[A.M. OCA IPI No. 03-1822-RTJ. May 26, 2004]




Quoted hereunder, for your information, is a resolution of this Court dated MAY 26 2004 .

A.M. OCA IPI No. 03-1822-RTJ (East West Banking Corporation vs. Judge Mariano M. Singzon, Jr. And Deputy Sheriff Joel R. Ordo�ez.)

Considering the Report dated February 12, 2004 of Court Administrator Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr., to wit:

1.Complaint of East West Banking Corporation, represented by its Assistant Vice President and Head of Remedial Management Department, Balbino S. Artajos, Jr., dated 24 July 2003.

Complainant accuses the respondent judge [1] cralaw for exhibiting gross ignorance of the law in issuing the Order dated 24 June 2003, the dispositive portion of which reads:

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, defendant bank is hereby ordered to strictly comply with the said Writ of Preliminary Injunction by maintaining the status quo ante and the Deputy Sheriff of this Court is hereby ordered to remove the armed security guards posted by the defendant bank at the premises of the subject properties and immediately place the plaintiff in actual and physical possession/control of the subject properties.

The Motion to Cite Defendant in Contempt is hereby DENIED, simply because its act of taking possession of the subject properties was done pursuant to the Writ of Possession.

Complainant asserts that by issuing the said order, the respondent judge interfered in the proceeding of a court of co-equal and coordinate jurisdiction because there is an existing writ of possession issued in its favor by the Regional Trial Court, Branch 264, Pasig City, in LRC No. R-5801. Complainant claims that the Writ of Possession, which was issued much earlier than the Writ of Preliminary Injunction, precludes the respondent judge from issuing a contrary order. By issuing the questioned order, the respondent judge transgressed the law and jurisprudence confirming complainant's right over the subject property.

Complainant also imputes bad faith against the respondent judge because of the alleged indecent haste in the issuance of the questioned order. Complainant insinuates that there must be a special reason why the judge acted on, and granted, the motion of Philippine Wireless, Inc., the opposing litigant in the case, only four (4) days after the motion was heard.

Complainant likewise insists that respondent judge should be held liable for rendering an unjust interlocutory order.

Complainant also charges Deputy Sheriff Joel R. Ordo�ez with gross misconduct. Complainant claims that respondent deputy sheriff disregarded the basic principle in enforcing a court order dispossessing a party-litigant over a property. Allegedly, respondent sheriff committed said act when on 25 June 2003, a day after the questioned Order was issued, the respondent served a copy of the Order together with the counsel of PWI and several policemen from the Eastern Police District. Respondent Sheriff did not serve a notice to vacate and instead, immediately enforced the Order without giving the complainant an opportunity to seek reconsideration. Simply put, the Order was implemented without it having attained finality.

For these acts, complainant insists that the respondents should be dismissed from service with forfeiture of all benefits.

2.Comment of respondent Judge Singzon dated 8 September 2003

Preliminarily, respondent judge states that he has no interest whatsoever in the instant case and proof of this, upon receipt of the complaint, he immediately inhibited himself from further hearing the case.

In his Comment, respondent judge vehemently denied the accusations against him and avers that when he issued the questioned Order he merely enforced the preliminary injunction existing in the case before it (Civil Case No. 67810). He said that the Temporary Restraining Order and the Preliminary Injunction enforced in the case were issued by another judge, Judge Santiago G. Estrella who was then the pairing judge of RTC, Branch 67.

Anent complainant's allegation that he has hastily issued the questioned Order, respondent judge said that he is just complying with the mandate of the Supreme Court for judges to immediately hear application for restraining orders and immediately act on them either by granting, denying or deferring its resolution. In the case before him, respondent judge insists that there was nothing to defer as there is already an existing preliminary injunction order which is final and executory. He asserts that the motion was duly heard, the parties were given an opportunity to state their position on the matter and only thereafter did he resolve the motion. Besides, respondent judge adds, the issue in the motion is very simple given the stipulations and admissions of the parties. Nonetheless, he gave the parties an opportunity to present their arguments on the case.

Respondent judge also explains that the writ of injunction had enjoined East West Bank not only from consolidating its ownership over the titles covering the properties subject of the case, but also from taking possession of the property. The allegation that the issuance and enforcement of the preliminary injunction is in interference with the proceedings of a co-equal and coordinate court, respondent argues, is an issue which was already resolved when Judge Estrella issued the writ of preliminary injunction. Respondent stresses that he did not annul the order of a co-equal court but merely enforced a preliminary injunction which had long become final and executory.

Respondent judge further states that Civil Case No. 67810 was filed earlier or on February 24, 2000 while LRC R-5801, being heard by Branch 264 was filed on March 21, 2000. The temporary restraining order was issued by Judge Estrella on March 29, 2000 while the writ of preliminary injunction was issued on April 11, 2000. And both the TRO and the writ of preliminary injunction came before the writ of possession in LRC Case No. R-5801.

Respondent judge asks that the complaint be dismissed for being unfounded and baseless.

3.Comment of respondent Deputy Sheriff Joel R. Ordo�ez dated 10 September 2003.

In his comment, Sheriff Ordo�ez explains that he received the Order dated 24 June 2003 and he understood it to be issued in connection with the writ of preliminary injunction also issued in Civil Case No. 67810 on 14 April 2000 which writ became final and executory and continued to be in full force and effect. He asserts that when he served and implemented the questioned Order, he was performing a ministerial duty, that is, "when a writ is placed in the hands of a sheriff, it is his duty, in the absence of any instructions to the contrary, to proceed with reasonable celerity and promptness to execute it according to its mandate." And sheriff Ordo�ez insists that pursuant to such ministerial duty, he proceeded to the property subject of said writ and served the order upon the security guard present in the premises and explained to him that the same is pursuant to the writ of preliminary injunction that was previously issued.

Respondent sheriff insists that there is no need for a notice to vacate because the property was not occupied and that the order does not direct any person to vacate the premises. Respondent sheriff also argues that the order in question directs the enforcement of a writ of preliminary injunction which had long ago attained finality, contrary to complainant's assertions that he should have waited in order for it to become final and executory.

Respondent sheriff asks that the complaint against him be dismissed considering that he is merely performing his duty.

4.Consolidated Reply dated 14 October 2003filed by the complainant.

Complainant reiterates the allegations in the complaint giving emphasis to the undue haste in which the Order was implemented.Attached to the reply is the Affidavit of security guard Arturo M. Fortuna to contradict respondent sheriff's claim that the possession of the property was voluntarily surrendered.

EVALUATION:It is readily apparent that the accusations against the respondent judge pertains to the exercise of his judicial function arising as it is from his issuance of the Order dated 24 June 2003 which granted PWI's manifestation and motion.Jurisprudence on the matter is clear that:

[A]dministrative liability for ignorance of the law and/or knowingly rendering an unjust judgment does not immediately arise from the bare fact of a judge issuing a decision/resolution/order later adjudged to be erroneous.Otherwise, perhaps no judge, however competent, honest or dedicated he may be, can ever hope to retire from the judiciary with an unblemished record.

For liability to attach for ignorance of the law, the assailed order, decision or actuation of the judge in the performance of official duties must not only be found erroneous but, most importantly, it must also be established that he was moved by bad faith, dishonesty, hatred, or some other like motive.Similarly, a judge will be held administratively liable for rendering an unjust judgment - one which is contrary to law or jurisprudence or is not supported by evidence - when he acts in bad faith, malice, revenge or some other similar motive.In fine, bad faith is the ground for liability in either or both offenses.

Conversely, a charge for either ignorance of the law or rendering a[n] unjust judgment will not prosper against a judge acting in good faith.Absent the element of bad faith, a[n] erroneous judgment cannot be the basis of a charge for any said offenses, mere error of judgment not being a ground for disciplinary proceedings (Spouses Leonardo Daracan and Ma. Teresa Daracan, petitioners, vs. Judge Eli G.C. Natividad, Rtc, Branch 48, San Fernando, Pampanga, respondent, A.M. No. RTJ-99-1477, September 27, 2000).

In this case, it was not shown that when respondent judge issued the assailed Order he was motivated by ill-will, corrupt consideration, intent to cause injustice or other similar motives.Complainant's assertion that bad faith was attendant in the issuance of the Order because it was released merely four (4) days after it was submitted for decision does not by itself prove bad faith.Bad faith is not presumed.He who alleges it has the onus of proving it (Guerrero v. Villamor, 296 SCRA 88 [1998]).The alleged hasty issuance of the Order was explained by respondent judge in this wise:

. . .when the pending incidents were jointly submitted for resolution by counsel for plaintiff and defendant, [this] respondent could have immediately issued the order the very same day or the next day for the reason that the issue was very simple, and further there were admissions on the part of the complainant more specifically the existence of the preliminary injunction. The only issue therefore which the respondent will resolve is: Did the complainant violate the preliminary injunction still existing, valid and effective? The Court has nothing more to resolve, but despite the fact that the issue was very simple, the respondent have still tried to look into the records more seriously in order to come out with an Order which is supported by the facts and jurisprudence.

There is nothing wrong in disposing pending incidents in a case promptly. This also does not ipso facto indicate bad faith, partiality or corrupt motives. Unless proven otherwise, respondent judge enjoys the presumption that official duty has been regularly performed. It is not upon the respondent judge to show that he resolves motion with the same promptness, but rather the burden is upon the complainant to show that such circumstance is anomalous. Allegations are not proof.

Even if assuming that the respondent judge erred in issuing the assailed Order, complainant's remedy is not administrative but judicial. The Court has, time and again, ruled that an administrative complaint cannot be a substitute for other judicial remedies available to the complainants, such as a motion for reconsideration or a special civil action for certiorari (Sinnot vs. Barte, 372 SCRA 282 [2001]).

Anent the charges against the respondent deputy sheriff, the same are without merit. Respondent sheriff is not implementing the 24 June 2003 Order of the trial court but the Writ of Preliminary Injunction which became final and executory as early as 14 April 2000. The questioned Order merely reiterates the diktat in the Writ of Preliminary Injunction. Must the sheriff wait for an interlocutory Order to become final and executory? Certainly not. When a writ is placed in the hands of sheriff, it is ministerial duty to proceed with reasonable celerity and promptness to execute such writ in accordance with its mandate (Sarmiento vs. Salamat, 364 SCRA 301 [2001]).

RECOMMENDATION: FOREGOING CONSIDERED, it is respectfully recommended that the complaint against Judge Mariano M. Singzon, Jr. and Deputy Sheriff Joel R. Ordone[z], Regional Trial Court, Branch 67, Pasig City, be DISMISSED for lack of merit.

and finding the evaluation and recommendation therein to be in accord with law and the facts of the case, the Court hereby approves and adopts the same.

The Court emphasizes that complainant's allegation that respondent judge interfered in the proceeding of a court of co-equal and coordinate jurisdiction is absolutely unmeritorious. The order for the issuance of the Writ of Preliminary Injunction was rendered by the pair ing judge of Branch 67, RTC, Pasig City, in Civil Case No. 67810 as early as April 11, 2000, enjoining herein complainant from consolidating its ownership over the titles covering the properties subject of the case. On the other hand, the order for the issuance of a Writ of Possession was rendered by Branch 264, RTC Pasig City in LRC No. R-5801 only on July 26, 2000, the enforcement of which was suspended by Branch 264 in its Order dated October 30, 2000 directing that the writ of possession shall not be enforced until the final determination of Civil Case No. 67810 by Branch 67 which issued the subject writ.

Respondent issued the Order dated June 24, 2003 so as to implement the Writ of Preliminary Injunction earlier issued by the presiding Judge of Branch 67, prior to the issuance of the Writ of Possession by Branch 264.

Verily, the Court finds no interference whatsoever committed by respondent judge.

ACCORDINGLY, the administrative complaint against Judge Mariano M. Singzon, Jr. and Deputy Sheriff Joel R. Ordo�ez is DISMISSED for lack of merit.


Very truly yours,

Clerk of Court


[1] cralaw Hon. Mariano M. Singzon, Jr., Presiding Judge of Branch 67, Regional Trial Court, Pasig City.

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