Philippine Inquirer columnist has misguided opinion on Judge Abraham Borreta!

Below we republish part of an article published in the 30 August 2008 edition of the Philippine Daily Inquirer and written by Solita Collas-Monsod:

“I have a favorite anecdote about it—and the reader will soon know why. It involves Regional Trial Court Judge Abraham Borreta (Branch 154, Pasig City) who apparently told the accused in open court to cease and desist from sending emissaries with bribe offers in exchange for being granted bail, or for favorable dispensation of his case, because it would be judged solely on its merits.

What is impressive is that Borreta apparently told the various emissaries immediately (including friends and acquaintances who were approached) to back off—unlike the situation involving the Court of Appeals justices. Borreta, I am told, always keeps his office door open—nothing goes on behind closed doors. But the kicker has to do with the amount of the bribes being offered (just for bail, mind you): It went up to P20 million, and finally a “name your price” situation. By the way, P20 million, represents more than 20 times a judge’s gross annual income (salary and perks), and for that matter, even that of a Court of Appeals justice. I am told that the accused in the case was so impressed (he apparently had pretty much everyone in his pocket), so that even though the decision went against him (bail was denied), he saluted Borreta when he was being led out.

Borreta is UP ’73. Valedictorian and bar topnotcher. He left a lucrative private practice for a career in the judiciary. He may have his faults, but apparently he cannot be bribed. ”

It would seem that Solita Collas-Monsod is not very familar with how Judge Borreta operates or of his inolvement in Benguet Green Meadows.

However the article seems to have been published with the intent of helping Judge Borreta in his latest quest to get promotion to the Court of Appeals.

We respectfully suggest that Solita Collas-Monsod would have been wiser to have checked the background of Judge Borreta, and particularly his faults before heaping such unwarranted praise on him. 

If, as a responsible journalist, Monsod had carried out such research,  Monsod would have discovered the following:

1. Borreta is being sued in Court Cases in Baguio City and La Trinidad with respect to a proposed CMP social housing project located at Longlong, Puguis, La Trinidad which is named Benguet Green Meadows.

2. Borreta has already been found guilty by the Supreme Court of violating the Judicial Code of Conduct because of his involvement in this project.

3. However, Borreta did not disclose to the Supreme Court his full involvement in that project or his further violations of the Judicial Code of Conduct.

4. The Benguet Green Meadows project has been sold to lot buyers even though it does not have the required development permits, ECC or a license to sell.

5. Borreta is involved in a project that has been issued two notices of violation – his project has violated Philippine law.

6. Borreta´s partner in this project uses the false alias name Lovely Ladignon Mandapat – certifications have been obtained identifying that she remains married to Christopher Tobias de Vera and her legally recognised name is Lovely Ladignon de Vera. So Borreta is in business with and is also a joint registered land owner with a person using a false alias name.

7. Mandapat used certifications and Special Powers of Attorney executed by or in favor of Borreta to influence a La Trinidad Benguet judge to order the issue of several duplicate copies of TCTs for lands at the Benguet Green Meadows project. Clearly Borreta is not allowed to influence the decision of another judge. Both judges violated the Code of Judicial Conduct.

8. Borreta and Mandapat are being sued by some lot buyers (city hall employees) in the Baguio City courts. Why does Borreta not pay back the money that has been paid for a housing project that does not have the required permits etc? Does he think he is above the law?

9. These lot buyers have obtained testimony from HLURB-CAR supporting the fact that the project does not have a license to sell and they want to present that testimony in their court case against Borreta and Mandapat.

10. Borreta does not want that testimony to be presented in court because it will demonstrate that he, a judge, may be participating in fraud or estafa, and violating several Philippine laws. That testimony may be enough to get him not only dismissed as a judge but also disbarred.

11. One former landowner has apparently complained to HLURB-CAR that he has not been paid for the land sold to Mandapat using a Borreta SPA. If so, then Borreta as the agent who should be collecting that payment will be an accomplice to that failure to make payment which may be considered to be criminal in nature.

We conclude by suggesting to Solita Collas-Monsod that, rather than dwelling on one particular court case, the focus should instead be on Borreta´s seemingly criminal involvement in a fraudulent housing project in La Trinidad, his association with a woman who uses several false alias names and his current attempts to pervert the course of justice by using his influence to attempt to prevent the presentation of testimony provided by a government housing official. Monsod can start doing that journalistic research by reading the content of this blogsite and in particular the many public documents that implicate Borreta in unethical and seemingly criminal practices when participating in the Benguet Green Meadows project.

What is abundantly clear is that the Supreme Court and Chief Justice Puno must act swiftly and prevent Judge Borreta from using his influence to persuade a law office and government housing agency not to present testimony in a court case filed against him.

We also believe that Borreta must be required by the Supreme Court to refrain from using any fraternity influence over the Atty. Romulo Q. Fabul, a fellow UP law graduate and the current HLURB Chief Executive Officer, with the intent of persuading local Baguio HLURB officials to withdraw testimony against Borreta in the above court case.

If Borreta cannot be bribed, as claimed by Monsod, then he should abide by words he has himself used in open court, and as mentioned in the Monsod article and allow the case that has been filed against him in Baguio City to “be judged solely on its merits” including all sworn testimony that the plaintiffs wish to present against him, and without seeking “favorable dispensation” though his influence as a judge over law offices or other judges. Otherwise he is no less corrupt than the defendant who tried to bribe him.

A judge must not be allowed to engage in or associate with illegal practices and then use his influence to avoid punishment for such indiscretions.

Yes, as Monsod quite correctly pointed out, Borreta does have his faults, and his involvement in the Benguet Green Meadows project is a very serious one  – the credibility of the Philippine Justice System is very seriously at stake.

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