5 CA justices ‘dirty’

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — FIVE justices of the Court of Appeals were found guilty of impropriety by the three-man panel created by the Supreme Court to investigate the alleged bribery involving the appellate court and the Manila Electric Company.

Sources said of the eight CA justices investigated by the fact-finding team, only three were found “clean.” The three justices, it was learned, were Associate Justices Edgar Cruz, head of the CA’s ethics committee, Apolinario Bruselas, member of the Eighth Division, and Martin Villarama, chair of the Seventh Division.

The other justices summoned by the panel were CA Presiding Justice Conrado Vasquez, Jr., and Associate Justices Jose Sabio, chair of the 6th Division, Myrna Dimaranan-Vidal, member of the 6th Division, Bienvenido Reyes, chair of the eighth Division, and Vicente Roxas, member of the eighth Division.

“The investigation has revealed irregularities and improprieties committed by the Court of Appeals justices, in connection with the Meralco case . . . which are detrimental to the proper administration of justice and damaging to the institutional integrity, independence and public respect for the judiciary,” the source said, citing a portion of the panel’s 59-page report.

The Supreme Court en banc will tackle the panel’s recommendations today.

After the panel of former Supreme Court justices ended its probe into the alleged bribery scam involving the Court of Appeals and the Manila Electric Co., another Supreme Court Justice inhibited himself from evaluating the result of the panel’s investigation.

Atty. Jose Midas Marquez, Supreme Court spokesperson, said Associate Justice Leonardo A. Quisumbing opted to inhibit himself saying he is a distant relative of controversial CA 8th Division Associate Justice Vicente Q. Roxas.

“Apparently, Justice Roxas’ middle initial is Quisumbing. I don’t know the exact relation but Justice Quisumbing has decided to voluntarily inhibit himself. Whether he will be allowed (to inhibit) depends on the decision of the SC en banc,” Marquez told reporters.

With the inhibition of Quisumbing, the number of Justices who decided not to participate in the CA controversy rose to four. Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno inhibited on the grounds that one of Justice Jose Sabio’s daughter’s is his staff. Associate Justices Antonio T. Carpio and Consuelo Ynares-Santiago also inhibited themselves earlier. Carpio said his former law firm used to represent Meralco, while Ynares-Santiago said her daughter is working for Meralco.

Roxas is one of the five CA justices questioned by the panel headed by retired Associate Justice Carolina Griño-Aquino regarding the impropriety and bribery scandal that racked the appellate court.