367 Phil. 162
Complainant failed to substantiate his allegation that the subject car was a wanted carnapped vehicle. The presentation of the computer print-out with the heading "Inquiry" issued by the "Wanted/Stolen Vehicle Info System" (Exhibit "D") and the Certification (Exhibit "E") issued by the apprehending officer, SPO4 Teodoro Duldulao of the Isabela Traffic Management Office, Santiago City are insufficient to impugn the legitimacy of respondent judge's prior ownership of the motor vehicle.Based on the evaluation of the evidence presented, the Investigating Justice recommended that the charge for serious misconduct be dismissed. As to the charge of dishonesty, the Investigating Justice opined that since the charge was dependent on the allegation that respondent Judge sold a carnapped vehicle, the same should likewise be dismissed.
x x x x
The Certification (Exhibit "E") does not support the allegation that the car is a wanted/carnapped vehicle. The apprehending officer merely indicated that the car, at the time of its seizure on 13 February 1997, had a cut and weld chassis number. There was no finding that any law was violated x x x. Hence, the fact of impounding does not establish conclusively that the car was a wanted or carnapped vehicle.
Misconduct in office has been authoritatively defined by Justice Tuazon in Lacson v. Lopez in these words: "Misconduct in office has a definite and well-understood legal meaning. By uniform legal definition, it is a misconduct such as affects his performance of his duties as an officer and not such only as affects his character as a private individual. In such cases, it has been said at all times, it is necessary to separate the character of the man from the character of the officer x x x x It is settled that misconduct, misfeasance, or malfeasance warranting removal from office of an officer must have direct relation to and be connected with the performance of official duties amounting either to maladministration or willful, intentional neglect and failure to discharge the duties of the office x x x x More specifically, in Buenaventura v. Benedicto, an administrative proceeding against a judge of the court of first instance, the present Chief Justice defines misconduct as referring `to a transgression of some established and definite rule of action, more particularly, unlawful behavior or gross negligence by the public officer."In In re Impeachment of Horilleno we held -
`(S)ufficient cause' must exist in the judgment of the Supreme Court involving `serious misconduct'. The adjective is serious; that is, important, weighty, momentous, and not trifling. The noun is misconduct; that is, a transgression of some established and definite rule of action, more particularly, unlawful behavior or gross negligence by the public officer. The word `misconduct' implies a wrongful intention and not a mere error of judgment. For serious misconduct to exist, there must be a reliable evidence showing that the judicial acts complained of were corrupt or inspired by an intention to violate the law, or were in persistent disregard of well-known legal rules.In Salcedo v. Inting we also ruled -
It is to be noted that the acts of the respondent judge complained of have no direct relation with his official duties as City Judge. The misfeasance or malfeasance of a judge, to warrant disciplinary action must have direct relation to and be connected with the performance of official duties amounting either to maladministration or willful, intentional neglect and failure to discharge the duties of said judge.It is thus clear from the foregoing cases that serious misconduct to warrant dismissal of a public officer from the service, there must be reliable evidence showing that the judicial acts complained of were corrupt or inspired by an intention to violate the law. The misconduct must be serious, important, weighty, momentous and not trifling. The misconduct must imply wrongful intention and not a mere error of judgment. The misconduct must also have a direct relation to and be connected with the performance of his official duties.
Public service requires utmost integrity and strictest discipline. A public servant must exhibit at all times the highest sense of honesty and integrity. The administration of justice is a sacred task. By the very nature of their duties and responsibilities, all those involved in it must faithfully adhere to, hold inviolate, and invigorate the principle solemnly enshrined in the 1987 Constitution that a public office is a public trust; and all public officers and employees must at all times be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty and efficiency. The conduct and behavior of everyone connected with an office charged with the dispensation of justice, from the presiding judge to the lowliest clerk, should be circumscribed with the heavy burden of responsibility. Their conduct, at all times, must not only be characterized by propriety and decorum but, above all else, must be above suspicion. Indeed, every employee of the judiciary should be an example of integrity, uprightness and honesty.WHEREFORE, this Court RESOLVES to adopt the recommendation of Investigating Justice Teodoro P. Regino DISMISSING the charges for serious misconduct and dishonesty against Judge Demetrio D. Calimag, Jr. of RTC-Br. 35, Santiago City, for lack of merit. However, respondent Judge Demetrio D. Calimag, Jr., is ADMONISHED to conduct himself accordingly in all his activities at all times as to avoid any impropriety or even the appearance of impropriety.