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SANDIGAN VACANCY

SC to review status of Ong

By: - Reporter / @TarraINQ
/ 05:59 AM October 10, 2014
Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno INQUIRER.net file photo

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno INQUIRER.net file photo

MANILA, Philippines–The Supreme Court is reviewing the status of dismissed Sandiganbayan Associate Justice Gregory Ong, who was fired last month for showing “corrupt inclinations” through his links with businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles, the alleged mastermind in the P10-billion pork barrel scam.

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno said Thursday that she would look into the status of Ong, whose dismissal was immediately executory on the day the Supreme Court handed down the decision removing him from the anti-graft court on Sept. 23.

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She said the high court would discuss whether Ong’s former post could already be opened for a new magistrate.

“I have to find out the status. We will have to discuss that (replacement). We will have to make a pronouncement somehow,” said Sereno in a brief interview with reporters on Thursday.

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Through a vote of 8 to 5, the high court dismissed Ong for grave misconduct, dishonesty and impropriety, ruling that he had “fraternized” with Napoles during the time his division at the Sandiganbayan handled a malversation case against the businesswoman.

While the court did not find enough proof that Ong had accepted bribes from Napoles, it found him culpable for violating the judicial Code of Conduct for visiting Napoles at least twice in 2012, which fueled “suspicion of his partiality.”

In 2010, Ong acquitted Napoles, her husband Jimmy Napoles and others accused in the malversation case involving the allegedly anomalous delivery of subpar Kevlar helmets to the Philippine Marines in 1998.

The dismissed magistrate’s links with Napoles first surfaced last year, when whistleblowers Benhur Luy and Marina Sula testified that Ong had received checks worth P3.1 million from the businesswoman.

Ong earlier denied the allegations against him.

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TAGS: court vacancy, Gregory Ong, Maria Lourdes Sereno, Sandiganbayan, Supreme Court
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