Constitutional Law, Political Law

MACEDA v. VASQUEZ, ET AL. GR No. 102781 April 22, 1993 Supreme Court Administrative Supervision over all courts and court personnel

FACTS:

In his affidavit-complaint filed before the Office of the Ombudsman, respondent Napoleon A. Abiera of the Public Attorney’s Office alleged that petitioner Bonifacio Sanz Maceda, Presiding Judge of Branch 12 RTC Antique, had falsified his Certificate of Service dated February 6, 1989, by certifying “that all civil and criminal cases which have been submitted for decision or determination for a period of 90 days have been determined and decided on or before January 31, 1998,” when in truth and in fact, petitioner knew that no decision had been rendered in five (5) civil and ten (10) criminal cases that have been submitted for decision. 

Respondent Abiera further alleged that petitioner similarly falsified his certificates of service for the months of February, April, May, June, July and August, all in 1989; and the months beginning January up to September 1990, or for a total of seventeen (17) months.

Petitioner contends that the Ombudsman has no jurisdiction over said case,  since the offense charged arose from the judge’s performance of his official duties, which is under the control and supervision of the Supreme Court. 

Furthermore, the investigation of the Ombudsman constitutes an encroachment into the Supreme Court’s constitutional duty of supervision over all inferior courts.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the Office of the Ombudsman has jurisdiction to investigate offense committed by a Judge

RULING:

A judge who falsifies his certificate of service is administratively liable to the Supreme Court for serious misconduct and inefficiency under Section 1, Rule 140 of the Rules of Court, and criminally liable to the State under the Revised Penal Code for his felonious act.

However, We agree with petitioner that in the absence of any administrative action taken against him by this Court with regard to his certificates of service, the investigation being conducted by the Ombudsman encroaches into the Court’s power of administrative supervision over all courts and its personnel, in violation of the doctrine of separation of powers.

Article VIII, section 6 of the 1987 Constitution exclusively vests in the Supreme Court administrative supervision over all courts and court personnel, from the Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeals down to the lowest municipal trial court clerk. By virtue of this power, it is only the Supreme Court that can oversee the judges’ and court personnel’s compliance with all laws, and take the proper administrative action against them if they commit any violation thereof. 

No other branch of government may intrude into this power, without running afoul of the doctrine of separation of powers.

The Ombudsman cannot justify its investigation of petitioner on the powers granted to it by the Constitution, for such a justification not only runs counter to the specific mandate of the Constitution granting supervisory powers to the Supreme Court over all courts and their personnel, but likewise undermines the independence of the judiciary.

Thus, the Ombudsman should first refer the matter of petitioner’s certificates of service to this Court for determination of whether said certificates reflected the true status of his pending case load, as the Court has the necessary records to make such a determination. The Ombudsman cannot compel this Court, as one of the three branches of government, to submit its records, or to allow its personnel to testify on this matter, as suggested by public respondent Abiera in his affidavit-complaint.

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