MANILA, Philippines - A senior lawmaker has taken up the cudgels for the Sandiganbayan after President Aquino criticized the court for approving the plea bargaining agreement between former military comptroller Carlos Garcia and the Ombudsman.
In a statement, House Minority Leader Edcel Lagman said Aquino got it all wrong when he criticized the anti-graft court for making the decision "in a vacuum" without considering testimonies of witnesses who criticized the plea deal.
"The President is oblivious of the ideal norm that a judge or jurist must formulate his decision in a 'vacuum', unperturbed by the mob, uninfluenced by public opinion, insulated from “recommendations” of extrajudicial fora and free from partisan intruders," he said.
"This 'vacuum' is the judicious environ the magistrates should 'live in' to assure the cold neutrality of an impartial judge," he added.
Lagman said Aquino only wants the judiciary to surrender to public opinion on the matter of the plea deal.
He said both the executive and legislative branches must respect and preserve the independence of the judiciary for the rule of law to prevail.
Lagman said justice "should neither be a commodity in the market of popularity nor a victim in a propaganda rampage."
"Justice is forged in an independent furnace wherein issues and cases are adjudicated based on competent and admissible facts and pertinent laws," he added.
President Aquino on Tuesday said he was surprised at the court's decision to uphold the Ombudsman’s plea bargain.
“Paano kaya naka-arrive ng desisyon na ganito ang Sandiganbayan? Para bang nasa vacuum sila. Parang hindi ba nila napakinggan lahat ng na-unearth na testimony sa Senate. Hindi ba ‘yung special prosecutor na mismo ang nagsabing, ‘Kung alam lang namin ang ebidensyang ‘to, hindi na namin naisulong ang plea bargain na ‘yan,’ allegedly. Paano ka naman hindi magugulat sa ganung desisyon?” Aquino told reporters after attending the 112th anniversary rite of Commission on Audit.
Aquino said the new Ombudsman may no longer undo the plea bargain, saying the matter is now out of the prosecutor’s hands and has already been decided on by the court.
The Solicitor General would instead file a motion for reconsideration with the Sandiganbayan.
Information taken from http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/