You are on page 1of 11

382 SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED

Zuovs.Cabebe
*
A.M.OCANo.031800RTJ.November26,2004.
(FormerlyOCAIPINo.031675RTJ)

Chief State Prosecutor JOVENCITO R. ZUO, complainant, vs.


Judge ALEJADRINO C. CABEBE, Regional Trial Court, Branch
18,Batac,IlocosNorte,respondent.

Criminal Procedure Bails Under the present Rules, a hearing is


mandatory in granting bail whether it is a matter of right or discretion
Even in cases where there is no petition for bail, a hearing should still be
held.In DocenaCaspe vs. Judge Arnulfo O. Bugtas, we held that
jurisprudence is replete with decisions on the procedural necessity of a
hearing, whether summary or otherwise, relative to the grant of bail,
especially in cases involving offenses punishable by death, reclusion
perpetua, or life imprisonment, where bail is a matter of discretion. Under
the present Rules, a hearing is mandatory in granting bail whether it is a
matterofrightordiscretion.Itmustbestressedthatthegrantorthedenial
of bail in cases where bail is a matter of discretion, hinges on the issue of
whether or not the evidence of guilt of the accused is strong, and the
determinationofwhetherornottheevidenceisstrongisamatterofjudicial
discretion which remains with the judge. In order for the latter to properly
exercisehisdiscretion,hemustfirstconductahearingtodeterminewhether
the evidence of guilt is strong. In fact, even in cases where there is no
petitionforbail,ahearingshouldstillbeheld.

_______________

*THIRDDIVISION.

383

VOL.444,NOVEMBER26,2004 383

Zuovs.Cabebe
Same Same Rules outlining the duties of the judge in case an
application for bail is filed.In Cortes vs. Catral, we laid down the
following rules outlining the duties of the judge in case an application for
bail is filed: 1. In all cases whether bail is a matter of right or discretion,
notifytheprosecutorofthehearingoftheapplicationforbailorrequirehim
tosubmithisrecommendation(Section18,Rule114oftheRevisedRulesof
Criminal Procedure) 2. Where bail is a matter of discretion, conduct a
hearing of the application for bail regardless of whether or not the
prosecutionrefusestopresentevidencetoshowthattheguiltoftheaccused
is strong for the purpose of enabling the court to exercise its sound
discretion(Sections7and8,id.)3.Decidewhethertheguiltoftheaccused
isstrongbasedonthesummaryofevidenceoftheprosecution4.Iftheguilt
oftheaccusedisnotstrong,dischargetheaccusedupontheapprovalofthe
bailbond(Section19,id.)otherwisethepetitionshouldbedenied.
SameSameAfter the hearing, the courts order granting or refusing
bail must contain a summary of the evidence of the prosecution and based
thereon, the judge should formulate his own conclusion as to whether the
evidencesopresentedisstrongenoughtoindicatetheguiltoftheaccused.
Based on the abovecited procedure, after the hearing, the courts order
granting or refusing bail must contain a summary of the evidence of the
prosecution and based thereon, the judge should formulate his own
conclusion as to whether the evidence so presented is strong enough to
indicatetheguiltoftheaccused.
SameSameThefailuretoraiseortheabsenceofanobjectiononthe
partoftheprosecutioninanapplicationforbaildoesnotdispensewiththe
requirement of a bail hearing.Neither did respondent require the
prosecution to submit its recommendation on whether or not bail should be
granted.Hemaintainsthattheprosecutiondidnotobjecttothegrantofbail
to the accused, hence, he cannot be held administratively liable for not
conductingahearing.InSantosvs.Ofilada,weheldthatthefailuretoraise
ortheabsenceofanobjectiononthepartoftheprosecutioninanapplication
forbaildoesnotdispensewiththerequirementofabailhearing.
AdministrativeLawJudgesKnowinglyrendinganunjustjudgmentor
orderInordertobeheldliableforknowinglyrenderinganunjustjudgment
ororder,respondentjudgemusthaveactedin

384

384 SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED

Zuovs.Cabebe

bad faith, with malice or in willful disregard of the right of a litigant.It


bears reiterating that respondent is being charged with knowingly rendering
unjust judgment, gross ignorance of the law and partiality. We ruled that in
ordertobeheldliableforknowinglyrenderinganunjustjudgmentororder,
respondent judge must have acted in bad faith, with malice or in willful
disregardoftherightofalitigant.Aperusaloftherecords,specificallythe
assailedOrder,hardlyshowsthatanyoftheseincidentshasbeenproven.
SameSameGross Ignorance of the Law For liability to attach for
ignorance of the law, the assailed order of a judge must not only be
erroneous more important, it must be motivated by bad faith, dishonesty,
hatredorsomeothersimilarmotive.On the charge of gross ignorance of
the law, suffice it to say that to constitute such infraction, it is not enough
that the subject decision, order or actuation of the judge in the performance
ofhisofficialdutiesiscontrarytoexistinglawandjurisprudencebut,most
importantly,hemustbemovedbybadfaith,fraud,dishonestyorcorruption.
InGuillermovs.JudgeReyes,Jr.wecategoricallyheldthatgoodfaithand
absenceofmalice,corruptmotivesorimproperconsiderationsaresufficient
defenses in which a judge charged with ignorance of the law can find
refuge. In VillanuevaFabella vs. Lee, we ruled that a judge may not be
held administratively accountable for every erroneous order he renders. For
liabilitytoattachforignoranceofthelaw,theassailedorderofajudgemust
not only be erroneous more important, it must be motivated by bad faith,
dishonesty, hatred or some other similar motive. Complainant, having
failed to present positive evidence to show that respondent judge was so
motivated in granting bail without hearing, can not be held guilty of gross
ignoranceofthelaw.

ADMINISTRATIVEMATTERintheSupremeCourt.Knowingly
RenderingUnjustJudgment,GrossIgnoranceoftheLawand
Partiality.

ThefactsarestatedintheopinionoftheCourt.

385

VOL.444,NOVEMBER26,2004 385
Zuovs.Cabebe

SANDOVALGUTIERREZ,J.:
1
Theinstantadministrativecasestemmedfromthesworncomplaint
datedJanuary15,2003ofChiefStateProsecutorJovencitoR.Zuo2
oftheDepartmentofJustice,againstJudgeAlejandrinoC.Cabebe,
thenPresidingJudge,RegionalTrialCourt,Branch18,Batac,Ilocos
Norte. The charges are knowingly rendering an unjust judgment,
grossignoranceofthelawandpartiality.
In his complaint, Chief State Prosecutor Zuo alleged that
Criminal Case No. 395018 for illegal possession of prohibited or
regulateddrugswasfiledwiththeRegionalTrialCourt,Branch18,
Batac,IlocosNorteagainstReyDaquepArcangel,VictorinoGamet
Malabed, William Roxas Villanueva, all police officers, Jocelyn
Malabed Manuel and Pelagio Valencia Manuel. Upon arraignment,
alltheaccused,assistedbytheircounseldeparte,pleadednotguilty
tothecrimecharged.OnMarch14,2001,theprosecutionfiledwith
this Court a petition for change3 of venue but was denied in a
ResolutiondatedAugust13,2001.4 OnOctober8,2001,theaccused
filedamotionforreconsideration. Inthemeantime,theproceedings
beforerespondentscourtweresuspended.
OnMay6,2002,theaccusedfiledamotiontodismissinvoking
asgroundtherightoftheaccusedtoaspeedytrial.OnNovember5,
5
2002,respondentjudgemotuproprioissuedanOrder grantingbail
to the accused, fixing the bail for each at P70,000.00 in cash or
property bond at P120,000.00, except for accused Evelyn Manuel
whose bail was fixed at P20,000.00 in cash. Respondent judge
issued the Order without the accuseds application or motion for
bail.

_______________

1FiledwiththeOfficeoftheCourtAdministrator,Rolloatpp.110.

2CompulsorilyretiredfromtheJudiciaryonMarch26,2003.

3AnnexB,Rolloatp.14.

4AnnexC,id.,atpp.1517.

5Rolloatpp.1920.

386

386 SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Zuovs.Cabebe
6
Theprosecutionthenfiledamotionforreconsideration. Insteadof
acting thereon, respondent judge issued an order inhibiting himself
fromfurtherproceedingwiththecase,realizingthatwhathedidwas
patentlyirregular.Complainantthuspraysthatrespondentjudgebe
dismissed from the service with forfeiture of all benefits and be
disbarredfromthepracticeoflaw.
7
Inhiscomment, respondentdeniedthecharges.Whileadmitting
thatheissuedtheOrderdatedNovember5,2002grantingbailtothe
accused without any hearing, the same was premised on the
constitutional right of the accused to a speedy trial. There was
delayintheproceedingsduetocomplainantsfrequentabsencesand
failure of the witnesses for the prosecution to appear in court,
resultinginthecancellationofthehearings.Theprosecutiondidnot
8
object to the grant of bail to the accused. He added that the
administrativecomplaintfiledagainsthimispurelyharassment.Itis
nottheappropriateremedytoquestionhisallegederroneousOrder.
Accordingly, and considering his forty (40) years of government
service,hepraysthattheadministrativecomplaintbedismissed.
OnMarch26,2003,respondentjudgecompulsorilyretired.
In his Report dated July 7, 2003, Deputy Court Administrator
Jose P. Perez found respondent judge liable for gross ignorance of
the law and recommended that a fine of P20,000.00 be imposed
upon him, with a stern warning that a repetition of the same or
similaroffensewillbedealtwithmoreseverely.
9
In our Resolution dated August 25, 2003, we directed that the
complaint be redocketed as a regular administrative matter and
requiredthepartiestomanifestwhethertheyare

_______________

6Id.,atpp.2128.

7Id.,atpp.3946.

8SupplementalComment,Rolloatpp.5052.

9Id.,at61.

387

VOL.444,NOVEMBER26,2004 387
Zuovs.Cabebe

submittingthecaseforresolutiononthebasisofthepleadingsfiled.
Both parties submitted the required manifestations that they are
submittingthecasefordecisiononthebasisoftherecords. 10
In DocenaCaspe vs. Judge Arnulfo O. Bugtas, we held that
jurisprudenceisrepletewithdecisionsontheproceduralnecessityof
a hearing, whether summary or otherwise, relative to the grant of
bail, especially in cases involving offenses punishable by death,
reclusionperpetua, or life imprisonment, where bail is a matter of
discretion. Under the present Rules, a hearing is mandatory
11
in
grantingbailwhetheritisamatterofrightordiscretion. Itmustbe
stressedthatthegrantorthedenialofbailincaseswherebailisa
matter of discretion, hinges on the issue of whether or not the
evidenceofguiltoftheaccusedisstrong,andthedeterminationof
whether or not the evidence is strong is a matter of judicial
discretion which remains with the judge. In order for the latter to
properly exercise his discretion, he must first conduct
12
a hearing to
determinewhethertheevidenceofguiltisstrong. Infact,evenin
cases13 where there is no petition for bail, a hearing should still be
held.
There is no question that respondent judge granted bail to the
accusedwithoutconductingahearing,inviolationofSections8and
18,Rule114oftheRevisedRulesofCriminalProcedure,quotedas
follows:

_______________
10 A.M. No. RTJ031767, March 28, 2003, 400 SCRA 37, citing Directo vs.
Bautista,346SCRA223(2000)Peoplevs.Cabral,303SCRA361(1999)Bascovs.
Rapatalo,269SCRA220(1997).
11Tevs.Perez,A.M.No.MTJ001286,January21,2002,374SCRA130.

12MarzanGelaciovs.Flores,A.M.No.RTJ991488,June20,2000,334SCRA1,

12, citing Aleria, Jr. vs. Velez, 298 SCRA 611 (1998) Basco vs. Rapatalo, supra
Almeronvs.Sardido,281SCRA415(1997).
13Directovs.Bautista,supra.

388

388 SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Zuovs.Cabebe

Sec. 8. Burden of proof in bail application.At the hearing of an


application for bail filed by a person who is in custody for the commission
ofanoffensepunishablebydeath,reclusionperpetua,orlifeimprisonment,
the prosecution has the burden of showing that evidence of guilt is strong.
The evidence presented during the bail hearing shall be considered
automatically reproduced at the trial but, upon motion of either party, the
court may recall any witness for additional examination unless the latter is
dead,outsidethePhilippines,orotherwiseunabletotestify.
Sec.18.Noticeofapplicationtoprosecutor.Intheapplicationforbail
under section 8 of this Rule, the court must give reasonable notice of the
hearing to the prosecutor or require him to submit his recommendation.
(18a)
14
InCortesvs.Catral, welaiddownthefollowingrulesoutliningthe
dutiesofthejudgeincaseanapplicationforbailisfiled:

1. Inall cases whether bail is a matter of right or discretion,


notify the prosecutor of the hearing of the application for
bailorrequirehimtosubmithisrecommendation(Section
18,Rule114oftheRevisedRulesofCriminalProcedure)
2. Where bail is a matter of discretion, conduct a hearing of
the application for bail regardless of whether or not the
prosecution refuses to present evidence to show that the
guiltoftheaccusedisstrongforthepurposeofenablingthe
courttoexerciseitssounddiscretion(Sections7and8,id.)
3. Decidewhethertheguiltoftheaccusedisstrongbasedon
thesummaryofevidenceoftheprosecution
4. If the guilt of the accused is not strong, discharge the
accused upon the approval of the bail bond (Section 19,
id.)otherwisethepetitionshouldbedenied.

Based on the abovecited procedure, after the hearing, the courts


order granting or refusing bail must contain a summary of the
evidenceoftheprosecutionandbasedthereon,
_______________

14 A.M. No. RTJ971387, September 10, 1997, 279 SCRA 1, citing Basco vs.
Rapatalo,supraemphasisanditalicssupplied.

389

VOL.444,NOVEMBER26,2004 389
Zuovs.Cabebe

the judge should formulate his own conclusion as to whether the


evidence15so presented is strong enough to indicate the guilt of the
accused.
RespondentjudgedidnotfollowtheaboveRulesandprocedure
16
enumerated in Cortes. He did not conduct a hearing before he
granted bail to the accused, thus depriving the prosecution of an
opportunitytointerposeobjectionstothegrantofbail.Irrespective
ofhisopiniononthestrengthorweaknessofevidencetoprovethe
guilt of the accused, he should have conducted a hearing and
thereaftermadeasummaryoftheevidenceoftheprosecution.The
importanceofabailhearingandasummaryofevidencecannotbe
downplayed,theseareconsideredaspectsofproceduraldueprocess
forboththeprosecutionandthedefenseitsabsencewillinvalidate
17
thegrantordenialofbail.
Neither did respondent require the prosecution to submit its
recommendationonwhetherornotbailshouldbegranted.
He maintains that the prosecution did not object to the grant of
bailtotheaccused,hence,hecannotbeheldadministrativelyliable
fornotconductingahearing.18
In Santos vs. Ofilada, we held that the failure to raise or the
absence of an objection on the part of the prosecution in an
applicationforbaildoesnotdispensewiththerequirementofabail
hearing.Thus

Even the alleged failure of the prosecution to interpose an objection to the


granting of bail to the accused will not justify such grant without hearing.
ThisCourthasuniformlyruledthatevenif

_______________

15MarzanGelaciovs.Flores,supra.

16Supra.

17Narcisovs.Sta.RomanaCruz,G.R.No.134504,March17,2000,328SCRA505.

18 A.M. RTJ941217, June 16, 1995, 245 SCRA 56 citing Aguirre vs. Belmonte, 237
SCRA778 (1994) Borinaga vs. Tamin,226 SCRA 206 (1993) Libarios vs. Dabalos, 199
SCRA48 (1991) Tucay vs. Domagas,A.M. No. RTJ951286, March 2, 1995, 242 SCRA
110.

390
390 SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Zuovs.Cabebe

theprosecutionrefusestoadduceevidenceorfailstointerposeanyobjection
tothemotionforbail,itisstillmandatoryforthecourttoconductahearing
or ask searching and clarificatory questions from which it may infer the
strengthoftheevidenceofguilt,orlackofit,againsttheaccused.Wherethe
prosecutor refuses to adduce evidence in opposition to the application to
grantandfixbail,thecourtmayasktheprosecutionsuchquestionsaswould
ascertain the strength of the States evidence or judge the adequacy of the
amountofbail.Irrespectiveofrespondentjudgesopinionthattheevidence
of guilt against the accused is not strong, the law and settled jurisprudence
demand that a hearing be conducted before bail may be fixed for the
temporaryreleaseoftheaccused,ifbailisatalljustified.
Thus, although the provincial prosecutor had interposed no objection to
the grant of bail to the accused, the respondent judge therein should
neverthelesshavesetthepetitionforbailforhearinganddiligentlyascertain
from the prosecution whether the latter was not in fact contesting the bail
application. In addition, a hearing was also necessary for the court to take
intoconsiderationtheguidelinessetforthinthethenSection,6,Rule114of
the 1985 Rules of Criminal Procedure for the fixing of the amount of the
bail, Only after respondent judge had satisfied himself that these
requirementshavebeenmetcouldhethenproceedtoruleonwhetherornot
tograntbail.

Clearly, therefore, respondent judge cannot seek refuge on the


alleged absence of objection on the part of the prosecution to the
grantofbailtotheaccused.
Respondentjudgecontendsthattheaccusedwereentitledtotheir
righttoaspeedytrial,hence,hegrantedbailwithoutahearing.He
blamestheprosecutionforthedelay.
Respondentscontentionisbereftofmerit.Thereisnoindication
in the records of the criminal case that the prosecution has
intentionallydelayedthetrialofthecase.Evenassumingtherewas
delay,thisdoesnotjustifythegrantofbailwithoutahearing.Thisis
utter disregard of the Rules. The requirement of a bail hearing has
beenincessantlystressedbythisCourt.Inthesamevein,theCode
ofJudicialConductenjoinsjudgestobeconversantwiththelawand
theRulesandmain

391

VOL.444,NOVEMBER26,2004 391
Zuovs.Cabebe

tain professional competence and by the very nature of his office,


should be circumspect in the performance of his duties. He must
render justice without resorting to shortcuts clearly uncalled for.
Obviously,respondentfailedtoliveuptothesestandards.
It bears reiterating that respondent is being charged with
knowingly rendering unjust judgment, gross ignorance of the law
andpartiality.Weruledthatinordertobeheldliableforknowingly
renderinganunjustjudgmentororder,respondentjudgemusthave
actedinbadfaith,withmaliceorinwillfuldisregardoftherightofa
19
litigant. A perusal of the records, specifically the assailed Order,
hardlyshowsthatanyoftheseincidentshasbeenproven.
Onthechargeofgrossignoranceofthelaw,sufficeittosaythat
to constitute such infraction, it is not enough that the subject
decision, order or actuation of the judge in the performance of his
officialdutiesiscontrarytoexistinglawandjurisprudencebut,most
importantly,20
he must be moved by bad faith, fraud,
21
dishonesty or
corruption. In Guillermo vs. Judge Reyes, Jr. we categorically
held that good faith and absence of malice, corrupt motives or
improper considerations are sufficient defenses in which a judge
charged with ignorance
22
of the law can find refuge.InVillanueva
Fabella vs. Lee, we ruled that a judge may not be held
administratively accountable for every erroneous order he renders.
Forliabilitytoattachforignoranceofthelaw,theassailedorderofa
judge must not only be erroneous more important, it must be
motivated by bad faith, dishonesty, hatred or some other similar
motive.Complainant,havingfailedtopresentpositiveevidenceto
showthatrespondentjudgewassomotivatedin

_______________

19Sacmarvs.JudgeAgnesReyesCarpio,A.M.No.RTJ031766,March28,2003,

400SCRA32.
20HeirsoftheLateNasserD.Yasinvs.Felix,A.M.No.RTJ941167,December4,

1995,250SCRA545.
21A.M.No.RTJ931088,January18,1995,240SCRA154.

22A.M.No.MTJ041518,January15,2004,419SCRA440.

392

392 SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Zuovs.Cabebe

granting bail without hearing, can not be held guilty of gross


ignoranceofthelaw.
Astothechargeofpartiality,wefindnoevidencetosustainthe
same. It is merely based on complainants speculation. Mere
suspicionthatajudgeispartialisnotenough.Thereshouldbeclear
andconvincingevidencetoprovethischarge.Theonlyexceptionto
the rule is when the error is so gross and patent as to produce an

23
ineluctableinferenceofbadfaithandmalice, whicharenotpresent
23
ineluctableinferenceofbadfaithandmalice, whicharenotpresent
here.
We thus find respondent judge guilty of violation of Supreme
CourtRules,specificallyRule114oftheRevisedRulesofCriminal
Procedure on the grant of bail. This administrative offense is
consideredalessseriouscharge,punishableunderSection9(4)and
Section11(B2),Rule140ofthesameRules,thus:

Sec.9.LessSeriousCharges.Lessseriouschargesinclude:
xxx
4.ViolationofSupremeCourtRules,directives,andcirculars
xxx
Sec.11.Sanctions.xxx
B. If the respondent is guilty of a less serious charge, any of the
followingsanctionsshallbeimposed:
1. Suspension from office without salary and other benefits for not less
thanone(1)normorethanthree(3)monthsor
2.AfineofmorethanP10,000.00butnotexceedingP20,000.00.

WHEREFORE, respondent Judge Alejandrino C. Cabebe, now


retired, is found guilty of violation of Supreme Court Rules and is
herebyfinedinthesumofTwentyThousand

_______________

23 Philippine Geriatrics Foundation, Inc. vs. Layosa, A.M. No. MTJ001249,


September4,2001,364SCRA287.

393

VOL.444,NOVEMBER26,2004 393
Alcarazvs.Lindo

Pesos (P20,000.00), the same to be deducted from his retirement


benefits.
SOORDERED.

Panganiban(Chairman),CarpioMoralesandGarcia, JJ.,
concur.
Corona,J.,OnLeave.

Judge Alejandrino C. Cabebe meted with a P20,000.00 fine for


violationofSupremeCourtRules.

Note.Judge is mandated to conduct a hearing even in cases


where the prosecution chooses to just file a comment or leave the
applicationforbailtothediscretionofthecourt.(Goodmanvs.De
laVictoria,325SCRA658[2000])
o0o

Copyright2017CentralBookSupply,Inc.Allrightsreserved.