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De Castro takes oath as new SC justice

December 4, 2007 11:27am

Former Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Teresita de Castro was sworn in as an associate justice of the Supreme Court on Tuesday morning even as she denied that her new post was a political concession extended by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

De Castro took her oath before Chief Justice Reynato Puno at the Supreme Court office in Manila City, GMA News Flash Report said.

The report said De Castro denied that her new post was a reward from President Arroyo for how she handled the plunder trial of pardoned former President Joseph Estrada.

She was quoted as saying that her good track record was what allowed her to eventually gain the seat vacated by former SC justice Cancio Garcia, who retired last October.

The 59-year-old De Castro also vowed to inhibit herself from hearings on Estrada's plunder case should the deposed leader and his lawyers seek redress before the high tribunal.

De Castro chaired the Sandiganbayan Special Division, which meted a guilty verdict on Estrada last September 12 after six years of litigation.

The same court recognized the executive clemency order extended by President Arroyo to Estrada on October 25. De Castro's ascension to the SC comes amid legal squabbling on the forfeiture of Estrada's assets.

The antigraft court ordered the seizure of Estrada's illegally acquired money and properties valued at about P745 million plus interest.

Critics of the Arroyo administration had bemoaned that the Sandiganbayan should still go after billions of pesos that Estrada also allegedly pocketed during his rule.

Estrada was sentenced to up to 40 years imprisonment on plunder charges but was cleared of the lighter charge of perjury. He was released from police detention last October 26. - GMANews.TV
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