CA junks Joel Mendez’s appeal on conviction for failing to remit P2M dues to SSS
The Court of Appeals (CA) has denied the appeal of celebrity beauty doctor Joel Mendez on his conviction for failure to remit his employees’ Social Security System (SSS) contributions totaling P1.87 million from October 2011 to January 2013.
In a recent 8-page resolution, the CA Former Special 8th Division sustained its August 28 decision to deny Mendez’s petition for the annulment of his July 18, 2016 decision by the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 88.
The RTC verdict had sentenced him to 6 to 7 years’ imprisonment.
The CA reiterated that the alleged “negligence and incompetence” of Mendez’s former lawyer Marc Perez could “hardly be considered as extrinsic fraud” that would warrant the annulment of his conviction.
Mendez claimed that Perez failed to take action when the RTC deemed him to have waived his right to present evidence in his defense, and that the lawyer failed to set his motion for reconsideration for a hearing.
The CA dismissed Mendez’s claim that Perez failed to inform him of the hearing for the reception of the evidence for the defense. It said he should not have been too reliant on his lawyer and should have monitored his case.
“Where the party failed to act with prudence and diligence, its plea that it was not accorded the right to due process cannot elicit this court’s approval or even sympathy,” read the resolution penned by Associate Justice Edwin Sorongon.
The CA also denied Mendez’s plea for the inhibition of the division’s members—Sorongon, as well as Associate Justices Sesinando Villon and Marie Christine Azcarraga-Jacob—on the ground of partiality.
Mendez protested the justices’ reliance on “technicalities and sweeping conclusions on the non-existence of extrinsic fraud.” He also claimed to “merely raise valid questions about the independence of their judgment and their vulnerability to outside influence.”
The CA said this was “already bordering on contempt,” stressing that the Rules of Court must not be ignored at will and at random.
“Understandably, losing litigants would, at times, hail malicious acts and allegations of bias and partiality against members of the judiciary; nonetheless, ‘just because the opinion of a party is at variance with that of the judge, the former cannot use it as an excuse to hurl imputations of unfairness and partiality in the absence of clear and convincing proof,'” the resolution stated.
But, the court allowed “such display of disrespect” to pass and no longer cited Mendez and his counsel in contempt, saying its power “should always be exercised in the preservative rather than in the vindictive principle.”