Legislator’s brod denies close ties to SC justice

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Supreme Court Associate Justice Arturo Brion: ‘No close ties to Marinduque Rep. Regina Ongsiako Reyes’ brother’ PHOTO FROM SC.JUDICIARY.GOV.PH

MANILA, Philippines—The brother of Marinduque Rep. Regina Ongsiako Reyes on Wednesday denied having close ties to Supreme Court Associate Justice Arturo Brion who has been asked to inhibit in Reyes’ case before the high court, which the legislator withdrew on Tuesday.

Edmund Reyes, who once served as congressman of Marinduque, said while he and Brion belonged to the same fraternity at the Ateneo law school there was no basis to say this meant anything as being alleged by Joseph Socorro Tan.

Reyes pointed out that Associate Justice Roberto Abad also belonged to the same Ateneo law fraternity but the latter voted with the majority.

“Clearly, being in the same fraternity has no connection with the vote,” Reyes said.

Tan asked the high court last week for Brion’s inhibition, noting that “factual circumstances which may tend to show that (Brion) may not have been as impartial as he would want in his determination of this petition.”

Dissenting opinion

Brion wrote a dissenting opinion to the majority ruling of the high court that upheld the Commission on Election’s disqualification of Reyes from the May 13 elections. Reyes’ disqualification benefited her rival, Lord Allen Velasco, the son of Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco.

Tan, who asked the Comelec to disqualify Reyes for allegedly being an American citizen, had said in his petition that Brion and Edmund Reyes attended the same law school in Ateneo and belonged to the same fraternity, the Fraternal Order of Utopia.

Brion also used to be a member of the law firm Siguion Reyna, Montecillo and Ongsiako from 1995 to 2001 which was the same period where Reyes’ brother was also connected.

“Being fraternity brothers and former colleagues, the petitioner’s brother and the Hon. Justice Brion share a special bond and extra ordinary professional and personal relationship. Which bond and special relationship may translate to the Hon. Justice Brion’s bias and unimpartial determination of this petition,” Tan said.

But in a statement issued by Reyes’ lawyer Harry Roque, Edmund Reyes said he was no longer working for the law firm when Brion joined it in 1995.

Not a coworker

In 1995, Reyes said he “took up my full time MBA course then campaigned, ran for and served as congressman.”

“That is why I had no chance to serve as a coworker, underling or any other capacity with Justice Brion in the law firm,” Reyes said.

“Wala kaming pinagsamahan ni Justice Brion tulad ng four or five years of boss and deputy boss relationship of other persons connected with the case of my sister,” Reyes added.

Reyes was apparently referring to the case that his sister earlier filed before the high court seeking the inhibition of Associate Justice Jose Perez, who penned the ruling that disqualified her from running, because of his close ties with Velasco.

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