THE Sandiganbayan on Monday asked the Supreme Court to throw out the plea of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales to create a special division to try the cases of senators implicated in the pork barrel scam.
In a comment to the Supreme Court, the anti-graft court led by Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang, asked the Court to reject Morales’ plea.
Last Friday, the Manila Times reported that the Sandiganbayan justices are against the creation of a special division.
The comment said “the majority of the justices of the Sandiganbayan is of the view that there is no compelling reason, and/or imperative need, to create a special division, or divisions, to try the criminal cases filed by the Office of the Ombudsman relative to the disbursement and use of the PDAF.”
The last time the Supreme Court approved the creation of a Sandiganbayan special division was during the plunder and perjury case of former President Joseph Estrada.
The Sandiganbayan justices believe that forming a special division could raise accusations that the court was biased against the accused.
The Sandiganbayan 4th Division was exempted from the raffle of the plunder and graft cases after Justice Gregory Ong inhibited himself from handling all of the pork barrel scam cases.
Whistleblower Benhur Luy said Ong was one of the contacts of Janet Lim-Napoles in the judiciary.
Meanwhile, Senators Ramon “Bong’ Revilla and Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada said it is possible that President Benigno Aquino 3rd may try to influence the anti-graft court to ensure their conviction.
Revilla said he is not discounting such an action from the President, citing what happened during the impeachment trial of former Chief Justice Renato Corona.
Revilla has claimed that Aquino arranged a “secret meeting” with him to ask his help in ensuring Corona’s conviction. Revilla said then Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas fetch him from the Senate and drove him to Malacanang to meet Aquino.
“The reason why I made the disclosure then is because of the possibility that the President may use his influence to ensure that the cases filed against me and other senators implicated in the pork barrel scam lead to conviction,” Revilla told reporters in an interview.
Estrada admitted that the anti-graft court may be pressured and that such pressure does not have to come from the President himself.