THE Supreme Court (SC) sanctioned a trial court judge in Cebu for the delayed resolution of an ejectment case in 2011.
The High Court’s Second Division found Judge Mary Jocylen Regencia of the Municipal Circuit Trial Court of Asturias-Balamban, Cebu, guilty of “undue delay in rendering a decision.”
The SC ordered Regencia to pay a fine of P40,000 and warned her that stiffer penalty will be imposed on her if she commits the same offense.
“Accordingly, judges should be imbued with a high sense of duty and responsibility in the discharge of their obligation to administer justice promptly,” read the SC resolution penned by Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe.
Associate Justices Antonio Carpio, Arturo Brion, Mariano del Castillo, and Jose Portugal Perez concurred.
The case stemmed from the administrative complaint that Gershon Dulang filed with the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) accusing Regencia of gross inefficiency, gross ignorance of the law, gross incompetence, serious misconduct, and serious dereliction of duty.
In her complaint, Dulang said it took 11 years for Regencia to resolve the ejectment case he filed in 2000. Regencia dismissed Dulang’s ejectment case only on Feb. 18, 2011.
Replying to the complaint, Judge Regencia said no trial was conducted in Dulang’s case since both parties merely filed their position papers.
Regencia argued she could have resolved the case if not for another case pending in the Regional Trial Court in Toledo City.
The case in Toledo City was “closely intertwined” so the judge said she deferred the resolution of Dulang’s case.
Regencia said she should not be faulted for the delay in resolving Dulang’s ejectment case since she assumed as trial court judge only in November 2002 and began presiding over on Nov. 15, 2007.
In his recommendation report, Executive Judge Hermes Montero found Regencia administratively liable for gross inefficiency, gross ignorance of the law, gross incompetence, serious misconduct, and serious dereliction of duty in handling the ejectment case.
Montero recommended Regencia’s dismissal from the service for failure to observe the Rules on Summary Procedure.
In a memorandum, the OCA recommended that Regencia be held administratively liable for undue delay in rendering a decision.
The OCA also fined Regencia of P20,000 and warned her of stiffer penalty should she commit similar offense.
It agreed with the findings of Judge Montero that there is no justifiable excuse for Regencia not to render judgment in the ejectment case within the 30-day period mandated by the Rules on Summary Procedure.
In the decision, the justices agreed with the findings and conclusions of the OCA, but with the modification as to the penalty imposed on Regencia.
Instead of suspension, the high court fined Regencia of P40,000 for misconduct.
“Prompt disposition of cases is attained basically through the efficiency and dedication to duty of judges.
If judges do not possess those traits, delay in the disposition of cases is inevitable to the prejudice of the litigants,” the justices ruled.
But the high court pointed out that it allows extension of time to resolve cases since it is also mindful of the judges’ plight.