The Supreme Court (SC) has dismissed from the service a judge who figured in the controversial 2013 elections of the Philippine Judges Association (PJA) which resulted in the “Ma’am Arlene” controversy.
In a 32-page per curiam decision dated June 10, 2014, the SC ordered the dismissal of Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 24 Judge Marino Rubia of Binan, Laguna for gross violations of the New Code of Judicial Conduct.
“Respondent Judge Marino Rubia is hereby dismissed from the service, with corresponding forfeiture of all retirement benefits, except accrued leave credits, and disqualified from reinstatement or appointment in any public office, including government-owned or –controlled corporations,” the SC ruling said.
The SC also imposed a one-year suspension against Eileen Pecana, Data Encoder of Binan, Laguna RTC for violations of the Code of Conduct for Court Personnel.
It acted upon the administrative complaint filed by Emilie Sison-Barias which has three cases concerning the estate of her late husband pending before the sala of Rubia.
Barias filed the complaint before the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) on Nov. 11, 2010 where she accused Rubia of conduct unbecoming of a judge, partiality, gross ignorance of the law and incompetence, and Pecana of gross misconduct.
In her complaint, Barias revealed that she had a dinner meeting with the respondents in a restaurant in The Fort, Bonifacio Global City in Taguig on March 3, 2010 where they have discussed her pending cases.
During the meeting, Rubia allegedly asked her questions not related to her pending cases, including her supposed involvement with another man, her being connected with a leading airline in the country and the hospital where she brought her husband when he suffered cardiac arrest.
The complaint was assigned to Court of Appeals (CA) Associate Justice Samuel Gaerlan.
In his investigation report dated March 13, 2012, Gaerlan recommended that the respondents Rubia and Pecana should not be held administratively liable as he was convinced that the meeting of complainant and respondents at Burgos Circle in Global City was “just a chance encounter” and that Barias had failed to present substantial evidence to prove her allegations.
Gaerlan also stressed the fact that it had taken Barias eight months before she filed the administrative complaint.
However, the SC rejected the report of Gaerlan as they decided to hold Rubia and Pecana administratively liable.
The SC En Banc gave more weight to Barias’ testimony and to her narration of the dinner meeting which was supported by the exchange of text messages between Barias and Pecana.
“Pecana’s actions amount to violations of the Code of Conduct for Court Personnel when she admitted to meeting with complainant several times, thus allowing herself to be placed in a position that could cause suspicion toward her work as a court personnel,” the SC ruling said.
“Respondent Pecana’s actions constitute a clear violation of the requirement that all court personnel uphold integrity and prudence in all their actions,” it added.
As to the case of Rubia, the SC is convinced that he had committed gross violations of the New Code of Judicial Conduct by meeting a litigant and advising her to talk to opposing counsel.
The SC also castigated Rubia because of his failure to admonish or discipline Pecana after he was informed of the latter’s interactions with a litigant.
“Respondent Judge Rubia clearly failed to live up to the standards of his office. By participating in the dinner meeting and by failing to admonish respondent Pecana for her admitted impropriety, respondent Judge Rubia violated Canons 1 and 2 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct,” the SC ruling said.
As to the allegations of Barias against the orders of Rubia in her pending cases, the SC ruled that the complainant “should resort to appropriate judicial remedies.”
The SC’s ruling is immediately executory. PNA