A judge who admitted he was gay should not be automatically presumed to be immoral, the Supreme Court (SC) has ruled.
In a decision, the Supreme Court’s Second Division dismissed the administrative cases of immorality and dishonesty filed against Judge Eliseo Campos, the now-retired presiding judge of the municipal trial court of Bayugan City, Agusan del Sur, by his estranged wife and son.
“There was no evidence that the respondent engaged in scandalous conduct that would warrant the imposition of disciplinary action against him,” the high court said in a decision penned by Associate Justice Antonio Carpio.
However, the court found Campos guilty of simple misconduct and fined him P20,000 for registering his then minor son as the owner of a piece of land that figured in the couple’s pending legal separation and annulment cases.
“In order to manipulate the situation, and taking advantage of his knowledge of the law, respondent caused the registration of the property in [his son’s] name with the intention of defrauding a possible judgment-obligee. Clearly, it was improper behavior which warrants disciplinary sanction by this court.”
The three administrative cases stemmed from the annulment case filed by Campos in July 2008, a year before he retired. In his suit he said he was a homosexual and that his wife had affairs with other men which he did not bother to stop or question.
His wife denied Campos’ accusations of infidelity and claimed her husband only wanted their marriage annulled so he could marry another woman with whom he was allegedly having a relationship. She opposed the annulment and filed for a legal separation instead.
The high tribunal affirmed the findings of the investigating judge that there was no proof that Campos had a relationship with another woman or was immoral on account of his supposedly being gay.
Hiding true sexuality
“With respect to respondent’s alleged homosexuality, such issue is for the determination of the trial court wherein the [annulment case] is pending. Thus, we also agree in absolving [him] from the charge of dishonesty. The fact that [he] got married and had children is not proof against his claim of homosexuality. As pointed out, it is possible that [he] was only suppressing or hiding his true sexuality,” the high court said.
The justices, however, ruled that Campos committed an unlawful act when he executed an affidavit of loss of a land title that was in his possession. The investigation showed Campos had his then minor son registered as the owner of the land.
After reporting the loss, Campos told the provincial register of deeds that he (Campos) was the real owner and that the title had been wrongly registered in his son’s name. The wife, however, claimed the title was never lost and that their son had it all along. She claimed the judge merely wanted the property back in the event that the annulment was granted.
Campos had said that he only wanted to protect his interest, adding that his wife and son wanted to use the property as collateral for a loan.
Based on the decision, the judge may have anticipated the breakup of his marriage and registered the title in the son’s name so the land would not become conjugal property, which would have to be split if Campos’ wife won the legal separation case.