MANILA, Philippines – The United Nationalist Alliance on Wednesday said it is deeply bothered by reports that Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas and poll commissioner Grace Padaca were accorded special treatment at the Sandiganbayan last week allegedly upon the orders of a Sandiganbayan justice.
In a statement, UNA Secretary General Toby Tiangco said results of a Sandiganbayan investigation on the alleged security breach at the anti-graft court should be made public.
“As a co-equal branch of government, the judiciary must always be seen as independent. But the report, if true, would gravely undermine the independence of the Sandiganbayan in the eyes of the people,” he said.
A Philippine Star report earlier said security guards, employees, and even justices of the Sandiganbayan are now under investigation for allegedly violating security protocols when they gave special treatment to Roxas and Padaca when the latter posted bail last week.
Sources said the investigation is being conducted to determine who could be held administratively liable for the unauthorized use of the anti-graft court’s basement parking area by an accused in a graft and malversation of public funds case and a Cabinet official.
The source said some Sandiganbayan justices expressed concern and outrage over how Roxas and Padaca were given special treatment, which is not accorded even to former presidents like Joseph Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Associate Justice Jose Hernandez, as chair of the Sandiganbayan’s committee on security and safety, ordered a probe specifically against a bailiff who allegedly claimed that he was acting under the orders of another justice.
In an initial investigation report, Security and Sheriff Services Division chief Albert dela Cruz said all court security personnel are pointing the finger at Security Guard 3 (SG3) Roland Woods, acting bailiff of the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division where Padaca is charged with allegedly misusing P25 million in government funds when she was governor of Isabela.
The report, a copy of which was obtained by The STAR, said security personnel were surprised when Roxas’ and Padaca’s group suddenly arrived at the basement parking area, which only associate justices are allowed to use.
Security guard Raul Octavino said everything happened so fast that he even had to stop eating his lunch and go to the service elevator to assist.
Records show that Roxas’ and Padaca’s security escorts were asked to surrender their firearms in accordance with the internal security rules of the Sandiganbayan building.
“All security personnel pointed to acting bailiff SG3 Woods as the source of the alleged instruction from Justice (Roland) Jurado allowing the use of the basement parking by the accused and Secretary Roxas,” Dela Cruz told Associate Justice Hernandez in his report.
In his statement, Tiangco noted that Padaca is a defendant in a case before the anti-graft court. He noted, however, that because of her disability, some leeway may be accorded to her. “But Roxas cannot claim any disability,” he said.
“Roxas claims to be on leave as Liberal Party president but it is only nominal, since he continues to hold sway over his party. His intention to run for 2016 is all but declared,” he said.
“And his camp can be expected to use all avenues to bring down the high performance and trust rating of Vice President Jejomar Binay, and this may include resurrecting old charges against the Vice President or concocting new ones. Either way, such dirty politicking could end up before the Sandiganbayan. That a justice of the Sandiganbayan has reportedly extended to Roxas such special privilege, if true, is very troubling,” he added. With a report from The Philippine Star