An alleged “black operation” against Vice President Jejomar Binay was hatched in May 2010 by former associates of the once powerful The Firm, documents showed.
In fact, former Ombudsman Simeon Marcelo who was with the defunct Carpio Villaraza Angcangco or CVC Law Office, secured Binay’s case records from the Office of the Ombudsman days after the May 2010 elections.
In two sworn and signed affidavits, former Special Prosecutor Wendell Barreras-Sulit claimed that “sometime after” the May 10, 2010 elections, she received a call from Fe Campued, Marcelo’s confidential staff.
“Ms. Fe told me that Ombudsman Marcelo would like to talk to me after which Ombudsman Marcelo was already on the line… He further requested some documents regarding the case of a high-ranking official which was already dismissed by the Sandiganbayan. For that matter I assured him he can secure these documents,” Sulit said in her July 2, 2010 affidavit.
On August 3 that same year, Sulit again issued another affidavit, this time naming the Vice President as the “high-ranking official” she was referring to in her earlier affidavit.
“I can now admit that the high-ranking official I am referring to in my affidavit is former Makati [City] Mayor and now Vice President Jejomar Binay. It was former Ombudsman Marcelo who asked for the documents,” she said.
The Manila Times has a copy of each of the affidavits.
Sulit said she prepared the requested documents because Marcelo used to be her boss at the Office of the Ombudsman.
“The documents he requested were already ready for pick-up on 14 May 2010,” she added.
“I have no personal interest in the Binay case… I read in one of the leading newspapers and saw the news on television that one of the partners of the Villaraza, Cruz, Marcelo and Angcangco Law Firm [The Firm], a certain Atty. Joe Nathan P. Tenefrancia, has filed an election protest against [Binay] before the Supreme Court,” Sulit said.
Her affidavits were part of case records of a libel complaint lodged by the late Solicitor General Francisco Chavez before the Department of Justice against the once influential and powerful law firm and some journalists.
Marcelo, one of those charged by Chavez, submitted a rejoinder-affidavit that unduly dragged the name of Sulit into the mess.
She took offense with a number of allegations raised against her by Marcelo, including one saying that it was she who “volunteered” to send him the Binay documents “for his study and possible re-filing.”
“I will never allow anyone or a law firm for that matter to take over the functions of our office as it will erode our independence and integrity,” Sulit pointed out.
Sulit was sacked by President Benigno Aquino 3rd in 2013 over the controversial plea bargaining agreement between government prosecutors and former military comptroller Carlos Garcia.
In November last year, The Manila Times published an exclusive report pointing to Marcelo and former The Firm associates as behind the “black operation” against Binay and Sen. Grace Poe to ensure the victory of the ruling party’s standard-bearer Manuel “Mar” Roxas 2nd.
In that report, reliable sources were quoted as saying that the supposed agenda “is to apply their full might and influence to have Grace disqualified while making sure that Binay is put behind bars.”
Poe and Binay are the frontrunners in recent pre-election presidential surveys.
Joey Salgado, one of Binay’s spokesmen, had said they were aware of such “dark” legal operation, which involves powerful people in the Office of the Ombudsman and even the Supreme Court.
“Yes, we know that. We have been informed as early as last year that that would be their endgame [to jail Binay]. Based on our intelligence, the tactic is being principally done by associates of an influential law firm that has tentacles in the [Office of the] Ombudsman,” Salgado told The Manila Times.
Besides Marcelo, another influential lawyer allegedly behind the plot is Avelino “Nonong” Cruz.
When members of the so-called Hyatt 10 broke free from the Cabinet of then-President Gloria Arroyo, Cruz was the Defense chief. He eventually left office.
While “The Firm” may no longer be in existence, this paper’s sources claimed that CVC Law remains influential because it has “contacts” inside the Ombudsman’s office and Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio is still with them.
Carpio was a former associate of the law firm.
Cruz is a staunch Roxas ally and was part of Aquino’s legal team in 2010. Roxas and Senate President Franklin Drilon pushed for the appointment of Cruz’s fraternity brothers in the Comelec–Commissioners Al Parreño and Arthur Lim.
Drilon, Carpio, Cruz, Parreño and Lim are all members of the Sigma Rho Fraternity of the UP College of Law.