SC fines QC judge for gross inefficiency
MANILA – A Quezon City judge has been fined by the Supreme Court (SC) for delay in resolving a motion filed by a litigant in a pending case before his sala.
In a resolution uploaded online on April 4, the high court fined QC Regional Trial Court (RTC Branch 226) Judge Manuel B. Sta. Cruz Jr. PHP9,000 for gross inefficiency and delay in the administration of justice and was sternly warned that repetition would be dealt with more severely.
Sta. Cruz, however, was cleared of charges of gross ignorance of the law and evident bias for lack of merit.
The court said records show that it took 12 months for the magistrate to rule on a motion for reconsideration filed by a party and to issue an order on the pending case to the clerk of court for resolution.
“This is way beyond the reglementary period of 90 days within which judges must resolve motions or incidents pending before them. As such, as the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) properly observed, respondent (judge) is administratively liable for gross inefficiency and undue delay in rendering a decision or order which is considered as a less serious charge,” the SC said.
“Judges should be imbued with a high sense of duty and responsibility in the discharge of their obligation to administer justice promptly,” the court said.
The 2016 complaint was filed by litigants Joy Ann O. Sese and Lerma O. Sese, in a pending case over possession of a property in Quezon City before the Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC). The opposing side, spouses Jimmy and Luisa Baetiong-Angeles, filed their own suit to counter the said case before the RTC where Judge Sta. Cruz presided and who issued an order in July 2015 to stop the parties from proceeding with the ejectment case before the MeTC.
A motion was filed by the Seses on Sept. 11, 2015 for the court to reconsider and followed up with a motion to resolve on October 27, and a second motion to resolve on December 2015.
Instead of acting on the motions, the judge, on March 11, 2016 issued an order referring the case to the office of the clerk of court for re-raffling prompting the complainants to file a complaint before the OCA. The judge admitted the delay and took full responsibility and explained that he is a paraplegic and is having a difficult time to roam around his office, adding that he has no branch clerk of court since 2015.