Court junks Elenita Binay’s plea to re-raffle graft, malversation cases

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The Sandiganbayan’s Special Third Division has denied for lack of merit an appeal of former Makati City Mayor Elenita Binay to re-raffle the graft and malversation cases filed against her and several others in connection with the allegedly anomalous procurement of hospital beds and sterilizers for the Ospital ng Makati (OsMak). It also rejected Binay’s motion for inhibition of Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang, who concurrently leads the court’s Third Division where the cases are pending. The four cases filed against the respondents were consolidated and then designated by raffle to the court’s Third Division in 2011. In 2014, the charge sheets were amended to include Binay as respondent. The division said the consolidation of the cases “will be for the mutual benefit of the parties” because the prosecution has said that it will present almost the same witnesses and pieces of evidence in the four cases. The defense also sought Tang’s inhibition, saying the magistrate’s statements during a hearing last October allegedly “gave an appearance of bias and prejudice as to the handling of the cases against herein accused Binay.” In its ruling, however, the court said, “There is no valid or just reason for the Presiding Justice to voluntarily disqualify herself from hearing these cases.”

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