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SC fines retired CA justice P100K for gambling

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
SC fines retired CA justice P100K for gambling
The Supreme Court, sitting as full court, found retired Court of Appeals Justice Normandie Pizarro guilty of conduct unbecoming of a member of the judiciary for gambling in a casino.
File photo

MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court en banc has slapped Court of Appeals Justice Normandie Pizarro, who penned controversial rulings, with a P100,000 fine for gambling in a casino.

The high tribunal, acting on a letter-complaint anonymously filed in Sept. 20, 2017, ruled that Pizarro is “guilty of conduct unbecoming of a member of the judiciary.”

The anonymous complainant accused Pizarro of “being a gambling addict who would allegedly lose millions of pesos in the casinos daily.” The SC also noted that the sender “insinuated that Justice Pizarro resorted to ‘selling’ his cases in order to support his gambling addiction.”

Attached to the letter-complaint were four photographs showing Pizarro in a casino in Clark, Pampanga.

Pizarro penned the ruling that ordered the release of Palawan governor Joel Reyes over the killing of broadcaster Gerry Ortega; that acquitted pork barrel mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles in the arbitrary detention case of whistle-blower Benhur Luy and that dismissed the compensation claim of 10,000 human rights victims from the Marcos estate.

READ: CA justice who freed Joel Reyes retiring early

The appellate court justice was also accused of having an illicit relationship.

Pizarro had opted to leave the court early, ahead of the mandatory retirement upon reaching the age of 70. He was quoted in the SC ruling of learning that he was diagnosed of terminal cancer.

While Pizarro admitted to being the person in the photograph, he said that he was merely “accompanying a balikbayan friend.” He also said that “they only played a little in a parlor game fashion without big stakes and without identities introduced or made known.”

He also dismissed the claim that he is the “most corrupt justice in the Philippines” as “cruel, baseless and highly unfair.” He also categorically denied that he has a mistress.

The SC en banc, in ruling on the case, said that the accusations, except for gambling in casinos, “are not supported by any evidence or by any public record of indubitable integrity.”

The high court deemed Pizarro guilty of violating the prohibition from gambling in casinos as provided under Section 14(4)(a) of Presidential Decree No. 1869. The SC added that the justice also violated Canons 2 (integrity) and 4 (propriety) of the New Code of Judicial Conduct of the Philippine Judiciary.

“A judge’s personal behaviour outside the court, and not only while in the performance of his official duties, must be beyond reproach, for he is perceived to be the personification of law and justice. Thus any demeaning act of a judge degrades the institution he represents,” the 10-page ruling further read.

The decision was penned by Associate Justice Samuel Martires, in which 11 justices concurred. Associate Justice Lucas Bersamin took no part in the case “due to close relations to Pizarro.”

Associate Justice Marvic Leonen is the sole dissenter in the decision. The justice wanted to mete Pizarro the penalty of dismissal from service with penalties of forfeiture of retirement benefits.

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno has been on leave since March 1 and did not participate.

COURT OF APPEALS

GAMBLING

NORMANDIE PIZARRO

SUPREME COURT

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