SC dismisses judge who issued orders favoring Delfin Lee

MANILA, Philippines – For issuing orders favorable to detained Globe Asiatique president Delfin Lee, a Pasig trial court judge was ordered dismissed from service after being found guilty of gross ignorance of the law.

On Tuesday, July 26, the Supreme Court (SC) magistrates unanimously ordered the dismissal from service and forfeiture of retirement benefits of Pasig City Regional Trial Court Branch 167 Judge Rolando Mislang.

This stems from the administrative complaints filed by the Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF) and the Department of Justice (DOJ), based on the orders issued by the Pasig judge in 2011.

By issuing the orders, Mislang had stopped the DOJ from investigating and filing information on the syndicated estafa charges that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Anti-Graft Division had recommended against Lee and several others over their alleged involvement in a fraudulent housing scam.

Lee and several others are accused of using ghost borrowers to obtain billions of pesos in housing loans.

In July 2011, Lee sought to suspend the DOJ's preliminary investigation and the filing of information against him. Mislang granted his petition, issuing orders dated August 16, 2011 and August 26, 2011.

The HDMF and the DOJ then filed complaints against Mislang, saying the judge acted "in patent disregard of the rules on injunctive relief and prejudicial question, exhibited gross ignorance of the law and/or procedure, and manifested partiality and gross misconduct in issuing the assailed orders."

The Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) reviewed the case and recommended that Mislang be found guilty of gross ignorance of the law.

The SC decided to adopt the OCA's recommendation, saying that Mislang's issuance of the orders "did not satisfy the legal requisites for their issuance, in gross violation of clearly established laws and procedures which every judge has the duty and obligation to be familiar with."

Mislang failed to apply the principles and rules on the prematurity of the petition, the inapplicability of the prejudicial question, and the lack of jurisdiction of the court.

It added, "His persistent disregard of well-known elementary rules in favor of Lee clearly reflects his bad faith and partiality."

The SC also noted that this was not the first time Mislang had been meted penalties, saying that the judge had been facing a "seemingly endless string of administrative charges since April 2007."

Mislang had already been found guilty of gross ignorance of the law on two previous occasions and slapped with fines and a suspension.

"Considering Judge Mislang's obstinate refusal to correct his ways despite previous warnings, the Court is constrained to impose the penalty of dismissal in this case," the SC said. –