444 Phil. 728
Hon. Tamin as the Presiding Judge of the lone RTC stationed in Molave, Zamboanga del Sur, held sway over the Municipal Trial Courts of Molave and of Tambulig, and the Municipal Circuit Trial Court of Ramon Magsaysay-Midsalip-Sominot of the said province.The Report further states the following findings:
Hon. Dondiego was the Presiding Judge of the MTC of Tambulig, and because of vacancies she was designated as Presiding Judge too for the MTC of Molave and the MCTC of Ramon Magsaysay-Sominot-Midsalip. Hon. Dondiego is unmarried, and early on in her additional assignment covering Ramon Magsaysay, appears to have upset an ongoing amorous relationship between the Chief of Police of that town and MCTC employee Earla Sy. There was animosity between Hon. Dondiego and Earla Sy, such that when Adm. Case No. P-93-808 for immorality entitled Court Employees of the 10th MTC of Ramon Magsaysay vs. Earla Sy was filed against her, Earla Sy believed that this was initiated and orchestrated by Hon. Dondiego. One day Earla Sy went to see Hon. Tamin and aired her grief over the shabby and humiliating treatment she was constantly getting from her immediate boss, Hon. Dondiego. Asked to help and sympathizing with her, Hon. Tamin ordered Earla Sy transferred to his office (Exh. “Q”) on May 19, 1993. This was not taken kindly to by Hon. Dondiego who raised this to the Office of the Court Administrator (Exh. “QQ”), but was told that though she was not consulted as required, the transfer was nonetheless valid.
Hon. Tamin by then was already keeping a close watch on Hon. Dondiego because of the pervasive talks about her sexual indiscretions and her involvement in a ring extorting money from litigants. Supposedly Hon. Dondiego has had as lovers Joel Curayag, a son of her landlady and her driver then, and the Chief of Police. She has since dropped them and have as her new beau her current driver cum bodyguard Tarambisa, who is a married man. Hon. Tamin himself saw Hon. Dondiego and the Chief of Police just by themselves having lunch in Pagadian City. Admittedly Hon. Dondiego was regularly a backrider of Tarambisa on his motorcycle and on which they have traveled to far flung places, and in fact in one of their trips they met (sic) an accident. Also, Hon. Tamin was told by the carpenters for their office annex that they saw Hon. Dondiego in her chambers smooching with Tarambisa. Then there were the substantiated stories of a cabal among Hon. Dondiego, Tarambisa, Atty. Aloot, an Oyao, a Branzuela and others who went around asking for money in exchange for favorable rulings in cases.
The relationship between Hon. Tamin and Hon. Dondiego thus became progressively strained and antagonistic.
Hon. Tamin rendered a Decision dated March 2, 1998 in Civil Case No. 90-20,050 (2385) (Exh. “UU”), a suit for Infringement of Patent and/or Unfair Competition entitled “Gideon Flores, et [al.] vs. Arsenio Corro, et al.” where the losing parties were Corro and Yunting, and their lawyer was Atty. Aloot. Corro and Yunting then filed a complaint against Hon. Tamin for Dishonesty and Falsification of Public Document docketed as OCA IPI No. 00-960 which they subscribed to before Hon. Dondiego. In it they alleged that Hon. Tamin knowingly and falsely named therein one “Eduardo Cañete” and a “Rodrigo” as witnesses in the case but who did not at all testify. Hon. Tamin heard that Hon. Dondiego commented emphatically that his decision was wrong, and believed that this complaint against him was prepared by Atty. Aloot.
It turned out that in his decision, Hon. Tamin was merely citing verbatim from the applicable ruling of Godines vs. Court of Appeals (226 SCRA 338) and the supposedly ghost witnesses “Eduardo Cañete” and “Rodrigo” were in fact witnesses in the cited case whose names are mentioned in the portion quoted. Reacting to this, Hon. Tamin brought Criminal Case No. 99-10-1014 indicting Hon. Veronica Dondiego, Atty. Rufino Aloot, Arsenio Corro, Jr. and Timoteo Yunting for Indirect Contempt for their roles in the baseless and haphazard complaint against him.
From her side, Hon. Dondiego on April 14, 1999 ordered the dismissal of Crim. Case No. 1944 for Frustrated Murder entitled “People of the Philippines vs. German Onod,” and the release of the accused from detention. This was after the preliminary investigation was terminated and Hon. Dondiego had already forwarded the case to the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor on March 15, 1999 yet. OCA IPI No. 00-853 for Falsification of Public Documents was then filed against her on complaint of Earla Sy, but Hon. Dondiego asserts that it is Hon. Tamin who was behind this. She admitted though the factual allegations in the charge but gave as excuse that she was busy at the time and she could not verify that the case was already beyond her because her frequently absent Clerk of Court who kept the records was then absent again.
In the course of answering the charge and counter-attacking, Hon. Dondiego submitted her explanation attaching as one of her supporting documents the affidavit of Bayawa dated January 24, 2000 (Exh. “F”). In it Bayawa quoted a narration of RTC Branch 23 employee Alpiniana Calope about the October 21, 1999 hearing of Crim. Case No. 99-10-1014 for Indirect Contempt against Hon. Veronica Dondiego, Atty. Rufino Aloot, Arsenio Corro, Jr. and Timoteo Yunting. Supposedly Alpiniana Calope said “BUANG MAN POD NI SI JUDGE (referring to Judge Tamin) MAPRISO NA UNTA TO SI JUDGE DONDIEGO, MAO NA UNTA TO ISUNOD” in English, “What a fool this Judge Tamin, Judge Dondiego could have been jailed, she was supposed to be the next.” Because of her said affidavit, Hon. Tamin charged Bayawa and Alpiniana Calope for Indirect Contempt docketed as Crim. Case No. 2000-10-1040 (Exh. “E”). After Alpiniana Calope denied that she made the remarks imputed in the affidavit, in the Order dated March 1, 2000 (Exh. “H”) Calope was exonerated but Bayawa was found guilty and meted the penalty of Two (2) months imprisonment and P20,000.00 fine. It was disposed additionally that “The immediate arrest and confinement at the Municipal Jail of Molave of respondent Bayawa is hereby ordered.” Bayawa forthwith filed a Notice of Appeal (p. 87 OCA IPI 00-960-RTJ) and an Urgent Petition For Bail (p. 89, supra), but Hon. Tamin reacted with an Order dated March 2, 2000 (p. 90, supra) observing that Bayawa proceeded in great haste to deprive this court of its jurisdiction and gave Bayawa seven (7) days from receipt of the order to file a memorandum to enlighten him whether he still had jurisdiction to grant bail. Accordingly, Bayawa was detained, and released only on March 3, 2000 (Exh. “CC”) after posting the by-then prescribed bond of P15,000.00.
As for Tarambisa, he stands charged by Hon. Tamin of Indirect Contempt in Crim. Case No. 2000-10-1049 for allegedly soliciting from litigants money saying that this would be given to Hon. Tamin.
In Crim. Case No. 99-10-1014 for Indirect Contempt, Hon. Tamin dismissed the charges against Hon. Dondiego and Atty. Aloot, in the Order dated November 25, 1999 (Exh. “M”) with nary a hint of the whys and wherefores. But earlier in separate Partial Decisions dated October 21, 1999 (Exh. “7” & Exh. “7-A”) Hon. Tamin found Corro and Yunting guilty of the charge and meted them penalties of imprisonment for six (6) months and fines of P30,000.00. They appealed this to the Court of Appeals, but their conviction was sustained and this became final. Instead of executing the sentence, Hon. Tamin archived the case on the reasoning that Yunting was since elected councilor and has been helpful in the needs of the court, while Corro had become very sickly. Subsequently, Corro and Yunting executed a Joint Affidavit of Desistance (Exh. “6”) contritely admitting their error and asking for the dismissal of OCA IPI No. 00-960-RTJ.
A Petition for Immediate Transfer of Assignment/Detail of Judge Camilo Tamin (Exh. “2”) dated March 2000 was supposedly made by about 2,000 signatories. Hon. Tamin investigated this and had some of the supposed signatories summoned. He determined that this was the handiwork of Hon. Dondiego, Atty. Aloot and their extortion group and that many of the signatories were from the town of Josefina, which is outside of the bounds of his territorial jurisdiction but strangely is the hometown of Bayawa. Also, many of the supposed signatories denied having signed it or were misled into signing what was misrepresented or which they misunderstood.
These cases resulted from the confluence of events, and substantially because of the personal traits and attitudes of the characters involved therein. For their own reasons and purposes, Hon. Tamin and Hon. Dondiego relentlessly waged an attritional conflict, using surrogates, allies and symphatizers.Finally, Justice Barrios submits this Recommendation:
Earla Sy had no personal concern with the dismissal by Hon. Dondiego of Crim. Case No. 1944 whether as a complainant, witness or otherwise. She was a nominal complainant who did not appear at the investigation. But Hon. Dondiego admitted that she did dismiss the case on April 14, 1999 after she had lost jurisdiction over it subsequent to the termination of its preliminary investigation and had forwarded the records to the Provincial Prosecutor on March 15, 1999. She excused herself by the claim that she was preoccupied at the time and she could not verify the status of the case because her habitually remiss Clerk of Court was again absent.
This is a feeble and poor excuse for an admitted breach. Her Clerk of Court is not the only employee who could locate the records if it were in the office. The fact that the records of the other and extant cases were there should have clued (sic) Hon. Dondiego that the subject case could not be found because it was already terminated and transmitted. Or she could have waited for an opportune time or day when the Clerk of Court or the records would be available to her before acting without dependable basis as she claims she did. But if not a trace of the case could be found, (from) where could Hon. Dondiego have drawn the details with which to fill up the caption for the order of dismissal? She said she copied it from the motion to dismiss, but she could not produce this notwithstanding the emphasis on its importance and the ample time and opportunity given her. Her excuse given is not credible and must fail.
Circumstances indicate that Hon. Dondiego shoehorned the dismissal of the case notwithstanding that she knew she had lost jurisdiction over it. Ironically, a leading case on this point is Alcantara vs. Judge Camilo Tamin and Atty. Rufino Aloot (AM No. RTJ-95-1305, April 21, 1995) involving our Hon. Tamin and Atty. Aloot. In that case where it was complained that Hon. Tamin after having inhibited from the case still issued an order allowing an opposition, it was disposed that:ACCORDINGLY, this Court resolves to ADOPT the above-mentioned recommendation of Deputy Court Administrator Juanito A. Bernad, and hereby imposes a FINE of FIVE THOUSAND PESOS (P5,000.00) upon respondent Judge Camilo E. Tamin with a stern warning that a repetition of the same or similar act or offense in the future shall be dealt with more severely.This is of apt application for Hon. Dondiego who dismissed a criminal case subject of her preliminary investigation after she had terminated this and forwarded it to the prosecutor.
The administrative case against Attorney Rufino Aloot is hereby REFERRED to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for whatever action it may deem proper.
Going now to the complaints against Hon. Tamin, these are essentially because of the complaints for Indirect Contempt he initiated motu proprio against Hon. Dondiego, Atty. Aloot, Corro and Yunting in Crim. Case No. 99-10-1014; against Bayawa in Crim. Case No. 2000-10-1040; and against Tarambisa in Crim. Case No. 2000-10-1049.
Crim. Case No. 99-10-1014 concerns the administrative complaint now docketed as Adm. Matter OCA IPI No. 00-960-RTJ filed by Corro and Yunting against Hon. Tamin allegedly for stating a deliberate falsehood in his Decision in Civil Case No. 90-20,050 (2385) where he said that an “Eduardo Cañete” and a “Rodrigo” testified but who were in truth ghost witnesses who never came to court. Corro and Yunting were the defeated parties in that case, Atty. Loot was their counsel, and Hon. Dondiego administered the oath on their complaint. This complaint against Hon. Tamin is baseless because he did not at all falsely pass off “Eduardo Cañete” and “Rodrigo” as witnesses in Civil Case No. 90-20,050 (2385). Rather they were witnesses in the case of Godines vs. Court of Appeals cited by Hon. Tamin in the said Decision and their names were merely part of what was quoted.
Corro and Yunting were found guilty and sentenced by Hon. Tamin in separate Partial Decisions dated October 21, 1999 (Exh. “7” and Exh. “7-A”) which have become final after these were affirmed by the Court of Appeals. Since then they have executed a Joint Affidavit of Desistance (Exh. “6”) contritely admitting their error and asking for the dismissal of OCA IPI No. 00-960-RTJ against Hon. Tamin.
On the other hand, Hon. Dondiego and Atty. Aloot were earlier exonerated and the charges against them dismissed by Hon. Tamin in the Order dated November 25, 1999 (Exh. “M”).
As for Tarambisa, the contempt charge in Crim. Case No. 2000-10-1049 is supposedly for his soliciting money in line with their syndicated extortion operations, and where he supposedly said that he was collecting for Hon. Tamin.
Contrary to the charges, Hon. Tamin cannot be faulted for being the accuser and judge at the same time; nor for making the imputed acts the subject of contempt charges; nor for the summary proceedings he conducted. Proceedings for indirect contempt may be initiated motu proprio by the court against which the contempt was committed (Sec. 4, Rule 71, 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure); hence, a Presiding Judge may charge, try and sentence a contemnor. Among the acts which may be punished for indirect contempt are:
c) Any abuse of or any unlawful interference with the processes or proceedings of a court not constituting direct contempt under Section 1 of this Rule; d) Any improper conduct tending, directly or indirectly, to impede, obstruct, or degrade the administration of justice; (Sec. 3, supra)
and which well covers the acts charged of Hon. Dondiego, Atty. Aloot, Tarambisa, Corro and Yunting. As to the conduct of the hearing, Hon. Tamin has full discretion as to the manner and extent of ferreting (out the) facts which would be the basis of his rulings, subject only to the restrictions of due process, which he observed. He did not find the need for further or more thorough presentation of evidence either to find Hon. Dondiego and Atty. Aloot innocent of the charge or to find Corro and Yunting guilty thereof. He found that the extant facts sufficed.
Incidentally, the propriety and correctness of the actions taken by Hon. Tamin were to an extent validated by the affirmance of his ruling as against the contemnors Corro and Yunting, as well as their mea culpas and motion for the dismissal of the case against Hon. Tamin.
But the situation is altogether different in the case of Bayawa who in Crim. Case No. 2000-10-1040 was dealt with as follows:“WHEREFORE, on the basis of the premises, this Court finds respondent Bayawa GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of committing highly unprofessional conduct, degrading and contemptuous to this Court, and hereby imposes upon her the penalty of Two (2) Months of imprisonment, and a fine of P20,000.00.
The Case against respondent Calope is DISMISSED.
The immediate arrest and confinement at the Municipal Jail of Molave of respondent Bayawa is hereby ordered.”
Bayawa admittedly executed an affidavit (Exh. “F”) which was attached by Hon. Diego (sic) in one of her exchanges with Hon. Tamin. In it Bayawa quoted a narration of RTC Branch 23 employee Alpiniana Calope about the October 21, 1999 hearing of Crim. Case No. 99-10-1014 for Indirect Contempt against Hon. Dondiego, Atty. Aloot, Corro and Yunting. In the affidavit it is mentioned that Alpiniana Calope supposedly said:“BUANG MAN POD NI SI JUDGE (referring to Judge Tamin) MAPRISO NA UNTA TO SI JUDGE DONDIEGO, MAO NA UNTA TO ISUNOD” In English, “What a fool this Judge Tamin, Judge Dondiego could have been jailed, she was supposed to be the next.”
but which was denied and disowned by her.
It was because of the aforequoted report of a disowned statement that Hon. Tamin found Bayawa guilty of Indirect Contempt and sentenced her to imprisonment of two (2) months and a fine of P20,000.00.
x x x x x x x x x
In this particular case for Indirect Contempt, Hon. Tamin appears to have been unmindful of the guiding principles that: A judge may not hold a party in contempt of court for expressing concern on his impartiality even if the judge may have been insulted therein. While the power to punish for contempt is inherent in all courts so as to preserve order in judicial proceedings and to uphold the due administration of justice, judges, however, should exercise their contempt powers judiciously and sparingly, with utmost restraint, and with the end in view of utilizing their contempt powers for correction and preservation not for retaliation or vindication (Cortes vs. Judge Bangalan, AM No. MTJ-97-1129, Jan. 19, 2000). The courts must exercise the power to punish for contempt for purposes that are impersonal, because that power is intended as a safeguard not for the judges as persons but for the functions that they exercise (Cortes vs. Judge Bangalan, AM No. MTJ-97-1129, Jan. 19, 2000). Then he appears to have gone to extra lengths to make Bayawa spend some time in jail.
x x x x x x x x x
But in the case of Bayawa, Hon. Tamin was just too querulous and hypersensitive in finding that the expression “buang” and the context in which it was used and said, was derisive and that it was addressed to him as an insult. A fair and sensible reading of the phrase he found offensive, whether ascribed to Alpiniana Calope or Bayawa, would show that this was innocuous and cannot be said to be contemptuous to warrant the conviction and penalty that Bayawa was made to suffer.
x x x x x x x x x”
“WHEREFORE, it is respectfully recommended that:We agree with the recommended exonerations and dismissals.
in Adm. Matter OCA IPI No. 00-853-MTC:
the former Judge Veronica Dondiego be found GUILTY of Simple Misconduct, and fined in the sum of Ten Thousand Five Hundred Pesos (P10,500.00) in accordance with the case of Alcantara vs. Judge Camilo Tamin and Atty. Rufino Aloot (AM No. RTJ-95-1305, April 21, 1995) and Sec. 9 of the amended Rule 140 of the Rules of Court.
in Adm. Matter OCA IPI No. 00-908-RTJ:
1) as to the charges and specifications made by former Judge Veronica Dondiego, Atty. Rufino Aloot, Arsenio Corro, Jr., and Timoteo Yunting: that Judge Camilo Tamin be EXONERATED and the complaint against him DISMISSED; and 2) as to the charge and specifications made by Margarita Bayawa: that Judge Camilo be found GUILTY of Simple Misconduct, and be fined in the sum of Ten Thousand Five Hundred Pesos (P10,500.00) in accordance with Sec. 9 of the amended Rule 140 of the Rules of Court, with due consideration for the pendency and on the results of the appeal of Bayawa docketed as CA-G.R. CR No. 24129.
in Adm. Matter OCA IPI No. 00-960-RTJ:
Judge Camilo Tamin be EXONERATED and the complaint against him DISMISSED.”
as to the charges and specifications made by former Judge Veronica Dondiego, Atty. Rufino Aloot, Arsenio Corro, Jr. and Timoteo Yunting: respondent Judge Camilo Tamin is EXONERATED and the complaint against him DISMISSED; and
as to the charge and specifications made by Margarita Bayawa: respondent Judge Camilo Tamin is likewise EXONERATED and the complaint DISMISSED, without prejudice to the results of the appeal of Bayawa docketed as CA-G.R. CR No. 24129.