THE RETIREMENT of Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Lucas P Bersamin last week has resulted in a vacancy which, constitutionally, should be filled within 90 days. President Duterte is to choose from a short-list of three candidates which have been submitted by the Judicial and Bar Council.

One case that straddles the terms of Bersamin and his successor is that associated with the contested election of Leni Robredo as vice president. Her runner-up in the 2016 election, former Senator Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos has taken the case to the SC acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET).

I also recall Marcos’ privilege speech to the Senate soon after his narrow loss to Robredo in 2016. Marcos believed that there were irregularities associated with Smartmatic which supplied the automated equipment used in the election. Since then, Marcos’ case seems to have morphed into a complaint against the Robredo camp.

The SC has announced that an interim result will be promulgated soon.


I recall Bersamin’s keynote address to the last Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) conference. He exhorted the lawyers present not to be untruthful. Any lawyer can tell us that this is not the same as saying that lawyers should be truthful. There are at least fifty shades of gray in between.

Nevertheless, I believe that lawyers should avoid the silly sophistry that some use when defending the indefensible.

Corporate lawyers in the financial sector do need to be truthful. This is because all financial institutions seek to achieve probity. This should mean zero tolerance towards improbity. I would like to see these lawyers being like internal auditors so that they are accountable direct to the Board of Directors. Even the CEO should not be able to supervise the lawyers.

As an example, I was uneasy in the 2016 Senate hearing involving Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC). RCBC’s legal representative seemed to be toeing the CEO’s line that the $81 million ‘cyberhiest’ was successful due to the wickedness of Maia Deguito, the manager of RCBC’s Jupiter Street branch.

Was she, indeed, wicked or was she scapegoated? I believe the bank’s legal adviser should have been able to freely find out what the real truth was.


I was pleased when Sun Life Philippines CEO, Benedict Sison, was named the new president of the Philippine Life Assurance Association (PLIA). What, however, is the role of PLIA? The insurance sector has experienced a slight decline in sales in the first half of 2019 compared to the first half of 2018. (P141.9 billion from last year’s P145.8 billion a drop of 2.6 percent). This surprised me. I thought there would be growth comparable to the growth in Gross Domestic Product (GCP) which is currently around 6 percent per annum.

The insurance industry still needs to do more to achieve probity. My experience is that the Insurance Commission (IC) is unsatisfactory when dealing with issues of consumer protection. Could PLIA do more?

It is high time that insurance companies removed themselves from the silly hypothesis that the reason they are not able to sell more is because Filipinos are financially illiterate. I don’t hear Globe’s Ernest Cu telling us that he can’t sell more equipment because we are IT illiterate.

The SC recently found a case against the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) on the basis of the need for consumer protection.

Perhaps the SC will find against the IC in future for the same reason./PN


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