SC junks administrative raps vs CA justice for ruling on DDS

November 3, 2011 9:45 pm 

MANILA, Nov. 3 – The Supreme Court (SC) has dismissed an administrative complaint against Court of Appeals (CA) Associate Justice Mario Lopez stemming from a decision he rendered reversing the order of preventive suspension by the Office of the Ombudsman (Ombudsman) against 22 police officers for failing to eliminate the Davao Death Squad (DDS).

The unabated killings in the recent years have been attributed to the DDS.

In an en banc resolution, signed by Atty. Enriqueta Vidal, Clerk of Court, the SC dismissed the letter-complaint against Lopez since "there exists no prima facie case to warrant the conduct of administrative proceedings against the magistrate."

The unsigned executive brief, which was treated as an administrative complaint, was aimed at the ruling of the CA penned by Lopez, reversing the order of the Ombudsman.

"The acts of a judge, pertaining to his judicial functions, are not subject to disciplinary action, unless they are tainted with fraud, dishonesty, corruption or bad faith," the SC decision said.

The case stemmed when Lopez nullified an Ombudsman order suspending 22 high-ranking police officials in Davao for their failure to resolve the summary executions perpetrated by the "Davao Death Squad".

In his July 2010 ruling, Lopez said that the Ombudsman's ruling was "absurd," having relied on "raw statistics" as basis for the suspension.

However, in its decision, the CA said that the Ombudsman closed its eyes on the actions undertaken by the police officers to address the issue.

The case arose from a letter-complaint received in April 2009 from the group "Davao Deserves Good Government" that sought to have the summary executions investigated.

Police Sr. Supts. Catalino Cuy and Jaime Morente; Chief Inspectors Mattew Baccay, Filmore Escobal, Leandro Felonia, Marvin Manuel Pepino, Ranulfo Cabanog, Vicente Danao, Napoleon Eguia, Alden Delvo, Joseph Sepulchre, Dionisio Abude, Juel Neil Salcedo, Joselito Loriza and Joel Neil Rojo; Supts. Harry Espela, Michael John Dubria and Rommil Mitra; Sr. Inspectors Antonio Alberio and Arnulfo Mahinay; and Inspectors Maximo Atuel and Rolly Tropico were ordered suspended by the Ombudsman.

In its decision, the SC told the aggrieved party "to elevate the unfavorable decision or order to the higher court for review and correction."

"Unless the assailed order or decision is tainted with fraud, malice, or dishonesty, the remedy is not to file an administrative complaint," the SC said.

The SC also noted that "in administrative proceedings, complainants have the burden of proving the allegations in their complaints by substantial evidence." (PNA) RMA/PTR/utb

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