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PNoy’s ex-finance manager shortlisted for SC

By NEWSBREAK

The JBC’s 2 top picks also include a friend of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo

MANILA, Philippines—A former finance manager of President Aquino’s previous security agency, who is now a Court of Appeals Justice, is one of the six nominees short-listed for the two vacancies in the Supreme Court.

Also in the short list is a friend of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, a real estate businessman who got seven of the total eight votes from the vetting body, the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), in their meeting last Tuesday, June 21, 2011.

The High Tribunal has two vacant positions previously occupied by Conchita Carpio-Morales and Eduardo Nachura, who retired on June 13 and 19, respectively.

Last Tuesday, the JBC chose six from the 28 nominees to the two vacancies. This list of six will be given to President Aquino, who will make the final choice. (Read: Court of Appeals justices among 6 top picks for SC)

Fast facts on Bienvenido Reyes

  • Justice, Court of Appeals (present)
  • Finance manager, Best Security Agency Inc., 1987-1990
  • Finished law in San Beda
  • Nominated for SC in 2010

CA Justice Bienvenido Reyes, a friend of President Aquino who served as finance manager of the Best Security Agency, Inc. (BSA) from 1987 to 1990, got six votes from JBC members despite the fact that the High Court in 2010 reprimanded him for simple misconduct.

The case arose

from Reyes’s involvement in the controversial intra-corporate case between the then Lopez-owned Manila Electric Company (Meralco) and the Government Service Insurance System.

Reyes signed a decision favoring Meralco even before CA Presiding Justice Conrado Vasquez could decide on which of the court’s two divisions should resolve the case.

The Meralco-GSIS case exposed serious ethical

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issues, prompting the Supreme Court to investigate accusations of bribery. Reyes then faced an SC panel that eventually reprimanded him for simple misconduct.

Two members of the JBC did not vote for Reyes: Sen. Francis Escudero and Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas.

Aside from reprimanding him, the SC also admonished Reyes in 2001 for failing to immediately resolve a motion in a civil case.

PNoy’s security agency

Reyes and President Aquino worked together when the latter’s mother was president.

In 1986, then presidential son Noynoy Aquino set up a security agency business with his uncle Antolin “Len” Oreta.

BSA, which carries Aquino’s initials, was registered using Arlegui, the President’s official residence, also as its office address. It outsourced bodyguards to private companies.

Reyes, called by friends “Bojie,” admitted to Newsbreak that he had worked in Aquino’s former company. His personal data sheet submitted to the JBC shows that the CA justice served as finance manager of BSA from 1987 to 1990.

During that time, Noynoy Aquino was the company’s vice president and treasurer. He served in both capacities from 1986 to 1996, based on published data.

That Reyes was reprimanded by the SC in 2010 was never brought up by the JBC when he was interviewed last May.

Some JBC members said they did not consider Reyes’s previous administrative punishment as a key factor in their selection.

Jose Mejia, the representative of the academe to the JBC, said a “reprimand is not necessarily related to one’s integrity and probity. ” These are the two established qualifications for a member of the country’s highest court, the others being competence and independence.

Tupas, another JBC member, said that what could be a serious setback for a contender is a pending case, since JBC rules stipulate that this is grounds for disqualification.

When Newsbreak asked Reyes about the SC reprimand, he said: “I was the victim there [in the Meralco case].”

Following are excerpts from the JBC interview with Justice Bienvenido Reyes on May 20, 2011:

JBC: What made you apply for the SC?
Reyes: I’m prepared and conditioned for the position.
JBC: What do you think of having more women in the SC?
Reyes: I have no objection to that
JBC: What is your greatest challenge if ever you are appointed to the Court?
Reyes: To be [on a par] with other SC justices

Robles: GMA ally

Another controversial JBC pick is Robles, who received seven votes from the council— the votes of SC Chief Justice Renato Corona, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, lawyer Jose Mejia who represents the academe, Ma. Milagros Fernan-Cayosa from the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, retired SC Justice Regino Hermosisima, former Court of Appeals Justice Aurora Lagman, and Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas.

Fast facts on Rodolfo Robles

  • President of Landphil Management Corp., a real estate company (present)
  • 1967 Bar topnotcher, with an average of 89.6
  • Masters of laws, Harvard University
  • Nominated for SC in 2009

The only council member who did not vote for him is Sen. Francis Escudero.

Robles admitted to Newsbreak in an interview in 2009 that his family is close to Arroyo’s father, the late president Diosdado Macapagal.

If the JBC had stuck by its old rules, Robles should have been disqualified from the start because of old age.

The JBC’s original rules stipulated that non-career applicants should be able to serve in the High Court for five years, no less, before they reach the mandatory retirement age of 70. Robles is already 67 years old.

The JBC, however, relaxed its rules on age also in 2009, when he was first nominated to an SC post. He was 65 years old and five months then.

During his interview with the JBC in May, Robles said that his possible stint in the SC, no matter how short, would be productive. He went as far as saying that he will spend part of his salary on hiring more researchers and consultants to facilitate his work.

“It is not a matter of how long you make it, but how you make it long,” he told the JBC.

Following are excerpts from Robles’s public interview on May 20, 2011:

JBC: What’s your judicial philosophy?
Robles: Libertarian as far as constitutional rights are considered, conservative when it comes to business and government, fair in general.
JBC: How are you as a private person?
Robles: I try to be a complete man. I have to interact with people. I’m a lay minister in church.
JBC: Why should we nominate you?
Robles: I want to do something meaningful, pursue a dream with a passion.
JBC: Any significant development since you last tried for the Supreme Court?
Robles: I have been doing a lot of reading, I’ve been trying to write a book.
JBC: What sets you above other applicants?
Robles: Different, not above. I look at problems coupled with a passion.
JBC: Do you believe the constitution should be amended?
Robles: I am in favor of a unicameral, federal form of government..I believe part of our problem is the structure of the government.

Not Corona’s choice

Like Robles, another nominee got seven votes from the JBC—Court of Appeals Justice Jose Reyes (not related to the other nominee, Bienvenido Reyes). Only SC Chief Justice Renato Corona did not vote for him.

 

Fast facts on Jose Reyes

  • Justice and chair of 13th division, Court of Appeals (present)
  • Teaches business law and legal management at De La Salle University
  • Applied in 2008 but withdrew his application because he wasn’t a chairman yet of a division.

Reyes, chair of the CA’s 13th division, got the votes of Cayosa, Escudero, Hermosisima, Lagman, Mejia, Tupas and De Lima.

A leader of the Couples for Christ, Jose Reyes is sometimes called “bishop” in the CA due to his known integrity. He spearheaded a “Christian Life” program in the CA.

During the JBC public interview, Reyes considered his introduction of the moral recovery program in the appellate court as one of his greatest achievements. A chapter leader in the religious organization Couples for Christ, Reyes spearheaded a “Christian Life” program in the CA.

When asked however how will he decide on cases that threaten to compromise his religious conviction, Reyes said, “Between what is moral and legal, I will adhere to the rule of law.”

Following are excerpts from the JBC interview with Reyes on May 20, 2011:

JBC: What are your views on the Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE is a program where lawyers are required to undergo training after being admitted into the bar)?
Reyes: There should be more subjects relative to legal ethics.
JBC: Why emphasize legal ethics?
Reyes: There’s a problem with perceptions of impropriety among judges and lawyers.
JBC: What is your policy on accepting gifts?
Reyes: I accept reasonable gifts only from very close friends on special occasions like Christmas.
JBC: Why are you right for the appointment at SC?
Reyes: I’ve been in the judiciary for many years. I spent the best years of my life in the judiciary and I have untainted reputation.

The other nominees in the short list are Magdangal de Leon, formerly with the Office of the Solicitor General, Jafar Dimaampao and Estela Bernabe.

Dimaampao nominated Arturo Brion for chief justice in 2010–when the senior SC justices at the time declined the nomination due to the belief that only the next President should appoint the new chief.—Newsbreak

(Editor’s note: We previously reported that Justice Bienvenido Reyes finished his law in UST. We were wrong. He finished his law in San Beda and his undergrad course in UST. Our apologies)

CATEGORY: Institutions, Justice System, The Judiciary
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  1. Johnny Lin says:

    Could you check the facts on Justice Bienvenido Reyes? He obtained his Law degree from San Beda instead of UST. Wasnt there another CA justice deeply involved in the Meralco vs. GSIS who was sanctioned by the SC, isnt it? SCCJ Corona was the lone dissenter for Justice Jose Reyes. What would be the implication of that action on their future relationship if J.Reyes would be appointed to SC?

  2. So, I will not qualify for a Justice of the SC because I was suspended from the practice of law for one year, and unlike Reyes who was only reprimanded, he is very much qualified. But look at the multi-million case that was involved, Meralco v. GSIS while SC said that I extorted the amount of P5,000 from a losing litigant because I implemented a lawful court order. Heck, the SC deserves Reyes, (the one that is reprimanded) and all other crooked lawyers because SCORP itself, with the exeption of a very few, is a house for scoundrels.

  3. In choosing SC Justice, the qualification should be free from any taint, even being reprimanded should automatically disqualify a candidate to SC justiis.
    In most develope and progressive countries Bienvinido Reyes won’t get the SC Justiis position.
    Our justiis system is fond of changing rules especially simple requirement as age…if it say 70 is the limit. stick to the rules. There is reason(case study), why 70 is the limit. In Canada the house of senate has age limit which is 70.

  4. have mistyped my link.. i am correcting it. :)

  5. glenda gloria says:

    hi,
    he finished his law in UST but took his masters in San Beda.
    thanks

  6. glenda gloria says:

    hi again,
    youre right. that was his undergrad course that he took in ust. he finished his law in san beda.
    sorry about that.
    thanks

  7. les reago says:

    The other CA justice eventually been dismissed by then CJ Puno was Mendoza involving B.Reyes of the GSIS-MERALCO intracase…B. Reyes as finance manager has yearnings of money and who else not…But his involvement of such and getting reprimand TELLS a person iota of evil and no amount of explanation coming from a member of the academe whose integrity is also being questioned could assuaged the very facto?

  8. lahat naman iyan mga “bandido” :)

  9. What has writer-historian Alfred W. McCoy say about the RP Supreme Court?

    In 1996, (Lucio) Tan established his first major firm, Fortune Tobacco, with the backing of President Marcos and soon won “tax breaks and near monopoly licenses” to capture some 70 per cent of the country’s cigarette market. At the height of martial law in 1980, the president also awarded Tan a license to open Asia Brewery as a rival of San Miguel Bee allowing this upstart company to win 20 per cent of the market. Illustrating the transfer of asserts from declining Spanish families to rising Chinese Taipans, Tan purchased the Tanduay distillery from Manuel ‘Manda’ Elizade in 1986, attracted, said Elizalde, by the ease of tax evasion in alcohol distribution, which matched Tan’s trademark practices at Fortune Tobacco. Indeed, the government filed a massive, billion-dollar tax evasion case against Tan’s tobacco company, but in 1996 the Supreme Court ruled in his favor, a decision so controversial that the justices felt compelled to issue a formal denial that they had been bribed. (Preface, An Anarchy of Families, p xx11)

    McCoy continued:

    “The persistence of oligarchic power is, moreover, made possible by both negative and positive factors, that is not only the active pursuit of power by elite families but also the relative weakness of countervailing social forces. Instead of insulating the state from oligarchic influence, the judiciary is often compromised by corruption or political pressure” (ibid, p xxv).

  10. But CJ Puno should have been dismissed too as a jurist, unfortunately, no one is above the SCORP, even though in terms of integrity, it members are less endowed compared with the lower courts.

  11. Rvl Gimenez says:

    “…reprimand is not necessarily related to one’s integrity or probity.”

    I went pale when I read that. I wonder why one should look at the reprimand rather than the reason for the reprimand. “Misconduct” was the reason and such misconduct occured in an incident that the article above describes as, “Reyes signed a decision favoring Meralco even before CA Presiding Justice Conrado Vasquez could decide on which of the court’s two divisions should resolve the case.”

    The article goes on the say, “The Meralco-GSIS case exposed serious ethical issues, prompting the Supre Court to investigate accusations of bribery. Reyes then faced an SC panel that eventually reprimanded him for simple misconduct.”

    Note must be given to the fact that the panel did not absolve him. Instead, it found him guilty of misconduct in a matter that had “serious ethical issues”.

    Whatever happened to “Ceasar’s wife” as the standard by which we must hold applicants to and occuptants of one of the highest offices of the land?

    Reyes claimed that he was a “victim”. Of whom and/or what? If he is, why did he not seek redress?

    Anyhow, if Reyes gets the presidential nod, he’ll be joining others who reportedly voted in favor of the issuance of a Status Quo Ante even before they read…

    He’ll be in good company. ;-)

  12. Johnny Lin says:

    SC appointment is a political process endorsed by JBC members appointed by the Executive and Legislative branches. Wheeling and dealing, name of the game of universal politics not unique to the Philipines.

  13. or i would add, what has veteran journalist Marites Vitug has to say about the SCORP? you can read her opus, “Shadow of Doubt” with its sequel, “Full of Doubt”.

  14. Thomas Jefferson said that:

    “Justices have, with others, the same passion for party, power and privilege of their corps.”

    In short these are politicians too and therefore they must act like real politicos, wheeling and dealing is commonplace. If Reyes, despite the gravity of his offense got slap on his hands only, it was because he was part of the same political party of the SCORP, which is soft on party-mates but harsh on those outside its party.

    This is the reason why a lawyer like me who was implementing a lawful court order got suspended from the practice of law because I was outside the party of the SCORP.

    Jurists as politicians was even acknowledged by Marites Vitug when she said in her book:

    “Justices behaved like politicians who switched parties as easily as they changed clothes, but in a less visible manner” (Shadow of Dobut, p. 236).

    But here is T. Jefferson again on the Judiciary:

    The Judiciary perversions of the Constitution will forever be protected under the pretext of errors of judgment, which by principle are exempt from punishment. Impeachment therefore is a bugbear which they fear not at all. But they would be under some awe of the canvas of their conduct which would be open to both houses regularly every sixth year. It is a misnomer to call a government republican, in which a branch of the supreme power is independent of the nation.
    To consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions [is] a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy. Our judges are as honest as other men, and not more so. They have, with others, the same passions for party, for power, and the privilege of their corps. Their maxim is “boni judicis est ainpliare jurisdictionem,” and their power the more dangerous as they are in once for life . . . The constitution has erected no such single tribunal, knowing that to whatever hands confided, with the corruptions of time and party, its members would become despots.
    It has long, however, been my opinion, and I have never shrunk from its expression (although I do not choose to put it into a newspaper, nor, like a Priam in armor, offer myself its champion), that the germ of dissolution of our federal government is in the constitution of the federal judiciary; an irresponsible body (for impeachment is scarcely a scarecrow) working like gravity by night and by day, gaining a little today and little tomorrow, and advancing its noiseless step like a thief, over the field of jurisdiction, until all shall be usurped from the States, and the government of all be consolidated into one. To this I am opposed; because, when all government, domestic and foreign, in little as in great things, shall be drawn to Washington as the center of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided of one government or another, and will become as venal and oppressive as the government from which we separated. It will be as in Europe, where every man must be either pike or gudgeon, hammer or anvil. Our functionaries and theirs are wares from the same workshop; made of the same materials, and by the same hand. If the States look with apathy on this silent descent of their government into the gulf which is to swallow all, we have only to weep over the human character formed uncontrollable but by a rod of iron, and the blasphemers of man, as incapable of self-government, become his true historians.

  15. daniel santos says:

    Our system is sick. Why appoint justices good for short-terms only? And why napakarami? Aside from bandido, mga kurakot lahat iyan – babawiin ang investment in the process of the vesting process!!!! Hay, Pinas, kawawa ka naman – wala na talagang pag-asa………

  16. daniel santos says:

    In addition to the justices, the same is true with the military. Generals and chiefs for short-terms – the same, pareho ang gagawin ng mga iyan – LIMASIN ANG KABAN NG BAYAN. What kunsensiya? TALAMAK na ito from the highest official down to the ordinary public servants!!! IDADASAL lang naman iyan with all the publicity in churches and solemn gatherings, solve na…..

  17. Just Ties says:

    Idasal is not a good attitude when problem feels difficult to resolve…fight it out. A good quote: sa tao ang gawa sa diyos ang awa o biyaya. We have to work ways and means to solution…not just pray that god will sove the problem for us.
    We should be thankfull god made use to live not exist (like objects).

  18. Rhea A. says:

    Please beware: PNOY should not choose Justice Estela Bernabe to the Supreme Court. I presumed those lawyers practicing in the Makati area must have known her working ethics if i may. She is branded the most corrupt lady Judge of Makati. Supported by a known Constitutionalist Priest of a well known Law School were she was a graduate. Rumored to have discrete and intimate relationship with the priest during and after her law study. She already sold her soul to the Devil….

  19. Liza Insider says:

    Re: Justice Bienvenido Reyes’ alleged involvement in the GSIS-MERALCO Case.

    Before you judge, look into the facts closely. Read the Decision GSIS vs. CA G.R. No. 183905, April 16, 2009 so you will be enlightened. Its hard to judge when you do not know the hard facts.

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