Cebu City, Philippines – Chief Justice Reynato Puno on Monday designated four judges from outside Cebu City to replace the four judges of the Municipal Trial Courts in Cities (MTCC) who have been placed under preventive suspension pending investigation of their role in the alleged irregularity in the solemnization of civil marriages.
The new judges in charge are Veronico Sardoncillo from the Municipal Trial Court of Minglanilla, Glynda Go of MTC San Fernando, Delfin Decierdo of MTC Sibonga and Carlos Fernando of MTC Branch 2 of Mandaue City.
They are expected to report to their new assignments on Tuesday.
Puno’s order was received yesterday afternoon by judicial supervisor Rullyn Garcia, who heads the nine-man sent by Puno to Cebu to investigate the alleged marriage scam ongoing in some courts in Cebu City.
In the morning, Garcia served the preventive suspension orders on Judges Anatalio Necessario (Branch 2), Gil Acosta (Branch 3), Rosabella Tormis (Branch 4) and Edgemelo Rosales (Branch 8).
Sardoncillo will handle Necessario’s courtroom while Go will take over Acosta’s. Fernando will replace Tormis and Decierdo was assigned to Rosales’ sala.
Puno, in his order, instructed the new judges to continue handling the four MTCCs until further notice from the Supreme Court.
The suspended judges were given 10 days to answer charges of corruption, dishonesty, gross ignorance of the law and deliberate violation of the law on marriage.
The pre-audit team is looking into the reports that some Cebu courts charged beyond the P300 in solemnization fees to fast track arrangement for the wedding rites.
Some court personnel were involved in collecting “package fees” from P1,500 to P15,000 to arrange civil marriages solemnized by the judge.
Initial findings of the Supreme Court pre-audit team showed that there were some discrepancies in the 643 marriage certificates so far examined. The wedding rites were officiated by Acosta, Rosales, Tormis and Necessario.
The preventive suspension of the four judges was served after the flag raising ceremony on Monday at the Marcelo Fernan Hall of Justice.
Garcia said the order was received by the judges’ Clerks of Courts because the four did not report for work. Garcia was assisted by MTCC Executive Judge Oscar Andrino in serving the suspension order.
The judicial supervisor said suspension order should not be described as an injustice to Necessario, Acosta, Tormis and Rosales.
“The injustice will only come in if they are not given a chance to air their side.”
The pre-audit team started on Monday their investigation in the different branches of the Regional Trial Court to determine if these courts were also involved in the “marriage scam.”
Cebu Daily News noticed that some court personnel were called in by Garcia at RTC-Branch 9 where he temporarily held office. Garcia, however, refused to explain why.