Monday, January 12, 2004

More on the Sandiganbayan faux pa
Former Senate President Jovito Salonga and UP Professor Florin Hilbay wrote this Inquirer op-ed on the volte-face of the Sandiganbayan granting Estrada the permission to seek medical help abroad. The two opine that "Beyond the inexplicable bases for the resolution of the Sandiganbayan special division is the unimpeachable information that the special division was constituted in violation of the Rules of Procedure of the Sandiganbayan." The op-ed adds that:

Rule XIII, 1(b) of the Rules of Procedure of the Sandiganbayan provides that in cases where no unanimous vote of the three members of a division is obtained, a special division of five should be constituted with the two members being designated by raffle on a rotation basis.

Apparently, the voting conducted last Dec. 18 resulted in Justices Chico-Nazario and Leonardo-de Castro going in favor of the motion and Justice Sandoval dissenting.
As no unanimous vote was had, this should have resulted in a raffle to determine the two special members of the division.

However, Bantay Katarungan has found out that, instead of a raffle as provided for in the rules, the two special members-Justices Diosdado M. Peralta and Norbert Y. Geraldez Sr.-were merely handpicked by the presiding justice.

From whom did Salonga and Hilbay got that unimpeachable information? The op-ed did not say. But it confirms the suspicion by many of us that the turnaround by the Sandiganbayan was motivated by something more than simple judicious rumination of the issues involved.

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