SC issues show cause order to Times reporter
MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court en banc on Tuesday, March 15, issued a show cause order to Manila Times senior reporter Jomar Canlas to explain why he should not be cited in "indirect contempt." This was in relation to a March 7 story he wrote that alleged SC justices were offered P50 million each to disqualify Senator Grace Poe as a presidential candidate.
Indirect contempt of court "occurs not in the presence of a judge acting judicially, but which tend to degrade the court or to obstruct or embarrass the administration of justice by the court."
Among the acts punishable for indirect contempt is "any improper conduct tending, directly or indirectly, to impede, obstruct, or degrade the administration of justice," the Rules of Court say.
Canlas was given 5 days to submit his explanation.
Citing unnamed but "well-placed" sources at the Supreme Court, Canlas wrote "two attempts were made to buy off the votes of the magistrates, both by persons "very close" to President Benigno Aquino III and Manuel "Mar" Roxas II, the standard-bearer of the Liberal Party."
Citing only "sources," Canlas said "the offer was P50 million for each justice who will disqualify Poe," adding that the magistrates refused the offer.
The first offer, Canlas wrote, came from a “female lawyer who is supportive of Roxas' presidential candidacy. The lawyer, a former Malacañang official, now works at a private law office. The sources said the law firm is behind a special operation to disqualify Poe."
Furthermore, Canlas, quoting also an unnamed source, wrote that the offer was "relayed to one of the justices appointed by Aquino. Citing another source, he wrote that a "member of the ruling LP [Liberal Party] dangled the same offer to a senior justice, who also declined it."
The same source told Canlas a lawmaker and his "partner," a "former businessman close to Aquino and Roxas, were behind the second attempt to bribe the justices."
On March 8, the High Court, voting 9-6 allowed Poe to run for president, reversing a decision of the Commission on Elections that cancelled her certificate of candidacy. Of the 9 who voted for Poe, 4 are appointees of Aquino: Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, Marvic Leonen, Francis Jardeleza, and Benjamin Caguioa.
The 6 who voted against her are: Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Mariano del Castillo, Arturo Brion, Estela Perlas-Bernabe, and Bienvenido Reyes. Two of them – Bernabe and Reyes – are Aquino appointees.
The vote was held a day earlier than expected, after rumors of a 10-5 vote against Poe were floated. The Manila Times story of Canlas was published a day before the SC voted on Poe's qualifications to run for president.
Court insiders said justices resented what Canlas seemed to maliciously insinuate in his story: that justices who subsequently voted to disqualify Poe accepted the alleged P50 million offer. – Rappler.com