Saturday, August 09, 2008

Court of Appeqals Controversy No. 11: Second day of hearing

The inquirer reporta on the proceedings of the second day of hearing by the investigating panel on the CA controversy. Click here.

La Vida Lawyer notes these highlights:

Answering a series of questions from Callejo, she said she signed the copies of a supposedly final decision on the Meralco case that Roxas had brought to her office on July 8 even without deliberations being conducted on it. She said it was the usual practice in many divisions.

Callejo reminded her that was contrary to court rules.

Vidal justified her decision to sign, saying that she believed Roxas when he said it was “a matter of urgency.”

But when Callejo asked what the urgency was about, Vidal replied she did not ask Roxas. She later added that it was “for Justice Roxas to answer,” eliciting laughter from the audience. Callejo was not amused.

“Do not just rely on the word of our colleagues; you must conduct your own research and study so that we can serve the people judiciously. Otherwise you’ll only be a robot,” Callejo said.


Callejo also asked why Vidal signed the copy even if a pending motion for Roxas to inhibit himself remained unresolved.

“It was improper for the court to proceed with the hearing without Justice Roxas resolving the motion,” he said.

Vidal replied that she brought the decision home, studied it and did her own research. She said she agreed with its contents. She said she gave the decision back to Roxas the next day and was hurt when she found that another division came out with a decision and that the documents she had signed were mere drafts.

It turned out that deliberations on the case were conducted by Reyes and Roxas, together with Justice Apolinario Bruselas Jr. The Eighth Division eventually came out with the decision dismissing the case in favor of Meralco on July 23.

Callejo said he hoped Vidal learned her lesson and the latter also apologized for the lapses she had committed.

And then there was the question of Roxas’s traveling bag.

According to Vidal, Roxas was carrying the “voluminous” records of the case when he went to her office to personally bring her the copy of the decision that he had penned.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Court of Appeals Controversy Part 9: Businessman twits Sabio


The chismosos and brokers will inherit the world.

Court of Appeals Controvery Part 8: "I didn't ask for money"


Lopez-owned ABS-CBNNEWS video report above gets an "A" for production values. Focus will now be in De Borja on how he responds to Sabio's detailed rebuttal of De Borja's story.

Court of Appeals Controversy Part 7: Sabio rebuts De Borja


Justice Sabio presented the affivadit of Evelyn Clavano,his relative in Cagayan de Oro, whom he claims was also asked by Mr. Francis de Borja to convince to accept the PHP 10 Million.Noteworthy is Justice Sabio's comment above to Justice Bienvenido Reyes, who eventually decided the case."Kung sa akin PHP 10 Million, magkano sa yo?" Incidentally, Justice Beinvenido Reyes has not come forward to deny the allegation.

The full text of Justice Sabio's reply to the affidavit of Francis de Borja follows (thanks to Patring):


Good morning. I thank you all for coming. As you know, yesterday,
the CA en banc deliberated on and came to the agreement that we would
refer the procedural and ethical aspect of the Meralco-SEC case to the
Supreme Court to decide; and leave the validity of the decision for
the parties to file the appropriate legal proceedings. We also all
agreed that by referring this case to the SC, we would no longer
discuss this case outside of the agreement.

Let me say that as per our agreement, I had every intention of not
agreeing anymore to be interviewed on this matter. As some of you
have found out yesterday after the deliberations, I had declined any
attempts to be interviewed.

But then, at about 5 pm yesterday, I found out that Mr. Francis De
Borja had executed an affidavit alleging, in substance, that it was I
who had verbally insinuated to him that I could be bought for 50
million, and a position at the S.C.

Immediately thereafter, I called up PJ Vasquez and told him of this
new development. It is therefore with his knowledge and consent that
I called for this press conference, so I could set the record straight
and respond to the allegations made by Mr. De Borja.

At the outset, I must state that I cannot even begin to express my
anger, outrage and disgust that a person whom I had treated with civil
respect and kindness; and whom I thought respected me would impute
such a filthy lie on me. But that Mr. De Borja would have the nerve to
make these lies, under oath, is utterly disgusting when it was him who
had come to me with the offer of the bribe.

In the effort to make sure that I addressed all the allegations he
made in his affidavit, I have prepared this statement, and I will
narrate to you all my conversations with Mr. De Borja, including facts
and names, almost word for word as I remember them. Please bear with
me as I read this without allowing for interruptions, as I want to
make sure I cover all the facts and do not miss out on any details. I
will allow for questions, after I have read this statement.

Let me begin.

Paragraphs 1-2 of Mr. De Borja's affidavit relates to matters which
Mr. De Borja alone would know as these relate to how he purportedly
came to know of the Meralco/SEC case. I therefore would not know
whether he spoke the truth or not.

Paragraph 3, wherein he narrates what he does for a living is
consistent with what I have known of him: as a businessman who
facilitates and brokers land deals.

In paragraphs 4-12 of his affidavit— Mr. De Borja narrates the
circumstances under which we came to know each other. For the most
part, they are accurate. However, he has twisted the facts to
insinuate that the circumstances under which I received money from him
were highly irregular. It was not. Let me clarify.

1. I've had long years of service with the Roa family. The deceased
Patriarch Congressman Oloy Roa had personally instructed me as his
dying wish that I do not cease helping his children even if he was
already gone. In fact, the eldest daughter of this deceased
patriarch—Mrs Evelyn Roa Clavano—is the very person Francis De Borja
tried to contact to convince me to accept his ten million bribe.

2. Mrs Evelyn Roa Clavano and other children have always come to me
for help in family decisions. One of this was the sale of their huge
tract of land.

3. Mr. De Borja brokered the deal. The whole matter was protracted.
There were a lot of difficult issues and many times I had to settle
dispute and smooth things over with family members who were fighting
among each other but trusted me and listened to me.

4. Paragraph 8 therefore where he states that I "advised on legal
issues" is MISLEADING AND INACCUURATE. I was advising the family in a
personal capacity regarding what I thought to be most advantageous
offer for their land. When I accepted the P300K it was not as a judge,
but as a confidant and family adviser.

5. I did not ask for that money, nor was there any agreement between
us that he would give the same. As a matter of fact, Mr. De Borja
offered that money AFTER the conclusion of the deal, and without me
having to ask or saying anything. When I agreed to advise there was
absolutely no expectation of receiving.

6. I did not violate any law. You can check all the statute books on that.

7. As Mr. De Borja himself acknowledged, the money was given in
appreciation of my efforts in concluding the deal between the Roa
family and his principal. Mrs. Evelyn Roa Clavano knew about the money
and I had her blessing when I received it.

8. Mr. De Borja is obviously bringing up this past incident to
discredit me and insinuate from the facts that I had accepted a bribe
from him in the past. I categorically denounce the insinuations he is
maliciously trying to impute against my honor and integrity.

9. Paragraph 12 and its subparagraphs are likewise misleading. I never
initiated any communication with Mr. De Borja. It was he who would
call either me, or our mutual friend, Mrs. Evelyn Clavano to meet up.
It is not true that we had lunch two or three times a year. If we did
have lunch, it was on very rare occasions, not even three times a
year. I had no business with him.

10. In recent times, I likewise never initiated calls to contact him.
It was only on one occasion in this case when I wished to end his
pestering—which I will shortly discuss—that I decided to call him up.

11. Even now, I challenge him to produce his phone records to prove
that I ever contacted him. I can show you all my phone records to
prove the fact that he always tried to contact me, not the reverse.

12. Moving on now on to his allegations of what he narrated as "What
happened when Justice Sabio met with me on the MERALCO–SEC case."
This is another inaccurate and misleading statement. It was not I who
met with Mr. De Borja. It was he who sought me out to set an
appointment with me.

13. I specifically and vehemently deny Paragraphs 13-21 as blatant
lies. Rather than address these paragraph by paragraph, let me narrate
exactly how Mr. De Borja initated contact and what exactly transpired
in these 4 conversations: three by phone exchanges and one
face-to-face after he had sought me out at the Ateneo.

• The first contact happened on or about May 31. Merely days after the
Meralco-SEC case had been raffled, Mr. De Borja called me up, so
suddenly, and after having had no contact for almost a year.

• Mr. De Borja said: Mabuhay ka, Justice.

• I asked: Why did you say 'Mabuhay'?

• He said: I just want to let you know that the Makati Business Club
is happy with what you did.

• I asked: Why, what have I done?

• And he answered: Di ba isa ka sa pumirma ng TRO?

• I told him: Yes, in fact, I am the Acting chairman of the Division.

• And he said: Mabuti hindi ka na pressure.

• And I told him: I voted according to my conscience.

• Then he said: Mabuhay ka Justice.

• That was the end of that conversation.

14. The second phone call from Mr. De Borja happened on July 1,
sometime during the day.
• Mr. De Borja started the call this way. He said: Justice, pwede ba
tayong magkita? Importante lang.

• I told him: But I have classes from 6-8 o'clock tonight.

• He said: Pupuntahan na lang kita pagkatapos ng klase mo.

• Then I said: Sige, pero hindi ako magtatagal. Kasama ko and aking
asawa at anak.

15. On that same day, by the time I had finished my class at 8 p.m.,
Mr. De Borja was already waiting for me at the Lobby Lounge of the 3rd
Floor of the Ateneo Law School. His first words to me were: Alam mo
Justice kung sino ang kasama ko ngayon sa kotse? Si Manolo Lopez.

• Then he said: Noong tanungin kita at sinabi kong "Mabuhay ka
Justice," si Manolo Lopez and katabi ko noon. Papunta siyang America,
kaya ako na lang ang pumunta dito para makiusap sa 'yo. Alam mo, itong
kaso na ito is a matter of life and death for the Lopezes. And alam mo
naman what the Marcoses did to them, which is being done now by the

• At that point he mentioned the impasse between Justice Bienvenido
Reyes and myself. He said: Alam naming may problema kayo ni Justice
Reyes tungkol sa chairmanship.

• I was surprised how he came to know about it, as this was an
internal matter of the Court of Appeals which only happened fairly
recently and many associate justices of the CA were not even aware of
this. Just the same, I explained my stand and why I could not
relinquish the chairmanship to Justice Reyes.

• He then replied: Alam mo, Justice, ang opinion dito ni Nonong Cruz
ay i-challenge ang stand mo. Kaya lang, mayroon namang nagsabi na it
might become messy.

• Then he bragged to me: Ako din ang responsible sa pag-recommend at
pag-hire ng Villaraza Law Firm.

• Then he explained that he was there to offer me a win-win situation.

• He said: Justice, mayroon kaming P10 million. Ready.

16. At that point, I was shocked that he had a very low regard for me.
He was treating me like there was a price on my person. I could not
describe my feelings. I was stunned. But at the same time, hindi ko
rin magawang bastusin siya because I had known him since 1993 and this
was the first time that he had ever treated me like this, or shown
that he believed I could be bought.

• So I just told him: Francis, I cannot in conscience agree to that.

• His answer was: Sabi ko na nga sa kanila, mahirap ka talaga papayag.
Kasi may anak iyang Opus Dei. Numerary pa.

• At this point, I just wanted to leave, so I told him I could not
stay long. I told him my wife and lawyer daughter were waiting.

• Even then, he was already insistent. His parting words before I
left were: Just think about it, Justice.

17. When I went down to the car park, I told my wife and daughter
about what Mr. Francis De Borja tried to do to me. Both of them got
angry and insulted on my behalf. They likewise expressed the
sentiment that, although we did not know him well, we thought he
respected me as a person. I also told them that Mr. Francis De Borja
bragged to Manolo Lopez of his perceived closeness to me at
pinapaniwala niya siguro si Manolo Lopez na kaya niya ako.

18. At this point, I thought I had made myself clear to Mr. De Borja
that I was rejecting any offer. But Mr. De Borja would not quit. A
day or two later, I found out that Mr. De Borja called up our mutual
friend in Cagayan de Oro, Mrs. Evelyn Roa Clavano. He actually urged
Mrs. Clavano to ask me to give way to Justice Bienvenido Reyes because
they cannot be sure of me.

19. I found out about Mr. De Borja's call because a few days after
that meeting, I had called Mrs. Clavano about some personal matters.
It was during that call that I was again shocked to learn that Mr. De
Borja had called her. She told me she was also shocked that Francis
De Borja had the gall to ask her to convince me to accept the bribe.
As we speak, Mrs . Clavano is finalizing her affidavit on the phone
conversation she had with Mr. De Borja and this statement will be
faxed to me within the day.

20. Again, I was still of the opinion that since I had given a firm NO
to his offer, I thought the matter had already been settled. Mr. De
Borja, however, kept pestering me with phone calls and text messages.
On this point again, I challenge him to produce his phone records to
disprove what I am saying.

21. By this time, I had begun to feel oppressed by his pestering. I
called him up to tell him once and for all to stop pestering me. Let
me say again: I never initiated the calls to him except this single
time after he kept pestering me with his text messages.

• When he answered the call he said: Mabuti naman Justice tumawag ka,
kasi malapit na ang deadline ng submission ng memorandum.
Pinag-isipan mo bang mabuti ang offer namin? Kasi sayang din kung di
mo tatanggapin, Kasi kahit aabot itong kaso sa Supreme Court,
matatalo ka din. Sayang lang 'yung P10 million. Baka sisihin ka pa ng
mga anak mo.

• Again, I was shocked at the things he was saying, and could not
believe he would repeat an offer which I had already rejected. I
repeated my "NO." And then, because his insistence seemed to me like
he could not understand why I kept saying "NO," I tried to explain: If
I accept that, my conscience will bother me forever. How can I face my
wife and two daughters? One a lawyer and the other a Numerary member
of Opus Dei? And besides, how can I reconcile my being a member of
PHILJA's Ethics and Judicial Conduct Department; being a lecturer of
the MCLE; and being a Pre-Bar Reviewer of the Ateneo Law School on
Legal and Judicial Ethics?

• At that point, he told me: Wala naman kaming pinapagawa sa iyo na illegal, eh.

• And he added: You know Justice, after two or three weeks,
makakalimutan na ito ng mga tao.

• And he said: Meron naman diyang mga Atenista na tumatanggap.

• I told him: I don't know about them, but I am different.

• Then he said: Well, if you will not accept, we will be forced to
look for other ways.

• Then I told him: But they will have to contend with me.

• As a parting statement, he said: Justice, no matter what, saludo
talaga ako sa iyo.

22. The details I have set out are the extent of my conversation with
Mr. Francis De Borja. In no occasion did I solicit any money or favor
from him.

23. Then, as you know, on July 7, 2008, MERALCO filed a motion for
Justice Bienvenido Reyes to assume the chairmanship. The rest that
happened after that last conversation are as I narrated in my
complaint letter to Presiding Justice Conrado Vazquez.

24. Allow me to say that I would not concoct this story to put my own
integrity or my safety or the safety of my family at risk. But in
coming out with the bare facts—including names of people as they were
mentioned and events as they have happened—I may have compromised my
own safety and the safety of the people I know and love.

25. My family and friends have supported my decision to do so, knowing
my desire to preserve the integrity of the Court of which I am part,
and the laws of this country which I have pledged to uphold, honor and
obey. More importantly, I only desire to tell the truth, and I swear
by these statements on my honor as a Justice of the Court of Appeals,
but most especially on my honor as a Head Servant of a Catholic
Christian Community (Fruit of the Holy Spirit of Gusa, Cagayan de Oro)
for more than 25 years.

JOSE L. SABIO, JR. (signed)

Friday, August 01, 2008

Court of Appeals Controversy part 6: Francis Roa de Borja identifies himself as the mystery man, claims Sabio asked PHP 50 M

The Inquirer reports that a certain Francis Roa de Borja identified himself as the Makati businessman who was brokering for Meralco that Justice Sabio mentioned in his controversial letter to the CA Presiding Justice. Mr. de Borja in his sworn affidavit claims that Justice Sabio asked for PHP 50 M and Justice Sabio wanted a seat in the Supreme Court. The text of the affidavit is below the commentary.


Seven questions for the mystery man.

1. Justice Sabio said in his letter that the mystery man was brokering for MERALCO. By claiming that he is the mystery man, is Mr. de Borja also claiming that he was brokering for MERALCO?

2. Is the MERALCO case a matter for brokers to meddle with?

3. Did Mr. De Borja convey the PHP 50 Million price to the owners of MERALCO?

4. If so, did the owners of MERALCO believe him?

5. Is the PHP 10 Million to inhibit the counter-offer?

6. Is the action of the lawyers of MERALCO in filing a Motion for Justice Reyes to assume the Chairmanship the rejection of the offer?

7. Does Mr. Francis Roa de Borja also admit that he pestered Justice Sabio and even asked a relative of Justice Sabio from Cagayan de Oro to convince Justice Sabio to accept the PHP 10 Million and inhibit?

More questions than answers.


The full text of the Affidavit follows:



I, FRANCIS ROA DE BORJA, Filipino, of legal age, with address at 343 G. de Borja St., Pateros, Metro Manila, after having been duly sworn in accordance with law, hereby depose and state:


1. At the 2008 annual stockholders meeting of Meralco a controversy arose regarding an SEC order to nullify the proxies which had been issued in favor of the Meralco management. I subsequently found out from the news that Justice Jose Sabio, Jr. was one of the justices who was hearing the case filed by Meralco against the GSIS and SEC (the “Meralco/GSIS/SEC case”).

2. This development struck a chord in me since I knew Justice Sabio quite well from my previous dealings in the early 1990’s with a group he had been advising in Cagayan de Oro City on a real estate transaction that I was putting together.

3. I am a businessman. Among other activities, I have been engaged in the past in the sale and purchase of real properties, manufacturing companies, brokering contracts, and in general, deal making and project packaging from which I would stand to gain a fee for my efforts.


4. My mother is a Roa. By virtue of this, I am related to the extended Roa clan whose roots are in Cagayan de Oro City.

5. One of the branches of the Roa family, the branch originating from the late Congressman Pedro “Oloy” Roa, was the previous owner of a 400 hectare property in Cagayan de Oro City located very near the city airport (the “CDO Property”).

6. Sometime in 1993, when the Pedro Roa family still owned the CDO Property, I learned of their intention to sell it. I contacted a family member to say that I could get a developer to buy it.

7. I talked to the Investment and Capital Corporation of the Philippines (ICCP) which had developed the highly successful Science Park in Laguna. ICCP forthwith expressed interest in buying the said property for development into a residential subdivision.
8. In the course of the negotiations between ICCP and the Pedro Roa family, the latter were advised on legal issues by Judge Jose Sabio Jr. who was then a Regional Trial Court Judge in Cagayan de Oro City.

9. The negotiations were protracted and took a year or so to complete. Judge Sabio and I came to know each other quite well during this time and became friends.

10. The sale of the Cagayan de Oro Property was successfully completed and the same was subsequently developed into the Pueblo de Oro Subdivision.

11. After I received my fee for the transaction, I gave Three Hundred Thousand Pesos (P300,000) to Judge Sabio in appreciation of the efforts he had undertaken towards the successful completion of the transaction. This gesture was also a way of expressing to him that I had come to value the friendship we had developed.

12. Afterwards, Judge Sabio and I continued to communicate with each other, albeit infrequently.

12.1. When Judge Sabio would come over to Manila from Cagayan de Oro City, he would call me up and we would have lunch or dinner together.

12.2. Subsequently, when Judge Sabio was appointed to the Court of Appeals in 1999 and transferred residence to Manila, he and I would meet on occasion and have lunch or dinner perhaps two or three times a year.


13. On or about May 31, 2008 and acting on my own, I called up Justice Sabio to chitchat on the Meralco/GSIS/SEC case because it was hogging the headlines, and to hear what was happening, so to speak, directly from the horse’s mouth.

13.1. During the telephone conversation, I commented to Justice Sabio to the effect that “Grabe siguro ang pressure sa iyo dito!”

13.2 In reply, Justice Sabio said “Ay Francis, you have no idea of the pressures I am undergoing from the government.”

13.3. I replied that I could well imagine his situation and after a few more words said goodbye and wished him good luck.

14. In late June, I called Justice Sabio again and suggested we get together to touch base. In response, he invited me to see him at the Ateneo Law School in Rockwell after his classes.

15. In the evening of Tuesday, July 1, 2008, I went to Ateneo Law School to see Justice Sabio. I invited him to have dinner at the nearby Rockwell Mall. However, he told me that he could meet with me only for a while since his wife would be fetching him and would be waiting in their car. Thus, we just talked at the lobby lounge.

15.1. During our conversation, we talked about the Meralco, GSIS, SEC controversy.

15.1.1 Justice Sabio confided that he was the Acting Chairman of the Division hearing the case but that he was very piqued with the regular Chairman of the Division, Justice Bienvenido Reyes, who was exercising efforts to reclaim his seat.

15.1.2. Justice Sabio mentioned the following reasons why he thought he should remain the Acting Chairman of the Division hearing the Meralco/GSIS/SEC case: He had signed the temporary restraining order issued in the case. He said “hindi bale sana kung hindi ako ang pumirma.” In the last few weeks, he had conversed several times with the said regular Chairman of the Division, Justice Bienvenido Reyes, but he groused that “walang sinasabi sa akin yun pala gusto niyang bumalik. Why did he not say anything to me? Parang trinaidor ako.” Justice Sabio added that he was very suspicious of Justice Reyes’s motives. “Why does he want to come back? Siguro meron silang gustong gawin dito.” He mentioned that “Justice Cruz” who had issued a ruling on the matter to the effect that he (Justice Sabio) should give way to Justice Reyes was even “junior” in rank to him. He commented “Insulto sa akin yan.” He said that he had consulted other colleagues in the Court of Appeals and that they had told him that he was in the right and should stick to his guns. He said he had two children who are both lawyers and he had discussed this matter with them and they had likewise advised him not to give way. He vowed that he would hold on as Acting Chairman of the Division for the case even if he had to elevate the matter to the Supreme Court.

16. Justice Sabio then told me about the blandishments coming from the government side. He said that he was being offered a promotion to the Supreme Court and money to favor the GSIS position.

17. I was nonplussed by this last statement since Justice Sabio had just expressed suspicion about the motives of Justice Reyes and other Division members in their wanting Justice Reyes to resume the chairmanship of the Division. He, in effect, had just given me his motive for wanting to remain as Acting Chair of the Division.

18. I concluded that this was probably the reason why he was hanging on so desperately to the Acting Chairmanship of the Division. If he would give up the said Acting Chairmanship, he would lose his chance for a Supreme Court seat and the promise of monetary consideration.

19. I had been appalled from the beginning by the way GSIS and the government were going after Meralco. I told Justice Sabio that it was obvious that the government was doing this in retaliation for the news coverage by ABS-CBN of the Administration. I then asked him “what would it take for you to resist the government’s offer?”

20. The response of Justice Sabio was “Fifty Million.”

21. I was so taken aback by the answer of Justice Sabio and the huge amount he had mentioned that I was at a loss for words to say. After regaining my composure, we made our goodbyes as his wife was already waiting for him in their car.