SC dismisses Ombudsman’s plea for special courts
MANILA, Philippines—The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed the bid of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales for the creation of two special divisions in the Sandiganbayan that would exclusively handle all cases related to the P10-billion Priority Development Assistance Fund scam.
In its ruling, the high court said the reasons given by Morales “lack sufficient basis and fail to show a compelling need.”
Morales, a retired Supreme Court justice, in her request cited Section 5, Article 8 of the Constitution, which indicates that the Supreme Court has the power to “promulgate rules concerning pleading, practice, and procedure in all courts.”
She said Section 3, Rule III, Part I of the Revised Internal Rules of the Sandiganbayan also provides for the creation of a special division “where compelling reasons and the interest of justice so require.”
But the high court said “justices of the Sandiganbayan handling the cases have shown competence to deal with the various issues.”
Currently, there are three divisions of the anti-graft handling the plunder and graft charges against Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr.
The last time a special division of the anti-graft court was created was in January 2002 when former President Joseph Estrada was indicted for plunder. Jinggoy Estrada was also an accused in that plunder case involving proceeds from the illegal numbers game jueteng.
“In [the plunder of former President Joseph Estrada] a necessity to create the special division was shown because the recurrent changes in the Court’s composition because of impending retirements and the relationship that the former President had with some Justices who opted to inhibit from the case,” the high court explained.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.