|SUPREME COURT NEWS|
SC Honors 2011 Outstanding Judges, Clerk of Court
Posted: September 15, 2011; By Jay B. Rempillo, with reports from Annie A. Laborte
Judge San Pedro
The Supreme Court, in cooperation with the Society for Judicial Excellence (SJE), today announced the Judiciary’s three outstanding judges and one outstanding clerk of court for this year. The winners will be honored in an awarding ceremony to be held at 4 p.m. on Monday, September 19, at the Centennial Hall A, Manila Hotel.
The Judicial Excellence Awardees for 2011 in the Second-Level Courts category are Judge Jeoffre W. Acebido of Regional Trial Court, Branch 41, Cagayan de Oro City, Chief Justice Cayetano Arellano Awardee; Judge Dante Luz N. Viacrucis of RTC Branch 6, Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur, Chief Justice Jose Abad Santos Awardee; and Judge Maria Rowena Modesto-San Pedro of RTC, Pasig City, Branch 158, Chief Justice Ramon Avanceña Awardee. The lone recipient of the Outstanding Clerk of Court of the Second Level Courts is Atty. Nelison U. Pajarillo-Salcedo of RTC Branch 37, Cagayan de Oro City for Clerk of Court (Single Sala)/Branch Clerk of Court (Multiple Sala)-Second Level Courts.
Judge Jeoffre W. Acebido, the recipient of the JEA’s highest honor, the Chief Justice Cayetano Arellano Award, was aptly described by his nominators as the epitome of excellence in the Judiciary. The 50-year old Manticao, Misamis Oriental native was a JEA finalist in 2009 and 2010.
In his less than 10 years as a judge, Judge Acebido has set the bar high for competence and efficiency as seen in his effective management of the docket of his court. He normally renders his decisions less than two months after the cases have been submitted for decision and resolves pending incidents within 30 days, well within the constitutional deadline of three months. In 2010, he has decided on the merits 131 civil cases and 68 criminal cases in his regular sala. As Acting Presiding Judge of RTC, Branch 22, he has also for the same period decided on the merits eight civil cases and 85 criminal cases. Remarkably, he has never requested for any extension of time to decide cases or resolve pending incidents.
He has also earned the reputation of being punctual and prompt in his work. His colleagues, staff, as well as the litigants and their counsels in his sala, attest that he has never been late for work and starts court sessions not later than 8:30 am. With Judge Acebido setting the example, all lawyers appearing in his court have been punctual in their attendance.
Always thoroughly prepared for his cases while exhibiting command of the facts, and applicable rules and laws, Judge Acebido, attests the Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Misamis Oriental Chapter, “has instilled by example respect for the time and presence of the court, the lawyers and the parties.” In the conduct of hearings, Judge Acebido takes not only an active part “with the end in view that no time is wasted in ferreting out the truth so that the ends of justice may be served.”
He handles classes in Criminal Law Review and Constitutional Law 2 in the College of Law of Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan and Civil Law 1 & 2, and Evidence in Liceo de Cagayan University College of Law. He was recipient of the 2010 Outstanding Alumnus Professional Award by the Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan Alumni Association.
He was recipient of the 2010 Outstanding Alumnus Professional Award by the Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan Alumni Association.
Judge Dante Luz Nayra Viacrucis is this year’s Chief Justice Jose Abad Santos Awardee. He maintains an average case disposal of 31.6 a month, with none of his decisions in civil cases and only one of his decisions in criminal cases reversed on appeal so far.
A peacemaker by nature, Judge Viacrucis has initiated quarterly dialogues among the Bench, the Bar, and the local government of Agusan del Sur “to improve the administration of justice.”
Appointed on February 9, 2004, Judge Viacrucis has been cited as Top 9 Finalists for 2009 SJE Search for Outstanding RTC Judges; Top Ten Finalist-2008 SJE Search for Outstanding RTC Judges; and Top Five Finalist-2008 SJE Best Decision in Civil Cases for 2008.
Before joining the Judiciary, he has authored The Book of Palompon and Leyte (1991), which featured the history of the municipalities of Leyte, and the While Others Slept (1997) biography of the late Agusan Governor Democrito O. Plaza.
Judge Viacrucis was the lone recipient of the Dean’s Award during the 1971 San Beda Law Graduation Awards and of the Gold Medal for its Campus Journalism. He also received a Silver Medal for Academic Honors. He was editor in chief of the San Beda Law Journal (1970-1971), The Bedan (1967-1968), and The Bedan Alumnus (1970-1971).
He has served Bench icons Justice JBL Reyes, Chief Justice Roberto Conception, and Justice (later Chief Justice) Fred Ruiz Castro during their stewardship of the then fledging IBP, as featured in the Dec. 1974 issue of the IBP Journal.
The Chief Justice Ramon Avanceña Awardee this year is Judge Maria Rowena Modesto-San Pedro. Nominated by the University of the Philippines (U.P.) Women Lawyers’ Circle, Inc. (WILOCI), Judge Modesto-San Pedro presides over a Special Commercial Court for the cities of Pasig, Taguig, San Juan, and Pateros, aside from her regular sala at the Pasig City Regional Trial Court, Branch 158. Easily one of the best prepared judges around, Judge Modesto-San Pedro has been described as “always with a clear and obvious awareness and recollection of the facts of each case, its antecedent proceedings and the issues pending resolution.”
Judge Modesto-San Pedro’s expertise in handling cases of corporate rehabilitation has not gone unnoticed. WILOCI claims that in petitions filed before her involving distressed companies desiring to be rehabilitated, “she displays a profound understanding of corporate and financial complexities that enable her to formulate issues with precision and provoke relevant evidence and discussion. Accordingly, she engenders a feeling of supremacy in the courtroom that is compatible with the highest respect for her person and position.”
Since 2007, she has been a professorial lecturer of the Supreme Court’s education arm, the Philippine Judicial Academy (PHILJA). She has been a PHILJA resource person on various topics, including orientation for new judges, judicial writing, legal writing, ejectment, B.P. 22, foreclosure arbitration, and duties of clerks of court.
She first joined the Judiciary as Court Attorney V of then SC Justice Fidel P. Purisima. When Justice Purisima retired, she joined the legal staff of then SC Justice Consuelo Ynares-Santiago and was promoted to Court Attorney VI after only a year. In 2001, she was named Presiding Judge of the Pasig City Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC), Branch 71. After four years, she was promoted to the RTC.
A consistent honor student in her intermediate and secondary years, Judge Modesto-San Pedro graduated cum laude with a degree in BA Mass Communication from UP. She was also a recipient of the Presidential Pin, Student Council Service Award, and Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society. She was in the top 20 when she graduated in U.P. Law Class 1990. She has also enrolled in the Intensive Study Programme for Judicial Educators (Fellow), Commonwealth Judicial Education Institute, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
The lone winner of the Outstanding Clerk of Court is certified public accountant and lawyer Nelison U. Pajarillo-Salcedo. Coincidentally, Atty Pajarillo-Salcedo is the Branch Clerk of Chief Justice Cayetano Arellano Awardee Judge Acebido.
Under the stewardship of Atty. Pajarillo-Salcedo, court processes and orders are sent out within the day of their issuances. She also sees to it that stenographic notes are transcribed promptly and their receipt properly documented.
Her remarkably effective case tracking system – where she herself does the encoding -- has allowed her to easily monitor dockets for civil and criminal cases. This doubly ensures clerks have made the proper entries therein.
Atty. Pajarillo-Salcedo’s zest for excellent service began even before she joined government service. When she was Chapter Secretary of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Misamis Oriental, she was one of those who initiated its request for the Supreme Court to “exempt the clients of the IBP Legal Aid from paying the docket fees.”
At present, Atty. Pajarillo-Salcedo is the Secretary of the RTC Clerks of Court Association of the Philippines and Treasurer of Federacion Internacional de Abogadas-Cagayan de Oro Chapter. She obtained both her undergraduate and law degrees from alma mater Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan.
The Society for Judicial Excellence, through its Board of Trustees, administers the annual search for outstanding judges and clerks of court. It is headed by retired SC Justice Bernardo P. Pardo as Chairperson, retired SC Justice Angelina Sandoval-Gutierrez as Chairperson Emeritus, and Court of Appeals (CA) Justice Portia Aliño-Hormachuelos, as Vice-Chairperson. Its Board of Trustees include SC Justice Diosdado M. Peralta, retired SC Justice Romeo J. Callejo, Sr., CA Justices Josefina Guevara-Salonga and Apolinario D. Bruselas, Jr., Sandiganbayan Justice Oscar C. Herrera, Jr., retired Court Administrator Zenaida N. Elepaño, retired CA Justices Edgardo P. Cruz, Godardo A. Jacinto, and Jose C. de la Rama, Judge Kaudri L. Jainul, retired Judge Rosalina Luna-Pison, and Atty. Engracio M. Escasinas, Jr. Atty. Ma. Luisa L. Laurea is Executive Director and also head of the JEA Secretariat.
The final selection of awardees was undertaken by the Board of Judges chaired by SC Senior Justice Antonio T. Carpio and vice-chaired by Justice Pardo. Members include SC Justice Peralta, (ret.) SC Justices Sandoval-Gutierrez and Callejo, Sr., (ret.) SC Justice Carolina Griño-Aquino, (ret.) SC Justice and Philippine Judicial Academy Chancellor Adolfo S. Azcuna, (ret.) Justice Regino C. Hermosisima, Jr. of the Judicial and Bar Council, Integrated Bar of the Philippines National President Atty. Roan I. Libarios, and Dean Nilo T. Divina of the University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Civil Law.
The Screening Committee for the Second Level Courts is chaired by CA Elepaño and co-chaired by CA Justice Remedios Salazar-Fernando, with CA Justices Rosmari V. Carandang and Bruselas, Jr., and (ret.) CA Justice Cruz as members. For the First Level Courts, the Screening Committee is chaired by (ret.) CA Justice de la Rama and co-chaired by (ret.) Judge Pison, with members ACA Thelma Bahia, CA Justice Manuel M. Barrios, Sandiganbayan Justice Herrera, Jr., and Judges Bernardita J. Santos and Ma. Filomena D. Singh. The Screening Committee for the Clerks of Court is chaired by Judge Thelma C. Ponferrada and co-chaired by Atty. Engracio M. Escasinas, Jr., with members Judges Lelu P. Contreras, Rosalyn Mislos-Loja, and Emily L. San Gaspar-Gito, (ret.) Judge Manuela F. Lorenzo, and Atty. Alicia A. Risos-Vidal.