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Lindayag for “capricious and malicious admission of a criminal complaint

for estafa againt her and causing her wrongful arrest and detention.”
Topic Non-imprisonment for debt and involuntary servitude 5. Serafin argued that the charge against her was baseless on the ground
Case No. A.M. No. 297-MJ |September 30, 1975 that the “complainant [Mendozas] showed no vestige of the essential
elements of estafa but simply recited complainant's failure to pay the
Case Serafin vs Lindayag creditors as alleged offended parties a simple indebtedness.”
Name
Full Case AVELINA SERAFIN, complainant,
Name vs. ISSUES
MUNICIPAL JUDGE SANTIAGO LINDAYAG,
respondent
Ponente TEEHANKEE, J
Doctrine Non-payment of an indebtedness is not a criminal act, much Was Respondent Judge Lindayag correct in ordering the
less estafa and no one may be criminally charged and punished arrest and detention of Plaintiff Serafin?
for non-payment of a loan of a sum of money.
Nature An administrative complaint against Municipal Judge Santiago NO. It is self-evident from the very face of the "criminal complaint"
Lindayag for having “grossly failed to perform his duties for estafa, and the supporting sworn statements filed with and
properly and is unfit for the office and therefore orders his sworn to before him as well as the very notes of preliminary
separation from the service.” examination taken by him that the "criminal" charge against
complainant showed no vestige of the essential elements of
estafa but simply recited complainant's failure to pay the
creditors as alleged offended parties a simple indebtedness.
RELEVANT FACTS

1. Plaintiff Avelina Serafin obtained a loan of P1,500 without collateral or


security from Carmelito Mendoza, then a municipal secretary and his wife In admitting such a "criminal complaint" that was plainly civil in
Corazon Mendoza. aspects from the very face of the complaint and the "evidence"
2. Subsequently, an criminal complaint for estafa was filed against her for presented, and issuing on the same day the warrant of arrest upon
failing to pay her indebtedness. his utterly baseless finding "that the accused is probably guilty of the
3. By virtue of the complaint, a warrant of arrest was issued by Respondent crime charged," respondent grossly failed to perform his duties
Judge Lindayag, served on Saturday when bonding companies were closed. properly — which in this instance was to dismiss the complaint
As such, Serafin was not able to obtain bail and was detained for three outright since it is elementary that non-payment of an
days. indebtedness is not a criminal act, much less estafa; and that
4. Serafin then filed an administrative complaint against Municipal Judge no one may be criminally charged and punished for non-
payment of a loan of a sum of money.
Notes (not relevant):
On the issuance of a warrant of arrest:
Respondent Judge enabled the police as "private prosecutor" of the
Mendozas to avail of the despicable practice of to use the warrant
as a means of harassment and serve it on Saturdays when the person
arrested cannot raise bail and at a time when the bonding companies
were closed for business. On this ground, Plaintiff had to undergo
the humiliation of being detained for three days in the municipal jail
until she finally succeeded in putting up the P1,000.-bail bond fixed
for her release.

DISPOSITIVE

ACCORDINGLY, respondent is hereby dismissed from the office


of municipal judge of Guiguinto, Bulacan.

The Clerk of Court is directed to endorse to the Chief, National


Bureau of Investigation, the original complaint and purported
amended complaint both allegedly executed by former Guiguinto
chief of police Juan P. Estrella as per his affidavit submitted with
respondent's memorandum of November 11, 1974 as well as other
pertinent documents and exhibits for comparison and
determination of the genuineness of said signatures and for the
filing of the proper criminal prosecution should the findings of the
National Bureau of Investigation so warrant.

SO ORDERED.

NO. SEPARATE OPINION