Monday, March 12, 2012

Garcia vs. De La Pena [A.M. No. MTJ-92-687 December 8, 2008]

FactsIn its Resolution dated February 9, 1994, the Court dismissed respondent Judge Meljohn de la Peña from the service for partiality, abuse of authority and grave abuse of discretion with forfeiture of all benefits and with prejudice to reinstatement or reappointment to any public office, including government-owned or controlled corporations. 

Respondent now presents for consideration of the Court a "Plea for Judicial Clemency and Compassion", alleging that his dismissal from the service made him and his family suffer the insult and ridicule of his peers and the general public for many years; that his dismissal made him realize that the most valuable things in life — honor, honesty, dignity, service to the public and respect for fellowmen — can be obtained only through a simple and honorable life and honest service to fellowmen; that consistent with this realization, he devoted himself to his church by serving as a member of the Knights of Columbus and as a member of the Parish Pastoral Council of the Sto. Rosario Parish of Naval, Biliran; that he devoted substantial time to the Biliran Chapter of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines where he served as its president from 2003-2005 and from 2007 to the present. 

Furthermore, respondent states that his reformation and redemption from his unenviable fate did not escape the attention of the very person who filed the administrative case against him. Respondent attached to his plea an "Affidavit of No Objection", executed by Engr. Edgardo Garcia, complainant in the administrative case that merited his dismissal. According to Engr. Garcia, since the dismissal of respondent from the service, he has been closely observing respondent; that he has noticed that respondent "has reformed and has conducted himself in our locality with decency, dignity and honorably befitting of a lawyer and a judge"; that when respondent asked for his forgiveness, "my family willingly forgave him"; that he had no objection to any appeal or petition of respondent for the lifting of the respondent's disqualification from government employment and/or for the payment of the financial benefits that the respondent would have been entitled to if he were not dismissed from the service. 

(1) Whether or not the Court should lift the ban on reemployment against the respondent judge. 

(2) Whether or not the Court can order the payment of all his financial benefits. 

(1) NO. The lifting of the prohibition on reemployment of respondent in the government service will serve no practical value or useful purpose, considering that he is now more than 73 years old and beyond the age of government employment. 

(2) YES. In several cases, the Supreme Court, out of humanitarian considerations, allowed dismissed Judges to enjoy all vacation and sick leave benefits that they earned during his government service. The Court finds that the same leniency may be accorded Judge de la Peña. Thus, in the interest of justice, he may be allowed to claim the leave credits that he earned during his employment in the government service.

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