Wednesday 20 March, 2019
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SC junks administrative case vs ex-CJ de Castro

The Supreme Court has dismissed an administrative complaint filed against retired chief justice Teresita J. Leonardo-de Castro “as there was no showing of prima facie case against her.”

“To hold a magistrate administratively liable for gross ignorance of the law, it is not enough that his or action was erroneous; it must also be proven that it was driven by bad faith, dishonesty, or ill motive,” the SC said in a nine-page resolution.

Penned by Associate Justice Marvic M.V.F Leonen, the SC further held that de Castro’s mandatory retirement on October 10, 2018 has rendered complainants’ administrative complaint moot.

The case stemmed from the complaint filed by Elvira N. Enalbes, Rebecca H. Angeles, and Estelita B. Ocampo, who accused de Castro of gross ignorance of the law, gross inefficiency, gross misconduct, gross dishonesty, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service for her alleged failure to decide, despite the lapse of more than five years, two separate petitions filed by spouses Eligio P. Mallari and Marcelina I. Mallari in 2012 and 2013, respectively.

The SC ruled that complainants’ arguments, which relied on Article VIII, Section 15 of the 1987 Constitution requiring the high court to decide on cases within 24 months from their submission, lack merit.

Citing the 1987 Constitution and the Internal Rules of Court, the SC stressed that treckoning of the 24-month period begins only when the last pleading, brief, or memorandum has been submitted.

Moreover, the Court held that “(w)hile the 24-month period provided under the 1987 Constitution is persuasive, it does not summarily bind this Court to the disposition of cases brought before it. It is a mere directive to ensure this Court’s prompt resolution of cases, and should not be interpreted as an inflexible rule,” citing the doctrine it laid down in Marcelino and De Roma.

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