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Thread: The Corona Impeachment Trial

  1. #121
    Ex-COA chief nabbed for plunder

    By Marlon Ramos

    Philippine Daily Inquirer

    6:38 am | Friday, April 25th, 2014

    Police arrested former Commission on Audit (COA) chief Reynaldo Villar yesterday in connection with a plunder case which stemmed from the alleged misuse of P366 million in Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) confidential and intelligence funds during the Arroyo administration.

    Agents of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) served the arrest warrant for Villar at his residence at a posh subdivision in Parañaque City, according to Senior Supt. Roberto Fajardo, chief of the CIDG-National Capital Region.

    Villar, 72, was one of the coaccused of former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in the plunder case filed by former Customs Deputy Commissioner Danilo Lim and former Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros.

    At the time of the transactions, Villar headed the COA, which was tasked with examining and auditing public funds to make sure they were spent properly. He stepped down from his post in 2011 following a controversy over when his term as COA chair would end.

    Fajardo said the ex-COA chief did not resist arrest when CIDG agents went to his house at No. 5 Washington Square in Merville Park at around 4 p.m. armed with the warrant issued by the First Division of the Sandiganbayan.

    “He had actually gone into hiding. We have been looking for him for quite some time,” Fajardo told the Inquirer.

    “I dispatched a team to serve the arrest warrant after receiving an information that (Villar) returned to his house after the Holy Week,” he added.

    As of 7 p.m. yesterday, Villar was still undergoing medical examination and booking process at the CIDG-NCR office.

    He was appointed COA commissioner in 2004 for a seven-year term ending in 2011. In 2008, he was named COA chair, and a new commissioner was named to take his place and serve the rest of his term.

    Villar had argued that with his new appointment as chief of the audit agency, he has a fresh seven-year term ending in 2015.

    In 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that Villar could not have been validly appointed to a full seven-year term as COA chair in 2008. With a report from Leila B. Salaverria

  2. #122
    Fertilizer scam: No cause for plunder vs Jocjoc, Cito

    By Michael Punongbayan (The Philippine Star) |

    Updated August 28, 2014 - 12:00am

    MANILA, Philippines - The Sandiganbayan has not found enough evidence to proceed with the charge of plunder against former Department of Agriculture (DA) secretary Luis “Cito” Lorenzo and undersecretary Jocelyn “Jocjoc” Bolante for their alleged involvement in the P728-million fertilizer fund scam.

    Magistrates of the anti-graft court’s Second Division, however, decided not to junk the charges and gave the Office of the Ombudsman 60 days to provide additional evidence against the accused, who were officials of the previous administration.

    While there may be no plunder, the Sandiganbayan believes that a crime was still committed based on the anti-graft agency’s accusations that Bolante misused and misappropriated public funds, which Lorenzo supposedly allowed.

    Both were indicted in June 2011 for allegedly giving unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference to parties for the Farm Inputs and Farm Implements Project (FIFIP) under the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act (AFMA).

    Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was also investigated for alleged involvement but the Office of the Ombudsman, in a resolution issued last May 2, 2014, cleared her of any liability.

  3. #123
    3 Sandiganbayan justices quit cases vs Jinggoy Estrada

    Marlon Ramos


    Philippine Daily Inquirer

    3:15 AM | Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

    MANILA, Philippines–“Pressure” from the public and “higher authorities” prompted the three-member Sandiganbayan division to withdraw on Monday from the plunder and graft cases against detained Sen. Jinggoy Estrada over the P10-billion pork barrel racket, according to an Inquirer source.

    In an unprecedented move, Associate Justice Roland Jurado, chair of the antigraft court’s Fifth Division, and Associate Justices Alexander Gesmundo and Ma. Theresa Dolores Estoesta inhibited themselves from handling one of the most controversial cases in the country’s judicial history.

    The three justices informed the Sandiganbayan of their decision in a single-page letter they sent to Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang—a first in its 36-year history that the entire division asked to be recused from hearing a case.

    No specific reason was stated other than “personal reasons.”

    But a court insider told the Inquirer that the justices gave in to pressure from various sectors for them to deny Estrada’s petition for bail on which hearings had been going on since July.

    BIR added pressure

    The source, who agreed to talk on condition of anonymity, said the decision of the Supreme Court to allow the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to look into the statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) of the Sandiganbayan magistrates had also affected the justices’ decision.

    “Since the issue of the pork barrel scam broke out in the media, the public perception is that all the personalities implicated in the controversy should be convicted,” the source said.

    “Even the higher authorities were consistently and confidently saying in public that all legislators charged in the Sandiganbayan would be found guilty by the court. If you’re a judge, that would definitely weigh on how you would treat this case. It’s a pressure on your judgment,” he added.

    Asked if he was referring to Malacañang when he mentioned “higher authorities,” the source said: “Just read my lips.”

    Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Bong Revilla have also been indicted and arrested for their alleged complicity in the scam by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles.

    Revilla and Estrada are detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center at Camp Crame, Quezon City, while the 90-year-old Enrile is under hospital arrest at the PNP General Hospital.


    Two weeks ago, the Sandiganbayan First Division denied Revilla’s bail petition. The senator was given until Dec. 17 to ask for a motion for reconsideration.

    Besides the Estrada’s plunder case, the Fifth Division is also hearing the graft and malversation cases against former Makati City Mayor Elenita Binay, wife of embattled Vice President Jejomar Binay.

    The division is also hearing the graft cases against former First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo and several retired police generals regarding the alleged sale of secondhand helicopters to the PNP.

    According to the Inquirer source, the high court’s resolution which granted the BIR’s request to scrutinize the SALN of the Sandiganbayan justices was an “added pressure.”

    “We know what happened to the known critics of the government and those allied with former President (Gloria Macapagal-) Arroyo. They were harassed by the BIR by threatening to file tax evasion cases against them,” the source said.

    “The problem with the BIR officials is that they treat government officials who have discrepancies in their SALNs as if they are already guilty of embezzling public funds. The Supreme Court resolution is a blanket authority to harass the justices of Sandiganbayan,” he argued.

    Compelling reason

    The Inquirer tried but failed to get the comment of Jurado, who attended the court’s last en banc session on Monday, the last for this year. Both Estoesta and Gesmundo were on leave.

    Renato Bocar, the Sandiganbayan executive clerk of court, said Tang referred the letter to the court en banc for discussion in January and hear the explanation of the three justices.

    He told the Inquirer only one of the three members of the division was present during the en banc session on Monday, but he declined to identify the magistrate.

    “The justice did not want to elaborate what was their reason because he was not authorized by the two other justices,” Bocar said. “But the reason must be really compelling because all the three of them agreed with the reason why they had to inhibit.”

    In a text message to reporters, Alexis Abastillas-Suarez, Estrada’s lawyer, said: “We have absolutely no idea of the ‘personal reasons’ why they want to inhibit from the case. We wonder why now?”

    “I am really at a loss,” said Justice Undersecretary Jose Justiniano, a member of the prosecution team. “I can’t say why they inhibited,” he told reporters. “I hope the inhibition will not cause any delay.”–With a report from Jerome C. Aning

  4. #124
    Justices asked to explain recusal from Jinggoy Estrada case

    Gil C. Cabacungan


    3:11 AM | Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

    MANILA, Philippines–Two lawmakers on Tuesday urged the Sandiganbayan to compel the three justices who inhibited themselves from the plunder and graft trial of Sen. Jinggoy Estrada to explain their sudden move.

    Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said it behooved the three associate justices of the Fifth Division—Roland Jurado, its chair, and Alexander Gesmundo and Ma. Theresa Dolores Estoesta—to clarify their decision to quit the Estrada trial after hearing his appeal for bail for five months.

    “It’s unfair to the public, to the prosecutors, to Jinggoy. They should give their reasons,” Rodriguez said in an interview with reporters.

    He said that if the justices would not reveal the real reasons they recused themselves, the Supreme Court should step in and force them to do so.

    For his part, Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III said the three antigraft court magistrates should resign if they refuse to explain.

    “The cases were raffled off and it’s their job to decide the case whether or not it is popular with the public. What they did is an abdication of duty,” Albano said in a phone interview.

    “If they are afraid of the repercussions of their decision in the case, they should just quit,” he added.

    Rodriguez said it was unusual for all three justices, or an entire division, to recuse from a case.

    Jurado, Gesmundo and Estoesta only cited “personal reasons” for dropping the case in a one-page letter to Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang.

    “Normally, it is only one justice [that inhibits himself] but never an entire division,” Rodriguez said.

    Renato Bocar, Sandiganbayan executive clerk of court and spokesman, said the antigraft court had no power to deny the request for recusal of a justice who is allowed to do so on “just and valid grounds or compelling reasons other than those specifically enumerated in the Rules of Court.”

    Under the Rules of Court, a justice may inhibit him or herself from a case involving a litigant who is a relative up to the sixth degree or of a counsel up to the fourth degree of consanguinity. Justices may likewise be recused from a case if they had previous ties to a litigant or his lawyer.

    But Rodriguez stressed that Estrada’s was a high profile case where the public, the prosecutors and defendants deserved full transparency.

    “Nobody wants this impasse because it is detrimental to all the parties, especially the accused who will continue to remain in jail as long as his bail plea is not resolved,” Rodriguez said.

  5. #125
    3 Sandiganbayan justices’ bid to quit Jinggoy Estrada case junked

    Marlon Ramos


    Philippine Daily Inquirer

    4:13 AM | Thursday, December 18th, 2014

    MANILA, Philippines–Finish what you have started.

    The Sandiganbayan on Wednesday turned down the request of three of their colleagues to back out of the plunder and graft cases of detained Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, saying the reasons the three raised were “not compelling” to justify their inhibition.

    Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang, however, declined to disclose the reasons raised by the Fifth Division justices during their closed-door full court meeting, which lasted over an hour.

    “They actually explained their personal reasons. But they requested us not to discuss it with (the media). Let’s just respect their request for it to remain with us. I hope you will respect it,” Tang said.

    In a special en banc session, the magistrates of the antigraft court “advised” the three members of the Fifth Division to stay put and carry on with the hearing of Estrada’s bail petition, which started in July.

    Tang said the decision of the three justices had nothing to do with the Supreme Court’s resolution allowing the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to look into the statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) of the members of the special court.


    Tang also flatly denied reports that Malacañang was exerting pressure on the members of the Fifth Division—Associate Justice Roland Jurado (chair) and Associate Justices Alexander Gesmundo and Ma. Theresa Dolores Estoesta—to throw out Estrada’s petition.

    “I can assure you that it has nothing to do with the (issue about our) SALN or the supposed conduct of investigation concerning the bank accounts of the justices by the AMLC (Anti-Money Laundering Council),” Tang said in a news briefing.

    “That’s not true. The reported Malacañang pressure is not also true. There’s no such pressure,” she said.

    The presiding justice maintained that the members of the antigraft court had made available their SALNs to the public even before the cases pertaining to the P10-billion pork barrel scam were filed.

    Besides Estrada, two other senators—Juan Ponce Enrile and Bong Revilla—are facing plunder charges in the Sandiganbayan in connection with the tens of millions of pesos from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) that they allegedly pocketed in connivance with businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles.

    Tang noted that a media company had gotten hold of the SALN documents after its request was granted by the high tribunal.

    “I don’t think one should [be] fear[ful] if he or she did nothing wrong. So, it’s OK,” Tang said.

    In a single-page letter they sent to Tang on Monday, Jurado, Gesmundo and Estoesta expressed their intention to withdraw from Estrada’s case over “personal reasons,” without elaborating.

    However, a court insider told the Inquirer that the justices’ decision was prompted by “pressure” from the public and the “higher authorities” for them to rebuff Estrada’s attempt to secure his temporary freedom.

    BIR scrutiny

    The source, who agreed to talk if he would not be named, said the high court’s approval of the BIR request to scrutinize the Sandiganbayan justices’ SALN was also a factor in their sudden change of heart.

    “Since the issue of the pork barrel scam broke out in the media, the public perception is that all the personalities implicated in the controversy should be convicted,” the source told the Inquirer.

    “We know what happened to the known critics of the government and those allied with former President (Gloria Macapagal) Arroyo. They were harassed by the BIR by threatening to file tax evasion cases against them.”

    But Tang emphasized that none of the three justices mentioned that somebody had tried to influence them, saying each of them justified their own reasons for wanting to withdraw from Estrada’s case.

    Asked if Gesmundo, Jurado and Estoesta cited similar circumstances, Tang said their reasons were almost the same “but in varying degrees.”

    “The chair (Jurado) has, I think, a more serious concern… I wish I could tell you, but I’m bound by my undertaking not to disclose it,” said the presiding justice.

    Request for guidance

    Tang also explained that the three justices did not actually quit from handling Estrada’s case and that they merely asked for guidance from the court en banc.

    Said Tang: “There is a difference between the two because if they voluntarily inhibited, neither the court en banc nor the presiding justice has the power to deny (their inhibition). But since their letter merely requested recusal, we treated it as a request for advice from the en banc.”

    In deciding not to grant their colleagues’ request, she said the 11 justices all agreed that it would be best for them “not to pursue the request for inhibition and to continue handling the case.”

    “We feel that this is one of the important cases being handled by the court and the justices should really continue handling it because many things have happened (since) the filing of the case,” she added.

    Asked if the justices’ aborted plan to bow out of Estrada’s case may affect their eventual ruling, Tang said: “Personally, I don’t think there is any adverse or significant impact. I believe in the three members of (the Fifth Division) and I believe that they can do their job well.”

    She expressed confidence that the issue would not have any negative effect on the court’s credibility.

  6. #126

    Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:12 AM |

    Thursday, December 18th, 2014

    When a whole division of the Sandigabayan asks to be excused from trying a highly controversial plunder case, one is tempted to ask: Isn’t that precisely what an antigraft court was created to do? Should the judges be surprised at the high-powered parties they have to confront? Or is the ancient adage true that “laws are like cobwebs, which may catch small flies, but let wasps and hornets break through”?

    The recusal exposes the vulnerabilities of Filipino judges, and chastises both the judges themselves and the Filipino public they are sworn to serve. The judges must stand fast and honor their duty to render “judgment according to law.” The public should remain vigilant that the judges not use legal technicality to derail the heroic drive to end corruption.

    The three judges of the Sandiganbayan’s Fifth Division wish to inhibit from the pork-barrel-related plunder case against Sen. Jinggoy Estrada. Their one-page letter to Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje Tang was simple and straightforward. “May we request for [sic] our recusal in the above-indicated criminal cases for personal reasons.” It was cryptic and doesn’t say what those “personal reasons” are, and leaves everyone—the accused, the prosecution, the judiciary and the Filipino people—guessing.

    Their request to inhibit can be seen in two ways. The first is the mainly legal. When do the rules allow a judge to be excused from judging a case? The duty to judge is so peremptory that, the law says, a judge is duty-bound to decide even in a case where the law is silent. “No judge or court shall decline to render judgment by reason of the silence, obscurity or insufficiency of the laws.”

    The Code of Judicial Ethics lists the permissible grounds for inhibition, and they all pertain to conflicts of interest. The judges’ cryptic language (“personal reasons”) itself undermines the bedrock values of the Code, which says that judges by their conduct must enhance “public confidence in the judicial system” and the “moral authority and integrity of the judiciary.” We are left to speculate what reason prompted the request.

    We can locate two so-called “canons of judicial ethics” that the judges can claim. One is “independence,” the judges’ duty to decide cases “on the basis of their assessment of the facts and in accordance with a conscientious understanding of the law, free of any extraneous influence, inducement, pressure, threat or interference, direct or indirect, from any quarter or for any reason.” Indeed, the Code says that judges must even “be independent in relation to society in general.” The other is the canon of “propriety,” which calls on judges to “disqualify themselves from participating in any proceedings in which they are unable to decide the matter impartially or in which it may appear to a reasonable observer that they are unable to decide the matter impartially.”

    If the judges’ reasons were truly “personal,” then perhaps each of them can tell us how their independence and impartiality had been compromised. Did anyone speak to them? But if their reasons were shared by the entire division—e.g., pressure from public opinion—then all the Sandiganbayan justices suffer from the same problem. Who will be left to decide the case then?

    That is why we turn to the second way of looking at the case, which is from a strategic viewpoint. Courts are supposed to decide cases dispassionately, oblivious to public opinion and indifferent to partisan pressures. Unidentified sources in the Sandiganbayan have reportedly cited the extreme political pressures brought to bear upon the judges in the pork barrel cases. So what did the recusing judges expect to achieve with their letter?

    The most short-term is personal for the judges concerned, and that is to be rid of the burden of hearing the pork barrel case and let it be someone else’s headache. The medium-term benefit is for the next set of judges assigned to the case (assuming that recusal was granted), who thus enjoy the benefit of having a public already forewarned of the pressures they face, and presumably more inclined to accept whatever decision they make. But the long-term effect on the Sandiganbayan as an institution is to confront as candidly as possible its role in ending corruption in our country. Its role is not to find every legal excuse in the book to let the accused off the hook. Its role is to ascertain whether public money has been diverted to private pockets, and to ensure that those who betrayed the public trust shall be exposed and punished. The court may be neutral vis-à-vis the parties, but it is not neutral vis-à-vis the cause of eliminating corruption.

  7. #127
    Daughter of trial justice in Erap plunder hits Sandigan for allowing Jinggoy to attend son’s graduation

    Marc Jayson Cayabyab


    9:56 PM | Thursday, March 19th, 2015

    MANILA, Philippines – The daughter of a former Sandiganbayan Associate Justice Anacleto Badoy lamented the antigraft court’s decision allowing detained Senator Jinggoy Estrada to attend the graduation rites of his son.

    In a Facebook post that has gone viral, Lorraine Marie Badoy said his father , who chaired the antigraft court third division which heard the plunder trial of convicted former president (now Manila mayor) Joseph Estrada, did not even allow the Estrada patriarch for house arrest despite a bribe given to him.

    Jinggoy was also part of his father’s plunder case that included charges of accepting millions of pesos from proceeds of jueteng and misappropriating P130-million in excise taxes from tobacco but he was later cleared.

    “And yet now, more than 14 years after that ruling, Sandiganbayan Justice (Roland) Jurado has allowed the repeat offender plunderer Jinggoy Estrada to attend his son’s graduation,” Badoy said.

    The Fifth Division chaired by Associate Justice Roland Jurado allowed Jinggoy Estrada to attend the latter’s son Julian’s graduation at OB Montessori last March 17.

    The senator is detained for plunder this time for allegedly amassing kickbacks from his Priority Development Assistance Funds in Janet Lim-Napoles’ purported pork barrel scam

    Jurado in open court said Estrada must be present in his son’s graduation because his absence may be “traumatic” to the child. “We’re not doing this for Senator Estrada, we’re doing this for the son,” the Justice said.

    Pictures on social media showed Senator Estrada sharing a light moment with his wife Precy and son Julian during the graduation. On his Twitter account, Jinggoy Estrada even posted a photo of him pinning a ribbon on Julian, an actor.

    Badoy said this is a mockery of the justice system because the poor, less privileged detainees could not attend similar graduations of their children.

    “I could bet you both my arms and I’ll throw in my legs… that right now, there are scores of children of prisoners who will not have their parents present in their graduation,” Badoy said.

    She added that antigraft court’s decision to allow Estrada to leave jail briefly seems to show that justice only worked for the powerful and influential.

    “(This) makes me see the REAL crime here is: the crime of being POOR AND UNCONNECTED,” she said.

    “(T)he law will bend itself over backwards one hundred million times for the rich, will contort itself blue in the face and in various painful angles and give f*kingly inane and tragic-comical reasons for doing so such as ‘We are doing this for the son, not the father,'” Badoy added.

    “What about the sons of the poor, Justice (Jurado)? Ang kakapal ba ng mga psyche nila na hindi sila mata-traumatize? Pang rich lang ang trauma, di ba? Mga poor? Mamatay kayo! Suck it up,” Badoy said.

    Badoy said the division’s decision reflects the “obscenely huge divide between the rich and the poor.”

    “(I)n a country down on its knees and bleeding from the wholesale and widespread thievery of those in office, Justice Jurado has further widened the unforgivable crime of a yawning chasm of a divide,” she said.

    She said it is not a coincidence that the court granted the request of an influential high-ranking public official

    “Justice is not blind, (Jurado) is saying he took a good look at the accused in front of him and saw a senator. An obscenely rich, obscenely powerful, obscenely arrogant, unrepentant shameless f*ck of a public servant who stole over and beyond what any fertile and wild imagination could ever comprehend,” Badoy said.

    “And this Justice blinked,” she said.

    Badoy is the daughter of Associate Justice Anacleto Badoy Jr., who chaired the antigraft court Third Division which heard the plunder case of the two Estradas over gambling money.

    Estrada was convicted in 2007 but he was later pardoned by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The senator, meanwhile, was granted bail in 2003 or after almost two years in detention, he was cleared of plunder in 2007.

    In 2001, the Third Division chaired by Badoy denied both Estradas’ request for house arrest in their Greenhills Mansion, saying confining both in their own house in a posh subdivision while other detention prisoners were in congested detention facilities “will further dramatize the great divide between the rich and the poor in our society.”

  8. #128
    SC affirms voiding of Arroyo midnight appointments


    07:29 PM June 16th, 2015

    THE Supreme Court on Tuesday affirmed the Executive Order issued by President Benigno Aquino III against the “midnight appointments” made by his predecessor, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo..

    “In the matter of Cheloy Velicaria-Garafil vs Office of the President, Dindo Venturanza vs the Office of the President, Irma Villanueva and Francisca Rosqueta vs Court of Appeals and Office of the President and Edie Tamondong vs Court of Appeals and Executive Secretary, the Court voting 8-6 dismissed the petition and declared as null and void the appointments of petitioners to the post they occupied,” high court’s Information Chief Atty. Theodore Te said at a press conference.

    The high court said Executive Order No. 2 issued by Aquino “is constitutional in its entirety, especially as to its definition of midnight appointments and its recall, revocation and withdrawal of midnight appointments.”

    EO No. 2, which was issued on Aug. 4, 2011, recalled, withdrew and revoked about 800 appointments made by Arroyo two months before the 2010 elections.

    Among these appointments are of that of the petitioners.

    Velicaria-Garafil was appointed State Solicitor II at the Office of the Solicitor General while Venturanza was appointed as city prosecutor of Quezon City. On the other hand, Villanueva was appointed as Administrator for Visayas of the Board of Administrators of the Cooperative Development Authority while Rosqueta was named Commissioner of the National Commission of Indigenous Peoples. Tamondong was appointed member of the Board of Directors of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority.

    Under Section 15, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution, “two months immediately before the next presidential elections and up to the end of his term, a President or acting President shall not make appointments, except temporary appointments to executive positions when continued vacancies therein will prejudice public service or endanger public safety.”

    For purposes of the 2010 polls, the high court said the cut-off date for valid appointments was March 10, 2010 while March 11, 2010 was the reference date for midnight appointments.

    About the petitioners, the high court said they failed to provide proof showing that their appointments were made prior to March 11, 2010.

    “The petitioners have failed to show their compliance with all four elements of a valid appointment. They cannot prove with certainty that their appointment papers have indeed been issued before the period covered by the appointment ban,” the high court said.

    The high court also took note of the fact that petitioners themselves admitted that they took their oaths of office during the period of the appointment ban.

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