Who is SC's richest magistrate?

By Edu Punay, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jul 11 2014 09:51 AM | Updated as of Jul 11 2014 05:51 PM

MANILA - The Supreme Court (SC) has released the statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) for 2013 of its justices, which showed that all of them became richer last year.

The magistrates approved the release of their SALNs during a session last month upon petition by several media outfits.

The documents were released amid a move in Congress by administration allies to scrutinize judicial funds after the high court struck down the Priority Development Assistance Fund of lawmakers and the Disbursement Acceleration Program of President Aquino.

Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo remains the richest magistrate of the high court. His SALN showed a net worth of P122,217,723.13 in 2013, up by over P12 million from his net worth of P109,743,118.28 in the previous year.

Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio is the second richest with P84,309,762.57 in net worth for 2013, which is less than half a million pesos higher than his net worth of P83,885,614.57 in 2012.

Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, the most junior justice in the SC, had the lowest net worth – P1,817,706.75 last year, slightly up from his P1,674,623.22 in 2012.

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno’s net worth also grew by less than P1 million from P18,143,104.01 in 2012 to P19,012,648.21 last year.

Associate Justice Bienvenido Reyes had P78,274,991 in net worth last year, higher by some P1.7 million than his P76,542,167.31 in 2012.

Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe had P74,633,410 in net worth in 2013, also a million pesos higher than her P73,827,435 the previous year.

The SALN of Associate Justice Roberto Abad, who retired from the judiciary last May 22, showed a net worth of P47.3 million.

In the latest SALNs, Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta had a net worth of P32,438,231.25 for 2013; Justice Jose Mendoza with P31,578,801.43; Associate Justice Lucas Bersamin with P27,818,400; Justice Martin Villarama Jr. with P24,071,521.84; Justice Arturo Brion with P16,599,909; Justice Jose Perez with P13,599,000; Justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro with P10,416,000 and Presbitero Velasco Jr. with P10,385,089.49.

The SALNs of the justices were made public for the first time after 20 years in August 2012, some two months after the high court issued guidelines for releasing the SALNs of judges and justices.

The high court made the move after former chief justice Renato Corona was removed from the top judicial post by the Senate on May 29, 2012 after he was found guilty of culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust.

His impeachment trial showed that he did not declare millions worth of properties in his SALN.

In previous years, the wealth of SC justices were not released due to a May 2, 1989 resolution where magistrates unanimously ruled to deny the request of one Jose Alejandrino for release of their SALNs.

The high court stood by the previous rule with another resolution in 1992, saying it wanted to protect justices and judges from acts that may “endanger, diminish or destroy their independence and objectivity in the performance of their judicial functions."