Manzon v. Perello : AM RTJ-02-1686 : May 7, 2004 : J. Vitug : Third
Division : Resolution
[A.M. NO. RTJ-02-1686 : May
ARNEL V. MANZON, Complainant, v. JUDGE NORMA C. PERELLO, CLERK OF COURT PAUL RESURECCION, REGIONAL
TRIAL COURT, BRANCH 276, MUNTINLUPA CITY, Respondents.
R E S O L U T I O N
In a First Indorsement, dated 23 June 2000, Assistant Ombudsman
Abelardo L. Aportadera, Jr., forwarded to the Office of the Court Administrator
a letter-complaint of Arnel V. Manzon charging Judge Norma C. Perello and Atty.
Paul M. Resureccion, the branch Clerk of Court, both of the Regional Trial
Court, Branch 276, of Muntinlupa City, with dereliction of duty relative to
Civil Case No. 9-138 (Arnel V. Manzon v. Maria Remedios Argana, et al.),
case for damages then pending before the sala of respondent Judge. Manzon averred in his complaint that the
case was filed on 24 July 1997
but that it had remained unacted upon for three years.
He made several follow-ups to ascertain the
status of the case but his efforts proved to be in vain.
In her comment, Judge Perello explained that in an order, dated
05 November 1997, she directed the parties to file their position papers on
whether or not the court had jurisdiction over the case considering that the
subject matter would appear to have already been covered in a decision of the
Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC),
Branch 80, in Civil Case No. 2974 for unlawful
The MeTC decision was later
affirmed by Branch 2561 of the Regional Trial Court.
Judge claimed that Branch Clerk of Court Paul M. Resureccion, acting Docket
Clerk of Civil Cases Section Jessie Ferreras and Receiving Clerk Jennifer
Daria, had purposely withheld the records of the case from her.
Respondent judge added that complainant
Manzon had failed to prosecute the case.
Respondent judge attributed the delay in deciding the case to
complainants own negligence, unfortunately abetted, she lamented, by some of
her own court personnel, Resureccion and Daria, whom she forthwith recommended
to be fined in the amount equal to one month of their respective salaries.
In his comment, respondent Paul Resureccion confirmed that the
parties in Civil Case No. 9-138 were directed to file their position papers on
the issue of the courts jurisdiction over the case.Complainant, however, never attempted to prosecute the case.
Respondent Resureccion said that he, being
too busy with the heavy docket of the court, was not aware that the case was
still then pending because the clerk in charge of the civil case kept the expediente
and complainant had made no follow-up thereon.
The Office of the Court Administrator (OCA),
after its evaluation
of the case, found both Judge Perello and Clerk of Court Resureccion to have
utterly failed in adopting a system of record management.
The OCA concluded that complainants failure
to bring the matter to the courts attention was not a valid reason for the
delay complained of, and that it was incumbent upon both respondents to keep
tab of all cases pending before the sala.
The OCA recommended that respondents be reprimanded for their
incompetence and dereliction of duty, be advised to be more attentive to their
duties, and be warned that the same neglect or similar action in the future
would be dealt with severely.
In its 18th March 2002
resolution, the Court adopted the recommendation of the OCA.
Judge Norma Perello and Atty. Paul
Resureccion were reprimanded for incompetence and/or dereliction of duty,
advised to be more attentive to their duties than had been shown, and warned
that a neglect or similar inaction on their part in the future would be dealt
Judge Perello filed a motion for reconsideration.
She asserted that she was never incompetent,
that the case was not referred to her by the receiving clerk and the branch
Clerk of Court, which would explain her inaction, and that she only had learned
of the pending case when complainant wrote her a letter.
She informed the Court that the case was not
even reported in the monthly, quarterly or annual reports because Jessie
Ferreras, Jennifer Daria and Paul Resureccion misplaced the files and conspired
against her in not bringing the matter to her attention.
She maintained that she adopted a system of
case flow and management, contrary to the findings of the OCA, which system had
been in effect for almost ten years.
Unfortunately, the branch Clerk of Court did not follow the routing
procedure, misplaced the case folder, and kept the matter from respondent judge.
She insisted that she could have timely
acted on the matter had it been timely referred to her.
She submitted that it was unfair to
reprimand her for omissions attributable to her negligent personnel.
The Court referred the motion to the OCA for evaluation, report
In its compliance, the OCA found no reason to reverse its
previous findings and recommendation.
Instead, it found the admission of respondent Judge that the case was
not reported in the monthly, quarterly and annual reports of cases to be an
The OCA thus
recommended that the penalty of reprimand be increased to a fine of P5,000.00.
The Court shares the position taken by the OCA.
It should be the duty of Judges to see to it that clerks and
other court personnel faithfully perform the functions assigned to them.
Regrettably, respondent Judge failed in this
Indeed, being the Executive
Judge, respondent judge had, at least should have had, first-hand information
on the cases raffled to her sala. Granting that theexpediente ofCivil Case No. 9-138 was, in fact, misplaced, respondent
judge could have discovered the matter had she conducted the docket inventory
pursuant to Administrative Circular No. 10-94,2 reiterated under Administrative Circular No. 1,3 requiring all trial judges to conduct a physical inventory of cases at the time
of their assumption of office and every semester thereafter on the 30th
of June and 31st of December of the year.In order to ensure compliance with Administrative Circular No.
10-94, the Court issued Administrative Circular No. 17-944 authorizing trial judges to devote one week of each semester for the audit and
inventory during which period trials need not be scheduled.
The Statistical Reports Division, Court Management Office, of the
OCA reported that the latest Docket Inventory Report of Branch 276 presided
over by respondent Judge was for the period covering July to December 1999.
The OCA informed the Court that, contrary to
the clear mandate of Administrative Circular No. 10-94, no docket inventory
reports were submitted for five semesters covering January to June 2000, July
to December 2000, January to June 2001, July to December 2001 and January to
As so aptly pointed out by the OCA, respondent Judge cannot hide
behind the inefficiency of her court personnel.In the Report on the Judicial Audit and Physical Inventory of
the Cases in RTC, Branch 138, Makati City,5 this Court has stated:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
We find unacceptable his claim that it was not his intention to
deliberately mislead this Court into believing that only one case was submitted
for decision for the month of December 1993 but that the Monthly Report Of
Cases was prepared not by him but by a member of his staff.
A perusal of his report however discloses
that it was noted and signed by respondent himself.It must be underscored that proper court management is one of the
primary responsibilities of a trial judge pursuant to Rule 3.09, Canon 3, of
the Code of Judicial Conduct.
judge invariably rests the duty to take note of the cases submitted for
decision and decide them within the reglementary period.
In his desire to exculpate himself and place
the blame on his staff, Judge Agdamag forgot that `he sits not only to judge
litigated cases with the least possible delay but that his responsibilities
include being an effective manager of the Court and its personnel. Judge
Agdamag is presumed to be cognizant of his responsibilities as a worthy
minister of the law.
At the very least
he is expected to keep abreast with his docket.
Rule 3.09, Canon 3, of the Code of
Judicial Conduct obliges a judge to properly supervise the court personnel to
ensure the prompt and efficient dispatch of business and to require at all
times the observance of high standards of fidelity to duty.
Respondent judge is the master of her own
domain, and she must assume the responsibility that goes with it.
resolution, dated 18 March 2002,
of the Court is MODIFIED by imposing upon Judge Norma C. Perello a FINE of Five
Respondent Judge is
further warned that a repetition of the same or similar conduct in the future
shall be dealt with severely.
No motion for reconsideration having been filed by Atty. Paul M.
Resureccion, the penalty of reprimand imposed upon him in the resolution of 18
March 2002 stands.
Sandoval-Gutierrez, Corona, and
Carpio-Morales, JJ., concur.
1 The Comment failed to indicate the MeTC and RTC stations.
4 Dated 14 November 1994.
5 A.M. No. RTJ-94-4-156, 13
March 1996 (254 SCRA 644).
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