Sep 23, 2020 @ 8:04

Pasay gov’t HR head absolved over missed hearing; SC says court hastily cited him in contempt

The Supreme Court (SC) has cleared Pasay City Human Resource Management Office (HRMO) Head Maverick Sevilla of administrative liability in connection with his failure to appear as prosecution witness in a criminal case before a local court.

In a recent 6-page minute resolution, the SC Special 2nd Division dismissed the administrative complaint against Sevilla for lack of merit.

The SC said the Pasay City Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC) Branch 45 “hastily” cited Sevilla in indirect contempt on November 16, 2017, the day of the hearing for which he was subpoenaed.

The SC said the MeTC had not issued a show cause order and given Sevilla the chance to explain his absence during the hearing on the case of Virgilio Abenoja, Jr., who allegedly pretended to be a traffic enforcer.

Sevilla later explained that when he received the subpoena duces tecum on November 9, 2017, he wrote a note instructing Iluminada Any to comply as his representative.
However, she failed to attend the hearing because she was feeling sick; she allegedly did not tell the office about her absence.

Satisfied, the MeTC set aside its indirect contempt order that slapped Sevilla with a P5,000 fine—but not before triggering disciplinary proceedings before the Office of the Bar Confidant (OBC).

The SC adopted the OBC’s recommendation to terminate the case. It said: “Indeed, the court cannot decide summarily the charge of indirect contempt. It must give the respondent the chance to defend oneself and have a day in court.”

Besides the non-observance of the required procedure, the SC noted that Sevilla gave a “satisfactory explanation” for his non-appearance.

“Definitely, in the absence of any contumacious refusal to comply with the order of the court, the MeTC had no reason to adjudge Atty. Sevilla guilty of indirect contempt,” read the minute resolution signed by Deputy Division Clerk of Court Teresita Aquino Tuazon.

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