Philippine Supreme Court Jurisprudence


Philippine Supreme Court Jurisprudence > Year 1976 > June 1976 Decisions > A.C. No. 598-MJ June 10, 1976 - MELCHOR TABANGIN v. EUFROCINO T. TAGAYUNA:




PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

SECOND DIVISION

[A.C. No. 598-MJ. June 10, 1976.]

MELCHOR TABANGIN, Complainant, v. EUFROCINO T. TAGAYUNA, Municipal Judge of Sto. Domingo, Ilocos Sur, Respondent.

SYNOPSIS


Respondent municipal judge was administratively charged with partiality toward the accused in arbitrarily dismissing the complainant’s criminal complaint for maltreatment against three policemen. The records show that after conducting the initial investigation, the respondent issued a warrant for the arrest of the accused, informed the Mayor thereof who forthwith ordered the suspension of the three accused policemen, furnished the National Police Commission with a copy of the complaint, and notified the fiscal of the date of initial hearing. The records also show that, on the three scheduled dates set for the hearing, complainant assured the court that he was to be represented by counsel but the said counsel failed to appear thereat. In the meantime, the accused repeatedly manifested their readiness for trial and invoked their constitutional right to a speedy trial. In view of the opposition of the accused to a further postponement of the case, respondent judge issued an order provisionally dismissing the case.

The Supreme Court ruled that for the effective enforcement of the right to a speedy trial, judges are under obligation to proceed with reasonable dispatch in the trial of criminal cases. It ruled, further that in issuing the questioned order of dismissal, respondent did so in compliance with section 16, R.A. 4864 (Police Act 1966).

Administrative charge dismissed.


SYLLABUS


1. JUDGES; DUTIES; DISPATCH IN TRIAL OF CRIMINAL CASES. — The right to a speedy trial is guaranteed by the Constitution, and for the enforcement of this precept, judges are under obligation to proceed with reasonable dispatch in the trial of criminal cases.

2. ID.; ID.; SECTION 16, R.A. 4864; CRIMINAL CASES AGAINST MEMBERS OF POLICE FORCES SHOULD BE GIVEN PRIORITY. — Section 16 of Republic Act No. 4864 (Police Act of 1966) provides in part "that the trial and disposition of criminal cases against members of the police forces shall be accorded priority by the courts.


R E S O L U T I O N


ANTONIO, J.:


Administrative charge against a municipal judge for partiality in favor of the accused.

By means of a telegraphic communication, dated August 17, 1973, to the Secretary of Justice, complainant Melchor Tabangin charged respondent Municipal Judge Eufrocino Tagayuna of Sto. Domingo, Ilocos Sur, with "partisan and compartmentalized administration of justice", in arbitrarily dismissing his complaint for maltreatment against three (3) policemen of Sto. Domingo, Ilocos Sur. Said complaint, docketed as Criminal Case No. 751, and entitled "People of the Philippines v. Martin Tabor, Nelson Paculan and Perfecto Rebollido", alleged:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"That on or about 2:00 o’clock in the morning, 7th January 1973, inside the Municipal Jail of Sto. Domingo, Ilocos Sur . . . the abovenamed who are public officers in fact did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, box, slap and kick one MELCHOR TABANGIN y DONATO a detainee . . . under their charge; that they overdid themselves in the correction or handling of a prisoner or detention prisoner under their charge by imposition of punishment not authorized by regulations, and inflicting such punishment in a cruel and humiliating manner."cralaw virtua1aw library

On three (3) scheduled dates for the hearing of the aforementioned case, counsel for complainant Melchor Tabangin failed to appear. By reason thereof, respondent Judge issued an Order dismissing the case provisionally. It is the contention of complainant that, being too poor, he could not afford to secure the assistance of counsel and, being uneducated, it never occurred to him to seek the assistance of the Fiscal, whom respondent Judge should have notified so that his representative may be made available for the prosecution of the case. In fine, complainant’s grievance is that he was not given a chance to prove his complaint against the accused in the maltreatment case.

On the basis of the telegraphic complaint, the Secretary of Justice indorsed the matter to the Provincial Fiscal of Vigan, Ilocos Sur, directing said prosecuting officer to "conduct an investigation on the merits of the complaint." In compliance with such directive, Provincial Fiscal Jesus F. Guerrero subpoenaed complainant and respondent to appear before him on September 23, 1973. Both parties appeared, but complainant declined to have his oral testimony taken, hence Fiscal Guerrero ordered them to submit written statements or affidavits in support of their respective versions of the incident. This notwithstanding, complainant Melchor Tabangin failed to comply with this order. On the other hand, respondent Judge submitted his written statement dated October 4, 1973, outlining the steps taken by him in Criminal Case No. 751, and annexing therewith "true copies of pleadings, affidavits, records of proceedings and orders filed, taken and issued" in said case, as well as the affidavit of the court clerk, Miss Heraclea F. Soliven, who typed all the records of the proceedings therein. On the basis of the afore-mentioned records, the Provincial Fiscal recommended that the charges be dismissed. The entire records of the case were, however, transmitted to the Secretary of Justice "for a fuller understanding of the nature of the complaint filed by Mr. Melchor Tabangin." The Secretary in turn indorsed the matter to this Court for resolution.chanrobles law library

The recommendation of the Provincial Fiscal of Vigan appears to be well-taken. There is no proof existing on the records to show that respondent Judge was influenced by partisan considerations in dismissing the complaint in Criminal Case No. 751. It has been shown that, after conducting the initial investigation of the case, respondent Judge issued a warrant for the arrest of the three policemen, after which he informed the Municipal Mayor thereof, and the latter immediately ordered the suspension of the three accused. Respondent likewise furnished the Police Commission with a copy of the criminal complaint. Contrary to the allegation of the complainant that the Fiscal’s office was not notified, the records show that before the date of initial hearing, the Clerk of the Municipal Court furnished said office with a notice of said hearing. Later, complainant amended his complaint by changing the date when he was allegedly maltreated from January 1, 1973 to January 7, 1973. The records also show that complainant, on three separate dates, assured the court that he was to be represented by counsel. Thus, at the initial hearing on May 28, 1973 he informed respondent Judge that his counsel is Atty. Salacnib F. Baterina, but said counsel could not attend the hearing on that date because of other cases needing his attention. On June 15, 1973, complainant informed the court that his counsel had left for Manila, instructing him to request for the postponement of that day’s hearing, hence the hearing was postponed to July 6, 1973 in spite of the objection of the accused. On the latter date, complainant again informed the court that his counsel could not be present because he is somewhere in the North. However, he categorically stated that Atty. Baterina knew of the hearing set on that date because he twice verified the date thereof with complainant. The court granted complainant one hour within which to await the arrival of his counsel, but Atty. Baterina did not appear. In the meantime, the accused, through counsel, repeatedly manifested their readiness for trial and invoked their constitutional right to a speedy trial. In view of the opposition of the accused to the postponement, respondent Judge issued the order provisionally dismissing the case.

The right to a speedy trial is guaranteed by the Constitution, and for the enforcement of this precept, judges are under obligation to proceed with reasonable dispatch the trial of criminal cases. Moreover, respondent Judge in issuing the aforesaid Order, did so in compliance with Section 16, of Republic Act No 4864 (Police Act of 1966), which provides, in part, "that trial and disposition of criminal cases against members of the police forces shall be accorded priority by the courts."cralaw virtua1aw library

We find, therefore, no iota evidence to show that respondent Judge has acted in a partial or partisan manner.

WHEREFORE, the administrative charge against respondent Judge is hereby dismissed.

Fernando (Chairman), Barredo, Aquino and Martin, JJ., concur.

Concepcion, Jr., J., is on leave.

Martin, J., was designated to sit in the Second Division.




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