SC junks complaint against Carpio, Sereno

Contenders for chief justice who have pending administrative and criminal cases could be disqualified from running for the post

NO MERIT. The SC said the complaint against Carpio and Sereno is weak.

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court dismissed a complaint against two of its members nominated to the post of chief justice on June 13, consequently eliminating a possible ground for their disqualification. 

The SC, voting 12-0, junked a complaint filed by lawyer Magdaleno Peña against acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio and Justice Lourdes Sereno in 2011. According to the rules of the Judicial and Bar Council — the body that vets nominees to the judiciary for appointment by the president — contenders who have pending administrative and criminal cases should be disqualified.

Carpio and the 4 other most senior members of the Court — Justices Teresita Leonardo de Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Presbitero Velasco Jr and Arturo Brion — are automatically nominated to the post vacated by Chief Justice Renato Corona on May 29. Corona was convicted by the Senate sitting as an impeachment court for betrayal of public trust after he failed to disclose P183 million in his peso and bank deposits in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth. 

Sereno, on the other hand, was nominated to the post by a certain Felma Singco, Reagan De Guzman, and lawyer Fidel Borja.

Peña alleged that Carpio was behind the leakage of a 2002 resolution to the counsel of a case involving Urban Bank, which owed Peña P28.5 million in attorney’s fees. Peña also said Sereno should have inhibited because Carpio’s former law firm, the CVC (Villaraza, Cruz, Marcelo and Angangco law firm), backed her appointment to the SC in 2010. 

Peña filed a case against Urban Bank in 1996 and certain members of its board of directors before the regional trial court of Bago City, Negros Occidental, seeking P28.5 million in compensation and attorney’s fees. Peña successfully removed unauthorized sub-tenants in 23 commercial establishments for Urban Bank. 

He won, but the bank sought a reversal of the decision before the Court of Appeals. The CA sided with Peña, however, and ordered Urban Bank and its directors — except the 3 who posted a P40-million bond — to pay Peña. The High Court allowed Urban Bank and its directors to post a P40-million bond or a “supersedeas bond.” This appeal bond allows a delay in the execution of a judgment.

To be able to compensate Peña, the sheriff sold some of Urban Bank’s properties, including the bank’s club shares in Makati Sports Club Inc (MSCI). Urban Bank bought 3 club shares from MSCI, which were auctioned off for P2 million to bidders. 

The SC, however, stopped the transfer of Urban Bank’s shares in MSCI to the winning bidders in 2002. 

Peña said Carpio caused the issuance of the SC resolution, even if it was merely “noted” by the Court. “Noted” means the High Court did not act on it.

The SC said in its 2012 decision, however, that the Court did not just note the 2002 resolution, but approved its draft. As to the leak of the same resolution, the Court said Carpio could not be faulted for it because it is the clerk of court, not him, that releases resolutions.

As to Sereno’s case, the SC said Peña has no evidence and that the charge is “conjectural.” –

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