The same Supreme Court Associate Justice who spearheaded the court in junking the controversial Commission on Elections (Comelec)-Smartmatic midnight deal will handle the case of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales against Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay of Makati City.
Also, a total of four Associate Justices of the High Tribunal have inhibited themselves from the case of the younger Binay.
According to well-placed sources of The Manila Times in the High Tribunal, Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe will be the ponente or author of the Ombudsman-Binay case.
Bernabe, a career official in the judiciary rose from the ranks from the Metropolitan Trial Court. She was also judge at the Regional Trial Court and justice at the Court of Appeals.
She was the third appointee of President Benigno Aquino 3rd to the High Tribunal, Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Aranal-Sereno and Associate Justice Bienvenido Reyes.
Bernabe will replace Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza who inhibited from the case after submitting a pleading in connection with the Binay case when he was still the Solicitor General. He was a former Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon under the watch of Morales.
Jardeleza was the original ponente of the case.
Morales is the petitioner of the case filed before the High Tribunal seeking to halt the temporary restraining order (TRO) and injunction of the appellate court that stopped the Ombudsman in implementing its suspension order on Binay.
The other High Tribunal justices who inhibited themselves from the case are Associate Justices Presbitero Velasco and Arturo Brion.
The first magistrate who inhibited himself from the case is Associate Justice Disodado Peralta because here sister, Visha Peralta-Aldon is a department head at the Makati City Hall.
This leaves the High Tribunal with 11 justices to deliberate on the case of the younger Binay.
Morales recently suffered a setback after the High Tribunal ruled not to issue a TRO against the appellate court. Instead, the High Tribunal ordered the Binay camp to lodge its comment on the case.
The appellate court opined the injunction order shall regain the previous status before the preventive suspension of Binay was issued.
This drew flak on the face of Justice Secretary Leila De Lima, Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd and Morales who all ignored the appellate court’s temporary restraining order issued on March 26.
De Lima, Roxas and Morales interpreted the TRO the appellate court to be of no force and effect, because it should be considered moot and academic since Vice Mayor Romulo Pena already assumed the position of Acting Mayor of Makati prior to the TRO issuance.
The defiance of the Ombudsman, Roxas, De Lima and Pena caused the Binay camp to ask the CA to cite them in contempt.
This caused the Ombudsman to elevate the case before the High Tribunal.