Justices want out of Jinggoy case

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The three justices of the Sandiganbayan’s Fifth Division no longer want to continue hearing the plunder and graft complaints filed against Sen. Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada in connection with the pork barrel scam.

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Associate Justices Roland Jurado, Alexander Gesmundo and Ma. Theresa Dolores Gomez-Estoesta informed Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje Tang that they want to inhibit themselves from the case “for personal reasons.”

The case was raffled off to the Fifth Division led by Jurado in June this year.

It was the first time in the 40-year history of the anti-graft court that three magistrates wanted to recuse themselves from a case.

The letter, signed by the three justices, was dated December 10. It was received on Monday.

The Presiding Justice turned over the request to the court en banc, which will decide and issue a resolution on the matter.

The court, however, will not be able to resolve the request within the year.

It held its last en banc session also on Monday, and only one of the three magistrates wishing to inhibit was present.

According to Executive Clerk of Court IV Renato Bocar, there would be another en banc session next year to hear and ask the two other justices their reasons why they want out of the case.

The magistrate who was present in the en banc session refused to disclose their reasons for lack of authority from the two others, Bocar said.

The court withheld the justice’s identity.

Bocar, however, noted that the justices’ request will not delay the case because no more hearings are scheduled for the rest of the month and the next en banc session will be on the first Monday of January.

The cases will be re-raffled to another division when the court en banc allows the three justices to inhibit themselves.

“Whatever proceedings happened in the Fifth Division will remain in the case records. The witnesses need not testify again. It will be transferred to the division where the case will be re-raffled,” Bocar said.

The Sandiganbayan is composed of five divisions, each with three justices constituting a quorum. Under its internal rules, if the chairman inhibits, then the case will be re-raffled to the remaining four divisions.
Two other divisions are handling the plunder complaints filed against Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr.
Bocar said it will be up to the court if it will exempt these two divisions from the re-raffle of Estrada’s case.

Estrada is facing plunder and graft complaints for allegedly receiving kickbacks from projects funded by his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel. He and Napoles, his co-accused, have pending bail petitions before the Fifth Division.

Estrada also has a pending motion for a furlough. He asked the court to allow him to spend Christmas at his father’s place and New Year at his residence.

Compelling reasons
Rule 137 of the Rules of Court prohibits a judge or judicial officer from sitting in any case in which he, his wife or his child has pecuniary interest, or when he is related to either party within the sixth degree of consanguinity or affinity or to lawyer within the fourth degree.

A judge can also seek to inhibit himself from any case in which he has been executor, administrator, guardian, trustee or counsel or in which he has presided in any lower court when his ruling or decision is the subject of review, without the written consent of all parties.

But it also provides that “a judge may, in the exercise of his sound discretion, disqualify himself from sitting in a case, for just or valid reasons other than those mentioned above.”

When asked whether the magistrates can be compelled to disclose their personal reasons to determine if these are valid or not, Bocar said the presiding justice has no such authority.

However, she can raise the matter to the Supreme Court, which has administrative supervision on justices of the Sandiganbayan.

“Perhaps the Supreme Court can then compel the justices who want to inhibit to divulge their personal reasons so it can assess if these are valid,” Bocar told reporters.

He added that Tang may be compelled to go to the Supreme Court if more justices will seek to recuse themselves to “so that citing personal reasons without saying what exactly these are will stop.”

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13 Comments

  1. I agree whole-heartedly with someone why at this time the 3 Justices of the Fifth Division of the Sandiganbayan decided to inhibit themselves instead of doing it at the earliest possible time relative to the plunder case of Sen. Jinggoy Ejercito Could it be a delaying tactic so the senator cannot aspire to run for VP of the Philippines in 20l6? Could it be one higher authority pressuring them to render a conviction that cannot really stand solid and justified before the eyes of all Filipinos and the world? Or are their conscience bothering them because of the ill-will/evil act from someone’s unstable mind they cannot accept indignity and immorality therefore are quitting? You must not forget what Sen. Revilla said during his privilege speech that he was fetched by now DILG Mar Roxas to proceed to the residence of President Aquino as per request during the impeachment of ex-SC, CJ Renato Corona. “Ibigay mo na lang sa akin ito.” Those who voted for the ouster of SC, CJ Corona were given financial rewards mentioned by Sen. Jinggoy Ejercito also in his privilege speech referred to as “incentive” before the senate. To most Filipinos, it is bribery. Now, he turned his back and demolished the 3 opposition senators but did not include his allies, senators who were afforded and were given higher pay. It is selective persecution and the 3 are now being prosecuted at the expense of the real looters and thieves, the whistle blowers. Whoever becomes the President in 2016, President Aquino should be tried, investigated, and prosecuted for his DAP assertively pronounced “illegal and unconstitutional” by Senators Joker Arroyo, Miriam Defensor-Santiago and all of the Justices of the Supreme Court of the Philippines except one lone, solitary abstainer. I will be a “daang matuwid” moral initiative.

  2. Eliseo Jr. P.Tenza on

    The persons apponted as judges should know the stress and danger of their positions. If they cannot handle the stress, they should not have accepted the position. If they have been appointed then they should resign or be dismissed. If there is any danger then they can request for security.
    They accepted the position because of the money and prestige of their position, not to honestly, and corageously serve the justice system. Justice Department, please ask all the judges if they cannot take the stress and if they are cowards and afraid, then they should resign.

  3. vagoneto rieles on

    I have a sneaking suspicion that Napoles and Jinggoy Estrada will get their furloughs this Christmas..even bail for Jinggoy for an unbailable crime..(just a feeling really). Supreme Court Chief Justice Ms. Aranal-Sereno should take a closer look at the Sandiganbayan,as Ms Cabotaje-Tang, for her part, should tighten her grip on the ‘Sandigan’s’ various divisions. It would seem that of the three branches of government, the ‘Judiciary’ is the weakest. Another feeling…”the Estradas, Revillas, Ponce-Enriles and (yes) Naoleses of this world are bigger than our justice system”.

  4. My guess why these justices are inhibiting themselves hearing the case of Sen. Jingoy Estrada is that they could no longer take the pressure being exerted to them to accept whatever evidence presented by prosecutors knowing that there are lot of inconsistencies and loopholes in the testimony of their so called witnesses just to convict the senator. If these justices doesn’t have the guts to render a just and fair decision because of those pressures being exerted, the honorable thing for them to do is to resign from their posts. For whatever reason, pressured or not pressured they should continue hearing the case and render a verdict based on evidences presented..

  5. Maybe the rules on inhibitions failed to include one of the “T”s of the three “T”s of a filipino personality I noted during Marcos era. And they said one T represents “Tanga”, the second T represents “Tutta” and the third one is “TAKUT” I only hope this last T does not represent the Justices inhibiting themselves. God bless our country.

  6. These justices cannot recuse themselves without any valid reason(s), it is tantamount to dereliction of duty as a public servant.

  7. why the hell did they go this far in the trial only to inhibit themselves later? something must be cooking or must have been cooked already. the ombudsman must dig deeper into this. i think the filipino people need to know the “personal reasons” the justices have. there’s got to be a reason deep enough for them to inhibit themselves.

    • Ombudsman cannot involved itself from this issue. It is sandigan themselves or the SC. Palace influence is the clue.

  8. Kawawang jinggoy!!kahit maykatuwiran hindi makalaban!!pati judge at justice na dapat niyang asahan ng pag-asa ay na pressured na at nawala ang mga balls!!
    Iba talaga ang kuko at galamay ni Aquino kayang pilipitin ang lahat upang walang hadlang sa pagpre-president ni Mar Roxas!
    Kaliwat kana ang banat para si erap ay wag tumakbo!!
    Iba talaga ang pagkatuso ni Aquino talo pa ang ahas na hinagis sa lupa!!hahaha!!