April 2008 - Philippine Supreme Court Decisions/Resolutions
A.M. No. RTJ-08-2109 Formerly A.M. OCA IPI No. 06-2463-RTJ and Formerly A.M. OCA I.P.I. No. 06-1-45-RTC - OFFICE OF THE COURT ADMINISTRATOR v. JUDGE MOISES M. PARDO, ET AL.
[A.M. NO. RTJ-08-2109 : April 30, 2008]
(Formerly A.M. OCA IPI No. 06-2463-RTJ, formerly A.M. OCA I.P.I. No. 06-1-45-RTC)
OFFICE OF THE COURT ADMINISTRATOR, Petitioner, v. JUDGE MOISES M. PARDO and CLERK OF COURT JESSIE W. TULDAGUE, RTC-CABARROGUIS, QUIRINO (FORMERLY LETTER-COMPLAINT OF JUDGE MOISES M. PARDO, EXEC. JUDGE, RTC-CABARROGUIS, QUIRINO AGAINST ATTY. JESSIE W. TULDAGUE, CLERK OF COURT, SAME COURT), Respondents.
D E C I S I O N
CARPIO MORALES, J.:
By letter dated August 9, 2005 addressed to Deputy Court Administrator Jose Perez, respondent Judge Moises M. Pardo (Judge Pardo or the Judge) who was, at the time material to the present administrative matter, Executive Judge and Presiding Judge of Branch 31 and acting Presiding Judge of Branch 32 of the two-sala Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Cabarroguis, Quirino, complained against respondent Clerk of Court Jessie W. Tuldague (Tuldague). The body of the letter reads:
I am calling your attention [to] the Grave and Disrespect[ful] conduct of Atty. Jessie W. Tuldague, Clerk of Court VI, RTC Cabarroguis, Quirino, in the conduct of raffle of cases by calling only the OIC Branch Clerks of Court, and furnishing only the undersigned about the said raffle [sic]. The xerox copy of said letter is hereto attached for your perusal.
The said act of said Atty. Tuldague is an affront to the prerogatives of the Executive Judge and x x x he should be penalized for it.
Your fast action hereon is very much sought for.1 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)cralawlibrary
The form-notice of raffle issued by Tuldague, which the Judge attached to his letter, reads:
THE OIC[-]BRANCH CLERK OF COURT
RTC, Branch 31
THE OIC-BRANCH CLERK OF COURT
RTC, Branch 32
Please be informed that we will be conducting the raffle of cases on August 9, 2005 at the session hall of RTC, Br. ___, Cabarroguis, Quirino at 8:15 A.M.
August 4, 2005 at Cabarroguis, Quirino.
Very truly yours,
ATTY. JESSIE W. TULDAGUE
Clerk of Court VI
HON. MOISES M. PARDO
Executive Judge-RTC-Br. 312 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)cralawlibrary
In his Comment,3 Tuldague denied that the notice of raffle was in any way disrespectful to Judge Pardo, he claiming that he has been using the above-quoted form-notice of raffle for the past years without Judge Pardo questioning it. He averred that from the time of his appointment as Clerk of Court of the RTC of Cabarroguis, Quirino, he has been the one who initiated and insisted that the raffle of cases be done in open court. He further averred that Judge Pardo filed the letter-complaint in retaliation for his filing of an administrative complaint against him.
Tuldague in turn charged Judge Pardo for having
x x x
x x x disregarded procedures and committed impropriety when he ordered the civil docket clerk of his sala (Branch 31), on April 28, 2005, to get the records of Land Registration Case No. 264-05, Leoncio Daquioag v. Registry of Deeds, directly from the Office of the Clerk of Court without the benefit of raffle. There was no special raffle conducted to justify the act of Judge Pardo x x x4 (Underscoring supplied)cralawlibrary
The Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) subsequently received on November 3, 2005 a copy of an October 18, 2005 letter of Tuldague addressed to Judge Pardo reading:
x x x
I was informed by Sheriff Tanching Wee that you refuse to sign the Sheriff's Certificate of Sale of Extra-Judicial Foreclosure Cases that we raffled in your absence on the ground that your physical absence during the raffle makes the sale null and void. Please be informed that under A.M. No. 99-10-05-0 as Amended, your absence during the raffle is not a valid ground to declare the sale as void. I hope you will realize that your line of thinking is not to my detriment but to the damage and prejudice of court users. If you want to make the issue big, then you can bring this small matter up to the Supreme Court again and I'm willing and ready to answer. From now on, I will be forwarding to your office all Petitions for Extra-Judicial Foreclosure so you can always be present and conduct the raffle yourself. I'm doing this in the interest of service and so as not to prejudice innocent court users who have nothing to do with the legal controversy and friction between us.5 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)cralawlibrary
On even date, the OCA also received a copy of Judge Pardo's letter-reply to said October 18, 2005 of Tuldague reading:
x x x
In relation to your letter dated October 18, 2005 regarding the raffle of extra-judicial foreclosure cases which you did without my presence although you know that I am very much present, you know pretty well that what you did was in contravention of A.M. No. 99-10-05-0, as amended by Circular No. 7-2002, and the pertinent provision of which is quoted hereunder, to wit:
"Section 1. All applications for extra-judicial foreclosure of mortgage, whether under the direction of the Sheriff or a notary public pursuant to Act No. 3135, as amended, and Act 1508, as amended, SHALL BE FILED WITH THE EXECUTIVE JUDGE THROUGH THE CLERK OF COURT, who is also the Ex-Officio Sheriff (A.M. No. 99-10-05-0, as amended, March 1, 2001).
Section 3. The application for extra-judicial foreclosure SHALL BE RAFFLED under the SUPERVISION of the EXECUTIVE JUDGE, with the ASSISTANCE of the Clerk of Court and Ex-Officio Sheriff, among all Sheriffs including those assigned to the Office of the Clerk of Court and Sheriffs assigned in the branches of the Court. A Sheriff to whom the case only after all other Sheriffs shall have been assigned a case each by raffle (Administrative Circular No. 3-98, February 5, 1998)."
From the above-quoted provisions, you are only to assist in the raffling of the cases and not to act as the Chairman of the Raffle Committee. [Regarding y]our statement that you will be forwarding all petitions received by your office, you should be informed that under the said circular you are to receive all petitions including the corresponding payment of fees.
x x x x6 (Emphasis and italics in the original; underscoring supplied)
Acting on the complaint and counter-complaint, the OCA submitted to the Court its Memorandum-Report7 dated January 9, 2006 containing its evaluation and recommendation thereon, a portion pertinent to the Judge's complaint against Tuldague of which reads:
Minutes of Raffled Cases dated 8 February 2005, 8 March 2005 and 26 September 2005 submitted to the Court Management Office were noted by Judge Pardo, which, to our mind, only manifest the scheduled date and time of the raffling of cases as well as the actual raffling of cases were with his consent [sic]. Moreover, the absence of any evidence showing that he has ever called the attention of Atty. Tuldague as to the alleged "affront to his prerogatives as Executive Judge" strengthens the defense of Atty. Tuldague that he has long been using the same notice without the judge questioning the same. Such tolerance on the part of the complaining judge is considered acquiescence [with] the adopted procedure and, therefore, negates the act complained of.8 (Underscoring supplied)cralawlibrary
In its Resolution of February 8, 2006, the Court approved the OCA's recommendation and accordingly resolved:
(a) to NOTE the following, to wit: 1) the letter-complaint dated 9 August 2005 and letters dated 18 October 2005 and 25 October 2005 of Judge Moises M. Pardo, Executive Judge, RTC, Cabarroguis, Quirino; and 2) comment dated 13 September 2005 and letter dated 18 October 2005 of Atty. Jessie W. Tuldague, Clerk of Court, same court;
(b) to DISMISS the complaint against Atty. Jessie W. Tuldague, Office of the Clerk of Court, Cabarroguis, Quirino, for 'Grave and Disrespect Conduct' for lack of merit;
(c) to DIRECT Atty. Tuldague:
(1) to REFRAIN from personally conducting the raffling of cases (regular raffle as well as raffle of applications for extrajudicial foreclosure of mortgage);
(2) to ASSIST the Raffle Committee (Executive Judge and presiding Judge of the other branch - Judge Pardo only, in the instant case) in the raffling and assignment of cases;
(3) to LEAVE the preparation of the Minutes of the Raffle to the two stenographers designated to record the raffle proceedings; andcralawlibrary
(4) to EXPLAIN why no administrative sanction should be imposed on him for proceeding with the raffle of cases/applications for extra-judicial foreclosure of mortgage in the absence of the Executive Judge;
(d) to DIRECT Judge Moises M. Pardo, Executive Judge, RTC, Cabarroguis, Quirino:
(1) to EXPLAIN why no administrative sanction should be imposed on him for allowing the Clerk of Court to conduct the raffle of cases in his station without his being personally present thereat for a long period of time prior to the filing of his complaint dated 9 August 2005; andcralawlibrary
(2) DISREGARD the 2nd Indorsement dated 10 October 2005 of this Office requiring him to submit his Reply to the Comment dated 13 September 2005 of Atty. Tuldague and, instead, submit his comment on the allegation of Atty. Tuldague that he took the records of Land Registration Case No. 264-05, entitled "Leoncio Daquioag v. Registry of Deeds" from the Office of the Clerk of Court which has no yet been included in the raffled cases;
(e) to DIRECT the Raffle Committee, Judge Pardo as Executive Judge and pairing Judge of the other branch, Atty. Tuldague, as the Clerk of Court, and the two (2) stenographers designated to record the proceedings to STRICTLY OBSERVE the procedure in the raffle of cases including the preparation of the minutes thereof (Sec. 4, Chapter V of the Guidelines on the Selection and Appointment of Executive Judges and Defining their Powers, Prerogatives and Duties dated February 1, 2004); andcralawlibrary
(f) to TREAT the matter, with respect to the irregularity in the raffling of cases, as an OCA-Informal Preliminary Inquiry and to CONSOLIDATE the same with the other complaints subject of our Memorandum dated October 7, 2005 in order to join all issues concerning the courts at Cabarroguis, Quirino. (Emphasis and italics in the original; underscoring supplied)9
In compliance with the Court's foregoing directive, Tuldague, in his Comment/Explanation,10 denied that he personally conducted regular raffle of cases and applications for extrajudicial foreclosure of mortgage, and averred that he only once conducted a raffle of applications for extrajudicial foreclosure of mortgage because he "thought that [Judge Pardo] is no longer interested, considering that he verbally ordered us to raffle cases in open court without him conducting the raffle himself x x x."11
In his March 28, 2006 letter,12 Judge Pardo denied that he did not participate in the raffle of cases, to prove which he submitted Transcripts of Stenographic Notes taken thereon.13 He averred that when he discovered on August 12, 2005 the irregularity in the raffling of foreclosure cases the day before, he prepared and issued Notices of Regular Raffling of Cases effective August 22, 2005.14
With regard to the charge that he allowed Tuldague to conduct the raffle of cases in his absence, Judge Pardo cited his earlier quoted reply-letter to Tuldague's October 18, 2005 letter to refute the same.15
Judge Pardo likewise denied the charge that he took the records of Land Registration Case No. 264-05, claiming that
x x x Due to the voluminous records of cases in my sala, and that of the other sala where I am designated, I learned sometime [in] September 2005 or after deciding the case on the merits that the same was not raffled. As a judge, every case which the then Branch Clerk of Court presents to me and schedules for hearing, [is] presumed to have been regularly docketed in said branch, and that it was regularly delivered to the same, and moreover, - I discovered that the said case [called for] a special raffle, as shown by the Official Receipt No. 0866080A (Annex "H") dated April 28, 2005 issued by the Office of the Clerk of Court Atty. Tuldague in payment of the "Motion Fee for Special Raffle" in the amount of Five Hundred Pesos (Php500.00).16 (Emphasis in the original; underscoring supplied)
By Resolution of April 26, 2006, this Court referred the Judge's letter and Tuldague's comment/explanation to the OCA for evaluation, report, and recommendation.17
In its July 21, 2006 Memorandum,18 the OCA evaluated the case against Tuldague, thus:
With respect to respondent Tuldague, we find that his action and deportment properly call for scrutiny by this Court. He admits that in one instance, he proceeded with the raffle of a foreclosure of mortgage on the presumption that Judge Pardo may not be interested in conducting it himself. Certainly such is not an acceptable and valid reason that could justify his act of usurping the authority of the judge. We cannot accept his explanation that he did that out of pure concern for the service. The circumstances point to defiance of authority considering that there are indications that bad blood exists between them. As respondent Tuldague himself admitted in his letter dated 18 October 2005, there is a "legal controversy and friction" between them. Moreover, his statement in his comment that personally he has no more respect for respondent Pardo, his statement in his letter dated 18 October 2005 that "from now on I will be forwarding to your office all petitions for extrajudicial foreclosure so you can always be present and conduct the raffle yourself", his statement that "if you want to make the issue big, then you can bring this small matter up to the Supreme Court again, and I'm willing and ready to answer", and his assertion that it is respondent Pardo's "misguided principles and bloated pride that keeps him [in] his wrong court practices despite honest to goodness corrections being undertaken by him" speak volumes about Tuldague's disrespect towards his superior. The belligerence too evident to ignore indicates that respondent's act of personally conducting the raffle in the absence of respondent judge was intentional.19 (Italics in the original; emphasis and underscoring supplied)
As for the case against the judge, the OCA observed:
With respect to respondent Judge Pardo, we find that the records of the case do not sufficiently establish enough basis for his liability. Respondent Judge denied that he ever allowed respondent Clerk of Court impliedly or expressly to conduct the raffle of cases/application of extrajudicial foreclosure of mortgage in his absence as Executive Judge. Such denial is supported by the records which show his vehement objection against respondent Tuldague's act of raffling cases even in his absence as chairman of the raffle committee and which is the very root of the present administrative matter. In fact respondent Tuldague denies that he personally conducts the raffle of cases which denial supports respondent Judge['s] assertion that it is [he] who personally presides over the proceedings. As regards his alleged act of assigning an LRC Case to Branch 32 without the benefit of a raffle, the accusation is not supported by the records of the case. The evidence submitted by respondent Tugaldue [sic] to support his accusation is an incompletely filled-pro-forma form of minutes of special raffle, the only entries of which were the case name and number under the space provided for the cases assigned to Branch 32 and the name and signature of the receiving Clerk of Court of said court. This evidence does not speak of any capricious, arbitrary or whimsical disposition on respondent Pardo's part to unilaterally assign the subject LRC case to Branch 32 or of any deliberate intent on his part to violate the rule on raffle of cases. On the contrary, we find acceptable respondent Pardo's explanation that he presumed said case to be regularly docketed in said court. Besides, no ill motive can be attributed to him which could have moved him to disregard the rules on raffle to ensure that Branch 32 would get the case. There are only two branches of the RTC in Cabarroguis, Quirino, Branches 31 and 32. Respondent is the presiding judge of Branch 31 and then acting presiding judge of Branch 32. Regardless therefore of where the case would be assigned, it would still be respondent Pardo who would be hearing and deciding the case, which in fact was what happened.20 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)cralawlibrary
The OCA accordingly recommended that:
 the explanation of respondent Judge Moises Pardo with respect to his alleged act of allowing the Clerk of Court to conduct the raffle of cases in his station without being personally present thereat for a long period of time and comment on the allegation that he took the records of LRC Case No. 264-05 without the benefit of a raffle be considered SUFFICIENT and SATISFACTORY.
 that respondent Clerk of Court Atty. Jessie W. Tuldague be FOUND GUILTY of violation of Supreme Court Circular No. 7-2002 and be REPRIMANDED for such violation.21 (Emphasis in the original; underscoring supplied)
By Manifestation of October 11, 2006, Tuldague submitted the case for decision.22 By Manifestation23 filed on October 26, 2006, Judge Pardo expressed his preference that the case be decided on the basis of his memorandum which he attached to the Manifestation.
The Court finds the OCA's evaluation and recommendation on the complaint against Tuldague and his counter charge against the Judge well-taken.
The Court additionally finds that respondent Tuldague is guilty of gross discourtesy in the course of official duties under Rule IV, Section 52 (B) (3) of the Revised Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service for failure to accord respect for the person and rights of the Judge. The belligerence he showed to the Judge, reflected in his above-quoted letter to the Judge - a case of res ipsa loquitur24 - which was even noted by the OCA, betrays his below-par conduct as a court employee. In Amane v. Atty. Mendoza-Arce,25 the Court had the occasion to expound on the matter:
x x x As succinctly held in Macalua v. Tiu, Jr.,26 an employee of the judiciary is expected to accord respect for the person and rights of others at all times, and his every act and word characterized by prudence, restraint, courtesy and dignity. Government service is people-oriented and where high-strung and belligerent behavior is not allowed. No matter how commendable respondent's motives may be, as a public officer, courtesy should be his policy always. This applies with more force in the case of Atty. Mendoza-Arce because as Clerk of Court of RTC-Roxas City she is supposed to be the model of all court employees not only with respect to the performance of their assigned tasks but also in the manner of conducting themselves with propriety and decorum ever mindful that their conduct, official or otherwise, necessarily reflects on the court of which they are a part.27 (Italics in the original; underscoring supplied)
Lest it be misunderstood that the finding of "gross discourtesy" on the part of Tuldague had been considered by the Court when it, by Resolution of February 8, 2006, approved the OCA Recommendation to Dismiss the complaint against him by Judge Pardo for "Grave and Disrespect [sic] Conduct," it bears emphasis that the charge of the judge referred to Tuldague's failure to notify him of the raffle of cases.
Under the Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service, gross discourtesy in the course of official duties is punishable with suspension for one month and one day to six months on the first offense. To prevent the disruption in the delivery of judicial services, however, the Court deems it appropriate to instead impose on Tuldague a fine equivalent to his salary for one month and one day.28
WHEREFORE, the charge against respondent Judge Moises M. Pardo is DISMISSED.
Respondent Clerk of Court Atty. Jessie W. Tuldague is found GUILTY of violation of Supreme Court Circular No. 7-2002 and is REPRIMANDED therefor.He is likewise found GUILTY of gross discourtesy in the course of official duties and is FINED the equivalent of his salary for one month and one day.
* Additional member per Raffle dated April 2, 2008.
1 Rollo, p. 23.
2 Id. at 24.
3 Id. at 26-27.
5 Id. at 30.
6 Id. at 29.
7 Id. at 2-8.
8 Id. at 4-5.
9 Id. at 38-39.
10 Id. at 49-51.
11 Id. at 55. Vide pp. 49, 55-57.
12 Id. at 77-78.
13 Id. at 83-85.
14 Id. at 86.
15 Id. at 78, 88.
16 Id. at 78. Vide p. 89.
17 Id. at 90-91.
18 Id. at 92-99.
19 Id. at 98.
20 Id. at 97.
21 Id. at 99.
22 Id. at 102-104; vide also Resolution of November 29, 2006; id at 153-154.
23 Id. at 118-121, 153.
24 This Court has applied the res ipsa loquitur in disciplining judicial officers and personnel whose actuations, on their face, show gross incompetence, ignorance of the law or misconduct. Vide De los Santos v. Mangino, A.M. No. MTJ-03-1496, July 10, 2003, 405 SCRA 521, 528; Cruz v. Yaneza, A.M. No. MTJ-99-1175, March 9, 1999, 304 SCRA 285, 305; Sy v. Mongcupa, A.M. No. P-94-1110, February 6, 1997, 267 SCRA 517, 521.
25 376 Phil. 575 (1999).
27 Supra note 25 at 596-597.