SC junks admin raps vs retired Sandiganbayan justice

MANILA-- The Supreme Court cleared a former Sandiganbayan Justice of administrative charges over allegations of having an illicit affair with a Caloocan City clerk of court whose name appeared as the co-owner of a property he bought in Las Pinas City.

In a 34-page ruling dated April 4, 2017 but was released to media on Monday penned by Associate Justice Jose Mendoza, the high court unanimously threw out for lack of merit the administrative complaint against the chair of the anti-graft court's Fifth Division and now retired Associate Justice Roland Jurado who was accused of having an illicit affair with Caloocan City clerk of court Mona Lisa Buencamino for supposedly amassing unexplained wealth and for his failure to declare all his real estate properties in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN).

The court finds the complaint bereft of merit (T)here is no prima facie evidence showing the either Justice Jurado or Buencamino has unlawfully accumulated wealth. For the same reason, the charge of immorality should likewise be dismissed. There is no evidence on record that would show that Justice Jurado and Buencamino had an immoral relationship, the court said.

The tribunal likewise accepted Jurado's explanation that he did not put several properties in his SALN since he had already sold them.

The tribunal dismissed the initial findings of an eight-member panel created by the Office of the Court Administrator in 2010 to look into the allegations against them.

The investigating team had also discovered that Jurado did not declare several of his properties in his SALN while Buencamino's own SALN had inconsistencies.

The panel concluded that Jurado's net worth appeared to have considerably widened after he was appointed to the anti-graft court in October 2003. It also found out that they co-owned a property in Las Pinas, which they eventually admitted.

But the high court ruled that their admission was not enough to prove that they were having an affair as Jurado and Buencamino were able to sufficiently explain that they acquired the property after they entered into a business venture.

Jurado, who issued the arrest warrant of ex-Sen. Jinggoy Estrada over the PHP10-billion pork barrel in June 2015, maintained that his relationship with Buencamino was purely professional.

Source: Philippines News Agency