Ex-CJ Panganiban faces arrest over libel

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Former SC Panganiban

Former SC Panganiban

THE Court of Appeals (CA) has refused to issue an injunction order in favor retired Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban who was ordered arrested in view of a libel charge filed against him.

As such, the appellate court has given the go-signal for the former chief justice to be arraigned and prosecuted. The trial of his libel case will proceed before the Makati Regional Trial Court.

Up to the present, the Court of Appeals 10th Division failed to issue a writ of preliminary injunction, which would stop Panganiban’s arraignment and trial over the libel raps filed by businessman and former Marcos crony Herminio Disini.

The October 1, 2013 temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the appellate court in favor of the former chief justice has already lapsed and was no longer extended and renewed.


It was learned that the CA 10th Division cannot issue an injunction which would extend the life of the TRO because there was no hearing conducted as mandated by the Rules of Court.

The CA TRO lasts only for a period of 60-days or until November 30, 2013.

Instead, another division of the CA granted the plea of Panganiban that his separate petition in his libel case be consolidated with the CA 10th Division.

A three-page Resolution of the CA Seventh Division, penned by Associate Justice Priscilla Baltazar-Padilla, allowed that the case be consolidated with the CA 10th Division.

“Wherefore, the foregoing considered, let the present petition be consolidated with CA-GR SP 131896 pending with the Tenth Division of this Court subject to the replacement of this case pursuant to Sec. 4, Rule III of the 2009 Internal Rules of Court of Appeals,” it says.

This resolution was concurred by Justices Noel Tijam and Agnes Reyes-Carpio.

In the CA 10th Division, an injunction was not issued after Associate Justice Stephen Cruz asked for a hearing on the propriety of the issuance of an injunction order which is mandated by law.

The ponente and chairman of the division, Associate Justice Magdangal de Leon has yet to call for a hearing on the injunction case. The other member of the division is Associate Justice Myra Garcia-Fernandez.

According a CA insider, the former CJ allegedly “lobbied” to get the TRO CA to stop the Makati Court for his arraignment.

The source said Panganiban has been calling up Justices of the CA to save him from being arraigned by issuing a TRO for a period of 60-days.

Panganiban sought refuge from the appeals court to stop Judge Dina Pestano Teves of the Makati RTC Branch 142 from proceeding with the case.

The petition before the CA 10th Division was filed by Philippine Daily Inquirer editor-in-chief Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc. In the CA Seventh Division, Panganiban is the petitioner.

Panganiban is allegedly following-up his case after he was charged in court and was issued an arrest warrant.

This is in connection with the libel case filed by Disini against Panganiban for the alleged defamatory statements made by Panganiban in his column in the newspaper.

In a two-page Resolution of the CA, dated October 1, penned by de Leon, the court issued a 60-day TRO in favor of the former chief justice and newspaper.

“In the meantime, so as not to render any decision on the merits of the petition moot and academic, a temporary restraining order is hereby issued, to be effective from service and for a period of 60 days, Enjoining the Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 142, Makati City,” it avers.

The TRO was issued enjoining the lower court “from conducting further proceedings in Criminal Case 13-2084 entitled People of the Philippines vs. Artemio Panganiban and Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc, subject of the present petition.

When Panganiban is asking for his additional retirement benefits from the Supreme Court, an SC Justice told The Manila Times that Panganiban has been calling up and lobbied with fellow SC Justices as well.

The case stemmed from Panganiban’s alleged irresponsible and malicious in attacking Disini over the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP).

It all started on Disini’s lawyer, Jose Bernas call for Panganiban to correct his column on the BNPP entitled “After 35 Years, Still Languishing” which the Inquirer published on March 27, 2011. The letter to Panganiban was addressed to the newspaper.

Bernas stressed that if Panganiban will not correct his article, appropriate legal action awaits him for irresponsible attributions that intend to malign Disini’s s character.

It was pointed out that Panganiban’s use of the phrase “go-between” to describe Disini in the alleged BNPP deal portrayed him as evil and/or someone’s dummy.

Bernas questioned the assertion of Panganiban that the BNPP was constructed at $2 billion and challenged him to quote the source of information.

Bernas also questioned Panganibana’s statement attributing to Disini the decision to “abandon” or to otherwise not operate the BNPP. He added that Panganiban’s column was irresponsible because it does not mention an act or person to justify attribution to Disini.

He stressed that contrary to Panganiban’s aspersion, his client was a commercial agent and it was reckless for the former justice to portray his client with shady character without providing any reason for the portrayal.

The former chief justice’s aspersion over Disini started as early as 2003 when the former justice wrote the Decision in PCGG v. Desierto, et al., where he first exhibited his bent on attacking Disini.

In the said ruling said decision, Panganiban maliciously misquoted a mere opinion on an interlocutory motion rendered by the New Jersey Court on September 20, 1991 regarding the B NPP built by Westinghouse.

The decision dismissed the claim of the Republic of the Philippines that Westinghouse bribed Former President Marcos through Disini. Panganiban must have known or should have known that a decision was issued on 15 July 1993 in favor of Westinghouse, 10 years before his ponencia and 18 years before his column of 27 March 2011. “

He said that any responsible lawyer must verify first the status of a case he cites and would not have passed off a ruling or an opinion as a final or definitive decision.

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9 Comments

  1. Former CJ Panganiban is within his rights to use all legal means to dismiss a libel case against him. This is a matter of his first Amendment rights as a writer in a newspaper. It is not libelous. It will be dismissed sooner or later. Don’t you think the Lawyers of Disini is also doing exactly the same thing.. They also use their” ïnfluence” so the court of appeals would not extend the TRO.. In the end the Disini case aginst the former CJ would be dismissed

  2. Rosauro Feliciano on

    My prediction is just starting yo happen. At last those who were behind the Martial Law era will, at long last, stand on trial to answer their wrong doings. We say in Chavacano, Dios conciente pero no es para siempre.

  3. Panganiban’s lobbying and to keep calling to give him favor so that he will not be arraigned & arrested is pathetic. Let us see if Noynoy regime can help this former SC chief justice and chief legal counsel of the Liberal Party who with malicious intent portrayed and demonized Disini & FM in the deal between Westinghouse and Phil gov’t. without any backup of evidence. It is really very shameful for a beleaguered former chief justice to keep calling the Appealate court justices to help him out of this predicament. Does he have delicadeza?

  4. “This man in spite of owing his appointment as SC Chief to former Pres Arroyo.” Statements like these are what’s keeping our country from progressing. No one, especially not a Justice of the Supreme Court should be beholden to anyone including the appointing power. His allegiance is to the Constitution, not the appointing authority.

  5. Voice from the Wilderness on

    This former SC Chief who had shown his unbridled bias in favor of the present inconsequential Regime led by an inept president has at last reap his Karma. This man in spite of owing his appointment as SC Chief to former Pres Arroyo has invented legal highfalutin terms in order to justify the indictment of the former president by the present inept president in his column. It will be nice to see him being arrested and to explain his side in the police precinct. The public should wait for the reaction of the palace on this matter and it will reveal the hidden slip of this inept president.