Produce hard evidence, IBP, lawmakers dare Trillanes
MANILA, Philippines–Produce the hard evidence.
Legal experts and lawmakers assailed Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV for claiming that two Courts of Appeals justices had been bribed by Makati Mayor Junjun Binay to rule favorably on the mayor’s plea against an Ombudsman suspension order and challenged the senator to come up with the evidence.
House members, led by the mayor’s sister, Makati Rep. Abigail Binay, rained criticism on Trillanes, saying he should leave out the judiciary from his alleged personal vendetta against Vice President Jejomar Binay.
Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, the leader of the independent bloc at the House of Representatives, said Trillanes “should be more careful and be more respectful of the institutions of government” unless he has the goods to back up his charges.
“I still have faith on our judiciary and we should spare this institution from plain and simple politics. It would be better if the allegations are supported with hard evidence, otherwise these are baseless and unfounded,” said Romualdez, a lawyer who is the president of the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa).
Abigail Binay said Trillanes should resign if he does not come up with evidence to prove that her family paid P25 million each to two appellate court justices.
“Trillanes should step down because of these baseless allegations. That is the Trillanes brand, non-proof and evidence, all allegations and self-promotion. He is destroying an institution for his selfish interest,” said Abigail.
Navotas Rep. Tobias Tiangco, the interim president of the United Nationalist Alliance party of Vice President Binay, said the judiciary should cite Trillanes for contempt despite his parliamentary immunity.
“If he (Senator Trillanes) really has evidence, the simplest thing for him to do is to file bribery charges in court,” said Tiangco.
Parañaque Rep. Gus Tambunting said that Trillanes’ allegation, even if unfounded, “has already undermined the integrity of our judicial system as an institution which our people rely upon in the dispensation.”
Lawyer Trixie Cruz-Angeles, in her Facebook account, denounced Trillanes for “taking on justices who cannot give media interviews.”
“[Y]our act of sowing distrust for a judiciary whose capital is trust implicates you in something far more sinister than mere elections,” Angeles wrote, in apparent reference to Trillanes’ reported plans to run for higher office next year.
Fr. Ranhilio Aquino, dean of the San Beda Graduate School of Law, commiserated with Sixth Division Justices Jose Reyes Jr. and Francisco Acosta, who were named by Trillanes as having received P25 million each from the Binay camp in return for the March 16 temporary restraining order issued by the court stopping the Ombudsman’s suspension order.
“I pity the CA justices who are victims of Trillanes’ blabbering and slobbering. He has ruined their reputations, derailed their careers,” Aquino said on his Twitter account.
Why limit probe to 2 justices?
Lawyer Melanio Maurico Jr. supported the call of the Coalition of Filipino Consumers which questioned Trillanes for limiting the resolution he filed seeking a Senate investigation of alleged corruption in the Court of Appeals only to the two accused justices.
The group asked why Trillanes’ resolution focused only on the Binay case, saying that if the senator were really interested in cleaning the judiciary, the Senate should also investigate the cases of businessmen who allegedly have reportedly paid huge sums of money to appellate court justices to get favorable decisions.
“Lest the senator be accused of mere grandstanding in seeking the new Binay Senate investigation, the other accusations against other Court of Appeals justices must now be similarly looked into, with the end in view of putting regulations in place to either prevent the appointment of corrupt judges and justices, or to kick them out in the most expeditious means possible if found to be corrupt later,” Mauricio said in a statement.
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines, through its president Vicente Joyas, has offered to help Trillanes and other complainants against judicial corruption if they can present the hard evidence.
Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali said that Trillanes’ allegations have made him think about whether the judiciary has reformed after the impeachment of former Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona.
“We all thought that when we impeached Chief Justice Corona, we had sent a strong signal that there has got to be a stop to judicial notoriety. But then again, because of all these talks, but I have yet to see the evidence,” said Umali.
Umali blamed the Filipinos’ lack of discipline for these chronic problems of corruption in government, including the judiciary.
“How can we ever get the people to follow the rule when the rule is bastardized by issues like these, TROs for sale?” he said.
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