Republic of the Philippines
A.M. No. RTJ-97-1388 September 5, 1997
OCA I.P.I. No. 97-307-RTJ
ELEAZAR B. GASPAR, complainant,
JUDGE WILLIAM H. BAYHON, respondent.
Eleazar B. Gaspar, Court Interpreter of the RTC-Br. 133, Makati, complainant herein, is respondent in Adm. Matter No. P-92-670, "Remedios Antonino v. Eleazar B. Gaspar," filed with the Office of the Court Administrator on 3 February 1992 for conduct unbecoming of a government employee, intriguing against honor, less serious physical injuries, and acts of lasciviousness. 1 Respondent Judge William H. Bayhon, RTC-Br. 23, Manila, respondent herein, was the fifth of the five (5) Executive Judges of the Regional Trial Court, National Capital Judicial Region who were tasked, one after another, to investigate Adm. Matter No. P-92-670.
Respondent Judge compulsorily retired on 12 July 1997 but due to his alleged failure to submit his report on his investigation of the complaint against Gaspar, the former was administratively charged by Gaspar in an unverified complaint filed on 30 August 1996, which on 29 November 1996 was supplanted by a verified complaint. As a consequence, Judge Bayhon was unable to receive his retirement benefits to which by law he was otherwise entitled.
The only issue to be resolved is whether the delay in the submission of his report on Adm. Matter No. P-92-670 constitutes malicious delay in the administration of justice and a violation of Rule 2, Canon 3, of the Code of Judicial Conduct. 2
A perusal of the affidavit-complaint of Eleazar B. Gaspar fails to disclose any allegation that the delay, if any, was borne of a malicious intent. Malice connotes that the act complained of must be the result of a deliberate evil intent and does not cover a mere voluntary act. 3 Further, the delay must be the result of a deliberate intent to inflict damage on either party to a case before him. 4 Considering that there was not a single specific act alleged in the complaint imputing malice to respondent Judge resulting in the delay, thus failing to prove that the delay was malicious, the charge must fail.
As regards the allegation that respondent Judge violated Rule 2, Canon 3, of the Code of Judicial Conduct, it appears from the recollection of Gaspar himself that respondent Judge however was the the fifth of the five (5) Executive Judges of the National Capital Judicial Region who were assigned to investigate the administrative complaint of Remedios Antonino against Eleazar B. Gaspar. They were Judge Job B. Madayag and Judge Julio R. Logarta of Makati and now both retired, and Judge Rosalio G. de la Rosa and Judge Romeo J. Callejo, the former having already retired and the latter now an Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals. Quite understandably, respondent Judge could not have been familiar with the facts and the antecedents of the case before it was finally referred to him.
The records show that Judge Madayag who received the records of Adm. Matter No. P-92-670 did not act on the case in deference to therein complainant's Motion to Transfer Venue. 5 Subsequently, on 12 October 1992, the case was reassigned to the Vice Executive Judge of Makati, 6 Judge Julio R. Logarta, who then set the case for hearing and received evidence but upon the instance of complainant Antonino the case was transferred to the Regional Trial Court of Manila on 24 February 1993. 7
In the Regional Trial Court of Manila, the case was assigned by Deputy Court Administrator Juanito A. Bernad to Executive Judge Rosalio G. de la Rosa who received the case on 24 May 1993. 8 Judge dela Rosa scheduled the hearing immediately. Unfortunately, due to the absence of complainant and the unavailability of their respective counsel, the proceedings were conducted on various dates until, on 17 August 1994, Judge de la Rosa retired from the judiciary.
The case was then transferred to Judge Romeo T. Callejo, the succeeding Executive Judge of Manila, who however inhibited himself from the case. 9
Finally, the case was referred to the new Executive Judge, respondent William H. Bayhon. It was Judge Bayhon who expedited the disposal of the case by receiving the remaining evidence of the parties. In fact, in an Urgent Ex Parte Motion and Manifestation dated 11 September 1995 filed with respondent Judge, herein complainant Gaspar stated, "Finally, the case was assigned in this Branch 28, RTC-Manila, presided by Your Honor. I am grateful because the hearing was expedited until the evidence for the petitioner and respondent were concluded" (emphasis supplied).
After concluding the reception of the evidence of the parties, respondent Judge, in an Order dated 16 October 1995, gave complainant and respondent thirty (30) days to submit simultaneously their respective memoranda, if they so desired, and thereafter considered the case submitted for decision. The records disclose that the memorandum for respondent therein, complainant herein, was submitted on 4 December 1995 while the memorandum for complainant therein was filed on 5 March 1996. But, according to respondent Judge, he could not immediately submit his Report and Recommendation since he did not have the records of the proceedings conducted by the judges before him. As explained in his Supplemental Comment with Prayer for Partial Release dated 31 July
But the undersigned could not immediately proceed to resolve it since the records of the case did not contain records of the proceedings conducted by the previous judges, if they conducted any, including the transcript of stenographic notes.
While in Nidua v. Lazaro 10 it was held that it was incumbent upon the judge to devise an efficient recording and filing system in his court so that no disorderliness could affect the flow of cases and their speedy disposition, particularly those submitted for decision, respondent Judge herein had no control over the completion of those stenographic notes as the testimonies were not heard before his sala and the stenographers were not under his supervision. As a matter of fact, to compel the completion of the notes, respondent Judge issued an order on 17 January 1997 directing Stenographers Marlyn Alve and P. Bognot to submit their transcripts for 9 December 1992 (covering the testimony of Remedios Antonino) and for 25 April 1994 (referring to the testimony of Angelita Antonino) within five (5) days from receipt of his order. 11 Unfortunately; it was learned that Alve was no longer with the judiciary while Bognot was not connected with the RTC-Br. 63 of Makati City 12 where the order of Judge Bayhon was sent.
In San Pedro v. Salvador 13 it was held that "a judge should not be blamed for the delay in the disposition of a case when the delay is beyond his control, specially in the absence of any showing that it was done in bad faith and intended to prejudice a party to the case or that it was motivated by some ulterior ends." No such ill motive was even alleged, much less proved, against respondent Judge. Neither is there any allegation of dishonesty or partiality against him. A check with the Documentation Office of the Court shows that this is the only administrative case against respondent Judge.
We are not saying that under similar circumstances a judge may take his own sweet time in resolving the cases pending before him. In this administrative matter however, our observation is that respondent Judge, resolved the matter within a reasonable time despite the fact that the case was transferred from Makati to Manila and from one Judge to another, and that some records and transcripts of stenographic notes are unavailable. If there was any delay in disposing of the case, the delay was not attended with malice or ill motive. The most that the Court can do is to admonish or reprimand the respondent Judge. But, certainly, after having reached the twilight of his judicial career when respondent Judge is now entitled to have peace of mind in his retirement, it will not serve any administrative purpose to impose any such sanction on him who has already compulsorily left the service as of 12 July 1997. Certainly, he now deserves his well earned retirement benefits.
WHEREFORE, this administrative case is DISMISSED and, consequently, all the retirement benefits to which respondent Judge William H. Bayhon is entitled under the law are ordered RELEASED to him.
Vitug, Kapunan and Hermosisima, Jr., JJ., concur.
1 See Records of Adm. Matter No. P-92-670, p. 3.
2 Id., p. 134.
3 See People v. Malabanan, 62 Phil. 786, 788 (1936).
4 Francisco, The Revised Penal Code, Book Two, 1960 Ed., p. 459.
5 Records of Adm. Matter No. P-92-670, p. 42.
6 Id., p. 62.
7 Id., p. 87.
8 Id., p. 91.
9 Id., p. 125.
10 AM-No. R-465 MTJ, 29 June 1989, 174 SCRA 581, 586.
11 Records of Adm. Matter No. P-92-670, p. 397.
12 Id., p. 396.
13 Adm. Matter No. 749-CFI, 5 September 1975, 66 SCRA 534, 540.
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