MANILA - Ousted Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno is not a party to the case over the payment of $6 million in attorney’s fees to her and other members of the government’s legal team in the arbitration case against the Philippine International Air Terminals Co. Inc. (Piatco), her spokesperson said Friday.
Lawyer Jojo Lacanilao clarified that the recent reversal of the ruling over the payment of $6 million for the cost of arbitration proceedings to Sereno and other lawyers has nothing to do with the former top magistrate personally.
"The Chief Justice is not a party to this case," Lacanilao told ANC.
"Chief Justice Sereno is not part of the case. She does not know what is going on in the case. This has nothing to do with her right now personally," he added.
Lacanilao also noted that the timing of the case is a bit "strange."
"We can read a lot into it but maybe it's just coincidental. It's a funny coincidence," he said.
Sereno served as government counsel in arbitration proceedings against Piatco, builder of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3.
The appeals court's 11th division reversed the decision of its 17th division and denied the government’s bid for enforcement of $6 million for the cost of arbitration proceedings before the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) International Court of Arbitration.
These costs, described as “five times more than that of Piatco,” include Sereno’s legal fees from 2003 to 2009, amounting to US$ 275,973.21 after deducted 15 percent by the government.
The $6 million constituted 25 percent of government’s total arbitration cost of $24 million, which the ICC International Court of Arbitration ordered Piatco to pay.
Asked whether Sereno found the fees she received from the case to be excessive, Lacanilao said: "She's okay with the money paid to her. She was paid correctly according to the engagement contract and that's all there is to it."