By Sandy Araneta (The Philippine Star)
Updated October 03, 2010 12:00 AM
MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) found a Las Piñas regional trial court (RTC) judge guilty of impropriety and gross misconduct for sexually assaulting a woman who is a party in a land registration case he was hearing.
In a nine-page decision penned by Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and promulgated on Sept. 21, the SC found RTC Branch 197 Judge Manuel Duque guilty of violating the Code of Judicial Conduct.
The SC, acting as a full court, also fined Duque P40,000, which will be deducted from his retirement benefits.
Chief Justice Renato Corona and Associate Justices Conchita Carpio-Morales, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Mariano del Castillo, Roberto Abad, Martin Villarama Jr. and Maria Lourdes Sereno concurred with the decision.
“The conduct of Judge Duque fell short of the exacting standards for members of the judiciary. He failed to behave in a manner that would promote confidence in the judiciary,” the SC said in its decision.
The SC said the woman was a party-in-intervention in a land registration case.
Court records state that on Dec. 21, 2007, the woman went to Duque’s house in BF Almanza, Las Piñas. He reportedly instructed her to bring P80,000 to get a favorable ruling in the case.
When the woman showed up with only P18,000, Duque allegedly scolded her for not bringing the full amount. The woman said she had difficulty raising the amount.