SC exonerates 6 CA justices

January 19, 2014 12:54 pm 

MANILA, Jan. 19 –Judicial officers cannot be subjected to administrative disciplinary actions for their performance of duty in good faith.

Thus, the Supreme Court (SC) en banc exonerated Court of Appeals (CA) Executive Justice Pampio Abarintos and Associate Justices Ramol Paul Hernando, Victoria Isabel Paredes, Gabriel T. Ingles, Pamela Ann Maxino and Carmelita S. Manahan in connection with the letter-complaint filed by Lucena B. Rallos against them.

The case arose from a civil case at the Cebu City Regional Trial Court (RTC) where the heirs of Vicente Rallos, one of whom is complainant Rallos, and other parties collectively referred to as Vicente Rallos, et al. sought just compensation from the City Government of Cebu for two parcels of land pertaining to the estate that the city had been maintaining as public roads without their consent.

The Cebu City RTC Branch 9 rendered its decision on Jan. 14, 2000 holding Cebu City liable to pay just compensation to the Heirs of Vicente, et al.; and directing the creation of a board of commissioners that would determine the amount of just compensation.

Cebu City sought the reconsideration of the decision, however, its motion was denied.

The CA held the hearing On May 23, 2012 on Cebu City’s application for the writ of preliminary injunction, an application which was later granted by the CA.

In her amended letter, Rallos argued that the issuance of the March 28, 2012 resolution directing the rectification of the “fatal” defects of the petition for the issuance of the TRO had been erroneous; that the fatally defective petition should instead be outrightly dismissed in as much as the decisions and the consolidated order thereby sought to be annulled had been already affirmed by the court in the cases; that Cebu City should carry the responsibility for making its petition compliant with the Rules of Court; that the respondent Justices had thus acted as legal consultants of Cebu City; and that it was a matter of public knowledge that petitions filed in the CA were being routinely dismissed even for minor deficiencies.

Rallos asserted that respondent Justices Ingles, Maxino and Manahan had “knowingly disobeyed” the resolutions promulgated on December 5, 2007 and on December 6, 2010 by their issuance of the June 26, 2012 resolution granting Cebu City’s application for the writ of preliminary injunction.

In the ruling, the SC dismissed both administrative complaints for their lack of basis.

The SC said that administrative complaints are not proper remedies to assail alleged erroneous resolutions of justices.

“Considering that the assailed conduct under both complaints referred to the performance of their judicial functions by the respondent Justices, we feel compelled to dismiss the complaints for being improper remedies,” it said.

“We have consistently held that an administrative or disciplinary complaint is not the proper remedy to assail the judicial acts of magistrates of the law, particularly those related to their adjudicative functions,” it added.

”Indeed, any errors should be corrected through appropriate judicial remedies, like appeal in due course or, in the proper cases, the extraordinary writs of certiorari and prohibition if the errors were jurisdictional,” the SC said.

”Having the administrative or disciplinary complaint be an alternative to available appropriate judicial remedies would be entirely unprocedural,” it added.(PNA)

PDS/PTR/PJN

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