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MOP, Bk 10, v.5, 305

[ ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER NO. 155, January 01, 1969 ]


This is an administrative case against Municipal Judge Eligio C. Dajao of Oroquieta, Occidental Misamis, filed by Provincial Fiscal Diosdado Bacolod, arising from their controversy in Criminal Case No. 7473 of respondent’s court, when the latter denied the fiscal’s motion to dismiss the case. As a result of the language used in the fiscal’s motion for reconsideration, respondent charged and sentenced him for contempt. The fiscal, after having the execution of the contempt judgment enjoined, filed numerous administrative charges against respondent. The charges, which may be categorized into two main headings of bad moral character and abuse of authority, were investigated by District Judge Geronimo R. Marave.

After going over the records of the investigation, I find the following facts duly established:


A. On December 26, 1962, respondent sent his flat tire to the vulcanizing shop of Ricardo Baytion in Oroquieta, Misamis Occidental. After the tire was repaired by Jose Tubal, the vulcanizer of Baytion, respondent came and asked the latter the cost of the vulcanizing job and was informed that it was P1. When respondent asked why he was being charged P1 instead of P.50 only which he used to pay, the vulcanizer told him that Baytion raised the price in view of the increase in price of materials. Respondent then brought the tire home without paying the amount involved. The next morning (Dec. 27) Baytion sent the invoice (Exh. DD-4) to respondent for payment of P1, but instead of paying, respondent wrote on the face of the invoice: “To be verified yet if work actually done.” Respondent then went back to Baytion’s shop and inquired from Tubal whether he vulcanized his tire, claiming that no vulcanizing was done according to his houseboy. Tubal told him that the hole was in an old patch and he had to repair it again. Not satisfied with the explanation, respondent told Tubal to wait for him because he was going to fetch a policeman to get Tubal, who reported to Baytion that respondent was mad for having been charged of P1 instead of P.50. When the policeman arrived, Baytion accompanied Tubal to the municipal building where the latter was investigated by the police. Baytion then suggested that the tire be opened to verify if it was actually vulcanized, and it was found that there was really a new patch in it. This notwithstanding, respondent filed Criminal Case No. 7397 (for estafa of P1) against Baytion and Tubal in his own court. On the same day, they were arrested and would have been detained were they not able to promptly put up the necessary bail bond.

B. With respect to Criminal Case No. 7473, respondent (a) failed to furnish herein complainant fiscal with a copy of the order denying his motion to dismiss and setting the case for trial; (b) cited him for contempt without sufficient cause and issued a warrant of arrest instead of a summons when he sent a reply to the contempt order in lieu of his personal appearance; (c) convicted him for contempt without filing formal charges and without hearing; (d) failed to forward the record of the case to the Court of First Instance within five days after receiving the notice of appeal; (e) issued another warrant of arrest for his alleged failure to appeal from the contempt judgment; (f) rejected a cash appeal bond tendered by him under official receipt; and (g) charged him again with contempt for an act already included in the previous judgment.
I agree with the investigating Judge that respondent erroneously penalized herein complainant for indirect contempt by using disrespectful language in his pleading when such act constitutes direct contempt. The investigating Judge also found proven the charge that respondent rejected herein complainant’s cash appeal bond and that he failed for a period of over one year to forward the record of the case to the Court of First Instance after receiving herein complainant’s notice of appeal. Respondent’s inaction in the premises partook of grave abuse of authority or gross ignorance of the law.

As regards the other charges concerning Criminal Case No. 7473, respondent’s decision finding herein complainant guilty of contempt admitted that there was delay in furnishing complainant fiscal with a copy of the order denying his motion to dismiss. It may also be noted that respondent’s decision finding herein complainant guilty of contempt was reversed on appeal by the Court of First Instance.

Respondent’s errors indeed snowed that he acted with undue haste without commensurate deliberation in the contempt proceedings against herein complaining fiscal. Moreover, most of these errors could have been avoided had he carefully studied the law on the matter so as not to violate the specific provisions thereof. In this respect, therefore, the evidence shows negligence on respondent’s part.

C. Respondent is charged with having granted sometime in September 1961 a usurious loan of P400 to Avelino Limpot and Nicolasa Babol, who actually received only P300; that for Limpot’s failure to pay the loan on the ground that he was a mere guarantor, respondent in 1964 cancelled his bail bond in Criminal Case No. 7602 (for slight physical injuries) and ordered his detention, falsely stating that the taxes on the property offered by him had not been paid; and that when Limpot filed in the Court of First Instance a criminal case (Exh. BB-3) against respondent for arbitrary detention with falsification, the latter in retaliation ordered Limpot’s arrest on a fabricated complaint for falsification.

The documentary evidence on the alleged usurious transaction entered into by respondent consists of a deed of sale of land with right to repurchase, executed by Avelino Limpot in favor of respondent’s wife, the right of repurchase to expire after December 31, 1961. The deed was duly acknowledged before a notary public and one of the witnesses was Nicolasa Babol. Aside from respondent’s denial of the charge of usury, the document signed by Limpot negated his testimony that the amount of the loan was less than that stated in the deed. It also appears in respondent’s testimony under cross-examination that Babol testified to the truth of the statement in the deed. The charge of usury is therefore without basis.

Respondent’s order cancelling the bail bond of Avelino Limpot in Criminal Case No. 7602 reads:
“The court has information that the property posted as bond by Avelino Limpot himself as a surety is in the possession of another person. It appears also that the tax declaration of said property is new and taxes thereon had not been paid in his name for the last three years. It is now the policy of this court to allow the accused to appear as surety to this own bailbond. In view of these considerations, the bond posted for Avelino Limpot is hereby cancelled and he is hereby detained until he puts a new bail bond with the proper sureties.”
Respondent admitted that the taxes on the land had been paid for the last five years but explained that he was not aware of this fact, since the bail bond showed that the tax was only paid for the current year; that the accused did not present his tax receipts at the time of the cancellation of his bail; and that the land had been declared for taxation purposes in the name of the accused only six days before the execution of the bail bond, in violation of Circular No. 44 of the Department of Justice dated July 30, 1958, as reiterated in Circular No. 2 of January 23, 1964.

Respondent’s explanation on the bail cancellation is entirely unsatisfactory. The record shows that the bail bond in question was previously approved by respondent and that no prior notice was given to Limpot of its cancellation for being allegedly defective despite the fact that taxes on the property had been paid as appearing on the face of the bond itself. Respondent’s cancellation of the bond in question resulted in Limpot’s arrest and detention for ten days for the minor offense of slight physical injuries which led the investigating Judge to conclude that “the cancellation of Limpot’s bond must have been motivated by Limpot’s refusal to pay Babol’s debt.”

Concerning the filing by respondent of Criminal Case No. 7804 (for falsification of public document) against Limpot, the investigating Judge found that on January 4, 1965, the respondent twice asked Limpot to withdraw his criminal case for arbitrary detention with falsification, but Limpot refused to do so. Thereafter, or on April 23, 1965, respondent ordered the municipal chief of police of Oroquieta to prosecute Limpot for falsification of public document for using his property twice to bail himself and another. On April 28, 1965, the corresponding criminal complaint was filed against Limpot and he was ordered arrested by respondent on the same date.

Under the circumstances, it is clear that the filing of Criminal Case No. 7804 against Limpot was in retaliation for the criminal case for arbitrary detention with falsification filed by Limpot against respondent, which he refused to withdraw when requested by respondent. Although the records show that on April 16, 1954, Limpot used the property in question to bail himself out in Criminal Case No. 7602 and that on May 18, 1964, he used the same property to bail out Mateo Gatab in Criminal Case No. 7617, respondent did not cancel Gatab’s bail nor order his arrest as was done to Limpot. There is ample evidence that respondent was aware that the same property was used twice by Limpot, considering the proximity of the dates, i.e. April 16, and May 18, 1964, and yet it was only one year later or on April 23, 1965, that Limpot was charged with the criminal offense.


A. On October 17, 1962, spouses Meliton Gahunan and Dorotea Balauro sold with right to repurchase their lot located at Barrio Malindang, Oroquieta, for P2,500 to Bienvenido Caparas and Paz de Caparas. Subsequently, Gahuman obtained more loans from Caparas totalling P6,000. On January 19, 1966, Gahuman sold the same land to respondent’s wife for P600 on condition that she pay Caparas P2,500. The wife of respondent then wrote Caparas on January 24, 1966, informing him that she had already purchased the land and would therefore occupy the same as owner thereof, and offering to pay Gahuman’s debt of P2,500. Caparas rejected the offer and refused to give up possession of the property, since Gahuman owed him P6,000, and prosecuted Gahuman for estafa for selling the property to respondent’s wife without first redeeming it. Gahuman countered by filing a case against Caparas for unjust vexation (Exh. B-4) in respondent’s court. Caparas was promptly convicted by respondent in view of his failure to introduce any evidence during the trial of the case for, according to him, it was useless to do so, since respondent was partial to the Gahumans. However, on appeal the case was dismissed.

In view of Caparas’ refusal to relinquish possession of the land, respondent on February 12, 1966, sent his overseer and two tenants accompanied by a policeman and by means of force and intimidation seized eight sacks of copra from the tenant of Caparas and brought them to the house of the barrio captain. Thereafter, herein complainant fiscal prosecuted respondent and four others for the crime of grave coercion.

Respondent’s denial of having anything to do with the seizure of the copra in question is untenable upon the established facts. There is no question that he benefited therefrom as found by the Secretary of Justice considering that the land was purchased by his wife.

B. On the charge that respondent dismissed Criminal Case No. 7820 (for homicide through reckless imprudence) in consideration of the sum of P800 received from Hipolito Rapliza, the owner of the truck driven by the accused, the evidence shows that on June 1, 1965, when the aforesiad criminal case was filed Rapliza went to respondent’s house with a lawyer to ask for the dismissal of the case, the parents of the victim having agreed to an amicable settlement.

Respondent, on seeing Rapliza, reminded him of the rental due from his lease of respondent’s warehouse, which lease Rapliza wanted to terminate. Respondent and Rapliza finally agreed that the latter would pay P800 to settle respondent’s claim. Rapliza’s lawyer then took up with respondent the dismissal of the case against Rapliza’s driver. Respondent referred the matter to the acting chief of police for the filing of the appropriate motion.

The next day the acting chief of police filed a motion to dismiss Criminal Case No. 7820, which respondent granted; and on the same day Rapliza paid to respondent the amount agreed upon between them and the accused was released from custody.

Respondent argues that the payment made to him by Rapliza had nothing to do with the dismissal of Criminal Case No. 7820; and that the dismissal, which was without prejudice since the accused had not then been arraigned, was granted in accordance with his practice of allowing the prosecution to determine the sufficiency of the evidence.

Respondent, nevertheless, knew, as clearly shown by the evidence, that Rapliza would not have agreed to settle respondent’s claim if he was not interested in the dismissal of Criminal Case No. 7820. Under the environmental circumstances, respondent should have been more careful and judicious in dismissing the criminal case. The injection by respondent of the payment of the rentals due him in order to settle a case pending in his court clearly shows his moral unfitness to remain as judge. Moreover, even if respondent had no possible interest in dismissing the case, his action is still irregular, first, because the case involved the taking of human life, even if accidental; and, second, because dismissal was not warranted by the mere change in the testimony of an eyewitness, even if he was the only available witness of the prosecution, since he was personally examined by respondent before ordering the arrest of the accused, and no effort was exerted to ascertain the motivations or veracity of such an alleged change of testimony. Respondent thus acted immorally, arbitrarily and with undue haste in immediately granting the motion to dismiss Criminal Case No. 7820 against the driver of his lessee.


A. In Criminal Case No. 8030 of respondent’s court, his houseboy, Nemesio Bag-ao, was charged with qualified theft of smuggled cigarettes, which were in respondent’s custody as evidence in Criminal Case No. 7658. Respondent amended the complaint to simple theft and sentenced him to only thirty days’ imprisonment by crediting him with the mitigating circumstance of voluntary surrender when respondent himself delivered the accused to the chief of police for investigation.

The investigation nevertheless showed the de oficio counsel appointed by respondent for the accused offered to have the latter plead guilty to simple theft, which motion was agreed to by the complainant chief of police who amended his complaint accordingly. Respondent seeks to justify his approval of the amendment on the ground that there was no abuse of confidence in the commission of the theft even if the accused was his houseboy because he was not the offended party but the Government, to whom the cigarettes were forfeited. This view of respondent is legally erroneous, as in the crimes of theft or robbery, the offended parties may be more possessors, not necessarily the legal owners of the things stolen or taken. Respondent was in legal custody or possession of the stolen cigarettes and therefore was the offended party. Moreover, respondent admitted that Atty. Siton, the de oficio counsel, is married to a first degree cousin of his wife’s mother. While this may not constitute grave abuse of authority, it certainly demonstrates ignorance of the law.

Under the attendant circumstances of the case, respondent cannot erase the suspicion that he was unduly lenient to his domestic servant.

While it was proven that he brought home the cigarettes used as evidence in a case pending in his court after the chief of police, the constabulary and the local agent of the Bureau of Internal Revenue refused to accept custody of the cigarettes on the excuse that they had no place where to keep them, respondent is still guilty of negligence for the loss of the cigarettes in question under his custody for his failure to take the necessary precautions to prevent their being stolen by his houseboy.

B. In connection with Criminal Case No. 7658 (for illegal possession of untaxed blue seal cigarettes) of respondent’s court, the evidence shows that he failed to impose subsidiary imprisonment on one of the two accused for failure to pay the fine imposed by the Internal Revenue Code. The investigation report found that, in the decision dictated by respondent in open court, he provided for subsidiary imprisonment, but he reconsidered the decision by omitting the provision. This actuation is explained by respondent as follows:
(1) Because the fiscal himself or his office has not been recommending, much less insisting on, such subsidiary imprisonment in smuggling cases (Exhibits “31” and “31-A”) in the Court of First Instance or in the respondent’s Municipal Court, like the instant Ladion case (Exh. “A”).

(2) The only commentary on subsidiary imprisonment readily available to the respondent as trial judge was Padilla’s “Criminal Law,” 1947 Edition, wherein an apparently sweeping topic-statement is found: “No subsidiary imprisonment for offenders penalized by special law (see Art. 10)” as if this was the general rule.

(3) Because of the seeming stand of the Judicial Conference at the U.P. Law Center, per the official lecturer judge Arsenio Solidum, that the imposition of subsidiary imprisonment is discretionary, not mandatory, upon the courts.

(4) The principle in criminal law that in case of doubt, the doubt should be resolved in favor of the accused; and

(5) Because accused Ladion had been detained in jail pending trial for nearly six months.
These arguments are untenable. Section 353 of the National Internal Revenue Code clearly provides for subsidiary imprisonment in case the person convicted for violation of the provisions of said Code is unable to pay the fine imposed upon him in the judgment.

In connection with the same criminal case, the investigating Judge likewise found the proceedings unduly delayed by numerous postponements, as a result of which the case against one of the two accused had not been terminated as of March 16, 1967, although the case was filed as early as July 30, 1964. This finding is supported by the evidence, which shows that respondent invariably granted the requests for postponenent made by the prosecution instead of insisting, as was his duty, on the expeditious termination of the case. Respondent’s actuation clearly indicates deliberate disregard of the requirements of the law or intentional attempt to favor one party to the prejudice of the accused.

As regards the other charges against respondent, I find no necessity of discussing them any further inasmuch as the above serious offenses of gross abuse authority, ignorance of the law, unbecoming conduct and negligence committed by him are more than sufficient to warrant his dismissal from office.

WHEREFORE, Mr. Eligio C. Dajao is hereby removed from office as municipal judge or Oroquieta, Misamis Occidental, effective upon receipt of a copy of this order.

Done in City of Manila, this 1st day of January, in the year of Our Lord, nineteen hundred and sixty-nine.

President of the Philippines

By the President:

Executive Secretary
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