SC dismisses Butuan MTCC judge from service

May 18, 2012 9:49 pm 

MANILA, May 18 – The Supreme Court (SC) has dismissed from the service a Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC) judge in Butuan City, Agusan del Norte for his failure to immediately act on cases filed before his sala.

Judge James V. Go, presiding judge of the Butuan City MTCC Branch 2, was removed from the service, "with forfeiture of all retirement benefits, except accrued leave credits, and with prejudice to reemployment in any branch, agency or instrumentality of the government, including government-owned or controlled corporations."

"…We find that the dismissal of the respondent judge from service is indeed warranted," the SC held in an en banc decision promulgated on April 10, 2012.

"This Court has long maintained the policy of upholding competence and integrity in the administration of justice. Incompetence and inefficiency have no place in the judiciary," the SC said.

The SC said that "respondent's indifference to the charges against him only proves his lack of commitment to the duties of his office, making him unfit to continue in public service."

"This Decision is immediately executory," it added.

The case arose from a judicial audit and physical inventory of pending cases conducted from Sept. 25, 2006 to Oct. 2, 2006 by the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) in Butuan City MTCC.

The audit team discovered that as of audit date, Judge Go failed to immediately arraign the accused in 632 criminal cases, to archive 140 criminal cases, to act on summons issued in 477 criminal cases, to act on 13 cases which had not been acted upon for a considerable length of time, to resolve the pending incidents or motions in 15 criminal cases, to act on 17 civil cases from the time of their filing, to take further action on 32 civil cases, and to resolve motions or incidents in 88 civil cases.

It also noted the reports of some court officials and employees that Judge Go would always leave the court in the morning after finishing all hearings scheduled for the day and would return only on the following day.

When the audit team confronted the judge, he replied that he left early to rest as he suffered a stroke before, and that being a judge, "he is not required to render eight hours of service a day."

The OCA recommended that the judicial audit report be treated as an administrative complaint against Judge Go.

The Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Butuan City and Agusan del Norte Chapter, also issued on Oct. 4, 2006 Resolution No. 2, Series of 2006, expressing disappointment over Judge Go's inefficiency and incompetence, which has caused undue delay in the disposition of cases pending before his sala. The resolution was submitted to the OCA.

The SC resolved on Jan. 29, 2007 to treat the judicial audit report as an administrative complaint for gross inefficiency and gross neglect of duty against Judge Go and his clerk of court, Ma. Elmer M. Rosales, and required them to comment within 15 days from notice.

Instead of filing a comment, Judge Go wrote a letter dated March 12, 2007 addressed to the Court Administrator denying all the allegations in the judicial audit report.

Noting Judge Go's deplorable failure to comply with the said directives, the OCA in a Memorandum dated Dec. 1, 2011, recommended to the SC that Judge Go be dismissed from the service.

In its ruling, the SC said that "the disrespect of respondent becomes more pronounced as the Court has noted that to date, he has not even complied with its latest resolution of February 2, 2011 nor adequately complied with the Decision dated September 27, 2007."

The SC said that it found that Go "did not file the required comment to our show-cause resolutions despite several opportunities granted him by this Court."

"His willful disobedience and disregard to our show-cause resolutions constitutes grave and serious misconduct affecting his fitness and worthiness of the honor and integrity attached to his office," it said.

"It is noteworthy that Judge Go was afforded several opportunities to explain his failure to decide the subject cases long pending before his court and to comply with the directives of this Court, but he has failed, and continuously refuses to heed the same," the SC said.

"This continued refusal to abide by lawful directives issued by this Court is glaring proof that he has become disinterested to remain with the judicial system to which he purports to belong," it said. (PNA)

scs/PTR

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