MANILA (Mabuhay) – Following the dismissal of Sandiganbayan Justice Gregory Ong, members of the judiciary should be conscious of the “restrictions” in their social life, particularly in attending parties where the organizer is not their relatives, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Wednesday.
“It really depends on the circumstances, but really, judges, members of the bench, should really, really be conscious of the restrictions sa social life nila,” De Lima said.
Ong was spotted in at least two parties organized by alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles when a case against her was pending before the Sandiganbayan Fourth Division, which Ong headed.
Napoles was eventually acquitted in the case, which involved the allegedly anomalous sale of 500 Kevlar helmets to the Philippine Marines in 1998.
The Supreme Court dismissed Ong on Tuesday over his links with Napoles. The decision came with “forfeiture of all retirement benefits, except accrued leave benefits, if any, and with prejudice to reemployment in any branch, agency or instrumentality of the government including government-owned and controlled corporation.
De Lima, who said Ong’s dismissal “should serve as a lesson” to members of the judiciary, particularly to those in high positions, believes the testimonies of pork barrel scam whistleblowers Benhur Luy and Marina Sula about Ong’s presence in Napoles-organized parties strengthened the case against him.
De Lima said Ong’s presence in the Napoles-organized parties was “really very, very questionable.”
“Dito kasi napatunayan talaga in the course of the fact-finding investigation na pumupunta siya sa mga okasyon na yon ni Mrs. Napoles at the time na merong pending case sa kaniya,” she said.
“Bawal ‘yun na ganun. And hindi naman siguro niya kamag-anak si Mrs. Napoles,” she added.
De Lima also said Ong’s dismissal “is a very welcome news to confer a message – cases against the accused in the pork barrel scam.
The graft and plunder cases against Senators Ramon Revilla Jr., Juan Ponce Enrile, and Jinggoy Estrada, as well as Napoles, are being handled by the First, Third, and Fifth Divisions of the Sandiganbayan, respectively. (MNS)