Saturday, June 20, 2015

Indeed, freedom of speech includes the right to know and discuss judicial proceedings, but such right does not cover statements aimed at undermining the Courts integrity and authority, and interfering with the administration of justice. Freedom of speech is not absolute, and must occasionally be balanced with the requirements of equally important public interests, such as the maintenance of the integrity of the courts and orderly functioning of the administration of justice.

See - Published alleged threats against member of the Court in the Plunder Law Case : 01-12-03-SC : July 29, 2002 : J. Kapunan : En Banc





"x x x.

The judiciary, as the branch of government tasked to administer justice, to settle justiciable controversies or disputes involving enforceable and demandable rights, and to afford redress of wrongs for the violation of said rights[10] must be allowed to decide cases independently, free of outside influence or pressure. An independent judiciary is essential to the maintenance of democracy, as well as of peace and order in society. Further, maintaining the dignity of courts and enforcing the duty of citizens to respect them are necessary adjuncts to the administration of justice.[11]
Thus, Rule 71, Section 3 (d) of the Revised Rules of Court authorizes the courts to hold liable for criminal contempt a person guilty of conduct that is directed against the dignity or authority of the court, or of an act obstructing the administration of justice which tends to bring the court into disrepute or disrespect.[12]
Respondent cannot justify his contemptuous statements--asking the Court to dispel rumors that it would declare the Plunder Law unconstitutional, and stating that a decision declaring it as such was basically wrong and would not be accepted by the peopleas utterances protected by his right to freedom of speech.
Indeed, freedom of speech includes the right to know and discuss judicial proceedings, but such right does not cover statements aimed at undermining the Courts integrity and authority, and interfering with the administration of justice. Freedom of speech is not absolute, and must occasionally be balanced with the requirements of equally important public interests, such as the maintenance of the integrity of the courts and orderly functioning of the administration of justice.[13]
Thus, the making of contemptuous statements directed against the Court is not an exercise of free speech; rather, it is an abuse of such right. Unwarranted attacks on the dignity of the courts cannot be disguised as free speech, for the exercise of said right cannot be used to impair the independence and efficiency of courts or public respect therefor and confidence therein.[14] It is a traditional conviction of civilized society everywhere that courts should be immune from every extraneous influence as they resolve the issues presented before them.[15] The court has previously held that--
xxx As important as the maintenance of an unmuzzled press and the free exercise of the right of the citizen, is the maintenance of the independence of the judiciary. xxx This Court must be permitted to proceed with the disposition of its business in an orderly manner free from outside interference obstructive of its constitutional functions. This right will be insisted upon as vital to an impartial court, and, as a last resort, as an individual exercises the right of self-defense, it will act to preserve its existence as an unprejudiced tribunal.[16]
In People vs. Godoy,[17] this Court explained that while a citizen may comment upon the proceedings and decisions of the court and discuss their correctness, and even express his opinions on the fitness or unfitness of the judges for their stations, and the fidelity with which they perform the important public trusts reposed in them, he has no right to attempt to degrade the court, destroy public confidence in it, and encourage the people to disregard and set naught its orders, judgments and decrees. Such publications are said to be an abuse of the liberty of speech and of the press, for they tend to destroy the very foundation of good order and well-being in society by obstructing the course of justice.[18]
Clearly, respondents utterances pressuring the Court to rule in favor of the constitutionality of the Plunder Law or risk another series of mass actions by the public cannot be construed as falling within the ambit of constitutionally-protected speech, because such statements are not fair criticisms of any decision of the Court, but obviously are threats made against it to force the Court to decide the issue in a particular manner, or risk earning the ire of the public. Such statements show disrespect not only for the Court but also for the judicial system as a whole, tend to promote distrust and undermine public confidence in the judiciary, by creating the impression that the Court cannot be trusted to resolve cases impartially and violate the right of the parties to have their case tried fairly by an independent tribunal, uninfluenced by public clamor and other extraneous influences.[19]
It is respondents duty as an officer of the court, to uphold the dignity and authority of the courts and to promote confidence in the fair administration of justice[20] and in the Supreme Court as the last bulwark of justice and democracy. Respondents utterances as quoted above, while the case of Estrada vs. Sandiganbayan was pending consideration by this Court, belies his protestation of good faith but were clearly made to mobilize public opinion and bring pressure on the Court.
WHEREFORE, Atty. Leonard De Vera is found GUILTY of indirect contempt of court and is hereby FINED in the amount of Twenty Thousand Pesos (P20,000.00) to be paid within ten (10) days from receipt of this Decision.
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J., Bellosillo, Puno, Vitug, Mendoza, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Carpio, Austria-Martinez, and Corona, JJ., concur.
x x x."

Friday, June 19, 2015

Republic Act No. 10660; jurisdiction of Sandiganbayan amended.

See - Republic Act No. 10660 | Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines





"x x x.

SEC. 2. Section 4 of the same decree, as amended, is hereby further amended to read as follows:
“SEC. 4. Jurisdiction. – The Sandiganbayan shall exercise exclusive original jurisdiction in all cases involving:
“a. Violations of Republic Act No. 3019, as amended, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Republic Act No. 1379, and Chapter II, Section 2, Title VII, Book II of the Revised Penal Code, where one or more of the accused are officials occupying the following positions in the government, whether in a permanent, acting or interim capacity, at the time of the commission of the offense:
“(1) Officials of the executive branch occupying the positions of regional director and higher, otherwise classified as Grade ’27’ and higher, of the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989 (Republic Act No. 6758), specifically including:
“(a) Provincial governors, vice-governors, members of the sangguniang panlalawigan, and provincial treasurers, assessors, engineers, and other provincial department heads:
“(b) City mayors, vice-mayors, members of the sangguniang panlungsod, city treasurers, assessors, engineers, and other city department heads;
“(c) Officials of the diplomatic service occupying the position of consul and higher;
“(d) Philippine army and air force colonels, naval captains, and all officers of higher rank;
“(e) Officers of the Philippine National Police while occupying the position of provincial director and those holding the rank of senior superintendent and higher;
“(f) City and provincial prosecutors and their assistants, and officials and prosecutors in the Office of the Ombudsman and special prosecutor;
“(g) Presidents, directors or trustees, or managers of government-owned or controlled corporations, state universities or educational institutions or foundations.
“(2) Members of Congress and officials thereof classified as Grade ’27’ and higher under the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989;
“(3) Members of the judiciary without prejudice to the provisions of the Constitution;
“(4) Chairmen and members of the Constitutional Commissions, without prejudice to the provisions of the Constitution; and
“(5) All other national and local officials classified as Grade ’27’ and higher under the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989.
“b. Other offenses or felonies whether simple or complexed with other crimes committed by the public officials and employees mentioned in subsection a. of this section in relation to their office.
“c. Civil and criminal cases filed pursuant to and in connection with Executive Order Nos. 1, 2, 14 and 14-A, issued in 1986.
“Provided, That the Regional Trial Court shall have exclusive original jurisdiction where the information: (a) does not allege any damage to the government or any bribery; or (b) alleges damage to the government or bribery arising from the same or closely related transactions or acts in an amount not exceeding One million pesos (P1,000,000.00).
“Subject to the rules promulgated by the Supreme Court, the cases falling under the jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Court under this section shall be tried in a judicial region other than where the official holds office.
“In cases where none of the accused are occupying positions corresponding to Salary Grade ’27’ or higher, as prescribed in the said Republic Act No. 6758, or military and PNP officers mentioned above, exclusive original jurisdiction thereof shall be vested in the proper regional trial court, metropolitan trial court, municipal trial court, and municipal circuit trial court, as the case may be, pursuant to their respective jurisdictions as provided in Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, as amended.
“The Sandiganbayan shall exercise exclusive appellate jurisdiction over final judgments, resolutions or orders of regional trial courts whether in the exercise of their own original jurisdiction or of their appellate jurisdiction as herein provided.
“The Sandiganbayan shall have exclusive original jurisdiction over petitions for the issuance of the writs of mandamus, prohibition, certiorari, habeas corpus, injunctions, and other ancillary writs and processes in aid of its appellate jurisdiction and over petitions of similar nature, including quo warranto, arising or that may arise in cases filed or which may be filed under Executive Order Nos. 1, 2, 14 and 14-A, issued in 1986Provided, That the jurisdiction over these petitions shall not be exclusive of the Supreme Court.
“The procedure prescribed in Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, as well as the implementing rules that the Supreme Court has promulgated and may hereafter promulgate, relative to appeals/petitions for review to the Court of Appeals, shall apply to appeals and petitions for review filed with the Sandiganbayan. In all cases elevated to the Sandiganbayan and from the Sandiganbayan to the Supreme Court, the Office of the Ombudsman, through its special prosecutor, shall represent the People of the Philippines, except in cases filed pursuant to Executive Order Nos. 1, 2, 14 and 14-A, issued in 1986.
“In case private individuals are charged as co-principals, accomplices or accessories with the public officers or employees, including those employed in government-owned or controlled corporations, they shall be tried jointly with said public officers and employees in the proper courts which shall exercise exclusive jurisdiction over them.
“Any provisions of law or Rules of Court to the contrary notwithstanding, the criminal action and the corresponding civil action for the recovery of civil liability shall at all times be simultaneously instituted with, and jointly determined in, the same proceeding by the Sandiganbayan or the appropriate courts, the filing of the criminal action being deemed to necessarily carry with it the filing of the civil action, and no right to reserve the filing of such civil action separately from the criminal action shall be recognized: Provided, however, That where the civil action had heretofore been filed separately but judgment therein has not yet been rendered, and the criminal case is hereafter filed with the Sandiganbayan or the appropriate court, said civil action shall be transferred to the Sandiganbayan or the appropriate court, as the case may be, for consolidation and joint determination with the criminal action, otherwise the separate civil action shall be deemed abandoned.”
x x x."

Republic Act No. 10661 -National Children's Month Act.

See - Republic Act No. 10661 | Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines





[REPUBLIC ACT NO. 10661]
AN ACT DECLARING NOVEMBER OF EVERY YEAR AS NATIONAL CHILDREN’S MONTH
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Philippines in Congress assembled:
SECTION 1. This Act shall be known as the “National Children’s Month Act”.
SEC. 2. The month of November of every year is hereby declared as “National Children’s Month”. This declaration commemorates the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by the United Nations General Assembly on 20 November 1989, and seeks to instill its significance in the Filipino consciousness.
SEC. 3. Pursuant to the observance of National Children’s Month, an annual program of activities shall be prepared and implemented, with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the National Youth Commission (NYC), and the Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC) as lead agencies. They are authorized to call upon any department, bureau, office, agency, or instrumentality of the government, including government-owned or -controlled corporations, for any assistance as may be needed in the discharge of the tasks under this Act.
SEC. 4. The Department of Education (DepED) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) shall facilitate and encourage the commemoration of this month in all schools, public and private, nationwide.
The Philippine Information Agency, in coordination with the DSWD, the DepED, the CHED, the NYC and the CWC shall ensure the effective information dissemination of this Act.
All local government units and private organizations including the civil society, private enterprises, and nongovernment, civic, and people’s organizations, are encouraged to observe National Children’s Month in simple rites and participate in the activities.
SEC. 5. Proclamation No. 74 (s. 1992) and Proclamation No. 267 (s. 1993) are hereby repealed. Any other provision of law, decree, order, rule, or regulation inconsistent with this Act is hereby repealed or modified accordingly.
SEC, 6. This Act shall take effect fifteen (15) days after its publication in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation.
Approved,
(Sgd.) FRANKLIN M. DRILON
President of the Senate
(Sgd.) FELICIANO BELMONTE JR.
Speaker of the House
of Representatives
This Act which is a consolidation of House Bill No. 1641 and Senate Bill No. 332 was finally passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate on March 16, 2015 and March 18, 2015, respectively.
(Sgd.) OSCAR G. YABES
Secretary of the Senate
(Sgd.) MARILYN B. BARUA-YAP
Secretary General
House of Representatives
Approved: MAY 29 2015
(Sgd.) BENIGNO S. AQUINO III
President of the Philippines
RESOURCES

    No To Alien Ownership Of Private Lands... - The Lawyer's Post

    See - No To Alien Ownership Of Private Lands... - The Lawyer's Post





    "x x x.



    “The trial and appellate courts both focused on the property relations of petitioner and respondent in light of the Civil Code and Family Code provisions. They, however, failed to observe the applicable constitutional principles, which, in fact, are the more decisive.
    Section 7, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution states:
    Section 7. Save in cases of hereditary succession, no private lands shall be transferred or conveyed except to individuals, corporations, or associations qualified to acquire or hold lands of the public domain.
    Aliens, whether individuals or corporations, have been disqualified from acquiring lands of the public domain. Hence, by virtue of the aforecited constitutional provision, they are also disqualified from acquiring private lands. The primary purpose of this constitutional provision is the conservation of the national patrimony. Our fundamental law cannot be any clearer. The right to acquire lands of the public domain is reserved only to Filipino citizens or corporations at least sixty percent of the capital of which is owned by Filipinos.”
     x x x
    “In light of the foregoing jurisprudence, we find and so hold that Benjamin has no right to nullify the Agreement of Lease between Joselyn and petitioner. Benjamin, being an alien, is absolutely prohibited from acquiring private and public lands in the Philippines. Considering that Joselyn appeared to be the designated “vendee” in the Deed of Sale of said property, she acquired sole ownership thereto. This is true even if we sustain Benjamin’s claim that he provided the funds for such acquisition. By entering into such contract knowing that it was illegal, no implied trust was created in his favor; no reimbursement for his expenses can be allowed; and no declaration can be made that the subject property was part of the conjugal/community property of the spouses. In any event, he had and has no capacity or personality to question the subsequent lease of the Boracay property by his wife on the theory that in so doing, he was merely exercising the prerogative of a husband in respect of conjugal property. To sustain such a theory would countenance indirect controversion of the constitutional prohibition. If the property were to be declared conjugal, this would accord the alien husband a substantial interest and right over the land, as he would then have a decisive vote as to its transfer or disposition. This is a right that the Constitution does not permit him to have.
    x x x."

    G.R. No. 164584 June 22, 2009, PHILIP MATTHEWS, Petitioner, vs. BENJAMIN A. TAYLOR and JOSELYN C. TAYLOR, Respondents.

    Judge dips hand in cookie jar, loses all after 22 years of service | Inquirer News

    See - Judge dips hand in cookie jar, loses all after 22 years of service | Inquirer News






    “x x x.
    For taking liberties with the court’s funds and repeatedly violating the code of judicial conduct, a Nueva Vizcaya judge got the boot from the Supreme Court, losing all his
    benefits after 22 years of service.

    The high court on Tuesday found Nueva Vizcaya Municipal Trial Court (MTC) acting Presiding Judge Alexander Balut guilty of gross misconduct, dismissing him from the service for borrowing money from court collections.

    “Judge Balut’s conduct fell short of the standard required of judges, which is that they must adhere to the highest tenets of judicial conduct. Because of the sensitivity of his
    position, a judge is required to exhibit, at all times, the highest degree of honesty and integrity and to observe exacting standards of morality, decency and competence,” said the high court.

    8-5 vote

    All 13 magistrates in the full-court session found Balut guilty of the administrative offense, with eight voting to remove him from the judiciary and five favoring a lighter
    penalty.

    The dismissal order, which the high court said took immediate effect, came with the “forfeiture of all retirement benefits and with prejudice to reemployment in any branch of the government, including government-owned and -controlled corporations.”

    After more than two decades of service, Balut is left with “the money value of accrued earned leave credits.”

    “Judge Balut is hereby ordered to cease and desist immediately from rendering any order or decision, or from continuing any proceedings, in any case whatsoever, effective upon
    receipt of a copy of this resolution,” the Supreme Court said in the dispositive part of its ruling.

    The high court has had enough of Balut’s infractions. Earlier, the judge was found guilty of  committing “undue delay” in deciding cases within the prescribed period as acting presiding judge for MTCs in the towns of Bayombong and Solano.

    The offense that cost Balut his job was his repeated withdrawals of cash from the courts’ collections, totaling P202,774.42 as of April 2002.

    x x x.

    He paid back but …

    Neither Balut’s settlement of the amount nor his tenure in the judiciary could save him from the penalty.

    “That Judge Balut fully paid his cash liabilities does not free him from the consequences of his wrongdoing. His unwarranted interference in the court collections deserves sanction and not even his full payment of his accountabilities will exempt him from liability,” the Supreme Court said.

    “Neither will his long tenure (22 years of service) mitigate his liability; his offense was not a single or isolated act but a series of acts committed in a span of several years. He was a repeat offender, perpetrating his misdeeds with impunity not once, not twice but several times in three different stations,” the tribunal said.

    X x x.”








    GROUNDS FOR MOTION TO QUASH: | MVP Law | Philippines

    See - GROUNDS FOR MOTION TO QUASH: | MVP Law | Philippines





    "x x x.



     · 
    GROUNDS FOR MOTION TO QUASH:

    Section 3 of Rule 17 enumerates the grounds for the quashal of a complaint or information, as follows: 

    (a) That the facts charged do not constitute an offense; 
    (b) That the court trying the case has no jurisdiction over the offense charged; 
    (c) That the court trying the case has no jurisdiction over the person of the accused; 
    (d) That the officer who filed the information had no authority to do so; 
    (e) That it does not conform substantially to the prescribed form; 
    (f) That more than one offense is charged except when a single punishment for various offenses is prescribed by law; 
    (g) That the criminal action or liability has been extinguished; 
    (h) That it contains averments which, if true, would constitute a legal excuse or justification; and 
    (i) That the accused has been previously convicted or acquitted of the offense charged, or the case against him was dismissed or otherwise terminated without his express consent.

    Judges shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all of their activities. - As a subject of constant public scrutiny, judges must accept personal restrictions that might be viewed as burdensome by the ordinary citizen and should do so freely and willingly. In particular, judges shall conduct themselves in a way that is consistent with the dignity of the judicial office.


    A.M. No. RTJ-09-2200, (formerly OCA I.P.I. No. 08-2834-RTJ),

    April 2, 2014
    ANTONIO M. LORENZANA, Complainant, 
    vs. JUDGE MA. CECILIA I. AUSTRIA, Regional Trial Court, 
    Branch 2, Batangas City, Respondent.

    See - http://www.lawphil.net/judjuris/juri2014/apr2014/am_rtj-09-2200_2014.html


    "x x x.

    On the Ground of Impropriety

    We are not unaware of the increasing prevalence of social networking sites in the Internet – a new medium through which more and more Filipinos communicate with each other.45 While judges are not prohibited from becoming members of and from taking part in social networking activities, we remind them that they do not thereby shed off their status as judges. They carry with them in cyberspace the same ethical responsibilities and duties that every judge is expected to follow in his/her everyday activities. It is in this light that we judge the respondent in the charge of impropriety when she posted her pictures in a manner viewable by the public.

    Lest this rule be misunderstood, the New Code of Judicial Conduct does not prohibit a judge from joining or maintaining an account in a social networking site such as Friendster. Section 6, Canon 4 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct recognizes that judges, like any other citizen, are entitled to freedom of expression. This right "includes the freedom to hold opinions without interference and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers."46 Joining a social networking site is an exercise of one’s freedom of expression. The respondent judge’s act of joining Friendster is, therefore, per se not violative of the New Code of Judicial Conduct.

    Section 6, Canon 4 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct, however, also imposes a correlative restriction on judges: in the exercise of their freedom of expression, they should always conduct themselves in a manner that preserves the dignity of the judicial office and the impartiality and independence of the Judiciary.

    This rule reflects the general principle of propriety expected of judges in all of their activities, whether it be in the course of their judicial office or in their personal lives. In particular, Sections 1 and 2 of Canon 4 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct prohibit impropriety and even the appearance of impropriety in all of their activities:

    SECTION 1. Judges shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all of their activities.

    SECTION 2. As a subject of constant public scrutiny, judges must accept personal restrictions that might be viewed as burdensome by the ordinary citizen and should do so freely and willingly. In particular, judges shall conduct themselves in a way that is consistent with the dignity of the judicial office.


    Based on this provision, we hold that the respondent disregarded the propriety and appearance of propriety required of her when she posted Friendster photos of herself wearing an "off-shouldered" suggestive dress and made this available for public viewing.

    To restate the rule: in communicating and socializing through social networks, judges must bear in mind that what they communicate – regardless of whether it is a personal matter or part of his or her judicial duties – creates and contributes to the people’s opinion not just of the judge but of the entire Judiciary of which he or she is a part. This is especially true when the posts the judge makes are viewable not only by his or her family and close friends, but by acquaintances and the general public.

    Thus, it may be acceptable for the respondent to show a picture of herself in the attire she wore to her family and close friends, but when she made this picture available for public consumption, she placed herself in a situation where she, and the status she holds as a judge, may be the object of the public’s criticism and ridicule. The nature of cyber communications, particularly its speedy and wide-scale character, renders this rule necessary.

    We are not also unaware that the respondent’s act of posting her photos would seem harmless and inoffensive had this act been done by an ordinary member of the public. As the visible personification of law and justice, however, judges are held to higher standards of conduct and thus must accordingly comport themselves.47

    This exacting standard applies both to acts involving the judicial office and personal matters. The very nature of their functions requires behavior under exacting standards of morality, decency and propriety; both in the performance of their duties and their daily personal lives, they should be beyond reproach.48 Judges necessarily accept this standard of conduct when they take their oath of office as magistrates.

    x x x."

    Judges shall ensure that not only is their conduct above reproach, but that it is perceived to be so in the view of a reasonable observer. - A.M. No. RTJ-09-2200

    See - A.M. No. RTJ-09-2200





    "x x x.

    On the Ground of Conduct
    Unbecoming of a Judge

    On the allegation of conduct unbecoming of a judge, Section 6, Canon 6 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct states that:

    SECTION 6. Judges shall maintain order and decorum in all proceedings before the court and be patient, dignified and courteous in relation to litigants, witnesses, lawyers and others with whom the judge deals in an official capacity. Judges shall require similar conduct of legal representatives, court staff and others subject to their influence, direction or control.39

    A judge should always conduct himself in a manner that would preserve the dignity, independence and respect for himself/herself, the Court and the Judiciary as a whole. He must exhibit the hallmark judicial temperament of utmost sobriety and self-restraint.40 He should choose his words and exercise more caution and control in expressing himself. In other words, a judge should possess the virtue of gravitas.41

    As held in De la Cruz (Concerned Citizen of Legazpi City) v. Judge Carretas,42 a judge should be considerate, courteous and civil to all persons who come to his court; he should always keep his passion guarded. He can never allow it to run loose and overcome his reason. Furthermore, a magistrate should not descend to the level of a sharp-tongued, ill-mannered petty tyrant by uttering harsh words, snide remarks and sarcastic comments.

    Similarly in Attys. Guanzon and Montesino v. Judge Rufon,43 the Court declared that "although respondent judge may attribute his intemperate language to human frailty, his noble position in the bench nevertheless demands from him courteous speech in and out of court.

    Judges are required to always be temperate, patient and courteous, both in conduct and in language."

    Accordingly, the respondent’s unnecessary bickering with SCP’s legal counsel, her expressions of exasperation over trivial procedural and negligible lapses, her snide remarks, as well as her condescending attitude, are conduct that the Court cannot allow. They are displays of arrogance and air of superiority that the Code abhors.

    Records and transcripts of the proceedings bear out that the respondent failed to observe judicial temperament and to conduct herself irreproachably. She also failed to maintain the decorum required by the Code and to use temperate language befitting a magistrate. "As a judge, [she] should ensure that [her] conduct is always above reproach and perceived to be so by a reasonable observer. [She] must never show conceit or even an appearance thereof, or any kind of impropriety."44

    Section 1, Canon 2 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct states that:

    SECTION 1. Judges shall ensure that not only is their conduct above reproach, but that it is perceived to be so in the view of a reasonable observer.

    In these lights, the respondent exhibited conduct unbecoming of a judge and thus violated Section 6, Canon 6 and Section 1, Canon 2 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct.

    x x x."

    A.M. No. RTJ-09-2200               
    April 2, 2014
    (formerly OCA I.P.I. No. 08-2834-RTJ)
    ANTONIO M. LORENZANA, Complainant,
    vs. 
    JUDGE MA. CECILIA I. AUSTRIA, 
    Regional Trial Court, Branch 2, Batangas City, Respondent.

    Judicial Clemency; requisites

    See - Judicial Ethics: Clemency, As An Act Of Mercy Removing Any Disqualification, Should Be Balanced With The Preservation Of Public Confidence In The Courts... - The Lawyer's Post





    "x x x.



    “This Court in A.M. No. 07-7-17-SC (Re: Letter of Judge Augustus C. Diaz, Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 37, Appealing for Judicial Clemency) laid down the following guidelines in resolving requests for judicial clemency, to wit:
    1. There must be proof of remorse and reformation. These shall include but should not be limited to certifications or testimonials of the officer(s) or chapter(s) of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, judges or judges associations and prominent members of the community with proven integrity and probity. A subsequent finding of guilt in an administrative case for the same or similar misconduct will give rise to a strong presumption of non-reformation.

    2. Sufficient time must have lapsed from the imposition of the penalty to ensure a period of reformation.

    3. The age of the person asking for clemency must show that he still has productive years ahead of him that can be put to good use by giving him a chance to redeem himself.

    4. There must be a showing of promise (such as intellectual aptitude, learning or legal acumen or contribution to legal scholarship and the development of the legal system or administrative and other relevant skills), as well as potential for public service.

    5. There must be other relevant factors and circumstances that may justify clemency.  (Emphasis supplied.)
    Respondent’s petition is not supported by any single proof of his professed repentance. His appeal for clemency is solely anchored on his avowed intention to go back to the judiciary on his personal belief that “he can be x x x an effective instrument in the delivery of justice in the Province of Lanao del Sur because of his seventeen (17) years of experience,” and on his “promise before the Almighty God and the High Court that he will never repeat the acts or omissions that he had committed as a Judge.”  He claims having learned “enough lessons” during the three years he became jobless and his family had “suffered so much because of his shortcoming.”
    Apart from respondent’s own declarations, there is no independent evidence or relevant circumstances to justify clemency. Applying the standards set by this Court in A.M. No. 07-7-17-SC, respondent’s petition for judicial clemency must be denied.
    In the present case, the Court held that respondent exhibited gross ignorance of procedure in the conduct of election cases in connection with petitions for inclusion of voters in the barangay elections, resulting in delays such that complainant’s name was not timely included in the master list and consequently he was not considered a candidate for barangay chairman. Such failure to observe fundamental rules relative to the petitions for inclusion cannot be excused. Further, respondent was found to have intentionally fabricated an order which supposedly granted a motion for intervention by the counsel for the incumbent mayor whose re-election complainant and his co-petitioners were allegedly not willing to support. Respondent’s act of fabricating an order to cover up his official shortcomings constitutes dishonesty, a reprehensible act that will not be sanctioned by this Court.
    In the subsequent administrative case (A.M. No. MTJ-11-1791), respondent was found to have misused his authority when he, over the vigorous objection of complainants police officers, took custody of an accused then detained in jail for carnapping charges, by merely issuing a signed handwritten acknowledgment receipt with an undertaking to present the said accused to the court when ordered.   Said accused was never returned to jail and while the case against him was dismissed, there was no order for release issued by the court.  Respondent endeavored to justify his act in aiding the accused by virtue of his position as Sultan in his hometown, but the Court found him liable for Grave Misconduct, warranting his dismissal from the service.  But since the penalty of dismissal can no longer be imposed on account of respondent’s resignation, he was meted the penalty of six months suspension converted to forfeiture of the corresponding amount of his salary.  This second administrative offense committed by respondent also led to the OCA’s filing of a criminal complaint for obstruction of justice against him.
    Given the gravity of respondent’s transgressions, it becomes more imperative to require factual support for respondent’s allegations of remorse and reform.  As this Court previously declared:
    Concerned with safeguarding the integrity of the judiciary, this Court has come down hard and wielded the rod of discipline against members of the judiciary who have fallen short of the exacting standards of judicial conduct. This is because a judge is the visible representation of the law and of justice. He must comport himself in a manner that his conduct must be free of a whiff of impropriety, not only with respect to the performance of his official duties but also as to his behavior outside his sala and as a private individual. His character must be able to withstand the most searching public scrutiny because the ethical principles and sense of propriety of a judge are essential to the preservation of the people’s faith in the judicial system.
    Clemency, as an act of mercy removing any disqualification, should be balanced with the preservation of public confidence in the courts. The Court will grant it only if there is a showing that it is merited. Proof of reformation and a showing of potential and promise are indispensable. (Emphasis supplied.)”
    x x x."

    FIRST DIVISION, A.M. No. MTJ-03-1505, November 27, 2013, MAMASAW SULTAN ALI, COMPLAINANT, VS. HON. BAGUINDA-ALI PACALNA, PRESIDING JUDGE, HON. PUNDAYA A. BERUA, ACTING PRESIDING JUDGE, HADJI IBRA DARIMBANG, CLERK OF COURT AND MANDAG U. BATUA-AN, COURT STENOGRAPHER, ALL OF THE MUNICIPAL CIRCUIT TRIAL COURT, MUNICIPALITY OF BALINDONG, PROVINCE OF LANAO DEL SUR, RESPONDENTS. 

IN THE MATTER OF: PETITION FOR ABSOLUTE JUDICIAL CLEMENCY OF FORMER JUDGE BAGUINDA-ALI A. PACALNA, MTCC, MARAWI CITY.

    Reinstatement To The Practice Of Law; requisites.

    See - To Be Reinstated To The Practice Of Law, The Applicant Must, Like Any Other Candidate for Admission To The Bar, Satisfy The Court That He Is A Person Of Good Moral Character... - The Lawyer's Post





    "x x x.

    In Re: Letter of Judge Augustus C. Diaz, Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 37, Appealing for Clemency,1 the Court laid down the following guidelines in resolving requests for judicial clemency, to wit:
    1. There must be proof of remorse and reformation. These shall include but should not be limited to certifications or testimonials of the officer(s) or chapter(s) of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, judges or judges associations and prominent members of the community with proven integrity and probity. A subsequent finding of guilt in an administrative case for the same or similar misconduct will give rise to a strong presumption of non-reformation.
    2.  Sufficient time must have lapsed from the imposition of the penalty to ensure a period of reform.
    3. The age of the person asking for clemency must show that he still has productive years ahead of him that can be put to good use by giving him a chance to redeem himself.
    4. There must be a showing of promise (such as intellectual aptitude, learning or legal acumen or contribution to legal scholarship and the development of the legal system or administrative and other relevant skills), as well as potential for public service.
    5. There must be other relevant factors and circumstances that may justify clemency.2  (Citations omitted)
    Moreover, to be reinstated to the practice of law, the applicant must, like any other candidate for admission to the bar, satisfy the Court that he is a person of good moral character.3 
    Applying the foregoing standards to this case, the Court finds the instant petition meritorious.
    Respondent has sufficiently shown his remorse and acknowledged his indiscretion in the legal profession and in his personal life. He has asked forgiveness from his children by complainant Teves and maintained a cordial relationship with them as shown by the herein attached pictures.4  Records also show that after his disbarment, respondent returned to his hometown in Enrile, Cagayan and devoted his time tending an orchard and taking care of his ailing mother until her death in 2008.5  In 2009, he was appointed as Private Secretary to the Mayor of Enrile, Cagayan and thereafter, assumed the position of Local Assessment Operations Officer II/ Office-In-Charge in the Assessor’s Office, which office he continues to serve to date.6 
    Moreover, he is a part-time instructor at the University of Cagayan Valley and F.L. Vargas College during the School Year 2011-2012.7  Respondent likewise took an active part in socio-civic activities by helping his neighbors and friends who are in dire need.
    The following documents attest to respondent’s reformed ways: (1) Affidavit of Candida P. Mabborang;8 (2) Affidavit of Reymar P. Ramirez;⁠9  (3) Affidavit of Roberto D. Tallud;10  (4) Certification from the Municipal Local Government Office;  (5) Certification by the Office of the Municipal Agriculturist/Health Officer, Social Welfare Development Officer;11  (6) Certification from the Election Officer of Enrile, Cagayan;12 (7) Affidavit of Police Senior Inspector Jacinto T. Tuddao;13  (8) Certifications from nine (9) Barangay Chairpersons;14 (9) Certification from the Office of the Provincial Assessor;15 (10) Certification from the Office of the Manager, Magsaka ca Multi-Purpose Cooperative;16 and (11) Certification of the Office of the Federation of Senior Citizens, Enrile Chapter.17  The Office of the Municipal Treasurer also certified that respondent has no monetary accountabilities in relation to his office18 while the Office of the Human Resource Management Officer attested that he has no pending administrative case.19  He is not known to be involved in any irregularity and/or accused of a crime. Even the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) attested that he has no record on file as of May 31, 2011.20 
    Furthermore, respondent’s plea for reinstatement is duly supported by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Cagayan Chapter21 and by his former and present colleagues.22 His parish priest, Rev. Fr. Camilo Castillejos, Jr., certified that he is faithful to and puts to actual practice the doctrines of the Catholic Church.23  He is also observed to be a regular churchgoer.24  Records further reveal that respondent has already settled his previous marital squabbles25  as in fact, no opposition to the instant suit was tendered by complainant Teves. He sends regular support26  to his children in compliance with the Court’s directive in the Decision dated February 27, 2004.
    The Court notes the eight (8) long years that had elapsed from the time respondent was disbarred and recognizes his achievement as the first lawyer product of Lemu National High School,⁠27  and his fourteen (14) years of dedicated government service from 1986 to July 2000 as Legal Officer of the Department of Education, Culture and Sports; Supervising Civil Service Attorney of the Civil Service Commission; Ombudsman Graft Investigation Officer; and State Prosecutor of the Department of Justice.28  From the attestations and certifications presented, the Court finds that respondent has sufficiently atoned for his transgressions. At 5829  years of age, he still has productive years ahead of him that could significantly contribute to the upliftment of the law profession and the betterment of society. While the Court is ever mindful of its duty to discipline and even remove its errant officers, concomitant to it is its duty to show compassion to those who have reformed their ways30  as in this case.
    Accordingly, respondent is hereby ordered reinstated to the practice of law.  He is, however, reminded that such privilege is burdened  with conditions whereby adherence. to the rigid standards of intellect, moral uprightness, and strict compliance with the rules and the law are continuing requirements.31 
    x x x."

    EN BANC, Adm. Case No. 6148, January 22, 2013, FLORENCE MACARUBBO, TEVES COMPLAINANT, VS. ATTY. EDMUNDO L. MACARUBBO, RESPONDENT.

    RE: PETITION (FOR EXTRAORDINARY MERCY) OF EDMUNDO L. MACARUBBO.