Business federation seeks review of SC’s UCPB ruling

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THE president of the Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI) asked the Supreme Court (SC) to investigate the tribunal’s justices who ruled against United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB), alleging violation of internal rules and the Constitution.

In his five-page letter, FPI President Jesus I. Arranza said the SC should look into whether Justices Lucas P. Bersamin, Samuel R. Martires, Noel G. Tijam, and Alexander G. Gesmundo violated the Constitution and SC internal rules in rendering the decision on Aug. 16, 2017.

Mr. Arranza argued that most of the justices in the Third Division were appointed only two to three days before Mr. Bersamin wrote the decision.

He argued that the Constitution says that cases or matters heard by a division shall be decided with the concurrence of majority of those who were part of the deliberations. The SC’s internal rules, meanwhile, require that a written report of the case be sent to all justices concerned seven days before the deliberations.

“From the circumstances surrounding the case, one cannot help but conclude that it was not possible for the members of the Third Division to have actually deliberated upon the case before the Decision dated August 16, 2017 was signed and released,” his letter read.

“Trusting that this matter will be included in the agenda of the Supreme Court En Banc to enable Honorable Chief Justice and Associate Justices to promptly discuss and act on this request,” he added.

He also said that UCPB “stands to lose at least a billion pesos if the decision dated Aug. 16, 2017 is not reconsidered.”

The Third Division on Aug. 16, 2017 reversed the 2014 decision of the Court of Appeals and reinstated the ruling of Lucena City regional trial court Branch 59, declaring that the loan obligations of the spouses Felix A. Chua and Carmen L. Chua of P103.9-million to UCPB were fully paid through a Memorandum of Agreement dated March 21, 2000.

UCPB was also ordered to execute the appropriate Deeds of Reconveyance to the petitioners over 18 real properties listed in the Real Estate Mortgage.

The bank was also ordered to return plaintiff’s titles in the amount of P200-million. It likewise ordered the payment of P249.31-million worth of damages. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas