Sara Duterte opposes Midas Marquez’s Supreme Court bid

Lian Buan
Sara Duterte opposes Midas Marquez’s Supreme Court bid
Supreme Court applicant Midas Marquez says, 'The allegation that I talked to complainants, the witnesses, that I maneuvered or manipulated, is not accurate'

MANILA, Philippines – No other than the presidential daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte Carpio, is opposing the Supreme Court application for associate justice of Court Administrator Midas Marquez.

This was revealed on Wednesday, September 26, during Marquez’s interview with the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) which is screening 13 applicants to replace former justice now Ombudsman Samuel Martires.

Based on JBC rules, anybody can send an opposition to any applicant for the judiciary, as long as it is submitted within 10 days of announcement of nominees.

Earlier, the Davao Mayor released a statement calling on the Office of the President to be wary of a Supreme Court applicant who was supposedly trying to curry her favor to be appointed to the Supreme Court.

She slammed the unnamed candidate for trying to get a favorable ruling in her disbarment case involving Davao City Sheriff Abe Andres. Duterte punched Andres during a demolition operation in Agdao district on July 1, 2011.

Duterte said in her statement, “This person has been trying to spin my case to get a favorable ruling – hoping that I may take notice of him. This individual should take note that I do not have a hand in Supreme Court appointments. That is beyond my authority as mayor of Davao City.” She also warned the Office of the President to “think twice in appointing this individual to be a justice – more so a chief justice.”

The incident involves a woman named Gemma Sotto, who is supposedly a friend of Marquez.

JBC member Milagros Fernan-Cayosa asked Marquez: “The issue is with respect to the allegations of Mayor Duterte that, well, I guess, the bottomline is did you know that Ms Sotto was going to go to Davao purportedly for your benefit in order to approach the mayor?” 

Marquez replied, “There are a lot of well-meaning friends and acquaintances who are offering their help, I would just say thank you without me knowing what they are going to do and without knowing the extent that they will be doing whatever.”

This is the 4th time since 2017 that Marquez has applied for a vacancy on the High Court. (READ: Who’s who: Candidates vying to replace former SC justice Martires)

Opposition

Marquez initially told Cayosa he had replied to Sara Duterte’s opposition sent to the JBC on Tuesday, adding, “I think I’ve said more than enough.”

After Cayosa’s persistent questioning about his association with Sotto, whose family comes from Davao, Marquez said he hired her son as contractual legal clerk at the Office of the Court Administrator.

Marquez said to an extent he was aware that Sotto was going to help someway, but that he had no other recourse but to just say thank you.

“I am so rest assured with my qualifications, my credentials, my track record that for me, these qualifications will stand on their own merit. But I cannot tell all these well-meaning friends that no, I do not need your help,” Marquez said.

Meeting with sheriffs 

In follow-up questions by retired judge Toribio Ilao also about Duterte’s opposition, Marquez said he was not aware of what information had reached the Davao mayor.

Marquez denied that he spoke to the sheriffs involved and convinced them to withdraw the disbarment case they filed against Duterte in 2011. The SC candidate said he was merely told by the sheriffs that in a general assembly in Tagaytay last April of the Sheriffs Confederation of the Philippines, the proposal to withdraw the disbarment case won by one vote.

“They went to the aggrieved sheriff and asked it it was okay,” Marquez told Ilao. In a meeting of sheriffs on May 4, 2018, the sheriff involved in the punching incident said it was about time there was closure to the issue.

Continuing his narration as relayed to him, Marquez said the sheriffs tried to get an audience with the mayor but this did not materialize.

Marquez confirmed that he met with the sheriffs earlier in September, where he was asked  if they are allowed to drop the complaint.

Marquez said he just told them, “it’s up to you” and that “withdrawal of the case is not controlling on the court.”

“The allegation that I talked to complainants, the witnesses, that I maneuvered or manipulated, with all due respect, is not accurate,” Marquez said.

World Bank Funds

Marquez also addressed an earlier opposition, as well as a graft complaint, implicating him in the misuse of World Bank Funds in 2012.

The World Bank asked for an P8.6-million refund for being improperly used, with its report mentioning the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA), headed then and now by Marquez.

“All these funds did not pass the Office of the Court Administrator, even the project itself was managed by the Program Management Office of the Supreme Court,” said Marquez.

Chief Justice Teresita Leonardo de Castro, who is JBC’s ex-officio chairman, jumped in to vouch for Marquez.

“I’d like to confirm based on my personal knowledge that the Court Administrator doesn’t have anything to do with the World Bank funds,” De Castro said.

“The accusation sounds ridiculous. It is accusing me of malversing $20 million, if I did that then I would have been long gone from the Court. I wasn’t even asked to comment,” said Marquez. – Rappler.com

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.