SC SANCTIONS JUDGE FOR DELAY IN CASES

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THE Supreme Court (SC) penalized a presiding judge and a clerk of court in Cagayan de Oro City, Misamis Oriental, for failure to decide cases within the reglamentary period.

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In a full court decision, the tribunal “found Judge Gregorio D. Pantanosas Jr., retired Presiding Judge of Branch 20 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in [CDO City], guilty of two counts of gross misconduct; and declar[ed]his retirement benefits forfeited, without prejudice to the payment to him of any balance of his earned leaved credits[.]”

The court also pronounced “Atty. Taumaturgo U. Macabinlar, Branch Clerk of Court, Branch 20 of the [RTC of CDO City], guilty of inefficiency and incompetence, and suspend[ed]him from office for one month without pay with a stern warning that a repetition of the offense or similar acts shall be dealt with more severely.”

The SC ruled, “After the service of his suspension, Atty. Macabinlar shall submit the Commissioner’s Reports respecting the 21 remaining cases enumerated under [OCA Memorandum] dated April 11, 2008, and to furnish the Office of the Court Administrator with copies of the Commissioner’s Reports immediately upon his re-assumption of office following the service of his suspension.”

The High Court also ruled, “He shall be disqualified from serving as a Commissioner to receive evidence ex parte until the submission of all Commissioner’s Reports in the cases for which he had been so authorized to receive evidence.”

From February 21 to February 24, 2005, an audit team dispatched by the OCA conducted a judicial audit of Branch 20 of the CDO City RTC.

It had a total caseload of 599 cases consisting of 256 criminal cases and 343 civil cases.

The audit team found that of the 256 criminal cases, the judge failed to take action on some of the cases from the time of their filing.

As to the 343 civil cases, the team found out that the judge also failed to solve of some of these cases despite the lapse of the reglamentary period for decision.

According to the OCA, Pantanosas still did not resolve the cases within the extended period and he did not take appropriate action to secure the transcripts of stenographic notes in some of the inherited cases.

Under the New Code of Judicial Conduct for the Philippine Judiciary, the SC said, “a judge [is]obliged to perform all judicial duties, including the delivery of reserved decisions, efficiently, fairly and with reasonable promptness.”

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