Simeon V. Marcelo, in 1979, graduated among the top of his class in the University of the Philippines-College of Law and placed fifth in the bar examinations. By 2000, he was acknowledged in the legal circle as one of the leading commercial trial lawyers.
Having presented the prosecution’s star witness, he caught national attention during the historical 2000 impeachment proceedings against a Philippine president. Appointed solicitor general in 2001, his exceptional focus on the neglected cases against the deposed dictator and his cronies resulted in the recovery of ill-gotten wealth amounting to PhP130 billion, compared to the recovered assets valued at PhP26 billion since 1986. Having won all his major cases, he is one of the most successful solicitor generals. Appointed two years later as the youngest ombudsman, he led the prosecution team in the “Trial of the Century” that secured the conviction for plunder of a former president, despite having been represented by the country’s top defence lawyers. Further, the Washington Post commented that Mr Marcelo took on “the most powerful vested and entrenched interests that perennially ranks among the world’s most corrupt xxxx daring to prosecute even members of the historically untouchable military.” (10 June 2005, page A14)
In 2008, upon returning to private practice, Mr Marcelo was described as “perhaps the country’s best litigator”. (The Philippine Starweek, 17 February 2008, p. 5) He successfully defended the largest power utility against a take-over by the government pension fund and one of the
country’s largest companies by winning crucial victories at the Supreme Court. In 2009, he was tapped by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas to prosecute the stockholders and officers of the Legacy group in the biggest bank fraud case in recent history. Later, he represented one of
the country’s leading companies in a P7-billion tax suit, perhaps one of the country’s biggest, if not the biggest, tax cases.
Mr. Marcelo served in 2012-2015 as co-arbitrator in a very significant ICC case. Last year, he headed the legal panel that secured a favourable award in a prominent arbitration proceeding before the Construction Industry Arbitration Commission.
In 2014, taking over from another counsel, Mr Marcelo persuaded the Supreme Court to reverse its original decision and secured a new one annulling the government’s assessment of excise taxes against his client on its jet fuel sales to international carriers, involving hundreds of millions of pesos in past/future taxes. Early this year, in another case relating to jet fuel sales, he secured a Supreme Court decision in favour of his client.
Currently, he serves as legal counsel in high-profile cases in principal courts, including the Supreme Court and is the chairman of the tribunal handling an on-going significant arbitration proceedings. His practice areas cover: alternative dispute resolution; commercial, tax, telecommunications/information technology and banking litigation; corporate recovery and insolvency.
Because of his vast experience as ombudsman, a principal adviser of the World Bank on good governance and his active participation in the anti-corruption movement, he is the arbitrator/counsel of choice for arbitral disputes involving public/private corruption, corporate fraud and money laundering.