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Junjun: Sereno, 2 justices should inhibit from case

MANILA, Philippines - Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr. has sought the inhibition of Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno and two more justices from the case involving the preventive suspension order imposed by the Ombudsman against him in connection with the alleged anomaly in the Makati City Hall building 2 project.

In a recent motion obtained by The STAR yesterday, the son of Vice President Jejomar Binay asked the Supreme Court (SC) chief, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and Associate Justice Martin Villarama Jr. to recuse themselves from voting on the legality of the suspension order for  various reasons.

Mayor Binay cited Sereno’s alleged bias shown during the oral arguments on the case last April in summer session in Baguio City during her interpellation on counsel Sandra Coronel.

As for Carpio, petitioner cited as ground his being a cousin of petitioner and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales.

Binay, meanwhile, asked Villarama to inhibit because of his supposed admission that he knew “a lawyer from the Ombudsman office.”

The mayor filed the motion after four justices already inhibited from his case last month - Associate Justices Presbitero Velasco Jr., Diosdado Peralta, Arturo Brion and Francis Jardeleza.

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The SC had said that the inhibition was discretionary and voluntary on the part of the magistrates. No specific official reasons were given.

But it was learned that Velasco had also inhibited in the graft case of former Makati Mayor Elenita Binay, mother of Junjun, when it reached the third division of SC.

Jardeleza, on the other hand, cited his previous posts as solicitor general and deputy Ombudsman for Luzon where he handled Binay cases.

Brion, for his part, recused himself from the case since his wife Antonietta is working with CA Associate Justice Jose Reyes Jr., member of the CA division that issued the TRO on Binay’s suspension.

Peralta had inhibited since his sister, Visha Peralta-Aldon is a department head at the Makati City Hall.

Should Sereno, Carpio and Villarama decide to inhibit from the case, the high tribunal would be left with only eight justices - or half of its composition - to decide on the case.

“There will only be eight members left. Imagine what kind of majority that would be. Whichever way the decision would go, it would only be decided on by five justices,” an insider told The STAR.

But the source, an SC member, believes that Sereno, Carpio and Villarama are unlikely to inhibit.

 

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