Is Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta actually aware of what is taking place in his tribunal? It doesn’t seem like he does.
On 19 October 2019, a veteran columnist in a newspaper of general circulation (not the Daily Tribune), wrote about the existence in the Supreme Court of “a cabal of clerks and assistants” which has become “a powerful syndicate that is able to preempt the justices themselves.”
The columnist also said he personally reviewed documents that show how “a clerk at the SC was able to release ‘quotations’ from a ruling that does not exist.”
That revelation should have prompted an immediate investigation by the SC, but three months have passed and the SC Court Administrator, Atty. Jose Midas Marquez, has not issued any statement on the matter.
Perhaps, Marquez has been too busy trying to get himself appointed as associate justice of the SC. Marquez has applied for the position several times but has been unsuccessful. Somebody should tell him to get back to work as taxpayers expect him to.
On 9 January 2020, another veteran columnist of the same newspaper cited above also released a bombshell about the SC. The columnist cited the case of Camarines Norte Governor Edgardo Tallado, whose re-election bid last year was questioned by two registered voters of the province on the ground that Tallado already served three consecutive terms as governor and, under the law, ineligible for a fourth consecutive term.
Well, the Commission on Elections allowed Tallado’s fourth run, and he won. One of the petitioners against Tallado, a certain Norberto Villamin, brought the case to the SC. He is represented by election lawyer Romulo Macalintal.
On 12 September 2019, the media reported that according to the SC website, the SC ruled in favor of Tallado by way of an 8-6 decision promulgated on 10 September 2019.
The next day, Villamin’s lawyer went to the SC Office of the Clerk of Court to get a copy of the decision. Surprisingly, he was told that the said office has not received a copy of the decision as of that date.
Records indicate that as early as April 2019, a certain Atty. Edgar O. Aricheta was already the Clerk of Court. There is so much that the public should know about this individual.
On 4 December 2019, Atty. Macalintal wrote a letter to the SC Clerk of Court to inquire about the decision. In a letter dated 5 December 2019, the Clerk of Court replied that “the Court has yet to release an official copy of the decision which would be sent to the parties once it is promulgated.” Macalintal received a copy of that letter only on 23 December 2019.
Note that on 19 December 2019, Atty. Macalintal saw a copy of the decision on the SC website with the annotation that the decision was promulgated on 10 September 2019. That is manifestly different from what the Clerk of Court stated in his letter to Macalintal dated 5 December 2019.
It appears that under the internal rules of the SC, a decision is “deemed promulgated on the date it is received and acknowledged by the Clerk of Court from the Office of the Chief Justice or the Division chairperson.”
If a decision is already published on the SC website, logic dictates that it must have been promulgated. How the decision in the Tallado case made it to the SC website and remained there for about three months without the Clerk of Court first getting a copy of it is a glaring anomaly.
Almost two weeks have passed since the revelation on the Tallado case came out. Chief Justice Peralta and Court Administrator Marquez seem to be avoiding the issue by their deafening silence on the matter.
Taking their cue from the foregoing revelations, a lawyer and his client, a septuagenarian widow, are likewise complaining about some “resolutions” in the SC likewise promulgated under very suspicious circumstances and which, they say, involve the same Clerk of Court in the Tallado case, Atty. Edgar Aricheta, and a division clerk of court, Atty. Librada Buena.
(to be continued)