GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/07 February) – South Cotabato officials have asked the Supreme Court to appoint an additional judge in the province following the dismissal from service last week of a Regional Trial Court (RTC) judge assigned in Koronadal City.
Gov. Arthur Pingoy Jr. said Monday he has asked the High Court’s Office of the Court Administrator to immediately assign another judge in the area even on temporary basis until it appoints a permanent replacement for former RTC Branch 24 Judge Oscar Dinopol, who was dismissed by the High Court due to gross misconduct.
“We’re down to two permanent RTC judges right now so we really need some help here,” the governor said.
Pingoy said the local government had filed a request with the SC to temporarily assign Judge Jordan Reyes of RTC Branch 5 in Mati, Davao Oriental in the province starting this month to take over the pending cases previously handled by Dinopol.
He said the Court initially signified to consider the reassignment of Reyes, who is a former mayor of Polomolok town in South Cotabato.
Dinopol, who previously handled cases at the RTC Branch 24 and the vacant Branch 25 in Koronadal City, was ordered dismissed by SC after it found him guilty of receiving accommodations from a litigant.
Such violation involves the major canons of the New Philippine Code of Judicial Conduct, the Court stressed in a statement dated Feb. 2.
Based on the Court’s per curiam decision, Dinopol was found to have obtained commodity loans from litigant Victoriano Sy in the form of building materials for the construction of the judge’s house in Koronadal City.
Sy owns a hardware and construction supply store in Koronadal City.
The transactions were documented through the receipts submitted by Sy, who filed the complaint against Dinopol.
“The Court found that Judge Dinopol violated Canon 3 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct when he received accommodations from Sy, thus compromising his position as a judge. Likewise, the Court found he had violated Canon 1, Canon 2, and Canon 4 of the said Code, which respectively highlights the judge’s independence, promotes a judge’s integrity, and mandates a judge to observe and maintain proper decorum and its appearance in his public office,” the Supreme Court statement noted.
The court said Dinopol also committed impropriety by talking with litigants outside court proceedings and without the presence of the opposing litigants and their counsel.
Dinopol, who is a former city councilor here, was suspended by the High Court in 2006 and was fined P20,000 for committing “gross ignorance of the law and abuse of authority” when he ordered the arrest of a suspect in the absence of a preliminary investigation.
He was also meted the same penalty for “failing to observe the requirements” and for being “ignorant of the basic and simple procedural rules” in issuing a search warrant.
Meantime, Pingoy said the provincial government has allocated some funds for additional financial incentives to all court judges and government prosecutors presently assigned in the province.
“We’re hoping that these incentives will encourage some of our lawyers to apply as judges and eventually fill up the vacant courts here,” he said.
Pingoy said the provincial government has set the incentive of P5,000 per month for local judges and P3,000 for prosecutors. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)