SC Dismisses Errant Judge, Forfeits Benefits Two Former Judges

November 10, 2020

The Supreme Court, in today’s En Banc meeting, dismissed from service a judge who had issued questionable temporary restraining orders, as well as forfeited the benefits of two others on charges of corruption.

The purging of the ranks is among the top priorities of Chief Justice Diosdado M. Peralta included in his Ten-Point Program which he made public when he was appointed as the 26th Chief Justice in October last year. Aside from integrity, the three other core areas in the 10-Point Program of Chief Justice Diosdado M. Peralta are efficiency, service, and security.

OCA IPI No. 20-5067-RTJ

In the first case, the Court found Judge Jesus B. Mupas of the Pasay City Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 112 guilty of three counts of ignorance of the law. Aside from the dismissal, the Court also fined him in the total amount of Php125,000 and ordered the forfeiture of all his retirement and other benefits, except accrued leave credits, and his perpetual disqualification from public service.

His dismissal was spawned by the administrative letter-complaint filed against him by the corporate officers of the Philippine National Construction Corporation (PNCC) informing the Court of the alleged irregular issuances by Judge Mupas of the temporary restraining orders (TROs) and write of preliminary injunction (WPI).

The Court held that a perusal of the reasons offered by Judge Mupas show that nowhere in any of his questioned orders did he make a pronouncement on the presence of all the requisites for the issuances of a TRO and WPI. Judge Mupas merely discussed the supposed irreparable damages or injury that may result should he not issue the injunctive reliefs prayed for. The Court stressed that a judge cannot grant a TRO or a WPI if there is no clear legal right materially and substantially breach from a prima facie evaluation of the evidence of the complainant.

The Court imposed the severe penalty of dismissal considering that Judge Mupas has been sanctioned by the Court several times in the past for various offenses.

A.M. No. RTJ-17-2506

In another case, the Court found retired Judge Antonio C. Reyes of the Baguio City, Benguet RTC, Branch 61 for gross ignorance of the law, gross misconduct, and violation of Canons 1, 2, and 3 of the New Code of Conduct for the Philippine Judiciary. Judge Since Judge Reyes already compulsorily retired from service, the Court forfeited his retirement benefits, except accrued leave credits. He was also perpetually banned from reemployment in any public office.

The Court found Judge Reyes, who handled drug cases, to have motu proprio dismissed numerous cases even before the prosecution rested its case and even pending the continuation of the direct testimony of the prosecution witness.

The Court also held that the allegation that Judge Reyes demanded money in exchange for acquittal are supplemented and corroborated by the judicial audit and investigation conducted by the Office of the Court Administrator and with the affidavits of numerous persons. The Court held him administratively liable for gross misconduct since there was evident presence of corruption.

Judge Reyes is one of the seven judges named in 2016 by President Rodrigo Duterte for their alleged involvement in illegal drugs.

A.M. No. RTJ-00-1535

The Court also found former Judge Owen B. Amor of the Daet, Camarines Norte RTC, Branch 41 guilty of gross misconduct. His retirement benefits were forfeited since he had already resigned from service. He was also perpetually banned from any public office.

The Court held that the Sandiganbayan decision of December 1, 2015 finding Judge Amor guilty of violation of Section 7(d) of RA 6713 for having solicited and accepted directly from a complainant Php400,000 in exchange for the dismissal of his cases pending his sala was already substantial evidence from which his administrative liability may arise. It further held that it was undisputed that he was apprehended in an entrapment operation by members of the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF) while in the act of receiving marked money in 2000. The pertinent portion of the Sandiganbayan decision reads:

xxxx

On January 24, 2000, Manzano was with his poseur-wife at the lobby of the Sulu Hotel when Judge Amor arrived at around three o’clock in the afternoon. From the lobby, they proceeded to the parking area where P/Insp. Cheryl Botones handed the entrapment money to Manzano who in turn handed the enveloped money to Judge Amore, saluted and walked away. The salute was the pre-arranged signal for the PAOCTF operatives to arrest the accused.

Immediately after his arrest, Judge Amor was brought to the PAOCTF office where he was subjected to ultraviolet examination. The result of said examination showed the accused positive for the presence of fluorescent power that could only come from contact with the entrapment money.

The above proceedings were captured on video, as contained in the Video Home System (VHS) copy and a Digital Video Disc (DVD) present in evidence by the prosecution.

 From the testimony of complainant Manzano, as well as his sworn statements, it is undeniable that accused Judge Amor asked for money from complainant for the dismissal of his two criminal cases for Robbery and Violation of Section 3

(e) of R.A. 3019 which were then pending before the accused. The demand was eloquently relayed to the complainant on several occasions after the hearings of his cases and on several other meetings which they had, and the complainant readily understood it. The accused  likewise knew that the complainant understood it because when the complainant bargained for a discounted amount, the accused agreed, but cautioned that the same should not be lower than P300,000.00. xxxx

The SC Public Information will upload to its website all rulings once they are available. ###