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The tragic journey of former Cebu City judge (Part 1)

Former SC Chief Justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro (3rd from left) and (L to R), Judge Monalila Tecson; Judge Sylva Aguirre-Paderanga; Judge Rosabella Mondragon-Tormis, and Judge Estela Alma Singco.


Former Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC) Judge Rosabella Tormis said she lost faith in the Philippine judicial system as she was never afforded due process of law by the highest court of the land.


Tormis on September 6, 2016 visited the Office of the Bar Confidant (OBC) in Manila to verify the alleged Resolution of the Supreme Court that she was already disbarred, according to published reports on September 5.


“There is no such resolution yet validated by the SC en banc through one of the OBC staff that the case was only set for inclusion in the agenda for August 30, 2016.” the concerned hearing officer told her.


Although there was no resolution yet as of this time, Tormis said a resolution could have been prepared waiting for the signatures of the Supreme Court Justices en banc, stressing that this would not have been released to the media if there was no assurance that she will be disbarred.


The former judge also stressed that the disbarment case was actually a sequel to the case, OCA vs. Judge Anatalio S. Necesario et. al. in A.M. No. MTJ-07-1691 where she was one among the four judges who were dismissed from the service.

“If the basis for my disbarment was the marriage scam case, why singled me out to face disbarment proceedings considering that there were four of us who were dismissed from service in the aforementioned case?” Tormis asked. 

She said she does not imply that the other three judges should also be disbarred for in fact they were also victims of injustice like her.

“If you will see the case of former RTC Judge Geraldine Faith Econg, she was likewise guilty of the same offense, but she was neither dismissed from the service nor disbarred. Instead she was promoted as Associate Justice of Sandiganbayan (graft court),” Tormis revealed.


She said the only reason why she was referred to the Office of the Bar Confidant for the purpose of initiating disbarment proceedings against her was because of the affidavits allegedly executed by Celerina Plaza and Crisanto dela Cerna. This was expressly stated on page 24 of the decision which she quoted: “The case against Judge Rosabella M. Tormis, including the sworn statements of Celerina Plaza and Crisanto dela Cerna, should be REFERRED to the Office of the Bar Confidant for the purpose of initiating disbarment proceedings against the judge.”


And not as quoted in the news that she was disbarred because, “The Court noted that Tormis' repetitive acts in solemnizing marriages without license showed her intent to disrespect the law and renders her unfit to continue the practice of law.”


Unfortunately, she said the court administrator, who was very much eager to have her disbarred, failed to present these witnesses despite having been given several chances by the hearing officer of the Office of the Bar Confidant. They also could not present any evidence against her. 


“The two lawyers from the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) even went to Cebu City to meet with Mrs. Celerina Plaza at the Qimonda Bldg. (which houses the courts in Cebu City) to convince her to testify against me at the said disbarment proceedings. However, Mrs. Plaza declined as she could not likely bear to testify to a falsehood. The proceedings ended up with neither a witness nor evidence presented by the complainant OCA,” Tormis said.


She added: “Anyway, even under these circumstances, I cannot expect a favorable resolution in my case and in fact the initial comment I filed sometime in January 2014, I stated that giving this case further importance is just a waste of her time and energy for I am not expecting a just and fair result considering that in the first place I was never afforded due process of law by the Highest Court of the land.”


She said if her disbarment would bring harmony to the minds of her manipulators and enemies, then let it be. She also said has moved on and does not want to entertain anymore harassments from the Supreme Court.


“I have accepted this fate long before this happened. If not for my friends who believe that change is coming and put up funds and convinced me to pursue the battle against injustice I would not have bothered myself anymore. I am fighting not to retain my profession as a lawyer, but I simply want to fight injustice,” Tormis said.


The former judge cited the case of Atty. Ferdinand Ancheta. She said the case was filed sometime in 2004 and it took the Supreme Court 12 years to resolve the disbarment complaint when complainants are already dead.


Former Cebu Judge Rosabella Mondtagon-Tormis


“What is special about my case is that a former chief justice has personal interest and made several follow-ups to hasten the proceedings of my disbarment. People may ask why a former chief justice would find my case interesting,” Tormis concluded. (To be continued)

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