Group seeks probe of SC spokesman Midas Marquez
MANILA, Philippines—A party-list group has asked the Office of the Ombudsman to investigate Supreme Court spokesman Midas Marquez for abuse of power and corruption.
Akbayan party-list Rep. Walden Bello, in a letter to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, accused Marquez of “moonlighting” as the unofficial defense counsel of his boss, Chief Justice Renato Corona, who is facing a Senate impeachment trial. He also mentioned Marquez’s participation in alleged irregularities in the World Bank (WB)-funded Judicial Reform Support Project (JSRP).
Marquez, reacting to the charges in a text message to reporters, said he was “ready to face an investigation” and had “nothing to hide.” But he added that he thought the request of Akbayan was “premature.”
Bello justified the complaint against Marquez, saying “to restore the integrity to the Supreme Court, it is imperative that we also make Corona’s henchmen accountable for their transgression,” Bello explained.
Crossing the line
“In many instances, Mr. Marquez has crossed the line between being a representative of the Court, and being Chief Justice Corona’s private spokesperson and defense counsel for the impeachment trial. Worse, he has marshaled the scarce resources of the Supreme Court and the rest of the Judiciary for the personal defense of the Chief Justice, to the detriment of the public,” the three-page complaint-letter said.
Marquez even led vigils for Corona and led a court holiday last month to protest the impeachment by Congress of the chief justice, Bello said.
By becoming, Corona’s “right-hand man,” Marquez has muddied the reputation of the Court and wasted government resources in support of Corona, the Akbayan official argued.
Akbayan also raised the issue of Marquez’s participation in the WB-funded JRSP. He noted that an aide memoire by the World Bank had said Marquez’s appointment as Court administrator, head of the Public Information Office and chair of the JRSP led to a “breakdown in internal controls.” The aide memoire leaked to the press noted ineligible expenditures worth $199,000.00 or P8.6 M.
Marquez has denied impropriety in the use of the funds. He also hit Malacañang for leaking the World Bank aide-memoire, an internal memorandum that was still under discussion, on the eve of the impeachment trial.
On Akbayan’s charges, Marquez said: “With all due respect, the request of Akbayan to investigate me may be premature. The Court is still presently addressing the concerns of the WB. Just the same, I will submit to the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman should it see it fit to investigate me. There’s nothing to hide,” he said.
Meanwhile, Marquez’s office released a press statement quoting praises from the Commission on Human Rights for the fast action of the court administrator on a request of CHR to secure the transfer of a trial venue of human rights activist Temogen Sahipan Tulawie.
Praise from CHR
CHR chair Loretta Ann Rosales, who also happens to be the chair of Bello’s party Akbayan, expressed her “heartfelt appreciation” to the Supreme Court, through the Office of the Court Administrator, for its “invaluable assistance” to the CHR in ensuring the transfer of the Tulawie case from Sulu to Davao.
“The people within and outside government who were mobilized to help protect Mr. Tulawie, a staunch human rights defender in Sulu, saw in action how their Supreme Court can reach out to protect the vulnerable in society,” Rosales wrote in her letter dated Jan. 17.
“The Judiciary’s prompt and effective response to our requests in recent events affirms even more the deep esteem I have held for the institution ever since that first time we worked with it on democratizing access to justice especially for the poor and the powerless,” she added.
Tulawie was arrested on Jan. 13 in Davao City and charged with “multiple frustrated murder” in connection with a 2009 bombing incident in Patikul, Sulu, that wounded 12 people, including Gov. Abdusakur Tan.
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