Roxas defends ally’s bid to head Sandiganbayan

Ace Tamayo

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Roxas says Rafael Santos has a clean track record

 Interior Secretary Mar Roxas defends Interior Undersecretary Rafael Antonio Santos in his bid to be Sandiganbayan presiding justice. Photo file by Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Interior Secretary Mar Roxas on Wednesday, July 3, defended Interior Undersecretary Rafael Antonio Santos’s decision to apply for the position of presiding justice of the Sandiganbayan. 

In an interview on Wednesday, July 3, Roxas said Santos has a clean record in government after working with him in the Department of Transportation and Communications and in the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) before. 

Sinusuprotahan ko naman siya sa haba ng aming pagsasama sa DOTC at DILG ay wala kang masasabi, walang matsa, walang bahid ang kanyang pagserbisyo,” Roxas said. (I support him since we have worked together in DOTC and DILG and I cannot say anything [bad against him], he has no bad record.)

Roxas said Santos had asked him before applying for the post. He added he cannot stop Santos from pursuing his dream of returning to law practice.

Roxas added, “Sabi niya pagod na rin siya at maaring mag–apply. Sabi ko okay naman mag-aaply bagamat maayos naman ang trabaho mo dito,” Roxas said. (He said he’s already tired and he could apply. I said it’s okay to apply although he has been good in his work here.)

Santos was formerly with the Villaraza Cruz Marcelo and Angangco law firm, more known as The Firm. One of the founders of The Firm is Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio. Another founder, former defense secretary Avelino Cruz Jr, was a legal counsel of Roxas in his 2010 vice presidential bid.

Santos was defense undersecretary during Cruz’ term at the defense department.

Last week, United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) Secretary general and Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco said he has “nothing personal” against Santos but that “his political association may put the integrity of the Sandiganbayan on the line.”

“Will he be an anti-graft advocate or still be an ever helpful friend passive to the demands of his former partners?” Tiangco asked.

Tiangco added that the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) should be thorough in its recommendations on who should head the graft court. 

“If we are serious in instituting the necessary reforms in the judicial system, we have to pick those who have unquestionable character and integrity to the Sandiganbayan,” Tiangco said.

Former Makati Mayor Elenita Binay, wife of Roxas’ political nemesis, Vice President and UNA stalwart Jejomar Binay, has a graft case pending with the Sandiganbayan.

The JBC has already interviewed Santos and 8 other candidates for the post on May 20 and 21. 

On Monday, the JBC deferred its voting to shortlist the candidates after Iloilo Rep Niel Tupas Jr. requested for the postponement “until after Congress has resumed to resolve the matter of representation.”

The top post of the Sandiganbayan became vacant when Presiding Justice Francisco Villaruz Jr retired June 8, when he turned 70. –

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