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MOP, Bk 10, v.5, pt.2, 400

[ ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER NO. 458, December 29, 1982 ]


This is an administrative complaint initiated by Mr. Florancio Cambronero against Assistant Provincial Fiscal David Tubongbanua of Iloilo for gross misconduct, oppression, threat and acts unbecoming of a government prosecutor.

In the morning of March 30, 1981, complainant was at the Iloilo Provincial Capitol, Iloilo City, in connection with an attempted rape case in which his daughter was the offended party. When the case was first called, respondent approached complainant who was then standing outside the courtroom together with his wife and daughter. From this point on, complainant’s and respondent’s version of the case differ.

Per complainant’s account, respondent asked him to have the case settled amicably in consideration of the amount of P2,000.00 When he manifested unwillingness to consider any settlement, respondent remarked: “Caron sipa-on ta, gago Ca, indi ikaw mag pati sa akon” (Soon I might kick you. You are an idiot. You refuse to obey me”). Thereafter, respondent hurled threats at complainant and attempted to kick the latter, but was prevented from doing so by complainant’s wife and Atty. William Villa of the Citizens Legal Assistance Office. Later on, respondent said) “Con seguihon mo ang caso, indi mo man ma pa sulod sa prisohan and acusado.” (If you go on with the case, you would not be able to send the accused to jail anyway”).
Complainant’s story was substantially corroborated by his wife and one Anacleto Franco.
In reply, respondent fiscal gave his side of the incident as follows:
When she attempted rape case was called for arraignment in the morning of January 19, 1981, respondent separately discussed with complainant and the accused the possibility of amicably settling the same. Both replied that they would think the matter over. Complainant, however, was told to see respondent before the scheduled hearing on February 20, 1981, so they can prepare for trial in the event no settlement is arrived at. The date of the hearing came, but complainant made no appearance, fortunately, the trial was reset. On the March 30, 1981 hearing, respondent confronted complainant, asking him why he did not comply with his instructions. The complainant just stared at him (respondent) without saying a word. Since respondent knew that the corroborative eyewitness was no longer available, he reminded complainant about the proposed settlement. Complainant, however, insisted on going on with the trial, so respondent’s temper began to rise. Respondent told the complainant that it was not advisable to proceed with the trial, since the corroborative eyewitness was no longer available. Complainant was adamant and still insisted upon going to trial, so, respondent lost his temper. He then told complainant that even if the accused were to be convicted, “the accused shall not go to jail because of the Probation Law”. Respondent was indignant at the complainant not only because of complainant’s failure to follow instructions, but also because of his unreasonable insistence upon going to trial.

Invoking the Bible, respondent cites at least nine instances when wrath was properly displayed; and he avers that government prosecutors “should then be angry” when their plan for the administration of justice is subverted by non-cooperation on the part of the very persons who need it.

I find unsatisfactory respondent fiscal explanation as regards his admitted public display of anger against complainant. Complainant acted legitimately in insisting that the prosecution of the attempted rape case committed against his daughter be pursued. Respondent’s assertion that the case for the prosecution was very weak because the corroborative eyewitness was no longer available is, to say the least, unfounded. As a fiscal, he ought to have known that, by its very nature, the crime of rape is almost always committed without eyewitnesses, and that the credible testimony of the victim alone may suffice to support the conviction of the accused.

I am inclined to believe the assertion of complainant that, indeed, respondent tried to kick him. In the first place, this was probable in view of respondent’s admission that he had lost his temper, in the second place, there is palpable basis to accord credence to the statement of Anacleto Tranco, who appears to be a disinterested witness. In the absence of proof of bias and prejudice, or motive to falsify the truth, on his part. Finally, as between the positive testimony of complainant and his witnesses and the bare and uncorroborated denial of respondent, the former is entitled to more weight.

The respondent fiscal’s failure to keep his composure and his attempt to kick the complainant in public for no justifiable reason constitutes misconduct for which he must be held administratively liable.

WHEREFORE, and as recommended by the Minister of Justice, Assistant Provincial Fiscal David Tobungbanua of Iloilo is hereby suspended from office for one (1) month without pay, effective upon receipt of a copy of this order.

Done in the City of Manila, this 29th day of December in the year of Our Lord, nineteen hundred and eighty-two.

President of the Philippines

By the President:

Presidential Assistant for Legal Affairs
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