Justice inhibits from Napoles cases
MANILA -- A magistrate of the Court of Appeals (CA) inhibited himself from the cases involving businesswoman Janet Napoles after being linked to the pork barrel scam.
Associate Justice Danton Bueser recused himself even before the Office of the Solicitor General could file a plea.
“To cast any doubt and speculation in the mind of the public which could affect the dignity of the court and my credibility as a magistrate, I am recusing myself from handling these cases," he said in a statement.
Bueser, a former three-termer representative of Laguna, was earlier named by the Commission on Audit (COA) as one of several former and present lawmakers who allegedly transferred their priority development assistance funds (PDAF) to bogus nongovernment organizations.
Bueser is currently a member of the appellate court’s fourth division, which is hearing Napoles’ petition questioning her supposed role in detaining whistleblower Benhur Luy. He was also cast as a substitute member of the second division, which is handling the Anti-Money Laundering Council’s petition for the freezing of Napoles’ assets.
In both cases, the divisions ordered unfavorable decisions against Napoles. Bueser himself voted against Napoles.
Nonetheless, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Bueser’s inclusion in the COA report was “an important point.”
COA alleged Bueser allocated P9.6 million to the Philippine Environment and Economic Development Association (PEEDA) and P9.8 million to the Aaron Foundation Philippines. COA alleged both NGOs are two of 82 questionable NGOs.
Bueser, however, denied involvement with Napoles, saying his signatures in the documents obtained by COA were forged.
"I will ask the National Bureau of Investigation to investigate the authenticity of the documents and the signatures appearing thereon because to the best of my knowledge I have not made any endorsements to these organizations, much less transacted business with these entities," he stressed.
Another member of the judiciary, Sandiganbayan Associate Justice Gregory Ong, was also earlier linked to the controversy.
Ong’s name was mentioned by one of the witnesses as having connections to Napoles. Ong was also seen in a photo in a party with Napoles and Senator Jinggoy Estrada, one of several tagged in the scam.
Ong already denied this, saying he was just “used.”