Taguig moves to inhibit CA justice who penned Fort Boni decision
The City of Taguig today filed a motion seeking the immediate inhibition of the Court of Appeals (CA) associate justice who penned the controversial July 30 decision awarding in favor of Makati a huge portion of Fort Bonifacio.
In an Urgent Motion to Inhibit filed before the CA’s Sixth Division, which decided on said case, Taguig City is asking for the inhibition of Associate Justice Marlene Gonzales-Sison because of her husband’s association with Vice President Jejomar Binay.
“Circumstances show that Honorable Marlene Gonzales-Sison, the ponente in the captioned case, does not seem to possess the cold neutrality to fairly and impartially resolve the issues involving the territorial dispute between plaintiff-appellee City of Taguig and defendant-appellant City of Makati,” the motion said.
It disclosed that Gonzales-Sison is married to Atty. Casimiro “Cassy” Sison, a former prosecutor in and an incumbent councilor of Manila’s District 6.
“Atty. Cassy Sison has been a known stalwart of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), which is a coalition of the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) headed by former President and now Mayor of the City of Manila Joseph E. Estrada and Partido Demokratiko Pilipino – Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) headed by Vice President Jejomar Binay,” the motion said.
“Together with Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, the three are known as the three kings of UNA.”
In 2013, Atty. Cassy Sison ran and won as councilor under the UNA banner.
The motion continued to state that Atty. Cassy Sison’s membership in UNA and his close association with the Vice President “cast serious doubt” on the impartiality of Gonzales-Sison, his wife and ponente of the CA ruling that awarded Makati a huge portion of Fort Bonifacio.
The motion took note of media reports that Makati Mayor Junjun Binay, the Vice President’s only son, continues to discuss the territorial dispute with his father who, during his time as the local chief executive of Makati, fought for the ownership of the disputed territory.
It also mentioned that the elder Binay himself, in media interviews, had been very vocal in hailing the said CA ruling, describing it as correct.
“And from nowhere, another key personality of UNA echoed that it is defendant-appellant City of Makati which is entitled to the disputed property. Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, who is affiliated with Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino and also with UNA since 2012, declared that he agrees with the Honorable Court’s ruling that Fort Bonifacio is part of defendant-appellant City of Makati,” the motion said.
It also stated that Taguig councilor Michelle Anne “Che-Che” Gonzales, the PDP-Laban President in Taguig, attacked Taguig City Mayor Lani Cayetano and her husband, Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano, instead of challenging the decision of the CA.
“Councilor Che-Che Gonzales is the sister-in-law of Gigi Reyes, who was the long-time chief-of-staff of Senator Juan Ponce Enrile. In fact, Councilor Che-Che Gonzales refers to Senator Juan Ponce Enrile as her “lolo,” the motion explained.
“Indeed, Atty. Cassy Sison’s affiliation with UNA – whose key personalities strongly advocate that the disputed property is part of defendant-appellant City of Makati – has created a strong suspicion on Hon. Gonzales-Sison’s impartiality.”
The motion explained that Vice President Binay’s plans to run for President in 2016 had been announced on many occasions and that “It is not farfetched to think that Atty. Cassy Sison would want to strengthen his relationship with the Vice President.”
“There is a suspicion that the Decision dated 30 July 2013 is a ‘political decision’ meant to curry favor with Vice President Binay for future appointment to the Supreme Court,” the motion said.
“Such suspicion could very well be unfounded and unfair to Hon. Gonzales-Sison. But her relationship with Atty. Cassy Sison and his ties to UNA do not help remove the suspicion.”
Citing jurisprudence, the motion said that judges should not only be impartial, “but should also appear impartial.”
“A judge should exercise circumspection in the discharge of his duties to preclude suspicion on his impartiality.”
“The Judge must maintain and preserve the trust and faith of the parties litigants. He must hold himself above reproach and suspicion. At the very first sign of lack of faith and trust to his actions, whether well-grounded or not, the Judge has no other alternative but inhibit himself from the case.”
It said that the City of Taguig intends to file a motion for reconsideration on the CA ruling and exhaust all legal remedies available to it in fighting for its cause.
“In the interest of fair play and to serve the higher interest of justice, Hon. Gonzales-Sison should immediately inhibit herself from this case.”
The local government of Taguig maintained that the CA decision is not yet final and far from being executory.
Mayor Lani, on several occasions, have declared that Taguig will continue to exercise jurisdiction over Fort Bonifacio.
Download the copy of the Motion to Inhibit
Court of Appeals Motion To Inhibit (82.0 KiB)