Mar 15, 2021 @ 14:17

SC junks admin case versus fiscal, cites news report about assassination

In a rare move, the Supreme Court (SC) has dismissed the administrative case against Masbate provincial prosecutor Mary Ann Castro and taken judicial notice of news reports about her January 17, 2019 assassination without being prompted by the parties.

In a 6-page minute resolution on A.C. No. 9086 dated December 9, the SC 1st Division “dispensed with” the Integrated Bar of the Philippines’ (IBP) resolutions recommending her suspension for 3 months for taking confidential court records without proper authority.

The SC had not often taken judicial notice of news reports, expecting that the IBP be formally informed of such deaths before putting administrative cases to rest.

As recently as last September 8, the SC disbarred Manolo Zerna for leaving his wife and children to live with his mistress even though he had been dead for eight years—he was gunned down in front of the mistress and their son on August 5, 2012.

But, in the case of Castro—who was shot dead while driving in Cebu City—the SC opted not to resolve her administrative case.

It cited “the presence of exceptional circumstances in the case on the grounds of equitable and humanitarian reasons” and said it “may also depend on the kind of penalty” that was supposed to be imposed.

“In view of the untimely death of respondent Atty. Mary Ann Castro-Roa, for equitable and humanitarian reasons, and due to the impossibility of imposing the corresponding penalty, this Court finds it inappropriate to impose a sanction upon her,” read the minute resolution signed by Division Clerk of Court Librada Buena.

The case arose from a September 10, 2005 complaint filed by Jake Yu against Castro, who was then Assistant Proseecutor of the Cebu City Prosecutor’s Office, for violation of Canons 1, 7, 10 and 11 of the Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR).

Yu said Castro was the private complainant in a case filed against him before the Cebu City Metropolitan Trial Court in Cities (MTCC) in connection with a July 10, 2004 traffic incident.

He accused Castro of taking the MTCC records and detaching his photos from his bail application without the court’s permission; the act was witnessed by several court staff.

When ordered by the MTCC judge to show cause, Castro admitted that she took the photos but forgot to ask permission because she was rushing out to attend mass. Yu said Castro only returned one of the photographs and his front view photo was now missing from the records.

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