[A.M. No. RTJ-04-1852.†
WILFREDO M. TALAG, complainant, vs. JUDGE AMOR A. REYES, Regional Trial Court, Manila Branch 21, respondent.
D E C I S I O N
This is an administrative complaint filed against Judge Amor A.
Reyes of the Regional Trial Court,
The instant case arose when, on
According to complainant, on
Complainant immediately filed a petition for certiorari before
the Court of Appeals challenging the issuance of the warrant of arrest. The
Court of Appeals issued a temporary restraining order enjoining the trial court
from enforcing the said warrant. Accordingly, respondent Judge issued an Order
Respondent Judge denied the motion for inhibition and set the
case for arraignment on
Since complainant failed to attend his arraignment allegedly due
to lack of notice, respondent Judge reset the same to
Subsequently, complainant filed a Motion to Recall Warrant of
Arrest and a Very Urgent Motion for Reconsideration. On
(1)†††† Respondent Judge issued the warrant of arrest on May 23, 2003 despite complainantís pending omnibus motion to defer issuance of warrant of arrest or to recall the same if already issued and to remand case to Office of the City Prosecutor, and the very urgent motion to set for hearing the omnibus motion;
(2)†††† When the matter was elevated to the Court of Appeals and a temporary restraining order was issued, respondent seemed to have waited for the TRO to expire and for the dismissal of complainantís petition before the Court of Appeals because she did not resolve the motion for inhibition, and she immediately issued a warrant of arrest against him after said petition was dismissed.
(3)†††† Respondent had a predisposition to deny the motions filed by complainant since, although she was in haste in issuing the warrant of arrest, she nonetheless dilly-dallied in resolving the motions filed by complainant;
(4)†††† Despite complainantís notice for a change of address, respondentís order of November 18, 2002, setting his arraignment on December 11, 2002, was sent to his and counselís former address resulting in his failure to attend the arraignment;
(5)†††† In the same way, the notice of the
resetting of arraignment from
(6)†††† Although respondent Judge lifted the said
bench warrant on
(7)†††† Respondent Judge exhibited partiality and malevolent attitude when she did not only deny all remedies available to complainant but also uttered hostile side-comments during hearings and even commented that complainant was overly fond of filing motions.
In her comment, respondent Judge refuted the charges in this wise:
(1)†††† She did not consider the omnibus motion dated May 7, 2002 filed by complainant because its notice of hearing was addressed to the Public Prosecutor, for which reason, she issued the warrant of arrest on May 23, 2003;
(2)†††† She issued the order dated June 25, 2002 deferring the resolution of complainantís very urgent motion to set the case for hearing in view of the resolution of the Court of Appeals dated June 14, 2002, enjoining her from enforcing the warrant of arrest issued against complainant;
(3)†††† Since the trial court had not yet acquired jurisdiction over the person of the complainant when the court received the motion to set the case for trial filed by Asst. City Prosecutor, she again issued a warrant of arrest against complainant;
(4)†††† Respondentís issuance of warrant of arrest against complainant on May 23, 2002, despite the filing of the omnibus motion and the motion to set the omnibus motion for hearing, was sustained by the Court of Appeals in its decision dated August 14, 2002, dismissing complainantís petition;
(5)†††† Inasmuch as the trial court has not acquired jurisdiction over the person of the complainant, respondent, after the Court of Appeals denied complainantís petition and lifted the 60-day TRO, ordered the issuance of a warrant of arrest against complainant;
(6)†††† Since it was only on October 17, 2002 that the bail posted by complainant on September 26, 2002 for his provisional liberty before the Executive Judge of RTC, Makati, was received by respondent court, she could not resolve the motion for inhibition considering that the court has not acquired jurisdiction over his person;
(7)†††† Complainant is to blame for the delay in the resolution of his motions because of his penchant in filing defective motions and for not immediately submitting himself to the jurisdiction of the court;
(8)†††† The issuance of a warrant of arrest and
confiscation of the bond of complainant on
(9)†††† Complainantís claim of bias and partiality on the part of respondent in denying complainantís motion for reconsideration and motion to inhibit is baseless and unfounded considering that the assailed orders of the respondent were made on the basis of law and facts of the case.
We have closely scrutinized the arguments of the contending parties and find the charges filed against respondent are baseless.
The Information was filed on
Neither can we ascribe partiality nor grave abuse of authority on the part of respondent for issuing anew an alias warrant after the expiration of the Court of Appealsí 60-day TRO.† With the lifting of the retraining order, no legal obstacle was left for the issuance of the arrest warrant and thus set in motion the stalled prosecutorial process by acquiring jurisdiction over the person of the accused.
Complainant blames the respondent for his failure to appear at
his arraignment because the notice was sent to the wrong address despite a
prior notice for change of address.† A
cursory reading of the notice of change of address will show that it pertains
to the counselís residence, not to the complainantís. In view of this, it
becomes reasonable for the court to assume that court processes could be sent
to complainantís ďoldĒ and ďunchangedĒ residence. As correctly pointed out by
respondent Judge, the Produce Order of the
On the matter of respondentís denial of the motion for inhibition, suffice it to say that the issue of whether a judge should voluntarily inhibit himself is addressed to his sound discretion pursuant to paragraph 2 of Section 1 of Rule 137, which provides for the rule on voluntary inhibition and states: ďa judge may, in the exercise of his sound discretion, disqualify himself from sitting in a case, for a just or valid reasons other than those above-mentioned.Ē† Taking together all the acts and conduct of respondent Judge relative to complainantís case, we believe that she did not exhibit any bias or partiality to warrant her voluntarily inhibition from the case. Curiously, while complainant decries the alleged respondentís predilection for denying all his motions, he himself conceded that respondent Judge has done everything pursuant to law and jurisprudence. Bias and partiality cannot be presumed, for in administrative proceedings no less than substantial proof is required. Apart from bare allegations, there must be convincing evidence to show that respondent Judge is indeed biased and partial. In administrative proceedings, the burden of proof that respondent Judge committed the act complained of rests on the complainant. Complainant failed to discharge this burden.
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Court resolves to adopt the recommendation of the Court Administrator, and accordingly, DISMISS the instant complaint for lack of merit.
Davide, Jr., C.J., (Chairman), Panganiban, Carpio, and Azcuna, JJ., concur.