Leo, pork barrel, and 2 judges-A A +A
Thursday, September 5, 2013
CEBU RTC Judge Raphael Yrastorza Sr., when asked if the allowance from Capitol didn't influence his decision on the Leo Lastimosa libel trial, said it did not because his decision was based on evidence and the law.
Supreme Court Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco inhibited himself from the case questioning constitutionality of the pork barrel. His wife Lorna Velasco is a party-list representative in the House.
Conflict of interest, actual or potential, may be involved. In Yrastorza's case, the allowance he gets from Capitol whose governor then is complainant against broadcaster-newspaper columnist Lastimosa. In Velasco's case, having a wife who benefits from the disputed pork barrel.
The difference is each judge's response. Yrastorza doesn't think the Capitol money added to his DOJ paycheck will bar him from deciding justly. Velasco believes the pork barrel his wife gets might cast doubt on his decision.
Yrastorza's benefit is more personal; he himself gets the money. Velasco's is indirect; it's his wife who benefits. Mrs. Velasco can use pork barrel to promote her group's politics or, if she accepts a cut, to boost her income.
Self-inhibition is decided largely by the judge. He is presumed to rise above personal interest and decide fairly.
Often pushed aside is public perception: do people see a judge as impartial when there's a personal reason that may influence his ruling?
Taking oneself off a case doesn't reflect poorly on the judge's sense of independence.
It shows greatly his sensitivity to how the public might view his decision.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 05, 2013.