Wake Up, Philippines!

Ex-Supreme Court justice fined P.5 million for leaking court decision

Posted in Judiciary, Supreme Court by Erineus on February 25, 2009

MANILA, Philippines – Retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruben Reyes was fined P500,000 and barred from holding public office after the High Tribunal adjudged him to have leaked the draft decision on the citizenship case of Negros Oriental Rep. Jocelyn Limkaichong.

Lawyer Jose Midas Marquez, SC spokesman, said the P500,000 fine will be deducted from Reyes’s retirement benefits, which reportedly amount to some P4.45 million.

However, Reyes told reporters he is innocent, and that he is considering filing a motion for reconsideration.

“I don’t see any reason why the blame should be put on me,” he said.

“I have the least reason to do that and the least motive (since I was retiring already).

“I’m totally innocent. I served government for almost 35 years, and I really did my best to serve so I would not want a single centavo deducted from the pay I deserve.”

He has yet to receive a copy of the decision, he added.

In the unprecedented decision, all SC justices voted to punish Reyes for gross misconduct for violating the rule on confidentiality of court documents.

Two pieces of circumstantial evidence showed that Reyes had leaked the draft decision upholding the disqualification of Limkaichong from being elected to the House of Representatives due to questions on her citizenship, according to the SC.

Based on the decision, these are:

• Reyes’s move to have the draft decision promulgated despite agreement among justices to withhold promulgation until the decision of nine justices who concurred with the ruling only “in the result” have been clarified; and

• The “evident undue interest of Justice Reyes to circulate a draft ponencia (decision) of the case soonest even before the memoranda of all the parties fell due…

Reyes had written the decision on Limkaichong’s case.

The SC decision was based on the findings of an investigating committee comprised of three senior justices.

Reyes’s judicial staff head counsel Rosendo Evangelista and his court stenographer Armando del Rosario were fined P10,000 and P5,000 for simple neglect of duty.

Limkaichong defeated the wife of former lawmaker Jacinto Paras in the 2007 elections.

In December last year, a certain Louis Biraogo circulated copies of the decision upholding the disqualification of Limkaichong. – Edu Punay

Updated February 25, 2009 12:00 AM
http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=443365&publicationSubCategoryId=63

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