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Trillanes: 2 CA justices got P25M to halt Junjun Binay’s suspension

(Updated 5:38 p.m.) Senator Antonio Trillanes IV on Monday accused two Court of Appeals (CA) justices of accepting P25 million each to halt Makati Mayor Junjun Binay’s suspension.
In a resolution calling for a Senate probe on the alleged “justice for sale” system at the CA, Trillanes cited “reliable sources privy to the matter” in alleging CA Associate Justices Jose Reyes Jr. and Francisco Acosta of receiving P20 million each to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) on Binay’s suspension.
Trillanes also accused the two CA justices of receiving an additional P5 million each upon the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction to stop Binay’s suspension.
The senator said these “transactions” were allegedly facilitated by lawyer Pancho Villaraza, who is supposedly supporting the presidential campaign of Vice President Jejomar Binay, Mayor Binay’s father.

Makati Rep. Abigail Binay, the vice president’s daughter, earlier said that their camp is planning to file contempt charges against Trillanes for accusing her father’s camp of bribing CA. justices.

“Senator Trillanes is now destroying the reputation and integrity of an institution. Hindi biro-biro ang ginagawa nya. Dapat ang ipakita nya yung patunay na hindi dinuktor at pang-media lang,” Rep. BInay earlier said. 

'Baseless accusations'

In separate statements, Reyes and Acosta accused Trillanes of trying to intimidate the members of the judiciary through harassment.

"The TRO and preliminary injunction were issued by the 6th Division of the Court of Appeals, acting as a collegiate body, after observing a meticulous, impartial and judicious evaluation of prevailing laws, jurisprudence and evidence presented by the parties," Reyes said.

"Baseless accusations constitute harassment that seek to threaten magistrates in our bounden duty to discharge justice based on fairness, impartiality and the rule of law, and undermines the integrity of the judiciary as an institution and weakens the people's faith in our legal processes," he added.

Acosta, chairman of the CA Sixth Division, dismissed Trillanes' allegation as “baseless”.
In report of Cecile Villarosa on GMA Radyo DZBB, Acosta was quoted as saying that the court ruled on Binay's TRO petition as well as on the preliminary injunction based on the rule of law and on the evidence presented to the court.
Acosta said that the court's decision was always “collegial” and not based on the decision of only one or two members.
He added that Trillanes' baseless allegation could be considered “a form of harassment” meant to intimidate the members of an independent institution such as the judiciary.

For their part, the camp of Junjun Binay dared Trillanes to prove in court his allegations of bribery.

“Kung talagang totoo ang mga sinasabi niya at may ebidensiya siya ay magsampa na lang siya ng bribery case sa mga inaakusahan niya,” Binay's spokesperson, Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco said in a phone interview with GMA News Online.

No further details on sources
Pressed for details on who gave him information about the alleged bribery of CA justices, Trillanes said he cannot give any further information, saying this might compromise his sources.
He also indicated that his sources have not yet expressed willingness to testify against Binay.
"It’s up to them kung lalabas sila at magiging testigo. Kapag naging testigo sila, they’ll get burned. Hindi na sila makakagalaw sa kanilang sphere. Unfair naman iyon to demand this from them at this point in time, pero baka dumating tayo diyan,” Trillanes said in an interview .
Asked further if he has documentary evidence to support his allegations, the senator replied, "Iyong ganitong krimen like murder or bribery, walang documentary evidence iyan. Eye witness accounts iyan. Sabi ko nga, how we operate when I was still in the military, ang basehan namin, intelligence information."

Ombudsman suspends Junjun

Last March 11, the Office of the Ombudsman preventively suspended Mayor Binay and 15 others for six months over the alleged overpricing in the construction of the Makati City Hall Building II.
Days after the Ombudsman’s order, the CA Sixth Division granted Mayor Binay’s petition for a 60-day temporary restraining order (TRO) against the suspension. 
Despite the TRO, the Department of Interior and Local Government refused to re-install Binay, prompting the latter to file a contempt plea. Makati Vice Mayor Romula Peña had also earlier been sworn in as acting mayor.
Earlier this month, the CA issued a writ of preliminary injunction against the Ombudsman joint order preventively suspending Mayor Binay, which indefinitely extended the earlier TRO.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales earlier filed a petition before the Supreme Court defending Binay’s suspension. The petition is up for oral arguments on Tuesday during the Supreme Court's summer session in Baguio City. 

Not encroaching on judiciary
Aside from the alleged bribery of CA justices for Mayor Binay’s TRO, Trillanes cited “persistent media reports” of “allegedly widespread and prevalent” corruption in the judiciary to justify his call for a Senate probe.
"There is an urgent and imperative necessity to conduct an investigation into these very damaging allegations against members of the judiciary and the judicial system as a whole," Trillanes' resolution read.
Asked if the Senate will not encroach on the judiciary with his proposed probe, Trillanes said the legislature has oversight powers over courts.
“We have a system of checks and balances. Ito ay isang role ng legislature, iyong oversight functions. It is well within our mandate as a co-equal body,” he said.
The senator nevertheless added that he hopes the Supreme Court (SC) will also look into allegations of corruption within the judiciary. — RSJ/NB, GMA News