PROSECUTOR HILARIO RONSON H. TILAN,
- versus -
JUDGE ESTER PISCOSO-FLOR, RTC, BRANCH 34, BANAUE, IFUGAO,
A.M. No. RTJ-09-2188
(Formerly A.M. OCA-IPI No. 08-2995-RTJ)
CARPIO MORALES, J., Chairperson,
VILLARAMA, JR., and
January 10, 2011
D E C I S I O N
We resolve in this Decision the Administrative Matter against Judge Ester Piscoso-Flor of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 34, Banaue, Ifugao.
The case arose from the verified
The records show that the prosecutor was
then handling Criminal Case No. 127, People of the
In People v. Baguilat, Judge
Piscoso-Flor issued an order dated
In People v. Talanay, Judge
Piscoso-Flor issued an order dated
Prosecutor Tilan claimed that in both cases, Judge Piscoso-Flor resorted to the issuance of an order requiring the submission of the parties memoranda to circumvent the statutory period for the resolution of cases. Prosecutor Tilan pointed out that the father of the victim (a minor) in People v. Talanay sought the assistance of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) regarding the slow process of resolving the case, and the CHR even called his attention on the matter.
In People v. Tenefrancia, Prosecutor Tilan alleged that the accused filed a Petition for Suspension of Trial, prompting Judge Piscoso-Flor to call a hearing on the petition. Despite the parties submission of the matter for resolution, Judge Piscoso-Flor failed to resolve the petition within the required period.
The Office of the Court Administrator
required Judge Piscoso-Flor to submit her comment, and she complied on
Judge Piscoso-Flor further explained
In conclusion, she stated that Prosecutor Tilan filed the present complaint after she personally went to Justice Secretary Raul M. Gonzales to complain about the formers actuations towards her,and after she cited him for direct contempt.
On November 19, 2008, Prosecutor Tilan filed a reply,reiterating the allegations in his complaint, and adding that he filed a Motion for Inhibition of Judge Piscoso-Flor in Criminal Case No. 228, People of the Philippines v. Eddie Immongor and Senando Bannog, which was deemed submitted for resolution on July 18, 2008.
In a rejoinder dated
Judge Piscoso-Flor further explained
that the motion for inhibition in Criminal Case No. 228 had been the subject of
a contempt case which reached the Court of Appeals and gave rise to numerous
complaints filed by Prosecutor Tilan against her. One of the cases had been
considered closed and terminated by Deputy Court Administrator Reuben P. de la
Cruz in a letter dated
Upon recommendation of the OCA, the Court issued a Resolution on July 6, 2009: (1) re-docketing the case as a regular administrative matter; (2) directing Judge Piscoso-Flor to conduct an inventory of cases pending in her court and find out whether there were cases submitted for decision that had not been decided within the required period, and to decide these cases within thirty (30) days; and (3) requiring the parties to manifest whether they were willing to submit the case for resolution on the basis of the pleadings and the records.
Judge Piscoso-Flor and Prosecutor
Tilan submitted the case for resolution on
The Courts Ruling
In his Memorandum dated
The OCA evaluation tells us that Judge Piscoso-Flor is guilty of failing to decide cases within the required periods, citing Criminal Case No. 127 (People v. Juanito Baguilat) as the principal basis of its conclusion. In this case, the OCA faulted Judge Piscoso-Flor for using as justification for her inaction the parties failure to submit their respective memoranda. The OCA opined that this is not a valid reason for not deciding the case; if she believed she would not be able to decide the case on time, she could have asked the Court for an extension of the required period. The OCA acknowledged though that Judge Piscoso-Flor requested for an extension to decide the case in her monthly report of cases and certificate of service.
We find the OCA evaluation in order. Although Judge Piscoso-Flor claimed that she had requested for an extension of time to decide Criminal Case No. 127, there was no showing that the request was ever granted. Over and above this consideration, she allowed the parties to control the period of disposition of the case through their lukewarm response to her call for the submission of memoranda, which she had to do twice. She could have acted more firmly, considering, as she said, that she only inherited the case, which implies that it had been on the docket for quite some time. In any event, Judge Piscoso-Flor should have known that [t]he Court may grant extension of time to file memoranda, but the ninety (90) day period for deciding the case shall not be interrupted thereby.
The same is true with Criminal Case
No. 140 (People v. Talanay). As
Judge Piscoso-Flor had no comment on Criminal Case No. 221 (People v. Tenefrancia). On the other hand, the Motion for Inhibition
in Criminal Case No. 228, filed by Prosecutor Tilan, was deemed submitted for resolution
Judge Piscoso-Flor, however, cannot be held liable for delay in the
disposition of Criminal Case No. 142 (People v. Dimpatan), which
Prosecutor Tilan cited in his reply.
While he claimed that the case was deemed submitted for decision on March 12,
2007, it appears from the records that he,
Private Prosecutor Rufino Lamase, and the accuseds counsel (Atty. Gerald Tabayan) executed a joint manifestation
praying that the promulgation of the decision be deferred pending negotiations
among them on the civil aspect of the case. When the negotiations bogged down and upon
motion of Prosecutor Lamase (dated
On the whole, we find Judge Piscoso-Flor guilty of undue delay in the disposition of cases. Except for People v. Dimpatan, Judge Piscoso-Flor failed to resolve the other cases within the required period, in violation of the law and the rules. No less than the Constitution sets the limits on this all-important aspect in the administration of justice. It mandates that lower courts have three (3) months or ninety (90) days within which to decide cases or matters submitted to them for resolution. Also, the Code of Judicial Conduct requires judges to dispose of the Courts business promptly and decide cases within the prescribed period.
It cannot be over emphasized that judges need to decide cases promptly and expeditiously. Delay in the disposition of cases, it must again be stated, is a major cause in the erosion of public faith and confidence in the justice system. For this fundamental and compelling reason, judges are required to decide cases and resolve motions with dispatch within the reglementary period. Failure to comply constitutes gross inefficiency, a lapse that warrants the imposition of administrative sanctions against the erring magistrate.
Section 9, Rule 140 of the Rules of Court defines
undue delay in rendering a decision or order as a less serious charge,
punishable under Section 11(b) of the same Rule and imposes a penalty of
suspension from office, without salary and other benefits, for not less than
one (1) nor more than three (3) months, or a fine of more than
but not exceeding P20,000.00. In
light, however, of the fact that this is Judge Piscoso-Flors first infraction
and considering that most of the cases involved were inherited cases, we deem a
fine in its minimum range an appropriate penalty for Judge Piscoso-Flor.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, Judge Ester
Piscoso-Flor is declared liable for delay in the disposition of cases. Accordingly, she is FINED
P10,000.00, with a stern warning against the
commission of a similar offense in the future.
ARTURO D. BRION
CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES
LUCAS P. BERSAMIN
MARTIN S. VILLARAMA, JR.
 Rollo, pp. 2-3.
 Supra note 12.
Administrative Circular No. 28,
 Supra note 6.
 Supra note 16.
 Rollo, p. 42.
 CONSTITUTION, Article VIII, Section 15(1).
 Rule 3.05.
 Michael G. Plata v. Judge Lizabeth G. Torres,
A.M. No. MTJ-08-172,
 Sanchez v. Vestil, A.M. No.