Malacañang says World Bank report key to ousting Midas MarquezPhilippine Daily Inquirer
Could Supreme Court Administrator Midas Marquez, who is closely identified with impeached former Chief Justice Renato Corona, be the next to go?
Malacañang on Tuesday hinted as much, with presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda suggesting that a leaked World Bank report on allegedly questionable procurements and disbursements in a $21.9-million WB loan to the high court for the Judicial Reform Support Project (JRSP) could be the “just cause” for Marquez’s removal.
“We saw the World Bank aide memoire where there were certain expenditures made by Midas Marquez as court administrator. I think that should be explained,” said Lacierda, noting that under the presidential decree that created the Office of Court Administrator (OCA), Marquez could be removed “for just cause.”
“It’s up to the Supreme Court justices en banc whether they would allow (him) to remain,” he said, reacting to Marquez’s assertion that he could be removed from office through an en banc decision.
Just before the start of Corona’s impeachment trial last year, a confidential WB memorandum to Philippine officials, which noted “ineligible” expenditures of $199,000 in the JRSP, was released allegedly by Malacañang.
Until Corona’s ouster last week, Marquez concurrently headed the high court’s Public Information Office (PIO) and chaired the JRSP. Shortly after Corona’s conviction, Marquez relinquished the position of Supreme Court spokesperson and was succeeded by his deputy, Cleo Guerra.
Marquez has denied any impropriety in the use of the JRSP funds. He also questioned the Palace’s release of the report considering that some of its contents were “still to be confirmed” and “preliminary in nature.” He assured the public that the high court was transparent in its financial affairs.
The World Bank acknowledged the document’s existence but said that it had not released it to the public.
In a television interview on Tuesday, Marquez said he did not see any reason to quit now, recalling that the tribunal during the time of Chief Justice Reynato Puno unanimously appointed him to the OCA.
“I hope that they (justices) still have trust and confidence in me,” he said.
While he believes the high court will accord him due process if a case is filed against him, Marquez said he would willingly quit if he thought he was no longer effective.
“I won’t wait for that [charges] if they’re after my head. If I think I’m no longer effective, If I think that the service is already suffering and I can no longer protect the judges and employees, I’ll be the first to go,” he said. Jerome Aning and Christine O. Avendaño