After 31 years of government service, Judge Rosendo Bandal Jr. of the Regional Trial Court Branch 34 in Dumaguete City will avail of the compulsory retirement and starting today, at age 70.
In those years he had rendered more than 1,000 decisions, of which only six or seven had been modified or set aside by the Appellate Court or the Supreme Court.
He was first assigned at the Office of the President for 12 years during the time of former Pres. Ferdinand Marcos and then appointed by former President Corazon Aquino as presiding judge of RTC Branch 34. Aside from being a pairing judge, Bandal has also presided in five other RTCs, namely, branches 30, 31, 35, 36, and 40.
He said he is proud to say that he had not a single administrative case in his career as presiding judge.
Bandal was working until yesterday. His last promulgation was on February 17, 2018 where he sentenced three persons accused in a drug case.
Bandal said he received several threats on his life and attempts to bribe him in exchange for a favorable decision, but he never allowed fear to dwell in his heart and affect his decisions.
One of the threats came from a robbery suspect whom he convicted and the bribery attempt came from a Panamanian national, who was facing a drug case in his sala. He said that his best protection was to render fair and correct judgment that is understood by party litigants.
He rendered a death sentence to an accused in the rape-slay of a student near the Dumaguete Science High School several years back, but the decision was reduced to life sentence by the SC. For that, he was tagged as a “hanging judge” while handling the first drugs court in the province.
Bandal said he was not comfortable with that impression, even with a high conviction rate of more than 90 percent, so he requested then Chief Justice Hilario Davide to relieve him as presiding judge of the only drugs court in the province then. Judge Ramon Bato, who became a justice of the Court of Appeals, was designated in his place.
“In my court I don’t care whether you’re a mayor or somebody else. In fact, I convicted the former mayor of Tanjay, Arturo Regalado, for violation of an election offense for transferring an employee while the election ban was enforced,” Bandal stressed.
Meanwhile, more RTCs will be left vacant this year.
Judge Winston Villegas of RTC Branch 43 is retiring next month after reaching the compulsory retirement age, along with Judge Fe Lualhati Bustamante and RTC Branch 30 Judge Rafael Crescencio Tan Jr. RTC Branch 36 Judge Joseph Elmaco is reportedly eyeing an optional retirement.
In an interview, Bandal said several incumbent judges are interested to take his post, like Judge Neciforo Enot, who was then the stenographer, legal researcher, and clerk of court of Branch 34. Other possible applicants are Executive Judge Gerardo Paguio Jr. and Judge Mary Rose Inocando Paras.
Bandal’s wish for his 70th birthday is to have a good replacement as presiding judge of RTC Branch 34.*JG
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