MANILA, Philippines – The Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed the 7-year sentence it upheld in 2018 against celebrity dermatologist Joel Mendez over his failure to remit the Social Security System (SSS) contributions of his employees.
The CA in 2018 upheld Mendez’s lower court conviction over which he was sentenced to 7 years in prison for the P1.8-million SSS fraud.
Mendez appealed the CA’s 2018 decision, which was denied in a recent 8-page decision by the appellate court’s former Special Eighth Division.
Just like the first time, Mendez argued that his former lawyer failed to inform him of his hearing schedules.
Mendez said this constituted an “extrinsic fraud,” which occurs when the party “is prevented from fully exhibiting his side of the case by fraud or deception practiced on him by his opponent, such as by keeping him away from court.”
In the recent decision penned by Associate Justice Edwin Sorongon, the appellate court said Mendez was merely invoking technicalities, and that there was extrinsic fraud factor.
“It is the client’s duty to be in contact with his lawyer from time to time in order to be informed of the progress and development of his case; hence, to merely rely on the bare reassurance of his lawyer that everything is being taken care of is not enough,” the CA said.
Mendez was ordered by the Quezon City Regional Trial Court to pay the SSS P1.8 million representing unremmitted contributions from October 2011 to January 2013.