Similarities, differences in Sta. Rosa and RPN cases
This is a reaction to F. Carmelo Aquino’s letter (“High court has reversed itself on 2nd MR,” Opinion, 3/4/15).
I wish to state that there are similarities and contrasting differences between Sta. Rosa Realty Development Corp. vs Juan Amante et al. (where the Supreme Court reversed itself on the second motion for reconsideration) and Bank of Commerce vs Radio Philippines Network (where the Court reversed, after four years, the final, executory and immutable Dec. 8, 2009, Court of Appeals decision dismissing the petitioner’s plea, and affirming the regional trial court writ of execution, and finding that the lower court did not commit any grave abuse of discretion in issuing the writ).
Letter-sender Aquino also pointed out that the decision violated other established doctrines such as: (1) only questions of law may be subject of review by the Court under Rule 45, but nevertheless it examined questions of fact; (2) dispositive portion prevails over the body of the decision, yet the Court gave weight to a phrase in the body of the decision. Worse, the decision did not express clearly and distinctly the facts and law on which it was based!
In both cases, the ponentes—Bernardo Pardo and Roberto Abad—have retired. What worries me is that in Sta. Rosa, the ponente of the amended decision (Associate Justice Alice Austria-Martinez) was a new member of the Special First Division; while in RPN, the new ponente (Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta) voted for the reversal of the immutable Court of Appeals decision! Will he reverse himself?
In Sta. Rosa, none of the members (Hilario Davide, Consuelo Ynares-Santiago, Renato Corona, Conchita Carpio Morales and Martinez) was identified with the petitioner. In RPN, Justice Francis Jardeleza was the general counsel of San Miguel Corp. that has a P500-million investment in the Bank of Commerce. He has not inhibited himself, yet. He holds the swing vote, having replaced ponente Justice Abad who retired in April 2014, since the four are not expected to change their votes, unless Justices Presbitero Velasco and Peralta see the light that the decision patently violated three established legal doctrines!
But the saving grace for RPN is that in Sta. Rosa, while they did not vote to reverse the Court of Appeals decision, Associate Justices Reynato Puno and Santiago Kapunan did not issue dissenting opinions. In RPN, Associate Justices Jose Mendoza and Marvic Leonen issued vigorous separate dissenting opinions.
—FIDEL M. LOPEZ, Maugat, Padre Garcia, Batangas
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