SC fines CA Justice Yap
Fred P. Languido (The Freeman) - October 16, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  The Supreme Court has fined Court of Appeals (CA) Justice Marilyn Lagura-Yap to an amount equivalent to one year of her salary for failing to decide 160 cases within the reglementary period during her stint as a Regional Trial Court (RTC) judge in Mandaue City.

In a decision promulgated on June 23, 2020, the Court found Yap guilty of gross inefficiency when she, as then Presiding Judge of RTC Branch 28 in Mandaue City, failed to decide 160 cases within the reglementary period and to submit the required certification of caseload before the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) as required by the JBC when she applied for the CA post in 2011.

The fine is payable within 30 days from receipt of notice. Yap was also admonished to be more diligent in the performance of her sworn duty as a dispenser of justice, especially that she is now an Associate Justice of the appellate court.

In imposing the fine, the Court considered the number of cases left undecided and the lack of any plausible explanation for such failure to decide within the reglementary period, and her failure to submit the certification of pending cases before the JBC.

According to the SC, the sanction against Yap is a testament that Chief Justice Diosdado M. Peralta is serious in purging the Judiciary.

The high tribunal held that it cannot overstress its policy on prompt disposition or resolution of cases, adding that “delay in the disposition of cases is a major culprit in the erosion of public faith and confidence in the judicial system, as judges have the sworn duty to administer justice without undue delay.”

It added that the Constitution expressly provides that all lower courts should decide or resolve cases or matters within three months from the date of submission.

“Section 5, Canon 6 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct also provides that judges shall perform all judicial duties, including the delivery of reserved decision, efficiently, fairly and with reasonable promptness,” read an SC news release.

According to the SC, Yap admitted her failure to decide cases within the 90-day period; failure to comply with Section 8 of A.M. No. 04-5-19-SC regarding the submission of a certification that she had disposed all cases assigned to her in Mandaue City, Cebu RTC Branch 28; and failure to submit a certification of the status of pending cases and cases submitted for decision when she applied for the CA post in 2011.    

The Court said that while Yap’s justifications and explanations - heavy caseload, voluminous records, death of family members, and being understaffed - may be recognized as true and reasonable, the same “are not sufficient to exonerate her from liability.”

In administrative proceedings, only substantial evidence is required to warrant disciplinary sanctions, the Court held. —  (FREEMAN)

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