Monday, March 12, 2012

Sinaon Sr. vs. Dumlao [A.M. No. MTJ-04-1519 March 4, 2008]

FactsComplainant, Sinaon Sr., instituted complaints against Romeo Vinoya y Agustin (Vinoya) before the MTC of San Mateo, Isabela. Complainant filed the criminal complaints with the MTC for preliminary investigation. However, Judge Dumlao dismissed the criminal complaints on the ground that the MTC had no jurisdiction to conduct a preliminary investigation since the alleged offenses were committed in Alfonso Lista, Ifugao. Complainant Sinaon Sr. claimed that Judge Dumlao’s dismissal of the criminal complaints was committed in grave abuse of his authority as he only had to determine the existence of probable cause. 

Judge Dumlao was then directed by the Court, through the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA), to submit his comment on the complaint and supplemental complaint. Despite due notice, Judge Dumlao failed to file any comment. 

The case against Judge Dumlao was docketed as a regular administrative matter, and Judge Dumlao was required to submit his comment for a second, and a third time by the Court. On 30 March 2005, the Court resolved to consider the case submitted for resolution even without Judge Dumlao’s comment. In consideration of the fact that Judge Dumlao had just recently assumed office after serving his six-month suspension, the Court resolved to give him one last chance to submit his comment on Sinaon, Sr.’s complaint; otherwise the case shall be considered submitted for resolution. Despite the numerous directives and opportunities given to him by the Court, Judge Dumlao still failed to file his comment. 

The Court deemed that Judge Dumlao waived the right to file his comment and referred the case to the OCA for evaluation, report and recommendation. After weighing complainant Sinaon, Sr.’s evidences and arguments, the OCA submitted its report, recommending the dismissal of the charges of Grave Abuse of Authority, Misconduct, Dereliction of Duty and Ignorance of the Law against Judge Dumlao, but then also recommending the imposition upon him of suspension for six months for failure to comply with the directives of the court to file his comment. 

IssueWhether or not respondent should be sanctioned for not complying with the lawful directives of the Supreme Court. 

HeldYES. The Office of the Judge requires him to obey all the lawful orders of his superiors. It should be borne in mind that a resolution of the Supreme Court requiring comment on an administrative complaint against officials and employees of the judiciary should not be construed as a mere request from the Court, nor should it be complied with partially, inadequately or selectively. It should be complied with promptly and completely. Such failure to comply accordingly betrays not only a recalcitrant streak in character, but also disrespect for the Court’s lawful order and directive. Furthermore, this contumacious conduct of refusing to abide by the lawful directives issued by the Court has, likewise, been considered as an utter lack of interest to remain with, if not contempt of, the system.

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