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Macariola vs Asuncion

Facts: When the decision in Civil Case No. 3010 rendered by respondent Hon. Judge Elias B.
Asuncion of Court of First Instance of Leyte became final on June 8, 1863 for lack of an appeal,
a project of partition was submitted to him which he later approved in an Order dated October
23, 1963. Among the parties thereto was complainant Bernardita R. Macariola. One of the
properties mentioned in the project of partition was Lot 1184. This lot according to the decision
rendered by Judge Asuncion was adjudicated to the plaintiffs Reyes in equal shares subdividing
Lot 1184 into five lots denominated as Lot 1184-A to 1184-E.
On July 31, 1964 Lot 1184-E was sold to Dr. Arcadio Galapon who later sold a portion of Lot
1184-E to Judge Asuncion and his wife Victoria Asuncion. Thereafter spouses Asuncion and
spouses Galapon conveyed their respective shares and interests in Lot 1184-E to the Traders
Manufacturing and Fishing Industries Inc. wherein Judge Asuncion was the president.
Macariola then filed an instant complaint on August 9, 1968 docketed as Civil Case No. 4234 in
the CFI of Leyte against Judge Asuncion with "acts unbecoming a judge" alleging that Judge
Asuncion in acquiring by purchase a portion of Lot 1184-E violated Article 1491 par. 5 of the
New Civil Code, Art. 14, pars. 1 and 5 of the Code of Commerce, Sec. 3 par. H of R.A. 3019,
Sec. 12 Rule XVIII of the Civil Service Rules and Canon 25 of the Canons of Judicial Ethics.
"Article 1491. The following persons cannot acquire by purchase, even at a public or judicial
action, either in person or through the mediation of another:
"(5) Justices, judges, prosecuting attorneys, clerks of superior and inferior courts, and other
officers and employees connected with the administration of justice, the property and rights in
litigation or levied upon an execution before the court within whose jurisdiction or territory they
exercise their respective functions; this prohibition includes the act of acquiring by assignment
and shall apply to lawyers, with respect to the property and rights which may be the object of
any litigation in which they may take part by virtue of their profession".
On November 2, 1970, Judge Jose Nepomuceno of the CFI of Leyte rendered a decision
dismissing the complaints against Judge Asuncion. After the investigation, report and
recommendation conducted by Justice Cecilia Munoz Palma of the Court of Appeals, she
recommended on her decision dated March 27, 1971 that Judge Asuncion be exonerated.
Issue: WON respondent judge violated Art. 1491 (5) of the NCC

Ruling: NO.
The prohibition in the aforesaid Article applies only to the sale or assignment of the property
which is the subject of litigation to the persons disqualified therein. WE have already ruled that
x x x for the prohibition to operate, the sale or assignment of the property must take place
during the pendency of the litigation involving the property.
In the case at bar, when the respondent Judge purchased on March 6, 1965 a portion of Lot 1184E, the decision in Civil Case No. 3010 which he rendered on June 8, 1963 was already final
because none of the parties therein filed an appeal within the reglementary period; hence, the lot
in question was no longer subject of the litigation. Moreover, at the time of the sale on March 6,
1965, respondents order dated October 23, 1963 and the amended order dated November 11,
1963 approving the October 16, 1963 project of partition made pursuant to the June 8, 1963
decision, had long become final for there was no appeal from said orders.