Judge disbarred for graft in stint as mayor
For taking public money even before joining the judiciary, a Makati City judge now seeking election as Dapitan City Vice Mayor has been barred from serving in government again.
The Supreme Court has dismissed Makati Regional Trial Court Judge Joseph Cedrick Ruiz for his conviction on graft and malversation charges in 2013. The judge was found guilty of “conspiring with a police officer to facilitate the withdrawal of P1 million in public funds” as mayor of Dapitan City in 2006.
Private morality, actions
“We emphasize that judges should be the embodiment of competence, integrity, and independence, and their conduct should be above reproach. They must adhere to exacting standards of morality, decency, and probity. A magistrate is judged, not only by his official acts, but also by his private morality and actions,” the Court said.
“Considering the nature and extent of the respondent’s transgressions, we find the imposition of the supreme administrative penalty of dismissal to be appropriate,” the Court stressed.
In its Feb. 2 decision released just this week, the court ordered Ruiz disbarred and dismissed from the judiciary.
The court also ordered that he forfeit “all benefits, except accrued leave credits,” and his “perpetual disqualification from reemployment in the government or any of its subdivisions, instrumentalities, or agencies including government-owned and -controlled corporations.”
In bad faith
The court did not explicitly bar Ruiz from seeking an elective post, but the penalty of perpetual disqualification from government service may be raised in case he wins in the May elections, where he is seeking the vice mayoralty under the Liberal Party.
The Sandiganbayan First Division had found Ruiz “guilty beyond reasonable doubt” of graft and malversation on April 29, 2013.
It found that the respondent had acted in bad faith as he made cash advances five days after losing his reelection bid. The antigraft court sentenced Ruiz 12 to 18 years for malversation, six to eight years for corrupt practices, and perpetual special disqualification. He was also ordered to pay a fine of P950,000 and another P950,000 to indemnify Dapitan City.
The dismissed judge elevated the case to the Supreme Court.
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