Cebu News

SC fines Naga judge for gross ignorance as it suspends court interpreter for harassing a neighbor

- Rene U. Borromeo ug Mylen Manto -

CEBU, Philippines - The Supreme Court (SC) has slapped Naga City Municipal Trial Court (MTC) Judge Gerardo Gestopa with a fine of P21,000 after finding him guilty of gross ignorance of the law for referring a case to the barangay instead of immediately resolving it.

In another decision, the SC lowers the penalty for the clerk of court of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 18 from six months suspension to a fine of P10,000.

A third decision the High Court released was the suspension of a court interpreter of the MTCC Branch 7, Cebu City for threatening and harassing a neighbor.

On Gestopa’s case, Justice Diosdado Peralta, who penned the decision for the High Tribunal’s Second Division, said this is the third time that Gestopa is found administratively guilty. In his first two cases, the judge was also slapped with fines and warned not to commit the same offense.

“Neither good faith nor lack of malice will exonerate respondent, because as previously noted, the rules violated were basic procedural rules. All that was needed for (Gestopa) to do was to apply them,” read the SC ruling.

The case stemmed from the complaint of Felicisima R. Diaz, who claimed Gestopa exhibited gross ignorance of the law in referring the case she filed for unlawful detainer against spouses Ruel and Diana Betito back to barangay conciliation.

The records showed that the counsel of Diaz strongly objected Gestopa’s order and moved for mediation instead. However, Gestopa insisted that he has the authority to refer it back to barangay for conciliation.

Through her lawyer, Diaz argued that the referral of the case to the Lupon ng Barangay is a violation of the Rules on Summary Procedure, particularly because she is no longer residing in Naga City, but in Dumlog, Talisay City.

Complainant further pointed out that the case was previously referred to the Lupon but was not settled, so there was no more reason to refer it to the barangay.

“Time and again, we have reiterated that the rules of procedures are clear and unambiguous, leaving no room for interpretation,” said the SC.

In a separate ruling, the SC lowered the penalty imposed on the clerk of court of the RTC Branch 18 from six months suspension to a P10,000-fine.

Jeoffrey Joaquino was found guilty of gross ignorance of the rules and dereliction of duty on August 11, 2010. He filed a motion for reconsideration before the SC.

In the resolution penned by Associate Justice Antonio Eduardo Nachura on June 8, 2011, the penalty was lowered for a “spirit of compassion”.

Joaquino cited in his motion for reconsideration that he only issued the questioned March 17, 2008 writ of execution based on his “honest reliance on” and “obedience to the September 6, 2006-RTC order.”

He said the six months suspension without pay was “too harsh and severe.” But the SC warned of dismissal from service should he commit a similar offense.

Joaquino’s case stemmed from his implementation of a court decision that was still subject of an appeal. It was the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) that filed a complaint against him on the case involving the bank and Palacio Shipping Incorporated.

The court order was in favor of Palacio Shipping.

In another case, the SC suspended the court interpreter of the MTCC Branch 7 for threatening and harassing her neighbor.

 Associate Justice Arturo Brion found Nerissa Balbuena guilty of oppression and conduct unbecoming a public officer, misconduct and gross insubordination and imposed a suspension without pay for one year.

 Brion said as employee of the judiciary, she should act as a model of uprightness and preserve the reputation of the court inside and outside the office.

 “Professionalism, respect for the rights of others, good manners and right conduct are expected of all judicial officers and employees,” he added.

 Brion said the court employees at all times should avoid confrontation or any situation. He said the acts of the respondent showed oppressive and bossy character, failing to meet the standards required of employees of the judiciary.

 “The continued harassment of respondent directing complainant John Mendez to vacate the premises so she could occupy the whole area clearly shows respondent is guilty of oppression and conduct unbecoming of a court employee,” Brion ruled.

 Brion added the non-compliance of the respondent for the order of the court to file her comment to the administrative complaint against her shows disrespect to the Court, tantamount to gross insubordination.  (FREEMAN)

vuukle comment










  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with