MANILA, Philippines - Three justices of the Sandiganbayan were admonished by the Supreme Court for failure to immediately execute the arrest of former Ilocos Norte Municipal Mayor Pacifico Velasco for violating the Anti-Graft Law.
The admonished justices are Francisco Villaruz, Jr., Alex Quiroz and Samuel Martires, all of whom are members of the anti-graft court's Third Division.
"The judgment of conviction of accused Velasco should have been immediately executed, absent any restraining order from the Court, in violation of [an order issued by the Supreme Court]… This lapse in judgment on the part of the Sandiganbayan Justices deserves admonition,” the high court said.
Velasco, who served as mayor of Bacarra town, was meted with the penalty of six to eight years imprisonment on graft charges in 2008. He appealed his conviction with the high court which subsequently denied his plea.
The conviction then became final and executory but was not immediately implemented due to several motions filed by Velasco citing medical reasons.
The justices pointed out that the delay in the implementation of the arrest order was due to the hearings on Velasco's motions.
In a ruling penned by Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe, the high court said that the three justices committed a lapse in judgment for their failure to immediately implement the court ruling. The high court warned that a repeat of such lapse "would be dealt with severely."
A certain Leonardo Velasco filed the administrative case against the 3 justices.