Justices composing the Court of Appeals Ethics Committee have inhibited from investigating bribery accusations of Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th against two CA magistrates who are handling a case of Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr.
CA Justices Jose Reyes and Francisco Acosta were accused by Trillanes of receiving P25 million each in exchange for favorable actions on the Binay case.
It was gathered that the members of the Ethics Committee recused from the probe to avoid any suspicion of partiality in investigating fellow justices.
Earlier, the appellate court said it would police its own ranks, instead of the Senate as
insisted by Trillanes and Senate President Franklin Drilon.
Recusing from the Makati mayor’s case is committee head Marifor Punzalan-Castillo
because Dr. Elenita Binay, the mayor’s mother, was a sponsor in the wedding of her child.
Also inhibiting from the case is Justice Jane Lantion, a co-sponsor in the wedding.
Acosta, also a member of the CA Ethics Committee, had recused himself because he is a subject of the probe.
Justices Manuel Barrios and Franchito Diamante also inhibited, citing “close association” with parties in the case.
The CA 6th Division, composed of Reyes, Acosta and Justice Eduardo Peralta, issued a temporary restraining order and writ of preliminary injunction that halted Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales’ order of preventive suspension against Mayor Binay.
On April 16, 2015, the Ethics Committee was mandated to inquire into the allegations of Trillanes on the basis of Senate Resolution 1265.
The CA probe will be conducted for 30 days.
Under the Internal Rules of the appellate court, the Ethics Committee is in charge of probing complaints against CA justices and submitting its findings to the Supreme Court (SC).
Under 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 that area.
In the same manner, senators and congressmen can only be disciplined by their own respective chambers after investigation by the ethics committees of the House of Representatives and the Senate.