SC: BSP liable for P18B damage claim of Banco Filipino


BY EVANGELINE DE VERA

THE Supreme Court has affirmed a Court of Appeals ruling declaring the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas answerable for the damage claim against its predecessor-in-interest, the Central Bank of the Philippines, for the illegal closure of Banco Filipino in 1985.

In a resolution dated Dec. 8, 2008 that was released only yesterday, the SC’s Third Division denied the petition filed by the Central Bank Board of Liquidators (CBBoL) seeking a reversal of the CA’s ruling which ordered the Makati City regional trial court to proceed with the trial of the damage suits filed by Banco Filipino against CBBoL in connection with the bank’s closure.

The SC ruling paved the way for the Makati RTC to determine the exact amount of damages. Banco Filipino placed the amount at P18.8 billion.

“Considering the allegations, issues and arguments adduced in the petition for review on certiorari, the Court resolves to deny the petition for failure to sufficiently show that the appellate court committed any reversible error in the challenged decision as to warrant the exercise by this Court of its discretionary appellate jurisdiction,” the SC ruled.

The CA, in its assailed ruling, said, “Central Bank continues to exist and has remained a defendant but with a new name – CBBoL — while the BSP is the sole successor-in-interest of the old CB and that the transfer of assets from the CB to the BSP during the pendency of the subject civil cases constitutes the latter as a transferee pendente lite.”

The CA resolution was penned by Associate Justice Josefina Guevara Salonga and concurred in by Associate Justices Fernanda Lampas Peralta and Sesinando E. Villon.

Banco Filipino was ordered padlocked and liquidated in 1985 by Jose “Jobo” Fernandez Jr., Central Bank governor and chairman of the Monetary Board.

In 1991, the Supreme Court declared the closure “arbitrary and with grave abuse of discretion.”

The high court also agreed with the observation of the CA that CBBoL and BSP “had manifested its penchant for methodically filing a string of certiorari cases before this Court and the Supreme Court almost every step of the proceedings” in a deliberate effort to delay

Lawyer Perfecto Yasay Jr., co-chairman of Banco Filipino, said the BSP should “now stop covering for the sins of the Central Bank, otherwise it would be grossly derelict in carrying out its regulatory functions of ensuring that banks operate with safety to its depositors, creditors, and the general public in order to assist in the promotion of a balanced and sustainable economic growth.”(Malaya)

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