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SC ‘spares rod’ on errant judge

12:54 AM October 26, 2015

MAKATI REGIONAL Trial Court Judge Reynaldo Laigo was castigated by the Supreme Court for having “violated the Securities Regulation Code [SRC] and the Pre-Need Code of 2009 in (his) order, betraying the legislature’s intent to protect holders when it drew up such measures…” The judge failed to “consider the provisions of the SRC, the New Rules and the law on trusts, that should have warranted the exclusion of the trust fund from the insolvent estate of Legacy.” He “turned a blind eye to the will of Congress in passing the two laws” (“SC orders payment to preneed plan holders,” News, 10/13/15).

Victims of the “insurance and pension scam” were denied direct access to the P300-million trust fund of Legacy Consolidated Plans Inc. due to Laigo’s order lumping it up with the latter’s corporate inventory and putting such assets up for grabs by all its listed creditors. He even stopped the Securities and Exchange Commission from “further validating the claims of plan holders pertaining to the pre-need plan,” living up to the hubris that he alone could deal with those claims.

The Supreme Court put the overzealous judge in his right place, lecturing him that “the trust fund is for the sole benefit of the plan holders and cannot be used to satisfy the claims of other creditors of Legacy.” Well and good. But we cannot help wondering why no sanction was meted out against the judge who showed gross ignorance of the law! It was not an honest mistake in understanding a complicated law; it was wanton disregard of what was plainly the language and spirit of a simple law.

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The high court’s displeasure was manifest, yet it did not see fit to give the errant judge even a slap on the wrist! As the saying goes: Spare the rod, spoil the child! That holds true even for adults, like judges who “turn a blind eye” to what is patently unjust and unlawful—or worse, dictated by common sense. A severe reprimand or a fine would have gone a long way toward instilling discipline among magistrates who rule over their courtrooms like petty tyrants and do as they please!

—JAN VINCENT L. MARTINEZ, jvlopez_mart@yahoo.com

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