Lawyer drops bid on Piatco case-A A +A
Sunday, April 17, 2011
A LAWYER has dropped his bid to prosecute officers of a German firm and its local partner in the anti-trust case he filed before the appellate court in connection with the anomalous construction of an airport terminal.
In a manifestation filed before the Court of Appeal's (CA) Fourth Division, lawyer Jose Bernas said his decision stemmed from the seeming lack of zeal on the part of the government in pursuing the case against the Fraport AG and its local partner, the Philippine International Air Terminals Co. Inc. (Piatco).
Earlier, the Department of Justice's found probable cause for criminal charges ranging from violation of the anti-dummy law and Article 186 of the Revised Penal Code (Monopolies and Combinations in Restraint of Trade) for making exclusive the grant of various airport-related commercial concessions, tantamount to restraint of trade.
Bernas said it is now up to the DOJ and the Office of the Solicitor General to make their moves following the CA's ruling that he has no legal standing in pursuing the case without the conformity of public prosecutors.
Coming to his own defense, he said state lawyers have not displayed the same zeal in pursuing the arbitration cases before the Singapore-based International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the Washington-based International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) to prove Fraport and Piatco's violation of the trade laws.
"Private complainant is constrained to cease pursuing the initiative for the instant case under these circumstances. When the Executive Department chooses to exercise its prerogative not to prosecute despite the evidence in its possession, it would be improper for the private complainant to continue to provide the initiative because it is the Executive Department which is charged with the responsibility of prosecuting," he said.
Bernas insisted that the public prosecutors should pursue the case because there were obvious violations of the Anti-Trust Law.
ICSID earlier dismissed Fraport's compensation claim for violation of the country's anti-dummy law. ICC likewise ruled out the payment claims of Piatco on the same ground.
In his complaint, Bernas named respondents Piatco president Henry Go; Oscar Lopez Dee, also of EBC Investments Inc.; Rolando Esguerra of Equitable Banking Corp.; Remy Tigulo of SB Capital Investment Corp.; Hiroshi Kanematsu of Nissho Iwai Corp.; Lim Kwee Siah of Chuan Hup Inc.; Tony King, Nilo Pena, Antonio Pacis and Jose Perpetuo Lotilla of SyCip Law for violation of Article 186 (1) of the RPC when they conspired to get exclusive right to provide airport-related services in 1999.
However, the CA ordered the dismissal of the information, saying the Manila regional trial court committed "serious error" in talking cognizance of the appeal of Bernas despite the lack of conformity of the public prosecutor.
The CA noted that Section 5, Rule 110 of the Rules of Court "clearly requires the participation of the public prosecutor in the prosecution of a criminal action unless the private prosecutor had been authorized in writing to prosecute the case that bears the approval of the court."
The appellate court dismissed Bernas's petition even as the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) has taken the lawyer's position that there was probable cause to prosecute the anti-trust complaint, and that Bernas has the personality to pursue the case.
The appellate court expunged OSG's comment due to alleged late submission. (ECV/Sunnex)