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PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

THIRD DIVISION

[G.R. No. 120654. September 11, 1996.]

MARIA LOURDES PAREDES-GARCIA, Petitioner, v. COURT OF APPEALS and HON. ESCOLASTICO M. CRUZ, JR., Respondents.


D E C I S I O N


DAVIDE, JR., J.:


This is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court to set aside the decision of 19 June 1995 1 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 37081 dismissing the petitioner’s special civil action for certiorari to annul the order of respondent Judge Escolastico M. Cruz, Jr., which cited the petitioner for contempt and ordered her to pay a fine of P100.00.

The pleadings and the annexes thereto disclose the following uncontroverted facts:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

The petitioner, an Assistant Provincial Prosecutor of Rizal, was deputized at the Office of the City Prosecutor of Makati City and assigned at the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 58, Makati City. The respondent is the presiding judge of the said branch.

At 8:30 a.m. of 11 April 1995, the respondent Judge commenced the session of his court. When Criminal Cases Nos. 93-7434 to 39 (People of the Philippines v. Ofelia Baja) was called the petitioner, who was the prosecutor assigned to the said case, was not yet around. She arrived ten minutes later just when the second case in the calendar was on its first call. The respondent Judge forthwith ordered the petitioner to explain within seventy-two hours her failure to come to court on time.

Before the "finalization of the aforesaid open court order," the petitioner filed her Explanation. 2 She alleged therein that she actually reported to her office at 8:00 a.m., as shown by a copy of a page of the Prosecutor’s logbook, and that she went to the respondent Judge’s court. However, she returned to her office to attend to some matters prior to the hearing. She thereafter proceeded back to the respondent Judge’s court for the hearings, but was late for ten minutes. At the time, the second case was just on its first call. She asserted further that she had never been late in any of the hearings of the court nor previously fined or ordered to explain for tardiness in any hearing, which is the respondent Judge’s usual practice for lawyers and litigants who come late.

On 12 April 1996, the respondent Judge issued the following order, 3 which cited the petitioner in contempt of court and directed her to pay within seventy-two hours from receipt of the order a penalty in the amount of P100.00.

In an open court order dated April 11, 1995, the Public Prosecutor and the Public Attorney were ordered to explain their failure to come to court at 8:30 in the morning.

On even date and before the finalization of the aforesaid open court order, Public Prosecutor Maria Lourdes P. Garcia submitted an ‘Explanation’ alleging, among other things, that on April 11, 1995, she reported for work at around 8:00 a.m. as shown by the logbook, a photocopy of which she appended to her ‘Explanation.’

In paragraph 5 of her ‘Explanation,’ she contends that she had never been late in any of the court hearings as in fact she had never been ordered to explain nor imposed a fine, a usual practice as a matter of course.

The time has come for the Court to advice [sic] Asst. Prosecutor Garcia of the need to disabuse her mind with the thought that the xerox copy of the logbook she attached to her ‘Explanation’ has evidentiary value insofar as coming to court on time is concerned. She maybe [sic] in her office at 8:00 a.m. or even earlier, but it does not follow that she is also in the court room before sessions begin. Under the law on physics, no creature can occupy two different spaces at the same time. Coming to her office on time is certainly different from coming to court on time.

On the argument that she had never been ordered to explain nor imposed a fine, Asst. Prosecutor Garcia is well aware that her allegation of ‘for the record, undersigned had never been late in any of the hearings of this Court . . .’ is a downright lie. If only she will examine her conscience, she would know that paragraph 5 of her ‘Explanation’ is a falsity. The only reason why the court never ordered her to explain her tardiness is because of PAKIKISAMA (’companionship’ as translated into the English language by Mr. Leo James English).

Asst. Prosecutor Garcia’s verbal clash with the branch clerk of court yesterday, April 11, 1995 is the proverbial ‘last straw that broke the camel’s back.’ The branch clerk’s refusals to let her enter the undersigned’s chambers are all orders of the undersigned out of propriety. Propriety dictates that no lawyer with a pending case — government or private — should be allowed to talk with the undersigned. Asst. Prosecutor Garcia has not only been improper in her several attempts to enter the undersigned’s chambers — she has also been improper in asking the staff of this court to carry her travelling bags/paraphernalias [sic] for her, to buy food, to deposit her pay checks, to run errands for her — all reaching the knowledge of the branch clerk of court and the undersigned. Worse, if the Asst. Prosecutor would perhaps ‘get down to brass tacks’ and remain in the court room while criminal proceedings are going on, no case on technicality could have been lost (re: People v. Cawili).

In defiance of Memorandum # 1-95 dated March 28, 1995 conspicuously posted right at the court room door, she still attempted several times to talk to the undersigned in chambers, prompting the branch clerk of court to exercise her ‘administrative powers’ to rightfully prevent as she did, the Asst. Prosecutor from doing so.

WHEREFORE, with all these and more, finding the ‘Explanation’ a downright lie, Asst. Prosecutor MARIA LOURDES P. GARCIA is hereby cited in CONTEMPT of Court. Consequently, she is hereby ordered to pay within seventy-two (72) hours from receipt of this order, a penalty in the amount of P100.00 to the branch clerk, this court, who in turn is directed to turn over the fine to the Office of the Clerk of Court after issuing the corresponding receipt therefor.

The petitioner filed a motion for a reconsideration of the order, which was, however, denied by the respondent Judge. Pertinent portion of the order of denial reads:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

Paragraph 9 of Asst. Prosecutor Maria Lourdes P. Garcia’s Motion for Reconsideration alleging that." . . . this being the first incident at that, she does not deserve such cruel and harsh treatment from this Honorable Court;’ is false, for the truth is what is stated in page 2 of the contempt order reproduced hereunder, thus:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

On the argument that she had never been ordered to explain nor imposed a fine, Asst. Prosecutor Garcia is well aware that her allegation of ‘for the record, undersigned had never been late in any of the hearings of this court . . . .’ is a downright lie. If only she will examine her conscience, she would know that paragraph 5 of her "Explanation" is a falsity. The only reason why the court never asked her to explain her tardiness is because of PAKIKISAMA (’companionship’ as translated in the English language by Mr. Leo James English). 4

Aggrieved by the aforementioned orders, the petitioner instituted with the Court of Appeals a special civil action for certiorari, which was docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 37081, wherein she challenged the orders in this manner:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

FIRST: BEING UNINTENTIONALLY LATE FOR TEN (10) MINUTES DUE TO THE PERFORMANCE OF OTHER OFFICIAL FUNCTIONS BY THE PETITIONER WHO IS AN ASSISTANT PUBLIC PROSECUTOR ASSIGNED IN MAKATI CITY IS NOT A CALLOUS DISREGARD TO THE ORDERS OF THE COURT NOR A CONTUMACIOUS ACT AGAINST THE DIGNITY OF THE COURT AND AGAINST THE SOLEMNITY OF ITS PROCEEDINGS.

SECOND: THE CONTEMPT ORDER AND THE SUBSEQUENT ORDER OF THE HONORABLE PUBLIC RESPONDENT DENYING PETITIONER’S MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION ARE HARSH AND CRUEL AND THAT THEY WERE DONE AND ISSUED WITH GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION.

THIRD: THE ISSUANCE OF A WARRANT OF ARREST IS A MISAPPLICATION AND A CLEAR MISAPPRECIATION ON THE PART OF THE HONORABLE PUBLIC RESPONDENT OF SECTION 1, RULE 70 OF THE RULES OF COURT.

FOURTH: THE ASSAILED ORDERS AND THE PENALTIES IMPOSED BY THE HONORABLE PUBLIC RESPONDENT WILL WORK GREAT INJUSTICE TO THE PETITIONER.

FIFTH: THERE IS NO OTHER PLAIN, SPEEDY AND ADEQUATE REMEDY IN THE ORDINARY COURSE AND LAW AVAILABLE TO THE HEREIN PETITIONER. 5

In his comment on the petition in CA-G.R. SP No. 37081, the respondent Judge defended the correctness of his orders and attached thereto, among other things, (a) his Office Memorandum 1-95 of 28 March 1995 outlining his policy on those who wish to see him in his chambers; (b) his own affidavit narrating his policies on how to conduct sessions in relation to tardiness and imposition of fines in particular, the instances when the petitioner personally apologized to him for her tardiness, and the reason why he cited the petitioner for contempt; (c) copies of eight of his orders imposing fines on government and private prosecuting lawyers and litigants who arrived late in court; (d) separate affidavits of the personnel of his sala (branch clerk of court, Criminal Cases in-charge, legal researcher, two court stenographers, branch sheriff, process server, court aide, two casual employees), a prosecution witness, and a private complainant, attesting to instances of tardiness of the petitioner.

The Court of Appeals limited the issues to whether the petitioner was tardy and whether she committed falsehood in her explanation. 6

In its decision of 19 June 1995, 7 the Court of Appeals dismissed CA-G.R. SP No. 37081. As to the first issue, it held that the petitioner herself admitted the fact of her tardiness. As to the second issue, it found that the petitioner was not honest about her punctual attendance in court, which if considered together with her tardiness, may be punished with contempt. Thus:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

The possibility is, the petitioner was penalized for contempt not only because she was late or tardy, but also because of falsehood in her April 11, [1995] "explanation." Precisely, the respondent said, despite her tardiness, she offered no apology and worst she allegedly lied. Her "temerity" in alleging a falsehood is a "callous disregard" of the dignity of the court and a "manifestation of disregard" of the virtue of honesty. Besides, petitioner’s "blatant allegation of an obvious falsehood" is a wrongful act. 8

The Court of Appeals gave credence to the affidavits of the respondent Judge and several court employees attesting to the tardiness of the petitioner on certain occasions. It concluded that although "a late appearance by only about 10 minutes does not per se amount to a stubborn or perverse disobedience," that "tardiness coupled with statements less than truthful should certainly be castigated." It went on to state that:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

The respondent Judge should not be faulted for being strict in the matter of time attendance during trials. He has . . . consistently penalized private as well as government lawyers, litigants, witnesses and court personnel who are remiss in their duties to come to court on time, a policy he adopted without exemptions, since 1989 when he was still a Presiding Judge of the Metropolitan Trial Court of Manila. 9

The petitioner then came to this Court through the instant petition for review contending that the decision of the Court of Appeals is based on a mere possibility, thereby depriving her of her constitutional right to be presumed innocent. She would never have the nerve or temerity to violate the court’s rules, indulge in any falsehood, or commit any act which would taint her record and jeopardize her burning ambition to join the judiciary in the future. She argues that if indeed she had been late, the best evidence would have been a reprimand or admonition in an order issued by the respondent Judge; no such order exists. The fact that she immediately submitted her explanation indicated her unfailing respect to the court. She also attacks the value of the affidavits submitted by the respondent Judge before the Court of Appeals for having been executed through the respondent Judge’s influence, who exercises moral ascendancy over the affiants. She attached to her petition machine copies of several pages of the Prosecutor’s Logbook showing her daily attendance from 16 August 1994 to 11 April 1995. 10

The petitioner also alleges that the contempt order was a retaliatory act because she had spurned the respondent Judge’s amorous advances to her. Describing herself as a young woman, who is, by standards of physical beauty, "well-endowed and physically attractive," she claims that the respondent Judge had been extending unusual courtesies to her. There were numerous occasions when he would visit her in her office or invite her for lunch at his chambers or elsewhere; he also allowed her frequent access to his chambers and provided her an electric fan and a cellular phone. These were discreet ministrations for her to give in to his offers for cocktails or a date at karaoke clubs. But prior to the issuance of the contempt order, she earned the ire of the respondent Judge, because on a trip to Cagayan de Oro City, she failed to call him despite his numerous requests to do so. She explained to him that she had lost the phone. At another time, he sought her for the jurat in his affidavit; but when she requested him to personally appear before her and take his oath, the respondent Judge was apparently insulted and had the affidavit retrieved and referred to another prosecutor instead. She was, in fact, the prime target of Memorandum No. 1-95, to sever whatever free access she had previously enjoyed.

Finally, the petitioner asserts that the respondent Judge acted with unusual haste in dismissing her explanation and motion for reconsideration. If she were indeed guilty of anything, it would only be an indirect contempt.

In his Comment, the respondent Judge questions the viability of this petition for its failure to raise questions of law and to show that it falls within the exceptions to the rule on conclusiveness of the findings of fact of the Court of Appeals. He underscores the fact that the petitioner admitted her tardiness. The affidavits he submitted cannot be taken lightly, for they have been obtained from various affiants whose positive assertions cannot prevail over the petitioner’s self-serving denial. He also observes that some annexes 11 of the petition readily show that the petitioner had been late seven times when she logged her time of arrival at her office at 8:30 a.m., 8:35 a.m., and 8:45 a.m. Evidently, if she arrived at her office at 8:30 a.m., she could not have been in court at the same time. He claims that he has consistently fined public and private lawyers and litigants who arrived late in court.

The respondent Judge further alleges that the electric fan was lent to the petitioner by the officer-in-charge of the court, not by him, and that the cellular phone was just borrowed from him by the petitioner. He denies the alleged amorous advances and claims that the petitioner is suffering from some delusions of beauty. 12

Finally, the respondent Judge avers that all these years his record as a trial court judge remains unsullied. He had been the recipient of several awards, such as the (1) Jose Abad Santos Award for Most Outstanding Metropolitan Trial Court Judge of the Philippines [1991] given by the Foundation for Judicial Excellence; (2) Presidential Lingkod Bayan Award [1991] given by the Office of the President; and the (3) Outstanding Pillar of Justice Award [1994] given by the city government of Manila. On the other hand, he bemoans the petitioner’s competence as a prosecutor and cites an instance where her neglect in requesting the complainant to identify the signature of the drawee of bounced checks caused the acquittal of the accused in a case 13 involving a violation of B.P. Blg. 22 (Bouncing Checks Law). In another case, 14 she deliberately attempted to mislead the court by offering exhibits different from that presented and marked in court.

In its Comment, the Office of the Solicitor General prays for the dismissal of the petition, as (a) it raises pure questions of fact; and (b) contrary to the petitioner’s assertion, the challenged decision is supported by the evidence on record notwithstanding the Court of Appeals’ use of the word "possibility." In any event, the error thus raised refers to the application of evidence. As regards the petitioner’s contention that the Court of Appeals disregarded certain relevant facts showing the "oppressive and vindictive attitude" of the respondent Judge, the Office of the Solicitor General avers that the same cannot be entertained for having been raised for the first time on appeal.

In her Reply to the Comments, the petitioner brings into focus the Court of Appeals’ alleged error in upholding the nature of the contempt as direct contempt; in sustaining the legality of the contempt order, although it was issued without due process; and in failing to consider the ulterior motive of the respondent Judge in issuing the contempt order and to correct "the patent cruelty, the latent vindictiveness, oppressiveness, and the retaliatory nature" of the said order. She attached thereto a copy of her performance rating sheet and the affidavit of Ma. Enrina Talag-Pascual. The former shows that her performance score for 1995 was 90%, earning for her a "very satisfactory" rating. She was, as well, evaluated to possess good public relations and an integrity that is beyond reproach. In the latter, affiant Enrina, a former acting branch clerk of court and interpreter of Branch 13, Metropolitan Trial Court of Manila, declared that when the respondent Judge was the presiding judge of the said branch, he did certain acts leading toward a special personal relationship with her. When he later notice her frequent male visitor and her preference for that visitor, the respondent Judge would no longer talk to her nor give her anything to do. Eventually, another person got the appointment to the position she was aspiring for. Feeling cheated and taken advantage of, she resigned.

We resolved to give due course to this petition, and the parties submitted the required memoranda.

We find for the petitioner.

The power to punish for contempt is inherent in all courts. It is indispensable to their right of self-preservation, to the execution of their powers, and to the maintenance of their authority, and consequently to the due administration of justice. 15 It is an essential element, or is possessed as part, of judicial authority vested by the Constitution in the courts. 16 Put a little differently, the power is an "implied constitutional power." 17

The power, however, is not limitless. It must be used sparingly with caution, restraint, judiciousness, deliberation, and due regard to the provisions of the law and the constitutional rights of the individual. It should be exercised on the preservative and not on the vindictive principle. Being drastic and extraordinary in its nature, it should not be resorted to unless necessary in the interest of justice. 18 For, as observed in People v. Estenzo: 19

There is a compelling and exigent need therefore for judges to take utmost care lest prejudice, innate or covert hostility to personality of counsel, or previous incidents lead them to characterize conduct susceptible of innocent explanation as slights on the dignity of the court. It is ever timely to remember how easy it is to overstep the dividing line that should separate the prosecutor from the judge, when both roles are merged in the same person. The infusion of personal element may go unnoticed. Even if such were not the case, objectively viewed, such an impression may be difficult to avoid by laymen. That is a consideration that cannot be overlooked.

Indeed, the contempt power could easily tempt a judge to make its exercise nothing more than a camouflage for a wounded pride, a burning prejudice, revenge, a misplaced passion, or selfish motives.

We do not hesitate to rule that the respondent Judge failed to observe the rule of conduct in the exercise of the power to punish the petitioner for contempt of court. In our considered opinion, he acted without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion in holding the petitioner guilty of contempt without complying with the requirements of due process.

It must be underscored that in open court on 11 April 1995, the respondent Judge merely ordered the petitioner to explain her failure to come to court on time or at 8:30 a.m. of that day. That order did not yet amount to a show-cause order or a citation directing an explanation why she should not be held in contempt of court for tardiness. Tardiness could be a valid ground for contempt. Justice Malcolm remarked:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

All too frequently, a Court of First Instance finds it necessary to impose a small fine on attorneys for failure to be present at the session of the court at the hour and on the day named and for unseemly behavior in the presence of the court. 20

Failure of counsel to appear in court for trial despite due notice was held to constitute indirect contempt, 21 for it is a misbehavior committed not in the presence of or so near a court or judge as to interrupt the administration of justice. 22

The Explanation of the petitioner which was forthwith submitted was an explanation of her failure to come on time, as was, in fact, called for in the order.

The respondent Judge issued the challenged order of 12 April 1995 mainly because of his perception that the explanation was a "downright lie," and for the other grounds enumerated in the order, viz., the petitioner’s (a) verbal clash with the branch clerk of court on 11 April 1995 when the latter prevented the former from entering the Judge’s chamber; (b) previous improper attempts to enter the said chambers; (c) improper conduct in asking the staff of the court to carry her travelling bags or paraphernalia, buy food, deposit her pay checks, or run errands for her (d) defiance of the respondent Judge’s Memorandum No. 1-95, dated 28 March 1995; and (e) failure to remain in court while criminal proceedings were going on resulting in the dismissal of a case due to technicality.

Clearly then, the petitioner was cited and punished for contempt not only because of her "failure to come to court on time" in the morning of 11 April 1995, but also because of the foregoing acts or omissions. Her tardiness as a ground for contempt was, however, relegated to the background, for the respondent Judge had found other grounds for contempt.

The grounds or reasons enumerated by the respondent Judge could constitute grounds for indirect contempt under Section 3, Rule 71 of the Rules of Court, probably under paragraphs (a) and (d) thereof. 23 He cannot, therefore, immediately impose a penalty, but must faithfully comply with the due process requirements prescribed in the said Section 3, namely, the filing of a charge in writing and giving the accused an opportunity to be heard by himself or by counsel. The charge under this section may be made by the judge himself. 24 And considering that the latter seemed to have personal knowledge of such alleged grounds, it was even his duty if he were honestly convinced of the viability of such grounds to institute the proceedings. 25 If the answer to the charge is satisfactory, the contempt proceedings ends. Otherwise, it shall proceed in accordance with the Rules. 26 On the day set for the hearing, the court shall proceed to investigate the charges and consider such answer or testimony as the respondent may make or offer. 27 Since contempt of court proceedings are commonly treated as criminal in their nature, the mode of procedure and rules of evidence therein are assimilated to criminal prosecutions. 28 Accordingly, if reasonable doubt in fact or in law exists as to the alleged contemner’s guilt, the doubt shall be resolved in favor of the alleged contemner. 29 The penalty, if warranted, can only be imposed after the alleged contemner shall have been heard. 30

In finding the petitioner guilty of the aforementioned acts and imposing upon her the penalty of a fine without granting her an opportunity to answer the imputed falsehood and improprieties and an opportunity to be heard, the respondent Judge disregarded the requirements of due process in contempt proceedings and, therefore, acted without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion. 31

Even assuming arguendo that the respondent Judge’s order of 12 April 1995 was meant to be a resolution on the issue of the petitioner’s tardiness in the morning of 11 April 1995, and that it could be summarily dealt with as a direct contempt and forthwith punished, the penalty of P100.00 is unreasonable. The petitioner admitted that she was late by ten minutes and that she arrived when the second case in the calendar was on its first call. This reference to a first call, which is not denied by the respondent Judge, presupposes the existence of a practice where at the commencement of the sessions at 8:30 a.m. the cases are called to determine which are ready and to call the second time those which were not ready on the first call. Of course, it cannot be expected that two cases ready on the first call would be tried at the same time. The delay then of ten minutes was of de minimis importance, especially considering the fact that there is no showing at all that another case was ready for trial at 8:30 a.m.

As to the alleged "lie" which the respondent Judge characterized as "downright," no evidence supports it except his appeal to the petitioner to examine her conscience because she knew that if the court never ordered her to explain her tardiness it was due to "pakikisama." This appeal to the petitioner’s conscience was itself an admission that there was no evidence to prove the petitioner’s prior tardiness or of any order calling her attention to it or admonishing her for that. If it was the respondent Judge’s practice or policy to impose a fine on lawyers and litigants — and he was able to attach to his Comment in CA-G.R. SP No. 37081 copies of eight orders imposing such fines — then he should have done so against the petitioner if she were tardy in the past. Yet, he could not produce any order intended for the petitioner; he was then unfair or discriminatory in the implementation of his policy or practice. If the petitioner had in fact been tardy to a point of habituality, no "pakikisama" can warrant the respondent Judge’s tolerance, unless we are to believe the petitioner’s version that she had been the object of the respondent Judge’s special attention or grant of privileges in the past.

Moreover, since what was filed was a special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, which is an available remedy in appropriate cases of judgments in contempt proceedings, 32 the only issue which the respondent Court had to resolve was whether the respondent Judge has acted without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion in issuing the challenged orders. 33 It should not have taken into account in resolving the merits of the case the affidavits and other documents submitted by the respondent Judge to prove the alleged falsehood in the petitioner’s Explanation and the correctness of his orders. These pieces of evidence, obtained when this case was already before the Court of Appeals, were not available to or considered by the respondent Judge when he issued the orders.

The above pronouncements should not be understood as absolving the petitioner from any liability for her tardiness or from her solemn duty as an officer of the court. As a lawyer, she is bound by her oath to conduct herself as a lawyer according to the best of her knowledge and discretion with all good fidelity as well to the courts as to her client. She should never forget that punctuality is not only a practice mandated by the Code of Professional Responsibility 34 and Canons of Professional Ethics, 35 it is a virtue which must be faithfully maintained as part of her contribution in the task of ensuring a speedy, efficient, and effective administration of justice. If the petitioner then had committed a breach of her duty to the court she should accordingly be dealt with but in accordance with established procedure. The right to do so is hereby reserved to the respondent Judge.

We close with the sad observation that both the petitioner and the respondent Judge have resorted to personal attacks against each other in this case. They failed to limit themselves to the issues and even exchanged tirades on their competence and physical being. They did not observe the proper decorum of civility and refinement even in times of disagreement. Such is not expected of them as officers of the court. What happened in this case may not easily be forgotten by them. If the petitioner would thus remain detailed at the branch of the Regional Trial Court of Makati City presided over by the respondent Judge the soured relationship may affect the administration of justice. The petitioner then must be re-assigned somewhere else.

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is GRANTED. The challenged decision of 19 June 1995 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 37081 and the challenged orders of respondent Judge Escolastico M. Cruz, Jr., of 12 April 1995 and 20 April 1995 in Criminal Cases Nos. 93-7434 to 39 are SET ASIDE.

The Department of Justice and the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Rizal are requested to recall the designation of the petitioner to Branch 58 of the Regional Trial Court of Makati City and to detail her to other courts if these have not been done yet.

No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.

Melo, Francisco and Panganiban, JJ., concur.

Narvasa C.J., took no part.

Endnotes:



1. Annex "A" of Petition, Rollo, 16. Per Salas, J., with Lantin and Austria-Martinez, JJ., concurring.

2. Rollo, 17.

3. Id., 17-20

4. Rollo, 20

5. Rollo, 21.

6. Id., 22.

7. Supra note 1.

8. Rollo, 23.

9. Id., 27.

10. Annexes "C", "C-1" to "C-58" ; Id., 31-89.

11. Annexes "C-7," "C-12," "C-20," "C-31," "C-37," "C-40," and "C-50" ; Rollo, 38, 43, 51, 62, 68, 71, and 81.

12. Id., 99.

13. Criminal Cases Nos. 94-1837 to 1841 (People of the Philippines v. Ramon C. Tongson and Rodrigo G. Cawili).

14. Criminal Case No. 94-2641 (People of the Philippines v. Eduardo Reyes).

15. In re Kelly, 35 Phil. 944, 950 [1916]; In re Lozano and Quevedo, 54 Phil. 801 [1930]; Perkins v. Director of Prisons, 58 Phil. 271 [1933]; Commissioner of Immigration v. Cloribel, 30 SCRA 1241 [1967].

16. In re Sotto, 82 Phil. 595 [1949].

17. Fontelera v. Amores, 70 SCRA 37 [1976].

18. Villavicencio v. Lukban, 39 Phil. 778 [1991]; Oliveros v. Villaluz, 57 SCRA 163 [1974]; People v. Maceda, 188 SCRA 532 [1990]; De Guia v. Guerrero, 234 SCRA 625 [1994].

19. 64 SCRA 211, 214 [1975]. See also Fontelera v. Amores, supra note 17.

20. GEORGE A. MALCOLM, Legal and Judicial Ethics [1949], 100-101.

21. People v. Gagui, 2 SCRA 752 [1961].

22. Section 1, Rule 71, Rules of Court.

23. Viz.: (a) misbehavior of an officer of a court in the performance of his official duty or in his official transaction, and (d) any improper conduct tending, directly and indirectly to impede, obstruct or degrade the administration of justice.

24. People v. Venturanza, 98 Phil. 211 [1956].

25. In re Antonio Quirino (Teehankee v. Director of Prisons), 76 Phil. 630 [1946].

26. Bakewell v. Lloren, 12 SCRA 691 [1964].

27. Section 5, Rule 71, Rules of Court.

28. Lee Yick Hon v. Collector of Customs, 41 Phil. 548 [1921]; Benedicto v. Cañada, 21 SCRA 1066 [1967]; Delgra v. Gonzales, 31 SCRA 237 [1970].

29. People v. Alarcon, 69 Phil. 265 [1939].

30. Yatco v. Court of Appeals, 37 SCRA 174 [1971].

31. Caluag v. Pecson, 82 Phil. 8, 13 [1948].

32. See Delgra v. Gonzales, supra note 28.

33. Section 1, Rule 65, Rules of Court.

34. Rule 11.02, Canon 11, Code of Professional Responsibility: "A lawyer shall punctually appear at court hearings."cralaw virtua1aw library

35. Canon 21, Canons of Professional Ethics: "It is the duty of the lawyer not only to his client, but also to the courts and to the public to be punctual in attendance. . . ."

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