MANILA (2nd UPDATE) - Senator Antonio Trillanes IV is calling for a Senate probe into the alleged corruption in the judiciary as he accused certain judges at the Court of Appeals of receiving millions of pesos to stop Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay's suspension from office.
In a resolution filed on Monday, Trillanes alleged that lawyer Pancho Villaraza facilitated the transaction to pay off Court of Appeals Associate Justices Jose Reyes Jr. and Francisco Acosta in exchange for issuing a temporary restraining order (TRO) against Binay's suspension.
For the first TRO, Trillanes said the judges received P20 million each, citing "reliable sources". He said they then got P5 million for issuing a writ of permanent injunction recently.
"This was purportedly the reason why the concerned CA division issues the writ of preliminary injunction with undue and inordinate haste, long before its TRO is supposed to elapse," the resolution states.
Reyes has denied Trillanes' allegations, saying the legislator's accusations constitute harassment.
For its part, the law firm that Trillanes named as the middle man in the alleged bribery case said the senator’s statements are “libelous.”
In a statement, Reyes said: “Baseless accusations constitute harassment that seek to threaten magistrates in Our bounden duty to discharge justice based on fairness, impartiality and the rule of law, and undermines the integrity of the judiciary as an institution and weakens the people's faith in our legal processes.”
Reyes is the chairman of the sixth division of the appellate court, which earlier issued a temporary restraining order and writ of preliminary injunction against the suspension of Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay.
Reyes said the decisions his division issued were meticulously and properly evaluated based on prevailing laws, evidence, and jurisprudence.
“The judiciary must be insulated from partisan politics. We dispense justice based on the rule of law and established evidence, and will continue to do so,” Reyes said.
In a separate statement, Villaraza and Angangco Managing Partner Bienvenido Somera, Jr. said Binay is not even their client.
“In the spirit of fairness and in accordance with due process, we challenge Senator Trillanes to reveal who his ‘reliable sources’ are, and more importantly to produce proof to support his libelous statements,” Somera said.
He added, “it appears that Senator Trillanes is being misled and dragged by adversaries of the firm into the private commercial dispute referred to in his resolution.”
Citing sources, Trillanes alleged Villaraza is "allegedly a known political operator with deep links among politicians as well as member of the judiciary and prosecution service."
Villaraza was one of the founders of the Carpio, Villaraza and Cruz Law Firm (CVC Law), which came to be known as “The Firm” during the Ramos and also the Arroyo administration.
The firm was divided into two after its partners got involved in a bitter dispute in 2013. Villaraza’s group is now called V&A Law.
Binay’s camp also slammed Trillanes for “bullying the magistrates.”
“He is bullying the magistrates of the Court of Appeals by giving the impression that if a court does not issue a decision to his liking, he will use his immunity to malign and threaten them with a Senate investigation under the guise of it being in aid of legislation,” said Binay spokesman, Rico Paolo Quicho.
“Senator Trillanes is really engaged in a slash-and-burn tactic to destroy institutions and personalities who are not easily cowed and stand against his Messianic complex. Indeed, he is once again serving his self-interest at the expense of the public,” he added.