MANILA – The Supreme Court on Tuesday voted for the dismissal of Sandiganbayan Associate Justice Gregory Ong for his involvement with the alleged pork barrel scam brains, Janet Lim-Napoles.
In an 8-5 vote, the justices of the high court declared Ong as guilty of grave misconduct, dishonesty and impropriety for “fraternizing” with Napoles.
The said misconduct was done during the time when Napoles’ case and the cases of the other accused were under Ong’s sala.
Ong is the first justice of the anti-graft court to be removed from service since the court’s creation on June 11, 1978.
Justices who formerly served the anti-graft court including Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo-de Castro and Diosdado Peralta inhibited themselves from the ruling.
Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima hailed the court’s decision adding that it is an affirmation of the court’s integrity.
“Finally deciding to dismiss rather than merely suspend Justice Ong, the Supreme Court affirms that moral integrity is not divisible. It is the highest qualification for judges and justices. Members of the judiciary found lacking in integrity cannot be merely suspended because the character disqualification is permanent, not only incidental,” De Lima said in a statement.
De Lima also added that “trust of the people in the justice system is best preserved by maintaining the highest levels of moral integrity in the superior courts.”
The Supreme Court’s order removing Ong as a member of the 15 justices in the Sandiganbayan will be immediately implemented, according to the anti-graft court.