Former Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile is seeking the voluntary inhibition of Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang as chairperson of the Special Third Division from the plunder case filed against him and several others in connection with the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel scam.
The defense cited Rule 137 of the Rules of Court which provides that judges, in the exercise of their sound discretion and for just or valid reasons, may disqualify themselves from sitting in a case.
“There can hardly be any doubt that the Honorable Amparo Cabotaje-Tang has the qualifications of an Associate Justice or of the Presiding Justice of the Sandiganbayan. But her appointment by then President Benigno S. Aquino 3rd as Presiding Justice on October 7, 2013 notwithstanding being the most junior among the Associate Justices of the Sandiganbayan at the time, forms part of what Justice Benjamin Cardozo describes as the ‘subconscious forces’ which affects the verdicts she renders in the momentous cases she decides,” Enrile’s camp said in a 15-page motion.
The defense quoted the book titled The Nature of the Judicial Process by Cardozo, who is a former United States Supreme Court associate justice.
Also, Enrile’s camp mentioned the proceedings on his arraignment on July 11, 2014 when the court denied his motion for a bill of particulars filed on July 10, 2014.
“Enrile and his counsel considered filing a motion to recuse the Honorable Amparo Cabotaje-Tang and the other members of the division; however, they decided instead to obtain relief from the Supreme Court by filing on August 6, 2014 a Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 assailing the ruling of the Sandiganbayan denying his ‘Motion For Bill of Particulars.’ By decision rendered on August 11, 2015, the Supreme Court partially granted Enrile’s ‘Motion For Bill of Particulars,’” the defense said.
Inhibition by the chairperson or all three members of the court division would mean a re-raffling of the case to another division, under the court’s rules.
Tang refused to comment on the matter.
In a hearing on Thursday, the Sandiganbayan’s Third Division gave the prosecution 10 days from yesterday (Thursday) to file a comment/opposition to Enrile’s motion.
The defense was given seven days from receipt of the prosecution’s comment/opposition within which to file a reply, and the motion will thereafter be submitted for resolution.