CA probes 2 justices

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Baguio City: The Court of Appeals (CA) on Monday ordered its committee on ethics and special concerns to look into allegations that two of its members received millions of pesos in exchange for a temporary restraining order (TRO) that favored Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay.

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Presiding Justice Andres Reyes Jr. directed the ethics panel to convene and conduct its probe on the allegations of Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th against Associate Justices Jose Reyes and Francisco Acosta.

In a one-page letter dated April 16, 2015, Reyes told Justice Mariflor Punzalan-Castillo, chairperson of the ethics committee, to conduct a thorough probe and to finish the investigation in one month.

“You are directed to conduct a thorough investigation on the enclosed subject matter and to submit a report and recommendation of your findings within thirty (30) days from notice,” Reyes said in his letter.

The findings of the panel will be submitted to Reyes for approval before it is forwarded to the Supreme Court for its final disposition.

Under the Internal Rules of the CA, it is the ethics committee that investigates justices accused of any wrongdoing. The members of the panel are Justices Jane Lantion, Franchito Diamante, Manuel Barrios and Acosta. But Acosta had said he will not take part in the investigation.

Senate President Franklin Drilon on Sunday said the chamber will look into Trillanes’ claim that Justices Jose Reyes and Acosta received P25 million each for issuing a TRO and a writ of preliminary injunction that stopped the Office of the Ombudsman from suspending Binay for graft.

But justices at the appellate court disputed Drilon, saying the Senate has no authority to investigate members of the judiciary because of the principle of separation of powers.

“The CA is under the Supreme Court and we are not under the Senate. The law on separation of powers is very clear that the Senate has no jurisdiction over us,” a CA justice who asked not to be identified told The Manila Times.

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

In the same manner, senators and congressmen can only be disciplined by their respective chambers.

This was echoed by the In-tegrated Bar of the Philip- pines (IBP).

“They cannot force the justices to attend. The plan of the Senate to push through with the investigation is a circumvention of the constitution. In the first place, what would be the purpose of the investigation? They must observe the constitutional provision, the SC justices are the ones who has the authority to probe the CA justices and lower court judges,” IBP National President Jose Joyas said.

“Check and balance is defined in the Constitution. It pertains to the power of the president over legislation, the power of the Senate to remove justices for impeachment. The Supreme Court exercises check and balance by reviewing the actuation of the other branch of the government if there’s grave abuse of discretion,” Joyas said.

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8 Comments

  1. Let’s be guided by the crucial goal- to control the systemic corruption in the country we need to have unanimity of purpose. Anything less than that would fail as the problem has become systemic. I applaud the administration, the legislative probers and the supreme court, or at least, the chief, for their collective effort to attack the problem in one form or another. The country is at its critical time and so many undesirable politicians are waiting in the wing so a strong signal is needed to warn them that the status quo is no longer possible.

  2. Larry Ebersole on

    As in any ethics committee of the government, the objective is not so much as saving their own buddies but to save as much face for their department, to the extent, they will try to white wash glaring facts to do this. this said, it is better having them checking than doing nothing……..lets us just watch and see…..on the other hand the ombudsman can start looking after the money trail if there is indeed any….they can do it if they want to.

  3. Please do not pre-judge the 2 justices on the mere allegation of an ambitious politician like Trillanes. I know that Justice Jose Reyes is an honorable man who has served the judiciary with integrity. Just ask the La Salle and San Beda communities about him and I am sure you will discover the truth. Trillanes does not have the credentials even to carry his brief case.

  4. Antonio Trillanes also has a pending expulsion case against him by the senate ethics committee for divulging the information he gathered from the senate executive session on the Mamasapano massacre of SAF44.

  5. CA ethics committee must summon Antonio Trillanes and his supposed whistlebrowers to submit their evidences to prove that the accused justices indeed received 25-million pesos each.

  6. Ronaldo Valdes on

    This is another Circus of cover up.. Why not let the senate investigate the corrupt justices and prove it beyond reasonable doubt..If the CA or SC will handle this i believe cover up is very easy. I can’t remember any justices was found guilty of corruption even though we know there is.

    • You probably did not read the newspaper or watch the television for a week at that time but fairly recently a justice of the Sandiganbayan was dismissed by the Supreme Court!

      Open your eyes, my friend. The Supreme Court is doing its job.

  7. I’m sorry but the spread of corruption has gone far and wide and I aplaud the governing body to investigate the issue as the court is an essential system in smooth function of the country and even a mere suspicion can be debilitating in the minds of the people.