ChanRobles Virtual law Library


google search for chanrobles.comSearch for



A.M. No. RTJ-00-1554. June 1, 2000

SIMEON B. GANZON II, complainant, vs. JUDGE JULIAN Y. EREO, Regional Trial Court, Branch 27, Iloilo City, respondent.



In a verified complaint, dated 27 February 1998, Simeon B. Ganzon II charged Judge Julian Y. Ereo of the Regional Trial Court of Iloilo City, Branch 27, with having knowingly rendered an unjust judgment, unreasonable delay in the administration of justice and gross inefficiency/neglect in the performance of duty relative to Election Protest Cases No. 10-1995 and No. 10-1995-A. Election Protest Case No. 10-1995 ("Simeon B. Ganzon II vs. Cresenciano Duremdes, Sr.") challenged the result of the May 1995 election for the mayoralty post in the Municipality of Balasan, Iloilo, while Election Protest Case No. 10-1995-A ("Juber Pasco vs. Susan Bedro") assailed the election result for the vice-mayoralty position. According to complainant, the consolidated decision handed down by respondent Judge in the election protest cases was contrary to law, not supported by evidence, and rendered with conscious and deliberate intent to do an injustice to a party litigant, asseverating that while the basis of the judgment was that no votes should be considered in favor of either party in Precinct No. 5-1-A, yet Annex B1 of the decision would show that respondent Judge credited candidates for vice-mayor with votes coming from said precinct. In addition, complainant claimed, the tabulation of the election results2 indicated certain inconsistencies and deductions of votes from those garnered by each candidate which were unsupported either by the stenographic notes or by any explanation, thereby making it difficult for complainant to figure out the meaning of the decision of respondent judge for purposes of appeal.

Respondent Judge was also put to task by complainant for delaying the resolution of pending incidents in the protest cases and for entertaining various motions and pleadings from the protestee which were just intended to delay the disposition of the cases. Complainant called attention to the fact that while the election protests were filed on 18 August 1995 with respondent Judge taking cognizance of the cases on 11 September 1995, the protests, however, were decided only on 17 September 1997.

Finally, complainant bewailed the failure of respondent judge to exert efforts in ascertaining the correct figures in the computation of votes from the contested precincts. Complainant claimed that he had yet to prod the court and its personnel in the transcription of the stenographic notes, which were ultimately completed only on 22 April 1997 or four months after the termination of the revision of the ballots on 22 December 1996.

Respondent Judge denied the charges and questioned the motive of complainant in filing the administrative case considering that the election protest cases were decided on 17 September 1997 while the administrative case was filed much belatedly on 04 March 1998, just a week before he was due to retire. He stated, in passing, that complainant was known for his propensity for filing administrative cases.

In response to the charge that he had knowingly rendered an unjust judgment, respondent Judge averred that he did disallow the mayoralty candidates to be credited with votes coming from Precinct 5-1-A and allowed the vice-mayoralty candidates to be credited with votes from the same precinct but only with respect to those agreed upon by the candidates themselves as so appearing on the tally board.

Relative to the delay in the disposition of the case, respondent Judge, while acknowledging the time imperatives in election cases, countered, however, that all other vital matters involved had likewise to be carefully considered in order to avoid any possible injustice to a party. He explained that before the cases were assigned to his sala, there was a pending motion to dismiss on the ground that mayoralty and vice-mayoralty protest cases could not be joined, and it was he who prevailed upon the protestees to allow the protestants (herein complainant among them) to amend the election protest, which they finally did on 29 January 1996, in order to hasten their disposition. Still, thereafter, motions for his inhibition and for transfer of venue were filed due to his alleged "closeness" to a relative of complainant.

The Office of the Court Administrator, to which the case was referred for investigation, report and recommendation, recommended that the complaint be so docketed as an administrative matter, that the charges, with the exception of the case for unreasonable delay in the administration of justice, be dismissed, and that respondent be meted a fine in the amount of P5,000.00.

In the resolution of the Court on 24 March 1999, the parties were required to manifest whether they would be willing to submit the case for resolution on the basis of the pleadings and documents on record. On 21 July 1999, respondent Judge responded affirmatively. Complainant failed to comply with the resolution constraining the Court to require counsel for complainant to show cause why she should not be disciplinarily dealt with for ignoring the directive. Counsel for complainant thereupon submitted her explanation and manifestation that complainant was submitting the case for resolution on the basis of the pleadings and documents on file. Finding the explanation not fully satisfactory, the Court, in its 15th December 1999 resolution, admonished counsel and resolved to docket the case.

The Court adopts the report of the OCA.

In order to justify a disciplinary action against a judge, or to render him accountable, for an unjust judgment, the error or mistake must be gross or patent, malicious or deliberate, or done in bad faith;3 any other rule can subject him to undue risks, untold anxiety, and inordinate harassment, or the like, that could make his job miserable and unbearable. As so observed by the OCA -

"x x x To be liable therefor, it must be shown beyond reasonable doubt that the judgment is unjust and that it was made with conscious and deliberate intent to do an injustice (Wingarts vs. Majia, 242 SCRA 436, 446) It must be shown that the judge not only rendered a judgment or decision not supported by law and/or evidence but that he was actuated by hatred and envy, revenge, greed or some other similar motives. (Dela Cruz vs. Concepcion, 235 SCRA 597, 603) Complainant failed to show that respondent judge had ill motives in rendering the decision and similarly the records of the case fails to support the accusation."

With respect to the charge of gross incompetence and neglect in the performance of duty, the Court sustains the OCA in its finding that the charge has not been substantiated at all, and it must accordingly be dismissed.

Anent the delay in administration of justice, respondent Judge averred that the cases were first assigned to two other judges before him. It was not disputed, however, that he took cognizance of the election protest cases on 11 September 1995, and the decision was rendered by him only on 17 September 1997. The OCA was thus justified in its disquisition when it said:

"x x x Part VI, Rule 35, Section 18 of the COMELEC Rules of procedure mandates that every election contest involving municipal officials must be decided within thirty (30) days from the date it is submitted for decision, but in every case within six (6) months after its filing.

"Respondent can not take refuge behind the filing of complainant of an amended petition nor on the temporary restraining order issued by the Court of Appeals enjoining the proceedings which was lifted by the Supreme Court on February 18, 1997 because these incidents contributed very little to the delay. Neither can respondent be exonerated by the alleged numerous matters which to the mind of respondent are vital and can not just be disregarded or dispensed with. This Court in Hernandez vs. De Guzman (252 SCRA 643, 67) reminded judge that they should, at all times, remain in full control of the proceedings and more importantly, he should follow the time limit for deciding the cases. Similarly, this Court ruled that judges should not be at the mercy of the lawyer and the parties. It is not the convenience of the parties appearing before his Court which should be the primordial consideration of a judge but the administration of justice. (Re: Report on the Judicial Audit and Inventory of the Record of Cases in the RTC, Branch 43, Roxas, Mindoro Oriental, 236 SCRA 631."

It may be worth reiterating that trial judges, being the paradigm of justice in the first instance, are exhorted to dispose of the business of the court promptly and to decide cases within the periods prescribed therefor.4 An undue failure to heed this mandate constitutes a ground for administrative sanction against the defaulting judge.5 Considering his explanation, however, the Court deems it appropriate to reduce the recommended fine on respondent judge to P3,000.00.

Respondent Judge has compulsorily retired on 07 March 1998 but he has not been able to receive his full retirement benefits because of the pendency of this administrative case and another which is docketed A.M. No. 98-2-45-RTC.

WHEREFORE, finding respondent Judge Julian Y. Ereo guilty of delay in disposing EPC Case No. 10-1995 and 10-1995-A, the Court hereby imposes on him a FINE of THREE THOUSAND (P3,000.00) PESOS to be deducted from whatever retirement benefits due him. The other charges against respondent judge in this administrative case are dismissed. Let then the Fiscal Management Office, Office of the Court Administrator, release the balance of the retirement benefits of respondent Judge less whatever monetary liability he might be subject to in A.M. No. 98-2-45-RTC.


Melo, (Chairman), Purisima, and Gonzaga-Reyes, JJ., concur.

Panganiban, J., on leave.


1 Tabulated Results for the Vice-mayoralty position.

2 Annexes A and B of the decision.

3 Fernandez v. Espaol, 289 SCRA 1.

4 See Sy Bang v. Mendez, 287 SCRA 84.

5 See Report on the Judicial Audit in RTC, Branch 27, Lapu-Lapu City, 289 SCRA 398.

ChanRobles Legal Resources:

ChanRobles On-Line Bar Review

ChanRobles Internet Bar Review :

ChanRobles MCLE On-line

ChanRobles Lawnet Inc. - ChanRobles MCLE On-line :