Muntinlupa judge faces extortion raps

By Edu Punay,The Philippine Star

Posted at Jul 01 2013 06:55 AM | Updated as of Jul 01 2013 02:55 PM

MANILA, Philippines - A Muntinlupa commercial court judge is facing charges before the Supreme Court (SC) for allegedly extorting P10 million from a litigant in a corporate rehabilitation case.

The high court’s Office of Court Administrator, which has administrative jurisdiction over all judges in the country, has confirmed it is investigating Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 256 Judge Leandro Catalo on a complaint filed last month by real estate developer AMA Land Inc. (AMALI).

An insider told The STAR the judge was already ordered to answer the allegations.

In a seven-page complaint filed by its chief finance officer Danilo Jugno, the firm accused Catalo of direct bribery, serious misconduct, knowingly rendering an unjust judgment and gross ignorance of the law.

AMALI alleged that the judge met with their lawyers in December 2012 at a restaurant in Alabang and demanded P10 million in exchange for allowing the ongoing rehabilitation of the firm to proceed.

The STAR tried but failed to get Catalo’s answer to the charges.

Catalo allegedly told AMALI lawyers that he wanted to terminate the firm’s rehabilitation, which involves the substitution of creditors for the construction of AMA Residences, despite a recommendation by the receiver for the rehabilitation to continue until December 2017.

Jugno said their firm refused to give in to the judge’s demand and their lawyers met with him twice after that meeting “to dissuade him from his unlawful demand.”

Last Feb. 17, Catalo handed down an order that “precipitately and unilaterally closed and terminated the corporate rehabilitation of AMALI.”

The firm asked the SC to dismiss Catalo from service, forfeit all his benefits and bar him from holding another public office.