3 justices won’t inhibit from Junjun Binay case

3 justices won’t inhibit from Junjun Binay case
The Supreme Court says Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, Senior Associate Antonio Justice Carpio, and Justice Martin Villarama Jr will continue hearing the case on the Makati mayor's suspension

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday, June 16, dismissed the petition of Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr that sought the inhibition of 3 justices from the case contesting his preventive suspension by the Ombudsman.

SC spokesman Theodore Te announced in a press conference that Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, Senior Associate Antonio Justice Carpio, and Justice Martin Villarama Jr “have indicated that they are not voluntarily inhibiting from the proceedings.”

Binay, the son of the Vice President, has gone to the High Court to contest the 6-month preventive suspension imposed on him by the Ombudsman while probe is ongoing into the allegedly overpriced Makati Building II construction.

He has invoked the doctrine of condonation, which absolves an elected local official of an administrative liability once he gets re-elected. The doctrine, adopted from American jurisprudence, was first cited in an SC ruling in 1959.

In his 46-page motion, the Makati mayor pointed out that, during the oral arguments on his case last April 21, Sereno, Carpio, and Villarama had shown their bias against his case.

He said the Chief Justice showed “hostility” toward the mayor when she defended the Ombudsman’s finding of probable cause against Binay. 

Sereno, he said, has “pre-conceived bias against a doctrine which is a crucial component of the case for the respondent, condonation; and has manifested bias, prejudice, and partiality against respondent’s case.” (READ: Carpio, Sereno suggest revisiting condonation doctrine)

Binay noted that Sereno even came prepared with a 70-slide powerpoint presentation on her position on the issue and “launched into a full-scale condemnation of the doctrine of condonation, not mincing words in showing her frustration with and indignation at the doctrine.” 

As for the other two justices, Binay said Carpio is the first cousin of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, who issued the suspension order against the mayor, while Villarama himself admitted closeness to the Office of the Ombudsman.

Before Binay filed the motion seeking the inhibition of the 3 justices, 4 magistrates had already inhibited from his case in May: Presbitero Velasco Jr, Arturo Brion, Francis Jardeleza, and Diosdado Peralta.

Velasco had also inhibited from hearing the graft case of Binay Jr’s mother, former Makati Mayor Elenita Binay, while Jardeleza said his earlier posts as solicitor general and deputy Ombudsman for Luzon had placed him on the opposite side of Binay.

Brion has inhibited since his wife Antonietta works with Court of Appeals Justice Jose Reyes Jr, who belongs to the division that ordered a temporary stop to the mayor’s suspension.

Peralta has inhibited because his sister Visha Peralta-Aldon works as department head in the Makati City government. – Rappler.com

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