The scandal that rocked the Supreme Court during the impeachment proceedings involving the then Chief Justice Renato Corona has yet to be erased from the public’s mind but it appears that it is again gearing itself for another controversy. This time, the issue that threatens to mar the image of this imposing institution is its obvious indecisiveness in a case pertaining to an Insurance Liability Claim in the amount of P 329 Million lodged by Pioneer Insurance and Surety Corporation against Keppel Cebu Shipyard Inc. The case stemmed from the accidental burning of a WG&A Superferry ship in February 2000. It is the contention of Pioneer that there was extreme negligence on the part of Keppel through its personnel who performed repairs works on the said ship which caused its subsequent burning.
Because of the incurred damage to the ship and being the insurer, Pioneer had to pay WG&A P 360 Million. Pioneer has since been running after Keppel since the root cause of the burning has been blamed on Keppel personnel. Keppel maintains however that its liability is only up to P 50 Million which is the amount stated in its repair agreement entered into with WG&A.
The failure of Pioneer and Keppel to come into terms through a mutually acceptable agreement eventually brought the case to the Supreme Court, five years after the burning of the ship. The Supreme Court came out with its decision in September 2009; two years after the case reached its jurisdiction. The decision was for Keppel to pay Pioneer the amount of P 329,747,351 with specified interest.
Keppel filed a motion for reconsideration twice which were both denied. The decision of the Supreme Court has been entered into the Book of Entries of Judgment which essentially means that it has become final and executory. In simple terms, the decision is no longer open to challenge.
It comes as a surprise therefore that the Supreme Court has overturned its own decision by opting to reopen the case after the fact that it has been declared final and executory. This is also after the fact that two previous similar petitions were denied. What exactly does this kind of scenario mean?
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