The acting presiding judge of Pasig City court is accused of ruling in favour of an accused lawyer who happens to be her sorority sister.
University of Manila (UM) officials composed of Dr Emily Dodson, lawyer Diosdado D Madrid, Dean Joe Santos, Balagtas Bisquera and Dr Maria Corazon Ramona De Los Santos, accompanied by several UM students, yesterday sought the dismissal of Pasig City Court Branch 72 Acting Presiding Judge Marilou D Runes-Tamang before the Supreme Court.
They sued the judge for “gross ignorance of the law, rendering an unjust judgment and manifest and evident partiality in favor of the accused, Atty. Judith Z. Luis, who turned out to be (her) sorority sister in Lambda Rho Sigma-San Beda College of Law.”
The issue revolves around an earlier case filed in the Baguio Regional Trial Court by UM officials against lawyer Ernesto LI. De Los Santos (Ernesto), whom Luis represents, for qualified theft, a non-bailable offense. The Baguio court found Ernesto guilty and subsequently issued a warrant for his arrest.
Accused Ernesto, the complainant alleged, however succeeded in eluding arrest through the help of his lawyer, Luis. Because of this, the complainant sued Luis for three instances of obstruction of justice before the Office of the City Prosecutor of Pasig City in May 2013.
They argued: “…despite the fact that Atty. Luis very well knew that there is an outstanding warrant of arrest against her client Ernesto, thereby ‘harboring or concealing, or facilitating the escape of Ernesto, and hence by such act, knowingly and willfully obstructing, impeding frustrating or delaying the apprehension of Ernesto.”
The OCP-Pasig found sufficient ground “… that engenders a well-founded belief that respondent Judith Luis committed violation of the provisions of PD1829 and that she is probably guilty thereof and should be brought to trial.”
Luis admitted that she met Ernesto and had “personally notarized pleadings for and acted as counsel for Ernesto and neither did she deny … the existence of the warrant of arrest duly issued by the court.”
The OCP-Pasig said: “Wherefore it is resolved that respondent Judith Luis be charged with obstruction of justice and that the information be filed before the Metropolitan Trial Court of Pasig City.”
On October 21, 2013, Pasig Judge Gaerlan-Mejorada issued a warrant of arrest against Luis, but she quickly posted bail. While on bail, she sought for the inhibition of the Pasig judge and won. The case was re-raffled to Judge Christian Emmanuel G. Pimentel, but for reasons only known to him, also inhibited from the case until it was again re-raffled to Judge Marilou D. Runes-Tamang who reversed the earlier decision affirming Luis’ guilt.
The complainants told the SC: “…respondent judge has concealed and/or did not disclose (that she a sorority sister of Luis in the Lambda Rho Sigma-San Beda) … despite knowing fully well that the controversial and delicate nature of the case.”
The complainants are asking the SC to … dismiss Judge Runes-Tamang from service and or administratively sanctioned her for what she’s sued for.