First of two parts
LOVE him, as the Yellows do, or hate him, as those who were sympathetic to the late Chief Justice Renato Corona — whom he is alleged to have helped oust — do, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, who retires from the Supreme Court on Friday, has had a fascinating career, marked by episodes one might term either tragic or jinxed.
You, dear reader, decide which would be the best description.
What is mostly forgotten now is that Carpio and his ideological mentor, retired Gen. Jose Almonte executed in 1992 then President Fidel Ramos’ bold tack early in his administration of going against two of the country’s powerful oligarchs then: tobacco magnate Lucio Tan and the Antonio Cojuangco clan which claimed to own Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT).
The first Yellow regime practically wanted the Tan conglomerate wiped out of the Philippine business landscape as Tan was branded as one of Marcos’ richest cronies. The Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) “sequestered” the tycoon’s biggest firms, while it tried to gather evidence — unsuccessfully — that he had amassed ill-gotten wealth with the dictator’s help.
But not only that, with the PCGG cases appearing to be going nowhere—one reason being that documents held by Cory Aquino’s officials couldn’t be found—the Ramos administration led by his then Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Carpio slapped in 1992 a P25 billion tax-evasion case against Tan’s Fortune Tobacco Corp., claiming that it had been using forged BIR stamps on its cigarettes.