• High Court absolves Lucena judge

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    THE Supreme Court dismissed the complaint against a retired judge in Lucena City, Quezon province charging him for allegedly failing to act on several civil cases pending before him during his incumbency.

    In an en banc decision, the high court absolved Judge Guillermo Andaya, formerly of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 53, Lucena City.

    “The Financial Management Office of the Office of the Court Administrator is directed to release the [P50,000] retained from his retirement pay unless withheld for some other lawful cause,” the ruling read.

    The case stemmed from an administrative complaint for gross incompetence, inefficiency, negligence and dereliction of duty filed through the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) against Andaya who already retired on March 27, 2009 alleging, among others, that he did not act on certain cases before his sala.

    A review of the records showed that the judicial audit was conducted on January 15, 20, and 21, 2009 during the respondent judge’s incumbency.

    However, the complaint was docketed only on April 29, 2009 after his compulsory retirement on March 27, 2009, thereby losing the high court the opportunity to acquire jurisdiction over the case.

    Citing jurisprudence, the high court held that in order for them to acquire jurisdiction over an administrative case, “the complaint must be filed during the incumbency of the respondent.”

    In the decision penned by Associate Justice Marvic Mario Victor Leonen, it also stated that the court “concedes that there are no promulgated rules on the conduct of judicial audit.”

    “In light of these pronouncements, the court has lost jurisdiction to find [Judge Andaya] liable for the cases and motions left unresolved prior to his retirement.”

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