Supreme Court E-Library
Information At Your Fingertips

  View printer friendly version

513 Phil. 109


[ MTJ NO. 05-1606, December 09, 2005 ]




This administrative matter is a consequence of the judicial audit conducted in the Municipal Circuit Trial Court, Pontevedra-Panay, Capiz presided by Judge Henry B. Avelino. Dated June 28, 2004, the audit report submitted by the Court Management Office, Office of the Court Administrator (CMO-OCA), disclosed a slow movement of cases in the audited court. More specifically, the report contains the following findings:

I CASES submitted for decision:

1.Criminal Case No. 1091People vs L. Lambarte & E. Lambarte5-27-96
2.Criminal Case No. 1432People vs. PO3 E. Bansale1-26-00
3.Criminal Case No. 1463People v. G. Tumlos9-15-03
4.Criminal Case No. 1483People vs. D. Degala and M. Icang10-18-03
5.Criminal Case No. 1817People vs. J. Manzano5-20-03
6.Criminal Case No. 1618People vs. J.Arceño

1.Civil Case No. 363Sps. Buenvenida vs. P. Ibarra12-97
2.Civil Case No. 382A. Beluso vs. Sps. N. Billones3-15-02
3. Civil Case No. 412Sps. G. Penetrante vs. Sps. G. Estinopo7-12-04
4.Civil Case No. 411Sps. G. Penetrante vs. Sps. S. Barbacion7-12-04


1. Criminal Case No. 1818People vs. L. Blanco
2. Criminal Case No. 1831People vs. M. Balgas1-12-03
3. Criminal Case No. 1652People vs. J. Beldia8-22-01
4. Criminal Case No. 1523 & 1524People vs. J. Bertuso3-8-00
5. Criminal Case No. 964People vs. R. Espartero & L. Yap7-24-02
6. Criminal Case No. 1612People vs. M. Buenvenida3-21-02
7. Criminal Case No. 1627 & 1628People vs. SPO4 Bonete, et al.10-5-01
8. Criminal Case No. 1800People vs. T. Bolvider4-6-04
9. Criminal Case No. 1704People vs. F. Esportuno2-5-02

1. Civil Case No. 03-02-362Bigcas Jr. vs. C. Bernales
2. Civil Case No. 362F. Bernabe vs. C. Capote
3. Civil Case No. 367A. Barroquillo vs. Sps. Baticados
4. Civil Case No. 368 & 369A. Ericsima vs. F. Dullano
5. Civil Case No. 401R. Avelino vs. O. Guirnela
6. Civil Case No. 344T. Arrobang vs. L. Dadivas
7. Civil Case No. 391D. Arcenas, et al. vs. M. Amador
8. Civil Case No. 410Sps. Bunsalan vs. Sps. Bernales

In addition to the above list, 17 criminal cases and 5 civil cases with no further action, have been pending for a considerable length of time. It was also discovered that the records of Election Protest No. 10 cannot be accounted for examination.

In a Memorandum[1] dated 6 July 2004, the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) directed Judge Henry B. Avelino to:
  1. EXPLAIN the causes of the delay in deciding the following cases within the 90-day reglementary period, to wit: Criminal Case Nos. 1091, 1432, 1463, 1483, 1817, 1618 and Civil Case Nos. 363, 382.

  2. INFORM  the Court whether the following cases which are considered submitted for decision but still within the mandatory period to decide, have already been decided, to wit: Civil Case Nos. 412 and 411 and to submit a copy of the decision.

  3. EXPLAIN why the pending motions/incidents in the following cases have not been resolved within the reglementary period, namely: Criminal Case Nos. 1831, 1652, 1523, 1524, 964, 1612, 1627, 1628, 1800, 1704 and Civil Case Nos. 03-02-362, 367, 368, 369 and 344.

  4. INFORM the Court whether the pending motions in the following cases but still within the reglementary period to resolve have already been resolved, to wit: Criminal Case Nos. 1818 and Civil Case Nos. 391 and 410.

  5. EXPLAIN why the following cases have not been acted upon for a considerable length of time, to wit: Criminal Case Nos. 1825, 1659, 1680, 1681, 1688, 1584, 1624, 1636, 1648, 1605, 1803, 1760, 1766, 1772, 1773, 1774, and 1599 and Civil Case Nos. 359, 378, 390, 397 and 257.

  6. INVESTIGATE the loss of the records of Election Protest No. 10 and to make a report to the Court.
In compliance, Judge Avelino submitted a Memorandum[2] dated August 2, 2004 attributing his delay in deciding the cases to lack of computers and resource materials. He likewise justified the slow progress cases in his court to his being designated as Acting Presiding Judge in other first level courts and to hear inhibited cases which allegedly consumed most of his time.

With regards to the investigation he conducted on the loss of records of Election Protest No. 10, Judge Avelino claimed that the records thereof were brought home by former Presiding Judge Mariano M. Malicudio.

It is indisputable that Judge Avelino failed to decide seven (7) cases and to resolve the pending incidents and motions in ten (10) cases within the 90-day reglementary period therefor. He also failed to act on twenty two (22) cases which have been dormant for a considerable length of time. Judge Avelino's failure to promptly dispose of the business of his court undoubtedly reflects on his lack of dedication to the office he had sworn to serve with utmost competence, integrity, honesty and diligence.

Unquestionably, delay in the disposition and resolution of cases constitutes a serious violation of the parties' constitutional right to a speedy disposition of their grievances in court.[3] Criminal Case No. 1091 (People vs. L. Lambarte) for Grave Oral Defamation was filed on February 14, 1991, and submitted for decision on February 27, 1996 after the accused failed to present his evidence. Yet, on the date of audit in 2004, that case remained unresolved. Eight years of delay in the disposition of said case is unjustifiable. Similarly, Criminal Case No. 1432 (People vs. PO3 E. Bansale and N. Bansale) for slight physical injuries remain undecided for five (5) years, in violation of Section 10 of the Revised Rules on Summary Procedure which directs a judge to decide the case within thirty (30) days from receipt of the last affidavits and position papers, or the expiration of the period for filing the same.[4] It must be stressed that the Rule was enacted to achieve an expeditious and inexpensive determination of cases[5] falling within its coverage. It is therefore not encouraging when it is the judge himself who occasions the delay sought to be prevented by the Rule.[6]

Judge Avelino likewise failed to strictly comply with the rules on preliminary investigation. Criminal Case No. 1652 was submitted for resolution as early as August 22, 2001, but the case remained unresolved for three (3) years. Also, resolution of the preliminary investigation in Criminal Case Nos. 1523 and 1524 was delayed for 4 years. Clearly, this is a violation of Section 5 of Rule 112, Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure which expressly provides that within ten (10) days after the preliminary investigation, the investigating judge shall transmit his resolution of the case to the provincial or city prosecutor for appropriate action.

It must be emphasized that the Constitution, no less, mandates that all cases or matters filed before all lower courts shall be decided or resolved within three months from the date of submission thereof.[7] The Code of Judicial Conduct enjoins judges to dispose of the court's business promptly and expeditiously and decide cases within the period fixed by law. Failure to comply with the mandated periods constitutes a serious violation of the constitutional right of the parties to a speedy disposition of their cases.[8] It also undermines the people's faith and confidence in the judiciary, lowers its standards and brings it into disrepute.[9] Decision-making, among other duties, is the primordial and most important duty of a member of the bench.

Lack of computer facilities and resource materials cannot vindicate a judge of liability for his failure to decide and resolve cases on time. Verily, delay in the preparation of decisions could not be excused by lack of computers, as a judge could cause the preparation of these decisions by manual typewriter.[10] The audit report disclosed that Judge Avelino's sala has a manageable caseload of 74 pending cases at the time of audit. There were two typewriters on which orders and issuances can be typed. While a computer can help ease the court's workload, the lack of it should not be used to justify the snail pace movement of cases. We take note of the fact that, at the time of audit, a computer and a printer were seen in the chambers of the respondent judge. We find respondent's explanations unacceptable and at best flimsy.

As regards respondent's designation as acting presiding judge in other courts and hearing inhibited cases, the same cannot exonerate him from liability for the delay in disposing promptly the business of his court. As this Court has ruled in several cases, the designation of a judge to preside over another sala is an insufficient reason to justify delay in deciding a case. This is because he is not precluded from asking for an extension of the period within which to decide a case if this is necessary. The Court has always been sympathetic to requests made by judges for extension of time for deciding cases and other matters and incidents related thereto.

Similarly, judges should act with dispatch in resolving pending incidents, so as not to frustrate and delay the satisfaction of a judgment. Delay in resolving motions and incidents within the reglementary period of 90 days fixed by the Constitution and the law cannot be excused or condoned.[11]

As to the lost records of Election Case No. 10, we find that no fault can be attributed to respondent considering that the same were lost even before his assumption of office.

Doubtless, respondent's failure to render decisions within the reglementary period and to resolve cases on time constitute gross inefficiency for which the penalty of suspension from office without salary and other benefits for not less than one (1) nor more than three (3) months; or a fine of more than P10,000.00 but not exceeding P20,000.00, may be imposed.[12]

WHEREFORE, the Court finds Judge Henry B. Avelino administratively liable for gross inefficiency and is hereby meted the penalty of FINE of TWENTY THOUSAND PESOS (P20,000.00), payable within thirty (30) days. He is further ADMONISHED to be more diligent in the performance of his sworn duty as a dispenser of justice.


Davide, Jr., C.J., Puno, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Carpio, Austria-Martinez, Corona, Carpio-Morales, Callejo, Sr., Azcuna, Tinga, and Chico-Nazario, JJ., concur.

Rollo, pp. 13-16.

[2] Rollo, pp. 17-21.

[3] Golangco vs. Villanueva, 384 SCRA 308 [2002].

[4] Uy v. Median, 342 SCRA 393 [2000].

[5] Sanlakas ng Barangay Julo, San Antonio, Inc. vs. Quilala, 351 SCRA 597 [2001]; Quilal-lan vs. Delos Santos, 338 SCRA 157 [2000].

[6] Cuevas vs. Baderian, 334 SCRA 242 [2000].

[7] Report on the Judicial Audit Conducted in the RTC-Br. 20, Manila, 342 SCRA 587 [2000].

[8] Ang vs Asis, 373 SCRA 91 [2002].

[9] Office of the Court Administration vs. Quilala, 351 SCRA 597 [2001]; Report on the Judicial Audit Conducted in the RC, Br. 69, Silay City, 357 SCRA 798 [2001].

[10] Oliveros vs. Carteciano, 380 SCRA 240 [2002].

[11] Office of the Court Administrator, vs. Judge Marcelino L. Sayo Jr., Regional Trial Court, Branch 45, Manila, 381 SCRA 659 [2002].

[12] A.M. No. 01-8-10-SC; Buenaflor vs. Ibarreta, Jr., 381 SCRA 518 [2002].

© Supreme Court E-Library 2019
This website was designed and developed, and is maintained, by the E-Library Technical Staff in collaboration with the Management Information Systems Office.