Saturday July 21, 2018

SC fines retired Pasay judge over 'biased' decisions vs CCP

THE Supreme Court (SC) has meted out a P500,000 worth of fine to a retired judge over his numerous "biased" decisions in a case involving an expired lease contract between the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and one of its tenants.

In a decision promulgated on February 21, the SC found retired Judge Pedro Gutierrez, formerly of Branch 119, Regional Trial Court of Pasay City, guilty of gross ignorance of the law, undue delay in rendering an order, and bias and partiality.

The fine will be deducted from his retirement benefits.

In November 2013, Gutierrez was found by the Court of Appeals (CA) to have committed grave abuse of discretion when he issued a writ of preliminary injunction in favor of the CCP's former tenant.

The appellate court in its decision held that upon looking at the least contract at first glance, it will be seen clearly that the tenant “was not entitled to the writ, even without a full-blown trial.”

The judge defied the CA's order, snubbed the CPP's repeated motions for inhibition, and proceeded with hearing the case.

He even enjoined the parties to make a compromise agreement relative to the removal of the fence placed by the CCP outside of the leased premises and granted the tenant’s motion for removal of the said fence.

The high court said that it found “equally disturbing” Gutierrez’s “stubbornness to cling to the subject case for unknown reason.”

According to the SC, Gutierrez inhibited himself from the case only on November 25, 2014, after numerous motions for inhibition filed by CCP, after the receipt of the SC Resolution dated June 2, 2014 which upheld the nullification by CA of his issuance of writ of preliminary injunction against CCP, and after the filing of the instant administrative case against him.

“There were several valid and significant grounds for him to inhibit from the case voluntarily yet he refused to do so for unknown reason,” the SC said.

The totality of the circumstances and the actuations of Gutierrez in dealing with the case clearly lead to the conclusion that he had favored CCP’s former tenant, the high court added. (SunStar Philippines)