Bersamin inhibition sought in Landbank case before SC

Posted at 09/30/2012 5:32 PM | Updated as of 09/30/2012 5:32 PM

MANILA, Philippines -- After being tagged in a plunder complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman, the inhibition of Associate Justice Lucas Bersamin is now being sought in a case before the Supreme Court.

Last week, a certain Emilio Aguinaldo Suntay went to the Office of the Ombudsman to file several criminal charges against officials of San Miguel Global Power Holdings Corp., including chairman Ramon Ang and board member Roberto Ongpin in connection with the allegedly “disadvantageous” purchase of shares in power distributor Manila Electric Co. (Meralco).

The complaint also sought for an investigation “for the purposes of filing an impeachment case” against Bersamin, whom Suntay alleged “always gets himself assigned as the ponente thereafter favoring cases handled by [SMC lawyer Estelito Mendoza].”

Suntay’s grandfather, Federico, has a pending case before the SC. The latter case could be connected to the one filed before the Ombudsman.

It refers to the cancellation of Landbank's 42,002,750 Meralco shares valued at around P2.5 billion in 2008 in favor of Federico Suntay, who is represented by assignee Josefina Lubrica.

Landbank then challenged this before the SC. The bank said the shares are not part of the Agrarian Reform Fund, for the payment of just compensation to landowners, including Suntay.

In a decision penned by Bersamin last December 14, 2011, the SC ruled in favor of Landbank. The high court directed Meralco to cancel the stock certificates issued to Lubrica, saying the "the levy of Land Bank's Meralco shares was void and ineffectual."

A motion for reconsideration has subsequently been filed.

In a pleading for the inhibition of Bersamin, the lawyers of Federico Suntay said another favorable decision for Landbank would “allow SMC Global Power Holdings, which has an outstanding contract with [Landbank], to acquire Meralco shares worth billions of pesos.”

The lawyers said Bersamin was the author in other cases involving SMC, such as the granting of the 20% shares in the company to businessman Eduardo "Danding" Cojuangco.