[A.M. No. 03-11-652-RTC.
RE: REPORT ON THE
JUDICIAL AUDIT IN THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, BRANCH 71,
D E C I S I O N
CALLEJO, SR., J.:
(a) to decide within the ninety (90)-day reglementary period, 29 criminal cases and 21 civil cases;
(b) to resolve within the reglementary period, motions/pending incident in the cases; and,
(c) to take further actions in 92 cases.
The team recommended that Judge Caballes be required to explain
why no administrative sanction should be imposed upon him for such failure, and
to direct the Fiscal Management Office to withhold the amount of One Hundred
Thousand Pesos (
P100,000.00) from his retirement benefits, pending his
explanation on the matter. The Court adopted the foregoing recommendation in a
In his Letter dated
It must also be stated that I had no regular appointed Clerk of Court. My Acting Clerk of Court, not being a lawyer, although she is an LLB graduate, has naturally some limitations to help me in my work. She tried her best and did well during my term. But things would have been different if she were a full-fledged lawyer to discuss with and to do research work.
My Court was, and still is, undermanned, like the other branches of
And so with all honesty and candor, I say that my inability to resolve and decide the pending cases prior to my retirement date was because of circumstances beyond human control – and not by indolence, complacency or willful neglect of duty. No matter how much I tried to decide as many cases as I could, it was beyond my physical tolerance to resolve all.
Judge Caballes appealed for the Court’s sense of fairness, kindness, and understanding.
Rule 3.05 of The Code of Judicial Conduct requires judges to dispose of the court’s business promptly and to act, one way or the other, on pending cases within the prescribed period therefor. No less than the 1987 Constitution requires that cases at the trial court level be resolved within three (3) months from the date they are submitted for decision. Undue delay cannot be countenanced at a time when the clogging of the court dockets is still the bane of the judiciary. Judges are expected to observe utmost diligence and dedication in the performance of their judicial functions and the discharge of their duties.
However, this Court is not unaware of the heavy caseload of judges. It is precisely for this reason that the Court has been sympathetic to requests for extensions of time within which to decide cases and resolve matters and incidents related thereto. Indeed, the Court allows a certain degree of latitude to judges and grants them a reasonable extension of time to decide and resolve cases upon proper application and on meritorious grounds.
Thus, Judge Caballes cannot claim ill health as the primary reason for his failure to act promptly on the cases pending before his sala. As pointed out by the Court Administrator, “his illness should not be an excuse for his failure to render the corresponding decisions or resolutions within the prescribed period.” Whenever a judge cannot decide a case promptly, all he has to do is ask the Court for a reasonable extension of time to resolve the case, which the respondent failed to do.
Furthermore, Judge Caballes cannot simply take refuge behind the inefficiency or mismanagement of his court personnel. Rules 3.08 and 3.09 of the Code of Judicial Conduct mandate that a judge should have the primary responsibility of maintaining the professional competence of his staff. It must, likewise, be stressed that decision-making, among others, is the primordial and most important duty of every member of the bench.
Under Section 9, Rule 140 of the Rules of Court, undue delay in
rendering a decision or order is a less serious charge, punishable by either
suspension from office without salary and other benefits for not less than one
(1) month nor more than three (3) months, or a fine of more than
but not exceeding P20,000.00.
WHEREFORE, the Court
finds Judge Felix S. Caballes guilty of gross inefficiency, and imposes upon
him a FINE of Fifteen Thousand Pesos (
P15,000.00). The Financial Management Office is DIRECTED
to release the balance of the respondent’s retirement benefits as soon as such
fine has been deducted therefrom.
Puno, (Chairman), Austria-Martinez, Tinga and Chico-Nazario, JJ., concur.
 Now retired.
 Edgardo D. Balsamo, etc. v. Judge Pedro L. Suan, et al., A.M. No. RTJ-01-1656,
 See note 3.
 Re: Cases Left Undecided by Retired Judge
Antonio E. Arbis, RTC, Branch 48,
 Rule 3.08. – A judge should diligently discharge administrative responsibilities, maintain professional competence in court management, and facilitate the performance of the administrative functions of other judges and court personnel.
 Rule 3.09. – A judge should organize and supervise the court personnel to ensure the prompt and efficient dispatch of business, and require at all times, the observance of high standards of public service and fidelity.
Section 11(B) of Rule 140, as amended by A.M. No. 01-8-10-SC,