Three justices of the Court of Appeals (CA) who have accepted the job of probing allegations of bribery made by Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th against Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr. are inclined to inhibit themselves from the inquiry.
A source of The Manila Times on Wednesday said the three investigators—Visayas Executive Justice Gabriel Ingles, Mindanao Executive Justice Romulo Borja and Associate Justice Maria Luisa Padilla—had taken on the task with “reservations.”
Ingles, Borja and Padilla will be the new members of the Ethics Committee that will look into Trillanes’ accusations.
The senator had said CA Justices Jose Reyes and Francisco Acosta received P25 million each from the Binay camp in exchange for favorable resolution of petitions against the Makati mayor.
An initial aborted probe of the bribery allegations will have been conducted by Justices Marifor Punzalan-Castillo, Jane Lantion, Manuel Barrios and Franchito Diamante.
The investigation stemmed from CA Presiding Justice Andres Reyes Jr. ordering the Ethics Committee and Special Concerns to inquire into Trillanes’ accusations against Reyes and Acosta.
Castillo recused herself because Dr. Elenita Binay, mother of Mayor Binay, was a sponsor in the wedding of her child.
Lantion also inhibited herself because she, too, was a sponsor in the wedding of Castillo’s child..
Acosta, also a member of the CA Ethics Committee, recused himself because he was the subject of the investigation.
Barrios and Diamante also inhibited themselves, citing, without elaborating, close association with the parties.
The CA Sixth Division, composed of Reyes, Acosta and Justice Eduardo Peralta, had issued a temporary restraining order and writ of preliminary injunction that halted Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales’ order of preventive suspension against Binay.
The CA leadership believes that the justices are under the Supreme Court (SC) and the Senate has no authority and jurisdiction to investigate complaints against them.
Findings of the Ethics Committee will be submitted to Reyes for approval and later to the SC en banc for the final verdict.
Under Article 8 on the Judicial Department of the 1987 Constitution, only the High Court en banc has the power to discipline erring justices and judges and court employees and the Senate is devoid of authority to do so..
In the same manner, senators and congressmen can only be made to toe the line by their respective chambers after investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee or the House Ethics Committee.