MANILA, Philippines -- The Court of Appeals will refer allegations of bribery raised by one of its justices to the Supreme Court for investigation, a court official said Thursday.
"After having discussed the issues, the Court of Appeals decided to refer the propriety of the actions of the justices concerned to the Supreme Court Office of the Court Administrator," lawyer Teresita Marigomen, clerk of court, said.
Reading from a statement of the appellate court after a closed-door en banc session, clerk of court Teresita Marigomen said that, aside from seeking the help of the high court, the justices also agreed to:
leave the ruling on the dispute between the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) and the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) to the ?parties concerned for appropriate action;? and
refer the conflict to its standing committee on the internal rules of court.
This would refer to the conflict between the two appellate court divisions over which of them had jurisdiction over the petition filed by Meralco, which had asked that a cease and desist order (CDO) issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) against the company?s board election -- a move that had favored the GSIS general manager, Winston Garcia, who had attempted a takeover of the private power company -- be voided.
The justices also appealed to everyone to respect their silence on the issue and refrain from public discussion of the case.
"We appeal to everyone to respect the subjudice nature of the case and refrain from public discussion of the case," Marigomen said.
At least 65 appellate court justices nationwide attended the session, including those from Cebu and Cagayn de Oro.
The controversy stemmed from allegations by Justice Jose Sabio Jr. of the 9th division that Meralco had offered him P10 million to inhibit himself from the case.
Meralco, in a statement, has denied Sabio?s allegation.
The 8th division of the appellate court, which eventually presided over the case, issued a decision voiding the SEC order.
Sabio and Justice Myrna Dimaranan-Vidal, also from the 9th Division, had protested the issuance of the July 23 decision on the Meralco petition, claiming the circumstances that surrounded the ruling were ?fishy.?
Sabio also questioned the ruling, saying it was supposed to be decided by the 9th division not the 8th.
Sabio and Vidal added that they had heard the oral arguments on the case but were not among those who signed the decision. With Sabio and Vidal in the ninth division was Associate Justice Vicente Roxas, who eventually penned the controversial ruling that favored Meralco.
But Roxas, in a statement, said that there was nothing irregular about how the case was moved to the eighth division, citing the court's reorganization due to the retirement of Justices Rodrigo Cosico, Lucenito Tagle, and Agustin Dizon.