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De Borja insists Sabio cited P50-M figure

By Juliet Labog-Javellana
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 20:23:00 08/01/2008

Filed Under: Judiciary (system of justice), Graft & Corruption

MANILA, Philippines -- Unmoved by Court of Appeals Justice Jose Sabio?s version of their conversations, businessman Francis de Borja stood by his claim that it was the Court of Appeals justice who brought up a P50 million price for him to act in favor of the Manila Electric Co. in its dispute with the Government Service Insurance System.

De Borja, who Sabio claimed offered him a P10 million bribe from Meralco, denied telling Sabio that Meralco chairman Manolo Lopez was with him in his car on the way to meet him with a P10 million bribe.

"No, I never said that. If you know Manolo Lopez -- he is somewhat aristocratic -- he would be the last person to wait for somebody in the car, and they did not know that he was abroad at that time,? De Borja said Friday.

De Borja said Sabio again twisted the story. "I said in my affidavit that he told me his wife would be waiting for him in the car and he says now that Manolo was waiting in my car...," De Borja said.

De Borja said he was ready to face the charges Sabio would file against him.

"It?s a free county, let him file it and we?ll see. I?m prepared, the moment I signed my affidavit obviously I considered the consequences so I wouldn?t have made up a story," De Borja said in a phone interview after Sabio?s press conference.

He even accepted the justice?s challenge for a lie detector test with conditions -- that they will do it simultaneously and with a ?competent foreign agency.?

"And my third comment is he is a lawyer and a justice. He knows that a lie detector test is not admissible as evidence so why is he asking for it??? De Borja said.

De Borja said Sabio was no Mr. Clean.

"He is a public official, being a justice. So he must be like Caesar?s wife who must be beyond suspicion. And to be beyond suspicion you must be squeaky clean and he is not squeaky clean," De Borja said.

De Borja insisted that he was taken aback when Sabio replied "P50 million? to his question on what it would take for him to resist the supposed government offer of a seat on the Supreme Court and money in exchange for a ruling favorable to GSIS.

He said he expected Sabio to answer that he would not be swayed by any offer and would rule according to his conscience.

He said he had no malice when he brought up the P300,000 he gave to Sabio when he helped seal a land deal for the Roa family in Cagayan de Oro when the justice was still a lower court judge. But De Borja added: "He was still a sitting judge, he had no business advising on legal disputes.?

De Borja also questioned why Sabio refused to yield the chairmanship of the division, and the case, when the regular chair returned from leave.

"Bakit siya kapit-tuko samantalang ang linaw ng [Why he is sticking like a leech when the] procedure sa [in] court [states] that the case [will] go to the ponente [judge writing for the court] and the permanent justice gets back the case once he returns from leave. And can you imagine him going out in public saying these justices were bribed? He is the one impugning the integrity of the court so his fellow justices are angry with him,? De Borja said.

De Borja also said the GSIS was not even questioning the decision.

"Nobody is saying the decision is wrong. They are just casting doubts on the integrity of the justices in order to cast a shadow on the decision,? he said.

Like Sabio, De Borja invoked the truth.

"If you notice there are a lot of similarities in our affidavits but in major issues we differ. So it?s up to the people to decide who is telling the truth,? he said.

To assert his truthfulness, De Borja recalled portions of his affidavit where Sabio told him about the dispute in the CA about the GSIS-Meralco case, including his beef against Justice Bienvenido Reyes. He said only Sabio knew about these things.

"How could I have picked up all those details?? De Borja asked.

As for Sabio?s expressing fears about being harmed by the Lopezes, De Borja said: "Have you heard the Lopezes having had anybody killed? They are not that type of people.?

De Borja had admitted he was a longtime friend of Lopez. He also said he mentioned to Lopez that he was a friend of Sabio?s but that the Meralco chairman gave no reaction so he did not bring it up again.

Copyright 2015 Philippine Daily Inquirer. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.




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