Di naka-move on? SC bans Ilocos judge from gov’t for issuing rulings despite retirement

The Supreme Court (SC) has found former Laoag City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 13 Judge Philip Salvador guilty of gross ignorance of the law for continuing to decide on cases even after his optional retirement took effect on January 31, 2018.

But, the SC declined to declare the nullity of Salvador’s decisions in 25 cases. It ordered the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) to notify the affected parties and left it up to them to avail of the appropriate relief.

In a 12-page en banc decision, the SC forfeited Salvador’s retirement benefits and disqualified him from being employed in any government agency or corporation.

Salvador was found to have promulgated decisions as late as March 27, 2018, and even issued an entry of judgment in a land title case dated May 17, 2018. The sheer number of affected cases became basis for the SC to impose the harshest possible penalty.

“Jurisprudence states that when a judge retires, all his authority to decide any case, i.e., to write, sign and promulgate the decision thereon, also ‘retires’ with him,” read the decision penned by Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe.

“In other words, he had lost entirely his power and authority to act on all cases assigned to him prior to his retirement,” it added.

The SC also meted a P20,000 fine on Salvador for the separate offense of violation of SC rules, directives and circulars.

It noted that Salvador filed his application for optional retirement only nine days prior to its effectivity, instead of the six months required by Administrative Circular Number 43-2004.

Affected by Salvador’s misdeed were 10 cases before the Laoag RTC and 15 cases before the Batac City RTC Branch 17, where he served as acting judge.

The SC stressed that even decisions in criminal cases—seven convictions and two acquittals—could be nullified in the appropriate proceedings.

It clarified that double jeopardy would not bar the rendering of a valid decision because Salvador did not have “competent jurisdiction.”

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