The Court of Appeals has affirmed with finality the criminal conviction of celebrity dermatologist Joel Mendez over his failure to remit to the Social Security System more than P1.8 million in monthly contributions of his employees.
In an eight-page resolution dated April 16, 2019, the CA’s Former Special Eighth Division upheld its ruling in August last year that sustained the judgment of Quezon City Regional Trial Court finding Mendez guilty of violating Republic Act No. 8282 or Social Security Act of 1997.
The CA dismissed for lack of merit the motion for reconsideration filed by Mendez for failing to raised new arguments that could warrant the reversal of its decision.
“We find no reason to reconsider our Resolution. The arguments raised by petitioner in his motion had already been passed upon in our Resolution sought to be reconsidered. Nonetheless, to assuage his dissatisfaction, this Court opts, even in the face of redundancy, to reiterate some points,” stated the resolution penned by Associate Justice Edwin Sorongon.
Aside from ruling that the RTC did not commit grave abuse of discretion, the CA also agreed with the prison term imposed on Mendez ranging from a minimum of six years and one day to a maximum of seven years.
The appellate court also affirmed the trial court’s order that directed Mendez to pay the SSS a total of P1,865,657.50 representing unpaid contributions from October 2011 to January 2013 with an interest of 3 percent per month from July 2015 until fully paid.
Court records showed that Mendez owns a chain of dermatology clinics in the country. His records were examined and audited by the SSC which found discrepancies.
In his CA petition, Mendez said the negligence and incompetence of his former lawyer was tantamount to an extrinsic fraud that would warrant the annulment of the trial court’s decision.
According to him, he was not informed of any trial court hearings and that his presence was required during those proceedings.
The doctor also told the CA that when the trial court declared him to have waived his right to present evidence his lawyer did nothing to protect his right.
However, the appellate court denied this, saying that intrinsic fraud refers to “fraudulent act of the prevailing party in litigation committed outside of the trial of the case, whereby the defeated party is prevented from fully exhibiting his side of the case by fraud or deception practiced on him by his opponent, such as by keeping him away from court; by giving him a false promise of a compromise; or where the defendant never had the knowledge of the suit, being kept in ignorance by the acts of plaintiff; or where an attorney fraudulently or without authority connives at his defeat.”
It held that the lawyer’s negligence in keeping track of the case and his failure to apprise his client of its development do not constitute intrinsic fraud.
The CA also said the negligence of the counsel binds his client, except in cases where the gross negligence of the lawyer deprived his client of due process of law.