SC lifts law practice ban on ex-justice
Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - April 19, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court has ordered the reinstatement to law practice of former Justice Ruben Reyes, who was penalized after his retirement from the SC in December 2008 for leaking a draft decision of the court to a litigant.

Justices of the high court voted in their summer session in Baguio City last Tuesday to lift the indefinite suspension of the retired magistrate from law practice for “humanitarian reason, among others,” SC spokesman Theodore Te announced yesterday.

The SC, however, stood firm on another penalty imposed on Reyes – perpetual disqualification from holding government office and teaching. He was also fined P500,000, charged against his retirement benefits, after being found guilty of gross misconduct.

In its Feb. 24, 2009 decision, the high court adopted the findings of its investigating committee, composed of then Senior Associate Justice Leonardo Quisumbing as chairperson and then Associate Justices Renato Corona and Conchita Carpio-Morales as members.

The committee said in its report that “based on circumstantial evidence and particularly the evident undue interest of Justice Reyes to circulate a draft ponencia of the case soonest even before the memoranda of all the parties fell due. It was Justice Reyes himself who leaked a photocopy (of the draft).”

The SC held that Reyes violated his “unqualified and invariable duty to be living examples of uprightness in the performance of official functions in order to preserve the good name and standing of the judiciary in the community.”

In the draft decision penned by Reyes, losing congressional candidate Olivia Paras and taxpayer Louis Biraogo won their disqualification case against Negros Oriental Rep. Jocelyn Sy Limkaichong on the ground that she was Chinese and not a Filipino citizen.

Biraogo, who has complained to the media about the delay in the promulgation of the Reyes decision. He said he found a brown envelope containing the draft decision outside his house in Laguna in October 2008. He said it came from a “concerned employee” of the SC.

The leakage prompted allies of Paras in Congress to threaten then chief justice Reynato Puno with impeachment for withholding the release of the draft decision.

After the investigation of the leakage and Reyes’ retirement on Dec. 18, 2008, the case was immediately re-raffled. The final promulgated decision was favorable to Limkaichong.

ASSOCIATE JUSTICES RENATO CORONA AND CONCHITA CARPIO-MORALES BAGUIO CITY DECISION JOCELYN SY LIMKAICHONG JUSTICE REYES JUSTICE RUBEN REYES LOUIS BIRAOGO NEGROS ORIENTAL REP OLIVIA PARAS REYES
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