Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Bravo vs. Morales, [A.M. Nos. P-05-1950 & MTJ-1612, August 30, 2006]

Facts: An undeniable pervasive atmosphere of animosity between Judge Bravo and Atty. Morales as evidenced by a number of administrative cases filed by one against the other. 

That in the morning of March 22, 2004, before the start of the flag raising rite at the old MWSS Building in Arroceros, Manila he caught Atty. Morales about to do his mocking imitating act, prompting him to tell the latter "tumigil ka"; that he then ordered one of the security guards to arrest Atty. Morales preparatory to charging him with unjust vexation; 

That so as not to exacerbate an embarrassing situation, he waited for the flag raising ceremony to end before apologizing to the crowd for the incident, only to witness Atty. Morales responding with a shout: "sa akin hindi ka mag-aapology" 

That he ignored Atty. Morales' outburst and instead instructed the Officer-in-Charge of the security guards to call the Manila City Hall Police Detachment, which immediately dispatched PO3 Pacifico Wong and PO2 Jose Rancho; that he briefed both police officers regarding the flag-raising ceremony incident and about the preceding exchange of charges and counter-charges filed. The arrest failed due to the intervention of some MeTC Judges. 

Issue: Who between the two is liable for misconduct? 

Held: Both. Judge Bravo indeed overstepped the bounds of his authority when he ordered the arrest of Atty. Morales on the basis of a mere intent to sue the latter later for unjust vexation. Being a dispenser of justice, it behooves Judge Bravo to observe the same rules of due process in dealing with his subordinates. He should have confined himself to filing an administrative complaint or a criminal one and let the wheels of justice run its course. A judge, even in the face of boorish behavior from those he deals with, ought to conduct himself in a manner befitting a gentleman and a high officer of the court. 

Atty. Morales is also guilty for conduct unbecoming a government employee. His insulting act of mimicking the judge, in the presence of other court employees, a gesture calculated to ridicule, is a behavior unexpected of one in the judicial service. The ideal is for a court employee to be well-mannered, civil, and considerate in his actuations, more particularly with respect to his relation to the presiding judge he is assigned under. Here, Atty. Morales' acts went against the principles of public service and such unpleasant kind of behavior must not be tolerated if we are to demand the highest degree of excellence and professionalism among public employees and to preserve the integrity and dignity of our courts of justice. He failed to live up to the norms of conduct demanded of his position.

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