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Supreme Court: Denial of Borlongan Motion for Reconsideration Final

01.08.2004

The Supreme Court denied for the second time and with finality the petition filed by former Urban Bank President Teodoro Borlongan questioning the dismissal by the Ombudsman of the criminal charges he filed against several BSP officials in connection with the closure of Urban Bank.

The Seventeenth Division of the Court of Appeals also denied Mr. Borlongan’s motion for reconsideration of its September 18, 2003 decision dismissing the administrative complaint against BSP officers in connection with the closure of Urban Bank.

BSP General Counsel Juan de Zuniga, Jr. said these decisions are consistent with the position taken by BSP officials in all their submissions to the courts that the closure of Urban Bank was regular, valid and complied with the requirements of the law and due process.

In a resolution dated November 24, 2003 which was released this week, the Third Division of the Supreme Court said: “The Court deliberated on the petitioner’s motion for reconsideration of the resolution of October 13, 2003 which dismissed the petition for certiorari. It appears to the Court that the motion merely reiterates the same arguments earlier raised and does not present any substantial reason not previously invoked nor any matter not already considered and passed upon by the Court. Accordingly, the Court Resolved to DENY the motion for reconsideration for lack of merit. This denial is FINAL.”

It will be recalled that in response to the first motion for reconsideration filed by Mr. Borlongan, the Third Division of the Supreme Court in its October 13 resolution said: “we find no compelling reason to deviate from the ruling of the Ombudsman that the right to question the action of the BSP officials in closing the bank and placing it under receivership belongs only to the stockholders representing the majority of the capital stock of the banks.

The Supreme Court said the petition raises the sole issue of “whether or not the Ombudsman committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of or in excess of jurisdiction in dismissing petitioner’s complaint for lack of probable cause.” In its order dismissing the case, the Supreme Court ruled that the determination whether a probable cause exists lies within the sound discretion of the Office of the Ombudsman. The Supreme Court also stated that “it can be readily discerned that the findings of the Ombudsman are essentially factual in nature.”

Meanwhile, the 17th Division of the Court of Appeals also denied Mr. Borlongan’s motion for reconsideration of its September 18, 2003 decision dismissing the administrative complaint against BSP officers in connection with the closure of Urban Bank.

In a resolution penned by Associate Justice Mario L. Guarina III and concurred in by Associate Justice Martin S. Villarama,Jr. and Associate Justice Jose C. Reyes,Jr., the Seventeenth Division of the CA said: “The arguments of the respondent have already been passed upon adequately in our decision and we find no cogent reason to disturb our original findings.

“We add a few words to the respondent’s prayer in his motion that we set aside our decision for being inconsistent with the decision of the Fifth Division of this Court in CA-GR SP No. 72270. It is correct to say that the two cases SP 72234 (17th Division) and SP 72270 (5th Division) should have been consolidated because of similar issues of fact and law. But if this was only done, THE CONSOLIDATION SHOULD HAVE BEEN DONE BEFORE US, the 17th Division – because Ours has the lower docket number and under the 2002 Internal Rules of Court of Appeals, consolidated cases should pertain to the Justice to whom the case with lower docket number is assigned. Under the same Rules, moreover, the consolidation of SP 72234 and 72270 should have been done by the respondent asking both the 17th and 5th Division to have the cases consolidated before the 17th Division, or the ponente of 5th Division may exercise the discretion to transfer SP 72270 to us, the 17th Division. The 17th Division could not motu propio order the consolidation.

“Without a consolidation, there is no rule of law or jurisprudence that prevents us, the 17th Division, from deciding SP 72234 according to our own independent judgment, any more than the 5th Division can be prevented from ruling upon SP 72270 according to their own independent judgment.

“The records show that respondent had, indeed, filed with us a motion to consolidate SP 72270 with our SP 72234. But for reasons only known to him, he withdrew the motion for consolidation. He even said that the 5th Division had eventually denied the consolidation of the case with us, again for reasons we do not know. Under these circumstances, without a consolidation, both divisions will have to decide their own cases, and any resulting conflict in the decisions on similar issues of fact and law will have to be resolved ultimately by the Supreme Court as the supreme arbiter of all justiciable controversies in this jurisdiction.

“For the respondent to make it appear as if we are to blame for the conflict between the two divisions of the Court, after the respondent refused to consolidate the cases before us, is absurd and comical. Absurd, because he is saying in so many words that we should not exercise an independent judgment in our case anymore after the 5th Division happened to decide its case ahead of us, and comical because he has reduced the adjudicative process into a race between the cases. If we had only known that this was the kind of ballgame he wanted us to observe, we would have considered our case submitted for decision a long time ago, immediately after he filed his comment, and bar the parties from filing replies, memoranda and other pleadings as a waste of our time. This is how things would turn out if we pursued his line of thinking ad absurdum.

“To repeat, the respondent refused to have his case in the 5th Division consolidated before us. If he is to fault anyone now for the consequences of this non-consolidation, he should point all his fingers to himself. The motion for reconsideration is denied.”

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