Please take notice that the Court, Third Division, issued a Resolution dated 13 July 2011, which reads as follows:
A.M. No. RTJ-07-2040 [*] (Jose T. Alberto v. Judge Jose P. Morallos, Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch 70, Pasig City).
In a verified complaint dated February 21, 2006, complainant Jose T. Alberto charged respondent Judge Jose P. Morallos, presiding judge of the Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC) of Pasig City, Branch 70, with gross inefficiency or gross ignorance of the law or both as well as with wanton and willful disregard of applicable laws and rules.
Alberto alleged in his verified complaint that he filed, as attorney-in-fact of a property owner, an eviction suit against Teodoro L. Lim, the lessee, in Civil Case 10962 for violation of the terms of the lease agreement. The case was raffled to the sala of Judge Morallos. Answering the complaint, Lim denied Alberto's allegations and in addition claimed that the action was premature given Alberto's failure to submit the dispute to barangay conciliation under Section 6 of Presidential Decree (P.D.) 1508.
Judge Morallos referred the case to a mediator but it produced no settlement. Judge Morallos thus set the case for preliminary conference on November 29, 2004 and placed it under the Rules of Summary Procedure. The preliminary conference was reset to January 17, 2005, however, because November 29 was declared a holiday.
Because defendant Lim and his lawyer did not appear at the new preliminary conference date, Alberto asked Judge Morallos to render judgment in his favor. But, absent some proof that Lim had notice of the hearing, Judge Morallos instead issued an order, resetting the preliminary conference to February 22, 2005.
Meantime, on learning from the Pasig Central Post Office that Lim received the notice of preliminary conference on December 20, 2004, Alberto filed with the court a manifestation and motion asking Judge Morallos to render judgment against Lim as the rules provided. At the hearing of the motion on January 25, 2005, neither Lim nor his lawyer appeared. Thus, at Alberto's behest Judge Morallos issued an order on January 31, 2005, declaring his motion submitted for resolution.
Even then, on February 22, 2005, the date earlier set for a preliminary conference, Lim and his lawyer did not show up, prompting Alberto to reiterate his right to an immediate judgment. On even date, Judge Morallos issued an order, again declaring Alberto's motion submitted for resolution. But, because Judge Morallos did not act on Alberto's pending motion, the latter filed a motion for early resolution. Judge Morallos granted the same in an order of April 15, 2005 and declared the case submitted for decision.
But Lim filed a motion for reconsideration of Judge Morallos' order, which motion Alberto opposed. Judge Morallos declared the incident submitted for resolution on July 1, 2005; on October 5, 2005 Judge Morallos denied Lim's motion for lack of merit. Frustrated by the long delay in the resolution of the case, Alberto again filed with the court a motion for early decision. Subsequently, he filed the present complaint against Judge Morallos.
In his comment, Judge Morallos countered that Lim's motion for reconsideration could not be regarded as the motion that the rules did not allow. Lim's motion sought to reconsider only the court's interlocutory order of April 15, 2005, not any final order that it had issued. And considering that Lim raised a good defense, Judge Morallos felt a need to hear the motion rather than deny it outright.
Judge Morallos admitted having resolved Alberto's motion for a judgment beyond the required period. The judge, however, pleaded for compassion and understanding, claiming that he did not intend the delay and that he had a heavy workload. As regards the main case, Judge Morallos said that he already decided it on December 15, 2005. He also apologized for whatever inconvenience the delay may have caused.
On May 3, 2006, Alberto filed a supplemental complaint to amplify his charges. He said that the delay was not only in the issuance of the December 15, 2005 decision; there was also delay in its posting in the mail, a gross inefficiency. Further, Judge Morallos dismissed his action on ground of prematurity under P.D. 1508 but this law had long been replied by Republic Act 7160 (also known as the Local Government Code), demonstrating an abject ignorance of the law.
Commenting on the supplemental complaint, Judge Morallos explained that he incurred delay in deciding Alberto's case because he had been pre-occupied with his new appointment as Regional Trial Court (RTC) judge. As for the mailing delay, he already lost supervision over the work of the MeTC mailing personnel after he took his oath as RTC judge on January 10, 2006. And, while he admits citing the wrong law (P.D. 1508) when he dismissed Alberto's action, the reasoning behind it essentially remained the same even under the amendatory provisions of R.A. 7160. Thus, his error cannot be considered gross.
In its Report on January 24, 2007, the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) rejected as unmeritorious Judge Morallos’ explanation of his delay in deciding Alberto's unlawful detainer action. It thus recommended that he be fined P10,000.00 for it. The OCA thought that, although Judge Morallos erred in citing an already amended law, it did not regard the lapse as amounting to gross ignorance of the law. It recommended admonition with warning.
The Issues Presented
The issues presented in this case are:
1. Whether or not Judge Morallos incurred unjustified delay in deciding Alberto's action; and
2. Whether or not Judge Morallos acted with gross ignorance of the law in citing an already repealed law to substantiate his decision.
The Court's Rulings
The rules governing summary procedure enjoins Judge Morallos to decide Alberto's action within 30 days from the submission of the last affidavit and position paper. Judge Morallos failed to abide by this rule and he admitted as much. His plea is for understanding, given his court's heavy workload and his need to attend to the demands of his promotion as RTC judge.
This Court is not unmindful of the heavy caseloads that most trial judges carry on their shoulders. Still, while mitigating under certain circumstances, it cannot excuse them from doing their mandated duty to resolve cases with diligence and dispatch. Judges burdened with heavy caseloads should request the Court to extend the time given them for deciding cases. Judge Morallos neglected making such request. Under Section 9, Rule 140 of the Revised Rules of Court, undue delay in rendering a decision or order is classified as a less serious offense and is punishable under Section 11 of the same Rule by suspension from office without salary and other benefits for not less than one month nor more than three months or a fine of more than P10,000.00 but not exceeding P20,000.00. Considering that this is his first infraction, a fine of P5,000.00 will suffice.
As for Judge Morallos' error in citing an amended law to support what appears to be essentially the same principle he relied on in deciding Alberto's case, such error cannot be regarded as amounting to gross ignorance of the law which connotes an error so flagrant as to produce an inference of bad faith, fraud, dishonesty, and corruption. This is not the case here.
WHEREFORE, for incurring undue delay in deciding Civil Case 10962, the Court FINES Judge Jose P. Morallos in the sum of P5,000.00. Further, the Court ADMONISHES him to keep abreast of changes in the laws.
Very truly yours,
(Sgd.) LUCITA ABJELINA-SORIANO
Clerk of Court
[*] J. Velasco, Jr., no part. J. Del Castillo, additional member, per raffle dated July 13, 2011; J. Peralta, on official leave. J. Carpio, additional member, per Special Order 1029 dated June 30, 2011; J. Sereno, additional member, per Special Order 1028 dated June 21, 2011.
 Rollo, pp. 3-9.
 Id. at 10-15.
 Id. at 26-34.
 Id. at 39.
 Id. at 40. Order dated October 21, 2004.
 Id. at 41.
 Id. at 46, Certification dated January 19, 2005.
 Id. at 42-45.
 Id. at 47.
 Id. at 48.
 Id. at 49-55.
 Id. at 52.
 Id. at 53-56.
 Id. at 59-61.
 Id. at 63.
 Id. at 64.
 Id. at 66-67.
 Id. at 69-70.
 Id. at 81-82.
 Id. at 100-101.
 Id. at 110-115.
 Section 11 of the Revised Rules on Summary Procedure provides:
Sec. 11. Period for rendition of judgment. — Within thirty (30) days after receipt of the affidavits and position papers, or the expiration of the period for filing the same, the court shall render judgment. (See also: Cueva v. Judge Villanueva, A.M. No. MTJ-96-1082, March 29, 1999)
 Rule 3.05. Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial Conduct; Section 5, Canon 6 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct. See: Re: Report on the Judicial Audit Conducted in the Municipal Trial Court in Cities, Branch 2, Cagayan de Oro City, A.M. No. 02-8-207-MTCC, July 27, 2009. 594 SCRA 20, 34-35.
 Judge Adoracion G. Angeles v. Judge Maria Elisa Sempio Diy, A.M. No. RTJ-10-2248, September 29, 2010.
 Ora v. Judge Almajar, 509 Phil. 595, 601 (2005); see also Antonino Monticalbo v. Judge Crescente Maraya, Jr., A.M. No. RTJ-09-2197, Apiil 13, 2011.