Complainant sternly warned: SC clears Cebu associate judge of ‘fraud’ complaint
Mylen P. Manto (The Freeman) - September 5, 2015 - 10:00am

CEBU, Philippines – The Supreme Court has cleared an associate justice in the Visayas of the administrative complaint filed against her for the complainant’s failure to substantiate the charges.

Catherine Damayo failed to support her claim that Associate Justice Marilyn Lagura-Yap of the Court of Appeals-Visayas rendered false decision and judicial fraud in convicting her of estafa, the SC ruled.

“In the instant case, we find the allegations of spurious judgment and the failure to promulgate judgment to be bereft of factual or legal basis. It is not enough that complainant made an allegation of fraud; there should be a clear and convincing evidence to prove it,” read the decision penned by Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta of the SC En Banc.

Represented by her mother Veniranda Damayo, Catherine, in her complaint alleged that her conviction was fraudulent because the opening statement of the judgment in Criminal Case No. DU-14740 stated that she pleaded guilty when she actually pleaded the opposite.

She said Yap’s decision was spurious.

Yap was then a presiding judge of the Regional Trial Court in Mandaue City when she handled the case of Catherine and convicted the latter for estafa.

Yap, who was directed by the SC to submit her comment, denied the accusations.

She said it is true that on the first page of the judgment dated November 3, 2011 in Criminal Case No. DU-14740, there appeared that Catherine pleaded guilty when she was arraigned on November 23, 2006.

However, Yap said, this was caused by mere “inadvertence” since the records would show that Catherine entered a plea of not guilty.

She said the conviction of Catherine was based on proof of her guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

The CA official, likewise, denied that her judgment was spurious.

She said that under Section 6, Rule 120 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure, in case that the accused failed to appear at the scheduled date of promulgation of judgment despite notice, the promulgation shall be made by recording the same in the criminal docket and serve a copy of the promulgation of judgment to the accused at her last known address or thru her counsel.

The SC ruled in favor of Yap, saying that the error of stating in the judgment that complainant pleaded guilty instead of not guilty was merely due to inadvertence of omitting the word “not.”

Based on record, Catherine was notified of the date of the promulgation of judgment on October 10, 2011, but despite the notice, she failed to appear on November 24, 2011.

Under the law, the SC said, the accused can be promulgated in absentia.

According to the SC, they will not hesitate to protect the judges or court personnel against any groundless accusation against them if the complaint has no basis.

The highest court in the country sternly warned Catherine against filing of “unsubstantiated complaints against judges and justices which serve no other purpose than to harass them.” —/NSA (FREEMAN)

ACIRC ASSOCIATE JUSTICE DIOSDADO PERALTA ASSOCIATE JUSTICE MARILYN LAGURA-YAP OF THE COURT OF APPEALS-VISAYAS CATHERINE CATHERINE DAMAYO CRIMINAL CASE NO EN BANC JUDGMENT MANDAUE CITY REGIONAL TRIAL COURT RULES OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE
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