Ex-BI exec Argosino seeks inhibition of Sandiganbayan justices in bribery scandal case

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 18 2019 05:11 PM

MANILA - Former Bureau of Immigration deputy commissioner Al Argosino has requested the recusal of all justices of the Sandiganbayan division hearing cases against him in connection with the P50-million bribery scandal involving illegal Chinese workers in Pampanga.

In an urgent motion for inhibition, Argosino argued that he was adopting a similar motion earlier filed by his co-accused, former deputy commissioner Michael Robles, who said that 6th Division Chair Sarah Jane Fernandez had detained him even if there was no arrest warrant yet on his plunder case.

Argosino and Robles are facing cases of plunder, graft, direct bribery and giving and receiving gifts for the release of more than 1,000 Chinese workers in 2016 allegedly after receiving a bribe.

The incident triggered a Senate investigation.

"Accused Argosino, through counsel, respectfully manifests that he is adopting the motion filed by accused Robles seeking the recusal of Honorable Presiding Justice Sarah Jane Fernandez," Argosino’s lawyers from Castillo and Associates and David Buenaventura and Ang Law Offices said.

Argosino also adopted Robles' argument that Fernandez was a law school classmate of Laurence Hector Arroyo, who is representing former police officer Wally Sombero, their co-accused.

Apart from Fernandez's recusal, Argosino also sought the inhibition of Associate Justices Karl Miranda and Zaldy Trespeces.

“Being a collegial body, accused Argosino submits that the grounds for inhibition cited by accused Robles extend to Justices Karl Miranda and Justice Zaldy Trespeces,” his motion read.

Argosino’s lawyers also cited several Supreme Court decisions on the voluntary inhibition of judges and justices.

“All that accused Argosino posits is to have a fair shake in the proceedings, accused Argosino is aware that part of the narration of these cases have crucified and judged him publicly, unfairly enough to convict him, his fate is resting upon a supposed unbiased court, to which presently and unfortunately may be lacking in this case,” Argosino’s lawyers said.

Argosino is also asking that the cases be moved to another court division.