LOOK BACK: High-profile ponencias of retiring SC Justice Jose Perez

 

MANILA, Philippines – After more than 4 decades serving in the halls of the highest court of the land, Supreme Court (SC) Associate Justice Jose Portugal Perez retires on Wednesday, December 14, as he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 70. 

Perez is the SC's first homegrown justice, having spent his professional life serving in the High Tribunal and serving 15 chief justices. He first worked as a legal assistant in the Office of the Reporter, moving up the ranks until former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo appointed him in 2009 as the SC's 167th associate justice.

Rappler takes a look back at some high-profile cases with Perez as the ponente or decision writer.

2010: New Camarines Sur district created

In October 2009, former president Arroyo signed Republic Act 9716, which created a new district in the province of Camarines Sur. 

The reapportioning of the composition of the districts was perceived to be an accommodation of Arroyo's son, Dato Arroyo, and her ally, then-budget secretary Rolando Andaya Jr. 

Andaya was the district's former representative before Dato Arroyo assumed office. With the creation of a new district, Andaya would be able to run for office to reclaim his former post in the 1st district, while the younger Arroyo could run for office in the newly-created 2nd district.

Then-senator Benigno Aquino III and former Naga City mayor Jesse Robredo filed a petition with the SC, seeking the nullification of the law because it violated the constitutional standard requiring a minimum population of 250,000 for the creation of a legislative district.

But in a 9-5-1 vote, the SC dismissed the petition and upheld RA 9716. In the decision penned by Justice Perez, the SC said that the 250,000 population requirement applies only to cities, not to provinces.  

2013: Disqualified Marinduque bet

In 2013, Perez penned the 7-4 SC decision affirming the decision of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to disqualify former Marinduque Representative Regina Reyes from the 2013 midterm polls because of citizenship and residency issues. 

The SC upheld the Comelec's decision against Reyes, citing as basis a blog by a certain Eli Obligacion. In the blog, Obligacion alleged that Reyes was an American citizen, posting documents of Reyes using her US passport and records from the Bureau of Immigration.  

But Reyes maintained that she is a Filipino citizen, having renounced the American citizenship she acquired through marriage.

While seeking reconsideration of the SC decision, Reyes asked Perez to inhibit from the case because of his association with SC Justice Presbitero Velasco, whose son, Lord Allan Jay Velasco, stood to benefit from Reyes' disqualification. 

2016: Grace Poe's citizenship case

In a landmark ruling, the SC ruled that Senator Grace Poe was a natural-born Filipino and has met the 10-year residency requirement to allow her to run for president in the May 2016 elections. 

The 47-page decision penned by Perez cleared the biggest legal obstacle for Poe, who had been frontrunner in the elections before eventually losing to then-Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

In its ruling, the SC said there was "more than sufficient evidence" that Poe, a foundling, has Filipino parents. It added that the burden to prove otherwise falls on her accusers.

"Her admission that she is a foundling did not shift the burden to her because such status did not exclude the possibility that her parents were Filipinos, especially as in this case where there is a high possibility, if not certainty, that her parents are Filipinos," the SC said. – Rappler.com