Vizconde slaps Carpio with disbarment case

By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 06 2012 03:13 PM | Updated as of Aug 07 2012 05:40 AM

But IBP spokesperson says disbarment case likely to be dismissed

MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) - Supreme Court (SC) Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio has been slapped with a disbarment complaint by Lauro Vizconde two days before the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) takes a vote on who should be in its shortlist for the Chief Justice post.

In a five-page complaint affidavit filed with the high court today, Vizconde charged Carpio, one of the front runners in the Chief Justice race, of gross violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct and the Code of Professional Responsibility.

Vizconde alleged that Carpio, since 1992, when the latter joined government service, "had used undue influence" to manipulate appointments to various government offices, including the Judiciary. 

He claimed Carpio and his former law firm, Carpio Villaraza Cruz (The Firm), "orchestrated the ouster of former President Joseph Estrada in 2001."

Vizconde, whose family was murdered in 1991 in what later came to be known as the Vizconde massacre, alleged that applicants to posts in the Judiciary have to appear before Carpio and his former partners at The Firm and be interviewed by them.

Regarding Estrada's ouster, Vizconde's complaint stated that "Carpio and the other members of the The Firm used undue influence to manipulate the ruling of the Supreme Court at [the] time that former President Estrada constructively resigned as President. This resulted to the ouster of former Pres. Estrada and 'legalized' the presidency of Gloria M. Arroyo."

Vizconde also claimed that Carpio had a hand in the impeachment of former Chief Justice Renato Corona.

Vizconde had earlier opposed Carpio's nomination for Chief Justice. In a letter to the JBC, Vizconde claimed the magistrate influenced the outcome of the Vizconde massacre case at the Court of Appeals (CA) and SC in favor of accused Hubert Webb. Carpio testified at the trial as witness for Webb.

Regarding the Vizconde massacre case, Carpio pointed out in his formal reply to the JBC that he was already cleared of the charge in an en banc resolution of the high court dated Feb. 15, 2011.

The disbarment complaint, in order to be a full-blown regular administrative case, has to be acted upon by the Supreme Court en banc and prima facie evidence established.

The complaint is calendared for Tuesday's en banc agenda.

However, since incumbent SC justices are impeachable officers, they cannot be removed by disbarment.

IBP spokesperson Trixie Angeles said justices have immunity and can only be removed through impeachment.

She said the IBP cannot conduct disbarment proceedings against Carpio, and Vizconde's disbarment case will probably be dismissed.

ABS-CBN News is trying to get the side of Carpio. The SC Public Information Offie (PIO) said he still has to read the complaint.