Monday 24 September, 2018
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SC nixes OCA’s gross ignorance complaint versus Makati judge over ‘indefinite’ TRO

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The Supreme Court (SC) has dismissed the Office of the Court Administrator’s (OCA) complaint against a Makati City judge whose 20-day temporary restraining order (TRO) contained the words “until further orders from this Court.”

In a recent 8-page decision, the SC 3rd Division said Makati City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 62 Judge Selma Alaras was not in bad faith and could not be held liable for gross ignorance of the law.

The SC rejected the OCA’s recommendation to impose a P10,000 fine on Alaras for causing confusion in her November 13, 2012 order to temporarily stop the foreclosure of the mortgaged property of LSD Construction Corporation (LSDCC).

LSDCC’s officers Cresenciano and Nova Pitogo had complained that Mandaue City RTC sheriff Teofilo Soon, Jr., violated the TRO by proceeding with the auction sale of their property in June 2013 without an order from the Makati RTC, despite the TRO having lapsed after 20 days.

But, the SC pointed out that Alaras’s TRO already stated that it would be effective “within a period of twenty days from date hereof,” even if the phrase “or until further orders from this Court” was added.

The phrase “was an obvious surplusage and clearly unnecessary,” but the SC said Alaras’s TRO “cannot be regarded as grossly erroneous,” because it cannot be considered indefinite.

The SC added that the parties did not seek any clarification from Alaras, “denoting that such party understood the extent of the effectivity of the TRO.”

“Moreover, the TRO issued by Judge Alaras was not shown to have been issued in bad faith,” read the decision penned by Associate Justice Lucas Bersamin.

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