SC again defers action on Sandiganbayan Justice Ong
MANILA, Philippines—The Supreme Court (SC) has again deferred action on the case of Sandiganbayan Justice Gregory Ong four months after his dismissal was recommended for his supposed ties with businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged brains behind the P10-billion pork barrel scam.
Court spokesman Theodore Te said following the en banc session Tuesday that the high court did not act on the case anew, citing no reasons for the deferment.
The high court is deliberating what course of action to take against Ong in light of the May 15 investigation report of retired SC justice Angelina Sandoval-Gutierrez, who had recommended that he be dismissed and charged administratively for gross misconduct, dishonesty and impropriety.
The former magistrate, recently appointed to the Judicial and Bar Council, had found that Ong committed “serious transgressions” for allegedly acquitting Napoles and other accused in a graft and malversation case in exchange for money.
In her report, Gutierrez said Ong’s acts had “impaired the image of the judiciary to which he owes the duty of loyalty and obligation to keep it at all times above suspicion and worthy of the people’s trust.” She added that the Supreme Court “will not hesitate to rid its ranks of undesirables.”
Through a six-page statement in July, Ong decried the “premature” release of the confidential investigation report through an Inquirer exclusive, blasting the newspaper for subjecting him to “trial by publicity” done in “wanton violation” of his rights.
He said Gutierrez’s findings were “only recommendatory in nature and it cannot in any truthful way be equated to the factual findings and eventual disposition that the Supreme Court would make on my case.”
In testifying before Gutierrez during her investigation, Ong denied the allegations.
The high court ordered an investigation on Ong in January following testimonies of pork scam whistle-blowers Benhur Luy and Marina Sula before the Senate about the magistrate’s alleged ties with Napoles.
He was accused of accepting a payoff to acquit Napoles and other accused including her husband, retired Army Maj. Jaime Napoles, in a 1998 case involving the allegedly anomalous purchase of Kevlar helmets for the Philippine Marines worth P3.8 million.
Ong’s verdict came down nine years after the Ombudsman indicted the Napoles couple and other accused on graft and malversation charges.