THE Supreme Court has cleared three justices of the Court of Appeals (CA) Cebu Station of allegations that they demanded P6 million to P12 million from a landowner in exchange for a favorable decision in 2014.
The SC en banc dismissed for “utter lack of merit” the administrative complaint against Justices Edgardo delos Santos, Marilyn Lagura-Yap and Jhosep Lopez.
“After a careful perusal of the records, we find no substantial evidence to support the allegations against the respondent associate justices of the CA,” read the SC decision penned by Associate Justice Jose Portugal Perez.
The case stemmed from the complaint filed by Dolora Cadiz Khanna, who accused the justices and three others of corruption and extortion.
Also named respondents were Judge Ronald Exmundo of Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 4 in Kalibo, Aklan; Judge Fricia Gomez-Guillen of the Metropolitan Trial Court (MTC) Branch 15 in Manila; and Apolinar S. Juan, sheriff of the MTC Branch 17.
In 2007, Khanna and her husband Summit bought parcels of land in Aklan from lawyer Lucas Licerio for P30 million.
This, despite the fact that the properties are part of the inalienable reserved forest land of the government by virtue of Proclamation 1064.
The couple then built their “dream house” and a resort called “The Cliff Resorts.”
In 2009, Khanna said that Licerio and his cohorts harassed them by filing numerous cases of estafa through falsification of public documents.
The couple later filed a petition for injunction against Licerio and 20 others before the RTC in Kalibo, Aklan, which sought to stop the takeover of their properties.
The case was raffled to Judge Exmundo, who allegedly demanded P112 million in exchange for a favorable decision of her civil petition.
Khanna claimed that Exmundo denied her petition when she failed to give P2 million.
She said that Exmundo granted their motion for reconsideration after giving P1 million to their lawyer.
Licerio then filed a motion pending appeal before the appeals court, which was granted by the CA.
Khanna said they met Judge Guillen and the sheriff in Manila, who vowed to assist them in their case.
The couple was told that the CA justices were asking for P12 million for the lifting of the writ of execution.
The justices denied the charges, saying they didn’t even know the complainants.
They said they never demanded any amount from Khanna nor received any gifts or favor from her.
They believe Khanna filed the administrative complaint because she was not satisfied with the resolution they issued.
The administrative com-plaint was intended to pressure and harass them.
In the ruling, the High Court ruled that the allegation against the CA justices was based solely on hearsay evidence.
“As a matter of public policy, a judge cannot be subjected to liability for any of his official acts, no matter how erroneous, as long as he acts in good faith,” the SC held.