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ABASTILLAS, Judge, Regional

Trial Court, Branch 50 Bacolod City, Respondent.


Enrique S. Chua for complainants.

A.M. No. RTJ-92-863 and AC. No. 3815. July 11, 1994


Judge Renato E. Abastillas was the presiding judge of the Criminal Cases Nos. 10010 and 10011, where
Johnson Lee and Bonny Moreno are defendants. Judge Abastillas solicited the amount of PhP50, 000.00
from Atty. Chua to secure a favorable decision on the said criminal cases, which he communicated to his
clients (Lee and Moreno). Johnson Lee then financed the PhP20, 000.00 as a down payment and was
delivered by Atty, Chua to Judge Abastillas. Lee had 3 meetings with Judge Abastillas to discuss the
merits of the case and the payment of $5, 000.00. Lee even recorded the telephone conversation he had
with the respondent judge.

On the other hand, Atty. Chua was charged administratively for allowing himself to be used as a conduit
for illegal and immoral act.


1. WON Judge Abastillas has violated the Code of Judicial Conduct?

2. WON Atty. Chua has violated the Code of Professional Responsibility?


1. The Code of Judicial Conduct requires that a judge should be the embodiment of competence,
integrity and independence (Rule 1.01). He should administer justice impartially and without delay (Rule
1.02). He should so behave at all times as to promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality
of the judiciary (Rule 2.01).

It is peculiarly essential that the system for establishing and dispensing justice be developed to a high
degree of proficiency, to gain the absolute confidence of the public in the integrity and impartiality of its
administration, because appearance is as important as reality, so much so that a judge, like Cesar’s wife,
must not only be pure but beyond suspicion. The actuations of Judge Abastillas transgressed against the
high standard of moral ethics required of judges.

2. Atty. Chua is guilty of violating Rule 1.01, canon 1, of the Code of Professional Responsibility in
view of his admission that he allegedly delivered PhP20, 000.00 as bribe money to Judge Abastillas,
thereby allowing himself to be used as a conduit for an illegal and immoral act. Rule 1.01 provides that
"A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct."


Respondent, the incumbent Presiding Judge of Branch 112 of the Regional Trial Court of Pasay City, was
charged with inefficiency and incompetence in the performance of official duties in a verified letter-
complaint. Complainant, who is the defendant in Civil Case No. 9441-P, alleges in the letter-complaint
that the said case was instituted on 6 February 1984 and was submitted for decision as early as 29
September 1989. Yet, despite several oral and written requests and motions for its early decision made
by the complainant, the respondent failed to decide the case. More specifically, he alleges that since
eight months after the case was submitted for decision, he had been going to the sala of the respondent
to inquire about the status of the case. On each occasion, a certain Vida Garcia always informed him
that the respondent was either busy or not yet in. He also filed with the respondent’s court an Ex-parte
Motion to Render Decision on 5 May 1990, an Ex-parte Motion to Resolve Motion to Render Decision on
14 September 1990, and another Motion to Resolve Motion to Render Decision on 21 December 1990.

Complainant further avers that in August 1991, he again inquired about the decision and the respondent
personally informed him that he would resolve the case the following month since he would have to
give priority first to cases involving prisoners. On 28 October 1991, Atty. Andrew Inocencio of the Office
of the Court Administrator told the complainant that the respondent would inform the Office about the
case on the last day of October. But since by November the said Office had not received any call from
the respondent, the complainant went to the sala of the respondent on 25 November 1991. He was
assured by Atty. Madamba that the decision would be released on 15 December 1991. On 16 December
1991, the respondent again assured the complainant that the decision would be released before the end
of the year. The respondent explained that since he heard only the last part of the case, he still needed
time to study the case records. On 27 December 1991, the respondent again assured him that the
decision would be released after New Year


Whether or not the acts of the judge constitute an administrative offense.


They found respondent JUDGE MANUEL P. DUMATOL guilty of gross inefficiency and neglect of duty.
Respondent Judge is further directed to decide Civil Case No. 9441-P, if he still has not done so, with
utmost dispatch.


This is a complaint by Lupo A. Atienza for Gross Immorality and Appearance of Impropriety against Judge
Francisco Brillantes, Jr.

Complainant alleged that he has two children with Yolanda De Castro with whom respondent Judge was
cohabiting with. Complainant claimed that respondent is married to one Zenaida Ongkiko with whom he
has 5 children. Respondent alleges that while he and Ongkiko went through a marriage ceremony (1965)
before a Nueva Ecija town Mayor, the same was not a valid marriage for lack of a marriage license. Upon
request of the parents of Ongkiko, respondent went through another marriage ceremony with her in
Manila. Again, neither party applied for a marriage license. Respondent claims that when he married De
Castro in civil rites in Los Angeles, California in 1991, he believed in all good faith and for all legal intents
and purposes that he was single because his first marriage was solemnized without a license.
Respondent also argues that the provision of Article 40 of the Family Code does not apply to him
considering that his first marriage took place in 1965 and was governed by the Civil Code of the
Philippines; while the second marriage took place in 1991 and governed by the Family Code.


WON Article 40 of the Family Code is applicable to the case at bar.


Yes. Article 40 is applicable to remarriages entered into after the effectivity of the Family Code on
August 3, 1988 regardless of the date of the first marriage. Besides, under Article 256 of the Family
Code, said Article is given “retroactive effect insofar as it does not prejudice or impair vested or acquired
rights in accordance with the Civil Code or other laws.” This is particularly true with Article 40, which is a
rule of procedure. Respondent has not shown any vested right that was impaired by the application of
Article 40 to his case.
Canon of Judicial Ethics: “A judge’s official conduct should be free from the appearance of
impropriety and his personal behavior, not only on the bench and in the performance of judicial
duties, but also in his everyday life, should be beyond reproach. Being the visible representation
of the law and the embodiment of the people’s sense of justice, he must be studiously careful
himself to avoid even the slightest infraction of the law, lest it be demoralizing example of others.”

Judge Caoibes was appointed presiding judge of Branch 253, a newly created branch of RTC Pasay
City. He had the privilege of recommending to the Supreme Court the appointment of his own
choice. Judge Alumbres, who was then the executive judge of the court, took this as an opportunity
to secure employment for his son. Alumbres lent an executive table to Caoibes for his
temporary use.
The judges had lunch together and both agreed to the appointment of Alumbres’ son as process
server of Branch 253. Later on, Caoibes withdrew his earlier recommendation of Alumbres’ son
and instead, recommended someone else.
Alumbres sent his deputy sheriff to take back his table from Caiobes but he refused to return the
table until his office furniture was delivered by the SC. Alumbres then went to Caoibes’ chambers
to take back his table. Caoibes greeted Alumbres “Hoy, ano ba ang atin?” The latter replied in an
angry tone “Joey, kukunin ko na ang table ko. Akin naman iyun, eh.” In response, Caoibes put
his left arm around Alumbres’ shoulder, extended his right hand to shake that latter’s right hand,
saying “Huwag naman. Halika, pagusapan natin dine.” Despite the cordial gesture, Alumbres
held Caoibes’ right wrist and forcefully jerked it.
Incensed at the fierce reaction of Alumbres, Caoibes shouted “Tarantado ito, ah” and swung his
left arm towards Alumbres, hitting him on the right temple. Caoibes also delivered a right
hook, grazing Alumbres’ lower jaw. One of the deputy sheriffs place placed himself between
the two. Alumbres swung at Caoibes while the latter was being led away but the blow missed.
(1) WON Judge Caoibes deliberately inflicted fistic blows to complainant Judge Alumbres - YES

(1) Judge Caoibes threw two punches at Judge Alumbres, the first hitting his right temple and the
second, the left side of his jaw.

Contrary to the claim of Alumbres, the punches of Caoibes were not severe as the injuries sustained
by Alumbres were mere superficial, the size of a pinhead similar to a mosquito bite. BUT this does
not detract from the gravity of the offense committed. Canon 2 of the Code of Judicial Conduct
states that “A judge should avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all
Rule 2.01 provides that “A judge should behave at all times as to promote public confidence
in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.

Courts are looked upon by the people with high respect and are regarded sacred places.
Misbehavior within and around their vicinity diminishes their sanctity and dignity. By fighting
within the court premises, the parties have failed, not only to observe proper decorum
expected of member of the judiciary, they have failed to promote public confidence in the
integrity and impartiality of the judiciary. More contemptible, the altercation arose out of a
squabble involving a mere table.

Judge Caoibes is guilty of violating the Code of Judicial Conduct, with the fine of P20,000.00 with
a warning that a repetition in the future will be dealt with more severely.