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Padilla v Dizon AM 3086, 2/23/1988 SUMMARY: Gross negligence, gross ignorance, and serious misconduct against Judge Dizon

filed by Comissioner of Customs Alexander Padilla upon the formers acquittal of an accused who upon all tests of rationality is considered to be guilty of the charges presented against him. Special laws does not need intent. FACTS: 8/6/87: Complainant Padilla addresses complaint against Respondent Dizon for gross negligence, gross ingorance, and serious misconduct upon the latter's acquittal of Lo Chi Fai in the criminal case No. 8610126-P, entitled "People of the Philippines vs. Lo Chi Fai", offense charged: smuggling of foreign currency out of the country. 10/6/87: Respondent replied, citing years of spotless history as prosecutor and judge to counter complaint. A judge cannot be held to account or answer, criminally, civilly or administratively, for an erroneous decision rendered by him in good faith.

Antecendent Facts on Lo Chi Fai Case: 7/9/86: Lo Chi Fai was apprehended by customs guard and PAFSEFCOM carrying foreign currency and instruments amounting to US$ 355,349.57 in various currecy denominations without any authority provided by law. At the time Lo Chi Fai was apprehended, he was able to exhibit two currency declarations which he was supposed to have accomplished upon his arrival in Manila in previous trips, namely, CB Currency Declaration No. 05048, dated May 4, 1986 for US$39,600.00 and Japanese Yen 4,000,000.00, and CB Currency Declaration No. 06346, dated June 29, 1986 for Japanese Yen 6,600,000.00. Currency denominations were: Japanese Yen, Swiss Franc, Australian Dollar, Singapore Dollar, HFL Guilder, French Franc, U.S. Dollar, English Pound, Malaysian Dollar, Deutsche Mark, Canadian Dollar and Hongkong Dollar, without any authority as provided by law. On trial: Lo Chi Fai testified that he is a businessman from Kowloon, Hongkong. He came to the Philippines to do business and play casino. He brought $50,000.00 and 8.5M Yen (4/2/86) which he tried to declare but was refused by Central Bank until he can provide source. He brought $39,000.00 and 4M Yen (5/4/86) which he declared and then 8.6M Yen (6/28/86) which was also declared. Said declaration and circumstances were not disclosed to arresting customs officers because accused was not conversant and English, and he was not asked to disclose as such. Accused confessed that he was leaving the Philippines and taking the money for fear of the revolution of 2/86 spreading as per advise of his associates. Respondent-Judge Dizon acquitted Lo Chi Fai on the basis that such act exhibited by the then accused was bereft of intent or malice. ISSUE: Whether or not Judge Dizon committed gross negligence and gross incompetence w/o good faith upon his judgment acquitting Lo Chi Fai on the case "People of the Philippines v Lo Chi Fai" HELD: Yes, Respondent-Judge Dizon was negligent and exhibited gross incompetence upon his decision to acquit Lo Chi Fai. In the first place, in cases of special laws, such as that governing foreign currencies, intent is not needed or even material to the determination of guilt in the case . The mere act alone, whether it was dolo or culpa, suffices for charge and consequently, conviction of the crime. Second, the denominations and the amount total that was caught upon the accused Lo Chi Fai was

inconsistent with the declaration which the accused testified to. Respondent-Judge failed to acknowledge this fact, and closed his eyes to the fact that the very substantial amounts of foreign exchange found in the possession of the accused at the time of his apprehension consisted of personal checks of other people, as well as cash in various currency denominations (12 kinds of currency in all), which clearly belied the claim of the accused that they were part of the funds which he and his supposed associates had brought in and kept in the Philippines for the purpose of investing in some business ventures. The respondent ignored the fact that most of the CB Currency declarations presented by the defense at the trial were declarations belonging to other people which could not be utilized by the accused to justify his having the foreign exchange in his possession. Respondent-judge chose to believe on the fantastical tale of the accused rather than consult the evidence presented. These and other circumstances which make the story concocted by the accused so palpably unbelievable as to render the findings of the respondent judge obviously contrived to favor the acquittal of the accused, thereby clearly negating his claim that he rendered the decision "in good faith." His actuations in this case amount to grave misconduct prejudicial to the interest of sound and fair administration of justice. Third, Respondent-Judge not only acquitted the accused but also directed in his decision to release to the accused at least $3,000.00 in spite of the forfeiture proceedings already instituted by the Bureau of Customs. In invoking the provisions of CB Circular No. 960 to justify the release of US$ 3,000.00 to the accused, the respondent judge again displayed gross incompetence and gross ignorance of the law. There is nothing in the said CB Circular which could be taken as authority for the trial court to release the said amount of U.S. Currency to the accused. RULING: Court finds Respondent-Judge Dizon guilty of gross incompetence, gross ignorance of the law and grave and serious misconduct affecting his integrity and efficiency, and consistent with the responsibility of this Court for the just and proper administration of justice and for the attainment of the objective of maintaining the people's faith in the judiciary (People vs. Valenzuela, 135 SCRA 712), it is hereby ordered that the Respondent Judge be DISMISSED from the service. All leave and retirement benefits and privileges to which he may be entitled are hereby forfeited with prejudice to his being reinstated in any branch of government service, including government-owned and/or controlled agencies or corporations.