This is an administrative complaint charging respondent Judge RUBY B. CAMARISTA of the Metropolitan Trial Court of Manila (MeTC) with gross inefficiency and/or gross incompetence, gross ignorance of the law and falsification of public documents, and praying for the dismissal from service of the latter.chanrobles virtual lawlibrary
Herein complainant was the counsel for the plaintiffs in an ejectment case docketed as Civil Case No. 146111 CV, entitled Spouses ROLANDO NICOLAS and LILIAN M. NICOLAS v. FELIX NAPALES, before Branch 2 of the MeTC of Manila. It appears from the records that despite the fact that the said case was submitted for decision on November 3, 1994, respondent rendered judgment thereon only on October 2, 1995 or almost eleven (11) months after the case was submitted for decision. It is for this delay in the disposition of Civil Case No. 146111 CV that complainant imputes gross inefficiency and/or gross incompetence to respondent, alleging further, that the delay could have been avoided had the respondent not been grossly ignorant of the Rule on Summary Procedure governing ejectment cases. Thus, complainant belabors respondent’s actuations in ordering the plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 146111 CV to submit proof of certain allegations in their complaint for ejectment when defendants had failed to file their answer to the complaint in the first place. It is the complainant’s contention that in view of defendants’ failure to answer, respondent should have applied Section 6 of the Rule on Summary Procedure 1 and rendered judgment on the basis of the facts alleged in the complaint without requiring plaintiffs to further substantiate their allegations.
In its memorandum dated April 16, 1997, the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) found that the respondent had indeed rendered judgment well beyond the thirty (30) day period provided for under Section 10 of the Rule on Summary Procedure, to wit:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"SEC. 10. Rendition of judgment. — Within thirty (30) days after receipt of the last affidavits and position papers, or the expiration of the period for filing the same, THE court shall render judgment.
However, should the court find it necessary to clarify certain material facts, it may, during the said period, issue an order specifying the matters to be clarified, and require the parties to submit affidavits or other evidence on the said matters within ten (10) days from receipt of said order. Judgment shall be rendered within fifteen (15) days after the receipt of the last clarificatory affidavits or the expiration of the period for filing the same.
The court shall not resort to the clarificatory procedure just to gain time for the rendition of the judgment." 2
The rules require courts to decide cases submitted for decision generally within three (3) months from the date of such submission. 3 With respect to cases falling under the Rule on Summary Procedure, however, first level courts are only allowed thirty (30) days following the receipt of the last affidavit and position paper, or the expiration of the period for filing the same within which to render judgment. 4 The Rule on Summary Procedure was precisely enacted to achieve an expeditious and inexpensive determination of cases. While the procedural requirement is directory it subjects the defaulting judge to administrative sanction for failure to observe the rule. 5
The respondent seeks to excuse the delay in the disposition of Civil Case No. 146111 CV by claiming that at the time the said case was filed in Branch 2 of the MeTC of Manila on October 4, 1994, she was handling two (2) salas, first, as Presiding Judge of Branch 1 and second, as Acting Judge of Branch 2. Not only was respondent’s caseload doubled but the situation was also exacerbated by the passage of Republic Act 7619 which took effect on April 15, 1994, expanding the jurisdiction of the lower courts and consequently resulting in a considerable increase in the number of cases filed before her salas.
Although respondent’s reasons do deserve some consideration from this Court, they are not sufficient to completely exculpate her from any administrative liability. As correctly pointed out by the OCA, the respondent obviously lacked an effective and proper program of priority in the disposition of cases assigned to her salas. Furthermore, if respondent’s caseload prevented the disposition of cases within the reglementary period, she should have asked this Court for a reasonable extension of time to dispose the cases involved which respondent unfortunately failed to do. 6 Thus, complainant’s insinuation that respondent had probably falsified her Certificates of Service omitting therefrom the fact that she had case which remained undecided beyond the ninety (90) day period as mandated in the Constitution. The records confirm the foregoing allegation as respondent’s Certificates of Service for the months of January to September 1995, failed to indicate that she had a case which was submitted for decision beyond the period required by law.
It has been held by this court that a judge who falsifies his Certificate of Service is administratively liable for serious misconduct and inefficiency under the Rules of Court and likewise under the Penal Code. 7 For it must be remembered that the Certificate of Service is not merely a means to one’s paycheck, but an instrument by which the courts can fulfill the Constitutional mandate of the people’s right to a speedy disposition of cases. 8cralawnad
Finally, this Court finds the issue involving respondent’s allegedly incorrect application of the Rule on Summary Procedure as judicial in nature and not an appropriate subject of this administrative proceeding. 9
WHEREFORE, respondent Judge Ruby B. Camarista of the MeTC of Manila is FINED P3,000.00 which she is directed to pay within thirty (30) days from service hereof, and ADMONISHED to be more conscientious and prompt in the performance of her duties. She is further WARNED that a repetition of the same or similar acts in the future will be dealt with more severely.
, Romero, Melo and Panganiban, JJ.
1. SEC. 6. Effect of Failure to Answer. — Should the defendant fail to answer the complaint within the period above provided, the court, motu propio, or on motion of the plaintiff, shall render judgment as may be warranted by the facts alleged in the complaint and limited to what is prayed for therein: Provided, however, that the court may in its discretion reduce the amount of damages and attorney’s fees claimed for being excessive or otherwise unconscionable. This is without prejudice to the applicability of Section 4, Rule 18 of the Rules of Court, if there are two or more defendants.
2. The foregoing was incorporated in the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure as Section 11 of Rule 70 on Forcible Entry and Unlawful Detainer.
3. Section 15, Article VIII, Constitution of the Philippines: Raboca v. Pantanosas, Jr., 245 SCRA 293, 295 ; Re: Report on the Judicial Audit Conducted in the Regional Trial Court Branches 61, 134 and 147, Makati, Metro Manila, 248 SCRA 5 .
4. Raboca v. Pantanosas, id.; Cruz v. Pascual, 224 SCRA 111 .
5. Cruz v. Pascual, id. at p. 114
6. Española v. Panay, 248 SCRA 684, 687 ; Cruz v. Basa, 218 SCRA 551 .
7. Re: Report on the Judicial Audit conducted in the Regional Trial Court Branches 61, 134 and 147, Makati, Metro Manila, supra.
8. Sabitsana, Jr. v. Villamor, 202 SCRA 435, 440 .
9. Raboca v. Pantanosas, supra.