MANILA – The Senate can investigate the allegation of corruption in the judiciary but it cannot compel the allegedly involved justices to attend the inquiry, according to Senate President Franklin Drilon on Sunday.
Drilon said the Senate will respect the inter-departmental courtesy and separation of powers if ever the chamber will push through with the investigation on the “justice for sale” allegation.
”We can send the invitation but we cannot use our coercive or subpoena powers to force the justices to face the Senate. We cannot compel them,” Drilon said in a DZBB radio interview.
Drilon also explained that even if the Senate finds evidence that some justices have accepted money to favor the cases of some influential individuals, “only the Supreme Court (SC) can discipline them based on our Constitution.”
”It means that only them (SC) has the authority to recommend on what do if the justices have been proven to have shortcomings,” Drilon, a lawyer by profession, said.
Drilon also clarified that the Senate investigation will not only focus on the justices involved as Senator Antonio Trillanes IV identified in his Senate Resolution No. 1265 but “in general.”
”Not only on the particular two justices named by Senator Trillanes but on many allegations we have heard in the judiciary,” Drilon said.
”It is best to ferret out if these allegations (of corruption) are true or not and what changes we can do in the judiciary so that we can avoid if not totally eliminate these so-called corruption,” the Senate leader added.
Drilon clarified that the Senate is giving utmost respect for the members of the judiciary, “but it does not mean that they are above the law.”
Citing reliable sources, Trillanes has accused Court of Appeals (CA) Associate Justices Jose Reyes Jr. and Francisco Acosta of receiving a total of PhP25 million each to stop the suspension of Makati City Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr.
Binay has been slapped with six-month preventive suspension by the Office of the Ombudsman on corruption charges in connection with the alleged overpriced construction of certain public buildings in Makati.
The Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee is investigating the alleged anomalous construction of the Makati City Hall Building 2 and the Makati Science High School Building, among others.
Meanwhile, Senator Francis Escudero agreed with Drilon that the Senate should investigate the allegation of corruption in the judiciary.
”Definitely, the corruption in the judiciary is worth looking for,” Escudero said in a separate interview with DZBB.
The Binay camp was able to get a temporary restraining order from the CA and later a writ of permanent injunction when the Ombudsman and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) refused to recognize the TRO.