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A.M. No. RTJ-11-2298 February 22, 2012 ATTY. RENE O. MEDINA and ATTY.

CLARITO SE
RVILLAS, Complainants, vs. JUDGE VICTOR A. CAN OY, Regional Trial Court, Branch 29,
igao City, Respondent. Facts: This is an administrative complaint filed by Atty.
Rene O. Medina and Atty. Clar ito Servillas (complainants) against Judge Victor
A. Canoy (respondent judge), P residing Judge of the Regional Trial Court (RTC)
of Surigao City, Branch 29, for Gross Ignorance of the Law and Procedure, Undue
Interference and Gross Ineffici ency, relative to Civil Case No. 7077 entitled
"Zenia A. Pagels v. Spouses Reyna ldo dela Cruz"; Spec. Proc. No. 7101 entitled
"Noel P.E.M. Schellekens v. P/S, S upt. David Y. Ombao, et al."; and Civil Case
No. 7065 entitled "Heirs of Matilde Chato Alcaraz v. Philex-Lascogon Mining Corp
oration, et al." In Civil Case No. 7077: Petitioner Zenia Pagels (Pa filed a Pet
ition for Injunct ion with prayer for issuance of Preliminary Injunction, Tempor
ary Restraining Or der (TRO), Accounting, Damages and Attorney s Fees against resp
ondents Spouses Reyna ldo and Racquel dela Cruz. The case was raffled, where res
pondent judge was the acting presiding judge. After serving respondent spouses w
ith the Summons, copy of the Petition and Notice of hearing, respondent judge co
nducted the hearing an d granted. The TRO was implemented resulting in the trans
fer of possession of th e duly-licensed primary and elementary school and church
from respondent spouses to Pagels. Respondent judge granted the preliminary inj
unction without need of a bond. Resp ondent spouses filed a Motion for Reconside
ration, which respondent judge set fo r hearing on a future date. Subsequently,
respondent judge reset the hearing to another date and reset the hearing again o
n another date. Upon assumption as the new presiding judge, Judge Evangeline Yui
pco-Bayana issued an Order revoking th e preliminary injunction earlier issued b
y respondent judge. In their Complaint, complainants contend that respondent jud
ge should be charged with gross ignorance of the law and procedure: (1) for disr
egarding the basic a nd elementary principle that TRO and preliminary injunction
are improper remedie s to transfer possession of one property to another whose
title has not been cle arly established; and (2) for failure to decide the Motio
n for Reconsideration w ithin a period of 30 days as required by the rules and j
urisprudence. Respondent judge claims that he issued the TRO and preliminary inj
unction judici ously and without bad faith or irregularity. He argues that he re
solved cases ba sed on the merits of the case and if there was indeed error, it
merely constitut es an error of judgment. Respondent judge further states that t
he alleged error was already aptly corrected by Judge Bayana s reversal. Regarding
the alleged delay in the resolution of the Motion for Reconsideration, responde
nt judge defends hi mself by explaining that the Motion was not submitted for re
solution. Respondent judge argues that respondent spouses lawyer (complainant Atty
. Medina) failed to f ile a responsive pleading to the Opposition to Motion for
Reconsideration and th at the hearing of the Motion was further reset to 12 Marc
h 2010. Issue: Whether or not the preliminary injunction was properly issued in
favor o f Pagels whose legal title is disputed. Held: The Court held in the nega
tive. Well-settled is the rule that an injunction cannot be issued to transfer p
ossess ion or control of a property to another when the legal title is in disput
e betwe en the parties and the legal title has not been clearly established. In
this cas e, respondent judge evidently disregarded this established doctrine app
lied in n umerous cases when it granted the preliminary injunction in favor of P
agels whos e legal title is disputed. When the law involved is simple and elemen
tary, lack of conversance with it constitutes gross ignorance of the law. Gross
ignorance o f the law is the disregard of basic rules and settled jurisprudence.
Respondent judge should have been more cautious in issuing writs of preliminary
injunctions because as consistently held these writs are strong arms of equity
w hich must be issued with great deliberation."5 In Fortune Life Insurance Co.,
In c. v. Luczon,6 the Court held the judge guilty of gross ignorance of the law
whe n he failed to conduct a hearing prior to issuance of an injunction in viola
tion of the Rules of Court. It was further emphasized in Zu o v. Cabredo,7 where it w
as

held that the act of respondent in issuing the TRO to enjoin the Bureau of Cust
oms and its officials from detaining the subject shipment amounted to gross igno
rance of the law.