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June-2003 Jurisprudence                 

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  • A.M. No. 99-6-81-MTCC June 10, 2003 - REPORT ON THE JUDICIAL AUDIT CONDUCTED IN THE MTCC OF PALAYAN CITY

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  • A.M. No. RTJ-02-1724 June 12, 2003 - RODOLFO O. MACACHOR v. ROLINDO D. BELDIA JR.

  • G.R. No. 138541 June 12, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. JOSE LARRY COLONIA

  • G.R. No. 148327 June 12, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. ROMEO P. DESALISA

  • A.M. No. P-03-1679 June 16, 2003 - OFFICE OF THE COURT ADMINISTRATOR v. BEL EDUARDO F. NITAFAN, ET AL.

  • A.M. No. SCC-03-08 June 16, 2003 - ERMELYN A. LIMBONA v. CASAN ALI LIMBONA

  • G.R. No. 95901 June 16, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. ANTONIO B. SIBONGA, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 138692 June 16, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. OSCAR AREO

  • G.R. Nos. 141280-81 June 16, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. RICKY L. SODSOD, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 144589 June 16, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. JUANITO PACUANCUAN

  • G.R. No. 149683 June 16, 2003 - ILOILO TRADERS FINANCE INC. v. HEIRS OF OSCAR SORIANO JR., ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 149750 June 16, 2003 - AURORA ALCANTARA-DAUS v. SPS. HERMOSO & SOCORRO DE LEON

  • A.M. No. MTJ-96-1106 June 17, 2003 - CELESTINA B. CORPUZ v. ORLANDO ANA F. SIAPNO

  • A.M. No. RTJ-02-1710 June 17, 2003 - EVANGELINA C. SAMSON v. JULES A. MEDIA

  • A.M. No. RTJ-03-1784 June 17, 2003 - MANUEL M. ROSALES v. ROMULO S.G. VILLANUEVA

  • G.R. No. 123146 June 17, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. ALONA BULI-E, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 128225 June 17, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. DANTE A. NARRA

  • G.R. No. 137042 June 17, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. FELIPE MUSA, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 144225 June 17, 2003 - SPS. GODOFREDO and CARMEN ALFREDO v. SPS. ARMANDO and ADELIA BORRAS

  • G.R. No. 145993 June 17, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. RUFINO I. MALLARI

  • G.R. No. 148668 June 17, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. TONY L. PEDRONAN

  • G.R. No. 151440 June 17, 2003 - HEIRS OF SIMPLICIO SANTIAGO v. HEIRS OF MARIANO E. SANTIAGO

  • A.M. No. MTJ-03-1493 June 18, 2003 - RENE BOY GOMEZ v. MANUEL D. PATALINGHUG, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 123161 June 18, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. LIBERATO SOLAMILLO, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 125305 June 18, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. BERNABE MONTEMAYOR

  • G.R. Nos. 127756-58 June 18, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. BENJAMIN P. MEDINA SR.

  • G.R. Nos. 131926 & 138991 June 18, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. MICHAEL U. PAGALASAN, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 134981 June 18, 2003 - FREDELITO P. VITTO v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 135857 June 18, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. ADRIANO ARCA

  • G.R. Nos. 140439-40 June 18, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. FELIX HERMOSA

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  • G.R. No. 149147 June 18, 2003 - FELIX BAROT v. COMELEC CITY BOARD OF CANVASSERS OF TANJAY CITY, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 150327 June 18, 2003 - REPUBLIC OF THE PHIL. v. MARILYN A. PERALTA, ET AL.

  • A.M. No. 01-6-314-RTC June 19, 2003 - RE: REQUEST OF JUDGE ROBERTO S. JAVELLANA, RTC-BR. 59, SAN CARLOS CITY

  • A.M. No. MTJ-92-710 June 19, 2003 - PEDRITA M. HARAYO v. JUDGE MAMERTO Y. COLIFLORES

  • G.R. No. 154411 June 19, 2003 - NATIONAL HOUSING AUTHORITY v. HEIRS OF ISIDRO GUIVELONDO, ET AL.

  • A.M. No. P-03-1701 June 20, 2003 - BALTAZAR LL. FIRMALO v. MELINDA C. QUIERREZ

  • A.M. No. RTJ-00-1594 June 20, 2003 - PASTOR SALUD v. FLORENTINO M. ALUMBRES

  • G.R. No. 122766 June 20, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. FELIPE ESPONILLA, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 127275 June 20, 2003 - PHILIPPINE COMMERCIAL INTERNATIONAL BANK v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 130759 June 20, 2003 - ASIATRUST DEVELOPMENT BANK v. CONCEPTS TRADING CORP.

  • G.R. No. 139332 June 20, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL v. NOLI A. NOVIO

  • G.R. No. 140698 June 20, 2003 - ROGELIO ENGADA v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 142503 June 20, 2003 - ROMUALDO C. PEREZ v. APOLONIO CRUZ

  • G.R. No. 142820 June 20, 2003 - WOLFGANG O. ROEHR v. MARIA CARMEN D. RODRIGUEZ, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 143604 June 20, 2003 - PRISCO LANZADERAS, ET AL. v. AMETHYST SECURITY AND GENERAL SERVICES, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 146595 June 20, 2003 - CARLO A. TAN v. KAAKBAY FINANCE CORP., ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 152436 June 20, 2003 - NPC v. SPS. IGMEDIO CHIONG, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 152766 June 20, 2003 - LILIA SANCHEZ v. COURT OF APPEALS

  • G.R. No. 140872 June 23, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. PABLITO T. INGGO

  • G.R. Nos. 142683-84 June 23, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. SERGIO JOROLAN

  • G.R. Nos. 143760-63 June 23, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. ROMEO B. MANLUCTAO

  • G.R. No. 144018 June 23, 2003 - FAR EAST BANK AND TRUST CO. v. TOMAS TOH, SR., ET AL.

  • A.C. No. 3849 June 25, 2003 - FELICIDAD VDA. DE BERNARDO v. JOSE R. RESTAURO

  • G.R. Nos. 105416-17, 111863 & 143715 June 25, 2003 - PHILIPP BROTHERS OCEANIC, INC. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 122109 June 25, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. JESUS TORIO

  • G.R. No. 123896 June 25, 2003 - ROSALINDA SERRANO v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 126113 June 25, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. ANTONIO B. GUIHAMA

  • G.R. No. 135323 June 25, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. EDELMA LAGATA

  • G.R. No. 136773 June 25, 2003 - MILAGROS MANONGSONG v. FELOMENA JUMAQUIO ESTIMO, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 146018 June 25, 2003 - EDGAR COKALIONG SHIPPING LINES v. UCPB GENERAL INSURANCE COMPANY

  • G.R. Nos. 147589 & 147613 June 25, 2003 - ANG BAGONG BAYANI-OFW LABOR PARTY v. COMELEC, ET AL.

  • A.M. No. P-01-1472 June 26, 2003 - ADRIANO V. ALBIOR v. DONATO A. AUGUIS

  • A.M. No. P-02-1544 June 26, 2003 - ERNESTO LUMANTA v. WILFREDO M. TUPAS

  • A.M. No. RTJ-02-1670 June 26, 2003 - SPS. CAROLINA AND VILLAMOR GRAGERA v. PABLO B. FRANCISCO

  • A.M. No. RTJ-02-1736 June 26, 2003 - SPS. ARTURO and JOSEFINA DE GUZMAN v. FERNANDO VIL PAMINTUAN

  • A.M. No. RTJ-99-1519 June 26, 2003 - GREGORIO LIMPOT LUMAPAS v. CAMILO E. TAMIN

  • G.R. No. 137296 June 26, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. DIONISIO Q. VICENTE

  • G.R. No. 140967 June 26, 2003 - EMERITA ACOSTA v. EMILIO ENRIQUEZ

  • G.R. No. 141863 June 26, 2003 - BASILIO RIVERA, ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 144090 June 26, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. MICHAEL S. MAGUING

  • G.R. No. 145305 June 26, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. REDANTE C. SANTOS

  • G.R. No. 145731 June 26, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. GREGORIO GERAL, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 148730 June 26, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. JOSE D. DELA CRUZ, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 154705 June 26, 2003 - REPUBLIC OF INDONESIA, ET AL. v. JAMES VINZON

  • G.R. No. 121828 June 27, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. RENE GAYOT PILOLA

  • G.R. Nos. 124830-31 June 27, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. GERARDO P. EVINA

  • G.R. No. 138993 June 27, 2003 - PHILIPPINE VETERANS BANK v. SANTIAGO G. ESTRELLA, ET AL.

  • G.R. Nos. 139217–24 June 27, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. NELSON ESPERANZA

  • G.R. No. 143643 June 27, 2003 - NATIONAL POWER CORPORATION v. SPS. JOSE & MA. CLARA CAMPOS

  •  





     
     

    A.M. No. RTJ-02-1670   June 26, 2003 - SPS. CAROLINA AND VILLAMOR GRAGERA v. PABLO B. FRANCISCO

     
    PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

    FIRST DIVISION

    [A.M. No. RTJ-02-1670. June 26, 2003.]

    SPOUSES CAROLINA AND VILLAMOR GRAGERA, Complainants, v. JUDGE PABLO B. FRANCISCO, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, BRANCH 26, STA. CRUZ, LAGUNA, Respondent.

    D E C I S I O N


    VITUG, J.:


    In a letter-complaint, dated 27 June 2000, sent to the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA), herein complainants, the spouses Villamor and Carolina Gragera, charged respondent Judge Pablo B. Francisco, a Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judge of Sta. Cruz, Laguna, with unauthorized practice of law relative to Civil Case No. 98-0019, entitled "Luisa B. Francisco-Gonzales, represented by her Attorney-in-Fact Pablo B. Francisco v. Sps. Carolina and Villamor Gragera" for rescission of contract pending before the RTC of Binangonan, Rizal. The spouses averred that Judge Pablo Francisco had acted as the attorney-in-fact of his sister Luisa Francisco-Gonzales, a resident abroad, in the active prosecution of the case. Except for the initiatory pleading, respondent Judge signed the pleadings relative to the civil case and participated in some of the hearings held relative thereto.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary

    On 30 October 2000, the OCA referred the letter-complaint of spouses Gragera to respondent Judge Francisco for his comment.

    Respondent Judge submitted his comment, dated 28 November 2000, in which he explained that Civil Case No. 98-0019 involved his sister, a resident of the United States of America, who had asked him to be her attorney-in-fact in the case. Respondent Judge said that he had engaged the services of Attorney Remigio D. Saladero to be their counsel. Atty. Saladero acted as such until he was constrained to return to South Cotabato in the middle of 1999. Due to the sudden unavailability of Atty. Saladero and not having found as yet an acceptable replacement, respondent Judge was meanwhile obligated to file a motion for pre-trial in time for the Christmas homecoming of his sister. When no amicable settlement was reached by the parties during the pre-trial conference, respondent eventually contracted the services of Attorney Reynaldo Bernardo.

    On 15 April 2000, the court trying the civil case issued an order allowing the spouses Gragera (defendants in the case) to file an amended answer. Respondent Judge, believing that the order was erroneous, suggested that Attorney Bernardo file a motion for extension of time within which to file a motion for reconsideration. Due to an apparent miscommunication or misunderstanding, Attorney Bernardo instead filed a motion for extension of time to file a reply to the amended answer. Respondent Judge, after learning that neither a motion for reconsideration nor a reply was filed, forthwith prepared and filed a motion for reconsideration in behalf of his sister. Respondent Judge asserted that his being an attorney-in-fact for his sister did not affect his judicial functions and that he had always filed an official leave whenever he would appear in the civil case. Finally, respondent Judge called attention to the fact that the letter-complaint of the spouses Gragera was not even verified.

    In another letter, dated 28 December 2000, sent to the OCA, the spouses Gragera claimed that respondent Judge had also been appearing in other cases, filed by him as plaintiff, such as in —

    "a. Civil Case No. 99-5398, Pablo B. Francisco v. Benjamin Figueroa, RTC, Antipolo, Branch 73;

    "b. Civil Case No. 00-022, Pablo B. Francisco v. Rogelio Sanchez, MTC, Binangonan, Rizal, Branch 1;

    "c. Civil Case No. 00-032, Pablo B. Francisco v. Rolando Sanchez, MTC, Binangonan, Rizal, Branch 1;

    "d. Civil Case No. 00-021, Pablo B. Francisco v. Bernardo Persia, MTC, Binangonan, Rizal, Branch 2;

    "e. Another civil case pending before Branch 69 of RTC, Binangonan, Rizal, the details of which have not yet been secured as of this date." 1

    In a resolution, dated 21 August 2002, the case, docketed Administrative Matter RTJ-02-1670, was referred by the Supreme Court to the Court of Appeals for investigation, report and recommendation. In the course of the investigation, several hearings were conducted during which the contending parties were allowed to testify and present their documentary and testimonial evidence. In the hearing of 26 November 2002, the letter-complaint against respondent Judge was subscribed and sworn to by complainant-spouses Gragera before Division Clerk Attorney Romelia Gonzales.

    In his investigative report, Justice Elvi John S. Asuncion, to whom the matter was raffled and assigned, stated thusly:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    "Respondent Judge denied committing unauthorized practice of law. He contends that he was always represented by counsel in Civil Case No. 98-0019 and in the other ejectment cases which complainants charge that he was appearing in. His lawyers were, initially, Atty. Saladero, then Atty. Bernardo and Atty. Recio. Presently, he is represented in the foregoing cases by Atty. Amor Mia J. Francisco. It is further submitted that in the other ejectment cases where he allegedly appears, respondent Judge is the plaintiff therein and appears in the hearings only as a private individual protecting his rights.

    "Moreover, respondent maintains that his appearances in the foregoing cases do not prejudice the dispensation of justice in his sala as shown by the monthly report of cases in the RTC Sta. Cruz, Laguna — Br. 26 (Exhibits 32 — 32FF). Respondent testified that judges are allowed a total of thirty (30) days vacation leave per year and he always files his leave before appearing in the subject cases.

    "However, he admits that there were several instances when he prepared the pleadings and signed them himself allegedly by force of circumstances and to avoid prejudice to the principal plaintiff, Luisa Francisco Gonzales.

    "Indeed, evidence presented by complainants show that there are occasions when respondent Judge himself would sign the pleadings in the aforestated cases." 2

    In its report, dated 15 November 2001, the OCA gave its own evaluation; to wit:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    "It appears from the record of the case that Atty. Remigio Saladero, Jr., the lawyer who signed the complaint, never represented respondent during court hearings. Thus, the appearance of Atty. Reynaldo Bernardo as collaborating counsel after more than two (2) years from the time the case was filed. In the meantime, it was respondent who acted as counsel and signed pleadings submitted in court. It is therefore undeniably clear that respondent engaged in the practice of law as evidenced by the minutes of the hearings and the motions filed in court." 3

    The OCA and the investigating Justice both recommended the imposition of a fine of P5,000.00 against respondent Judge for unauthorized practice of law.

    This Court finds no valid reason to depart from the holding of the investigating Justice and the OCA that respondent Judge Pablo B. Francisco has committed a serious act of impropriety. Rule 5.07 of the Code of Judicial Conduct provides:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    "Rule 5.07. A judge shall not engage in the private practice of law. Unless prohibited by the Constitution or law, a judge may engage in the practice of any other profession provided that such practice will not conflict or tend to conflict with judicial functions."cralaw virtua1aw library

    The proscription against the private practice of law, or just giving professional advice to clients, by Judges is based on public policy. The prohibition applies equally well to the appointment of and acceptance by judges to the post of attorney-in-fact in actual litigations, a fact which is also, by and large, incompatible with the high office, functions, prestige and privileges of a judge. 4 It is of no moment, albeit worse, that the case where he accepts such designation as attorney-in-fact is one that pends before his own court. The mere perception that the judge might or could unduly influence the conduct, as well as the outcome of the case, can undermine, or compromise in the eyes of the public at the very least, the integrity and independence of the court. Thus, it is often said, a judge should avoid not only an actual impropriety but also even the appearance of impropriety. 5

    In the considered view of the Court, the recommended fine of P5,000.00 should be increased to P12,000.00.

    WHEREFORE, respondent Judge Pablo B. Francisco is found to have impinged the Code of Judicial Conduct by his act of impropriety, and he is adjudged to pay a FINE of TWELVE THOUSAND (P12,000.00) PESOS with a warning that the commission of a similar or other infractions shall be dealt with severely.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary

    SO ORDERED.

    Davide, Jr., C.J., Ynares-Santiago, Carpio and Azcuna, JJ., concur.

    Endnotes:



    1. Rollo, p. 43.

    2. Investigative Report, p. 5.

    3. Rollo, p. 43.

    4. Carual v. Brusola, 317 SCRA 54.

    5. Lorena v. Encomienda, 302 SCRA 632.

    A.M. No. RTJ-02-1670   June 26, 2003 - SPS. CAROLINA AND VILLAMOR GRAGERA v. PABLO B. FRANCISCO


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