CA cites Claire dela Fuente for direct contempt

Posted at 09/04/14 1:28 PM

MANILA (UPDATED) - Veteran singer Claire de la Fuente has been castigated by the Court of Appeals for instituting several actions in court in an attempt to get a favorable ruling in connection with a tax evasion case involving her bus company.

In a 14-page decision penned by Associate Justice Pedro Corales, the appellate court’s special 15th division slapped de la Fuente, Clarita de Guzman in real life, with a guilty decision for direct contempt.

"This Court cannot countenance petitioners resort to the reprehensible practice of forum shopping which manipulates the court system, abuses its processes, degrades the administration of justice, and wastes valuable judicial resources," the CA ruled.

A litigant practices forum shopping when a litigant institutes two or more actions on the same case with the goal of getting a favorable ruling.

De la Fuente earlier asked the 16th division of the CA to quash a resolution of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima dated November 2, 2010 ordering to re-file the tax evasion case against Philippine Corinthian Line Corporation. The bus firm operated by de la Fuente supposedly failed to pay P417.8 million in taxes for the years 1997 to 2004.

De Lima had overturned the ruling of her predecessor, Justice Secretary Alberto Agra, who ordered to withdraw the case at the Court of Tax Appeals.

The sixteenth division of the CA later dismissed de la Fuente’s petition on August 15, 2012.

While the case was pending at the sixteenth division, however, de la Fuente filed a motion of reconsideration on de Lima’s ruling. This was denied on June 27, 2012.

This time, de la Fuente sought the CA’s help to set aside the final ruling of de Lima.

The appellate court said, however, that the filing of the motion for reconsideration with the DOJ while the case was pending at the court was a clear case of forum shopping.

"We therefore impose the maximum corresponding penalty, without prejudice to the appropriate administrative sanctions, and sternly warn petitioners against similar behavior in the future," the CA said.

It ordered de la Fuente and PCLC to pay a fine of P2,000 each and warned that a repeat of the offense will be dealt with more severely.