This resolves the administrative case against Judge Francisco D. Villanueva of the Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City for immorality. It stemmed from a sworn letter-complaint 1 filed by Rosario D. Adriano charging respondent with gross ignorance of the law, knowingly rendering an unjust judgment, grave abuse of discretion and conduct unbecoming a trial judge which was docketed as A.M. No. MTJ-99-1232 (formerly OCA IPI No. 97-454-MTJ) and cohabitation with a woman not his wife which remained as part of OCA IPI No. 97-454-MTJ.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary
The letter-complaint claims that respondent, in acquitting accused Fe Floro Valino 2 of charges of misrepresenting and recording her name in the death certificate as the wife of the deceased husband of herein complainant, countenanced the criminal acts subject of the case; that respondent’s leniency towards the accused who was the mistress of her deceased husband, may have been brought about by his own practice of cohabiting with a woman who is not his legal wife, which constitutes conduct unbecoming a judge.
Complainant did not identify the name of respondent’s alleged mistress in her letter-complaint but specified that respondent and his mistress are cohabiting at No. 1 Hanna Street, Fil-Invest, Batasan, Quezon City.
On, January 13, 1998, the Court Administrator required respondent to submit his Answer to the letter-complaint within ten days from notice.
On February 27, 1998, respondent filed his Answer contending that "the complaint that he does not live with his legal wife, is unfounded and without basis." He attached the Affidavit of Merit executed by his wife Violeta Jara Villanueva, stating that "her husband has no mistress and is not living with any mistress elsewhere." 3
As a reply to respondent’s Answer, complainant sent a letter dated March 18, 1998 wherein she invited the Court’s attention to the fact that respondent’s given address, which is No. 1 Hanna St., Filinvest, Batasan, Quezon City, is different from his wife’s address stated in her affidavit, which is No. 12 Sangumay St., Mindanao Ave. Subd., Quezon City, thus attesting to the fact that respondent is living separately from his legal wife. 4
In a Memorandum dated September 9, 1999, the then Court Administrator Alfredo L. Benipayo recommended that —
x x x
3. the matter of whether respondent Judge is cohabiting with another woman not his wife subject matter of complaint Rosario D. Adriano’s sworn complaint dated October 18, 1997, be re-docketed as an administrative matter separate from this case, be investigated and, if found true, he should be dealt with accordingly. 5
Consequently, on October 18, 1999, the Court directed the Office of the Court Administrator to docket the complaint charging respondent with cohabiting with a woman not his wife as a separate administrative matter and to raffle the case anew. Accordingly, the complaint for immorality was docketed as A.M. No. MTJ-99-1233, the present case; but it is only after February 16, 2000, that herein case was re-raffled. 6
The OCA, in its Memorandum, dated August 29, 2002, reported as follows:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
Lastly, with regard to the charge of conduct unbecoming of a trial judge, this Office admits that complainant’s evidence is purely circumstantial when she offered proof that respondent and his paramour are both residing at: "No. 1 Hanna St., Filinvest, Batasan, Quezon City," while respondent’s legal wife resides at: "No. 12 Sangumay St., Mindanao Avenue Subd., Quezon City" as shown in the affidavit. However, this is not the first time that respondent was accused of the same offense. In the case of NBI v. Judge Villanueva [A.M. No. MTJ-99-1207, 21 November 2001], the Honorable Court pronounced respondent guilty of immorality for having extra-marital relations with a certain Marian Herrera whom he was illicitly living with at the address known as: "No. 1 Hanna St., Fil-Invest, Batasan, Quezon City." The Honorable Court imposed upon respondent the penalty of fine in the sum of P40,000.00 pesos since "respondent has already retired, he can no longer be dismissed or suspended." Although under Rule 140 of the Rules of Court, immorality is considered a serious charge with an imposable penalty of either dismissal or suspension from the service, respondent’s retirement renders the penalty of either dismissal or suspension moot and academic. Due to the foregoing decision, this Office has no recourse but to dismiss complainant’s charge of conduct unbecoming of a trial judge. 7 [Emphasis supplied
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and recommended the dismissal of herein administrative matter for having been moot and academic in view of the decision rendered in A.M. No. MTJ-99-1207, entitled, NBI v. Judge Villanueva. 8
Likewise found in the records of the above-entitled case is a Resolution dated December 9, 2002, issued by the Court in Adm. Matter No. 11015-RET., to wit:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
Considering the letter dated 3 July 2002 of Hon. Francisco D. Villanueva, former Judge, MTC, Quezon City, requesting the release of his compulsory retirement benefits and the retention of a considerable amount therefrom pending resolution of the administrative case filed against him, and it appearing that Judge Villanueva retired from the judiciary service effective 4 October 2001; that per Certification dated 4 October 2002 issued by the Docket and Clearance Division, Legal Office, OCA, there are two (2) pending administrative complaints filed against him, to wit: A.M. No. MTJ-99-1232 (Formerly OCA IPI No. 97-454-MTJ) and A.M. No. MTJ-99-1233 (Formerly OCA IPI No. 97-454-MTJ), both pending in the Third Division of this Court; and that in a 2nd Indorsement dated 25 October 2002, the Legal Office, OCA, disclosed that the charges against Judge Villanueva are quite serious, the Court Resolves, upon recommendation of Deputy Court Administrator Christopher O. Lock in a Memorandum dated 22 November 2002, to: (a) DENY the request of Judge Francisco D. Villanueva and WITHHOLD his compulsory retirement benefits, except his accrued leave credits, pending the final resolution of AM Nos. MTJ-99-1232 and MTJ-99-1233; and (b) DIRECT the IMMEDIATE RELEASE of Judge Villanueva’s retirement benefits in the event that he is exonerated from the charges in the said administrative complaints. 9 [Emphasis supplied
On February 19, 2003, the Third Division of the Court rendered judgment on A.M. MTJ-99-1232, finding herein respondent guilty of simple misconduct, undue delay in deciding a case and gross ignorance of the law, and imposing upon him a fine of P40,000.00 to be deducted from his retirement benefits which have been withheld in view of the second administrative case filed against him wherein he was found guilty and fined. 10
As to the present complaint charging respondent with immorality or conduct unbecoming a trial judge, herein complainant did not identify the name of respondent’s alleged mistress but only gave information that the address wherein the two are living together is No. 1 Hanna Street, Fil-Invest, Batasan, Quezon City which turns out to be the same address where respondent and his lover named as Marian Herrera have been found to be cohabiting, as held in the NBI case.
Indeed, it may be reasonable to conclude that the mistress alluded to by complainant in this case must be the same mistress subject of the NBI case because of the similarity of the given addresses; and if this were so, the present charges of immorality against respondent had already been fully threshed out in that NBI case where the same respondent was found guilty thereof and meted out a fine of Forty Thousand Pesos.
It is noted that the present complaint was filed in 1997 while the NBI case was filed only in 1999. The possibility that complainant may refer to another woman, is not outside the realm of impossibility. Absent any identification of the alleged mistress in this case, the Court would only be indulging into speculations and surmises if it were to resolve herein administrative complaint only on the basis of the given addresses. The failure of herein complainant to specifically name the alleged mistress of respondent is fatal to her complaint against Respondent
WHEREFORE, the above-entitled administrative case is DISMISSED for lack of merit.
Let copy of herein Resolution be referred to A.M. No. 11015-RET for information and guidance.
SO ORDERED.chanrob1es virtua1 law library
Puno, Quisumbing, Callejo, Sr. and Tinga, JJ.
1. Received by the Office of Court Administrator on November 25, 1997.
2. In Criminal Case No. 31285, entitled "People of the Philippines v. Fe Floro Valino alias Fe Floro Adriano."cralaw virtua1aw library
3. Rollo of A.M. No. MTJ-99-1232, pp. 117–119.
4. Id., pp. 147–149.
5. Rollo of AM-MTJ-99-1232, p. 154.
6. Id., p. 155.
7. Rollo of A.M. MTJ-99-1232, p. 172–173.
8. Id., p. 175.
9. Rollo of A.M. MTJ-99-1233, p. 17.