3 SC justices also played part in Estrada plunder case
MANILA, Philippines–The Supreme Court decision dismissing the disqualification case against Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada was penned by Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo de Castro, who also chaired the Sandiganbayan special division that convicted Estrada of plunder in 2007.
Two other current Supreme Court justices had played a part in the plunder case against the former President—Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta and Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio.
Peralta was a member of the Sandiganbayan special division while Carpio was signatory to the plunder complaint against Estrada.
Of the three, only Carpio dissented, maintaining that Estrada should be disqualified. The Supreme Court upheld Estrada’s stay as Manila mayor with an 11-3 vote.
Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza, on the other hand, inhibited from the case due to his direct participation as solicitor general when he defended the Comelec in its decision favoring Estrada.
A court insider explained that the three justices’ previous participation in the plunder case should not be a ground for inhibition because “the two cases (plunder and the disqualification) are entirely different, although related.”
The disqualification case did not touch on the merits of the plunder case but focused on the nature of the pardon given by then President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
In 2001, Carpio abstained from the high court’s decision affirming the constitutionality of the Plunder Law. Since he was a signatory to the plunder complaint, Carpio said that he would voluntarily inhibit himself from the high court’s deliberation of the Plunder Law’s constitutionality.
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