A.M. No. RTJ-13-2355 (Formerly A.M. No. 13-7-128-RTC), September 02, 2013 - RE: CASES SUBMITTED FOR DECISION BEFORE HON. TEOFILO D. BALUMA, FORMER JUDGE, BRANCH 1, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, TAGBILARAN CITY, BOHOL
A.M. No. RTJ-13-2355 (Formerly A.M. No. 13-7-128-RTC), September 02, 2013
RE: CASES SUBMITTED FOR DECISION BEFORE HON. TEOFILO D. BALUMA, FORMER JUDGE, BRANCH 1, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, TAGBILARAN CITY, BOHOL
D E C I S I O N
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:
Case Number Accused/Parties/Nature of the Case Date Submitted for Decision Due Date of Decision
1. 13161 Bernard I. Escarpe for Viol. of Sec. 5, R.A. 9262 08-16-10 11-14-10 2. 13162 Bernard I. Escarpe for Viol. of Sec. 12, R.A. 9262 08-16-10 11-14-10 3. 13459 Cyrus Keene “LA” D. Apale for Rape 12-30-10 03-29-11 4. 13613 Gualberto Mangala for Viol. of R.A. 9165 04-08-10 04-23-10 5. 14043 Melvin Capa for Frustrated Murder 07-20-10 10-18-10 6. 10515 Merlyn Fabroa, et al. for Rebellion 05-12-10 08-10-10 7. 14853 Ernesto Pudalan for Estafa 01-30-11 04-28-11 8. 14892 Ernesto Pudalan for Estafa 02-17-11 05-15-11 9. 14992 Ernesto Pudalan for Estafa 02-15-11 05-15-11 10. 14993 Ernesto Pudalan for Estafa 02-15-11 05-15-11 11. 12766 Bernard Marc Romea for Rape 09-07-10 12-06-10 12. 12767 Bernard Marc Romea for Rape 09-07-10 12-06-10
13. 7243 Rosalinda Gabronino vs. Sps. Germiniana and Gaudioso Guibone, et al. for Review, Annulment and Cancellation of Title 07-13-10 10-11-10
Case Number Accused/Parties/Nature of the Case Date Submitted for Resolution Due Date of Resolution
14. 14692 Adison Ucang for Viol. of COMELEC Gun Ban 03-18-11 06-16-11 15. 14696 Gabriel Lopez for R.A. 9165 11-11-10 11-26-10 16. 14697 Gabriel Lopez for R.A. 9165 11-11-10 11-26-10 17. 14881 Alberto Dagamac for Viol. of Sec. 11, R.A. 9165 01-15-11 01-30-11 18. 14882 Alberto Dagamac for Viol. of R.A. 8294 01-15-11 04-14-11 19. 14889 Jonas Manzanilla for Viol. of Sec. 11, Art. II, R.A. 9165 01-21-11 02-05-11 20. 14890 Jonas Manzanilla for Viol. of Sec. 12, Art. II, R.A. 9165 01-15-11 01-30-11
The aforementioned 23 cases were the subject matter of a Memorandum dated July 22, 2011, Re: Report on the Judicial Audit and Physical Inventory of Pending Cases Conducted at Branch 1, RTC, Tagbilaran City, Bohol, issued by an audit team of the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA). Deputy Court Administrator Raul Bautista Villanueva required Judge Baluma to explain his failure to act on the 23 cases. However, Judge Baluma failed to comply with said directive.
21. 4986 Valerio Nalitan vs. Fortunato Cagas for Annulment of OCT 9958 12-11-09 03-11-09 22. 7528 Teresita Aranton vs. Heirs of Marcial Oñada for Reformation of Instrument and Specific Performance 08-18-10 11-16-10 23. OCT (6055) 3239 Heirs of Fabia Jumarito (nature of the case not indicated) 02-03-11 05-03-113
In view of the foregoing, it is respectfully recommended that: (a) this matter be re-docketed as a regular administrative matter against Hon. TEOFILO D. BALUMA, former Presiding Judge, Branch 1, Regional Trial Court, Tagbilaran City, Bohol; (b) Judge Baluma be FINED in the total amount of FORTY-SIX THOUSAND PESOS (P46,000.00) for gross inefficiency for failure to decide the twenty-three (23) cases submitted for decision before him within the reglementary period prior to his retirement, the amount to be deducted from his retirement benefits; and (c) considering that retired Judge Baluma is suffering from depression, the equivalent value of his terminal leave be released pending resolution of this Administrative Matter.5The Court agrees with the findings of the OCA, except as to the recommended penalty.
The fines imposed on each judge may vary, depending on the number of cases undecided or matters unresolved by said judge beyond the reglementary period, plus the presence of aggravating or mitigating circumstances, such as the damage suffered by the parties as a result of the delay, the health and age of the judge, etc.In the present case, the Court takes into account the aforequoted survey of cases; together with the number of cases Judge Baluma failed to decide within the reglementary period (23 cases upon his retirement) and the lack of effort on his part to proffer an explanation or express remorse for his offense; but considering as well that he is suffering from depression and that he has no prior infraction, the Court finds that a fine of P20,000.00 is adequate.
The Court imposed a fine of P10,000.00 upon a judge who failed to decide one case within the reglementary period, without offering an explanation for such delay; another who left one motion unresolved within the prescriptive period; and a third who left eight cases unresolved beyond the extended period of time granted by the Court, taking into consideration that the judge involved was understaffed, burdened with heavy caseload, and hospitalized for more than a month. In another case, the judge was fined P10,100.00 for failing to act on one motion. The Court fixed the fine at P11,000.00 when the judge failed to resolve a motion for reconsideration and other pending incidents relative thereto because of alleged lack of manpower in his sala; when the judge decided a case for forcible entry only after one year and seven months from the time it was submitted for resolution, giving consideration to the fact that said judge was still grieving from the untimely demise of his daughter; when a judge resolved a motion after an undue delay of almost eight months; when a judge resolved a motion only after 231 days; when a judge failed to resolve three cases within the reglementary period; and when a judge failed to resolve a motion to cite a defendant for contempt, the penalty being mitigated by the judge’s immediate action to determine whether the charge had basis. In one case, the judge was fined P12,000.00 for failing to decide one criminal case on time, without explaining the reason for the delay. Still in other cases, the maximum fine of P20,000.00 was imposed by the Court on a judge who was delayed in rendering decisions in nine criminal cases, failed altogether to render decisions in 18 other cases, and promulgated decisions in 17 cases even after he had already retired; a judge who failed to decide 48 cases on time and to resolve pending incidents in 49 cases despite the lapse of a considerable length of time; a judge who unduly delayed deciding 26 cases because of poor health; and a judge who failed to decide 56 cases, without regard for the judge’s explanation of heavy caseload, intermittent electrical brownouts, old age, and operation on both his eyes, because this already constituted his second offense.
There were cases in which the Court did not strictly apply the Rules, imposing fines well-below those prescribed. The Court only imposed a fine of P1,000.00 for a judge’s delay of nine months in resolving complainant’s Amended Formal Offer of Exhibits, after finding that there was no malice in the delay and that the delay, was caused by the complainant himself. In another case, a judge was fined P1,000.00 for his failure to act on two civil cases and one criminal case for an unreasonable period of time. The Court also imposed a fine of P5,000.00 on a judge, who was suffering from cancer, for his failure to decide five cases within the reglementary period and to resolve pending incidents in nine cases; and on another judge, who had “end stage renal disease secondary to nephrosclerosis” and died barely a year after his retirement, for his failure to decide several criminal and civil cases submitted for decision or resolution and to act on the pending incidents in over a hundred criminal and civil cases assigned to the two branches he was presiding.
The Court also variably set the fines at more than the maximum amount, usually when the judge’s undue delay was coupled with other offenses. The judge, in one case, was fined P25,000.00 for undue delay in rendering a ruling and for making a grossly and patently erroneous decision. The judge, in another case, was penalized with a fine of P40,000.00 for deciding a case only after an undue delay of one year and six months, as well as for simple misconduct and gross ignorance of the law, considering that the undue delay was already the judge’s second offense. The Court again imposed a fine of P40,000.00 upon a judge who failed to resolve one motion, bearing in mind that he was twice previously penalized for violating the Code of Judicial Conduct and for Gross Ignorance of Procedural Law and Unreasonable Delay. (Citations omitted.)
1 Providing for the Retirement of Justices and All Judges in the Judiciary.
2Rollo, p. 8.
3 Id. at 1-3.
4 Id. at 6.
5 Id. at 5.
6Letter of Judge Josefina D. Farrales, Acting Presiding Judge, RTC, Br. 72, Olongapo City Re: 30 Cases and 84 Motions Submitted for Decision/Resolution in Said Court, A.M. No. 06-3-196-RTC, December 24, 2008, 575 SCRA 365, 382.
7Report on the Judicial Audit Conducted in the RTC, Br. 22, Kabacan, North Cotabato, 468 Phil. 338, 344-345 (2004).
8Soluren v. Judge Torres, A.M. No. MTJ-10-1764, September 15, 2010, 630 SCRA 449, 454.chanrobles virtualawlibrary
9 Section 9(1) in relation to Section 11(B); En Banc Resolution in A.M. No. 01-8-10-SC dated September 11, 2001 (Re: Proposed Amendment to Rule 140 of the Rules of Court Regarding the Discipline of Justices and Judges).
10 A.M. No. 09-9-163-MTC, May 6, 2010, 620 SCRA 298, 302-305.