Supreme Court junks Quezon City RTC judge's appeal-A A +A
Tuesday, October 9, 2012
MANILA -- The Supreme Court (SC) denied with finality the motion for reconsideration filed by Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judge Santiago Arenas relating to his inexcusable delay in resolving the civil case of GMA Network (GMA) against Mohan Gumatay (aka Mo Twister) and Associated Broadcast Company (ABC5).
This was after GMA filed a complaint with the Highest Court on July 29, 2011 charging Arenas with gross inefficiency and undue delay, which according to GMA caused them injustice and irrevocable injury.
The SC imposed upon Arenas a fine of P5,000 and reminded him to be more efficient and prompt in performing his duties. The SC also warned Arenas that a repetition of the same or similar offense will be dealt with more severely.
On May 25, 2010, GMA filed a civil case against Gumatay for breach of contract with the Quezon City RTC branch 217. GMA sought the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) and/or writ of preliminary injunction to stop Gumatay, who was an exclusive talent of GMA, from appearing on ABC5.
Arenas denied GMA's application for a TRO, and set a hearing for a writ of preliminary injunction in an Order dated December 10, 2010.
GMA argued that the presiding Judge ignored the fact that Gumatay had a live and subsisting contract, which granted it the exclusive and irrevocable option to renew Gumatay's Talent Agreement; and thus entitling it to a TRO and/or preliminary injunction.
Following the denial of its application by Arenas in his Order dated December 10, 2010, GMA filed a Motion for Voluntary Inhibition on January 24, 2011 on the ground that the presiding judge had already decided the case on the merits, when he denied GMA’s motion for preliminary injunction. Furthermore, GMA asserted in its complaint with the SC that Arenas "has been deliberately sitting on its Motion for Voluntary Inhibition for more than four months since the filing of ABC5’s Rejoinder dated March 16, 2011."
Based on the Report dated January 25, 2012 of the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA), which was signed by Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez and OCA Chief of Office Wilhemina Geronga, the SC found Arenas guilty of incurring unreasonable delay in resolving the Motion for Voluntary Inhibition. This violates Article VIII, Section 15 of the Constitution, which states that a motion should be resolved within 90 days from the date it was submitted for resolution.
Supreme Court Circular No. 13 dated July 1, 1987 instructs judges to observe the periods prescribed by the Constitution in adjudicating and resolving all cases or matters submitted to the court. According to the OCA, “Failure to decide a case or resolve a motion within the prescribed period constitutes gross inefficiency and warrants the imposition of administrative sanction against the erring judge.” (PR)