Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Court of Appeals Controversy: PHP 10 Million to inhibit, how much to decide?

The Inquirer today banners a headline on a PHP 10 Million attempt to bribe Justice Sabio of the Court of Appeals. According to Justice Sabio, a Meralco emissary offered him the money in exchange for Justice Sabio's inhibition from the heated Meralco stockholder fight. Justice Sabio's story has the stuff of credibility written into it. The Inquirer relates the story as follows:

The emissary began by explaining the problem of who between Sabio and Reyes should preside over the Meralco case.

Sabio was surprised that the emissary knew about the matter, “an internal problem” that happened only “very recently.”

The emissary said his camp’s lawyers wanted to “directly challenge” Sabio’s insistence on presiding over the case, but that they were told it might “become messy.”

It was then that Sabio was offered P10 million, which he rejected.

“So, they were talking of a win-win situation, which meant offering P10 million for me to give way to Justice Reyes. I politely declined that offer and told the emissary that it was not only a matter of principle but that it will [also] affect the integrity of the court. Before he left, he told me that they were still hoping that I could see it their way,” Sabio said.

“In their eagerness to succeed on that aspect,” Sabio said, the emissary got in touch with a family friend in Cagayan de Oro City to convince him to accept the money.

‘Pestering’ calls

Sabio said that subsequently, he received frantic calls from the emissary.

He continued his account to Presiding Justice Vasquez thus:

In order to put an end to the “pestering” calls, Sabio told the emissary that his conscience would forever be bothered and he would be unable to face his wife and two daughters if he accepted the offer.

He also told the emissary that taking the money would be contrary to his being a member of the Philippine Judicial Academy’s Ethics and Judicial Conduct Department and Ateneo de Manila University’s pre-bar reviewer in legal and judicial ethics.

The emissary’s “feeble response” was: “We are not doing anything illegal since we do not ask you to decide one way or the other.”

His reply was that it was “a matter of principle.”

Before the conversation ended, the emissary told Sabio that his camp would be forced to employ other ways to ensure that Reyes would chair the division that would decide on the case.

Questions to Reyes

On July 7, Meralco filed an urgent motion for Reyes to assume the chairmanship of the 9th Division, which Sabio described as a “strange,” even “stupid,” motion.

Sabio also said in the letter that he had told Reyes of the P10-million offer, and asked the latter certain questions, including:

“If you will insist on assuming the chairmanship, after you have been told of the P10-million offer, what will I think of you now? Why should Meralco insist on you assuming the chairmanship and have me ousted?”

“Is it because they are certain of your loyalty and they are uncertain [of] mine?”

“Why did they (Meralco) actively participate in the hearing on the 23rd and never raised any question regarding the supposed irregularity of my presiding over the hearing?”

Sabio said Reyes’ “feeble” reply to him was: “I am afraid that they will file a case of nonfeasance against me.” (Nonfeasance means “the omission of an act that ought to have been performed.”)


Commentary

If the offer was PHP 10 Million for the justices to inhibit, how much then was the offer for a justice to decide? The question cannot just be ignored, considering that Meralco subsequently won the case and the decision was penned by somebody else other than Justice Sabio, who did not inhibit from the case, yet still removed from the case by some strange circumstance.

The Court of Appeals is holding an en banc session today to resolve Justice sabio's complaint. (to be continued)

4 comments:

Nash David said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
marvin said...

Hi David,

Are you related to Steve? You sound like a a member of the Phoenix Suns, after the Shaq trade.

You know sir in this country stranger things have happened

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
marvin said...

I hereby declare that nash david and this anonymous guy up here are trolls.

Wherefore, their comments are banned on this site forever.