Palawan judge fined P11k for using court as residence

The Supreme Court (SC) First Division fined a judge in Palawan for converting her sala into her residence

Judge Evelyn Cañete of the Brooke’s Point-Sofronio Española-Bataraza Municipal Circuit Trial Court (MCTC) refused to give any statement on the fine imposed on her by the SC for using her sala as her home for seven years.

Palawan News tried to seek her comment Wednesday, but Cañete refused to say anything on the decision that found her guilty for violating Administrative Circular 3-92 that was issued by the high tribunal.

“No comment ako diyan. Wala na, no comment,” Cañete said.

The penalty was contained in a seven-page ruling penned by Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo.

Cañete was warned of a more severe penalty if she commits the same violation again.

“There is always a price to pay for tainted offerings, however innocuous or harmless they may appear… The price is almost always a loss of integrity or at the very least compromised independence… That is a stiff price to pay, especially by a member of the judiciary, whose basic, irreducible qualification is unimpeachable integrity,” the SC ruling said.

The case against her was filed by court stenographer Edgar Abiog, who claimed it was a serious misconduct and dishonesty to the best interest of service.

SC records showed that Cañete first used her courtroom as her home in August 2011 whose utility bills are paid for by the municipal government.

The same records showed that  Cañete denied the allegations by claiming what the complainant was referring to was the space occupied earlier by the prosecutor, public attorney, and clerk of court.

She also added it was refurbished by the municipal government of Brooke’s Point as an expression of gratitude for her help, and that its use was advantageous to her as she often worked overtime.

But the Office of the Court Administrator said it found enough evidence that she “exploited” her position to relish the privileges she was given by the municipal government.

The SC also said it is not the obligation of the municipal government to allow her to live in her sala instead of giving her additional representation and transportation allowance (RATA).

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