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CA justice mum on identity of ‘broker’ in GSIS-Meralco row

July 31, 2008 8:41am

MANILA, Philippines - Court of Appeals Justice Jose Sabio remained mum Thursday on the identity of a businessman who allegedly offered him P10 million in exchange for inhibiting himself from the feud between the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and Manila Electric Co. (Meralco).

Sabio said in a predawn interview on dzBB radio that the broker indeed approached him and claimed to be working out a "win-win situation."

"Hindi na natin pagusapan yan ... Huwag mo ako tanungin (Let's not talk about that. Don't ask me about that)," he said when pressed to name the businessman.

But he said the businessman approached him last July 1 and asked him to inhibit from the case. Sabio said he replied that he could not because he had no reason to do so.

At that point, he said the broker told him, "Magkakagulo lang ito (things will only get messier)," and that the broker was working out a "win-win situation."

Sabio, in a six-page letter to CA presiding Justice Conrado Vasquez dated July 26, said his meeting with the unnamed businessman happened on the evening of July 1.

He claimed the P10 million was offered so that he would give way to Associate Justice Bienvenido Reyes, head of the Court's 8th Division, to handle the case. He refused.

"Matter of principle ito (It was a matter of principle)," he said, in refusing to inhibit. Besides, he said he has two daughters whose respect he said he may lose if he accepted the bribe.

Sabio said the emissary even went to a school where he was teaching and made the same offer, even telling Sabio that there was nothing illegal about the offer.

He said he again declined to accept the offer, prompting the businessman to say that he might resort to another way to have Reyes handle the case.

He said he was surprised when, a week after his meeting with the businessman, Meralco filed an urgent motion for Reyes to assume the chairmanship.

On July 24, Reyes issued a decision voiding the order of the Securities and Exchange Commission enjoining Meralco from validating the proxy votes in favor of the Lopez family interest during the Meralco stockholders meeting on May 27.

Reyes' decision left Sabio no choice but to ask for an investigation into the matter.

Shadowy group

Meanwhile, a shadowy group placed an ad on a Metro Manila newspaper appealing to "all parties concerned" to allow the CA to "sort out its internal issues."

The "Tanglaw ng Bayan," which claimed to be "supporting the president's meaningful reforms," issued a "plea" that the CA justices not be subjected to "malicious imputations just to advance the agenda of powerful interests."

"Let us allow our CA to sort out its internal issues, free from the intervention of influential/external forces. Let us not allow our justices to be subjected to malicious imputations just to advance the agenda of powerful interests. Let us not allow our CA to be used by hidden forces to advance their agenda. Let us help preserve the public esteem for and credibility of our CA," it said.

In 2007, the same group urged the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Senate to probe the alleged rigging of a game segment on the noontime variety show "Wowowee."

The group's spokesman Bayani Santos Jr delivered a similar letter to the office of Sen. Manuel Roxas II, chairman of the Senate trade and commerce committee. - GMANews.TV
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