia, Jr., April 19, 2007)
from filing a motion for bail, a right under the Constitution.
The time-honored principle of pacta sunt servanda demands that SC Acquits Illiterate Fisherman of Double Murder
the Philippines honor its obligations under the Extradition By Gleo Sp. Guerra
Treaty.However, it does not necessarily mean that in keeping with its
treaty obligations, the Philippines should diminish a potential extraditees THE SUPREME COURT recently acquitted an unschooled fisherman, Jerry
rights to life, liberty, and due process. More so, where these rights are Rapeza, on the ground of insufficiency of evidence leading to reasonable
guaranteed, not only by our Constitution, but also by international doubt of two counts of murder, thereby reversing the latters conviction
conventions, to which the Philippines is a party. We should not, by the Regional Trial Court of Palawan, Puerto Princesa City as affirmed
therefore, deprive an extraditee of his right to apply for bail, provided by the Court of Appeals.
that a certain standard for the grant is satisfactorily met, the Court said. The Court held inadmissible the thumbmarked extrajudicial
RP, being a signatory to the 1996 UN General Assembly which confession executed in Filipino of Rapeza, as it was not sufficiently
adopted the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, is under established that Rapeza, who is not well-versed in Filipino, was assisted
obligation to make available to every person under detention such by an interpreter during the execution thereof. It further held that
remedies which safeguard their fundamental right to liberty, the Court Rapezas confession was not made with the assistance of competent and
held. independent counsel of his choice, as the only participation of the lawyer
The case involved the petition of the Government of Hong Kong concerned appears to be the notarization of the extrajudicial confession.
Special Administrative Region to nullify two orders by a Manila Regional Thus, the Court ruled that the lack of legal assistance, along with the
Trial Court (RTC) allowing potential extradite, Juan Antonio Muoz, to circumstance that the confession contains facts and details appearing to
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LIBERTAS ET IUSTICIA | DIGEST OF SUPREME COURTS BENCHMARK 2006

have been supplied by the police investigators themselves, belies the causing Atienzas camp to hold the invalidated elections for new party
voluntariness of the confession. It also noted that the confession does leadership.
not dovetail with the autopsy report. Finally, the Court said that no Justices Antonio T. Carpio, Dante O. Tinga, and Cancio C. Garcia
motive for the crimes can be ascribed to Rapeza. wrote separate opinions. Justice Antonio Eduardo B. Nachura took no
In conclusion, the overriding consideration in criminal cases is part as he had previously participated in the subject LP Elections prior to
not whether appellant is completely innocent, but rather whether the being appointed to the Judiciary. (Res., GR Nos. 174992 & 175546, The Liberal
quantum of evidence necessary to prove his guilt was sufficiently met. Party v. COMELEC & Atienza v. COMELEC, April 17, 2007)
With the exclusion of appellants alleged confession, we are left with no
other recourse but to acquit him of the offenses charged for the SC Clarifies Evidentiary Value of Duplicate Originals
constitutional right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty can be By Madeleine U.V.G. Avanzado
overcome only by proof beyond reasonable doubt, the Court concluded.
(GR No. 169431, People v. Rapeza, April 4, 2007) ALL NOTARIZED COPIES of deeds of conveyance are duplicate originals,
which for all legal intents and purposes may be considered as the best
SC Settles LP Leadership Controversy evidence of the transaction they embody.
By Madeleine U.V.G. Avanzado The Supreme Court recently clarified the evidentiary value of such
duplicate originals when it corrected both the appellate and trial courts
THE SUPREME COURT recently upheld Senator Franklin M. Drilons for treating two copies of the same Absolute Deed of Sale as different
leadership, over that of Mayor Jose Lito L. Atienza, Jr.s, in the Liberal documents for the purpose of determining the genuineness of the
Party (LP) claim, at the same time confirming the jurisdiction of the signatures therein. It held that the two copies presented in evidence
COMELEC over the LPs leadership issue and exercising its power of were duplicate originals as they were executed at or about the same time
judicial review over the contested COMELEC resolutions. and contained identical contents.
The Court upheld the COMELEC ruling voiding the elections held Original does not mean the first paper written, in contrast to a
by Atienza, but found that the Daza-Drilon amendments to the LP copy or transcript made later. The original depends upon the issue to be
Constitution, which effectively gave Drilon a fresh term as party proved. It is immaterial whether that document was written before or
president, were validly ratified. Thus, it overturned the COMELECs after another, was copied from another, or was itself used to copy from,
finding that Drilons position was merely hold-over in nature until it as long as its contents are the subject of inquiry. Hence, one or some of
conducted elections for a new president. Consequently, the Court held these copies are still considered as originals, and they have equal claims
that the issue as to whether the COMELEC has jurisdiction to order the LP to authenticity As a matter of practice, deeds of conveyance are
to hold the election of its officers has become academic. prepared in several copies for notarization and record purposes. After
The rift in LPs leadership began when Drilons camp withdrew notarization, the notary public retains copies pursuant to the Rules on
their support from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in July 2005, Notarial Practice, one for his record and the other for transmittal to the

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court, through Clerk of Court concerned, where he secured his notarial conspiring with public officers, may be indicted and, if found guilty, held
commission All the notarized copies are originals, the Court said. liable for violation of Section 3 (g) of RA 3019.
The case involved a contested Deed of Absolute Sale, wherein an Citing as precedents the cases of Luciano v. Estrella, Singian, Jr. v.
expert witness was presented to testify on the genuineness of the Sandiganbayan, and Domingo v. Sandiganbayan, the Court held that its
signatures contained therein. Differing factual findings of the appellate ruling is in consonance with the avowed policy of the anti-graft law to
and trial courts led the High Court to delve into the facts of the case. repress certain acts of public officers and private persons alike
Finding the testimony presented to be inconsistent and unconvincing, it constituting graft or corrupt practices or which may lead thereto. (GR No.
upheld the validity of the contested sale as there was no clear, positive, 172602, Go v. Sandiganbayan, April 13, 2007)
and convincing evidence of forgery that would impugn the due execution
of the contested deed, which remains the best evidence of the
transaction. (GR No. 162864, Spouses Alfaro v. Court of Appeals, March 28, 2007) May 2007
SC OKs Graft Charge Against PIATCO Chairman and President
By Gleo Sp. Guerra
SC Continues Purging the Judiciary
By Katrina M. Martinez
THE SUPREME COURT recently upheld the information for violation of
Section 3(g) of RA 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt ANY CONDUCT that would be a bane to the public trust and confidence
Practices Act, against Henry T. Go, Chairman and President of Philippine reposed in the Judiciary cannot be countenanced.
International Air Terminals Co., Inc. (PIATCO). Thus said the Supreme Court as it intensified its efforts in
Along with former Secretary of Transportation and cleansing the Judiciary by disciplining eight court officials and employees,
Communication Vicente C. Rivera, Go had been charged by the including a judge. Dismissed from service with forfeiture of all benefits
Ombudsman in the Sandiganbayan regarding the Amended and Restated and privileges and with prejudice to re-employment in any government
Concession Agreement (ARCA) for the construction of the Ninoy Aquino agency were a Municipal Circuit Trial Court (MCTC) Branch Clerk of Court,
International Passenger Terminal III (NAIA-IPT III), alleged to be an MCTC Junior Process Server, and a Regional Trial Court (RTC) Clerk III.
manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the government of the The High Court also suspended an interpreter for two months, ordered a
Republic of the Philippines. judge to pay a fine, forfeited all the retirement benefits of a retired RTC
The charge was a result of the May 5, 2003 ruling of the Court clerk, and dropped from the rolls two other court employees.
declaring, among others, the ARCA null and void for being contrary to No position demands greater moral righteousness and
public policy and that Paircargo, PIATCOs predecessor-in-interest, lacked uprightness from its occupant than a judicial office, the High Court
the requisite financial capacity to bid for the NAIA-IPT III project. emphasized in a per curiam resolution concerning the dismissal from
In a 20-page decision penned by Justice Romeo J. Callejo, Sr., the service of Justafina Hope T. Laya, Clerk III of the Office of the Clerk of
SC Third Division held that private persons, like petitioner Go, when Court RTC, Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya, and the forfeiture of the
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LIBERTAS ET IUSTICIA | DIGEST OF SUPREME COURTS BENCHMARK 2006

retirement benefits of Benilda M. Maddela, former Clerk IV of the said liability, in violation of the well-established principle that payment of civil
office. Both Laya and Maddela were found guilty of dishonesty and grave liability does not extinguish criminal liability.
misconduct for having appropriated for their personal use monies from The High Court also dropped from the rolls Lolita B. Batadlan,
the Judiciary Development Fund, the Fiduciary Fund, the Clerk of Court Court Stenographer III of RTC, Branch 26 of Surallah, South Cotabato, and
General Fund, and the Sheriffs General Fund of the RTC of Bayombong Fernandita B. Borja, Clerk of Court of MCTC, Branch 15 of Bilar Bohol.
totalling Php4,009,351.09. Maddela and Laya were also ordered to jointly Batadlan incurred an unsatisfactory performance rating for three
and severally restitute the funds within 30 days from notice. consecutive periods from January 2004 to June 2005 while Borja was
The Court stressed that the nature and responsibilities of public found to have been continuously absent from work without approved
officers enshrined in the Constitution and oft-repeated in our case law leave since August 2004.
are not mere rhetoric to be taken as idealistic sentiments as the same Statistics from the Office of the Court Administrator, the Office of
are standards and objectives that should correspond with actual deeds. Administrative Services, and the Court of Appeals show that from January
Also dismissed from service were Jerry V. Adolfo, Junior Process to April this year, a total of 45 judicial employees, have been
Server of the MCTC of Magarao-Canaman, Camarines Sur, and Darryl C. administratively disciplined by the High Court, with actions taken ranging
Montealto, Branch Clerk of Court of the MCTC of Sapang Dalaga- from admonition to dismissal from service. This includes an Associate
Concepcion, Misamis Occidental. Adolfo was found guilty of gross Justice of the Court of Appeals (CA), 14 judges, and 30 rank-and-file
inefficiency, habitual absenteeism, and failure to serve court processes, employees of the 14 judges_seven belong to the second-level (RTC)
while Montealto was found guilty of misconduct for his failure to turn courts while the remaining seven are from the first-level (Metropolitan
over to the police a pistol which formed part of the prosecutions Trial Court, Municipal Trial Court in Cities, Municipal Trial Court, MCTC)
evidence in a criminal case, having instead kept the said pistol in his courts.
personal custody for more than three years from the termination of the Of the 30 rank-and-file personnel, two are from the Supreme
said case. Court, seven are from the CA, and the remaining 21 are from the second-
The Court also meted the penalty of two-month suspension and first-level courts. (AM No. 06-2-125-RTC, Re: Dropping from the Rolls of Ms.
without pay to Jose Rene C. Vasquez, Interpreter III of RTC, Branch 42, Lolita B. Batadlan, April 13, 2007; AM No. 06-1-10-MCTC, Re: Absence Without Official
Bacolod City, for conduct unbecoming of a court employee, i.e., Leave (AWOL) of Ms. Fernandita B. Borja, April 13, 2007; AM No. P-04-1924, Office of
the Court Administrator v. Laya, April 27, 2007; AM No. P-06-2231, Clerk of Court
intentionally bumping a woman, hitting her left breast, and kicking the Rodrigo-Ebron v. Adolfo, April 27, 2007; AM No. 06-8-279-MCTC, Report on the Judicial
said woman when she fought back. Audit Conducted at the MCTC-Sapang Dalaga-Concepcion, Misamis Occidental, April 27,
Another court personnel disciplined by the Court was Judge 2007; AM No. P-07-2313, Nicopior v. Vasquez, April 27, 2007; and AM No. RTJ-02-1735,
Evelyn L. Dimaculangan-Querijero, Presiding Judge of RTC, Branch 26, Spouses Cabico v. Judge Dimaculangan-Querijero, April 27, 2007)
Cabanatuan City, who was fined Php21,000 for gross ignorance of the
law. Among others, she dismissed a criminal complaint against two
accused in a rape case after the latter had paid their individual civil

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LIBERTAS ET IUSTICIA | DIGEST OF SUPREME COURTS BENCHMARK 2006

CJ Puno to Special Court Judges: Protect the Right to Life Quisumbing, University of the Philippines Office of Legal Aid Director
By Jay B. Rempillo Atty. Theodore O. Te, and PHILJA Professors Sedfrey M. Candelaria and
Herminio Harry L. Roque.
CHIEF JUSTICE REYNATO S. PUNO has urged the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Ninety-nine RTCs nationwide have been designated as special
judges who will handle cases involving killings of political activists and courts to handle cases of extrajudicial killings.
media members to always uphold the right to life, the most fundamental
of all rights, as special court judges. Intel Entitled to Tax Refund, Leniency in VAT Implementation
Speaking during the closing ceremonies of the two-day Seminar- Imperative
Workshop for Judges on Extrajudicial Killings and Enforced By Madeleine U.V.G. Avanzado
Disappearances held at the Manila Pavilion Hotel, United Nations
Avenue, Manila last May 8, Chief Justice Puno stressed that political, THERE IS NO LAW, internal revenue rule, or regulation requiring a Value
economic, and all other rights merely add quality to life and depend on Added Tax (VAT)-registered entity engaged in export sales to obtain
the pre-existence of life itself for their operation. authority from the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to print its sales
It is with our checkered history, with our generous contribution invoices or requiring such authority to be reflected or indicated therein.
to humanitys continuing struggle to enthrone human rights in the hearts Thus the Supreme Court held when it ordered the Court of Tax
of all as backdrop, that you must view your distinct call as special judges Appeals (CTA) to determine and compute the tax credit or refund due to
to decide extrajudicial killings. You are special judges because you are to Intel Technology Philippines (Intel) for its unutilized VAT input taxes on
protect the most special, the most important right of man the right to domestic purchases of goods and services attributable to its zero-rated
life, the Chief Justice said. sales.
The Supreme Court, through its education arm the Philippine Although finding Intel to be legally entitled to its claim for refund
Judicial Academy (PHILJA) in partnership with the Commission on Human or issuance of a tax credit certificate, the tax and appellate courts
Rights (CHR), conducted the extensive seminar-workshop for the first previously denied its claim on the ground that it purportedly failed to
batch of RTC judges who will handle extrajudicial killings. The first batch comply with invoicing requirements under Sections 113 and 237 of the
came from the National Capital Judicial Region and the First and Second National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC) since the Intels invoices do not
Judicial Regions. Two other batches will undergo the same seminar bear the BIR authority to print, and in some cases failed to indicate Intels
within the year. VAT-Registered Entity Tax Identification Number (TIN-V). This prompted
The seminar is aimed at addressing the procedural concerns of the High Court to declare that law and revenue regulations do not
special court judges in identifying and deciding cases on extrajudicial provide that failure to reflect or indicate in the invoices or receipts the
killings. BIR authority to print, as well as the TIN-V, would result in the outright
The lecturers in the seminar-workshop are experts in the fields of invalidation of these invoices or receipts. Neither is it provided therein
International Law, Human Rights Law, and Humanitarian Law. They that such omission or failure would result in the outright denial of a claim
include Justice Adolfo S. Azcuna, CHR Chairperson Purificacion V. for tax credit/refund.
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LIBERTAS ET IUSTICIA | DIGEST OF SUPREME COURTS BENCHMARK 2006

It bears reiterating that while the pertinent provisions of the Tax Less is More: Benchmark and CourtNews Merge
Code and the rules and regulations implementing them require entities By Jed M. Eva III
engaged in business to secure a BIR authority to print invoices or receipts
and to issue duly registered invoices or receipts, it is not specifically BEGINNING THIS MONTH, CourtNews will be
required that the BIR authority to print be reflected or indicated therein. merged with Benchmark under the latters
Indeed, what is important with respect to the BIR authority to print is new masthead.
that it has been secured or obtained by the taxpayer, and that invoices or CourtNews was introduced in
receipts are duly registered What applies to petitioner, as a PEZA- November 2003 as a special supplement to
registered export enterprise, is the Courts pronouncement that leniency Benchmark at the height of the attempt to
in the implementation of the VAT is an imperative, precisely to spur impeach then Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide,
economic growth in the country and attain global competitiveness as Jr. It featured in-depth articles explaining
envisioned in our laws. The incentives offered to PEZA enterprises, the Courts side in the Judiciary
among which are tax exemptions and tax credits, ultimately redound to Development Fund controversy.
the benefit of the national economy, enticing as they do more In January 2004, CourtNews was
enterprises to invest and do business within the zones, thus creating made a regular monthly publication to
more employment opportunities and infusing more dynamism to the complement Benchmark, which at that time
vibrant interplay of market forces, the Court said. was released bi-monthly. The audiences of
Setting aside the Court of Appeals decision affirming the CTAs the two publications were also redefined
denial of Intels claim for refund or issuance of a tax credit certificate in Benchmark would primarily cater to court employees, while CourtNews
the amount of Php11,770,181.70, the High Court found that Intel, as a would focus on the Courts external publics.
VAT-registered and Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA)-registered In September 2005 in response to the fast clip of events and
entity engaged in the export of advanced and large-scale integrated activities of the valedictory year of then Chief Justice Davide, the
circuits, is entitled to its claim representing the input taxes it has paid on Benchmark began coming out monthly as a four-page spread. Since then,
domestic purchases of goods and services for the period of April 1, 1998 the PIO has come out with two publications every month.
to June 30, 1998, in accordance with the NIRC as amended by RA 9337. Staff members from both publications will now collaborate to
(GR No. 166732, Intel Technology Philippines v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, April come out with one publication that will provide audiences, within and
27, 2007) outside the Court, with important and relevant information about the SC
and its programs and activities.

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Fixed Savings Deposit Subject to Documentary Stamp Tax SC Orders Comelec to Disclose Party-List Nominees Names
By Madeleine U.V.G. Avanzado By Jay B. Rempillo

A PASSBOOK representing an interest- earning deposit account issued by UPHOLDING THE PEOPLES RIGHT TO INFORMATION on matters of public
a bank qualifies as a certificate of deposit drawing interest and is concern, the Supreme Court has compelled the Commission on Elections
therefore subject to Documentary Stamp Tax (DST) under the National (Comelec) to disclose the names of the nominees of the accredited party-
Internal Revenue Code (NIRC). list groups or organizations participating in the May 14 party-list
Affirming the Court of Tax Appeals, the Supreme Court has upheld elections.
a deficiency assessment of Php71,005,757.77 against the International The Comelec, which initially refused to reveal said information,
Exchange Bank (IEB), representing deficiency DST on its Fixed Savings had complied with the Courts directive and released the names of the
Deposits (FSD) for the years 1996 and 1997. The Court found that sec. nominees of the party-list groups before the May 14 polls.
179 (180) of the NIRC, as amended by RA 9243, specifically includes In a unanimous decision penned by Justice Cancio C. Garcia, the
certificates or other evidences of deposits that are either drawing Court En Banc said that the Comelec commited grave abuse of
interest significantly higher than the regular savings deposit taking into discretion when it refused the legitimate demands of the petitioners for a
consideration the size of the deposit and the risks involved or drawing list of the nominees of the party-list groups subject of their respective
interest and having a specific maturity date as one type of debt positions. It said that the Comelec has a constitutional duty to disclose
instruments subject to DST, to which the FSD belongs. and release the names of the nominees of the party-list groups.
The Court said that not all certificates of deposit are negotiable. The Court cited section 7, Article III of the Constitution (the right
A certificate of deposit may or may not be negotiable as gathered from of people to information on matters of public concern) and section 28,
the use of the conjunction or, instead of and, in its definition. A Article II of the Constitution (the State adopts and implements a policy of
certificate of deposit may be payable to the depositor, to the order of the full public disclosure of all its transactions involving public interest) as its
depositor, or to some other person or his order In any event, the basis in ordering the poll body to divulge the said names.
negotiable character of any and all documents under Section 180 is The Court noted that no national security or like concerns is involved in
immaterial for purposes of imposing DST. the disclosure of the names of the nominees of the party-list groups in
To claim that time deposits evidenced by passbooks should not question. It said that the prohibition imposed on the Comelec not to
be subject to DST is a clear evasion of the rule on equality and uniformity disclose the names under section 7 of RA 7941 (Party-list System Act) is
in taxation that requires the imposition of DST on documents evidencing limited in scope and duration as it extends only to the certified list which
transactions of the same kind, in this particular case, on all certificates of the same provision requires to be posted in the polling places on election
deposits drawing interest, the Court said. (GR No. 171266, International day. It further said that to stretch the coverage of the prohibition to the
Exchange Bank v. CIR, April 4, 2007) absolute is to read into the law something that is not intended. (GR No.
177271, BA-RA 7941 v. Comelec; GR No. 177314, Rosales v. Comelec, May 4, 2007)

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Award of Damages vs. Electric Cooperative Upheld SC Unseats Mabalacat, Pampanga Mayor
By Gleo Sp. Guerra By Jay B. Rempillo

THE SUPREME COURT has affirmed both the Court of Appeals and the THE SUPREME COURT has unseated Mabalacat Mayor Marino Boking
Regional Trial Court in holding an electric cooperative liable for damages Morales whom it found ineligible to have run in the 2004 elections as
for disconnecting an electric meter of one of its subscribers for alleged being a fourth-term candidate and ordered the vice-mayor of Mabalacat,
tampering without notice to the latter. Pampanga to immediately head its local government until June 30, 2007.
In a decision penned by Justice Ma. Alicia Austria-Martinez for the The Court granted the petitions of lawyers Venancio Q. Rivera and
Courts Third Division, Samar Electric Cooperative, Inc. (SAMELCO) was Normandick De Guzman to cancel Morales Certificate of Candidacy
ordered to pay jointly and severally with its inspector Baltazar Dacula a (COC) dated December 30, 2003.
total of Php37,000.00 in damages to Estrella Quijano and to immediately The Court also dismissed the petition of mayoral candidate Anthony Dee
reconnect the latters electric meter upon her request. for being moot since Morales was disqualified from continuing to serve
The Court held electricity to be a basic necessity, the generation as Mabalacat mayor.
and distribution of which is imbued with public interest, and its provider The Court found that Morales had served as mayor for three
is a public utility subject to strict regulation by the State in the exercise of consecutive terms immediately preceding the 2004 elections. Citing Ong
police power. Failure to comply with these regulations will give rise to the v. Alegre, the Court said that the three-term limit rule as provided for in
presumption of bad faith or abuse of right. In this case, the Court noted RA 7160 or the Local Government Code applies to Morales, making him
that under the law in force at the time of disconnection, PD 401, ineligible to run for a fourth consecutive term.
SAMELCO should only resort to disconnection after notice of differential Having found Morales ineligible, the Court said the formers COC
billing to Quijano and affording her opportunity to settle the same, which for the 2004 elections should also be cancelled per sections 6 and 7 of RA
it had failed to do. It also failed to give her notice when it disconnected 6646 (The Electoral Reforms Law of 1987). Morales ran as candidate for
her electric meter. mayor of Mabalacat, Pampanga for the term commencing July 1, 2004 to
The purpose of the notice requirement is to afford electric June 30, 2007. (GR No. 167591, Rivera v. Comelec; GR No. 170577, Dee v. Comelec,
consumers opportunity to witness the inspection and protect themselves May 9, 2007)
from contrived discovery of tampering. They must also be allowed to
dispute any accusation of electricity pilferage. This purpose is not served Same Benefits for INP, PNP Retirees
by allowing inspection teams to swoop down on unsuspecting By Arcie M. Sercado
consumers, the Court ruled. (GR No. 144474, Samar II Electric Cooperative, Inc. v.
Quijano, April 27, 2007) INTEGRATED NATIONAL POLICE (INP) retirees should have the same
retirement benefits as those of Philippine National Police retirees (PNP).
Thus the Supreme Court held when it affirmed the Court of
Appeals, which declared that the INP retirees are entitled to the same

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retirement benefits accorded upon retirees of the PNP under RA 6975, estafa complainant on the ground that the newsletter, upon which the
An Act Establishing the Philippine National Police under a Reorganized complaint was based, was considered privileged communication.
Department of the Interior and Local Government, as amended by RA Complainant Vicente C. Ponce previously filed an estafa case
8551, The Philippine National Police Reform and Reorganization Act of against Nicasio I. Alcantara. Ponce submitted a newsletter to the
1998. investigating prosecutor as an annex to his complaint-affidavit, discussing
The Court ordered the Department of Budget and Management how Alcantara defrauded him of his shares in the Iligan Cement
and concerned government agencies to implement the proper Corporation. This in turn prompted Alcantara to file a libel complaint
adjustments on the INP retirees retirement benefits. It found that the against Ponce.
INP was never abolished by RA 6975 but was, instead absorbed, The Court found that the newsletter was presented during the
transferred, and/or merged, along with the other offices comprising the preliminary investigation of the estafa case, thus making it a form of
Philippine Constabulary (PC)-INP, with the PNP. As the INP was merely privileged communication which consequently exempts it from libel.
transformed into the PNP, its retirees cannot be excluded from the Referring to the United States case of Borg v. Boas, the Court stressed
retirement benefits accorded to PNP retirees. that preliminary steps leading to judicial action of an official nature have
The Court likewise found that RA 6975 provides for its retroactive been given absolute privilege.
application to those who had retired prior to its effectivity. The Court explained that the controversial statements in the
Prior to the Courts decision in this case, INP retirees and PNP newsletter were made in the context of a criminal complaint against
retirees of the same rank had a disparity in their monthly pensions of as petitioner and were disclosed only to the official investigating the
high as Php10,628. complaint and thus, were relevant to the investigation.
The PNP was created through RA 6975 on December 13, 1990, to Privileged communication is communication which takes place within the
establish a police force that is national in scope and purely civilian in context of a protected relationship, such as that between an attorney
character, and to erase the stigma spawned by the militarization of the and a client or in this case, between a complainant and a prosecutor and
police force under the PC-INP structure. (GR No. 169466, Department of Budget cannot be used as basis for a libel case. (GR No. 156183, Alcantara v. Ponce,
and Management v. Manilas Finest Retirees Association, Inc., May 9, 2007) February 28, 2007)

P.I. Matters Held to be Privileged Communication SC Disciplines 3 Lawyers


By Arcie M. Sercado By Maribeth C. Cruz

MATERIALS PRESENTED during preliminary investigation cannot be used Fulfilling its duty to preserve the integrity of the Philippine Bar, the
as a basis for libel. Supreme Court recently suspended two lawyers and reprimanded
Thus the Supreme Court held when it upheld the lower courts another for separate offenses.
order granting the withdrawal of the information for libel against an The Court ordered Atty. Pablo C. Cruzs one-year suspension from
the practice of law for violating Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional
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Responsibility when he entered into a second marriage while his first The Court said that the filing of the complaint was premature
marriage was still subsisting. Rule 1.01 states that A lawyer shall not since the Regional Trial Court had yet to determine and define the
engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral and deceitful conduct. residue it was referring to in its order. (AC No. 6854, Dulalia, Jr., v. Cruz, April 27,
Cruz was also found to have violated Canon 5 of the same Code, 2007; AC No. 1666, Balatbat v. Arias, April 13, 2007; AC No. 6691, Briones v. Jimenez,
which requires all lawyers to keep abreast of legal developments. He April 27, 2007)
had claimed ignorance of the fact that the Family Code was already in
effect when he entered into his second marriage in 1989. A Must-Read re AWOL, Habitually Absent, and Tardy Employees
Atty. Edgardo S. Arias for his part was slapped with a one-month By Albert N. Lavandero
suspension for violating the Code of Professional Responsibility when he
failed to inform his client, Luisito Balatbat, of the status of the latters ENSHRINED IN SECTION 1, Article XI of the Constitution is the credo for
case, which had lost. The Court held that Arias actuations violated Rule people working in government: Public office is a public trust. Public
18.04, which mandates that a lawyer must keep the client informed of officers and employees must at all times be accountable to the people,
the status of the case. serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty, and efficiency,
Likewise, Arias was found negligent for his failure to attend a act with patriotism and justice, and lead modest lives.
hearing of said case after he requested for its re-scheduling. Thus, Supreme Court (SC) employees who are absent without
The Court also found that Arias did not properly withdraw as official leave (AWOL), incur habitual absenteeism, habitual tardiness, or
counsel for his client. The only way to be relieved as counsel is to have unauthorized absences should know the consequences of their
either the written conformity of his client or an order from the court infractions.
relieving him of his duties as counsel, in accordance with Rule 138, AWOL. Section 35, Rule XVI of the Omnibus Rules Implementing
Section 26 of the Rules of Court, the Court said. Book V of Executive Order No. 292 (Leave of Absences) states that an
Atty. Jacinto D. Jimenez for his part was reprimanded for filing a employee absent for at least 30 days without approved leave shall be
premature criminal complaint against another lawyer, Atty. George C. considered on AWOL and shall be dropped from the service after due
Briones, in a move to compel the latter to deliver to his (Jimenezs) notice. However, the employee shall be informed, at the latters address
clients the residue of the estate of the late Luz J. Henson, which was appearing on the 201 files or the latters last known written address, of
under Briones administration, as mandated by the testate Court. the employees separation from the service not later than five days from
The filing of the criminal complaint was in violation of Rule 19.01 its effectivity. However, when the exigencies of the service require the
of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which states that A lawyer employees immediate presence and the former fails/refuses to return to
shall employ only fair and honest means to attain the lawful objectives of the service, the head of office may drop the same from the service even
his client and shall not present, participate in presenting or threaten to prior to the expiration of the 30-day period above stated.
present unfounded criminal charges to obtain an improper advantage in An employees being AWOL will be reflected in the latters service
any case or proceeding. record. For unauthorized absences of less than 30 days, it has been the
procedure at the SC-Office of Administrative Services-Leave Division to

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inform the OAS-Complaints and Investigation Division of such Tardiness. When an employee fails to report on a time set as his
unauthorized absences by serving the employee at the latters last known official time of arrival, he is considered tardy. It is committed by an
address on record a Return-to-Work Order signed by the Chief employee if he incurs tardiness, regardless of the number of minutes, ten
Administrative Officer. Failure on his part to report for work within the (10) times a month for at least two (2) months in a semester or at least
period stated in the Order shall be a valid ground to drop him from the two (2) consecutive months during the year. [HOMECILLO, Carmelito v.,
rolls. (2nd par. Sec. 63, amended by CSC MC Nos. 41, s. 1998 and 14, s. CSC Resolution No. 97-0791, January 28, 1997, MC No. 4, s. 1991] To
1999.) make sure that your half days are not considered tardiness or undertime,
It must be noted that filing a letter of resignation by the file the corresponding leave.
concerned employee does not automatically clear the latter, since the Where the position an employee holds not only requires the
resignation letter has to go through proper channels and must be with latter to report for duty at a prescribed time, but more significantly, the
the recommending approval of the employees immediate superior or exigency of public service so requires it, the employees tardiness in
the Chief of Office. The resignation letter will then be forwarded to the office irreparably prejudices the government service, taking into account
SC through the Clerk of Court for approval by the respective Chair of the the frequency and regularity of its commission. An employees
Courts three divisions. While the employee concerned is awaiting action unauthorized tardiness constitutes either a grave offense or a light
on the letter of resignation by the SC, the employee must still report to offense, depending on its depravity and effects on the government
work in order that the government service may not be prejudiced, service as defined by the agency head. [Rule IV, Section 52, Paragraph
otherwise the employee will be declared on AWOL. (A)/(C), No. 4; Parungao, Edelwina DG., CSC Resolution No. 00-1397, June
In 2006, six SC employees were dropped from the rolls; one in 13, 2000]
2005; and five in 2004. Frequent unauthorized tardiness or habitual tardiness is penalized
Habitual Absenteeism. An officer or an employee commits with a reprimand for the 1st offense; suspension of one to 30 days for
habitual absenteeism if he incurs unauthorized absences exceeding the the 2nd offense; and dismissal from the service for the third offense.
allowable monthly leave credit of two and a half days under the leave law Moreover, Rule 17, sec. 8 (Government Office Hours) of the
for at least three months in a semester or at least three consecutive Omnibus Rule Implementing Book 5 of #) No. 292 and Other Pertinent
months during the year. [Sec. 22 (q), Rule XIV, Omnibus Rules Civil Service Laws states that Officers and employees who have incurred
Implementing Book V of Executive Order No. 292 (Administrative Code of tardiness and undertime regardless of the number of minutes per day,
1987) reiterated in Memorandum Circular No. 4, series of 1991; GALDO, exceeding 10 times a month for two consecutive in a semester shall be
Ruben Q., CSC Resolution No. 97-1823, March 11, 1997] subject to disciplinary action. (*Amended by CSC Memo Circular No. 19,
In 2006, two employees were fined by the Court for habitual Series of 1999)
absenteeism. In 2005, one employee was fined, while another was In year 2006, 13 were reprimanded; 12, severely reprimanded;
suspended for six months. The year 2004 recorded no employee four, suspended; 21, sternly warned; and two, fined. Year 2005 saw 14
penalized for the said offense. reprimanded and two suspended employees. Twenty-eight Court

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employees were reprimanded, 12 were suspended, and one was fined in As its drive towards a corruption-free judiciary continues, the
2004. Supreme Court recently subjected to disciplinary action five judges and
Unauthorized Absences. Rule XVI of the Omnibus Rules nine court personnel for various administrative offenses.
Implementing Book V of Executive Order No. 292 [LEAVE OF ABSENCES] The Court suspended Judge Henry J. Trocino and Court
also states that An official/employee who is absent without approved Stenographers Emezer Arellano and Evelyn Montoyo, all of the Bago City,
leave shall not be entitled to receive his salary corresponding to the Negros Occidental Regional Trial Court, Branch 62, and Silvino R. Malana,
period of his unauthorized leave of absence. It is understood, however Jr., Sheriff IV of the Tuguegarao City RTC.
that his absence shall no longer be deducted from his accumulated leave Judge Trocino was suspended for three months after he was
credits, if there are any. found guilty of undue delay in rendering decisions, aggravated by the fact
The Rule also provides that When ever the application for leave that he made untruthful statements in his Monthly Certificates of
of absence, including terminal leave, is not acted upon by the head of Service.
agency or his duly authorized representative within five (5) working days An audit team from the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA)
after receipt hereof, the application for leave of absences shall be found that Judge Trocino failed to decide 71 cases submitted for decision
deemed approved (Amended by CSC MC No. 41., s. 1998). in its first audit in July 2003, 33 of which remained undecided during a
In 2006, one employee was dismissed for this offense. In 2005, second audit in July 2004. Nevertheless, Judge Trocino stated in each of
one employee was suspended, and another (1) was fined. In 2004, one his Monthly Certificates of Service for the months of November 2004 to
case was filed, but was dismissed. February 2005 that he had decided all special proceedings, applications,
petitions, motions, and all civil and criminal cases which had been under
(Editors Note: Atty. Lavandero is Court Attorney IV at the SC-OAS-Complaints and his submission for decision or determination for a period of ninety (90)
Investigation Division.) days or more.
Arellano and Montoyo were both suspended for one month
without salaries and benefits after the High Court found them guilty of
June 2007 simple neglect of duty for their failure to transcribe their respective
stenographic notes in a total of 97 cases.
The Court also suspended Sheriff Malana for one month and one
SC Disciplines More Judges, Court Personnel day for simple neglect of duty after the latter failed to make a return of
By Katrina M. Martinez the writ of execution in a civil case as required by the Rules of Court.
Also subject to administrative sanctions were Judge Edgardo L.
THE NATURE AND RESPONSIBILITIES of men and women in the Catilo, former Acting Presiding Judge of the Bago City RTC, Branch 62,
Judiciaryare neither mere jargons nor idealistic sentiments, but working who was fined Php20,000 for undue delay in rendering decisions after it
standards and attainable goals that should be matched with actual was found that he failed to decide 50 cases in the July 2003 OCA audit, 43
deeds. of which remained undecided during the second audit in July 2005; Judge
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Godofredo G. Hernandez, Sr. of the Pinamalayan, Oriental Mindoro, date as required by law, and Eusebio A. Oaferina, Accountant I of the
Municipal Trial Court (MTC), who was fined Php20,000 for gross Accounting Division, Fiscal Management and Budget Office of the
ignorance of the law and procedure after he issued warrants of arrests Supreme Court, who was dropped from the rolls for having been on
notwithstanding the lack of both a preliminary investigation and probable unauthorized absence since February 1, 2007.
cause, and for violating the right to due process of the accused in a The recent stream of imposition of administrative penalties and
number of related criminal cases; Judge Deogracias K. Del Rosario of the disciplinary action on court personnel is part of the ongoing efforts of the
Patnongon, Antique Municipal Circuit Trial Court (MCTC), who was fined High Court to curb and punish corruption in the Judiciary.
Php20,000 for undue delay in the disposition of a civil case falling under Court Administrator Christopher O. Lock notes that while we
the Rules on Summary Procedure after it was found that he had rendered have a very uncompromising Chief Justice, we also need the full
a decision in the said civil case after the lapse of three years, which was cooperation of other members of the Judiciary in eliminating the problem
clearly beyond the 30-day period prescribed by the Rules; Judge of corruption. (AM No. P-07-2290, Malsi v. Malana, Jr., May 25, 2007; AM No. RTJ-
Francisco C. Gedorio, Jr. of the Ormoc City RTC, Branch 12, who was 05-1955, Re: Anonymous Complaint Dated February 18, 2005 of a Court Personnel
reprimanded and fined Php5,000 for conduct unbecoming of a judge Against Judge Francisco C. Gedorio, Jr., RTC, Branch 12, Ormoc City, May 25, 2007; AM
No. P-06-2135, Paguyo v. Gatbunton, May 25, 2007; AM No. RTJ-05-1936, Office of the
after he was found to have embarrassed persons and used insulting and Court Administrator v. Trocino, May 28, 2007; AM No. 2007-05-SC, Re: Dropping from
insensitive language (i.e., punyeta, animal, bakla, and bullshit) in the Rolls of Mr. Eusebio A. Oaferina, June 5, 2007; AM No. MTJ-06-1628, Gutierrez v.
his court; Atty. Josephine Mutia-Haggad, Clerk of Court of the Bago City Hernandez, Sr., June 8, 2007; AM No. MTJ-07-1662, Balajedeong v. Del Rosario, June 8,
RTC, Branch 62, who was fined Php5,000 for simple neglect of duty after 2007; AM No. P-03-1672, De Vera Jr. v. Rimando, June 8, 2007; AM No. P-05-2010,
she failed to supervise and follow-up other court employees of their Spouses Almacha v. Payumo, June 8, 2007)
obligations; Peter A. De Vera, Clerk of Court III, and Alexander C.
Rimando, Clerk of Court IV, both of the Olongapo City MTC in Cities, SC Clarifies Conditions for Discharge of State Witness
Office of the Clerk of Court, who were fined Php1,000 each for simple By Katrina M. Martinez
misconduct after the two engaged in a shouting match, with one even
cursing the other, inside the premises of the court; Rodolfo V. Payumo, THE TESTIMONY OF A PROSPECTIVE state witness is not required to be
Sheriff IV of the Quezon City RTC, Branch 93, who was fined Php5,000 for substantially corroborated by other prosecution witnesses who are not
violation of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials among the accused in the same criminal case. Otherwise, the condition
and Employees after the Court found that he had uttered statements to a that there must be no other direct evidence available for the proper
complainant in an ejectment case which insinuated that he could have prosecution of the offense committed, except the testimony of the state
spared the complainants from being ejected if they had approached witness will be rendered nugatory.
him; Charlie S. Gatbunton, Sheriff IV of the Balanga, Bataan RTC, Branch Thus the Supreme Court First Division, through Chief Justice
4, who was fined Php10,000 for gross ignorance of the law after he was Reynato S. Puno, clarified when it affirmed the decision of the Court of
found to have conducted the auction sale of a mortgaged property Appeals discharging accused Feliciano Abutin and Domingo Tampelix
without publishing a new Notice of Sheriffs Sale with the new auction from the information in a murder case to become state witnesses.

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The Court held that the corroborative evidence required by rules The Court also held that the CA erred in not dismissing PEAs
on the discharge of an accused to be a state witnesse does not have to petition for certiorari, prohibition, and mandamus for being the wrong
consist of the exact same evidence that will be testified on by the remedy since the RTCs orders fixing the just compensation and denying
anticipated state witnesses. We have ruled that a conspiracy is more PEAs motion for reconsideration, respectively, are final in nature and
readily proved by the acts of a fellow criminal than by any other should instead be appealed. (GR No. 170740, Tan v. Republic, May 25, 2007)
methodEven if the confirmatory testimony only applies to some
particulars, we can properly infer that the witness has told the truth in Mercury Drug Liable for Selling Wrong Medication
other respects. It is enough that the testimony of a co-conspirator is By Arcie M. Sercado
corroborated by some other witness or evidence, the Court said. (GR No.
143093, Salvanera v. People, May 21, 2007) THE SUPREME COURT recently ordered Mercury Drug Corporation
(Mercury Drug) to pay Php50,000 and Php25,000 in moral and exemplary
SC Orders PEA to Pay Php94 Million in Just Compensation damages, respectively, due to its employees error in selling the wrong
By Gleo Sp. Guerra medicine to a customer. As a result, the customer fell asleep on the
wheel and had an accident.
THE SUPREME COURT recently ordered the Public Estates Authority (PEA) In a decision penned by Justice Angelina Sandoval-Guttierez, the
to pay Php94,380,000.00 as just compensation for the property on which Courts First Division found that respondent Sebastian M. Baking would
the southern abutment of the Zapote bridge of the Manila-Cavite Coastal not have fallen asleep and lost control of his car had the employee of
Road had been constructed. Mercury Drug issued the correct medication. Thus, the Court found
In a decision penned by Justice Angelina Sandoval-Gutierrez, the Mercury Drug liable for the resulting injuries as its employees negligence
Courts First Division reversed the Court of Appeals (CA) and reinstated implies that there has also been negligence on its part.
the orders of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 202 of Las Pias Baking, who was diagnosed with high blood sugar and triglyceride
when it held that PEA should pay the propertys owner Julieta P. Tan the in November 1993 was sold Dormicum, a potent sleeping tablet, instead
said propertys zonal valuation at Php20,000 per square meter when PEA of the prescribed Diamicron, in an Alabang branch of the Mercury Drug
filed its petition for expropriation in 2003. The Court said that the CA Corporation because the latters sales representative had misread his
erred in ruling that the PEAs taking of the property occurred in 1985 and prescription. Unaware that he was given the wrong medicine, Baking
that just compensation should be based on the zonal valuation in that took one pill of Dormicum for three consecutive days. On the third day,
year (Php2,000 per square meter). It noted that PEAs entry into the he fell asleep on the wheel, causing his car to collide with another
property in 1985 was not for the purpose of expropriating the property vehicle. (GR No. 156037, Mercury Drug Corporation v. Baking, May 25, 2007)
but on condition that it should pay a monthly rental of Php10,000.00 and
that, up to the present, no agreement had been reached for the sale of
the property to PEA.

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Administrative Proceedings: Not Arena for Squabbling Lawyers party-list representatives and four private individuals implicated in an
By Madeleine U.V.G. Avanzado alleged foiled plot to overthrow the Arroyo administration on February
24, 2006 on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the EDSA Revolution.
MUTUAL BICKERING and unjustified recriminations between attorneys In a decision penned by Justice Antonio T. Carpio, the Courts
detract from the dignity of the legal profession and will not receive Second Division granted the consolidated petitions for the writs of
sympathy from the Court. prohibition and certiorari to stop the prosecution for rebellion of
Thus the Supreme Court Special Third Division held in a resolution Representatives Liza L. Maza, Joel G. Virador, Saturnino C. Ocampo,
penned by Justice Cancio C. Garcia denying a motion for contempt and/or Teodoro A. Casio, Rafael V. Mariano (known as the Batasan 5), Crispin
disbarment against Attorney Justo Paras filed against him by his B. Beltran, and private individuals Vicente P. Ladlad, Nathanael S.
estranged wife, Rosa Yap-Paras, for the formers alleged violation of the Santiago, Randall B. Echanis, and Rey Claro C. Casambre. The Court ruled
suspension order meted upon him by the Court. that the inquest proceeding against Beltran was void for failure of the
The Court takes this opportunity to remind the parties in the latters panel of inquest prosecutors to comply with the rules on
instant case, as well as petitioner-movants counsels, to avoid further preliminary investigation in cases involving lawful warrantless arrests as
squabbles and unnecessary filing of administrative cases against each provided for by the Rules of Court and by DOJ Circular No. 61.
other. An examination reveals a pervasive atmosphere of animosity The High Court also alluded to the obvious involvement of
between Atty. Paras and petitioners counsels as evidenced by the political considerations in the actuations of Secretary of Justice Raul M.
number of administrative cases between them Lawyers should treat Gonzalez concerning the rebellion charges, stressing the partiality of the
each other with courtesy, fairness, candor, and civility, the Court said. prosecutors after the Secretary stated in an interview that We [the DOJ]
The Court found no sufficient bases to support Yap-Paras will just declare probable cause, then its up to the [C]ourt to decide x x
allegation and, instead, found that Atty. Paras himself took the initiative x. The Court said this clearly shows pre-judgment, a determination to
to inform the lower courts of his one-year suspension from law practice file the Information even in the absence of probable cause.
for committing a falsehood in violation of his lawyers oath. However, The Court found that in the case of Beltran, none of the arresting
the Court reprimanded Atty. Paras for his failure to observe the respect officers saw him commit in their presence the crime of rebellion, nor did
due the Court in not promptly complying with its directive to comment the arresting officers have personal knowledge of the facts and
on Yap-Paras motion for contempt and/or disbarment. (AC No. 4947, Yap- circumstances sufficient to form probable cause to believe that Beltran
Paras v. Paras, June 7, 2007) had committed rebellion. It also ruled that there was no probable cause
to indict him for rebellion as none of the affidavits executed by members
SC Orders Dismissal of Rebellion Charges against Beltran, et al. and some civilians presented as evidence before the panel of prosecutors
By Katrina M. Martinez that conducted the inquest stated that Beltran committed specific acts of
rebellion.
FOR WANT OF PROBABLE CAUSE and due process, the Supreme Court The High Court also held that the preliminary investigation
has ordered the dismissal of the criminal cases for rebellion against six conducted against the petitioners was tainted with irregularities for the
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failure of the respondent prosecutors to comply with the rule which Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno and Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales were
provides that the complaint be accompanied by affidavits of the on leave, while Justice Antonio Eduardo B. Nachura took no part as he
complainant and his witnesses, subscribed and sworn to before any participated in the case when he was still Solicitor General. (GR No. 175608,
prosecutor or government official authorized to administer oath, or, in Department of Budget and Management Procurement Service and the Inter-Agency
their absence or unavailability, before a notary public. (GR Nos. 172070-72, Bids and Committee v. Kolonwel Trading, June 8, 2007)
Ladlad v. Velasco, June 1, 2007)
SC Allows OWWA to Proceed with Reorganization
SC Upholds Textbook Supply Deal By Madeleine U.V.G. Avanzado
By Katrina M. Martinez
THE SUPREME COURT recently gave the go-signal for the implementation
VOTING UNANIMOUSLY, the Supreme Court En Banc recently upheld the by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) of a new
validity of the award of the Department of Education (DepEd) to Vibal organizational structure to stabilize its internal organization and promote
Publishing House, Inc. (Vibal) and Watana Phanit Printing and Publishing careerism among its employees.
Co., Ltd. (Watana) of the World Bank-funded supply and delivery of some In a 23-page decision penned by Justice Minita V. Chico-Nazario, the
17.5 million copies of social studies textbook Makabayan and teachers Courts Third Division set aside the Writ of Preliminary Injunction issued
manual. by Branch 117 of the Pasay City Regional Trial Court, which restrained
In a 16-page decision penned by Justice Cancio C. Garcia, the OWWA from implementing its new organizational structure as per its
Supreme Court nullified and set aside the order dated December 4, 2006 Resolution No. 001, Series of 2004.
of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 18, which granted a petition The Court found that injunctive writ improvidently issued as there
for injunction filed by losing bidder Kolonwel Trading (Kolonwel) to enjoin was no showing of a clear and unmistakeable legal right on the part of
the DepEd and the Department of Budget and Management Procurement the employees challenging Resolution No. 001 to warrant the writs
Service (DBM-PS) from awarding the project to Vibal and Watana. protection. There was no showing that they are the employees who are
The Court said that Kolonwel failed to meet the requirements in grave danger of being displaced. [They] were similarly wanting in
prescribed by Section 55 of RA 9184, or the Government Procurement proving that they will allegedly suffer by reason of the reorganization,
Reform Act, which provides that decisions of the DBMs Inter-Agency Bids the Court said.
and Awards Committee (IABAC) may be protested by submitting a Likewise, the Court held that the trial court committed grave
verified petition paper to the head of the procuring entity and paying a abuse of discretion in granting the assailed writ as it interrupted the
non-refundable protest fee. It stressed that Kolonwel sought judicial status quo instead of maintaining it. What was preserved by the RTC
intervention even before completing the protest process. Hence, its filing was the state of affairs before the issuance of Resolution No. 001 and
of SP Civil Case No. 06-116010 was precipitate. Or, as the law itself the subsequent administrative orders pursuant to its passing, the Court
would put it, cases that are filed in violation of the protest process shall noted. (GR No. 169802, OWWA v. Chavez, June 8, 2007)
be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.
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LIBERTAS ET IUSTICIA | DIGEST OF SUPREME COURTS BENCHMARK 2006

CJ Enjoins Officials and Employees to Strictly Observe Gambling


Prohibition in Court
By Madeleine U.V.G. Avanzado

CHIEF JUSTICE Reynato S. Puno has enjoined all officials and employees
of the Judiciary to strictly observe the prohibition against any form of
gambling regardless of whether or not it involves monetary bets within
Court premises to maintain the highest level of ethical conduct and
morals in the Judiciary.
As per Memorandum Circular No. 09-2007 dated June 18, 2007,
appropriate administrative disciplinary actions will be taken against any
court official or employee caught gambling within court premises,
whether such gambling activities occur during working days, weekends,
or holidays; or during office hours or beyond.
In the Supreme Court, the Chief of Staff of the Office of the Chief
Justice and the respective Judicial Staff Heads of the Offices of the
Associate Justices, the Court Administrator, the Clerk of Court and
Division Clerks of Court, the various Chiefs of Offices, the Philippine
Judicial Academy Chancellor, and the Judicial Bar and Council Executive
Committee Chair have been instructed to ensure compliance amongst
their personnel, adopting appropriate measures to such effect.
Implementation in the Court of Appeals, Sandiganbayan, Court of Tax
Appeals, and the lower courts shall be seen to by their Presiding Justices
and the Court Administrator, respectively. (Memorandum Circular No. 09-
2007, Enjoining All Officials and Employees of the Judiciary to Strictly Observe the
Prohibition Against Gambling or Engaging in other Forms of Gambling within Court
Premises, June 18, 2007)

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