MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court admonished three Sandiganbayan justices for failure to immediately implement the arrest of a former Ilocos Norte Municipal Mayor Pacifico Velasco.
The three are Francisco Villaruz, Jr., Alex Quiroz and Samuel Martires. At the same time, the high court, through Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe sternly warned the three justices that a repetition of their acts “would be dealt with severely.”
The three are members of the Sandiganbayan third division who handled the various motions and petitions filed by former Bacarra, Ilocos Norte Municipal Mayor Pacifico Velasco to stop the immediate execution of the anti-graft court’s judgment that convicted him for violating the Anti-Graft Law in 2008.
Velasco was meted with the penalty of six to eight years imprisonment. He appealed with the Supreme Court which was denied. The conviction became final and executory. However, it was not immediately implemented due to motions and pleadings he filed citing medical reasons.
A certain Leonardo Velasco filed the administrative case against the three justices saying that since the conviction has attained finality, the anti-graft court’s duty is to execute the judgment.
The Sandiganbayan justices maintained that the delay was due to the repeated rescheduling of the hearings on Pacifico Velasco’s motions.
The high court, in the decision dated Jan. 15 but released to the public Monday said there is no indication that the three justices are guilty of misconduct. But the high court said there was a lapse in judgment on the part of the three justices for their failure to immediately implement the court ruling on Pacifico Velasco.
“…The judgment of conviction of accused Velasco should have been immediately executed, absent any restraining order from the Court, in violation of [an administrative order issued by the Supreme Court]…This lapse in judgment on the part of the Sandiganbayan justices deserves admonition,” the high court said. With Mara Cepeda and Caitlin Jao.