SC suspends Bukidnon court interpreter over poor English

The Supreme Court (SC) has suspended a Malaybalay City, Bukidnon, court interpreter for 3 months without pay because of her poor command of the English language, carelessness and frequent errors in interpreting testimonies given in open court.

In a recent 6-page decision, the SC 1st Division found Emiliana Lumilang of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 10 guilty of inefficiency and incompetence in the performance of her duties.

Although the case arose from an anonymous complaint, the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) said clerk of court Iris Tumampos-Panganiban and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines’ (IBP) provincial chapter president Isidro Caracol attested to Lumilang’s recklessness and mistakes.

The OCA found that Lumilang was given an “unsatisfactory” rating for the period of January to June 2009 and was already called out by lawyers about the problem.

The SC said Lumilang failed to refute the allegations. It brushed aside her reasoning that her work requires her to respond spontaneously to statements given during hearings.

“An erroneous interpretation of testimonies given in open court, no matter how innocent, is fatal as it could affect the outcome of the case: it can either put an innocent man in jail or let a guilty offender go scot-free,” stressed the decision penned by Associate Justice Amy Lazaro-Javier.

The SC, however, decided to “temper the harshness of its judgment with mercy,” given that this was Lumilang’s first infraction.

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