Tang: SC junked letter complaint from ‘Sandigan employees’

MANILA, Philippines — Formal opposition filed against Presiding Justice Cabotaje-Tang’s application to the Supreme Court likened her to ousted Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, but the anti-graft court’s top judge said that she doubts the authenticity of the letter-complaint accusing her of playing favorites.

The Judicial and Bar Council, in a public interview on Wednesday, asked Tang about an opposition submitted to them through a letter-complaint dated March 5, 2018.  Tang is vying for the Supreme Court seat that would be vacated by Associate Justice Noel Tijam next month.

Tang explained to the panel that the matter “has already reached the Supreme Court.” She said that she has filed a comment on the letter-complaint and that it was already dismissed in July.

JBC member Toribio Ilao, representing the private sector, said that the letter purportedly came from “concerned employees of the Sandiganbayan.”

But Tang said that she doubts whether the letter really was from Sanidganbayan employees. “No less than the Sandiganbayan employees’ association came up with the disclaimer I attached to my comment repudiating and disowning this letter your honor,” she said.

“Maybe there are some or one disgruntled person in the court, but as they say, you cannot please everyone,” Tang added.

Like Sereno?

“We received now again a letter dated March 5, 2018, reiterating that… alleging that ‘Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang who runs the affairs of the anti-graft court like her idol [former] Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno,” Ilao said.

Ilao, quoting from the letter, said “you seem to have lack of a leadership and poor relationship with your colleagues.”

Last May, the SC voted to grant the government’s quo warranto petition against—and, in effect, remove—Sereno from her post. After the historic ruling, a group of SC employees called on their colleagues to wear red to show support for the magistrates who voted to oust Sereno.

Tang’s rise to the highest seat at the Sandiganbayan has the same narrative as Sereno’s: In 2013, Tang was appointed as presiding justice of the Sandiganbayan, besting her “more senior” justices, while Sereno was barely two years at the SC when she was designated as its chief in 2012.

The Sandiganbayan justice, however, said that even with only six years of experience at the Sandiganbayan under her belt, she is confident that she has “has more than adequately equipped me for the justice position of the Supreme Court.”

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