Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Justice is for sale : Supreme Court Chief Justice P20-Million bribe money

MANILA, Philippines – A litigant in the citizenship case of Negros Oriental Rep. Jocelyn Limkaichong accused Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno of receiving P20 million in bribe money to favor the incumbent lawmaker.

Businessman Louis Biraogo on Tuesday said he received an anonymous email dated March 13, 2009 saying that the SC would refer the case to the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) to delay the court’s proceedings on the matter.

“This perpetuates the suspicion of the people that justice is for sale in this country. In fact, Chief Justice Puno was given P20 million worth of reasons for pressuring the new ponente, Justice [Diosdado] Peralta to dismiss the Supreme Court cases and send it to HRET," a portion of the email read.

Biraogo provided the media with copies of the email in a press conference.

Asked for comment, SC spokesman Jose Midas Marquez, who is also Puno’s chief of staff, said they would like to see a copy of the anonymous letter first before making a statement to the media.

“I understand he distributed a letter to the media. Haven’t seen the letter yet," Marquez said in a text message to GMANews.TV.

It was Biraogo who had earlier accused Puno of sitting on the Limkaichong case, an allegation that triggered widespread rumors of alleged moves to oust the chief justice in January 2009.

In 2008, Biraogo obtained a leaked copy of the unpromulgated ruling on Limkaichong’s case. After an investigation, the SC ruled that retired Justice Ruben Reyes, the case’s former ponente, was responsible for the premature release of the confidential document.

Biraogo had earlier said “a concerned court employee" gave him the leaked copy of the draft ruling.

In Tuesday’s press conference, Biraogo said he believed in the credibility of the email’s anonymous sender, saying the copy of the ruling he obtained matched with the SC’s draft decision

The case against Limkaichong, who is accused of not being a natural-born Filipino citizen, remains pending at the SC.

In 2008, the SC deferred the promulgation on the ruling because nine of the 14 justices who signed the ruling concurred only “in the result." An “in the result" concurrence refers to agreeing to a decision on a case alone, and not on the arguments on which a decision was based on, thus, the ruling supposedly lacked doctrinal value. - with Carlo Lorenzo, GMANews.TV

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