By Rey Panaligan
A municipal trial court in cities (MTCC) judge has been dismissed by the Supreme Court (SC) for not inhibiting herself from but instead resolving cases involving a cooperative in which her husband was as a member of the board of directors.
Judge Analie C. Aldea Arocena of the MTCC in San Jose City, Nueva Ecija was ordered dismissed with forfeiture of her retirement benefits and perpetual disqualification from public service.
While the decision dismissing Arocena was issued late last year, the ruling was made public only on Monday (Feb. 17) by the SC’s public information office (PIO).
Last week, Chief Justice Diosdado M. Peralta rallied the country’s municipal trial court judges to fully support his reform initiatives of declogging court dockets and ridding the courts of misfits.
Peralta told officers and members of the Philippine Trial Judges League, Inc. (PTJLI) that the SC under his leadership is determined to “get rid of the misfits and those who are not conforming to the standards.”
He also said the declogging of court dockets is being implemented from the lowest courts to the SC.
A 2014 anonymous complaint against Arocena alleged that the judge “hears and decides on cases involving her husband Ferdinand, who is a member of the board of directors of a cooperative which has cases pending before her court.”
The complaint also stated that Arocena “mistreated the defendants and even went abroad in March 2009 without securing a travel authority from the SC.”
Resolving the complaint, the SC found that Arocena violated Sections 5(g), Canon 3, and Sections 1 and 4, Canon 4 of the 2004 Rules of Judicial Conduct and for gross ignorance of the law.
Aside from her dismissal, forfeiture of retirement benefits, and perpetual ban from public service, Arocena was also ordered to pay a fine of P30,000 for the less serious charges of violations of Section 1, Rule 137 of the Rules of Court, as amended, and of violation of reasonable office rules and regulations.
“In order to avoid a negative public perception, the right thing to do for a judge is to recuse from the case. However, Judge Arocena failed to do so in disregard of the canons on impartiality and propriety of the 2004 New Code on Judiciary Conduct,” the SC said.
“Coupled with her failure to recuse from the Self-Reliant Cooperative cases, the Court is led to the conclusion that Judge Arocena approved the unconscionable compromise agreements to favor the cooperative, of which her husband is a member of the board of directors. There is no other way to describe her conduct as gross ignorance of the law and abuse of authority.”