CA: Businessman Mark Jimenez need not pay P10M in damages to ex-Justice chief Perez
Businessman and former Manila Congressman Mark Jimenez should not pay P10 million in damages to former Justice Secretary Hernani Perez, the Court of Appeals said in a recent ruling that overturned an earlier order of a Batangas Regional Trial Court.
The CA Special Fifth Division ordered that the case be returned to the Batangas court for reconsideration. The ruling was penned by Associate Justice Rosmari Carandang,
Perez filed for damages against Mario Crespo, a.k.a. Mark Jimenez, in 2005 after the former Manila representative accused Perez of extorting $2 million from Argentina’s Industrias Metalurgicas Pescarmona Sociedad Anonima (IMPSA) in exchange for approving a $470-million government contract.
The contract covered the rehabilitation of the Caliraya-Botocan-Kalayaan hydropower plant in Laguna.
The CA said the Batangas court erred in rendering its judgment after Jimenez failed to answer the interrogatories served upon him.
Jimenez failed to answer the written interrogatories not out of his unwillingness to do so, but because of his incarceration, the Appeals Court said.
The appellate court noted Jimenez was held in a Miami, Florida, in prison for a federal crime of election fraud involving illegal campaign contributions when the interrogatories were served against him.
“The foregoing circumstances considered, the trial court should not have rendered a judgment by default. Substantial justice would be better served if the case is decided on the merits. This is also in keeping with the rule that rules on technicality were promulgated to secure, not to override substantial justice,” the court ruled.
“It would be in the paramount and overriding interest of justice if we allow the defendant-appellant to air his side of the story and present evidence to support his defense,” it added.
Concurring with the ruling were Associate Justices Normandie Pizarro and Leoncia Dimagiba.
In 2009, Jimenez was to testify against Perez before the Sandiganbayan on the $1.7 million the latter allegedly misdeclared in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth. The amount was purportedly part of the $2 million extortion money. — Rouchelle Dinglasan/VS, GMA News
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