FACTS: Judge Jaime Vega Quitain was appointed Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 10, Davao City. Subsequent thereto, the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) received confidential information that administrative and criminal charges were filed against Judge Quitain in his capacity as then Assistant Regional Director, National Police Commission (NAPOLCOM), Regional Office 11, Davao City, as a result of which he was dismissed from the service. This fact did not appear in his Personal Data Sheet (PDS) submitted with his application as judge. Quitain explained that he was not aware of his administrative dismissal in NAPOLCOM. However, there were newspaper articles that even featured his ouster and his subsequent appeal to clear his name. Thus, the OCA recommended that: (1) the instant administrative case against respondent be docketed as an administrative matter; and (2) that he be dismissed from the service with prejudice to his reappointment to any position in the government, including government-owned or controlled corporations, and with forfeiture of all retirement benefits except accrued leave credits. When the case reaches the Supreme Court, Quitain tendered his resignation which was accepted without prejudice to the decision of the administrative case.
ISSUE#1: Does the resignation of the judge renders the administrative proceedings against him moot and academic?
[T]he resignation of Judge Quitain which was accepted by the Court without prejudice does not render moot and academic the instant administrative case. The jurisdiction that the Court had at the time of the filing of the administrative complaint is not lost by the mere fact that the respondent judge by his resignation and its consequent acceptance – without prejudice – by this Court, has ceased to be in office during the pendency of this case. The Court retains its authority to pronounce the respondent official innocent or guilty of the charges against him. A contrary rule would be fraught with injustice and pregnant with dreadful and dangerous implications. Indeed, if innocent, the respondent official merits vindication of his name and integrity as he leaves the government which he has served well and faithfully; if guilty, he deserves to receive the corresponding censure and a penalty proper and imposable under the situation.
ISSUE#2: (Judicial Ethics) Can the judge be excused of his omission in the PDS?
We cannot overemphasize the need for honesty and integrity on the part of all those who are in the service of the Judiciary. We have often stressed that the conduct required of court personnel, from the presiding judge to the lowliest clerk of court, must always be beyond reproach and circumscribed with the heavy burden of responsibility as to let them be free from any suspicion that may taint the Judiciary. We condemn, and will never countenance any conduct, act or omission on the part of all those involved in the administration of justice, which would violate the norm of public accountability and diminish or even just tend to diminish the faith of the people in the Judiciary.