SC upholds judges’ dismissal-A A +A
Saturday, October 12, 2013
THE Supreme Court (SC) has affirmed the dismissal from the service of three of eight Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC) judges, who were implicated in the marriage scam in Cebu.
SC Administrator Jose Midas Marquez yesterday confirmed that the high court denied with finality the motions for reconsideration of Anatalio Necessario, Rosabella Tormis and Edgemelo Rosales of MTCC Branches 2, 4 and 8, respectively.
In a June 18 resolution, the SC en banc also denied the motions for reconsideration of Helen Mongaya, former MTCC Branch 4 court interpreter, and Rhona Rodriguez, former administrative officer of the Office of the Clerk of Court.
It was not clear, however, whether former judge Gil Acosta of the MTCC Branch 3 also appealed his dismissal.
Two of the four sacked judges reportedly filed their second motions for reconsideration.
The legal move may be allowed but only with prior leave of the high court, Marquez pointed out.
Copy of the SC resolution is not yet available to the media as of press time.
The SC recently appointed replacements for the sacked judges.
The SC en banc dismissed the four judges for “gross inefficiency or neglect of duty and of gross ignorance of the law” for solemnizing civil marriage rites despite insufficiency or absence of required papers.
“The actuations of these judges are not only condemnable, it is outright shameful,” read the SC en banc decision dated April 2.
The SC also forfeited their retirement benefits and prohibited them from working again in government.
Apart from the dismissal of four judges and two court workers, SC also suspended process server Desiderio Aranas of MTCC 3 and court interpreter Rebecca Alesna of MTCC 1 without pay for six months each.
The SC admonished MTCC 6 clerk Celeste Reluya and Regional Trial Court Branch 18 stenographer Emma Valencia.
The charges against former judge Geraldine Faith Econg, currently the chief of the SC’s Program Management Office, and court interpreter Marilou Cabanez were dismissed for lack of merit.
The SC, in its ruling, pointed out that the judges solemnized marriages even if the requirements submitted by the couples were incomplete and questionable.
A judicial audit team examined 643 marriage certificates in 2007 to verify alleged irregularities in marriages performed in several MTCC and Regional Trial Court branches in Cebu City.
The audit found that “certain package fees were offered to interested parties by fixers or facilitators for instant marriages.”
The SC also asked the mayors of Barili and Liloan to investigate the processing of marriage licenses in their towns, citing the audit team’s finding about “an unusual number of marriage licenses obtained” from these towns’ civil registrars.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 12, 2013.