Elenita Binay seeks SC's help in Sandiganbayan cases

SC APPEAL. Former Makati city mayor Elenita Binay is facing two counts of graft and two counts of malversation before the anti-graft court's third division, the only remaining cases against her after getting acquittals from two other divisions. File photo by Rappler

SC APPEAL. Former Makati city mayor Elenita Binay is facing two counts of graft and two counts of malversation before the anti-graft court's third division, the only remaining cases against her after getting acquittals from two other divisions.

File photo by Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Former Makati Mayor Elenita Binay will seek a remedy from the Supreme Court (SC) after the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan denied her motions in connection with graft and malversation cases she is facing for the alleged anomalous purchase of hospital beds and sterilizers for the Ospital ng Makati during her term as mayor.

The Sandiganbayan third division twice denied Binay's motion to re-raffle her cases and motion to have Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang inhibit from the same cases.

In an urgent motion submitted to the anti-graft court on Tuesday, April 4, Binay said she will file a petition for certiorari before the High Court.

A petition for certiorari is filed with the SC to review the decision of a lower court.

The prosecution is already set to present their evidence before Sandiganbayan on April 19 and 20, and then again on May 16 and 17, but Binay is appealing that these settings be deferred owing to her petition before the SC.

“Accused has 60 days or until May 28, 2017 to file her petition for certiorari with the Supreme Court under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court…. proceeding with the trial of the cases before a final determination of the issues of consolidation and/or joint trial will deprive the accused of her procedural rights under the prevailing rules,” Binay’s motion read. 

Motions

Binay’s motions stem from her contention to the consolidation of 4 of her cases – one count of graft and one count of malversation for the hospital bed issue, and a second set for the sterilizer issue. They were consolidated and raffled to the third division because they arose from the same incident.

Binay argued her cases involve different sets of accused, purchase orders, periods of time and documentary exhibits. According to Binay, these therefore cannot be consolidated. The third division insisted that the consolidation was proper.

Binay filed the motion to re-raffle her cases following back-to-back victories from the anti-graft court’s 4th and 5th divisions.

Binay wanted Cabotaje-Tang to inhibit from her cases, citing impressions of partiality. 

It stemmed from an exchange between Tang and Binay’s counsels while the court was hearing the latter’s motion to re-raffle her cases. 

When Cabotaje-Tang asked what the grounds were for wanting to re-raffle the cases to another division, Binay’s lawyer said “the political color by which these cases have been instituted.”

Cabotaje-Tang responded to the "political color" remark by saying, “You are somehow casting aspersions on the impartiality of this Court.” This, acording to Binay, indicates that the presiding justice has biases against her. (READ: Mercado testifies in a Binay trial for the first time)

Twice denied

The 3rd division denied Binay’s motions on January 13. She filed a motion for reconsideration shortly after but the 3rd division again denied them on March 22.

When Binay filed the motion for reconsideration, she also cited media reports about her. Binay said that when the court dismissed her motions in January, the media learned about it one day before she did, and therefore an indication that she will not be afforded a fair trial.

The third division responded to it by saying that a resolution, once promulgated, becomes a public document that can be accessed by anyone.

“There is nothing irregular about the fact that the media learned about the impugned resolution ahead of the accused-movant,” the court said.

Sandiganbayan reporters check with the clerks of court daily for new resolutions and decisions.

The court also reiterated that “there is no valid or just reason for the Presiding Justice to voluntarily disqualify herself from hearing these cases.”

At the moment, Binay is scheduled for trial on April 19. (READ: No easy ride for Elenita BinayRappler.com

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.

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