Justices defy new Sandigan leader


SENIOR magistrates of the antigraft court have refused to yield their posts to newly-appointed Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang in an apparent show of dissatisfaction with President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s decision to name the “most junior justice” as head of the agency.

Similar to the controversies that entailed the appointment of Supreme Court Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno last year, the Sandiganbayan is expected to be rocked by intrigues emanating from Tang’s appointment.

According to a well-placed source of The Manila Times, Tang should have assumed the chairmanship of one of the Tribunal’s five divisions but senior members were defiant and refused to give up their chairmanships.

Sereno and Tang share the same dilemma: They head their respective courts but they are the youngest justices. And for that, they drew the ire of their senior colleagues.

For one, Associate Justice Jose Hernandez, the newly-installed chairman of the Sandiganbayan Third Division, has manifested that he will not give up his post because he is more senior than Tang.

Likewise, the chairmen of the other divisions—Justice Efren Dela Cruz of the first division, Teresita Diaz-Baldoz of the second division, Gregory Ong of the fourth division and Roland Jurado of the fifth division also refused to relinquish their positions to Tang.

The Times attempted several times to get in touch with Tang by phone but all efforts were in vain.

Before the retirement of Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Francisco Villaruz, Tang ranked number 15, the most junior. But with her latest appointment, she should rank first in order of precedence.

The Times’ source said that Hernandez, in refusing to give up his post, cited the Revised Internal Rules of the Sandiganbayan that states that the most senior justice takes precedence over other justices, following the date of their appointment.

Rule II, Section 5B of the law says: “In the position of a Division Chairman—if a permanent vacancy occurs in the position of Chairman of a Division, the most senior Associate Justice in the Sandiganbayan who is not yet a Chairman shall become Chairman of that Division.”

Hernandez was a former senior member of the Sandiganbayan Fourth Division but with the retirement of Villaruz as chairman of the third division, Hernandez was transferred to the third Division as successor of Villaruz in accordance with the rule on seniority.

Because of this, Tang cannot get the chairmanship in any of the divisions even if she is already the presiding justice.

In effect, Tang can only act as Junior Member of her current Fifth Division chaired by Jurado and where Justice Napoleon Inoturan is the senior member.

When Tang took her oath before Sereno on Wednesday, she immediately assumed the position of presiding justice but found no vacancy in the chairmanships. She then settled to her old junior position in her division which, the court insider said, was “awkward.”
“She’s the Presiding Justice yet she’s the lowest mammal there,” the source noted.


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  1. There has to be a reason why the president appointed the youngest, or “most junior” of the magistrates. Seguro siya ang pinakamalinis ang record sa kanilang lahat, did any one think about that? Not because a person is the most senior among the executives he deserves the promotion to become the CEO of that corporation. I don’t know how that Sandiganbayan works but I believe the president has the right to choose who he puts in what position! Besides, meron naman Committee on Appointments ang Pilipinas, ‘di ba? These are the group of legislators who confirm or deny a candidate’s appointment to certain high and important positions in the government based on the credentials and true integrity of the individual. Kaya iyong mga baboy sa senado at congreso pa rin ang may hawak niyan!

  2. Let Presiding Judge Tang handle it. It is a challenge she needs to overcome. It is her gauge of leadership and human relationship management skills being put to test here.

  3. Jessie Serrano on

    Dapat talaga inihahalal na rin ng taong bayan ang mga officials ng comelec, justices ng supreme court at ombudsman at pati na rin ang sandigan bayan judges para meron silang independence in dispensing their functions and only have their loyalties to the people not to their appointing president. At isang termino lamang para walang corruption.

  4. para anu pa may mga rules kng pwed nmn pla balewalain ang mga ito, dapt wala n yan kac pwd nmn pla yan baliwalain kng gusto…. kaya magulo ang piipinas kac may mga rules o batas n dapt sundin pero hindi rin pla susundin.. kung isakng lider pakita mo ang tama yng papogi points lng palagi……

  5. Bilang 10 taan nang OFW eto lang ang kumento ko.
    Kung ang pag appoint ng judge ay nasa kapangyarihan ng Pangulo ng Republika ng Pilipinas, bilang pinakamataas na nahalal ng lider ng bansa dapat sundin ang appointment ng mga jurado kahit anong tanda na nila sa serbisyo.
    Tutal ang Pilipinas ay nasabing the only Christian nation in the Far East, we can learn from one Bible story about the appointment of David the shepherd & musician as King of Israel. He’s the youngest among his kins and not usually the protocol in annointing a leader. Yet the story tells us He led the nation victorious because David has the heart after God’s heart.
    When the nation is embroiled with graft and corruption and the very leaders be it in Judiciary, Congress/Senate and the Executive are involved in looting the purse of the nation from taxes levied directly and indirectly to the businessmen, common employees and even the family of OFWs thru payment of VAT in buying food, necessities and services, it is high time to annoint, appoint, accept the person designation by the highest official of the land – Ang Bayan Kong Pilipinas. God bless President Pinoy, God bless the honest officials serving Ang Bayan Kong Pilipinas na minamahal. God bless the Philippines!!!!!

    • I’m 100% of supportive of your ideas and suggestion…only people who doesn’t want to accept change have their own personal agenda…kay Pnoy pa rin ako…ngayon lang lumalabas ang ganitong pangyayari… kasi dati lahat merong parti so what happens is to stay quiet and pretend everything is normal…

    • I am sorry for your belief, If PNOY is after reform. At the start of his term he should have started purging undesireable and placing his trusted lieutenant to implement reforms and not appointing people whom he endebted his position.

      To start the reform SUPERFACIAL is not reform. Show reform that people will feel the real reform that every citizens will feel that CORRUPT nor not trustworthy employees are purged one after another, then you will see that younger officials is really very capable to be in that
      position. regardless of his/her affinity no excuses.

  6. sanamagan, ang gulo naman sa Pilipinas and these dramas are all confusing. It just shows that everybody from the executive branch to legislative branch are mostly if not all crooks and not serving the country and people. we need another people power and remove these crooks. we need to keep trying until we succeed. one or two people power is not enough. lets go for more until these idiots are locked up.

  7. positions should go to the best person. If you run a successful company you will find that you have the best people in positions of power & decision making, that doesnt mean it goes to the person who has been there the longest or been doing the job the longest. If you worked in my company for a number of years & someone had joined quite a while after you & i promoted him above you & you refused to let him be in charge of you its simple i would fire you & tell you to look for a job that suits you better. This country needs to learn they need the best people in top positions, not there because they have served longer, but the pinoy hates it if they think someone is better than them, well it happens, you may not be as good as you think you are.

    • That is not the same in the judiciary, Dustin. They follow specific rules with regards to successions and promotions.

    • You are right dustin people doesn’t want to accept changes…they always think that they are the best since they have been in the job for so long…I wonder why they don’t want to accept change…are they keeping something?? £$…sorry I don’t have Peso sign

  8. Its all about self protection after his term expires in 2016, he thinks he can get away with prosecution.

  9. Pinoy Makabayan on

    I hope that our SC Justices will be the one to save us from the monster that our country has created. Them or the military! Oh God, please save us!

  10. The President has the power to appoint the presiding judge and now that he has exercised that power, the incumbent judges should recognize the appointee. If the President is limited to appointing the presiding judge among the most senior incumbent judges, the law should have specified it. These incumbent judges unfortunately give more premium to their pride than to what the law states which attitude undermines their being judges.

    • Tama. Dami kasing matalino sa pinas na sa akala nila sila lang ang marunong mag-isip. Noong dating administasyon wala naman yata silang reklamo ano? Yes lang sila ng yes noon kasi kaya sila ngayon no na ng no.

  11. Malaking lagayan na naman ito pag may naupong bagong pangulo na hindi kaalyado ni Pnoy! Impeachment kaliwatkanan na naman ang magiging sigaw ng congressman na balimbing na nabili na naman. Ilagay mo na sa tama Pnoy ang Justice Department, wala ka na rin namang magagawa kung hindi na ikaw ang Pangulo, ang gagawin sa iyo ay tulad ng ginawa mo kay GMA.

  12. The appointment of Tang was already pre-programed. PNoy is not satisfied having all legislators as his allies, the Supreme Court, the Ombudsman, and the Sandigan expected to follow. Now he can sleep well (maybe) with his enemies to continue to be persecuted and when he retires, he has his own personal shield so he will not be thrown in jail for corruption. This president is really an anomaly for the country.

  13. I agree with you Alejo. The president doesn’t care about seniority! He’s like a happy go lucky trigger person, whoever he hits as long as it’s for his own protection or personal use, he just closed his eyes. I hope KARMA will shadow him after 2016 so that he will experience also how to be locked up in a hospital or put into jail. I’m also hoping that he will be impeached, although very impossible to get the number in both congress, but by the people soon enough. Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!

    • Sinong presidente ang alam mo na nilalabanan ang corruption sa gobyerno? Dapat nga president for life siya.

    • you mean even the most senior or who are next in line is known corrupt and easily bribed still you will appoint him or her? commom man esep rin pag may time ano forget about seniority kasi ang daming tumanda sa trabaho nagpapalapad lang pwet sa upuan maynakitang katangian ang nag a appoint sa kanya kay siya ang gusto ano na ba ang magandang nagawa ng Sandigan Bayan ni hindi nga masandigan yan kasi ahlos lahat ng nakaupo e bayaran.

  14. I agree with Mr. Rosete. By then,.the new president by that time could coerce congress to impeach those justices easily and have a De Lima-like DOJ secretary. Hopefully, we could make BS Aquino pay for his sins.

  15. By all means, the most Senior Justice should be appointed Presiding Justice unless unfit or disqualified. The President did it to the Supreme Court. The President did it to the office of the Ombudsman. The President did again to the Sandigan Bayan. To me the President is doing this for his own protection after his term as president. He is afraid he will be treated like President Arroyo after his term.

    • Ganoon din naman ang ginawa ni GMA kay Corona. Kung ako ang presidente ng isang company ipupuwesto ko ang taong gusto ko. Parehas din yon sa Pesidente ng Pinas.

    • To Jiroarturo:

      Wrong. At the time Corona was appointed Chief Justice, he was the SECOND most senior justice in the Supreme Court. Antonio Carpio, was and continues to be, the most senior justice. GMA, even offered the Chief Justice position to Carpio first. But because Carpio’s law office had a falling out with the Arroyos, he refused. Carpio was even nominated by the Judicial and Bar Council. But he refused the nomination which meant that Corona became the most senior from the list of choices where GMA can pick the next chief justice. And so GMA picked the most senior from the list.

      It is so different today when Sereno, who was then one of the most junior justices, who barely had enough experience as a justice when PNoy appointed her. This pattern was repeated in the Ombudsman and now the Sandiganbayan. And please, let us not even discuss who is the best for the position because Sereno certainly wasn’t. She even got a failing grade in the psychiatric exam. A score that SHOULD HAVE automatically disqualified her from being lncluded in the list of choices for the president much less getting the post.

      There is no comparison between then and now when it comes to respecting seniority.