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Digest Author: tonimoli

In Re: Letter of PJ Vasquez (2008)


Syllabus Heading: Administrative Powers > Supervision of Lower Courts

Case: This is a per curiam decision on an administrative matter arising from the Letter of Court of Appeals Presiding Justice Vasquez
which referred to the Supreme Court for appropriate action the charges of impropriety among the CA Justices involved in the
controversial GSIS-Meralco case. Pursuant to the said letter, the SC formed a 3-person Panel of Investigators to look into the matter.

Wikipedia summary of the GSIS-Meralco case itself: (Fairly reliable. - toni)
GSIS with the Securities and Exchange Commission of the Philippines (SEC) questioned the unvalidated proxy votes used by
the Lopez family in the last board election of the Manila Electric Company (Meralco).
The SEC issued a cease and desist order (CDO) against Meralco, which was ignored by the latter.
A show cause order (SCO) was then issued by the SEC, whereupon Meralco petitioned the Court of Appeals, questioning the
jurisdiction of the SEC.
The Court of Appeals issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) to the SEC

while the Special 9th Division composed of
Associate Justices Vicente Q. Roxas, Jose L. Sabio Jr. and Myrna Dimaranan Vidal heard the case. Roxas was assigned as
the ponente while Sabio was the acting chairman.

Facts: (The Drama Behind Aforequoted Summary, which transpired before expiration of the issued TRO.)

1. The internal conflict in the CA was, for the most part, centered on the question which division should hear the GSIS-
Meralco casethe special 9th Division (of Acting Chairperson J . Sabio) or the 8th Division (of J . Reyes)?
a. Special 9th Division (Chairperson: J. Sabio; Ponente: J. Roxas)
Original Chairperson J. Reyes, who was on leave at the time, was substituted via raffle by J. Mendoza as Acting
Chairperson. J. Mendoza later inhibited himself since he used to be counsel for Meralco. He was replaced by J. Sabio.
b. 8th Division (Chairperson: J. Reyes; Members: J. Roxas, J. Bruselas)
The 8th Division was among the divisions formed in the middle of the ongoing disorder by order of PJ Vasquez to
accommodate new appointees.
2. Said conflict ensued when Acting Chairperson J. Sabio refused to relinquish post to Chairperson J. Reyes upon his
return from his LOA, despite the latters invocation of the Internal Rules of the CA (IRCA).
a. Section 3 (d) Rule IV
A case can remain with the justices who participated therein only when any of the following actions have been taken:
(a) giving due course; (b) granting writ of preliminary injunction; (c) granting of a new trial; (d) granting of execution
pending appeal.

None of the above instances apply to J. Sabio. Although he was one of the judges who issued the TRO, the said
issuance is not among the grounds allowing a justice of the CA to remain in the Division.
To J. Sabio, the TRO is tantamount to a motion for a reconsideration.

3. Notwithstanding unresolved internal issues, the CA 8th Division ended up rendering the decision. The CA knew that
the said decision would have repercussions. Thus PJ Vasquez wrote the instant letter to the SC.

4. The investigation of the SC would reveal that each of the involved Justices has his own share in the whole CA
hullabaloo despite some of them being the offended and the victims themselves.

The SC sanctioned said actions which it deemed detrimental to the proper administration of justice and damaging to the
institutional integrity, independence, and public respect for the Judiciary.

It also referred the cases of non-CA individuals who have been involved in the alleged bribery of some Justices to rightful
bodies (e.g. DOJ, Bar Confidant).

5. Controversies of each Justice and SCs Action:


1. Associate Justice Roxas

1) Failed to act on a number of motions (a total of 6, mostly to the prejudice of GSIS) of the
parties prior to the promulgation of the Decision



Penalty:
DISMISSAL FROM
SERVICE with
FORFEITURE OF ALL
BENEFITS
Digest Author: tonimoli
- violated Rule V, Section 3 (3) IRCA by ignoring the motion for his inhibition:
A motion for voluntary inhibition of a Justice shall be acted upon by him alone in writing, copy
furnished to the other members of the Division, the Presiding Justice, the Raffle Committee, and
the Division Clerk of Court.

- violated Canon 3, Rule 3.05 of the 1989 Code of Judicial Conduct
A judge shall dispose of the courts business promptly and decide cases within the required
periods.

- SC finds it suspiscious and reprehensible that J. Roxas failed to act at all on pending motions

2) Guilty of gross dishonesty
- punishable by dismissal from service under Rule 140, Rules of Court and Rule IV, Section 52
of the Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases

3) Lacked courtesy and respect for CA colleagues

- against J. Dimaranan-Vidal: when he unceremoniously discarded the decision that she had
signed
- against PJ. Vasquez: for promulgating Meralco decision without waiting for the Vasquezs
resolution on the issue of chairmanship which he had asked him for

4) Undue interest in the Meralco case

- evidenced by his drafting of decisions even prior to the submission of parties memoranda and
his precipate transfer of the case from the Special 9th Division to the 8th Division


2. Associate Justice Sabio, Jr.

1) Failure to uphold standard of independence

- Unusual interest in holding on to the Meralco case may have actually been influenced by his
brother to help GSIS
- Evidenced by adamant refusal to yield chairmanship of Special 9th Division to J. Reyes

2) Indiscreet and Improper conversations with Mr. De Borja

- SC deems allegation of P10-million bribe against Mr. De Borja as true but remains perplexed in
the fact that the Justice continued to agree on meeting the latter and even initaited a phone call
shortly after the alleged bribe
- Broke the shield of confidentiality that covers disposition of cases in the Court



Penalty:
2-MONTH SUSPENSION
WITHOUT PAY

3. Associate Justice Reyes

- Pending PJ Vasquezs decision on the issue of chairmanship in the Meralco case, J. Reyes,
together with J. Bruselas and J. Roxas still promulgated the decision.
- Guilty of simple misconduct which is mitigated by the fact that he had repeated ly asked PJ
Vasquez to act on the same request.


Penalty:
REPRIMANDED

4. Justice Dimaranan-Vidal

- Violated the IRCA when she allowed herself to be rushed by J. Roxas to sign the Meralco
decision without reading the parties memoranda and without deliberation among members of
the Division required by IRCA


Penalty:
ADMONISHED

5. Presiding Jusice Vasquez

- PUNOT DULO. Much of the trouble could have been averted by timely judicious and decisive
action on his part.

- Failed to provide leadership expected of him as Head of CA
- Indecisive in all issues that plagued the Meralco case

Penalty:
SEVERELY
REPRIMANDED
Digest Author: tonimoli
a) chairmanship between J. Reyes and J. Sabio
b) reported bribe-offer by Meralco to J. Sabio
- Pleaded lack of authority contrary to Rule VIII, Section 11 IRCA which authorizes him to act
on any matter involving the Court and its members including those not mentioned in the Rules.


6. Other personalities

PCGG Chairman Atty. Sabio
- Attempted to influence his brother J. Sabio

Mr. De Borja
- Attempted to bribe J. Sabio


Penalty:
Sabios case referred to the
Bar Confidant.

De Borjas case referred t
othe DOJ.