De Lima's bid for CJ suffers major blow

Posted at 07/30/2012 7:21 PM | Updated as of 07/31/2012 8:03 AM

IBP rejects her bid for summary dismissal of disbarment cases

MANILA (1st UPDATE) - The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) has rejected Justice Secretary Leila De Lima's bid to have the disbarment cases against her dismissed.

In a resolution dated July 28, the IBP Board of Governors ordered a full-blown investigation into 2 of the 3 cases against De Lima which stemmed from her defiance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the Supreme Court (SC) in November on the implementation of the travel ban imposed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) on former Pres. Gloria Arroyo.

The 9-page resolution by the IBP Board of Governors was signed by its president and chairman, Atty. Roan Libarios, Atty. Denis Habawel (Governor for Central Luzon), Olivia Velasco-Jacoba (Governor for Central Luzon), Dominic Solis (Governor for Grater Manila), Vicente Joyas (Governor for Southern Luzon), Leonor Gerona-Romero (Governor for Bicolandia), Erwin Fortunato (Governor for Western Visayas), Esraelito Torreon (Governor for Eastern Mindanao), and Florendo Opay (Governor for Western Mindanao).

The resolution reversed the recommendation of IBP Investigating Commissioner Oliver Cachapero for the summary dismissal of the disbarment cases filed separately by Atty. Ricardo Rivera, and Atty. Fernando Perito and Nepthali Iposa.

Cachapero recommended the summary dismissal, finding them "unmeritorious" after the submission of parties of their respective manifestations. He did not conduct further proceedings into the disbarment complaints.

In its resolution, the Board of Governors pointed out that the investigating commissioner cannot recommend for the "summary disposition and dismissal, without formal investigation or further proceedings, of a disbarment case referred by the Supreme Court to the IBP for investigation."

"It is already well-settled that the conduct of formal investigation is mandatory in disbarment cases referred by the Supreme Court to the IBP for investigation. As such, any summary dismissal of the case without further proceedings is rendered invalid," the resolution read.

The cases were referred to the IBP by the Supreme Court for "investigation, report and recommendation within 90 days" on July 3; the referral was received by the IBP on July 11.

The Board of Governors pointed out that it is only in cases filed directly with the IBP that the investigating commissioner may, based on preliminary determination of its merits, recommend for summary dismissal.

The IBP said the Supreme Court, in its referral to the IBP of the De Lima disbarment cases, is "presumed to have already made a preliminary determination that there is basis to proceed with formal investigation."

"Otherwise, the Supreme Court would have summarily dismissed the case," the resolution read.

The IBP also pointed out the cases of Delos Santos vs. Attys. Robiso and Victoriano (Dec. 14, 2001), Lilia Tabang and Concepcion Tabang vs. Atty. Glenn Gacott (Sept. 29, 2004), and Mercedes Nava vs. Atty. Benjamin Sorongon (Jan. 2004) where the high court reversed the IBP for summarily dismissed the disbarment case without formal investigation.

The IBP ordered Cachapero to proceed with the formal investigation which may not be concluded by Thursday, the day the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) is expected to vote on the shortlist for Chief Justice. De Lima, a Chief Justice nominee, was given up to the voting to have all pending administrative and/or criminal cases against her dismissed.

The IBP order comes at a bad time, with De Lima's father, former Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Vicente De Lima, passing away today. Commissioner De Lima succumbed to colon cancer at the age of 82. He will be buried on Saturday in his hometown, Iriga City, in Camarines Sur.

De Lima also has 3 pending cases before the Office of the Ombudsman.