Sandiganbayan chief sacking is ‘abuse of power’ – Church law experts

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MANILA, Oct. 16, 2014 – Amidst public indignation over the supposed selective justice being applied to combat corruption, Church authorities today voiced apprehension over the government’s anti-corruption campaign citing abuse of power and injustice.

“Selective justice is exactly that, a perversion of justice by selecting whom to prosecute and to shield from prosecution,” San Beda College Graduate School of Law dean Fr. Ranhilio Aquino said, commenting on the case of Sandiganbayan Justice Gregory Ong, who was dismissed by the Supreme Court on grounds of “dishonesty and impropriety” amidst lack of evidence.

‘Selective justice’

“I sympathize with him. Appointed to the SC, his assumption was held in abeyance because of the citizenship issue, and now, he is even dismissed from the service. PNoy had close associations with Napoles too. Why is this angle not examined?,” he added, questioning the administration’s seemingly selective position in its anti-corruption drive.

According to Aquino, so many others, including Department of Social Welfare and Development secretary “Dinky” Solíman; Department of Justice secretary Leila de Lima; Department of Budget and Management secretary Butch Abad; and Department of Finance secretary Cesar Purisima and several other senators have been implicated in serious wrong-doings, but have always immediately been cleared by Malacaang without further investigation.

In relation to Justice Ong’s dismissal, Archbishop Emeritus Oscar V. Cruz a known critic of the Aquino administration, expressed sadness over the state of the justice system in the country.

“The justice system in the Philippines is sick and sickening. What do we mean by that? For one thing, there are so many cases that remained unsolved, so many criminal cases are filed and then they are released, cases which are very grievous like the Maguindanao massacre of 58 people and 5 years later, nothing has happened. That is not only justice delayed and justice denied, that is injustice per se,” he said.

Need for evidence

Cruz further explained that case resolutions should not be based on “complementary evidence” alone but must also include “suppletory evidence”.

“It is very seldom that one item will resolve a case as proof, [for] example, to be photographed with somebody, to be photographed with a criminal so ergo you’re a criminal; the photograph with the respondent is just complementary evidence ‘if it is’. So there must be something more than just being seen with somebody,” he said.

The Supreme Court voted 8 to 5 with 2 abstentions declaring Sandiganbayan Justice Gregory Ong guilty of gross misconduct, dishonesty and impropriety. The high court’s deadline for filing of Motions for Reconsideration is today, Oct. 16.

Last July, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines issued a Pastoral Statement on selective justice stating, “Everybody culpable, whatever their political affiliations may be, should be investigated and, if so warranted, indicted. When justice is selective, it is not justice at all.” (Paul de Guzman)

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