CA Justice under fire

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — A COURT of Appeals associate justice is now the subject of a formal complaint due to his highly-questionable decision to abruptly and hastily terminate the rehabilitation proceedings of Steel Corp. of the Phils. (SCP), instead of consolidating it with an earlier appeal involving the same issues and parties, in violation of the CA’s own internal rules.

Sources from the appellate court revealed that Presiding Justice Conrado Vasquez Jr. had created a committee that would handle the complaint against the decision of Associate Justice Juan Enriquez Jr. of the CA’s 12th Division.

The complaint against Enriquez’s decision in Case No. 101881 was contained in an 11-page letter to Vasquez and signed by lawyer Nonnatus Chua, vice president and corporate legal counsel of SCP, which is currently embroiled in a legal tussle over efforts to put the firm under rehabilitation initiated by Banco de Oro.

The complaint letter dated July 28 and received by the Office of the Presiding Justice on Aug. 4 stemmed from the decision of Enriquez, promulgated on July 3, which declared the rehabilitation proceedings in the lower court terminated despite the pendency of another appeal filed earlier by SCP (Case No. 101732) and assigned to the 11th Division with Justice Vicente Veloso as ponente.

Chua maintained that Enriquez should have consolidated his case (101881) with the case of Justice Veloso of the 11th Division since the latter has a lower docket number (101732) and involved the same issues and the same parties concerned. Both cases questioned the rehabilitation plan approved by Branch 2 of the Batangas Regional Trial Court.

Chua also pointed out that in issuing the July 3 decision, Enriquez did not allow most of the creditor banks and other indispensable parties to comment on the BDO petition and terminated the rehabilitation proceedings despite the fact that BDO, as petitioner, did not even ask for such termination.

“As a matter of fact, other creditors like DEG, Landmark Glory and Liquigaz, aside from SCP, did not agree with the termination and filed motions for reconsideration from the said decision,” Chua said.

Chua said the Appellate Court has no such authority to terminate the rehabilitation proceedings under Sec. 27 of the Interim Rules of Procedure on Corporate Rehabilitation and such power should be exercised by the rehabilitation court, in this case, Branch 2 of the Batangas RTC.