In an affidavit-complaint dated April 1, 2001 filed before the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA), complainant Iluminada Santillan Vda. De Nepomuceno charged respondent Judge Nicasio V. Bartolome with violation of Republic Act No. 3019 otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act relative to Criminal Case No. 8464 entitled, People of the Philippines v. Manuel Ramos, for Reckless Imprudence Resulting to Homicide and Slight Physical Injuries.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary
Complainant in her affidavit-complaint alleges that respondent judge demanded P5,000.00 from her, reasoning "total panalo na yung kaso at may makukuha raw na pera" ; and that she acceded to the demand of respondent judge by reason of the said assurance and considering that respondent Judge is notoriously known for his corrupt activities.
In his Comment, respondent judge vehemently denied the accusation that he demanded P5,000.00 from the complainant reasoning that if it were really true that he made such demand then it would be a case of a perfect basis for entrapment.
Upon recommendation of the OCA, the Court in a Resolution dated August 5, 2002, referred the matter to the Executive Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Malolos, for investigation, report and recommendation within 90 days from receipt of the records, it being deemed right and proper for both the protagonists to substantiate their respective allegations in a formal hearing.
After conducting several hearings, Executive Judge Oscar C. Herrera, Jr. found the following facts to be undisputed:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
Iluminada Santillan vda. De Nepomuceno, the complainant, was the private complainant in Criminal Case No. 8464 of the Municipal Trial Court (MTC), Sta. Maria, Bulacan, presided over by Judge Nicasio V. Bartolome, the Respondent
. The case was entitled People of the Philippines v. Manuel Ramos y Bernabe. The case was for Reckless Imprudence Resulting To Homicide And Slight Physical Injuries which was filed in October 1994 (p. 8, record). One of the victims thereon, Angelita Nepomuceno, who died, was the daughter of complainant; while the other one, Emerito Nepomuceno, who sustained physical injuries, is the son of the complainant. In a Decision dated February 15, 1999, respondent found the accused guilty of the crime charged, sentenced him to six (6) years imprisonment, and ordered him ‘to pay the heirs of the deceased as well as the injured the sum of P66,523.70 supported by receipts and to indemnify the heirs the sum of P75,000 and to pay the cost of the suit (p. 9, record). Said decision was promulgated on April 13, 1999 (see Annex ‘A’, Counter-Affidavit dated November 6, 2002 of Judge Bartolome). The accused in said case applied for and was granted probation. On July 21, 1999, upon motion of complainant, respondent issued a writ of execution to enforce and implement the civil liability imposed upon the accused (p. 48, record). On December 7, 1999, respondent issued an order revoking the probation and ordering the arrest of the accused for the latter’s alleged failure to comply with the conditions of the probation order (p. 53, record). Upon motion for reconsideration filed, respondent issued an Order dated January 11, 2000 reconsidering the Order dated December 7, 1999 and allowing the accused to settle the civil liability by paying P30,000 within ten (10) days from receipt of the order and P10,000 per month thereafter. The accused apparently failed to pay the amounts corresponding to the months of April, May and June 2000 (p. 31, record). On May 8, 2000, respondent issued an order denying a motion of the accused for reduction of the installment payments (p. 32, record). On May 31, 2000, respondent issued an order approving the recommendation contained in the Manifestation filed by the Bulacan Parole and Probation Office reducing the monthly payment of the accused from P10,000 to P2,000 (p. 33, record). A motion for reconsideration was filed by the complainant but this was denied in an Order dated July 13, 2000 (p. 34, record). On September 14, 2000, complainant filed a petition for certiorari
with the Regional Trial Court of Bulacan questioning the proceedings before the respondent, particularly the reduction of the monthly payment from P10,000 to P2,000 (p. 14, record). The petition was docketed as Civil Case No. 613-M-2000 and was assigned to Branch 11 presided over by Judge Basilio R. Gabo, Jr. On December 6, 2001, Judge Gabo rendered a decision dismissing the petition but declaring that the mode of payment enunciated in the Order of respondent dated January 11, 2000 stands (p. 9, record).
In charging respondent with Violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, complainant insists that respondent demanded and received from her the amount of P5,000 as consideration for the favorable Decision dated February 15, 1999 in Criminal Case No. 8464 and that respondent abused his authority when he allowed the reduction in the payment of civil liability from P10,000 to only P2,000 per month. Of course, respondent denies he ever demanded and received P5,000 from complainant and claims he never allowed the reduction of the payment of civil liability from P10,000 to P2,000. In connection with the latter, he invokes the Decision dated December 6, 2001 rendered by RTC, Bulacan Branch 11 in Civil Case No. 613-M-2000 dismissing the petition for certiorari
of complainant. 1
The Investigating Judge found the complainant to have "remained firm and steadfast" in her claim that respondent Judge demanded P5,000.00 from her on February 19, 1999 in the chamber of respondent judge, as a consideration of the favorable decision dated February 15, 1999; and that the payment was handed to respondent Judge on March 1, 1999 at about 9:30 in the morning while they were at the stairs of the Municipal Hall where a flag ceremony is going on. 2
However, considering that no other evidence was adduced to substantiate the above allegations of the complainant, the Investigating Judge concludes that the testimony of the complainant, standing alone, is insufficient to warrant a finding of guilt.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary
We fully agree. An accusation of bribery is easy to concoct and difficult to disprove, thus, the complainant must present a panoply of evidence in support of such an accusation. 3 Inasmuch as what is imputed against the respondent judge connotes a misconduct so grave that, if proven, it would entail dismissal from the bench, the quantum of proof required should be more than substantial. 4
Anent the complaint that respondent judge abused his authority when he issued the Order dated May 31, 2000 approving the reduction of the monthly installment of the civil indemnity in Criminal Case No. 8464 from P10,000.00 to P2,000.00 — We do not see any malice or ill motive nor taint of abuse of authority on the part of the respondent in the issuance of the said Order. It is based on the Manifestation of the Chief Parole and Probation Officer Teresita A. Mascunana that after an intensive investigation, probationer is found to be in unstable financial status and capable of making a monthly payment of only P2,000.00. 5
As to the observation of the Investigating Judge that during the entire proceedings, respondent Judge twice made untruthful and inaccurate statements in his desire to free himself from the controversy: first, when he insinuated in his Comment filed before the Office of the Court Administrator that the Decision dated February 15, 1999 had already been released thus making it appear that the claim of complainant that a demand made upon her on February 19, 1999 after the release of the Decision, is unbelievable; and, second, respondent Judge asserted that he never allowed the reduction of the monthly installment from P10,000.00 to P2,000.00 —
A perusal of respondent’s Comment dated June 11, 2001, reveals that there was no such insinuation made by the Respondent
. His statement was premised on the assertions made by complainant in her affidavit-complaint. Besides, respondent has specifically stated in his counter-affidavit which he filed with the Investigating Judge 6 that the subject decision was promulgated on April 13, 1999.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary
But while respondent stated in his Comment that he approved the Manifestation filed by the Chief Parole and Probation Officer dated May 25, 2000 recommending the reduction of the monthly installment from P10,000.00 to P2,000.00 and denied the motion for reconsideration thereof, he consciously and deliberately made contradictory statements in paragraphs 6 and 9 of his counter-affidavit, to wit:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
6. . . . The Chief of the Probation Office recommended its approval but respondent judge reiterated an earlier order fixing the monthly payment at P10,000.00 . . .
9. . . . Far from the truth, respondent judge stayed put with his Order dated January 11, 2000 wherein the monthly payment was pegged at P10,000.00. 7
The abovequoted statements made by respondent judge is belied by the records. The Order dated May 31, 2000 shows that respondent judge approved the recommendation of the Chief Parole and Probation Officer, reducing the monthly installment from P10,000.00 to P2,000.00 "without modification." 8
Under Canon 2 of the Code of Judicial Conduct, judges should avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all activities. Under Rule 2.01 of the Canon, a judge should so behave at all times as to promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary. By willfully and deliberately making inaccurate and untruthful statements in his defense, respondent judge apparently transgressed these mandates and violated the Code of Judicial Conduct. Considering that the statement in question was under oath, respondent judge should be required to show cause why he should not be dealt with administratively for Serious Misconduct. 9
WHEREFORE, the present administrative complaint against respondent Judge Nicasio V. Bartolome is DISMISSED for insufficiency of evidence.
However, for making deliberate untruthful statements during the proceedings, respondent Judge is required to show cause within ten (10) days why he should not be administratively dealt with for Serious Misconduct.
Bellosillo, Mendoza, Quisumbing and Callejo, Sr., JJ.
1. Report dated December 26, 2002, pp. 6–7.
2. TSN, p. 8, October 30, 2002.
3. Co v. Calimag, 334 SCRA 20, 26.
5. Rollo, pp. 64–65.
6. Records, p. 38.
7. Records, p. 39.
8. Rollo, p. 33.
9. Sec. 3, Rule 140, Rules of Court.