COCKTALES | Justices dis-Grace Pulido-Tan, Jardeleza over altered affidavit, tax-evasion case delay means BUSINESS

Candidate Supreme Court justice Maria Gracia Pulido-Tan has received the equivalent of a legal spanking after the chairman of the Commission on Audit submitted a "blatantly falsified" and antedated affidavit of a notary public attached to a COA petition.

The questioned document, which suffered from several defects like the absence of notarial commission, office address and bar membership number, was submitted by the COA chairman ironically to correct a previously defect-laden petition filed earlier with the Court of Appeals.

"We find (Pulido-Tan's) compliance not only completely unsatisfactory, but also absolutely reprehensible," said Associate Justice Agnes Reyes-Carpio, as fellow justices Noel Tijam and Priscilla Baltazar-Padilla concurred.

The three justices particularly cited the certification of non-forum shopping and the affidavit of service, which made it appear that the document had been subscribed and sworn on November 21, 2013 when the notary public's professional tax receipt number was in fact only issued on January 9, 2014.
"The rules were disregarded too many times to merit any more tolerance by this court," said the three appellate justices as they denied last month the COA chairman's petition to reverse a Civil Service Commission's order.

The CSC had earlier dismissed, later reduced to a reprimand, COA employee Coleta Cedro for serious dishonesty and other offenses but COA and Pulido-Tan like mother hens wrapped their wings around their errant colleague and fought the penalty.

The same CA seventh division, meanwhile, also faulted Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares and Solicitor-General Francis Jardeleza for a fatal delay that finally led to the dismissal of a tax evasion complaint against St. Paul College of Makati.

The Office of the Solicitor General, which represented the BIR in the litigation, had cited the "inordinate volume of work" as it sought a 10-day extension beyond the 60-day window to file a petition for certiorari.
But the same justices, save for Marlene Gonzales-Sison in lieu of Noel Tijam, rejected the OSG appeal, citing a Supreme Court ruling that heavy workload is no excuse to deviate from the 60-day rule.
Wheels come off BMW case
The stalled, decade-long litigation of Wheels car dealership in Quezon City against BMW has been revived.

The Court of Appeals last month reversed the Makati Regional Trial Court's dismissal of the Wheels' damage suit, remanding the case back to the Makaticourt for trial.

The Makati RTC had dismissed the Wheels complaint in 2009 for failing to take the arbitration route in Singapore as provided for in the BMW franchise agreement.

But appellate justices Amelita Tolentino, Ricardo Rosario and Leoncia Dimagiba said the P75-million reimbursement claim by Wheels principals Ramon Goh, Escorton Teng and Antonio Teng for their alleged capital and inventory expenses "does not pertain to any matters that must be referred to arbitration."
The litigation started a year after German carmaker formally took over the import and distribution of BMW from Asian Carmakers Corp., which had awarded a dealership to Wheels in 1995.

Despite being ranked number 2 dealer for 2001, BMW terminated the Wheels franchise the following year, even after a series of mediation meetings initiated by BMW Philippines and Asian Carmakers chairman Jose Alvarez.
PDIC denies Rufino coverage
The Philippine Deposit Insurance Commission has denied the claim of real estate magnate Macario Rufino to have his savings deposit in the shuttered Export and Industry Bank covered by the mandatory insurance coverage of P500,000.

The Rufino account was where Export Bank had been depositing its P100,000 a month rent for its Ayala Rufino branch and the account, by PDIC definition, did not fall within the purview of "money received by a bank in the usual course of business."

Besides, Rufino was actually a landlord of Export Bank and not a depositor in the strict sense, the PDIC ruled.

Furthermore,  Export Bank was crediting Rufino's account by actually booking the expenses under rent even when the bank's liquidity had already been deemed as, the PDIC pointed out, "critically deficient."
Rufino sued the PDIC but the Court of Appeals last month stood squarely behind PDIC chairman Cesar Purisima and president Valentin Araneta in rejecting Rufino's claim.
Villafuertes: Lose some, settle some
After years of skirmishing with bank creditors, former Camarines Sur Governor Luis Raymund Villafuerte Jr. and his wife Lara Maria appear to be finally on the financial rebound.

The Villafuerte couple have reached an amicable settlement with China Bank over the couple's export-oriented loan extended years ago by the bank of taipan Henry Sy, with the settlement having received final judicial approval last month.

This left the Security Bank still trying to collect against the Villafuertes on the $1.12 million loan it had extended in 2007 to the couple's Lara's Gifts and Decors business.

Relations between Security Bank and the Villafuertes have gotten so bad at one point that bank officers trying to serve a writ of attachment on the couple's Alabang home had been shooed away by armed guards.

Back in his province, the ex-governor also lost in his 2009 feud with then Naga City Mayor Jesse Robredo, when the Court of Appeals rejected Villafuerte and upheld the Robredo-enacted ordinance prohibiting vending and the holding of trade fairs at the two city plazas.

Villafuerte and the provincial government sued Robredo and the city government after the Naga police dismantled in August 2009 the province-sponsored trade fair that Villafuerte insisted on holding on the city-owned Plaza Rizal despite the city hall ban.

Villafuerte pursued the case up to this year even after the Supreme Court in September 2009 already ruled that the contested plaza fell under the administrative control and supervision of the city government.