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EMBATTLED JUSTICE. Court of Appeals Associate Justice Jose Sabio narrates how businessman Francis De Borja met with him, with Manila Electric Co. head Manolo Lopez waiting in the car, and offered the P10 million to inhibit himself from the case involving a dispute between Meralco and the Government Service Insurance System. He said he was studying the possibility of filing bribery and perjury cases against De Borja. Video taken by INQUIRER.net reporter Tetch Torres.


Sabio denies asking for P50-M from Meralco ‘emissary’

Bribery, perjury raps mulled vs De Borja

By Tetch Torres
First Posted 10:56:00 08/01/2008

Filed Under: Crime, Law & Justice

MANILA, Philippines ? (UPDATE) A Court of Appeals justice who is in the middle of a bribery controversy has denied allegations that he wanted P50 million for him to inhibit himself from a case involving a dispute between the Manila Electric Co. and the Government Service Insurance System.

In a prepared statement read to media, Court of Appeals Justice Jose Sabio Jr. rejected allegations by alleged Meralco ?emissary? Francis Roa de Borja that he had wanted P50 million instead of the P10 million that Borja had offered to him.

"This is an attack to my integrity and I will not take this sitting down," said Sabio.

Sabio also accused the Lopezes, owners of Meralco, of allegedly ?doing everything to discredit? him.

Sabio said he expected that there was a demolition job against him and specifically pointed to the Lopezes as the one behind De Borja.

"The Lopezes will do everything in their power and money to discredit me," he said.

At the same time, Sabio accused De Borja of ?lying in a sworn statement,? referring to the Cagayan-based businessman?s four-page affidavit.

?I must state that I cannot even begin to express my anger, outrage and disgust that a person whom I had treated with civil respect and kindness and whom I thought respected me would impute such a filthy lie on me,? Sabio said.

He dared De Borja to submit himself to a lie detector test to show who was telling the truth.

"I submit Mr. Francis De Borja, let us both submit to a lie detector test to find out who between us is telling the truth," Sabio said.

Sabio also said that he was ?seriously considering? filing bribery and perjury charges against De Borja.

"We are studying the possibility of charging him of attempted bribery, perjury for lying and libel," Sabio said.

Sabio said he opted not to identify De Borja before because he was trying to protect him, believing that he was a friend.

"I want to protect him. I thought he was a friend kaya nga di ko binanggit pangalan niya kasi kawawa naman siya [that?s why I didn?t mention his name because I pitied him] but he violated my person so I have to come out. He made it difficult for me," said Sabio.

"Pero ngayon [But now] after what he has done, I have to protect my name because it does not only involve my integrity as a justice but the integrity of my family."

Sabio presented an affidavit of Evelyn Clavano, his and Borja?s common friend, who said she was asked by Borja to convince him to accept a P10-million bribe.

In the same press conference, Sabio also denied that he was the one who communicated with De Borja to discuss about the Meralco case. He said it was De Borja who called him twice and met with him last July 1.

In the first phone call, Sabio said De Borja congratulated him for signing the temporary restraining order (TRO) that voided an order by the Securities and Exchange Commission stopping the Meralco board election.

Sabio said the second phone call was on July 1 when De Borja sought a meeting with him.

After his class at the Ateneo de Manila Law School, Sabio said De Borja was waiting for him at the lobby and told him that Mr. Manolo Lopez, chairman of Meralco, was at the car waiting for them. Lopez has since denied this claim.

He said it was at this time that De Borja told him that they had P10-million ready if only he would allow Associate Justice Bienvenido Reyes to preside over the Meralco case.

"At that point, I was shocked that he had a very low regard for me. He was treating me like there was a price on my person. I could not describe my feelings. I was stunned. But at the same time, hindi ko rin magawang bastusin siya [I could not afford to be rude to him] because I had known him since 1993 and this was the first time that he had ever treated me like this or shown that he believed I could be bought," he added.

But Sabio admitted that he received P300,000 from De Borja in 1993 although it was not as a judge but as a confidant and family adviser.

"I did not ask for that money, nor was there any agreement between us that he would give the same. As a matter of fact, Mr. De Borja offered that money after the conclusion of the deal and without me having to ask or saying anything. When I agreed to advice there was absolutely no expectation of receiving," Sabio said.

"I did not violate any law. You can check all the statute books on that," Sabio said.

With a report from Jerome Aning, Inquirer

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