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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Alonso vs. Cebu Country Club, Inc., 618 SCRA 619, April 20, 2010

Civil Procedure; Courts; Hierarchy of Courts; Certification of Non-Forum Shopping; The acts of breaching the hierarchy of courts by going directly to the Supreme Court and bypassing the Court of Appeals, and omitting of the sworn certification against forum shopping from the petition for review on certiorari, warrant the immediate dismissal of the petition for review on certiorari.—The Court notes that the petitioners are guilty of two violations that warrant the immediate dismissal of the petition for review oncertiorari. The first refers to the petitioners’ breach of the hierarchy of courts by coming directly to the Court to appeal the assailed issuances of the RTC via petition for review on certiorari. They should not have done so, bypassing a review by the Court of Appeals (CA), because the hierarchy of courts is essential to the efficient functioning of the courts and to the orderly administration of justice. Their non-observance of the hierarchy of courts has forthwith enlarged the docket of the Court by one more case, which, though it may not seem burdensome to the layman, is one case too much to the Court, which has to devote time and effort in poring over the papers submitted herein, only to discover in the end that a review should have first been made by the CA. The time and effort could have been dedicated to other cases of importance and impact on the lives and rights of others. The second violation concerns the omission of a sworn certification against forum shopping from the petition for review on certiorari. Section 4, Rule 45 of the 1997Rules of Civil Procedure requires that the petition for review should contain, among others, the sworn certification on the undertakings provided in the last paragraph of Section 2, Rule 42 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure.

Same; Certification of Non-Forum Shopping; The signing of the certification by only one of the petitioners could not be presumed to reflect the personal knowledge by his co-petitioners of the filing or non-filing of any similar action or claim.—Only petitioner Tomas V. Alonso has executed and signed the sworn certification against forum shopping attached to the petition. Although neither of his co-petitioners—Mercedes V. Alonso and Asuncion V. Alonso—has joined the certification, Tomas did not present any written express authorization in his favor authorizing him to sign the certification in their behalf. The signing of the certification by only one of the petitioners could not be presumed to reflect the personal knowledge by his co-petitioners of the filing or non-filing of any similar action or claim. Hence, the failure of Mercedes and Asuncion to sign and execute the certification along with Tomas warranted the dismissal of their petition.

Same; Actions; Parties; Words and Phrases; “Real Party in Interest,” Defined; Every action must be prosecuted or defended in the name of the real party in interest, unless otherwise authorized by law or the rules.—Every action must be prosecuted or defended in the name of the real party in interest, unless otherwise authorized by law or the rules. A real party in interest is one who stands to be benefited or injured by the judgment in the suit, or the party entitled to the avails of the suit. “Interest” within the meaning of the rule means material interest, an interest in issue and to be affected by the decree, as distinguished from mere interest in the question involved, or a mere incidental interest. The rule refers to a real orpresent substantial interest, as distinguished from a mere expectancy; or from a future, contingent, subordinate, or consequential interest. One having no right or interest to protect cannot invoke the jurisdiction of the court as a party-plaintiff in an action.
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Monday, February 27, 2017

Tumbokon vs. Legaspi, 626 SCRA 736, August 04, 2010

Succession; Representation; Words and Phrases; Representation is a right created by fiction of law, by virtue of which the representative is raised to the place and the degree of the person represented, and acquires the rights which the latter would have if she were living or if she could have inherited.—Only two forced heirs survived Alejandra upon her death, namely: respondent Apolonia, her daughter, and Crisanto Miralles, her grandson. The latter succeeded Alejandra by right of representation because his mother, Ciriaca, had predeceased Alejandra. Representation is a right created by fiction of law, by virtue of which the representative is raised to the place and thedegree of the person represented, and acquires the rights which the latter would have if she were living or if she could have inherited. Herein, the representative (Crisanto Miralles) was called to the succession by law and not by the person represented (Ciriaca); he thus succeeded Alejandra, not Ciriaca.

Judgments; Res Judicata; The doctrine of res judicata is an old axiom of law, dictated by wisdom and sanctified by age, and founded on the broad principle that it is to the interest of the public that there should be an end to litigation by the same parties over a subject once fully and fairly adjudicated.—Res judicatameans a matter adjudged, a thing judicially acted upon or decided; a thing or matter settled by judgment. The doctrine of res judicata is an old axiom of law, dictated by wisdom and sanctified by age, and founded on the broad principle that it is to the interest of the public that there should be an end to litigation by the same parties over a subject once fully and fairly adjudicated. It has been appropriately said that the doctrine is a rule pervading every well-regulated system of jurisprudence, and is put upon two grounds embodied in various maxims of the common law: the one, public policy and necessity, which makes it to the interest of the State that there should be an end to litigation—reipublicae ut sit finis litium; the other, the hardship on the individual that he should be vexed twice for one and the same cause—nemo debet bis vexari pro una et eadem causa. A contrary doctrine will subject the public peace and quiet to the will and neglect of individuals and prefer the gratification of the litigious disposition on the part of suitors to the preservation of the public tranquillity and happiness.

Same; Same; Requisites; The doctrine of res judicata has two aspects—the first, known as bar by prior judgment, or estoppel by verdict, and the second, known as conclusiveness of judgment, also known as the rule of auter action pendant.—For res judicata to bar the institution of a subsequent action, the following requisites must concur: (1) the former judgment must be final; (2) it must have been rendered by a court having jurisdiction over the subject matter and the parties; (3) it must be a judgment on the merits; and (4) there must be between the first and second actions (a) identity of parties, (b) identity of the subject matter, and (c) identity of cause of action. The doctrine of res judicata has two aspects: the first, known as bar by prior judgment, or estoppel by verdict, is the effect of a judgment as a bar to the prosecution of a second action upon thesame claim, demand, or cause of action; the second, known as conclusiveness of judgment, also known as the rule of auter action pendant, ordains that issues actually and directly resolved in a former suit cannot again be raised in any future case between the same parties involving a different cause of action and has the effect of preclusion of issues only.

Same; Same; Bar by prior judgment is not applicable where the causes of action in the civil and the criminal actions were different and distinct from each other—the civil action was for the recovery of ownership of the land filed by the petitioners, while the criminal action was to determine whether the act of the respondents of taking the coconut fruits from the trees growing within the disputed land constituted the crime of qualified theft.—First of all, bar by prior judgment, the first aspect of the doctrine, is not applicable, because the causes of action in the civil and the criminal actions were different and distinct from each other. The civil action is for the recovery of ownership of the land filed by the petitioners, while the criminal action was to determine whether the act of the respondents of taking the coconut fruits from the trees growing within the disputed land constituted the crime of qualified theft. In the former, the main issue is the legal ownership of the land, but in the latter, the legal ownership of the land was not the main issue. The issue of guilt or innocence was not dependent on the ownership of the land, inasmuch as a person could be guilty of theft of the growing fruits even if he were the owner of the land.

Same; Same; The doctrine of conclusiveness of judgment is subject to exceptions, such as where there is a change in the applicable legal context, or to avoid inequitable administration of justice.—The doctrine of conclusiveness of judgment is subject to exceptions, such as where there is a change in the applicable legal context, or to avoid inequitable administration of justice. Applying the doctrine of conclusiveness of judgments to this case will surely be iniquitous to the respondents who have rightly relied on the civil case, not on the criminal case, to settle the issue of ownership of the land. This action for recovery of ownership was brought precisely to settle the issue of ownership of the property. In contrast, the pronouncement on ownership of the land made in the criminal case was only the response to the respondents having raised the ownership as a matter of defense.
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Sunday, February 26, 2017

Maniebo vs. Court of Appeals, 627 SCRA 569, August 10, 2010

Case doctrine (Political Law: Admin Law): The presumption of good faith does not apply when the employee’s Certificate of Eligibility conflicts with the CSC’s Masterliest of Eligibles. Long and satisfactory government service does not mitigate the penalty of dismissal when there is refusal to own up to and when there is lack of remorse for dishonesty.

Case doctrine (Remedial Law): An appeal under Rule 43 is a discretionary mode of appeal, which the CA may either dismiss if it finds the petition to be patently without merit, or prosecuted manifestly for delay, or that the questions raised therein are too unsubstantial to require consideration; or may process by requiring the respondent to file a comment on the petition; These rules are not to be belittled or dismissed simply because their non-observance may result in prejudicing a party’s substantive rights. 

FACTS: Justina M. Maniebo was issued a promotional appointment as Cashier III in the Office of the Municipal Treasurer, Municipality of Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro because she appeared to posses the qualifications for the position. But when the CSC Regional Office No. IV verified her name against the MasterlistEligibles, she was found out to have actually failed in the examination for obtaining a rating of only 60%.She was then charged with possessing of spurious report of rating, falsification, grave misconduct and dishonesty after having indicated in her Personal Data Sheet that she had passed the CSC (professional) examination with a rating of 74.01%.

ISSUES:
  1. Was the CSC was correct in imposing the penalty of dismissal in view of the circumstances obtaining in the case?
  2. Did the court of appeals err in dismissing the petition based on alleged technicality?

RULING:
  1. YES. A permanent appointment implies the holding of a civil service eligibility on the part of the appointee, unless the position involved requires no such eligibility. Where the appointee does not possess a civil service eligibility, the appointment is considered temporary. The subsequent acquisition of the required eligibility will not make the temporary appointment regular or permanent; a new appointment is needed. Accordingly, any temporary employee who has served for the required duration of seven years must first be found by the CSC to continuously possess the minimum qualifications for holding the position, except the required eligibility, before he or she may be granted civil service eligibility. Among the minimum qualifications is the continuous observance of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.

The petitioner failed to comply with this necessary minimum qualification. She thrived on her having misled the Government into believing that she had possessed the requisite civil service eligibility for the various positions she had successively held in her 20 years of service. In the first place, she would not have been appointed in a permanent or temporary capacity, had the CSC sooner discovered her dishonesty. R.A. No. 6850 was never meant to cure an appointment void from the very beginning for being based on a false representation of eligibility, like that of the petitioner. A contrary construction of the statute will, in effect, reward dishonesty.

  1. NO. The CA did not commit any error, least of all a reversible one. Its dismissal was founded on the correct application of the applicable rule. Indeed, Section 6, Rule 43 of the Rules of Court clearly requires the petition for review to be accompanied by a clearly legible duplicate original or a certified true copy of the award, judgment, final order or resolution appealed from, together with certified true copies of such material portions of the record referred to therein and other supporting papers. The requirement is intended to immediately enable the CA to determine whether to give due course to the appeal or not by having all the material necessary to make such determination before it. This is because an appeal under Rule 43 is a discretionary mode of appeal, which the CA may either dismiss if it finds the petition to be patently without merit, or prosecuted manifestly for delay, or that the questions raised therein are too unsubstantial to require consideration; or may process by requiring the respondent to file a comment on the petition, not a motion to dismiss, within 10 days from notice.

The petitioner was not entitled to a liberal construction of the rules of procedure. The petitioner repeatedly disregarded the rules too many times to merit any tolerance by the Court, thereby exhibiting a deplorable tendency to trivialize the rules of procedure. Yet, such rules were not to be belittled or dismissed simply because their non-observance might have resulted in prejudicing a party’s substantive rights. The bare invocation of substantial justice was not a magic wand that would compel the suspension of the rules of procedure. Of necessity, the reviewing court had also to assess whether the appeal was substantially meritorious on its face, or not, for only after such finding could the review court ease the often stringent rules of procedure. Otherwise, the rules of procedure would be reduced to mere trifles.


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Thursday, February 23, 2017

De Castro vs. Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), 615 SCRA 666, March 17, 2010

Judicial Review; Locus Standi; Requisites; Words and Phrases; In public or constitutional litigations, the Court is often burdened with the determination of the locus standi of the petitioners due to the ever-present need to regulate the invocation of the intervention of the Court to correct any official action or policy in order to avoid obstructing the efficient functioning of public officials and offices involved in public service; Black defines locus standi as “a right of appearance in a court of justice on a given question.”—Black defines locus standi as “a right of appearance in a court of justice on a given question.” In public or constitutional litigations, the Court is often burdened with the determination of the locus standi of the petitioners due to the ever-present need to regulate the invocation of the intervention of the Court to correct any official action or policy in order to avoid obstructing the efficient functioning of public officials and offices involved in public service. It is required, therefore, that the petitioner must have a personal stake in the outcome of the controversy, for, as indicated in Agan, Jr. v.Philippine International Air Terminals Co., Inc., 402 SCRA 612 (2003): The question on legal standing is whether such parties have “alleged such a personal stake in the outcome of the controversy as to assure that concrete adverseness which sharpens the presentation of issues upon which the court so largely depends for illumination of difficult constitutional questions.” Accordingly, it has been held that the interest of a person assailing the constitutionality of a statute must be direct and personal. He must be able to show, not only that the law or any government act is invalid, but also that he sustained or is in imminent danger of sustaining some direct injury as a result of its enforcement, and not merely that he suffers thereby in some indefinite way. It must appear that the person complaining has been or is about to be denied some right or privilege to which he is lawfully entitled or that he is about to be subjected to some burdens or penalties by reason of the statute or act complained of.

Same; Same; Taxpayer Suits; Quite often, the petitioner in a public action sues as a citizen or taxpayer to gain locus standi, which is not surprising, for even if the issue may appear to concern only the public in general, such capacities nonetheless equip the petitioner with adequate interest to sue.—The assertion of a public right as a predicate for challenging a supposedly illegal or unconstitutional executive or legislative action rests on the theory that the petitioner represents the public in general. Although such petitioner may not be as adversely affected by the action complained against as are others, it is enough that he sufficiently demonstrates in his petition that he is entitled to protection or relief from the Court in the vindication of a public right. Quite often, as here, the petitioner in a public action sues as a citizen ortaxpayer to gain locus standi. That is not surprising, for even if the issue may appear to concern only the public in general, such capacities nonetheless equip the petitioner with adequate interest to sue. In David v. Macapagal-Arroyo, 489 SCRA 160 (2006) the Court aptly explains why: Case law in most jurisdictions now allows both “citizen” and “taxpayer” standing in public actions. The distinction was first laid down in Beauchamp v. Silk, where it was held that the plaintiff in a taxpayer’s suit is in a different category from the plaintiff in a citizen’s suit. In the former, the plaintiff is affected by the expenditure of public funds, while in the latter, he is but the mere instrument of the public concern. As held by the New York Supreme Court in People ex rel Case v. Collins: “In matter of mere public right, however…the people are the real parties…It is at least the right, if not the duty, of every citizen to interfere and see that a public offence be properly pursued and punished, and that a public grievance be remedied.” With respect to taxpayer’s suits, Terr v. Jordan held that “the right of a citizen and a taxpayer to maintain an action in courts to restrain the unlawful use of public funds to his injury cannot be denied.

Same; Same; Same; The Court retains the broad discretion to waive the requirement of legal standing in favor of any petitioner when the matter involved has transcendental importance, or otherwise requires a liberalization of the requirement.—The Court rules that the petitioners have each demonstrated adequate interest in the outcome of the controversy as to vest them with the requisite locus standi. The issues before us are of transcendental importance to the people as a whole, and to the petitioners in particular. Indeed, the issues affect everyone (including the petitioners), regardless of one’s personal interest in life, because they concern that great doubt about the authority of the incumbent President to appoint not only the successor of the retiring incumbent Chief Justice, but also others who may serve in the Judiciary, which already suffers from a far too great number of vacancies in the ranks of trial judges throughout the country. In any event, the Court retains the broad discretion to waive the requirement of legal standing in favor of any petitioner when the matter involved has transcendental importance, or otherwise requires a liberalization of the requirement.

Same; Actual Case or Controversy; Although the position is not yet vacant, the fact that the Judicial and Bar Council began the process of nomination pursuant to its rules and practices, although it has yet to decide whether to submit the list of nominees to the incumbent outgoing President or to the next President, makes the situation ripe for judicial determination, because the next steps are the public interview of the candidates, the preparation of the short list of candidates, and the “interview of constitutional experts, as may be needed.”—We hold that the petitions set forth an actual case or controversy that is ripe for judicial determination. The reality is that the JBC already commenced the proceedings for the selection of the nominees to be included in a short list to be submitted to the President for consideration of which of them will succeed Chief Justice Puno as the next Chief Justice. Although the position is not yet vacant, the fact that the JBC began the process of nomination pursuant to its rules and practices, although it has yet to decide whether to submit the list of nominees to the incumbent outgoing President or to the next President, makes the situation ripe for judicial determination, because the next steps are the public interview of the candidates, the preparation of the short list of candidates, and the “interview of constitutional experts, as may be needed.” A part of the question to be reviewed by the Court is whether the JBC properly initiated the process, there being an insistence from some of the oppositors-intervenors that the JBC could only do so once the vacancy has occurred (that is, after May 17, 2010). Another part is, of course, whether the JBC may resume its process until the short list is prepared, in view of the provision of Section 4(1), Article VIII, which unqualifiedly requires the President to appoint one from the short list to fill the vacancy in the Supreme Court (be it the Chief Justice or an Associate Justice) within 90 days from the occurrence of the vacancy.

Same; Same; The Court need not await the occurrence of the vacancy in the position of the Chief Justice in order for the principal issue to ripe for judicial determination by the Court.—We need not await the occurrence of the vacancy by May 17, 2010 in order for the principal issue to ripe for judicial determination by the Court. It is enough that one alleges conduct arguably affected with a constitutional interest, but seemingly proscribed by the Constitution. A reasonable certainty of the occurrence of the perceived threat to a constitutional interest is sufficient to afford a basis for bringing a challenge, provided the Court has sufficient facts before it to enable it to intelligently adjudicate the issues. Herein, the facts are not in doubt, for only legal issues remain.

Presidency; Appointments; Midnight Appointment Ban; The prohibition against presidential appointments under Section 15, Article VII does not extend to appointments in the Judiciary.—In the consolidated petitions, the petitioners, with the exception of Soriano, Tolentino and Inting, submit that the incumbent President can appoint the successor of Chief Justice Puno upon his retirement on May 17, 2010, on the ground that the prohibition against presidential appointments under Section 15, Article VII does not extend to appointments in the Judiciary. The Court agrees with the submission.

Same; Same; Statutory Construction; Had the framers intended to extend the prohibition contained in Section 15, Article VII to the appointment of Members of the Supreme Court, they could have explicitly done so—they could not have ignored the meticulous ordering of the provisions.—As can be seen, Article VII is devoted to the Executive Department, and, among others, it lists the powers vested by the Constitution in the President. The presidential power of appointment is dealt with in Sections 14, 15 and 16 of the Article. Article VIII is dedicated to the Judicial Department and defines the duties and qualifications of Members of the Supreme Court, among others. Section 4(1) and Section 9 of this Article are the provisions specifically providing for the appointment of Supreme Court Justices. In particular, Section 9 states that the appointment of Supreme Court Justices can only be made by the President upon the submission of a list of at least three nominees by the JBC; Section 4(1) of the Article mandates the President to fill the vacancy within 90 days from the occurrence of the vacancy. Had the framers intended to extend the prohibition contained in Section 15, Article VII to the appointment of Members of the Supreme Court, they could have explicitly done so. They could not have ignored the meticulous ordering of the provisions. They would have easily and surelywritten the prohibition made explicit in Section 15, Article VII as being equally applicable to the appointment of Members of the Supreme Court in Article VIII itself, most likely in Section 4 (1), Article VIII. That such specification was not done only reveals that the prohibition against the President or Acting President making appointments within two months before the next presidential elections and up to the end of the President’s or Acting President’s term does not refer to the Members of the Supreme Court.

Same; Same; Same; Judgments; The reference to the records of the Constitutional Commission did not advance or support the result in In Re Appointments Dated March 30, 1998 of Hon. Mateo A. Valenzuela and Hon. Placido B. Vallarta as Judges of the Regional
Trial Court of Branch 62, Bago City and of Branch 24, Cabanatuan City, respectively (Valenzuela), 298 SCRA 408 (1998).—The reference to the records of the Constitutional Commission did not advance or support the result in Valenzuela. Far to the contrary, the records disclosed the express intent of the framers to enshrine in the Constitution, upon the initiative of Commissioner Eulogio Lerum, “a command [to the President] to fill up any vacancy therein within 90 days from its occurrence,” which evenValenzuela conceded. The exchanges during deliberations of the Constitutional Commission on October 8, 1986 further show that the filling of a vacancy in the Supreme Court within the 90-day period was a true mandate for the President.

Same; Same; Same; Same; The usage in Section 4(1), Article VIII of the Constitution of the word shall—an imperative, operating to impose a duty that may be enforced—should not be disregarded;  Section 4(1) imposes on the President the imperative duty to make an appointment of a Member of the Supreme Court within 90 days from the occurrence of the vacancy—the failure by the President to do so will be a clear disobedience to the Constitution; The 90-day limitation fixed in Section 4(1), Article VIII for the President to fill the vacancy in the Supreme Court was undoubtedly a special provision to establish a definite mandate for the President as the appointing power.—Moreover, the usage in Section 4(1), Article VIII of the word shall—an imperative, operating to impose a duty that may be enforced—should not be disregarded. Thereby, Sections 4(1) imposes on the President theimperative duty to make an appointment of a Member of the Supreme Court within 90 days from the occurrence of the vacancy. The failure by the President to do so will be a clear disobedience to the Constitution. The 90-day limitation fixed in Section 4(1), Article VIII for the President to fill the vacancy in the Supreme Court was undoubtedly a special provision to establish a definite mandate for the President as the appointing power, and cannot be defeated by mere judicial interpretation inValenzuela to the effect that Section 15, Article VII prevailed because it was “couched in stronger negative language.” Such interpretation even turned out to be conjectural, in light of the records of the Constitutional Commission’s deliberations on Section 4 (1), Article VIII.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Valenzuela arbitrarily ignored the express intent of the Constitutional Commission to have Section 4 (1), Article VIII stand independently of any other provision, least of all one found in Article VII—a misinterpretation like Valenzuela should not be allowed to last after its false premises have been exposed; Valenzuela now deserves to be quickly sent to the dustbin of the unworthy and forgettable.—In this connection, PHILCONSA’s urging of a revisit and a review of Valenzuela is timely and appropriate. Valenzuela arbitrarily ignored the express intent of the Constitutional Commission to have Section 4 (1), Article VIII stand independently of any other provision, least of all one found in Article VII. It further ignored that the two provisions had no irreconcilable conflict, regardless of Section 15, Article VII being couched in the negative. As judges, we are not to unduly interpret, and should not accept an interpretation that defeats the intent of the framers. Consequently, prohibiting the incumbent President from appointing a Chief Justice on the premise that Section 15, Article VII extends to appointments in the Judiciary cannot be sustained. A misinterpretation likeValenzuela should not be allowed to last after its false premises have been exposed. It will not do to merely distinguish Valenzuelafrom these cases, for the result to be reached herein is entirely incompatible with what Valenzuela decreed. Consequently, Valenzuela now deserves to be quickly sent to the dustbin of the unworthy and forgettable. We reverse Valenzuela.

Same; Same; Same; Judicial and Bar Council; Given the background and rationale for the prohibition in Section 15, Article VII, the Court has no doubt that the Constitutional Commission confined the prohibition to appointments made in the Executive Department; If midnight appointments in the mold of Aytona v. Castillo, 4 SCRA 1 (1962), were made in haste and with irregularities, or made by an outgoing Chief Executive in the last days of his administration out of a desire to subvert the policies of the incoming President or for partisanship, the appointments to the Judiciary made after the establishment of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) would not be suffering from such defects because of the JBC’s prior processing of candidates.—Given the background and rationale for the prohibition in Section 15, Article VII, we have no doubt that the Constitutional Commission confined the prohibition to appointments made in the Executive Department. The framers did not need to extend the prohibition to appointments in the Judiciary, because their establishment of the JBC and their subjecting the nomination and screening of candidates for judicial positions to the unhurried and deliberateprior process of the JBC ensured that there would no longer be mid- night appointments to the Judiciary. If midnight appointments in the mold of Aytona were made in haste and with irregularities, or made by an outgoing Chief Executive in the last days of his administration out of a desire to subvert the policies of the incoming President or for partisanship, the appointments to the Judiciary made after the establishment of the JBC would not be suffering from such defects because of the JBC’s prior processing of candidates. Indeed, it is axiomatic in statutory construction that the ascertainment of the purpose of the enactment is a step in the process of ascertaining the intent or meaning of the enactment, because the reason for the enactment must necessarily shed considerable light on “the law of the statute,” i.e., the intent; hence, the enactment should be construed with reference to its intended scope and purpose, and the court should seek to carry out this purpose rather than to defeat it.

Same; Same; Same; Same; The intervention of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) eliminates the danger that appointments to the Judiciary can be made for the purpose of buying votes in a coming presidential election, or of satisfying partisan considerations.—The intervention of the JBC eliminates the danger that appointments to the Judiciary can be made for the purpose of buying votes in a coming presidential election, or of satisfying partisan considerations. The experience from the time of the establishment of the JBC shows that even candidates for judicial positions at any level backed by people influential with the President could not always be assured of being recommended for the consideration of the President, because they first had to undergo the vetting of the JBC and pass muster there. Indeed, the creation of the JBC was precisely intended to de-politicize the Judiciary by doing away with the intervention of the Commission on Appointments. This insulating process was absent from theAytona midnight appointment.

Same; Same; Same; The fault of Valenzuela was that it accorded no weight and due consideration to the confirmation of Justice Regalado—Valenzuela was weak, because it relied on interpretation to determine the intent of the framers rather than on the deliberations of the Constitutional Commission.—As earlier stated, the non-applicability of Section 15, Article VII to appointments in the Judiciary was confirmed by then Senior Associate Justice Regalado to the JBC itself when it met on March 9, 1998 to discuss the question raised by some sectors about the “constitutionality of xxx appointments” to the Court of Appeals in light of the forthcoming presidential elections. He assured that “on the basis of the (Constitutional) Commission’s records, the election ban had no application to appointments to the Court of Appeals.” This confirmation wasaccepted by the JBC, which then submitted to the President for consideration the nominations for the eight vacancies in the Court of Appeals. The fault of Valenzuela was that it accorded no weight and due consideration to the confirmation of Justice Regalado.Valenzuela was weak, because it relied on interpretation to determine the intent of the framers rather than on the deliberations of the Constitutional Commission. Much of the unfounded doubt about the President’s power to appoint during the period of prohibition in Section 15, Article VII could have been dispelled since its promulgation on November 9, 1998, hadValenzuela properly acknowledged and relied on the confirmation of a distinguished member of the Constitutional Commission like Justice Regalado.

Same; Same; Same; To hold like the Court did in Valenzuela that Section 15 extends to appointments to the Judiciary further undermines the intent of the Constitution of ensuring the independence of the Judicial Department from the Executive and Legislative Departments.—To hold like the Court did inValenzuela that Section 15 extends to appointments to the Judiciary further undermines the intent of the Constitution of ensuring the independence of the Judicial Department from the Executive and Legislative Departments. Such a holding will tie the Judiciary and the Supreme Court to the fortunes or misfortunes of political leaders vying for the Presidency in a presidential election. Consequently, the wisdom of having the new President, instead of the current incumbent President, appoint the next Chief Justice is itself suspect, and cannot ensure judicial independence, because the appointee can also become beholden to the appointing authority. In contrast, the appointment by the incumbent President does not run the same risk of compromising judicial independence, precisely because her term will end by June 30, 2010.

Same; Same; Same; In an extreme case, the Court can even raise a doubt on whether a Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) list is necessary at all for the President—any President—to appoint a Chief Justice if the appointee is to come from the ranks of the sitting justices of the Supreme Court.—As a matter of fact, in an extreme case, we can even raise a doubt on whether a JBC list is necessary at all for the President—any President—to appoint a Chief Justice if the appointee is to come from the ranks of the sitting justices of the Supreme Court. Sec. 9, Article VIII says: xxx. The Members of the Supreme Court xxx shall be appointed by the President from a list of at least three nominees prepared by the Judicial and Bar Council for any vacancy. Such appointments need no confirmation. xxx The provision clearly refers to an appointee coming into the Supreme Court from the outside, that is, a non-member of the Court aspiring to become one. It speaks of candidates for the Supreme Court, not of those who are already members or sitting justices of the Court, all of whom have previously been vetted by the JBC. Can the President, therefore, appoint any of the incumbent Justices of the Court as Chief Justice? The question is not squarely before us at the moment, but it should lend itself to a deeper analysis if and when circumstances permit. It should be a good issue for the proposed Constitutional Convention to consider in the light of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile’s statement that the President can appoint the Chief Justice from among the sitting justices of the Court even without a JBC list.

Same; Same; Same; Supreme Court; Judiciary Act of 1948; Legal Research; The express reference in Sections 4(1) and 9 of Article VIII of the Constitution to a Chief Justice abhors the idea that the framers contemplated an Acting Chief Justice to head the membership of the Supreme Court—otherwise, they would have simply written so in the Constitution; The framers intended the position of Chief Justice to be permanent, not one to be occupied in an acting or temporary capacity; It ought to be remembered that Section 12 of the Judiciary Act of 1948 was enacted because the Chief Justice appointed under the 1935 Constitution was subject to the confirmation of the Commission on Appointments, and the confirmation process might take longer than expected.—A review of Sections 4(1) and 9 of Article VIII shows that the Supreme Court is composed of a Chief Justice and 14 Associate Justices, who all shall be appointed by the President from a list of at least three nominees prepared by the JBC for every vacancy, which appointments require no confirmation by the Commission on Appointments. With reference to the Chief Justice, he or she is appointed by the President as Chief Justice, and the appointment is never in an acting capacity. The express reference to a Chief Justice abhors the idea that the framers contemplated an ActingChief Justice to head the membership of the Supreme Court. Otherwise, they would have simply written so in the Constitution. Consequently, to rely on Section 12 of the Judiciary Act of 1948 in order to forestall the imperative need to appoint the next Chief Justice soonest is to defy the plain intent of the Constitution. For sure, the framers intended the position of Chief Justice to be permanent, not one to be occupied in an acting or temporary capacity. In relation to the scheme of things under the present Constitution, Section 12 of the Judiciary Act of 1948 only responds to a rare situation in which the new Chief Justice is not yet appointed, or in which the incumbent Chief Justice is unable to perform the duties and powers of the office. It ought to be remembered, however, that it was enacted because the Chief Justice appointed under the 1935 Constitution was subject to the confirmation of the Commission on Appointments, and the confirmation process might take longer than expected.

Same; Same; Same; Same; The lack of any appointed occupant of the office of Chief Justice harms the independence of the Judiciary, because the Chief Justice is the head of the entire Judiciary.—The appointment of the next Chief Justice by the incumbent President is preferable to having the Associate Justice who is first in precedence take over. Under the Constitution, the heads of the Legislative and Executive Departments are popularly elected, and whoever are elected and proclaimed at once become the leaders of their respective Departments. However, the lack of any appointed occupant of the office of Chief Justice harms the independence of the Judiciary, because the Chief Justice is the head of the entire Judiciary. The Chief Justice performs functions absolutely significant to the life of the nation. With the entire Supreme Court being the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, the Chief Justice is the Chairman of the Tribunal. There being no obstacle to the appointment of the next Chief Justice, aside from its being mandatory for the incumbent President to make within the 90-day period from May 17, 2010, there is no justification to insist that the successor of Chief Justice Puno be appointed by the next President.

Mandamus; Requisites.—Mandamus shall issue when any tribunal, corporation, board, officer or person unlawfully neglects the performance of an act that the law specifically enjoins as a duty resulting from an office, trust, or station. It is proper when the act against which it is directed is one addressed to the discretion of the tribunal or officer. Mandamus is not available to direct the exercise of a judgment or discretion in a particular way. For mandamus to lie, the following requisites must be complied with: (a) the plaintiff has a clear legal right to the act demanded; (b) it must be the duty of the defendant to perform the act, because it is mandated by law; (c) the defendant unlawfully neglects the performance of the duty enjoined by law; (d) the act to be performed is ministerial, not discretionary; and (e) there is no appeal or any other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law.

Same; Presidency; Appointments; Judicial and Bar Council; The Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) has no discretion to submit the list of nominees to fill a vacancy in the Supreme Court to the President after the vacancy occurs, because that shortens the 90-day period allowed by the Constitution for the President to make the appointment.—Section 4(1) and Section 9, Article VIII, mandate the President to fill the vacancy in the Supreme Court within 90 days from the occurrence of the vacancy, and within 90 days from the submission of the list, in the case of the lower courts. The 90-day period is directed at the President, not at the JBC. Thus, the JBC should start the process of selecting the candidates to fill the vacancy in the Supreme Court before the occurrence of the vacancy. Under the Constitution, it is mandatory for the JBC to submit to the President the list of nominees to fill a vacancy in the Supreme Court in order to enable the President to appoint one of them within the 90-day period from the occurrence of the vacancy. The JBC has no discretion to submit the list to the President after the vacancy occurs, because that shortens the 90-day period allowed by the Constitution for the President to make the appointment. For the JBC to do so will be unconscionable on its part, considering that it will therebyeffectively and illegally deprive the President of the ample time granted under the Constitution to reflect on the qualifications of the nominees named in the list of the JBC before making the appointment.

Same; Same; Same; Same; The duty of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) to submit a list of nominees before the start of the President’s mandatory 90-day period to appoint is ministerial, but its selection of the candidates whose names will be in the list to be submitted to the President lies within the discretion of the JBC.—The duty of the JBC to submit a list of nominees before the start of the President’s mandatory 90-day period to appoint is ministerial, but its selection of the candidates whose names will be in the list to be submitted to the President lies within the discretion of the JBC. The object of the petitions for mandamusherein should only refer to the duty to submit to the President the list of nominees for every vacancy in the Judiciary, because in order to constitute unlawful neglect of duty, there must be an unjustified delay in performing that duty. For mandamus to lie against the JBC, therefore, there should be an unexplained delay on its part in recommending nominees to the Judiciary, that is, in submitting the list to the President.

Words and Phrases; “Ministerial Act” and “Discretionary Act,” Distinguished.—The distinction between a ministerial act and a discretionary one has been delineated in the following manner: The distinction between a ministerial and discretionary act is well delineated. A purely ministerial act or duty is one which an officer or tribunal performs in a given state of facts, in a prescribed manner, in obedience to the mandate of a legal authority, without regard to or the exercise of his own judgment upon the propriety or impropriety of the act done. If the law imposes a duty upon a public officer and gives him the right to decide how or when the duty shall be performed, such duty is discretionary and not ministerial. The duty is ministerial only when the discharge of the same requires neither the exercise of official discretion or judgment.
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Funa vs. Duque III, 742 SCRA 166, November 25, 2014

The independence of the Civil Service Commission (CSC) is explicitly mandated under Section 1 of  Article IX-A of the 1987 Constitution. Section 2, Article IX-A of the 1987 Constitution prohibits its Members, during their tenure, from holding any other office or employment.

Facts: On January 11, 2010, then President Arroyo appointed Duque as Chairman of the CSC. The Commission on Appointments confirmed Duque’s appointment on February 3, 2010. Pursuant to EO 864, Duque was designated as a member of the Board of Directors or Trustees of the following government-owned or government- controlled corporations (GOCCs): (a) GSIS; (b) PHILHEALTH;(c) ECC; and (d) HDMF.

Petitioner: Funa, in his capacity as taxpayer, concerned citizen and lawyer, filed the instant petition challenging the constitutionality of EO 864, as well as Section 14, Chapter 3, Title I-A, Book V of Executive Order No. 292 (EO 292), otherwise known as The Administrative Code of 1987, and the designation of Duque as a member of the Board of Directors or Trustees of the GSIS, PHIC, ECC and HDMF for being clear violations of Section 1 and Section 2, Article IX-A of the 1987 Constitution.

Petitioner asserts that these provisions violate the independence of the CSC, which was constitutionally created to be protected from outside influences and political pressures due to the significance of its government functions. Such independence is violated by the fact that the CSC is not a part of the Executive Branch of Government while the concerned GOCCs are considered instrumentalities of the Executive Branch of the Government. In this situation, the President may exercise his power of control over the CSC considering that the GOCCs in which Duque sits as Board member are attached to the Executive Department.

It violates the prohibition imposed upon members of constitutional commissions from holding any other office or employment. A conflict of interest may arise in the event that a Board decision of the GSIS, PHILHEALTH, ECC and HDMF concerning personnel-related matters is elevated to the CSC considering that such GOCCs have original charters, and their employees are governed by CSC laws, rules and regulations. 
 
Respondents: Respondents insist that EO 864 and Section 14, Chapter 3, Title I-A, Book V of EO 292, as well as the charters of the GSIS, PHILHEALTH, ECC and HDMF, are consistent with each other. While the charters of these GOCCs do not provide that CSC Chairman shall be a member of their respective governing Boards, there islikewise no prohibition mentioned under said charters. EO 864, issued in conformity with Section 14, Chapter 3, Title I-A, Book V of EO 292, could not have impliedly amended the charters of the GSIS, PHILHEALTH, ECC and HDMF because the former relates to the law on the CSC while the latter involve the creation and incorporation of the respective GOCCs. As their subject matters differ from each other, the enactment of the subsequent law is not deemed to repeal or amend the charters of the GOCCs, being considered prior laws.

Issue: Does the designation of Duque as member of the Board of Directors or Trustees of the GSIS, PHILHEALTH, ECC and HDMF, in an ex officio capacity, impair the independence of the CSC and violate the constitutional prohibition against the holding of dual or multiple offices for the Members of the Constitutional Commissions?

Held: The Court upholds the constitutionality of Section 14, Chapter 3, Title I-A, Book V of EO 292, but declares unconstitutional EO 864 and the designation of Duque in an ex officio capacity as a member of the Board of Directors or Trustees of the GSIS, PHILHEALTH, ECC and HDMF.

Section 1 and Section 2, Article IX-A of the 1987 Constitution, which provide: Section 1. The Constitutional Commissions, which shall be independent, are the Civil Service Commission, the Commission on Elections, and the Commission on Audit.

Section 2, Article IX-A of the Constitution certain inhibitions and disqualifications upon the Chairmen and members to strengthen their integrity, to wit:
(a) Holding any other office or employment during their tenure;
(b) Engaging in the practice of any profession;
(c) Engaging in the active management or control of any business which in any way may be affected by the functions of his office; and
(d) Being financially interested, directly or indirectly, in any contract with, or in any franchise or privilege granted by the Government, any of its subdivisions, agencies or instrumentalities, including government-owned or – controlled corporations or their subsidiaries. 
 
The issue herein involves the first disqualification abovementioned, which is the disqualification from holding any other office or employment during Duque’s tenure as Chairman of the CSC. The Court finds it imperative to interpret this disqualification in relation to Section 7, paragraph (2), Article IX-B of the Constitution Section 7, paragraph (2),Article IX-B reads:

Section 7.
Unless otherwise allowed by law or the primary functions of his position, no appointive official shall hold any other office or employment in the Government or any subdivision, agency or instrumentality thereof, including government-owned or controlled corporations or their subsidiaries.

Thus, while all other appointive officials in the civil service are allowed to hold other office or employment in the government during their tenure when such is allowed by law or by the primary functions of their positions, members of the Cabinet, their deputies and assistants may do so only when expressly authorized by the Constitution itself. In other words, Section 7, Article IX-B is meant to lay down the general rule applicable to all elective and appointive public officials and employees, while Section 13, Article VII is meant to be the exception applicable only to the President, the Vice-President, Members of the Cabinet, their deputies and assistants.

Since the evident purpose of the framers of the 1987 Constitution is to impose a stricter prohibition on the President, Vice-President, members of the Cabinet, their deputies and assistants with respect to holding multiple offices or employment in the government during their tenure, the exception to this prohibition must be read with equal severity. On its face, the language of Section 13, Article VII is prohibitory so that it must be understood as intended to be a positive and unequivocal negation of the privilege of holding multiple government offices or employment. 
 
Being an appointive public official who does not occupy a Cabinet position (i.e., President, the Vice-President, Members of the Cabinet, their deputies and assistants), Duque was thus covered by the general rule enunciated under Section 7, paragraph (2), Article IX-B. He can hold any other office or employment in the Government during his tenure if such holding is allowed by law or by the primary functions of his position.

The Court also notes that Duque’s designation as member of the governing Boards of the GSIS, PHILHEALTH, ECC and HDMF entitles him to receive per diem, a form of additional compensation that is disallowed by the concept of an ex officio position by virtue of its clear contravention of the proscription set by Section 2, Article IX-A of the 1987 Constitution. This situation goes against the principle behind an ex officio position, and must, therefore, be held unconstitutional.

Apart from violating the prohibition against holding multiple offices, Duque’s designation as member of the governing Boards of the GSIS, PHILHEALTH, ECC and HDMF impairs the independence of the CSC. Under Section 17, Article VII of the Constitution, the President exercises control over all government offices in the Executive Branch. An office that is legally not under the control of the President is not part of the Executive Branch.

The Court holds that all official actions of Duque as a Director or Trustee of the GSIS, PHILHEAL TH, ECC and HDMF, were presumed valid, binding and effective as if he was the officer legally appointed and qualified for the office. This clarification is necessary in order to protect the sanctity and integrity of the dealings by the public with persons whose ostensible authority emanates from the State. Duque's official actions covered by this clarification extend but are not limited to the issuance of Board resolutions and memoranda approving appointments to positions in the concerned GOCCs, promulgation of policies and guidelines on compensation and employee benefits, and adoption of programs to carry out the corporate powers of the GSIS, PHILHEAL TH, ECC and HDMF.

Notes:
  • Power of judicial review in cases otherwise rendered moot and academic by supervening events on the basis of certain recognized exceptions, namely:
(1) there is a grave violation of the Constitution;
(2) the case involves a situation of exceptional character and is of paramount public interest;
(3) the constitutional issue raised requires the formulation of controlling principles to guide the Bench, the Bar and the public; and
(4) the case is capable of repetition yet evading review.
  • A de jure officer is one who is deemed, in all respects, legally appointed and qualified and whose term of office has not expired.
  • A de facto officer is one who derives his appointment from one having colorable authority to appoint, if the office is an appointive office, and whose appointment is valid on its face. He may also be one who is in possession of an office, and is discharging its duties under color of authority, by which is meant authority derived from an appointment, however irregular or informal, so that the incumbent is not a mere volunteer. 
Consequently, the acts of the de facto officer are just as valid for all purposes as those of a de jure officer, in so far as the public or third persons who are interested therein are concerned.
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Jamsani-Rodriguez vs. Ong, 628 SCRA 626, August 24, 2010, AM No. 08-19-SB-J

FACTS: Respondents Sandiganbayan Associate Justices sought reconsideration of SC Decision finding them guilty for simple misconduct. The charge was based on the complaint of Assistant Prosecutor Rodriguez who alleged that the respondents failed to hear cases as collegial during scheduled sessions by hearing the cases either alone or only two of the three of them, and for falsification of public documents grounded on their issuance of orders signed by the three of them making it appear that they acted as a collegial body. It was also alleged that they have conducted themselves in gross abuse of judicial authority and grave misconduct for intemperate and discriminatory utterances during hearings. Justice Ong and Hernandez admitted randomly asking the counsels appearing before them from which law schools they had graduated, and their engaging during the hearings in casual conversation about their respective law schools.

ISSUES:
  1. Was the collegiality of the Fourth Division of the Sandiganbayan preserved despite separately conducting hearings?
  2. Were the respondent justices liable for improprieties during hearings amounting to gross abuse of judicial authority and grave misconduct?

RULING:
  1. NO. Respondent Justices cannot lightly regard the legal requirement for all of them to sit together as members of the Fourth Division in the trial and determination of a case or cases assigned thereto. The information and evidence upon which the Fourth Division would base any decisions or other judicial actions in the cases tried before it must be made directly available to each and every one of its members during the proceedings. This necessitates the equal and full participation of each member in the trial and adjudication of their cases. It is simply not enough, therefore, that the three members of the Fourth Division were within hearing and communicating distance of one another at the hearings in question, as they explained in hindsight, because even in those circumstances not all of them sat together in session.

Indeed, the ability of the Fourth Division to function as a collegial body became impossible when not all of the members sat together during the trial proceedings. The internal rules of the Sandiganbayan spotlight an instance of such impossibility. Section 2, Rule VII of the Revised Internal Rules of the Sandiganbayan expressly requires that rulings on oral motions made or objections raised in the course of the trial proceedings or hearings are be made by the Chairman of the Division. Obviously, the rule cannot be complied with because Justice Ong, the Chairman, did not sit in the hearing of the cases heard by the other respondents. Neither could the other respondents properly and promptly contribute to the rulings of Justice Ong in the hearings before him.

Moreover, the respondents non-observance of collegiality contravened the very purpose of trying criminal cases cognizable by Sandiganbayan before a Division of all three Justices. Although there are criminal cases involving public officials and employees triable before single-judge courts, PD 1606, as amended, has always required a Division of three Justices (not one or two) to try the criminal cases cognizable by the Sandiganbayan, in view of the accused in such cases holding higher rank or office than those charged in the former cases. The three Justices of a Division, rather than a single judge, are naturally expected to exert keener judiciousness and to apply broader circumspection in trying and deciding such cases. The tighter standard is due in part to the fact that the review of convictions is elevated to the Supreme Court generally via the discretionary mode of petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45, Rules of Court, which eliminates issues of fact, instead of via ordinary appeal set for the former kind of cases (whereby the convictions still undergo intermediate review before ultimately reaching the Supreme Court, if at all)

Judges are not common individuals whose gross errors men forgive and time forgets. They are expected to have more than just a modicum acquaintance with the statutes and procedural rules. For this reason alone, respondent Justices adoption of the irregular procedure cannot be dismissed as a mere deficiency in prudence or as a lapse in judgment on their part, but should be treated as simple misconduct, which is to be distinguished from either gross misconduct or gross ignorance of the law. The respondent Justices were not liable for gross misconduct defined as the transgression of some established or definite rule of action, more particularly, unlawful behavior or gross negligence, or the corrupt or persistent violation of the law or disregard of well-known legal rules considering that the explanations they have offered herein, which the complainant did not refute, revealed that they strove to maintain their collegiality by holding their separate hearings within sight and hearing distance of one another. Neither were they liable for gross ignorance of the law, which must be based on reliable evidence to show that the act complained of was ill-motivated, corrupt, or inspired by an intention to violate the law, or in persistent disregard of well-known legal rules; on the contrary, none of these circumstances was attendant herein, for the respondent Justices have convincingly shown that they had not been ill-motivated or inspired by an intention to violate any law or legal rule in adopting the erroneous procedure, but had been seeking, instead, to thereby expedite their disposition of cases in the provinces. 

  1. NO. The Court approves the Court Administrators finding and recommendation that no evidence supported the complainants charge that Justice Ong and Justice Hernandez had uttered the improper and intemperate statements amounting to gross abuse of judicial authority and grave misconduct. The Court found the respondent justices’ conduct only unbecoming.

By publicizing their professional qualifications, they manifested a lack of the requisite humility demanded of public magistrates. Their doing so reflected a vice of self-conceit. The court found their acts as bespeaking their lack of judicial temperament and decorum, which no judge worthy of the judicial robes should avoid especially during their performance of judicial functions. They should not exchange banter or engage in playful teasing of each other during trial proceedings (no matter how good-natured or even if meant to ease tension, as they want us to believe). Judicial decorum demands that they behave with dignity and act with courtesy towards all who appear before their court. 

Section 6, Canon 6 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct for the Philippine Judiciary clearly enjoins that: Section 6. Judges shall maintain order and decorum in all proceedings before the court and be patient, dignified and courteous in relation to litigants, witnesses, lawyers and others with whom the judge deals in an official capacity. Judges shall require similar conduct of legal representatives, court staff and others subject to their influence, direction or control.

Publicizing professional qualifications or boasting of having studied in and graduated from certain law schools, no matter how prestigious, might have even revealed, on the part of Justice Ong and Justice Hernandez, their bias for or against some lawyers. Their conduct was impermissible, consequently, for Section 3, Canon 4 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct for the Philippine Judiciary, demands that judges avoid situations that may reasonably give rise to the suspicion or appearance of favoritism or partiality in their personal relations with individual members of the legal profession who practice regularly in their courts. 

Judges should be dignified in demeanor, and refined in speech. In performing their judicial duties, they should not manifest bias or prejudice by word or conduct towards any person or group on irrelevant grounds.[30] It is very essential that they should live up to the high standards their noble position on the Bench demands. Their language must be guarded and measured, lest the best of intentions be misconstrued. In this regard, Section 3, Canon 5 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct for the Philippine Judiciary, mandates judges to carry out judicial duties with appropriate consideration for all persons, such as the parties, witnesses, lawyers, court staff, and judicial colleagues, without differentiation on any irrelevant ground, immaterial to the proper performance of such duties.

In view of the foregoing, Justice Ong and Justice Hernandez were guilty of unbecoming conduct, which is defined as improper performance. Unbecoming conduct applies to a broader range of transgressions of rules not only of social behavior but of ethical practice or logical procedure or prescribed method.
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