A. M. No. MTJ-03-1496 - July 10, 2003
JUDGE ELIEZER R. DE LOS SANTOS, Complainant, vs. JUDGE MARVIN B. MANGINO, respondent.
R E S O L U T I O N
DAVIDE, JR., C.J.:
This administrative matter refers to the Order dated 8 July 19981 of then Judge Eliezer R. de los Santos* of the Regional Trial Court of Angeles City, Branch 59, relative to Criminal Cases Nos. 93-100 and 101 entitled "People of the Philippines v. Jennifer Santos," which were pending in said court.
On 10 July 1998, Judge Eliezer R. de los Santos furnished the Office of the Court Administrator with a copy of his 8 July 1998 Order "for whatever action it may deem appropriate concerning the actuation of Judge Mangino of the Municipal Trial Court of Tarlac in approving the bail bond of an accused arrested in Angeles City and residing in Angeles City and the cases being pending also in Angeles City."
In his 8 July 1998 Order, Judge Eliezer R. de los Santos narrated:
The records show that these cases pending before this Court were filed since last February, 1993. Both the accused and the complainant are residing in Angeles City. The accused was arrested in Angeles City and the bail bond for the provisional liberty of the accused was issued by the Angeles City office of the Imperial Insurance Company. According to the accused, she paid
From the contents of the said bond No. 27367 issued by the Imperial Insurance Company, it was made to appear that accused Jennifer Santos appeared before Notary Public Melchor Ancanan in Makati City on June 23, 1998.
In the same Order, Judge Eliezer R. de los Santos required Julieta M. Bautista, Clerk of Court I, Branch 1, Municipal Trial Court, Tarlac, to appear before his court on 24 July 1998 at 8:30 a.m. to explain and shed light on the circumstances behind the issuance and approval of bail bond No. 27367 by Judge Marvin B. Mangino of Branch 1 of the Municipal Trial Court of Tarlac, Tarlac. He also ordered Mr. Roberto Cabuay, Executive Vice-President and General Manager of the Imperial Insurance Company and notary public Melchor Ancanan to explain in writing or in person why they should not be held liable for making it appear that accused Jennifer Santos appeared before notary public Ancanan in Makati City on 23 June 1998.
In her written compliance2 dated and filed on 23 July 1998, Clerk of Court Julieta M. Bautista of the Municipal Trial Court of Tarlac explained:
On 2 September 1998, Judge Marvin B. Mangino submitted his Comment4 wherein he stated that he "initially adopts" the explanation of Clerk of Court Julieta M. Bautista on the incident, and requested for a photocopy of the order and the bond subject of the case so that he could intelligently make a comment thereon. However, he did not file any supplemental comment or press his request for a photocopy of the order and of the bond.
On 10 April 2002, this Court resolved to require the parties to manifest within ten (10) days from notice whether they were willing to submit the case for resolution on the basis of the pleadings already filed.5
On 14 May 2002, Judge Marvin B. Mangino submitted his manifestation expressing his willingness "to submit for resolution the above-entitled case based on the pleadings filed therein."6 Since complainant Judge de los Santos did not submit any manifestation, the Court, in its Resolution of 19 February 2003 directed that the Resolution of 10 April 2002 be served on him at his office at the Court of Appeals. On 27 March 2003, the Court received his Manifestation7 dated 24 March 2002, expressing his willingness to submit this matter for resolution on the basis of the pleadings already filed.
In its Evaluation Report, the Office of the Court Administrator stated:
and recommended, as follows:
As regards Section 17 (a), Rule 114 of the Rules of Court, cited by the Court Administrator, this Court held in Cruz v. Yaneza:8
The case at bar falls under the first situation mentioned in Cruz v. Yaneza because the accused, Jennifer Santos, was arrested in Angeles City and Criminal Cases Nos. 93-100 and 101, which were filed against her and under which she was arrested, were pending with Branch 59 of the Regional Trial Court of Angeles City. Thus, the bail bond for Jennifer Santos provisional liberty should have been filed in said court, or, in the absence or unavailability of the judge thereof, with another branch of the same court within the province or city.
A mere cursory glance of the bail bond application would readily inform Judge Marvin B. Mangino that the criminal cases in question were pending with Branch 59 of the Regional Trial Court of Angeles City. He also knew, or ought to know, that there are many branches of the Regional Trial Court in Angeles City and in the province of Pampanga. Thus, even if the Presiding Judge of Branch 59 was absent or unavailable, any one of the judges of the other branches of the Regional Trial Court in Angeles City could have acted on the bail bond. Judge Marvin B. Mangino also knew that his court is not of the same level as Branch 59 of the Regional Trial Court of Angeles City. Therefore, he knew, or ought to know, that he had absolutely no authority or jurisdiction to approve the bail bond of accused Jennifer Santos. Clearly, Judge Marvin B. Mangino blatantly disregarded Section 17(a), Rule 114 of the Rules of Court.
Worse, it would further appear that Judge Marvin B. Mangino did not even try to verify the authenticity of the bail bond. It appears that the bail bond was notarized in Makati City, although the bonding company has a branch office in Tarlac, Tarlac. He should have inquired why it was notarized in Makati City. It is obvious that he solely relied on the clerk of court and approved the bail bond on the basis of the "findings" of the clerk of court. He admitted this dereliction of duty to make an independent assessment of the bail bond application when he adopted as part of his Comment the compliance of his clerk of court.
It is thus patent that Judge Marvin B. Mangino failed to exert such conscientiousness, studiousness, and thoroughness expected and demanded of a judge. He was, therefore, remiss in observing the conduct expected of a member of the judiciary.9
A judges conduct should be above reproach, and in the discharge of his judicial duties he should be conscientious, studious, thorough, courteous, patient, punctual, just, impartial.10 As an advocate of justice and a visible representation of the law, he is expected to keep abreast with and be proficient in the application and interpretation of the law. When the law is sufficiently basic, a judge owes it to his office to simply apply it; anything less than that would be gross ignorance of the law.
Further, a judge should exhibit more than a cursory acquaintance with the basic legal norms and precepts as well as with statutes and procedural rules. It is his pressing responsibility to be diligently acquainted with the law and jurisprudence and the changes therein not only because the study thereof is a never-ending and ceaseless process but also for the reason that ignorance of the law, which everyone is bound to know, excuses no one, not even judges.11 Having accepted his exalted position as a member of the judiciary, Judge Marvin B. Mangino owes it to the public and to the court over which he presides to maintain professional competence at all times and to have the basic rules at the palm of his hands.12
Judge Marvin B. Mangino failed to live up to these standards. Not only did he approve the bail bond of the accused without the requisite authority to do so, his manner of doing so showed a flagrant disregard for the applicable procedural law he had sworn to uphold and serve. Unfamiliarity with the Rules of Court is a sign of incompetence which goes against Canon 3, specifically Rule 3.01, of the Code of Judicial Conduct.13 To disregard the law when one has become familiar with it is worse because bad faith comes in.
This palpable disregard of the procedural law on bail or gross ignorance thereof, which also amounted to conduct grossly prejudicial to the best interest of the service, renders Judge Marvin B. Mangino administratively liable as recommended by the Office of the Court Administrator. Under the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur, the Court may impose its authority upon erring judges whose actuations, on their face, would show gross incompetence, ignorance of the law or misconduct.14
A brief survey on the existing jurisprudence on the matter reveals that for similar conduct, less severe penalties were imposed. In Paz v. Tiong,15 this Court imposed upon the respondent judge of the Municipal Trial Court of Bolinao, Pangasinan, a fine of
Under the factual milieu in this case, respondent Judge Marvin B. Mangino deserves a penalty higher than a fine of
It is rather a sad commentary to make that this is not the first time that a complaint involving irregular approval of bail bond and issuance of order of release was brought before this Court.18 Some judges refuse to learn from the lessons of previous rulings of this Court. Indeed, some are difficult to reform. This Court takes this opportunity to once again remind the judges of lower courts of their role as the embodiment of competence, integrity and independence.19 They should always keep in mind that in order to achieve justice, they should diligently ascertain and conscientiously apply the law in relation to the facts of each case they hear and then decide the same, unswayed by partisan interests, public opinion or fear of criticism. The pursuit of excellence must be their guiding principle. This is the least that judges can do to sustain the trust and confidence which the public reposed on them and the institution they represent.20
WHEREFORE, respondent Judge Marvin B. Mangino of the Municipal Trial Court of Tarlac, Tarlac, Branch 1, is hereby found GUILTY of grave misconduct, gross ignorance of the law and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service and is hereby FINED in the amount of Fifteen Thousand (
Vitug, Ynares-Santiago, Carpio, and Azcuna, JJ., concur.
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