By Czarina Nicole Ong
The Sandiganbayan Third Division has reaffirmed its decision promulgated on January 13 not to reraffle the cases of former Makati Mayor Elenita Binay and inhibit Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang from handling it.
Binay’s camp filed a motion for reconsideration on the court’s decision on January 24, insisting that the consolidation of Binay’s four cases is not proper because the charges against her are unrelated and involved different sets of accused, purchase orders, and documentary exhibits.
Binay, who is the wife of former Vice President Jejomar Binay, is facing two graft and two malversation cases in connection with the anomalous purchase of hospital beds worth P36.43 million back in 2001 and P8.83 million worth of dry heat sterilizers back in 2000 for the Ospital ng Makati.
She believes that with the joint trial of the cases, “she would be placed in a situation where she would always be on guard against confusion in the presentation and appreciation of evidence of alleged criminal acts arising from different transactions.”
As for Cabotaje-Tang’s involvement, Binay said that the Presiding Justice was “personally offended” by Binay’s motion for re-raffle. She even said that Cabotaje-Tang’s demeanor made her less confident that she will get a fair trial, so she would like to remove any “impartial disposition” against her cases.
For its part, the court could not find any evidence supporting Binay’s claims about Cabotaje-Tang’s “impartial disposition.”
“While bias and partiality are recognized as valid reasons for the voluntary inhibition of a judge, mere suspicion that a judge is partial is not enough,” the resolution reads.
“To be disqualifying, the bias and prejudice must be shown to have stemmed from an extrajudicial source and result in an opinion on the merits on some bias other than what the judge learned from his participation in the case,” the court further decided.