[ A.M. No. MTJ-20-1938 [Formerly A.M. No. 20-02-14-MCTC], November 17, 2020 ]




In a Memorandum1 dated 05 February 2020 addressed to Chief Justice Diosdado M. Peralta, Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez and Deputy Court Administrator Jenny Lind R. Aldecoa-Delorino reported that respondent Judge Tirso F. Banquerigo (respondent), then Presiding Judge of the Municipal Circuit Trial Court (MCTC), Tayasan-Jimalalud, Tayasan, Negros Oriental, misrepresented and concealed to the Court twenty-five (25) cases still pending before his retirement, eighteen (18) of which were submitted for decision, while seven (7) others had unresolved motions. Respondent compulsorily retired from the Judiciary on 04 October 2019.

On February 2019, respondent reported a caseload of only fifty-six (56) cases. As a matter of policy, his court should have been the subject of a judicial audit six (6) months before his retirement. Nevertheless, the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) decided to forego the judicial audit considering respondent's minimal caseload, his previous monthly report of cases indicating that he had no case submitted for decision, the expenses to be incurred by the audit team, and the time and resources to be spent for the same.

However, it was later found that at the time of respondent's retirement on October 2019, he still had sixty (60) active cases. On 07 January 2020, pending the issuance of respondent's clearance, the OCA received copies of the Tayasan-Jimalalud MCTC's Monthly Report of Cases for September 2019,2 October 2019,3 and November 2019,4 and subsequently, an amended Monthly Report of Cases for October 2019.5 Readily apparent in the amended October 2019 and the November 2019 reports were the entries for nine (9) civil and nine (9) criminal cases already submitted for decision, but remained undecided. Ms. Jocele R. Valencia (Valencia), the Branch Clerk of Court, disclosed these cases were not indicated in the first October 2019 report upon instruction of respondent. The corrections were made only upon the request of Acting Presiding Judge Katrina C. Gonzales-Pasicaran after she assumed the post and conducted a physical inventory of the cases. The OCA also found seven (7) motions left unresolved by respondent.6

The cases submitted for decision were as follows:

Case No. Accused/Parties Nature Date Submitted Date Due Delay incurred until 03 October 2019
1 361 Sps. Jiji Erk, et al. vs. Artemio Ojales, et al. Damages with prayer for TRO and/or Preliminary Injunction 03 October 2003 31 October 2003 15 years, 9 months and 2 days
2 388 Roberto Lim vs. Dolores Panoy, et al. Unlawful Detainer and Damages 08 February 2007 10 March 2007 12 years, 6 months and 23 days
3 2758-J Federico Real Malicious Mischief 14 January 2009 13 February 2009 10 years, 7 months, and 20 days
4 390 Felixberto Duplo, et al. vs. Vernon Barraquias Unlawful Detainer and Damages 23 May 2008 (defendant) 09 July 2010 (plaintiff) 08 August 2010 9 years, 1 month and 25 days
5 2954-T Jessica Tubio Malicious Mischief 18 January 2011 17 February 2011 8 years, 7 months and 16 days
6 2953-T Jessica Tubio Grave Oral Defamation 18 September 2011 17 December 2011 7 years, 9 months and 16 days
7 2966-J Ambrosio de la Lina Grave Slander 20 February 2013 21 May 2013 6 years, 4 months and 12 days
8 320 Abdulah Bahandi, et al. vs. Andrew Kadile Recovery of Possession, Demolition and Damages 27 August 2013 25 November 2013 5 years, 10 months and 8 days
9 3057-J Ariel Alberto Reckless Imprudence resulting in Less Serious Physical Injuries 07 September 2016 07 October 2016 2 years, 11 months and 26 days
10 420 Emiliano Dayuday, et al. vs. Welbita dela Lina, et al. Unlawful Detainer, Ejectment and Damages 09 December 2016 08 January 2017 2 years, 8 months and 25 days
11 3082-J Cipriano Huradas Grave Threats 09 November 2016 07 February 2017 2 years, 7 months and 26 days
12 427 Gabriel Cimafrancia, Jr. vs. Celso Estolonio Forcible Entry 23 January 2017 22 February 2017 2 years, 7 months and 11 days
13 430 Gina Z. Ridad, et al. vs. Richard Abujan, et al. Unlawful Detainer and Damages 10 October 2017 11/09/17 1 year, 10 months and 24 days
14 3116-T Ronald Casilo Attempted Homicide 27 October 2017 25 January 2018 1 year, 8 months and 8 days
15 3106-T Bonifacio Amistoso Other Mischief 02 March 2018 01 April 2018 1 year, 6 months and 2 days
16 2988-T Camilo Soreno, et al. Slander by Deed 18 June 2018 16 September 2018 1 year and 17 days
17 436 ORBYSY Holdings, Inc. vs. Gerald Rio, et al. Unlawful Detainer 23 April 2019 23 May 2019 4 months and 10 days
18 434 Pedro Calijan, et al vs. Pedrino Calijan, et al. Judicial Settlement, Partition and Damages 29 April 2009 28 July 2019 2 months and 5 days

Findings and Recommendations of the OCA

The OCA found that respondent concealed the eighteen (18) cases submitted for decision, which were not decided within the reglementary period to render a decision. According to the OCA, in view of the attending circumstances, a fine in the amount of Php20,000.00 would be a mere slap on the wrist, but noted that forfeiture of respondent's retirement benefits would be too harsh.7 Accordingly, the OCA recommended that the case be re-docketed as a regular administrative matter, and that respondent be fined in the amount of Php300,000.00, to be deducted from his retirement benefits.8

In addition, the OCA recommended that Valencia be directed to show cause why she should not be administratively charged for her failure to indicate the true number of cases submitted for decision in the court's Monthly Report of Cases from October 2003 to October 2019.9

Ruling of the Court

The Court adopts and approves the recommendation of the OCA to re-docket the case as a regular administrative matter, but orders respondent to pay a fine of Php100,000.00 instead of Php300,000.00 to be deducted from his retirement benefits, and directs Valencia to show cause why she should not be administratively charged.

Section 15 (1), Article VIII of the Constitution mandates lower courts to decide or resolve cases or matters for decision or resolution within three (3) months from date of submission. Section 5 of Canon 6 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct provides that judges should perform all judicial duties efficiently, fairly and with reasonable promptness. Similarly, Canon 3, Rule 3.05 of the Code of Judicial Conduct states that a judge should promptly dispose of the court's business and decide cases within the required periods. Judges are to be held at a higher standard in the performance of their duties, and the failure to fulfill this duty would not only violate every litigant's constitutional right to the speedy disposition of cases, but will also hold the erring judge administratively liable for the offense. Under Section 9 (1), Rule 140 of the Revised Rules of Court, undue delay in rendering a decision or order is a less serious charge punishable by either suspension from office without salary or benefits, or a fine.10

Based on the OCA's audit, respondent had a total of twenty-five (25) cases pending before his court, eighteen (18) of which were already submitted for decision, while seven (7) others had unresolved motions. The delay in the resolution of these cases ran for as long as fifteen (15) years at the time of the audit. Worse, three (3) of those cases remained unresolved for more than a decade. For these, respondent should have been administratively dealt with. This Court has consistently held that the failure of a judge to decide a case within the required period is not excusable and constitutes gross inefficiency, and non-observance of said rule is a ground for administrative sanction against the defaulting judge.11

To emphasize, it was respondent's lack of transparency as to the true status of his case docket which prevented the OCA from immediately conducting an audit and allowed him to retire without answering for the pending matters in his court. Dishonesty is deemed a grave offense, punishable by the ultimate penalty of dismissal from the service with forfeiture of retirement benefits, except accrued leave credits, and perpetual disqualification from re-employment in the government service.12

In some cases, however, the Court refrained from imposing the maximum penalty based on several factors attendant to the case, including length of service and the case being the first offense against the erring judge.13 We note in agreement the OCA's observation that a fine in the amount of Php20,000.00 would be a mere slap on the wrist, but a forfeiture of respondent's retirement benefits would be too harsh. Since respondent's clearance has not yet been issued, the Court can still penalize him by imposing upon him a fine, to be deducted from his retirement benefits, without prejudice to the filing of proper civil or criminal cases.

The Court, in Lambino v. De Vera,14 dismissed the erring judge for failure to timely resolve cases pending before his court within the required time compounded by his act of submitting fake certifications of service and collecting his salaries upon certification that he has no pending matters to resolve.ℒαwρhi৷

In Re: Judge Segundo Catral,15 the Court fined the retired judge for submitting a false certification of pending cases to support his retirement papers. However, the OCA later found there were still cases left unresolved. In imposing the appropriate fine despite his retirement, the Court considered Judge Catral's patent dishonesty in submitting the false certification.

We are aware that in several instances, this Court dismissed complaints against judges filed after their retirements.16 Ordinarily, respondent's compulsory retirement in October 2019 would have effectively divested the OCA of authority to institute an administrative complaint against him, and for this Court to impose administrative sanctions for respondent's misdeeds.17 However, we find of little consequence the fact that the audit and resulting administrative case against herein respondent had been lodged after his retirement. After all, such predicament was a result of respondent's actions. And this Court cannot allow his retirement to be an impediment for imposing upon him the fitting administrative sanction.

In Moncada v. Cervantes,18 the Court ruled that it is irrelevant even if Moncada filed his complaint one (1) day after the retirement of Judge Cervantes. The administrative case filed against Judge Cervantes was in relation to his duties as a judge. As such, even if he has retired from the service, if found to be remiss in upholding his sworn responsibility, he could still be penalized for the infractions he has committed. Thus, the Court directed Judge Cervantes to pay a fine instead.

Similarly, in Office of the Court Administrator v. Paredes,19 the Court administratively dealt with and fined Paredes, a former clerk of court who had already retired after an audit conducted after his retirement revealed discrepancies in his books.

In Letter dated November 12, 2004 of Judge Adolfo R. Malingan,20 it was held that discovery of a judge's failure to decide cases within the reglementary period after retirement, and pending clearance processing, cannot detract the Court from holding a judge accountable. To rule otherwise would put premium to gross inefficiency of a judge and negligence or possible collusion with those in charge of processing applications for retirement of judges in skipping on the submission of the required list of pending decisions, among others.21

Judges are reminded of their duty to decide cases promptly and expeditiously under the time-honored precept that justice delayed is justice denied. Every judge should decide cases with dispatch and should be careful, punctual, and observant in the performance of his functions for delay in the disposition of cases erodes the faith and confidence of our people in the judiciary, lowers its standards and brings it into disrepute. Failure to decide a case within the reglementary period is not excusable and constitutes gross inefficiency warranting the imposition of administrative sanctions on the defaulting judge.22

In the present case, considering that respondent left a number of cases undecided for unreasonable periods ranging from ten (10) to fifteen (15) years, as well as his dishonesty in submitting a false report of pending cases, the fine of Php 100,000.00 to be deducted from his retirement benefits is proper.

WHEREFORE, the Court ADOPTS and APPROVES the recommendation of the Office of the Court Administrator. Respondent Judge Tirso F. Banquerigo is GUILTY of gross inefficiency and dishonesty and is DIRECTED to pay a fine of Php 100,000.00, to be deducted from his retirement benefits.

Ms. Jocele R. Valencia, the Branch Clerk of Court of the Municipal Circuit Trial Court, Tayasan-Jimalalud, Tayasan, Negros Oriental, is DIRECTED to SHOW CAUSE within fifteen (15) days from notice, why she should not be administratively charged for her failure to indicate in the court's Monthly Report of Cases from October 2003 to October 2019 the cases which were submitted for decision before Judge Tirso F. Banquerigo.

The Acting Presiding Judge of the Municipal Circuit Trial Court, Tayasan-Jimalalud, Tayasan, Negros Oriental, is DIRECTED to act on the eighteen (18) cases submitted for decision and seven (7) cases for resolution with dispatch, and to inform the Court of the status of these cases within thirty (30) days from notice.


Peralta, C.J., Perlas-Bernabe, Leonen, Caguioa, Gesmundo, Hernando, Inting, Lopez, Delos Santos, Gaerlan, and Rosario, JJ., concur.

Carandang, and Lazaro-Javier, JJ., on official leave.



Please take notice that on November 17, 2020 a Decision, copy attached herewith, was rendered by the Supreme Court in the above-entitled administrative matter, the original of which was received by this Office on June 25, 2021 at 3:45 p.m.

Very truly yours,

Division Clerk of Court


Deputy Clerk of Court En Banc


1 Rollo, pp. 1-6.

2 Id. at 33-35.

3 Id. at 36-38.

4 Id. at 42-44.

5 Id. at 39-41.

6 Id. at 2.

7 Id. at 5.

8 Id. at 6.

9 Id.

10 Office of the Court Administrator v. Andaya, A.M. No. RTJ-09-2181, 25 June 2013, 712 Phil. 33 (2013)

11 Lambino v. De Vera, A.M. No. MTJ-94-1017, 07 July 1997, 341 Phil. 62 (1997).

12 Id.

13 Id.

14 Id.

15 A.M. No. 98-12-377-RTC, 26 July 1999.

16 See Office of the Court Administrator v. Silongan, A.M. No. P-13-3137, 23 August 2016; Re: Missing Exhibits and Court Properties in RTC Branch 4, Panabo City, A.M. No. 10-2-41-RTC (Resolution), 27 February 2013, 705 Phil. 8 (2013); Office of the Court Administrator v. Mantua, A.M. No. RTJ-11-2291, 08 February 2012, 681 Phil. 261 (2012); Office of the Court Administrator v. Andaya, A.M. No RTJ-09-2181 (Resolution), 25 June 2013, 712 Phil. 33 (2013).

17 See Office of the Court Administrator v. Retired Judge Andaya, A.M. No. RTJ-09-2181, 25 June 2013, 712 Phil. 33 (2013).

18 A.M. No. MTJ-06-1639 (Formerly OCA-IPI No. 05-1803-MTJ), 28 July 2006, 529 Phil. 1 (2006).

19 A.M. No. P-06-2103 (Formerly A.M. No. 05-7-430-RTC), 17 April 2007, 549 Phil. 879 (2007).

20 A.M. No. MTJ-05-1586 [formerly A.M. 05-2-36-MCTC] (Resolution), 20 October 2005, 510 Phil. 215 (2005).

21 Id.

22 Re: Baluma, A.M. No. RTJ-13-2355, 02 September 2013.

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