SC junks complaint vs 2 top nominees for post of Chief JusticeBy Tetch Torres
MANILA, Philippines–The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a complaint filed against acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio and Associate Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, both nominees for the position of Chief Justice.
The complaint, filed by lawyer Magdaleno Peña, accused Carpio of leaking a copy of a resolution to the opposing counsel of a case he was handling. Sereno, on the other hand, tried to protect Carpio, according to the complaint.
Peña alleged that Sereno, to whom the main case was raffled off, ”will attempt to protect Carpio” by refusing to inhibit from the case even as Carpio’s former law office, the Villaraza Cruz Marcelo Angangco Law Office, allegedly had a significant role in her appointment to the Supreme Court.
But in a per curiam (anonymous) resolution dated June 13 but released to the media on Monday, the high court dismissed the complaint for lack of basis and no “extrinsic factual evidence to support it.”
The high court further noted that Peña’s allegations were all addressed and debunked in an earlier resolution dated Oct. 19, 2011.
“Magdaleno M. Peña’s complaint against Justices Antonio T. Carpio and Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno is hereby dismissed for lack of merit,” the high court said.
Peña had earlier filed a case against Urban Bank and several members of its Board of Directors before the Bago City, Negros Occidental Regional Trial Court (RTC).
The trial court, in its ruling, ordered the payment of P28.5 million to Peña as agent’s compensation, attorney’s fees, reimbursement of expenses, exemplary damages, and costs of suit. The bank filed an appeal before the Court of Appeals but since the lower court allowed the execution of judgment, the case was elevated to the high court.
Peña then filed a complaint against Carpio and Sereno on Sept. 19, 2011, alleging that Carpio, as the justice-in-charge of the consolidated cases, caused the issuance of the high court’s Nov. 13, 2002 resolution which suspended the transfer of the bank’s club shares in Makati Sports Club, Inc. (MSCI), which was supposed to be levied and sold by the Sheriff to compensate Pena.
Peña claimed that Carpio acted on the bank’s motion for clarification with a mere notation.
Peña claimed that the opposing counsel, Manuel Singson, was able to secure an advance copy of the Nov. 13 resolution, days before it was officially mailed through Carpio.
Carpio, being one of the five most senior justices of the Supreme Court, is automatically nominated for Chief Justice while Sereno, a junior member, received three nominations.
With the dismissal of the complaint against them, their possibility of being disqualified for the top post has been removed.
Under Sec. 5 of the Judicial and Bar Council rules, pending regular administrative cases may disqualify nominees for any judicial post.