Unending cases
- Jose C. Sison (The Philippine Star) - November 28, 2014 - 12:00am

A recent move by the Ombudsman once more brings to mind the complaint of an ordinary citizen who opposed her nomination to the position which was then being considered by the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC). As reported in the major dailies in June 2011, the lady who opposed her nomination was a party to a case in the Supreme Court which was decided by the Ombudsman when she was still an SC Justice. The case comes to mind again because it gives the impression that there seems to be no end to court litigations.

In that case, as reported in the papers, the lady was found by the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) to have been illegally dismissed by a bank which was ordered to pay her separation pay of one month salary for every year of service and retirement benefits. This decision was affirmed by the Court of Appeals and when the bank filed a petition before the SC questioning the CA decision, the SC dismissed it with finality. But after two years, six months and 19 days, the SC through then Justice Carpio-Morales resurrected the case and even reversed the NLRC and CA ruling in her favor. Such ruling is really quite difficult to comprehend especially to a non-lawyer like that lady. When a case is dismissed with finality, can it still be revived after more than two years?

The same question once more surfaced in the recent action of the Ombudsman who filed another case against former Justice Secretary Hernando Perez in a different form and in another forum after four criminal cases filed against him by the same Office of the Ombudsman arising from the complaint of Mark Jimenez way back in 2003 have already been dismissed with finality. Indeed even Mr. Mark Jimenez himself was quite dumbfounded as he asked upon learning the action of the Ombudsman: Hindi ba double jeopardy na yon?

Record shows that four criminal cases were filed by the Office of the Ombudsman with the Sandiganbayan against former Justice Secretary Perez, as a consequence of the same complaint of Mark Jimenez in 2003.

The first case was for violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act under RA 3019 which landed in the First Division of the Sandiganbayan.  This case was dismissed on November 13, 2008. The decision of the Sandiganbayan was elevated by the Ombudsman to the Supreme Court and docketed as G. R. No. 188165.

The second case was robbery which went to the Second Division of the Sandiganbayan. The said division dismissed this case on November 20, 2008. The said decision was appealed to the Supreme Court and docketed as G. R. No. 189063.

The Supreme Court in G.R. No. 188165 (People of the Philippines vs. Hon. Sandiganbayan, et al.) and G. R. No. 189063 (People of the Philippines vs. Hon. Sandiganbayan, et al.) sustained the dismissal of both cases. The Ombudsman filed a motion for reconsideration and on February 17, 2014, the Supreme Court denied the Motion for Reconsideration, with FINALITY and further ordered that — “NO FURTHER pleadings or motions shall be entertained herein.” and “Let an  ENTRY of judgment in these cases be made in due course.” In other words these cases were dismissed twice, once by the Sandiganbayan and on the second time by the Supreme Court which dismissed the same with finality.

The third case was for alleged violation of the SALN law because Perez allegedly did not include the dollar deposit in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Networth for 2001. This case was dismissed by Third Division of the Sandiganbayan on June 15, 2011.

The fourth case against Perez was for falsification of public documents because he allegedly did not include the dollar deposit in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Networth for 2001, which is exactly the same as the third case against him for violation of the SALN law. This case was also dismissed, this time by the Fifth Division of the  Sandiganbayan on May 16, 2014 because “the prosecution failed to present competent or sufficient evidence against him to sustain the indictment or support a verdict of guilt.”

All of these four cases were dismissed one by one by the First, Second, Third and Fifth Divisions of the Sandiganbayan. So, from the point of view even of the common tao, tapos na ang boksing, like the Pacquiao fight. But after being acquitted in the four criminal cases and after the lapse of more than ten years since the alleged victim, Jimenez, complained about it, the Ombudsman still filed a civil case for forfeiture of the dollars allegedly received by Perez for which he was criminally charged and already acquitted. This move of the Ombudsman is really quite disturbing. It conveys a chilling message that a person already absolved in all four criminal cases filed against him can still be sued civilly for the same subject. This is not only forum shopping but a form of harassment since the dismissal of the criminal cases indubitably shows that there is really no basis for filing the civil case.

With this recent move, the Ombudsman has further confirmed the public perception that administration of justice in this country not only takes so long but seems to have no end. This is quite unfortunate because the Ombudsman is supposed to be more efficient, independent and impartial in the performance of her job as champion of the people and Tanodbayan.

Announcement: Kindly support the event organized by the Ateneo High School Class 12J of my grandson Jigo Sison which happens tomorrow, Nov. 29, 2014 at the Cervini field of the Ateneo de Manila University starting at 4 p.m.The event is called EXSTO or the Latin term meaning “to show one’s self” amply demonstrating that these young boys are already grown up and matured enough to organize such a unique affair consisting of a picnic, concert and movie for the benefit of the Tulong Dunong and Katipunan Calamity Fund drive. You can get your tickets from Cef 639175384694.

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Email: attyjosesison@gmail.com








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