Sandigan justice Ong is Filipino, SC rules

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The Supreme Court building in Manila. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—The Supreme Court has ruled with finality that Sandiganbayan Justice Gregory Ong is a natural-born Filipino, dismissing challenges to his citizenship.

In a six-page en banc resolution, the high court junked a letter-query of former special prosecutor Dennis Villa-Ignacio who earlier questioned Ong’s Chinese roots and his Filipino citizenship.

The Supreme Court cited its previous decisions that favored Ong and upheld a November 2007 ruling by the Pasig City Regional Trial Court which recognized the justice as a natural-born citizen and directed the correction of existing records of his birth and citizenship.

“Accordingly, the court considers this administrative matter closed and terminated,” the court ruling stated.

Ong is reportedly eyeing the position of Sandiganbayan presiding justice which will be vacated when Presiding Justice Francisco Villaruz retires at the age of 70 in June this year.

Ong was recently granted clemency by the high court which reduced the P15,000 fine for an administrative office to just P10,000. The rules of the Judicial and Bar Council, which screens nominees and applicants to the Sandiganbayan, disqualifies those who were penalized with administrative fines of more than P10,000.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo designated Ong as Supreme Court justice in May 2007 but the appointment was held in abeyance after questions on his citizenship surfaced. Jerome Aning

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