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CASE 2018-0001: OFFICE OF THE COURT ADMINISTRATOR VS JUDGE HECTOR B. SALISE, PRESIDING JUDGE, BRANCH 7, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, BAYUGAN CITY, AGUSAN DEL SUR (A.M. NO. RTJ-18-2514 [FORMERLY A.M. NO. 16-10-387-RTC] 30 JAN 2018, PER CURIAM) (SUBJECT/S: WHEN JUDGES ARE ADMINISTRATIVELY LIABLE; MISCONDUCT; DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SIMPLE MISCONDUCT AND GRAVE MISCONDUCT IN CASE OF JUDGES) (BRIEF TITLE: OCA VS JUDGE SALISE)

 

DISPOSITIVE:

 

“WHEREFORE, THE COURT FINDS JUDGE HECTOR B. SALISE, ACTING PRESIDING JUDGE OF BRANCH 6, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, PROSPERIDAD AND EXECUTIVE JUDGE OF BRANCH 7, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, BAYUGAN CITY, BOTH IN THE PROVINCE OF AGUSAN DEL SUR, GUILTY OF SERIOUS MISCONDUCT AND HEREBY DISMISSES HIM FROM THE SERVICE WITH FORFEITURE OF RETIREMENT BENEFITS, EXCEPT LEAVE CREDITS, AND WITH PREJUDICE TO RE-EMPLOYMENT IN ANY BRANCH OR INSTRUMENTALITY OF THE GOVERNMENT, INCLUDING GOVERNMENT-OWNED AND CONTROLLED CORPORATIONS.

 

SO ORDERED.”

 

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

 

WHAT DID JUDGE SALISE DO?

 

AMONG OTHER ACTS:

 

HE DECIDED THE CASE IN FAVOR OF THE PETITIONER DESPITE THE COURT’S LACK OF JURISDICTION OVER THE DEFENDANT;

 

IT WAS ESTABLISHED THAT HE RENDERED A PREMATURE DECISION IN CIVIL CASE NO. 1639 (FOR DECLARATION OF NULLITY OF MARRIAGE) GRANTING THE PETITION WITHOUT FIRST RULING ON THE PENDING MOTIONS FILED BY THE PETITIONER.

 

HE LIKEWISE DISMISSED CRIMINAL CASES ON HIS OWN INITIATIVE, SUPPOSEDLY “FOR PAUCITY OF PROOF ARID DEARTH OF EVIDENCE,” EVEN AFTER HE HAD ALREADY DETERMINED, EXPRESSLY OR IMPLIEDLY, THAT THERE WAS PROBABLE CAUSE AGAINST THE ACCUSED.

JUDGE SALISE ALSO DISMISSED CASES BASED ON FABRICATED GROUNDS.

 

MOREOVER, THERE WERE ALSO IRREGULARITIES IN THE MANNER BY WHICH JUDGE SALISE DISPOSED OF OR DISMISSED CRIMINAL CASES FOR VIOLATION OF R.A. 9165.

 

JUDGE SALISE ALSO DISMISSED SIMILAR CASES UNDER HIGHLY QUESTIONABLE CIRCUMSTANCES· AND WITHOUT DUE REGARD TO THE APPLICABLE PROCEDURAL RULES.

 

WHEN MAY A JUDGE BE HELD ADMINISTRATIVELY LIABLE?

 

WHEN IT IS PROVEN THAT THE  ACTS WERE COMMITTED WITH FRAUD, DISHONESTY, CORRUPTION, MALICE OR ILL WILL, BAD FAITH, OR DELIBERATE INTENT TO DO AN INJUSTICE.

 

HOW ABOUT IF THE JUDGE IS SHOWN TO BE INEFFICIENT?

 

THE JUDGE CAN STILL BE HELD LIABLE ADMINISTRATIVELY WHEN THE INEFFICIENCY SPRINGS FROM A FAILURE TO RECOGNIZE SUCH A BASIC AND FUNDAMENTAL RULE, LAW, OR PRINCIPLE, THE JUDGE IS EITHER TOO INCOMPETENT AND UNDESERVING OF THE POSITION AND TITLE VESTED UPON HIM, OR HE IS TOO VICIOUS THAT HE DELIBERATELY COMMITTED THE OVERSIGHT OR OMISSION IN BAD FAITH AND IN GRAVE ABUSE OF AUTHORITY.

 

MAY THE JUDGE BE ALWAYS SUBJECTED TO DISCIPLINARY ACTIONS FOR EVERY ERRONEOUS ORDER OR DECISION HE ISSUES?

 

NO. BUT THAT RELATIVE IMMUNITY IS NOT A LICENSE TO BE NEGLIGENT OR ABUSIVE AND ARBITRARY IN PERFORMING HIS ADJUDICATORY PREROGATIVES. IF JUDGES WANTONLY MISUSE THE POWERS GRANTED TO THEM BY THE LAW, THERE WILL BE, NOT ONLY CONFUSION IN THE ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE, BUT ALSO OPPRESSIVE DISREGARD OF THE BASIC REQUIREMENTS UNDER THE LAW AND ESTABLISHED RULES.

 

IN THIS CASE FOR REPEATEDLY AND DELIBERATELY COMMITTING IRREGULARITIES IN THE DISPOSITION OF HIS CASES, THEREBY MANIFESTING CORRUPT INCLINATIONS, JUDGE SALISE CAN BE SAID TO HAVE MISUSED SAID POWERS.

 

DID JUDGE SALISE VIOLATE THE CODE OF JUDICIAL CONDUCT?

 

INDUBITABLY, JUDGE SALISE VIOLATED THE CODE OF JUDICIAL CONDUCT ORDERING JUDGES TO ENSURE THAT HIS OR HER CONDUCT, BOTH IN AND OUT OF COURT, MAINTAINS AND ENHANCES THE CONFIDENCE OF THE PUBLIC, THE LEGAL PROFESSION AND LITIGANTS IN THE IMPARTIALITY OF THE JUDGE AND OF THE JUDICIARY.12 HE SIMPLY USED OVERSIGHT, INADVERTENCE, AND HONEST MISTAKE AS CONVENIENT EXCUSES. HE ACTED WITH CONSCIOUS INDIFFERENCE TO THE POSSIBLE UNDESIRABLE CONSEQUENCES TO THE PARTIES INVOLVED.

 

WHAT IS MISCONDUCT?

 

MISCONDUCT IS A TRANSGRESSION OF SOME ESTABLISHED AND DEFINITE RULE OF ACTION, MORE PARTICULARLY, UNLAWFUL BEHAVIOR OR GROSS NEGLIGENCE BY THE PUBLIC OFFICER.

 

TO WARRANT DISMISSAL WHAT KIND OF MISCONDUCT IS REQUIRED?

 

THE MISCONDUCT MUST BE GRAVE, SERIOUS, IMPORTANT, WEIGHTY, MOMENTOUS, AND NOT TRIFLING. THE MISCONDUCT MUST IMPLY WRONGFUL INTENTION AND NOT A MERE ERROR OF JUDGMENT AND MUST ALSO HAVE A DIRECT RELATION TO AND BE CONNECTED WITH THE PERFORMANCE OF THE PUBLIC OFFICER’S OFFICIAL DUTIES AMOUNTING EITHER TO MALADMINISTRATION OR WILLFUL, INTENTIONAL NEGLECT, OR FAILURE TO DISCHARGE THE DUTIES OF THE OFFICE.

 

HOW TO DIFFERENTIATE GROSS MISCONDUCT FROM SIMPLE MISCONDUCT?

 

IN ORDER TO DIFFERENTIATE GROSS MISCONDUCT FROM SIMPLE MISCONDUCT, THE ELEMENTS OF CORRUPTION, CLEAR INTENT TO VIOLATE THE LAW, OR FLAGRANT DISREGARD OF ESTABLISHED RULE, MUST BE MANIFEST IN THE FORMER. 13

 

WHEN TO HOLD A JUDGE ADMINISTRATIVELY LIABLE FOR SERIOUS MISCONDUCT, IGNORANCE OF THE LAW OR INCOMPETENCE OF OFFICIAL ACTS IN THE EXERCISE OF JUDICIAL FUNCTIONS AND DUTIES?

 

IT MUST BE SHOWN THAT HIS ACTS WERE COMMITTED WITH FRAUD, DISHONESTY, CORRUPTION, MALICE OR ILL WILL, BAD FAITH, OR DELIBERATE INTENT TO DO AN INJUSTICE.14 THE COURT HAS REPEATEDLY AND CONSISTENTLY HELD THAT THE JUDGE MUST NOT ONLY BE IMPARTIAL BUT MUST ALSO APPEAR TO BE IMPARTIAL AS AN ADDED (;1.SSURANCE TO THE PARTIES THAT HIS DECISION WILL BE JUST. THE LITIGANTS ARE ENTITLED TO NO LESS THAN THAT. THEY SHOULD BE SURE THAT WHEN THEIR RIGHTS ARE VIOLATED THEY CAN GO TO A JUDGE WHO SHALL GIVE THEM IMPARTIAL JUSTICE. THEY MUST TRUST THE JUDGE; OTHERWISE, THEY WILL NOT GO TO HIM AT ALL. THEY MUST BELIEVE IN HIS SENSE OF FAIRNESS; OTHERWISE, THEY WILL NOT SEEK HIS JUDGMENT. WITHOUT SUCH CONFIDENCE, THERE WOULD BE NO POINT IN INVOKING HIS ACTION FOR THE JUSTICE THEY EXPECT.15 JUDGE SALISE’S ACTS INDUBITABLY VIOLATED SAID TRUST AND CONFIDENCE, SERIOUSLY IMPAIRING THE IMAGE OF THE JUDICIARY TO WHICH HE OWES THE DUTY OF LOYALTY AND OBLIGATION TO KEEP IT AT ALL TIMES ABOVE REPROACH AND WORTHY OF THE PEOPLE’S TRUST.16

 

 

TO READ THE DECISION, JUST CLICK/DOWNLOAD THE FILE BELOW.

 

 SCD-2018-0001-Office of the Court Administrator Vs. Judge Hector B. Salise

 

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CASE 2017-0041: TOMAS R. LEONIDAS VS. TANCREDO VARGAS AND REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES (G.R. NO. 201031, 14 DEC 2017, DEL CASTILLO, J.) (SUBJECT/S: LAND REGISTRATION; TAX DECLARATION ONLY CORROBORATIVE PROOF OF POSSESSION; IRREGULAR LAND TAX PAYMENTS DO NOT PROVE CLAIM OF POSSESSION OR OWNERSHIP) (BRIEF TITLE: LEONIDAS VS. VARGAS ET AL).

 

DISPOSITIVE:

 

“WHEREFORE, the Petition is hereby DENIED. We AFFlRM with MODIFICATION  the August 13, 2009 Decision and the February 22, 2012 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 02296 in that the award by the Regional Trial Court of Barotac Viejo, Hoilo, Branch 66 in LRC Case No. 02~ 195 of Lot No. 1677 with aP.. area of 2.3642 hectares and Lot No. 566 with an area of 1.1 782 hectares, both in ‘favor of Respondent Tancredo Vargas, is OVERTURNED and NULLIFIED.

 

SO ORDERED.”

 

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

 

 HOW IS TAX DECLARATIONS CONSIDERED IN LAND CASES?

 

TAX DECLARATIONS ARE MERELY CORROBORATIVE OF A PERSON’S CLAIM OF POSSESSION.

 

HOW ABOUT IRREGULAR TAX PAYMENTS?

 

THEY DO NOT REALLY PROVIDE STRONG SUPPORT FOR A CLAIM OF OWNERSHIP OR POSSESSION.

 

 It would thus appear that Tancredo had erected his opposition/claim to the lots in question upon the said photocopies of four tax declarations whose authenticity or genuineness is open to the most serious doubts. And, even on the assumption that the said tax declarations are in fact authentic and genuine, still it is settled that tax declarations are not conclusive proof of ownership. If anything, tax declarations are merely corroborative of a person’s claim of possession. More than that, as elsewhere indicated, intermittent and irregular tax payments, as in this case, do not really provide  strong support for a claim of ownership or possession.

 

WHAT IS THE POLICY OF THE STATE IN CONNECTION WITH ALIENABLE PUBLIC LANDS?

 

TO ENCOURAGE AND PROMOTE THE DISTRIBUTION OF ALIENABLE PUBLIC LANDS TO SPUR ECONOMIC GROWTH BUT SAFEGUARDS ARE IMPOSED LEST SUCH LANDS FALL INTO WRONG HANDS TO THE PREJUDICE OF THE NATIONAL PATRIMONY.

 

It is axiomatic of course that “[i]t is the policy of the State to encourage and promote the distribution of alienable public lands as a spur to economic growth and in line with the social justice ideal enshrined in the Constitution. At the same time, the law imposes stringent safeguards upon the grant of such resources lest they fall into the wrong hands to the prejudice of the national patrimony.”63 This ruling controls the present case.

  

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SCD-2017-0041-TOMAS R. LEONIDAS VS. TANCREDO VARGAS AND REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES

 

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CASE 2017-0040: EXPEDITION CONSTRUCTION CORPORATION ET AL VS ALEXANDER M. AFRICA ET AL. (G.R. NO. 228671, 14 DEC 2017, DEL CASTILLO, J.) (SUBJECT/S: FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE EVEN WITHOUT ILLEGAL DISMISSAL) (BRIEF TITLE: EXPEDITION CONSTRUCTION VS AFRICA ET AL)

 

DISPOSITIVE:

 

 “WHEREFORE, the Petition for Review on Certiorari is PARTLY GRANTED. The assailed Decision dated March 3 l, 2016 and Resolution dated December 9, 2016 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 142007 are AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION that the awards of reinstatement, back wages, attorney’s fees and.legal interest are DELETED there being no illegal dismissal. The award of separation pay, as a form of financial assistance, in the National Labor Relations Commission’s Resolution dated April 30, 2015 is REINSTATED.

 

SO ORDERED.”

 

 SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

 

THERE IS NO FINDING OF ILLEGAL DISMISSAL. IS AWARD OF SEPARATION PAY/FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE STILL PROPER?

 

YES AS A MEASURE OF SOCIAL JUSTICE UNDER EXCEPTIONAL CIRCUMSTANCES.

 

“As a measure of social justice, the award of separation pay/financial assistance has been upheld in some cases 40 even if there is no finding of illegal dismissal. The Court, in Eastern Shipping Lines, Inc. v. Sedan,41 had this to say:

 

x x x We are not unmindful of the rule that financial assistance is allowed only in instances where the employee is validly dismisse<l for causes other than serious misconduct or those reflecting on his moral character. Neither are we unmindful of this Court’s pronouncements in Arc~Men Food Industries Corporation v. NLRC, and Lemery Savings and Loan Bank v. NLRC, where the Court ruled that when there is no dismissal to spe~1k of, an award of financial assistance is not in order.

 

But we must stress that this Court did allow, in several instances, the grant of financial assistance. In the words of Justice Sabino de Leon, Jr., now deceased, financial assistance may be allowed as a measure of social justice [under] exceptional circumstances, and as an equitable concession. The instant case equally calls for balancing the interests of the employer with those of the worker, if only to approximate what Justice Laurel calls justice in its secular sense.

 

In a Manifestation42 submitted before the CA, Expedition expressed willingness to extend gratuitous assistance to respondents and to pay them the amounts equivalent to the separation pay awarded to each respondent in the April 30, 2015 NLRC Resolution. ln view of this and taking into account respondents’ long years of service ranging from four to 1 5 years, the Court finds that the grant of separation pay at the rate of one-half (Yi) month’s salary for every year of service, as adjudged in the April 30, 2015 Resolution of the NLRC, is proper.”

  

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SCD-2017-0040-EXPEDITION CONSTRUCTION CORPORATION ET AL VS ALEXANDER M. AFRICA ET AL.

 

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