LOOK BACK: High-profile ponencias of retiring SC Justice Arturo Brion

Katerina Francisco
LOOK BACK: High-profile ponencias of retiring SC Justice Arturo Brion
SC Justice Arturo Brion retires on December 29, as he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 70

MANILA, Philippines – Supreme Court (SC) Justice Arturo Brion retires on Thursday, December 29, as he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 70.

A former Court of Appeals justice, Brion has also previously served as labor secretary under the administration of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Prior to joining government work, Brion was a private law practitioner with the Siguion Reyna Montecillo & Ongsiako Law Offices, as well as a faculty member of the Ateneo Law School. 

Rappler takes a look back at some high-profile cases with Brion as the ponente or decision writer.

2009: Estrada’s “Jose Velarde” alias not illegal

Brion penned the SC decision affirming the decision of anti-graft court Sandiganbayan, which dismissed a criminal case against former President Joseph Estrada for the alleged illegal use of the alias “Jose Velarde.”

The former president, ousted from office in 2001, allegedly used the name “Jose Velarde” in opening bank accounts. But the SC said the use of the alias concerned a private transaction, and it can only be ruled as illegal if its use is “public and habitual.” 

“We do not decide here whether Estrada’s use of an alias when he occupied the highest executive position in the land was valid and legal; we simply determined whether he may be liable for the offense charged based on the evidence the People presented,” the SC said. 

2011: Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines (FASAP) vs Philippine Airlines (PAL)

In 1998, PAL retrenched some 5,000 employees as a cost-cutting measure due to the effects of the 1997 Asian financial crisis. FASAP filed a complaint against the airline and sought the court’s intervention. (TIMELINE: FASAP-PAL case)

In September 2011, Brion, a member of the SC’s second division, penned the resolution ordering PAL to reinstate 1,400 members of FASAP affected by the retrenchment. But a month later, the SC en banc recalled this resolution, following a letter from PAL lawyer Estelito Mendoza.

Mendoza had pointed out that the SC had erred because PAL’s motion for reconsideration was decided by the High Court’s second division, when it should have formed a special third division in light of the retirement of several members of the third division which originally handled the case.

The FASAP case became part of the impeachment complaint against former chief justice Renato Corona, where he was alleged to have interfered in the case and betrayed public trust. In March 2012, Brion wrote a resolution clearing Corona of any liability.

2011: Postponement of polls in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM)

In October 2011, Brion penned the decision which ruled as constitutional Republic Act 10153, which postponed the elections in ARMM and synchronized it with the 2013 midterm elections.

In its decision, the SC said that it is within the power of Congress to synchronize the polls and to authorize then-President Benigno Aquino IIII to appoint the region’s officers-in-charge. – Rappler.com

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