Case Digest: In Re Andoy

A.M. No. 09-9-163-MTC : May 6, 2010




Judge Andoy compulsorily retired on October 3, 2008. In a Letter dated August 24, 2009, he requested the approval of his retirement papers and that, if needed, a certain amount be deducted from his retirement benefits. He asked for the payment of his earned vacation/sick leaves, as well as the release of his withheld September 2008 Special Allowance for the Judiciary (SAJ) allowance, loyalty award checks, and all other allowances to which he was entitled prior to his retirement. Per the computation of the Fiscal Management Office of the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA), Judge Andoy had earned vacation/sick leaves amounting to P966,162.86, SAJ allowance totaling P24,845.10, and a loyalty award check for the amount of P3,500.00. Judge Andoy also admitted having unaccounted property accountabilities in the amount of P16,284.20 and a pending administrative case (MTJ-09-1738), but expressed his willingness to pay for whatever penalty would be imposed upon him by means of deduction from his retirement benefits. In the end, Judge Andoy prayed that a clearance be issued with respect to the monetary value of his accumulated leave credits so that the release of his retirement benefits may already be processed.

Based on the list prepared by Celestina I. Cuevas, and certified by Leticia C. Perez, Clerk of Court II, MTC, Cainta, Rizal, Judge Andoy failed to resolve within the reglementary period 139 cases submitted for decision.

On September 18, 2009, the OCA submitted its report recommending that Hon. Andoy be fined in the amount of 70,000.

ISSUE: Whether Judge Andoy should be liable.

HELD: The Court agrees in the findings of the OCA, except as to the recommended penalty.

POLITICAL LAW: reglementary period to decide a case

Article VIII, Section 15(1) of the 1987 Constitution mandates lower court judges to decide a case within the reglementary period of 90 days. The Code of Judicial Conduct under Rule 3.05 of Canon 3 likewise enunciates that judges should administer justice without delay and directs every judge to dispose of the courts business promptly within the period prescribed by law. Rules prescribing the time within which certain acts must be done are indispensable to prevent needless delays in the orderly and speedy disposition of cases. Thus, the 90-day period is mandatory.

Judges are enjoined to decide cases with dispatch. Any delay, no matter how short, in the disposition of cases undermines the peoples faith and confidence in the judiciary. It also deprives the parties of their right to the speedy disposition of their cases.

The Court has consistently impressed upon judges the need to decide cases promptly and expeditiously under the time-honored precept that justice delayed is justice denied. Every judge should decide cases with dispatch and should be careful, punctual, and observant in the performance of his functions for delay in the disposition of cases erodes the faith and confidence of our people in the judiciary, lowers its standards and brings it into disrepute. Failure to decide a case within the reglementary period is not excusable and constitutes gross inefficiency warranting the imposition of administrative sanctions on the defaulting judge.

The inefficiency of Judge Andoy is evident in his failure to decide 139 cases within the mandatory reglementary period for no apparent reason. Some of these cases have been submitted for resolution as early as 1997. Judge Andoy, upon finding himself unable to comply with the 90-day period, could have asked the Court for a reasonable period of extension to dispose of the cases.The Court, mindful of the heavy caseload of judges, generally grants such requests for extension. Yet, Judge Andoy also failed to make such a request.

REMEDIAL LAW: rule 140; undue delay in rendering a decision

Under the new amendments to Rule 140 of the Rules of Court, undue delay in rendering a decision or order is a less serious charge, for which the respondent judge shall be penalized with either (a) suspension from office without salary and other benefits for not less than one nor more than three months; or (b) a fine of more than P10,000.00, but not more than P20,000.00.

The fines imposed on each judge may vary, depending on the number of cases undecided or matters unresolved by said judge beyond the reglementary period, plus the presence of aggravating or mitigating circumstances, such as the damage suffered by the parties as a result of the delay, the health and age of the judge, etc.

The OCA recommended that Judge Andoy be fined P70,000.00 for leaving 139 cases undecided or unresolved within the reglementary period. While the Court agrees that the total number of cases which Judge Andoy failed to timely decide, act on, or archive, merits a fine higher than that prescribed by the rules, it deems that a fine of P40,000.00 is already sufficient penalty given Judge Andoys 21 years of continuous service in the judiciary, his avowed dire need of funds, and his expressed willingness to abide by whatever penalty the Court may impose upon him.
WHEREFORE, the Court finds JUDGE TERESITO A. ANDOY, former judge of the Municipal Trial Court of Cainta, Rizal, GUILTY of gross inefficiency, for which he is FINED in the amount of P40,000.00, to be deducted from his benefits withheld by the Fiscal Management Office, Office of the Court Administrator.