SC dismisses erring Pasay MeTC judge
MANILA, Jan. 1 (PNA) — The Supreme Court (SC) ordered ordered the immediate dismissal from service of a Pasay City Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC) Judge over several violations including non-compliance with the high court’s Administrative Order (A.O.) No. 19-2011 establishing night courts and sending of lewd messages to a fellow judge.
In an 85-page per curiam decision in the consolidated cases promulgated on Nov. 22, 2016 and relased to media on Dec. 28, the Court found Judge Eliza B. Yu, of MeTC, Branch 47, Pasay City, guilty of gross insubordination, gross ignorance of the law, gross misconduct, grave abuse of authority, oppression, and conduct unbecoming of a judicial official and ordered the forfeiture of all her benefits, except accrued leave credits.
The Court barred her from reinstatement or appointment to any public office or employment, including to one in any government-owned or government-controlled corporations.
Likewise, the Court directed Yu to show cause in writing within 10 days from notice why she should not be disbarred for violation of the Lawyer’s Oath, the Code of Professional Responsibility, and the Canons of Professional Ethics. It ordered that its decision be furnished to the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) for its information and guidance.
In 2011, the Court, through then Chief Justice Renato C. Corona, issued A.O. No. 19-2011, in response to the specific request of the Department of Tourism (DOT), to establish night courts in the MeTCs of Pasay City and Makati City to expeditiously hear and try cases involving night time apprehensions, special cases under the Rule on Summary Procedure, and criminal cases involving tourists.
Judge Yu, however, when assigned night court duties, refused and instead wrote to Court Administrator Jose Midas P. Marquez and questioned the Court issuance. Subsequently, she also wrote to the DOT and, while discussing her reservations, also asked for additional compensation and security in case she would undertake night court duties.
The Court said that Judge Yu exhibited an unbecoming arrogance in committing insubordination and gross misconduct, thus: “By her refusal to adhere to and abide by A.O. No. 19-2011, she deliberately disregarded her duty to serve as the embodiment of the law at all times.…To tolerate her insubordination and gross misconduct is to abet lawlessness on her part. She deserved to be removed from the service because she thereby revealed her unworthiness of being part of the Judiciary.”
The High Court also cited Judge Yu’s refusal to honor the “valid and regular” appointments of court personnel, stressing that “Judge Yu had no good reason to reject the appointments.” Among these was the appointment of complainant Leilani A. Tejero-Lopez as MeTC Branch 47 Branch Clerk of Court.
Other infractions were Yu’s oppressive conduct towards her staff, who claimed that Yu had constantly threatened them with administrative complaint, and disrespectful attitude towards co-judges, SC officers and offices.
The Court held that Judge Yu abused her authority by issuing a show-cause order against her fellow judges. “The issuance of the show-cause order…represented clear abuse of court processes, and revealed her arrogance in the exercise of her authority as a judicial officer…..Nothing extenuated Judge Yu’s abuse of authority and arrogance. Instead of accepting the error of her ways, Judge Yu defended her conduct by insisting on having the authority to initiate contempt proceedings against her fellow Judges and court personnel.”
Yet another violation was her conduct unbecoming of a judge for constantly sending alarming messages with sexual undertones via Facebook and electronic mail to one of the complainants, a fellow Judge. While Judge Yu gave an alibi of denial, the Court said that “[t]he denial lacked persuasion.”
The Court added that while it was notable the Facebook and Yahoo messages started in 2009 when Yu was still then a public prosecutor, she could still be disciplined for such acts committed prior to appointment to the Judiciary because her internet stalking of her fellow judge continued after she herself had become an MeTC Judge in Pasay in January 2010 until July 2010.
“The grossness and severity of her offenses taken together demonstrated Judge Yu’s unfitness and incompetence to further discharge the office and duties of a Judge. Her arrogance and insubordination in challenging A.O. No. 19-2011, and her unyielding rejection of the appointments of court personnel constituted gross insubordination and gross misconduct, and warranted her immediate dismissal from the Judiciary. Her requiring her fellow Judges to submit to her authority by virtue of her show-cause order, whereby she revealed her utter disrespect towards and disdain for them, as well as her conduct unbecoming of a judiciary officer aggravated her liability. The administration of justice cannot be entrusted to one like her who would readily ignore and disregard the laws and policies enacted by the Court to guarantee justice and fairness for all,” the Court held.
SC Justice Arturo D. Brion wrote a concurring and dissenting opinion and said that while he concurred with the ponencia’s findings and conclusions, he disagreed, however, on the part that the Court cannot yet order her disbarment. Justice Brion opined the Court can properly disbar Judge Yu given the severity and grossness of the various administrative offenses she had committed. He said: “Judge Yu had been accorded every opportunity to defend her professional standing as a lawyer sufficient to warrant the ultimate sanction of disbarment….Judge Yu is a disgrace to both the bench and the bar.” (PNA)