SC dismisses Olongapo RTC judge

June 29, 2009 9:04 am 

MANILA, June 29 – The Supreme Court (SC) has dismissed Judge Ramon Caguioa, the presiding judge of the Olongapo City Regional Trial Court Branch 74, for gross ignorance of the law and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.

In a 31-page per curiam decision, the SC also ordered the forfeiture of Judge Caguioa's retirement benefits, excluding accrued leave credits.

Caguioa was faulted for his erroneous issuances of writ of preliminary injunctions in cases pending before his sala.

"Ignorance of the law is the mainspring of injustice. Judges are called upon to exhibit more than just a cursory acquaintance with statutes and procedural rules. Basic rules should be at the palm of their hands their inexcusable failure to observe basic laws and rules will render them administratively liable," the SC said.

The first administrative case stemmed from the civil case filed by Indigo Distribution Corp. Inc. vs. Secretary of Finance filed before Judge Caguioa’s court. Indigo, et al., importers and traders licensed to operate inside the Subic Bay Freeport Zone, have been granted by Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) certificates of registration and tax exemptions.

Indigo and his group filed a case before Caguioa's sala when SBMA, pursuant to Republic Act 7227, otherwise known as An Act Accelerating the Conversion of Military Reservations into Other Public Uses, Creating the Bases Conversion and Development Authority for this Purpose, Providing Funds Therefor and for Other Purposes, subsequently required them to pay corresponding duties and taxes on their importation of cigars, cigarettes, liquors and wines.

Caguioa granted Indigo's petition for the issuance of writ of preliminary injunction and approved the injunction bond amounting to P1 million for all petitioners.

During the pendency of the appeal before the SC, Caguioa granted various ex parte motions for interventions of different corporations claiming to be similarly situated with Indigo and allowed them to ride on the injunctive bond posted by Indigo.

The SC subsequently declared the assailed order of the judge as null and void for grave abuse of discretion.

Worst, the SC said, Caguioa, in his issuance of the writ, had failed to observe due process when the Office of the Solicitor General was not served copies of the motions for intervention.

In a similar case, Caguioa erroneously issued a temporary restraining order and writ of preliminary injunction in the petition for mandamus filed by District Collector of Customs in the Port of Subic Andres Salvacion, Jr.. against his then would-be replacement Gracia Caringal.

Subsequently, he enjoined the CIR and the Finance Secretary to observe and respect his issuances.

The CA ruled that Caguioa should have dismissed the case for improper venue.

Caguioa was also found guilty of simple misconduct and ordered suspended from office without pay for three months in a third administrative case which stemmed from another civil case.

The case against his co-respondent Sheriff Christopher Perez, however, was dismissed for lack of merit.

The SC said that Perez cannot be faulted for implementing a writ of execution pursuant to Caguioa's order. (PNA)

RMA/PTR

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