Philippine Supreme Court Resolutions


Philippine Supreme Court Resolutions > Year 2008 > December 2008 Resolutions > [A.M. No. 08-10-05-SB : December 02, 2008] RE: LETTER OF PRESIDING JUSTICE DIOSDADO M. PERALTA OF SANDIGANBAYAN REQUESTING ADVICE AS TO THE PROPRIETY OF INHIBITIONS INVOKED BY THE CHAIRPERSONS OF THAT COURT, RE CIVIL CASE NO. 0141 "REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES V. FERDINAND MARCOS, ET AL." :




EN BANC

[A.M. No. 08-10-05-SB : December 02, 2008]

RE: LETTER OF PRESIDING JUSTICE DIOSDADO M. PERALTA OF SANDIGANBAYAN REQUESTING ADVICE AS TO THE PROPRIETY OF INHIBITIONS INVOKED BY THE CHAIRPERSONS OF THAT COURT, RE CIVIL CASE NO. 0141 "REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES V. FERDINAND MARCOS, ET AL."

Sirs/Mesdames:

Quoted hereunder, for your information, is a resolution of the Court En Banc dated December 2, 2008

"A.M. No. 08-10-05-SB (Re: Letter of Presiding Justice Diosdado M. Peralta of Sandiganbayan Requesting Advice as to the Propriety of Inhibitions Invoked by the Chairpersons of that Court, re Civil Case No. 0141 "Republic of the Philippines v. Ferdinand Marcos, et al.")

In a Letter dated September 29, 2008 addresses to the Chief Justice, Hon. Diosdado Madarang Peralta, Presiding Justice of the Sandiganbayan, seeks the Court's advice as to who should try and hear Civil Case No. 0141, entitled "Republic of the Philippines v. Ferdinand Marcos, et al." pending before the Sandiganbayan, in view of the inhibitions of all the Chairpersons of the five (5) Divisions of the court.

Justice explains:
As backgrounder, Civil Case No. 0141 is one of the many ill-gotten wealth cases filed before the Sandiganbayan against the Marcoses. The petition involves several foundations alledgedly formed by the Marcoses, their successors and agents, the assets of which are sought to be forfeited by the government as they are alleged to be ill-gotten or acquired out of proportion to their salaries as government officials. On September 19, 2000, the First Division for the Sandiganbayan granted petitioner's motion for summary judgment on five (5) foundations included in the petition. However, in a Resolution promulgated on January 31, 2002, the same division reversed its September 19, 2000 decision, thus denying petitioner's motion for summary judgment.

The matter was elevated to the Supreme Court docketed as G.R. No. 152154 and in a Decision promulgated on July 15, 2003, the January 31, 2002 Resolution of the Sandiganbayan was set aside and the summary judgment was upheld. Following the decision of the Supreme Court in G.R. No. 152154, petitioner moved for summary judgment on one of the remaining foundations - the Arelma Foundation , the account and portfolio of which is allegedly managed by Merill Lynch, New York. This is the incident subject of this query.

Civil Case No. 141 (re: Arelma Foundation) was assigned to the undersigned in November 2007 when he was still a senior member of the First Division. When the undersigned took over the chairmanship of the First Division following the promotion of then Presiding Justice, Hon. Teresita Leonardo De Castro, to the Supreme Court, he perused the voluminous records of the case and discovered that it was his wife, then an Assistant Solicitor General, who actively prosecuted the case before the Sandiganbayan and was a signatory in most of the major pleadings, and who even extensively argued for the Republic before Supreme Court.

Thus, the undersigned , as Chairperson of the First Division, inhibited himself from the case and requested that it be re-raffled to the other divisions of the Court, in accordance with the Rules of Court and the Internal Rules of the Sandiganbayan.

Consequently, on May 5, 2008, Chairperson of the Second Division, Hon. Edilberto G. Sandoval, wrote the undersigned and informed him that he, too, was inhibiting himself from Civil Case No. 141 (re: Arelma Foundation) because one of the parties was responsible for his appointment as Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Oriental Mindoro. The case was then re-raffled to the Fifth Division, whose Chairperson, Hon. Ma. Cristina Estrada, also inhibited herself because she worked in Malaca´┐Żang Palace during the term of President Ferdinand E. Marcos.

The case was then re-raffled to the Third Division, chaired by Hon. Francisco H. Villaruz, Jr. However, a motion for inhibition was filed against him by defendant Imelda Marcos on the ground that he was one of the signatories in the earlier incident partially disposing Civil Case No. 141. Finding the motion to reuse meritorious, Justice Villaruz, Jr., granted the same and ordered the transmittal of the records for re-raffle.

The only division left to resolve the case is the Fourth Division, presided by Hon. Gregory S. Ong, but he, too, could not handle the case as he had earlier been ordered by the Supreme Court to inhibit himself in a criminal case involving accused Imelda Marcos, who is also a defendant in Civil Case No. 141. Moreover, Justice Ong is one of the Justices who actively participated in the proceedings, being then a member of the First Division, and in fact signed the earlier incidents disposing the Motion for Summary Judgment in Civil Case No. 141.

As there is no specific provision in the Internal Rules of the Sandiganbayan governing this particular impasse, we now seek your guidance and advice on how this matter could be resolved. With the end in view of disposing Civil Case No. 141, especially its pending incident involving the Arelma foundation, the undersigned requests that Your Honor consider the propriety of the inhibitions invoked by the Chairpersons of this Court to determine which division should finally be tasked to handle the pending incident involving the Arelma Foundation.
Justice Peralta's concern is well-taken as it is founded on Section 6, Rule XII of the Internal Rules of the Sandiganbayan, which states:
SEC. 6. Effect of Inhibition from Particular Cases. - Should the Chairman of a Division inhibit himself or is disqualified from participating in a case,it shall be transferred to any of the four (4)other Divisions by raffle. If a Senior or Junior Member inhibits himself or is disqualified in a case, he shall be replaced in accordance with the procedure stated in Section 4(c) of Rule II, but the case shall remain with the Division.
We Find the grounds for inhibition of the said Justices, who are Chairpersons of the five (5) Divisions of Sandiganbayan, not without basis. Conformably with the policy of the Court to render justice in good faith, the Conformably with the policy of the Court to render justice in good faith, the Justices have, therefore, recused themselves from taking part in Civil Case No. 0141 for an impartial disposition of the case.[1]

Acting on the Letter of Presiding Justice Diosdado M. Peralta dated September 29, 2008, the Court Resolved to:
(1)
ACCEPT therequests for inhibition of Justices Diosdado M. Peralta, Edilbeto G. Sandoval, Francisco H. Villaruz, Jr., Gregory S. Ong and Ma. Cristina G. Cortez-Estrada, Chairpersons of the Five (5) Divisions of the Sandiganbayan for taking part in Civil caes No. 0141;


(2)

CREATE a SPECIAL DIVISION which shall be composed of Justice Norberto Y. Geraldez, as Chairman, and Justices Efren N. De La Cruz and Teresita V. Diaz-Baldos, as Members.



(3)

DIRECT said SPECIAL DIVISION to try and decide Civil Case No. 014, entitled "Republic of the Philippines Ferdinand v. Marcos , et al." with utmost dispatch
Corona, J., on official leave.

                                               
 
Very truly yours,
 
 
(Sgd.) MA. LUISA D. VILLARAMA
 
Clerk of Court



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