Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Naldoza vs. Lavilles (254 SCRA 286 )

Facts: Complainant Alberto Naldoza, accused in the aforestated cases ran for re-election as Barangay Chairman in the May 8,1994 elections. The spouses Generoso Flame and Lucia Flame and the spouses Marlon Piedad and Rosemarie Piedad thereafter accused complainant of vote-buying in winning the election. Accordingly, the Chief of Police of Miagao with whom the charge was lodged, filed two separate complaints against Naldoza for vote-buying. Respondent examined the private complainants, adopting for the purpose the transcript of the question-and-answer type of examination conducted by the Chief of Police and sworn before him by the parties. Respondent issued an order finding probable cause to believe complainant Naldoza committed the crime charged, and respondent thereupon issued the warrants for complainant’s arrest. 

Subsequently, respondent issued another order, reconsidering his order, insofar as it referred the cases to the Comelec. The cases were instead remanded to the Chief of Police of Miagao, Iloilo with instructions to file the same directly with the provincial prosecutor. The warrants of arrest were lifted and complainant’s release was ordered. 

Issue: Whether or not there is ignorance of the law for failure to comply with Section 4 of Comelec resolution No. 2695, authorizing chiefs of police to conduct the preliminary investigation of charges for violation of the Omnibus Election Code. 

Held: Yes. A judge owes it to the public and to the legal profession to know the factual basis of the complaint and the very law he is supposed to apply to a given controversy. Sections 265 and 268 of the Omnibus Election Code directs the COMELEC to conduct the preliminary investigation and the Regional Trial Court to hear the cases. Respondent Judge contradicted his assertion that the cases fall under his jurisdiction when he subsequently ordered complainant to file his counter-affidavit for preliminary investigation. 

For service in the judiciary means a continuous study and research on the law from beginning to end . A member of the bench must continuously keep himself abreast of legal and jurisprudential developments because the learning process in law never ceases 

A reduced fine is deemed proper where there is no malice or evil intent in a judge’s actuations in unwarrantedly conducting a preliminary investigation and in ordering the issuance of warrants of arrest. 

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