By: Marites Toledo
A judge who committed mistakes that should not be seen from an official of a court like her was dismissed by the Supreme Court.
In an 85-page decision promulgated on November 22 last year, but released to the public on Monday, pointed out that Judge Eliza Yu of MeTC Branch 47 was found by the Supreme Court guilty of gross insubordination, gross ignorance of the law, gross misconduct, grave abuse of authority, oppression, and displayed conducts of unbecoming a judicial official.
In the consolidated cases against Yu, the SC stressed to her the meaning of a judge saying “A judge embodies the law; she cannot be above it. She should not use it to advance her personal convenience, or to oppress others.”
“She should be obedient to the rules and directives enunciated by the Supreme Court for the effective administration of justice; otherwise, she becomes an arrogant tyrant. Being a magistrate of the law, she must comport herself in a manner consistent with the dignity of her judicial office, and must not commit any act that erodes public confidence in the Judiciary,” SC continued.
As this happened, the SC also ordered the forfeiture of all benefits of Yu, except for her accrued leave credits.
The SC, likewise, barred Yu from being reinstated, or appointed, to any public office or employment, including to any government-owned or government-controlled corporations (GOCCs).
In addition, the SC directed Yu to explain in writing within 10 days from notice why she should not be disbarred for violation of the Lawyer’s Oath, the Code of Professional Responsibility, and the Canons of Professional Ethics.
The Court has ordered that a copy of its decision be sent to the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) for information and guidance.
In 2011, the SC, through then-Chief Justice Renato Corona, issued A.O. No. 19-2011 directing the establishment of night courts in the MeTCs of Pasay City and Makati City in response to the Department of Tourism’s request for such tribunals for the expeditious hearing of cases involving night time apprehensions, special cases under the Rule on Summary Procedure, and criminal cases involving tourists.
Yu, however, refused to perform her duties at the night court and instead wrote Court Administrator Jose Midas P. Marquez questioning the AO.
She subsequently wrote the DOT to ask for additional compensation and security in case she undertakes night court duties while expressing her reservations about the order.
Yu’s continued refusal prompted the Pasay City Executive Judge to assign additional night court duties to the other MeTC Judges and their personnel.
In its decision, the SC said Yu “exhibited an unbecoming arrogance in committing insubordination and gross misconduct” by refusing to adhere to and abide by the AO.
“To tolerate her insubordination and gross misconduct is to abet lawlessness on her part. She deserved to be removed from the service because she thereby revealed her unworthiness of being part of the Judiciary,” the Court said.
The SC also took notice of Yu’s refusal to honor the “valid and regular” appointments of court personnel such as Leilani A. Tejero-Lopez as MeTC Branch 47 Branch Clerk of Court, saying she has no reason to reject them.
Other misdemeanors, which the SC found Yu to have committed oppressive conduct towards her staff, who claimed the judge constantly threatened them with administrative complaint; and disrespectful attitude towards co-judges, SC officers and offices by, among others, issuing a show cause order against them.
“The issuance of the show-cause order…represented clear abuse of court processes, and revealed her arrogance in the exercise of her authority as a judicial officer…..Nothing extenuated Judge Yu’s abuse of authority and arrogance,” the High Court said.
The SC ruled that Yu also displayed conduct unbecoming of a judge for constantly sending alarming messages with sexual undertones via Facebook and electronic mail to one of the complainants, who is also a judge.
While Yu sent the messages to the judge on Facebook and Yahoo in 2009 when she was still a public prosecutor, the SC said she could still be disciplined for such acts committed prior to appointment to the Judiciary since she stalked the judge she had messaged online even after she became a MeTC judge on January 2010 up until July that year.
Taken together, the SC said the “grossness and severity” of Yu’s actions have proven her “unfitness and incompetence to further discharge the office and duties of a Judge.”
In a separate opinion, SC Associate Justice Arturo Brion said that while he agrees with the Court’s ruling, he disagreed with the opinion that it cannot order Yu’s disbarment.
Brion said the SC could disbar Yu given the severity and grossness of the various administrative offenses she had committed.
Brion stressed that “Judge Yu had been accorded every opportunity to defend her professional standing as a lawyer sufficient to warrant the ultimate sanction of disbarment….Judge Yu is a disgrace to both the bench and the bar.”