CA taps new justices to probe Trillanes’ bribery allegations

By on May 13, 2015

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV. Photo courtesy of Trillanes' Facebook page.
Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV. Photo courtesy of Trillanes’ Facebook page.

MANILA — The Court of Appeals (CA) has tapped the new set of justices who will conduct the investigation into the allegations of bribery made by Senator Antonio “Sony” Trillanes IV in the case of Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin “JunJun” Binay Jr. before the CA.

This after the CA stood pat to police its own ranks and not the Senate as insisted by Senate President Franklin Drilon and Trillanes.

This after CA Presiding Justice Andres Reyes, Jr. issued a directive ordering the CA Ethics Committee and Special Concerns to convene and conduct its probe on the allegations of Trillanes against CA Associate Justices Jose Reyes and Francisco Acosta.

Reyes and Acosta were accused by Trillanes of allegedly receiving Php25 million each in exchange for favorable resolutions in the case of Binay.

The new members of the CA Ethics Committee are Visayas Executive Justice Gabriel Ingles and Mindanao Executive Justice Romulo Borja.

Another member of the CA Ethics Committee is Associate Justice Maria Luisa Padilla.

The new justices became the substitute after all members of the CA Ethics Committee inhibited themselves from handling the investigation.

CA Associate Justice and Ethics Committee Chairperson Marifor Punzalan-Castillo has inhibited herself from the case because Dra. Elenita Binay, mother of Mayor Binay, was a sponsor in the wedding of her child.

Another member who inhibited herself from the case is Associate Justice Jane Lantion who was also a co-sponsor in the wedding.

Acosta was also a member of the CA Ethics Committee has inhibited himself because he was the subject of the investigation.

Associate Justices Manuel Barrios and Franchito Diamante inhibited themselves because of their close association with the parties.

The CA Sixth Division, composed of Associate Justice Jose Reyes, Acosta and Eduardo Peralta, issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) and writ of preliminary injunction which stopped Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales’ order of preventive suspension against Binay.

The ‘immediately executory” six-month preventive suspension without pay imposed by the Ombudsman on Binay and 22 others was for graft and administrative cases in connection with the alleged “overpriced” construction of the Makati City Hall Building II.

The CA believes that the justices are under the Supreme Court (SC) and the Senate has no authority and jurisdiction to investigate complaints against the justices.

The findings of the CA Ethics Committee will be submitted to Presiding Justice Reyes for approval and will be submitted to the SC en banc for its final disposition.

Under the Internal Rules of the CA, the CA Ethics Committee shall conduct the investigation on complaints against their justices.

Its findings shall be submitted to the SC for its verdict.

Under Article 8 of the Judicial Department of the 1987 Constitution, only the SC en banc has the power to discipline erring justices and judges and court employees and the Senate is devoid of authority at all.

In the same manner, senators and congressmen can only be disciplined by their own respective chambers after the investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee or House Committee on Ethics, respectively.