- Dela Cruz v. Vallarta
- A.M. No. MTJ-04-1531 (Resolution)
- AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J :
- Decision Date
A.M. No. MTJ-04-1531. March 6, 2007.
Formerly OCA IPI No. 02-1216-MTJ
PASTORA DELA CRUZ, AMELIA DELA CRUZ-GUMABON, ANALITA DELA CRUZ and LEONARDO DELA CRUZ, complainants,vs.JUDGE PLACIDO B. VALLARTA, Municipal Circuit Trial Court, Cabiao-San Isidro, Nueva Ecija, respondent.
R E S O L U T I O N
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J p:
Before us is a Complaint-Affidavit dated March 1, 2002 of Pastora dela Cruz, et al. (complainants) charging Judge Placido B. Vallarta (respondent),Presiding Judge, Municipal Circuit Trial Court (MCTC),Cabiao, Nueva Ecija with Gross Inefficiency, Gross Negligence and Gross Ignorance of the Law, relative to Civil Case No. 2000-36, entitled "Heirs of the Late David G. dela Cruz v. Spouses Virgilio and Carmen Bunag" for Unlawful Detainer with Prayer for Issuance of a Writ of Preliminary Injunction or Temporary Restraining Order.
Complainants allege: On July 13, 2000, they filed a case for Unlawful Detainer with Prayer for the Issuance of Preliminary Injunction or Temporary Restraining Order against Spouses Virgilio and Carmen Bunag over a certain parcel of land situated at Barangay Entablado, Cabiao, Nueva Ecija with an area of eight thousand (8,000) square meters, more or less, covered by Certificate of Land Transfer No. O-069485. The application for a writ of preliminary injunction was set for hearing on August 21, 2000. The summons and a copy of the Complaint were served upon defendants Spouses Bunag but they failed to file an answer. On August 21, 2000, complainants filed a Motion to Render Judgment pursuant to Section 7 of DTEHIA
In its 1st Indorsement, dated April 18, 2002 the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) directed respondent to comment on the complaint.
For failure of respondent to comply with the said directive, the OCA sent a 1st Tracer dated September 20, 2002 reiterating its directive of April 18, 2002. Still, respondent failed to comply. Hence, the OCA submitted its report and recommendation to the Court, to wit:
During the Barangay Elections in 2002, respondent filed his certificate of candidacy and he was considered to have automatically resigned from the service effective June 10, 2002.
The 1st Tracer dated September 20, 2002 was sent to respondent judge requiring him to file his comment within five (5) days from receipt thereof. The 1st Tracer was received by respondent judge on October 15, 2002 as shown in the Registry Return Receipt. Respondent again failed to file his comment. Respondent's failure to file his comment despite receipt of the two (2) basic communications from the Court Administrator requiring him to file his comment can be interpreted to mean that he has waived his right to file his comment and submit controverting evidence. Respondent cannot claim otherwise.
Respondent's resignation during the pendency of the case did not divest the Supreme Court of its jurisdiction to pronounce whether he is innocent or guilty of the charges.
The charges are:
1. Respondent judge failed to render judgment despite the motion filed by the complainants who were plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 2000-36 for Unlawful Detainer for failure of the defendants to file answer; and,
2. Respondent gave judicial cognizance to a Motion to Dismiss filed by the defendants which is a prohibitive pleading.
The charges are meritorious.
Under the law, if the defendant in a case of Unlawful Detainer fails to file an answer to the complaint within ten (10) days from the service of summons, the court motu proprio or on motion of the plaintiff, render judgment as may be warranted. (Section 7,
1. The penalty for administrative offenses are either fine, suspension from office without pay, censure, reprimand, and in grave offenses, dismissal from service. Under
RECOMMENDATION:Respectfully submitted for the consideration of the Honorable Court the recommendations that:
1. The instant complaint be RE-DOCKETED as a regular administrative matter and, respondent be penalized to pay a FINE of P10,000.00 to be deducted from the monetary benefits he may receive from the court; and TEAaDC
2. The Court Management Office be DIRECTED to conduct a Judicial Audit to determine the actual cases disposed of by respondent Judge Vallarta prior to his resignation.
The Court, in its Resolution of April 12, 2004, required respondent to comment and to show cause why he should not be disciplinarily dealt with or held in contempt for failure to comply with the directives of the OCA. The Resolution was returned to this Court with the postmaster's notation "RTS, Addressee Resigned."
In its Resolution of September 15, 2004, the Court required the OCA to report the present address of respondent.
In compliance, the OCA, in its Memorandum of October 7, 2004, submitted the provincial as well as the city addresses of respondent. Thus, the Court, in its Resolution of December 1, 2004, resolved to furnish respondent with a copy of the April 12, 2004 Resolution at his provincial and city addresses. However, the said Resolution was returned to the Court with the postmaster's notation "RTS, Unclaimed."
On July 22, 2005, the Postmaster of Cabiao, Nueva Ecija issued a certification stating that Judge Placido B. Vallarta has resigned his post and said addressee is not a resident of Cabiao, Nueva Ecija. Thus, in the Resolution of October 3, 2005, the Court resolved to resend the Resolution of April 12, 2004 to respondent at his address in Caloocan City.
Again, the Resolution addressed to Judge Vallarta was returned to sender with the notation "Unclaimed". Hence, the Court, in its Resolution of February 27, 2006, resolved to resend a copy of the resolution of April 12, 2004 to respondent at No. 46, Macabagdal Street, Caloocan City.
To date, respondent has not complied with the said Resolution of April 12, 2004 despite receipt of the copy thereof on April 17, 2006, as shown in the Registry Return Receipt.
We agree with the findings and recommendations of the OCA with slight modification as to the penalty recommended.
Sections 6 and 7 of motu proprio or on motion of the plaintiff, shall render judgment as may be warranted.
Records show that the defendants in Civil Case No. 2000-36 failed to file their answer within the reglementary period and for such failure, the complainants filed a Motion to Render Judgment. However, even after the lapse of time within which to comply, respondent still allowed and accepted the Motion to Dismiss filed by the defendants. And even after denying the Motion to Dismiss, still respondent failed to resolve the Motion to Render Judgment filed by the complainants. Thus, the complainants filed a Motion for Early Resolution which was not acted upon by the respondent until his resignation.
Clearly, respondent was remiss in his duty to dispose of the cases with deliberate dispatch thus, warranting administrative sanction from this Court.
Article VIII, Section 15(1) of the
This mandate applies even to motions or interlocutory matters or incidents pending before a magistrate.
Records show that up to the time of the filing of herein complaint on March 1, 2002, respondent has yet to resolve the Motions filed by complainants, i.e.,Motion to Render Judgment dated August 21, 2000 and Motion for Early Resolution dated August 7, 2001. A delay of one (1) year and seven (7) months in resolving the aforecited Motions certainly erodes the people's faith in the judiciary, thus, tarnishing the image of the judiciary which respondent represents in general, and the name of the judge, in particular. TDCAHE
Records also show that respondent was considered to have automatically resigned from the service effective June 10, 2002. However, respondent's resignation during the pendency of the case did not divest the Court of its jurisdiction to pronounce whether he is innocent or guilty of the charges.
Inability to decide a case within the required period is not excusable and constitutes gross inefficiency. The Court has constantly reminded judges to decide cases promptly. Delay not only results in undermining the people's faith in the judiciary from whom the prompt hearing of their supplications is anticipated and expected; it also reinforces in the mind of the litigants the impression that the wheels of justice grind ever so slowly, and worse, it invites suspicion of ulterior motives on the part of the judge. Failure to decide cases on time constitutes inefficiency that merits administrative sanction.
Moreover, thewithout delay.He should be imbued with a high sense of duty and responsibility in the discharge of his obligation to promptly administer justice. It need not be overemphasized that any delay in the determination or resolution of a case no matter how insignificant is, at the bottom line, delay in the administration of justice in general.
Delay in resolving motions and incidents pending before a judge within the reglementary period of 90-days fixed by the We cannot countenance such undue delay by a judge, especially at a time when clogging of court dockets is still the bane of the judiciary, whose present leadership has launched an all out program to minimize, if not totally eradicate, docket congestion and undue delay in the disposition of cases. Prompt disposition of cases is attained basically through the efficiency and dedication to duty of judges. If they do not possess these traits, delay in the disposition of cases is inevitable, to the prejudice of litigants. Accordingly, judges should be imbued with a high sense of duty and responsibility in the discharge of their obligation to promptly administer justice.
A judge's failure to resolve motions and other pending incidents within the prescribed period constitutes gross inefficiency. Undue delay in the disposition of cases and motions erodes the faith and confidence of the people in the judiciary and unnecessarily blemishes its stature.
No less than the If public confidence in the judiciary is to be preserved, judges must perform their official duties with utmost diligence. There is no excuse for delay or negligence in the performance of judicial functions.
For failure of respondent to resolve motions and pending incidents relative to Civil Case No. 2000-36, he is found guilty thereof and should be penalized accordingly.
Since respondent was already considered automatically resigned from the service on June 10, 2002 by reason of his filing of his certificate of candidacy in the 2002 Barangay Elections, we deem it appropriate to impose a fine of P11,000.00.
Anent respondent's failure to comply with the Court directives.
In , citing the case of , the Court held that the office of the judge requires him to obey all the lawful orders of his superiors. It is gross misconduct, even outright disrespect for the Court, for respondent judge to exhibit indifference to the resolution requiring him to comment on the accusations in the complaint thoroughly and substantially. After all, a resolution of the Supreme Court should not be construed as a mere request, and should be complied with promptly and completely. Such failure to comply accordingly betrays not only a recalcitrant streak in character, but also disrespect for the Court's lawful order and directive.
As held in , citing the case of , a judge who deliberately and continuously fails and refuses to comply with the resolution of this Court is guilty of gross misconduct and insubordination.It is gross misconduct and even outright disrespect to this Court for respondent to exhibit indifference to the resolutions requiring him to comment on the accusations contained in the complaint against him. IcAaSD
And in , the Court held that in failing to comment on the letter-complaint against him despite repeated directives to do so, respondent judge neglected his duty, as a member of the court, to defend himself against an administrative charge.
Judges are called upon to comply with the directives of the OCA which under as amended by
Records reveal that respondent received on April 17, 2006, the Resolution of April 12, 2004 requiring him to show cause why he should not be disciplinarily dealt with or held in contempt for his failure to comply with the directives of the Court Administrator dated April 18, 2002 and September 20, 2002, respectively.
The contumacious act of respondent in ignoring all communications coming from the Court, by not claiming his mail matters from the Postal Office, shows utter disrespect and contempt of Court. Respondent's blatant disregard and repeated failure to comply with the directives of the Court Administrator and the Resolutions of this Court demonstrated not merely indifference, but disobedience to, disrespect for and contempt of this Court, the highest tribunal of the land to which he owes fealty, which merits a penalty of fine in the amount of P5,000.00.
WHEREFORE, the Court finds Judge Placido B. Vallarta, MCTC, Cabiao-San Isidro, Nueva Ecija, GUILTY of gross negligence and is FINED in the amount of P11,000.00. Moreover, he is likewise found guilty of contempt of court and is FINED in the amount of P5,000.00.
Ynares-Santiago, Chico-Nazario and Nachura, JJ., concur.
Callejo, Sr.,J., is on leave.
1. Rollo,pp. 1-7.
2. Rollo,p. 53.
3. Id. at 54.
4. Id. at 57-60.
5. Id. at 61.
6. Id. at 63.
7. Id. at 65.
8. Id. at 67.
9. Id. at 69.
10. Id. at 70.
11. Id. at 73.
12. Id. at 78.
13. Id. at 85.
14. ,A.M. No. RTJ-05-1914, September 30, 2005, 471 SCRA 186, 191.
15. ,A.M. No. RTJ-04-1889, December 22, 2004, 447 SCRA 450, 463.
16. ,A.M. No. MTJ-03-1511, August 20, 2004, 437 SCRA 81, 83; ,350 Phil. 524, 533-534 (1998).
20. ,329 Phil. 704, 711 (1996).
21. case, supra note 16, at 530.
22. ,A.M. No. MTJ-01-1345, August 26, 2002, 436 SCRA 549, 557.
23. ,449 Phil. 336, 340 (2003).
24. ,427 Phil. 63, 79 (2002).
25. ,A.M. No. RTJ-04-1869, January 31, 2005, 450 SCRA 135, 141.
26. A.M. No. P-04-1838, August 31, 2006.
27. A.M. No. 03-1515-MTJ, November 19, 2004, 443 SCRA 79, 83.
28. note 27, at 83.
29. 461 Phil. 665, 670 (2003) citing ,360 Phil. 385 (1998).
30. case, id.
31. A.M. No. RTJ-91-666, March 12, 1993, 219 SCRA 800, 805.
33. case, see note 29, id. at 670.
34. Received by respondent on May 7, 2002 and October 15, 2002, respectively, as shown by the Registry Return Receipts.
35. .,342 Phil. 12, 20-21 (1997); ,326 Phil. 841, 847 (1996).