Jun 232013
The camp of whistleblower Rodolfo Lozada Jr. has asked the entire fourth division of the Sandiganbayan to inhibit itself from the graft cases he is facing before the anti-graft court.

In a four-page motion to recuse filed late Friday, Lozada’s camp accused Associate Justice Gregory Ong, who chairs the Sandiganbayan fourth division, of forming a “negative opinion” against Lozada.

Lawyer Jose Manuel Diokno, Lozada’s counsel, said in the motion that Ong’s remarks during hearings on Lozada’s case last May indicate the magistrate’s supposedly negative opinion against the whistleblower.

Diokno said Ong admonished Lozada in court for smiling and for being “escorted by too many people.” The associate justice also supposedly said that Lozada “loves talking.”

“The foregoing comments indicate that His Honor has formed a negative opinion about Mr. Lozada; that it would be better if Mr. Lozada and his supporters do not personally attend the trial; and that Mr. Lozada talks too much and smiles too often,” the defense camp said in the motion.

Lozada’s lawyer also said that Ong seems to be “monitoring the situation of Mr. Lozada vis-a-vis President Benigno Aquino III even if this is neither material nor relevant to the cases at bar.”

The defense particularly took offense on this comment supposedly made by Ong in open court: “Para kung may importante kayong meetings or you want to go to the media and say something against our President again, you won’t be arrested, okay?”

Aside from Ong, the defense camp also wants Associate Justices Jose Hernandez and Maria Cristina Cornejo to inhibit thsemselves from Lozada’s graft cases.

Lozada was the one who revealed supposed anomalies in the national broadband deal entered into by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo with Chinese firm ZTE in 2008.

Lozada is currently facing two counts of graft before the Sandiganbayan for supposedly illegally awarding the leasehold rights of public lands to his brother and to a company the whistleblower purported owned when he was still head of the Philippine Forest Corp. in 2007 to 2008. — AC/BM, GMA News

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