CA row closure SC top priority

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — THE panel of former Supreme Court justices that investigated the alleged bribery scam involving the Manila Electric Co. formally submitted its findings and recommendations to Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno.

SC spokesman Jose Midas Marquez said the report will now be taken up by the justices during their en banc session on Tuesday.

The panel’s report will be on top of the SC en banc agenda, Marquez said adding the resolution of the scandal is the high court’s utmost priority.

“It will be out in two weeks time,” Marquez told reporters.

He declined to speculate on what the panel’s findings were except saying the report “is comprehensive and straight forward.”

He said the possible punishments for the CA justices involved in the scandal will “depend on the level of impropriety they are guilty of.”

“Punishments can range from simple admonishment or dismissal from the judiciary. It all depends on whether the SC will fully adopt the panel findings or recommendation or just use it to create their own conclusion,” the SC spokesman further said.

Marquez also clarified that the panel report is not final and the SC “can adopt or junk it” depending on their own findings.

The SC panel was created by Puno after the appellate court in its rare en banc session on July 31 voted to have the high court look into the impropriety and bribery allegations against its members shortly after the Eighth Division promulgated a decision which effectively nullified the Security and Exchange Commission order prohibiting Meralco from utilizing its proxy votes in the boardroom battle with the Government Services Insurance System.

It was aggravated when Sixth Division chair, Associate Justice Jose Sabio, surfaced and told the media about the P10 million bribe he was offered by Cagayan De Oro businessman Francis Roa De Borja so he would side with Meralco.

In a related development, Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel, Jr. said Jesus Santos, one of the lawyers of First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo, should have been summoned by the special panel created by the Supreme Court before it wrapped up its investigation on the bribery scandal at the Court of Appeals.

Pimentel said that ordering Santos, chairman of the Confederation of Government Employees and concurrent trustee of the GSIS, to appear before the panel and clarify his motive for calling up Camilo Sabio, chairman of the Presidential Commission on Good Government, would have given a boost to the credibility of the probe ordered by the Supreme Court.

“Santos should have testified,” the lawmaker said.