Obaana Jr v. Ricafort : AM MTJ-04-1545 : May 27, 2004 : J.
Austria-Martinez : Second Division : Resolution
[A.M. NO. MTJ-04-1545 : May 27, 2004]
SATURNINO OBAANA, JR., Complainant, v. JUDGE ARMANDO R. RICAFORT, Municipal Trial Court, Siaton, Negros
R E S O L U T I O N
Before this Court is a complaint filed against Judge Armando R.
Ricafort of the Municipal Trial Court of Siaton, Negros Oriental, in his
capacity as then Clerk of Court of the Regional Trial Court of Dumaguete City,
Branch 44, for his failure to transmit to the Court of Appeals the records of
Civil Case No. 11437, within the period prescribed in Section 10, Rule 41 of
the Rules of Court.
The following facts are undisputed.
Complainant is the plaintiff in Civil Case No. 11437, entitled
Saturnino Obaana et al. v. Dumaguete Rural Bank, Inc., et al. for the
annulment of a foreclosure sale plus damages with a request for preliminary
injunction and restraining order,1 filed on October 3, 1995 before the Regional Trial Court, Branch 44, Dumaguete
City (RTC for brevity). On September
15, 1997, complainant received a copy of the RTCs decision dismissing his
Complainant filed a notice
of appeal on September 22, 1997 which was approved by the RTC on September 23,
1997 in its Order, to wit:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
Plaintiffs, having seasonably filed their notice of appeal dated
September 22, 1997, to the Courts Order dated September 15, 1997, the same is
Considering that the entire
records of this case are still with the Court of Appeals, Manila by virtue of
another pending incident, this Court will transmit said records back to the
Court of Appeals, as soon as it arrives.
SO ORDERED.2 (Emphasis supplied)cralawlibrary
However, the records of Civil Case No. 11437 were elevated to the
Court of Appeals only on February 6, 2002 or after a lapse of almost five years
from the date the Notice of Appeal was approved.3 Thus, the herein complaint against Judge Alvin L. Tan, as the then presiding
judge of the RTC and Judge Armando Ricafort of MTC, Siaton, Negros Oriental, as
then Clerk of Court of the same RTC.
In view of the death of Judge Alvin L. Tan, the administrative
complaint against to him is considered closed and terminated.4 cralawred
In his Comment dated July 21, 2003, respondent Judge Ricafort
admits that the delay in the transmittal of the records of Civil Case No. 11437
to the Court of Appeals was due to his negligence in the supervision of his
He claims however that
the delay in the transmittal of the records is only two years, reckoned from
the time the records were returned to the trial court, and not five years as
claimed by complainant.
maintains that he had no malicious intent or any ulterior motive in delaying
the transmittal of said records and that this is the first time that this ever
happened to him. He promises not to let this happen again.5 cralawred
In detail, respondent narrates that: on November 7, 1996, as then
Branch Clerk of Court of the RTC, he transmitted the entire records of Civil
Case No. 11437 to the Court of Appeals in Manila because of a Petition for Certiorari
filed with the appellate court pending the finality of the trial courts
proceedings; on September 22, 1997, complainant filed a Notice of Appeal from
the decision rendered by the RTC which was approved the following day with the
qualification that the entire records will be transmitted as soon as the RTC
receives the same from the appellate court; on September 30, 1999, the records
of the case were returned and received by one of the personnel of the RTC but
was not immediately brought to the attention of respondent until sometime in
January, 2000 when complainant asked for the records of the case;
this prompted respondent to call his staff
assistant and instruct the latter to pull out the records from the files and
prepare the paging and the table of contents thereof; several months passed and
complainant followed up the case again; to respondents surprise, the records
were still not transmitted to the Court of Appeals; the staff assistant
reasoned that her volume of work and the non-submission of some stenographers
of their transcripts prevented her from preparing the records; respondent also
claimed that he was kept busy by his many tasks in court; in the meantime,
respondent signed many communications transmitting records to the Court of
Appeals and to the Supreme Court which led him to believe that there are no
more records left in their Branch for transmittal, until February 6, 2002, when
the staff assistant presented to him the transmittal letter for Civil Case No.
11437 for signing and mailing to the Court of Appeals.6 cralawred
Respondent expresses his apology to complainant and the Court
Administrator for his negligence in said case.7 cralawred
In its evaluation, the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA)
Section 10, Rule 41 of the Rules of Court mandates that among the
duties of the Clerk of Court in cases of appeal is to transmit the records of
the case to the appellate court within thirty (30) days from perfection of the
Here, respondent transmitted
the records of the case way beyond the period required by the rules.
The Court held time and again that the failure of the Clerk of
Court to transmit the records of the case constitutes negligence that warrants
of the records of appealed cases to the appellate court is necessary to ensure
the speedy disposition of the case, especially in criminal cases.
In A.M. No.
97-9-278-RTC (Re: Report on the Judicial Audit Conducted in RTC, Branch 29 and
59, Toledo City,
July 8, 1998),
the Court imposed a fine in the amount
of P1,000.00 with admonition and warning on a Branch Clerk of Court who failed
to transmit timely the records of two (2) criminal cases and two (2) civil
cases subject of appeal.
In OCA v. Atty. Marie Yvette Go
(A.M. No. P-01-1485, November 29, 2001), the Court admonished a
Branch Clerk of Court for failing to follow-up with the Court Stenographer the
submission of the required stenographic notes in a case subject of an appeal,
thus, delaying the transmittal of the records of the case to the appellate
In the case at hand, the respondent not only acknowledges that the
delay in the transmittal of the records of the case was his fault, he also
expresses remorse over the consequence of his omission.
The explanation he offers only shows that
the omission attributable to him is not tainted with any malice or bad faith.
Considering however the long delay in the
transmittal of the records of the case, the respondent should be penalized with
a fine.8 cralawred
and recommends that respondent Judge, in
his capacity as then Clerk of Court of the RTC be ordered to pay a FINE of
After reviewing the records of this case, we approve the findings
and recommendation of the OCA.
Section 10, Rule 41 of the Rules of Court explicitly provides:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
Duty of clerk of court of the lower
court upon perfection of appeal.---
Within thirty (30) days after perfection of all the appeals in accordance with
the preceding section, it shall be the duty of the clerk of court of the lower
(a) To verify the correctness of the original
record or the record on appeal, as the case may be, and to make a certification
of its correctness;chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
(b) To verify the completeness of the records
that will be transmitted to the appellate court;chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
(c) If found to be incomplete, to take such
measures as may be required to complete the records, availing of the authority
that he or the court may exercise for this purpose; andcralawlibrary
(d) To transmit the records to the appellate
If the efforts to complete the records fail, he shall indicate in
his letter of transmittal the exhibits or transcripts not included in the
records being transmitted to the appellate court, the reasons for their
non-transmittal, and the steps taken or that could be taken to have them
The clerk of court shall furnish the parties with copies of his
letter of transmittal of the records to the appellate court.
Section 12 of the same rule also states that:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
Sec. 12. Transmittal.--- The clerk of the trial court shall transmit to the appellate court the
original record or the approved record on appeal within thirty (30) days from
the perfection of the appeal, together with the proof of payment of the
appellate court docket and other lawful fees, a certified true copy of the
minutes of the proceedings, the order of approval, the certificate of
correctness, the original documentary evidence referred to therein, and the
original and three (3) copies of the transcripts.Copies of the transcripts and certified true copies of the
documentary evidence shall remain in the lower court for the examination of the
parties. (Emphasis supplied)cralawlibrary
Excluding the period when the records were with the Court of
Appeals because of a petition for certiorari , the respondent took more than two
years from the time the records were returned to the RTC on September 30, 1999
to transmit the same to the Court of Appeals for purposes of complainants
It was only on February 6, 2002
that he signed and mailed the transmittal to the Court of Appeals.
Notwithstanding the fact that complainant
had been following up with respondent the transmittal of the records since
January, 2000, he still failed to promptly act on the matter.
Evidently, respondent is administratively liable for failure to
transmit the records of Civil Case No. 11437 within the period allowed by the
We have emphasized, time and again, the heavy burden and
responsibility which the court officials and employees are mandated to observe,
in view of their exalted positions as keepers of the public faith.
Any impression of impropriety, misdeed or
negligence in the performance of official functions must be avoided.
Indeed, this Court shall not countenance any
conduct, act or omission on the part of all those involved in the
administration of justice which would violate the norm of public accountability
and diminish the faith of the people in the Judiciary.10 cralawred
As clerk of court, respondent occupied a very sensitive position
that requires competence and efficiency to insure the publics confidence in
the administration of justice.
expected to uphold the law and implement the pertinent rules and must be
assiduous in the performance of his duties since he performs delicate
administrative functions that are essential to the prompt and proper
administration of justice.
err without affecting the integrity of the court or the efficient administration
Thus, he cannot be
permitted to slacken on his job under one pretext or another.11 cralawred
As clerk of court, respondent is also responsible in ensuring the
orderly and efficient record management system in the court and to supervise
the personnel under his office to function effectively.12 He is chiefly responsible for the shortcomings of subordinates to whom
administrative functions normally pertaining to them are delegated.13 Thus, the negligence of respondents staff notwithstanding, respondent is still
His negligence in
this case clearly warrants disciplinary action.
In view of respondents admission of his fault, his express
apology to complainant and to the Court Administrator, the lack of ill motive
on his part, his promise not to let this happen again, and the fact that this
is his first offense, we find the recommended fine of
P5,000.00 to be
just and proper in this case.
Judge Armando R. Ricafort of MTC Siaton, Negros Oriental, in his capacity as
then Clerk of Court of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 44, Dumaguete City, is
found GUILTY of NEGLIGENCE in the performance of his duties.
He is imposed a FINE of five thousand pesos
P5,000.00) with a WARNING that the repetition of the same or similar
offense will be dealt with more severely.
Quisumbing, (Acting Chairman),
Callejo, Sr., and TINGA, JJ., concur.
Puno, J., (Chairman), on
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