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Section 28, Article 2 (Policy of Full Public Disclosure); Article 3 and 6 of the Constitution

MARTIN LANTACO, SR., ESTEBAN DEL BARRIO, ROSALITO ALAMAG and BORROMEO
VITALIANO, complainants,
vs.
CITY JUDGE FRANCISCO R. LLAMAS, respondent.
A.M. No. 1037-CJ October 28, 1981

FACTS:

This is a verified letter-complaint addressed to the President (and this was referred by the Office
of the President to the Supreme Court) by jeepney drivers and residents of Pasay City against
Judge Llamas for "Backsliding and Grave Abuse of Discretion."

 On Jan. 8, 1975, criminal cases for estafa were filed against Ricardo Paredes, an officer
of the PASCAMASCON, an association of jeepney operators, for "non-remittance of
SSS contribution premiums."
 These cases were assigned to Judge Llamas. The defense moved to dismiss the cases
on the ground of insufficiency of evidence.
 At 9:45am on July 31, 1975, Judge Llamas' clerk of court, upon his instruction, read the
dispositive portion thereof acquitting Paredes of all 4 estafa cases on the ground of
reasonable doubt.
 According to complainants, after the reading of the decision, a recess was made by
Judge Llamas and they requested for a copy of the decision. They were told by Judge
Llamas that there are no more copy so they asked a xerox copy instead but Judge
Llamas told them that xerox copy is not permitted and just instructed his employee
(steno-typist) to type another copy for them. After going back to the office several times,
the complainants failed to get a copy of the Decision. They were told that the folder of
the case is at the house of Judge Llamas because the Judge is making
"CORRECTION." They wondered why a correction is being made when the decision has
already been rendered.
 The Supreme Court required Judge Llamas to comment on the complaint and also sent
a follow-up letter by registered mails and a tracer letter. The Bureau of Posts certified
that these follow-up letters were delivered to and received by the office of Judge Llamas.
 Finally, the Supreme Court received Judge Llamas' comment. His brief comment was
that the criminal cases were validly and properly decided, validly promulgated in the
presence of the accused, fiscal and Ginete and all complaining parties. The records of
the decision show that the accused signed the same and copies were furnished to the
accused and prosecuting fiscal.
 Judge Llamas also submitted a copy of the decision.

ISSUE:

1. Whether or not Judge Llamas committed grave abuse of authority Judge in refusing to
give the complainants a copy of his decision.
2. Whether or not Judge Llamas committed gross ignorance of the law
HELD:

1. YES.

Judge Llamas committed grave abuse of authority in refusing to give the complainants a copy of
his decision. The complainants were understandably interested in securing a copy of the
decision as they were the complaining witnesses in the criminal cases. The request was made
during office hours and was relayed personally to Judge Llamas. The decision in question was
already promulgated furnished to counsels, it was already part of the public record which the
citizen has a right to scrutinize. And if there was no more copy, the complainants were
amenable to a xerox copy, a copy of which is allowed to be given to interested parties upon
requestm duly certified as true copy of the original on file. What aggravates the situation is that
Judge Llamas, without just cause, denied complainants access to public records and gave them
a run-around, which is oppressive as it is arbitrary.

The New Constitution now expressly recognizes that the people are entitled to information on
matters of public concern and thus are expressly granted access to official records, as well as
documents of official acts, or transactions, or decisions, subject to such limitations imposed by
law (Article IV, Section 6, New Constitution). The incorporation of this right in the Constitution is
a recognition of the fundamental role of free exchange of information in a democracy. There can
be no realistic perception by the public of the nation's problems, nor a meaningful democratic
decision- making if they are denied access to information of general interest. Information is
needed to enable the members of society to cope with the exigencies of the times. As has been
aptly observed: Maintaining the flow of such information depends on protection for both its
acquisition and its dissemination since, if either process is interrupted, the flow inevitably
ceases.

2. YES.

As to the administrative nature, Judge Llamas committed several errors bordering on gross
ignorance of the law.

(1) Judge Llamas erred in concluding that the prosecution failed to prove that the accused,
despite repeated demands, refused and still refuses to remit the alleged collected premium
contributions and that if no demand was ever made, then estafa cound not prosper.

This need not be proved by the prosecution because the Social Security Act makes it the duty of
the employer to remit the contributions without need of any demand therefor by the employee.
To prove remittance, the employer can submit his records thereon or a certification from SSS as
to the fact of remittance of contributions.

(2) Judge Llamas likewise erred in concluding that "the Court is not convinced and could not
reasonably believe that there was a forced daily deductions or exaction of P0.50."
The Social Security Act provides that the employer shall deduct and withhold from such
employee's salaray the employee contribution in an amount corresponding to his salary. With
this legal obligation, Judge Llamas reasonable belief have no legal basis and support.

(3) Judge Llamas cried in finding that there is no employer-employee relationship between the
parties.

In a line of cases, the Court held that there exists an employer-employee relationship in a
boundary system arrangement. Since an employer-employee relationship subsists between the
jeepney owners/operators and jeepney drivers under the boundary system arrangement, SSS
coverage "shall be compulsory".

Decisions of the Supreme Court need not be proved as they are matters of judicial notice.
Ignorance of the law excuses no one (Art. 3, New Civil Code) and judicial decisions applying or
interpreting the law or the Constitution are part of the legal system (Art. 8, New Civil Code).

In recapitulation, Judge Llamas exhibited gross ignorance of the Social Security Act, particularly
governing SSS compulsory coverage.

The Supreme Court finds that Judge Llamas repeatedly ignored the Court's directive to file his
comment on the instant complaint within 10 days from receipt of the Court's 2nd indorsement,
necessitating the sending of 2 tracer letters. His failure to submit the comment is disrespect to
the Court as well as aggravated the delay in the speedy and orderly disposition of the
administrative complaint.

WHEREFORE, JUDGE LLAMAS IS HEREBY DISMISSED AS CITY JUDGE OF PASAY WITH


FORFEITURE OF ALL RETIREMENT PRIVILEGES AND WITH PREJUDICE TO
REINSTATEMENT TO ANY POSITION IN THE NATIONAL OR LOCAL GOVERNMENT,
INCLUDING GOCCs, AGENCIES OR INSTRUMENTALITIES. SO ORDERED.