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[A.M. No. MTJ-02-1455. September 2, 2002.]

NECITAS A. ORNILLO, Complainant, v. JUDGE ROSARIO B. RAGASA, Municipal Circuit Trial Court, Carmona-General Mariano Alvarez, Cavite, Respondent.



This is an administrative complaint against Judge Rosario B. Ragasa, of the Municipal Circuit Trial Court, Carmona-General Mariano Alvarez, Cavite, for "Conduct Unbecoming of a Judge and Bias and Partiality" in connection with her handling of the preliminary investigation of a criminal case. Complainant Necitas Ornillo is the aunt of private complainant Geoffrey Loquete in Criminal Case No. GMA-00-20, entitled "People of the Philippines versus Efren Pasajol, Et Al.," for attempted homicide filed in respondent’s court.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary

The facts leading to the filing of this administrative case are as follows:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

On January 11, 2000, Geoffrey Loquete filed a criminal complaint, docketed as GMA-00-20, against Efren Pasajol (then a detention prisoner) and five others (Edmar Pasajol, Sammy Dala, Dandan Dala, Tirso Dumante and Ding Generalo, who were all at large). Judge Ragasa issued an order of detention against Efren Pasajol on the same date. On January 14, 2000, Efren Pasajol posted bail, as a result of which Judge Ragasa issued an order for his release. Pasajol’s arraignment was scheduled for February 1, 2000, during which he pleaded not guilty. Meanwhile, the preliminary examination of the criminal charges filed by Loquete against the five respondents was scheduled for February 24, 2000. Loquete and Mrs. Ornillo were present during the preliminary examination, along with accused Efren Pasajol and the five respondents. At the start of the preliminary examination, the accused and the five respondents informed Judge Ragasa that the parties had agreed to settle the civil aspect of the case for P5,000.00. Thus, the preliminary examination was rescheduled on March 13, 2000 at 9:00 a.m. Mrs. Ornillo demanded in court that the accused and the five respondents pay her. Judge Ragasa noted, however, that she was not a complainant but only a witness in GMA-00-20. Hence, the scheduled preliminary examination on March 13, 2000 was canceled because the complainant Geoffrey Loquete was absent. Meanwhile, the accused and the five respondents consigned P1,600.00 in partial payment of the settlement, promising that full payment would be made at the scheduled pre-trial of Efren Pasajol on April 4, 2000. 1

In the morning session of April 4, 2000, another partial payment of P1,100.00 was made during the said pre-trial. Complainant Loquete notified the court that he would only withdraw the money upon completion of the settlement amount. Judge Ragasa then erroneously issued a warrant of arrest against the five respondents for failure to appear at the pre-trial. This was corrected after she realized that the criminal case was still under preliminary examination. The pre-trial was reset for June 20, 2000. 2

During the afternoon session on April 4, 2000, Judge Ragasa, as was the custom, asked the persons in the courtroom to state their business if they had any, whereupon Mrs. Ornillo stood up and complained that her case had not been called. Judge Ragasa informed Mrs. Ornillo that her case had been called during the morning session. To everyone’s surprise, Mrs. Ornillo started to harangue Judge Ragasa inside the session hall about how long the case was dragging and that the amount of P5,000.00 was not even enough to compensate her for the damage she had suffered. Judge Ragasa asked Mrs. Ornillo whether she was the private complainant. When she answered in the negative, Judge Ragasa looked for Geoffrey Loquete and asked him whether he was willing to settle the civil aspect of the case. Loquete answered in the affirmative. However, this did not stop Mrs. Ornillo from grumbling and talking aloud in her seat while the trial of the other cases continued. Judge Ragasa had to ask her to behave herself, but Mrs. Ornillo, instead of apologizing, stood up and started to make baseless accusations against the entire justice system. 3 On April 6, 2000, Mrs. Ornillo wrote the Court Administrator giving her version of the incident as follows:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

. . . nakikiusap po ako [kay] Judge Rosario Ragasa na iadjust po ninyo ng May mahaba pa naman po ang panahon ng Abril kasi po uuwi ng June ang pamangkin ko, at sinagot niya ako ng ikaw lang ba ang may kaso, tapos sinabi ko baka po pwede kami naman po ang pagbigyan mo, tinakot ako nang paharas na ikukulong kita, sabi ko po wala naman akong kasalanan kayat ito po ang ikinasasama ng loob ko, at nagdisisyon siya at hindi niya tinupad ang warrant, . . . . kaya’t ang pangyayari po ay malinaw pa sa tubig ilog na may kinikilingan siya. . . . 4

In her answer dated May 22, 2000, Judge Ragasa claimed that, as she could no longer put up with Mrs. Ornillo’s disrespectful behavior, she ordered Mrs. Ornillo to step out of the courtroom. Instead of citing her in contempt, respondent Judge Ragasa asked the process server to follow Mrs. Ornillo outside and ask for police assistance if needed. 5

On June 20, 2000, the scheduled pre-trial date, neither accused Efren Pasajol nor complainant Geoffrey Loquete appeared. The respondents deposited P950.00 in partial payment of the settlement amount. Pre-trial was again reset to September 9, 2000. On June 23, 2000, Loquete approached and personally talked to Judge Ragasa. He asked that the case be tried daily; and, as he is a student, that the trials be held on Saturdays in case of conflict with his class schedule. He also asked the court to hasten the collection of the P5,000.00 from the accused and respondents. 6

The preliminary examination of the case against the five respondents was scheduled at 9 o’clock in the morning of June 29, 2000. 7 Meanwhile, in an order dated June 28, 2000, Judge Ragasa inhibited herself from the trial of GMA-00-20 and the conduct of the preliminary examination on the other respondents "as the vituperative words in Necitas Ornillo’s letter has made it almost impossible for [her] to maintain the balance needed to try or to investigate . . . the case fairly." 8 On July 19, 2000, Mrs. Ornillo wrote another letter to the Office of the Court Administrator reiterating her previous complaints and questioning Judge Ragasa’s inhibition.

On recommendation of the Office of the Court Administrator, this administrative case was referred to Executive Judge Manuel A. Mayo of the Regional Trial Court of Cavite City, who set it for pre-trial on April 19, 2002. The pre-trial was later reset to May 8, 2002 at Judge Ragasa’s request. 9 Complainant Ornillo appeared and asked that the pre-trial of the case be reset on June 16, 2002. Respondent Judge Ragasa failed to appear; instead she filed a Motion for Clarification. In said motion, respondent requested that, instead of holding a pre-trial, "the investigating authority should adhere to the procedure under the Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases." 10

Executive Judge Mayo explained his actions thus: "If a notice for pre-trial was sent to the parties by the acting clerk of this court, it was never the intention of the undersigned to conduct a pre-trial but a pre-investigation conference of the parties. In the same manner, if the order made mention of trial dates, it did not mean that it will conduct a trial rather than an investigation. In such an investigation to be conducted in chambers, not in open court as respondent perceives, with the assistance only of the court stenographer, the parties shall be accorded with the opportunity to substantiate their respective averments as contained in the evaluation and recommendation of Court Administrator Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr. dated November 19, 2001." 11

On May 16, 2002, Mrs. Ornillo appeared and submitted her affidavit as well as those of her two witnesses, reiterating her version of the April 4, 2002 incident. Respondent Judge Ragasa filed her comment answering complainant’s allegations on May 23, 2002. The preliminary investigation of the case was reset on May 29, 2002. On that date, Mrs. Ornillo presented an Affidavit of Desistance which states in pertinent part as follows:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

4) That after a soul searching reflection on the circumstances leading to the filing of my complaint against Judge Ragasa, I have come to realize that the aforesaid criminal case wherein my nephew [Geoffrey Loquete] is the private complainant was acted upon with dispatch by Judge Ragasa from the date of arraignment on February 1, 2000 to April 6, 2000, the date I filed my complaint against Judge Ragasa;

5) That I have come to realize that the incident that happened in the afternoon of April 4, 2000 was the result of a misunderstanding and misapprehension of facts coupled with my lack of knowledge of the rules of procedure and the workings of the court;

6) That I have come to realize that Judge Ragasa could not have rendered a decision as I mistakenly thought she had in my nephew’s criminal case but rather Judge Ragasa was merely trying to help enforce the agreement we (my nephew and I) had reached with the accused regarding the settlement of the civil aspect of the case; (emphasis added) 12

Because of Mrs. Ornillo’s desistance, Judge Mayo terminated his investigation and submitted a report which reads:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library


The respondent Judge does not deny what complainant and her witness have stated . . . in their Sinumpaang Salaysay. She does not make a categorical denial of having raised her voice in anger against complainant and threatened to send her to jail. Instead she insinuates that her outburst was in response to what she perceived as an attack made by complainant upon her person as being biased and the justice system being rotten.

Allegedly, if ever she threatened to send complainant to jail, it was to remind her that respondent is clothed with the power [to punish for] contempt of court for disrespectful behavior.

It must be taken into consideration that on April 4, 2000, the date on which the acts complained of transpired, the case of the complainant’s nephew was scheduled in the morning. Complainant failed to attend such hearing but appeared in court in the afternoon. It was then when respondent asked, "Mayroon pa bang kaso?" and complainant stood up to request for an earlier setting of her nephew’s case because he had classes in June. (Par. 8, Sinumpaang Salaysay, Paras)

Under such circumstances and considering further the calendar of respondent Judge on April 4, 2000, which contained 31 cases in the morning and 21 cases in the afternoon requiring her attention and consideration, the action of the judge was not entirely uncalled for and may be attributed to frayed nerves at the end of the day.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary

Insofar as the complaint of Ornillo under oath which consists of "sistema ng palakasan" and "may pinapanigan siya sa amin," there is nothing on record which would substantiate this.

Moreover, complainant has executed an affidavit of desistance stating therein that respondent’s actions in her nephew’s case were with dispatch and for the best interest of all the parties involved and as a consequence of following the rule of the law.


In view of the foregoing considerations and considering further that complainant has realized "that the incident which transpired on April 4, 2000 was the result of a misunderstanding and misapprehension of facts coupled by (her) lack of knowledge of the rules of procedure and the workings of the court" (par. 5, Affidavit of Desistance), it is respectfully recommended that the administrative case against respondent judge be considered dropped.

Further, considering however that the execution of an affidavit of desistance does not automatically result in the dismissal of the administrative case, it is likewise recommended that respondent judge be admonished to be more circumspect in her dealings with the public in her courtroom. 13

We agree with the Executive Judge.

This administrative case against respondent judge is the result of the unfortunate tendency of some laymen, with little acquaintance with court procedure, to attribute malice and falsehood to the courts when things do not go the way they believe they should go. This could have been avoided had complainant been given sound legal advice early on.

The charges against Judge Rosario B. Ragasa are two, to wit:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

1. That, after ordering the accused and respondents to pay P5,000.00 to her nephew and the arrest of respondents, respondent Judge Ragasa failed to enforce her decision. This, according to complainant, is proof of Judge Ragasa’s bias for the accused and his co-respondents and against complainant and her nephew; and

2. That Judge Ragasa shouted at and threatened to send Mrs. Ornillo to jail even though the latter allegedly committed no wrong.

It is noteworthy, however, that complainant had no problem with the court collecting money for her nephew and even allowed the money to be deposited in court in their behalf. It is clear that Judge Ragasa could not have rendered any decision as the case against respondent Efren Pasajol was still at the pre-trial stage. The criminal case against the latter was immediately calendared for arraignment because he was a detention prisoner. The criminal charges against the other respondents (Edmar Pasajol, Sammy Dala, Dandan Dala, Tirso Dumante, and Ding Generalo) were still under preliminary examination because they were still at large.

There is nothing in the records to show that herein respondent Judge Ragasa was biased for or against any of the parties. Nor is there anything to show that she stood to gain as a result of the continuation or dismissal of the trial. Indeed, respondent voluntarily inhibited herself from trying GMA-00-20 and conducting the preliminary examination of the remaining respondents in the criminal case in order to remove any cloud of doubt on her integrity and impartiality.

We admonish complainant Necitas Ornillo for her outbursts in court, although we understand her frustration. We likewise admonish Judge Rosario B. Ragasa for raising her voice and for threatening to throw complainant in jail. She should have been more patient with and tolerant of litigants clearly unfamiliar with court procedure. Although judges are expected to behave in a more decorous manner, we sympathize with their plight. Heavily burdened as they are with cases, judges now and then have to contend with irate citizens suspicious of the legal procedure they do not clearly understand. Apparently, Judge Ragasa could no longer contain the pressure of dealing with the complainant. That she only raised her voice when Mrs. Ornillo did not stop talking is a sign of the strain on her patience. Nevertheless, judges are supposed to be made of sturdier stuff. Respondent judge can take comfort in the thought that to suffer occasional outbursts is a price that those who sit in judgment of other people’s fates must at times pay.

This is an unfortunate incident that should not be allowed to happen again. The Court therefore views with satisfaction complainant’s decision to drop the charges against respondent judge. It is a happy denouement to this incident.

WHEREFORE, the administrative complaint against respondent Judge Rosario B. Ragasa is DISMISSED for lack of merit.

SO ORDERED.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary

Bellosillo, Quisumbing and Austria-Martinez, JJ., concur.


1. Letter from Judge Rosario B. Ragasa to Hon. Alfredo L. Benipayo, Court Administrator, dated July 4, 2000, pp. 1-2; Rollo, pp. 9-10.

2. Id., p. 3; id., p. 11.

3. Comment to the Sinumpaang Salaysay of Complainant Necitas Ornillo and Consolacion Paras, p. 3; id, p. 34.

4. Letter from Mrs. Necitas A. Ornillo to Hon. Alfredo L. Benipayo dated April 6, 2000, p. 1; id., p. 5.

5. Comment to the Sinumpaang Salaysay of Complainant Necitas Ornillo and Consolacion Paras, pp. 3-5; id., pp. 3-5.

6. Letter from Judge Rosario B. Ragasa to Hon. Alfredo L. Benipayo dated July 4, 2000, pp. 3-4; id., pp. 11-12.

7. Id., p. 4; id., p. 12.

8. Order dated June 28, 2000, p. 1; id., p. 14.

9. Motion for Resetting Hearing on Pre-Trial dated April 18, 2002; Order dated April 19, 2002; id, pp. 130-131.

10. Motion for Clarification dated April 23, 2002, p. 5; id, p. 136.

11. Order dated May 8, 2002, pp. 1-2; id., pp. 164-165.

12. Affidavit of Desistance dated May 29, 2002; id., p. 24.

13. Report, pp. 4-5; id, pp. 126-127.

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