Cayetano files administrative case vs Cebu City judge


CEBU - Sen. Renato Cayetano has confirmed he has filed administrative charges with the Supreme Court against Municipal Trial Court Judge Rosabella Tormis who handled the case of taxi driver Marcelo Batestil against three US servicemen.

Cayetano accused Tormis of grave misconduct and conduct unbecoming of a magistrate when she had herself interviewed by the media before she issued an order for him to explain why he should not be cited for indirect contempt for undermining the integrity of the court.

The senator said Tormis should have ordered him to explain and not to go to the press and attack his person.

"She already prejudged me as guilty," Cayetano said.

Unmindful of the possible contempt charges that Tormis might slap him with, Cayetano reiterated his comment on the case of Batestil and questioned the way Tormis handled the case.

He said the summary procedures, which Tormis applied in the case of the three US servicemen who mauled Batestil, are not applicable in this case.

The senator said he is invoking his parliamentary immunity, adding that it is part of his job to comment on matters that are of public interest.

Cayetano quoted a well-known constitutionalist, Fr. Joaquin Bernas, who once said that a legislator can invoke his parliamentary immunity even if he is not in the chamber when it comes to public interest.

"I have never filed a case in all my years against a judge. Never. But this time it is something else. I consider it grave and serious, (she is) unfit to sit on the bench," he said.

Tormis has yet to decide whether to cite Cayetano for contempt, but said she found the senator's reply to be "arrogant."

Commenting on the administrative case Cayetano has filed against her, Tormis said she will leave the senator alone because his offense is far greater than hers.

She also frowned on Cayetano's statement that she cannot cite him for contempt because he can invoke parliamentary immunity and it is his right to comment on matters of public interest.

Tormis said parliamentary immunity only applies to privilege speeches delivered in Congress.

She said Cayetano violated the sub judice rule when he criticized the court's handling of the case filed by Batestil against US servicemen Shannon Towers, Michael Keyes and John Earl Lowery Jr.

Meanwhile, the operator of Batestil's taxi, Alberto Camingao, said the P200,000 cash offered by officials of the USS Blue Ridge will be given to his constituents in Carcar and not the Church. Camingao is a Carcar councilor.

"It will be better if I give the money to my constituents. It's final. I won't be giving the money to the Church even if my lawyer told me that the Church is willing to accept the money," Camingao said.

Regional state prosecutor Hernando Masangkay started his inquiry into the possible maneuverings that the members of city prosecutor's office might have done that resulted in the dismissal of the case against three US servicemen.

Cebu City chief prosecutor Primo Miro was invited to Masangkay's office the other day to shed light on the case. - Freeman News Service

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