SC fines judge demanding fellatio from litigant's wife

Since the respondent judge was already in his retirement when the decision to punish him was rendered, the Supreme Court ruled that a fine of 40,000 pesos was proper. However, there are those who say that such punishment was not enough because the victim (wife) and her family suffered too much.

SUPREME COURT'S JUDGMENT: WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, we hereby find respondent, JUDGE PATERNO H. LUSTRE, Presiding Judge, Municipal Trial Court, Calamba, Laguna, GUILTY of gross misconduct. As he has already retired from the service and thus could no longer be dismissed nor suspended, we hereby order that a FINE of P40,000.00 be imposed upon him, to be deducted from his retirement benefits. Further, he is hereby barred from any employment in all branches of the government including government-owned and -controlled corporations.

On September 19, 1995, complainant Lualhati M. Liwanag sent a letter to the Court praying that respondent Judge Paterno H. Lustre be dismissed from the service due to "gross immorality and grave misconduct unbecoming of his profession." Attached to her letter was a sworn statement, reproduced verbatim hereunder, which details how respondent allegedly molested her sexually.

MS. LIWANAG'S STORY: On November 17, 1994 at about 8:30 A.M., I went to see Judge Lustre at his chamber to inquire about the case filed by my husband, why the accused have not yet been arraigned. At that point, I asked Judge Lustre if it is possible to schedule hearings in January and February, 1995 and every month thereafter and to order the arraignment of the accused. He responded in the affirmative and told me to come back after the hearing on December 15, 1994, at about 7:00 A.M. in his chamber.On March 13, 1995, Monday, as ordered, I went to see Judge Lustre at his office at around 7:10 A.M. There was no one there except him. I saw him waiting just outside his chamber. He ushered me inside, but I had barely entered the room, when he kissed me on the lips and caressed my body, particularly my breast. He exposed his penis and ordered me to masturbate him. I could not do anything but obey. There was a fluid that oozed from his penis, which was somewhat bloody. I felt dirty. While doing that, he told me to tell my lawyer to file a motion to set hearing for April and May, 1995. He then asked me to go with him to Laguna de Bay Inn. I refused, he got angry. He retorted that the fate of our case is on his hands and told me to see him on March 23, 1995 at 7:00 A.M. at Laguna de Bay Inn in Sucat since his house is near the area.

On June 15, 1995, Thursday, at around 7:00 A.M., I went to Judge Lustre in his office because I was told that our next hearing would be in September despite previous settings. I requested Judge Lustre to give us monthly hearings, in July and August. He told me that he would oblige if I would follow his wishes. As he was saying that, he was already touching my breast. He exposed his penis at told me to perform "fellatio." I refused. I was then told to return the following day, the same time and he will wait for me.

I came back on June 16, around 7:00 A.M. As ordered, I proceeded to the Calamba Church to wait for Judge Lustre. He fetch (sic) me from there on board his white Toyota car and he brought me to Riverview Resort and Sports Complex in Crossing, Calamba, Laguna. I could not refuse because of the threat about our case. Inside the room at Riverview, he told me there will be a setting for July and August. Then, he undressed himself and ordered me to do the same. I knew I was selling myself to the devil but our blood money is at stake. It is for the future of my son and I was willing to do anything for my family. Perhaps, I was too stupid to do it, but at that time, I felt helpless. He ordered me to perform "fellatio" on him and I obeyed. There was blood that oozed from his penis. I also saw black rashes on his body, especially on his legs. Before we left, he told me to see him again on July 10 in his office. (A.M. No. MTJ-98-1168; April 21, 1999)