Case Digest: Perfecto v. Judge Desales-Esidera

A.M. No. RTJ-11-2258 : June 20, 2012




In support of the charges, the complainant alleges that he filed a Petition to Cite for Contempt against one Dalmacio Grafil and a Ven S. Labro. The complainant laments that the case has since been gathering dust in the court of the respondent. He maintains that the respondent should be made administratively liable for her failure to act on the case within a reasonable period of time.

On the second cause of action, the complainant claims that he is the publisher and Editor-in-Chief of the Catarman Weekly Tribune (CWT), the only accredited newspaper in Northern Samar. He claims that in Special Proceedings Nos. C-346 (for adoption and change of name) and C-352 (for adoption), the respondent directed the petitioners to have her orders published in a newspaper of national circulation. Through these directives, the complainant posits, the respondent betrayed her ignorance of the law, considering that all judicial notices and orders emanating from the courts of Catarman, Northern Samar should be published only in the CWT, pursuant to Presidential Decree No. 1079.

The Court issued a Resolution re-docketing the case as a formal administrative complaint against the respondent.

Respondent advises the Court that she is of the firm belief that the second cause of action for ignorance of the law (non-publication of court orders/notices in CWT) had already been passed upon by the Court (Third Division) in its Decision in A.M. No. RTJ-11-2270.

ISSUE: Whether or not respondent is guilty of ignorance of the law?


CONSTITUTIONAL LAW: administrative law; judges; gross ignorance of law

Indeed, the respondent deserves to be sanctioned for gross ignorance of the law. With her inaction on the petition for contempt, she betrayed her unbecoming lack of familiarity with basic procedural rules such as what was involved in the contempt proceedings before her court. She should have known that while the petitioners have the responsibility to move ex parte to have the case scheduled for preliminary conference, the court (through the branch clerk of court) has the duty to schedule the case for pre-trial in the event that the petitioners fail to file the motion.

The respondent cannot pass the blame for the lack of movement in the case to her staff who, she claims, were monitoring the case. As presiding judge, she should account for the anomaly that since the respondents filed their answer, the petition for contempt had been gathering dust or had not moved in the respondent's court. Clearly, the respondent fell short of the standards of competence and legal proficiency expected of magistrates of the law in her handling of the petition for contempt. As in Magpali v. Pardo, she should be fined P10,000.00 for gross ignorance of the law.

Judge Alma Consuelo Desales-Esidera is found LIABLE for gross ignorance of the law.