SENATOR Antonio Trillanes IV revealed Monday two Court of Appeals (CA) justices were allegedly paid P25 million each to halt the six-month suspension of Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr.
Trillanes said Associate Justices Jose Reyes Jr. and Francisco Acosta, members of the three-man CA Sixth Division, were bribed to favor the issuance of the temporary restraining order and later on, a writ of preliminary injunction in favor of Binay.
The senator said both associate justices allegedly received P20 million each for the TRO they issued and another P5 million each upon the issuance of the preliminary injunction, which placed Binay’s suspension on hold until the court has ruled with finality on his petition.
Binay and some government officials are under investigation by the Office of the Ombudsman for corruption allegations stemming from the alleged overpriced Makati City Hall Building 2.
The Ombudsman issued a preventive suspension order against them, which Binay successfully blocked before the CA.
Trillanes, according to his sources privy to the matter, said lawyer Pancho Villaraza facilitated the release of the TRO and preliminary injunction.
Reports said Villaraza appears to be a “very powerful and influential” lawyer, who is allegedly a known political operator with “deep” links among politicians, as well as judiciary members and the prosecution service.
Trillanes said Villaraza once helped most of the judiciary members to be appointed or either promoted as prosecutors, judges or justices, particularly during the administration of former presidents Fidel Ramos and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Villaraza is also known as a “big-time” political contributor, having personally contributed some P30 million to Arroyo’s presidential campaign in 2004.
As to Villaraza’s link to the Binays, Trillanes said the former has decided to join and support Vice President Jejomar Binay in his 2016 presidential campaign, which resulted in the “falling out with his former partners and the eventual dissolution of their decades-old law partnership.”
Trillanes admitted that he filed a Senate resolution seeking for a probe into alleged corruption in the judiciary following the CA action on Binay's plea.
Citing several reports, he said corruption in the judiciary is “widespread and prevalent.”
Trillanes said a public official should repress certain acts which constitute graft or corrupt practices, citing Section 1 of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
Further, the senator said Section 1 of Canon 1 (Independence) of the New Code of Judicial Conduct states that: "Judges shall exercise the judicial function independently on the basis of their assessment of the facts and in accordance with a conscientious understanding of the law, free of any extraneous, inducement, and pressure, threat or interference, direct or indirect, from any quarter or for any reason."
“In view of all of the foregoing very alarming information and assertions, there is an urgent and imperative necessity to conduct an investigation into these very damaging allegations against members of the judiciary and the judicial system as whole,” said Trillanes in Senate Resolution 1265. (Sunnex)