A petition filed by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) with the Court of Appeals to inspect the bank accounts of Vice President Jejomar Binay and his family has been found by CA justices as “too hot to handle.”
According to a well-placed source of The Manila Times in the appellate court, the case against Binay has already caused several inhibitions by the court’s justices.
In fact, the source said, two senior CA justices inhibited shortly after the court raffled off the case two weeks ago
“It is like a hot potato in the CA. This AMLC case against the Vice President is too hot to handle,” the source added.
With the two senior justices inhibiting, only the chairman of the division and the junior justice were left.
The CA is waiting for the third justice to complete the Special Division.
The Manila Times source said Binay, being the second-highest official of the land, could be the future President of the country and Malacanang could retaliate against the justices who would handle the case against him.
Some of the other justices, the source added, are of the thinking that the Vice President could be a victim of “politics,” Binay being the strongest contender for the presidency in the 2016 polls.
They cited the Office of the Ombudsman pushing the AMLC to inquire into the Binay family’s bank accounts.
Several high-ranking officials of the office are connected with former Defense Secretary Avelino “Nonong” Cruz, now the lawyer of Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd.
Cruz was the canvassing lawyer of Roxas when the latter ran and lost to Binay in the race for Vice President in the May 2010 elections.
He is currently the partner of former Ombudsman Simeon Marcelo, having broken away from “The Firm,” the former Carpio Villaraza Cruz Marcelo law office.
All AMLC cases filed with the CA, whether petitions for examination of bank accounts or petitions for freeze order on the bank accounts, will have to be decided by the court within 48 hours after filing.
The USB containing documents on the petitions is placed inside a “black bag” with padlock to keep the strict confidentiality of the cases.
After raffle off of the petitions, names of justices who shall handle the cases will not be made public.
The Manila Times has decided not to disclose the name of the ponente in the CA who is handling the case of Binay and the names of the other justices to adhere to the confidentiality rule.
But the justice who is assigned to pen the case was a former Manila Regional Trial Court judge.
The CA, however, failed to resolve the case against the Vice President and his family within the required 48 hours because of the inhibitions.
In the long line of AMLC cases in the CA after Republic Act 9160 was passed into law in 2001, this is the first time that bank accounts of the Vice President of the Philippines are being sought for examination.
This makes Binay as the highest-ranking government official being investigated by the AMLC on suspicion of having acquired wealth unlawfully.
The Senate blue ribbon committee has ordered an inquiry into the assets of the Vice President on the basis of testimonies of former Makati City (Metro Manila) Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado, lawyer Renato Bondal and Nicolas Enciso 6th.
Mercado, Bondal and Enciso have filed plunder charges against Binay and his son, Makati Mayor Erwin Jejomar Binay Jr., before the Office of the Ombudsman.
They filed the charges on the basis of their expose on the allegedly overpriced Makati City Hall Building 2, an 11-story structure that cost P2.3 billion and built during the now-Vice President’s term as Makati mayor.