Sandigan justice laments suits vs justices in Garcia case
Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Edilberto Sandoval yesterday lamented the filing of a complaint against the justices who had approved a plea bargain deal with former military comptroller Carlos Garcia, saying that allowing such suits would be “unbearable” for magistrates.
Sandoval made the remark at the hearing at the Department of Justice on the motion for reconsideration filed by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), which sought to overturn the Sandiganbayan Second Division’s approval of the deal.
Sandoval, who is set to retire on June 20 and is not expected to rule on the motion for reconsideration, said that if people who lost in a court case were allowed to file criminal complaints against a judge, the latter would suffer.
“If ever a losing party would be allowed to file a case against a judge, the position of a judge would be unbearable,” Sandoval said.
Sandoval chairs the Second Division. The other justices who approved the plea bargain deal are Justices Teresita Diaz-Baldos and Samuel Martires.
Sandoval also asked the OSG whether it had filed the criminal complaint against the justices for approving the deal. Assistant Solicitor General Amparo Tang said the OSG had no part in the complaint.
The complaint against the justices was filed by the newly-formed anti-corruption group, Onward Malinis na Gobyerno before the Department of Justice. The group claimed that the justices violated the Revised Penal Code by knowingly and willfully granting an unjust interlocutory order.
The plea bargain deal with Garcia had been very controversial, with even President Benigno Aquino III criticizing it. The deal also triggered congressional investigations on military corruption.
Under the deal, Garcia, who was originally charged with plunder involving P303 million, was allowed to plead guilty to the lesser offenses of direct bribery and facilitating money laundering and ordered to turn over P135 million of his and his family’s assets to the government.
Garcia is awaiting sentencing. The prosecution has said that the deal was the most advantageous for the government, and that the P303 million was an inaccurate figure.
The OSG later stepped into the picture and asked the Sandiganbayan to allow it to intervene in the case and to nullify the deal that it described as being disadvantageous to the Filipino people, but the court ruled against the motion.
Yesterday, the justices also questioned the OSG’s insistence that it had the right to intervene in Garcia’s plunder case and seek nullification of the agreement.