An online group is calling on Supreme Court (SC) Justice Presbitero Velasco not to take part in the resolution of the electoral protest filed by Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. against Vice President Leni Robredo because of the Velasco family’s close ties to both President Duterte and the former senator.
The Silent Majority (TSM) said Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Jay Velasco, the justice’s son, has been flaunting his family’s closeness to Mr. Duterte and Marcos.
It expressed fears that this might compromise the magistrate’s position on the electoral protest.
“TSM and other groups/individuals are not only monitoring (Justice) Velasco closely, we are actively engaged in a campaign to prevail upon Velasco to inhibit,” Jozy Acosta-Nisperos, the group’s founder, told the Inquirer in a text message on Wednesday.
“He must be aware that to preserve the integrity and impartial administration of justice of the SC, no hint of bias or impropriety must touch any of the justices handling a case. Every justice must be beyond reproach.”
The group has cited photos that Rep. Velasco had posted on Facebook of his family spending Christmas Eve with the President’s family in Davao City as well as pictures on Twitter showing his wife, Wen, having dinner with Mr. Duterte and Marcos at the Presidential Security Group (PSG) compound.
Wen is the founder and chairperson of the Pilipinong May Puso Foundation, formed in honor of the President’s late mother, Soledad.
The Inquirer could not independently confirm if it was the congressman’s Twitter account.
He did not immediately respond to text queries from the Inquirer.
Cause for concern
Nisperos said the photos and the accompanying messages implying that the Velasco family is “extremely close” with the President, are a “cause for concern.”
Mr. Duterte has been vocal about his preference for Marcos as vice president.
Justice Velasco is a senior member of the bench and is set to retire in August 2018.
His wife, Lorna, is the mayor of Torrijos town in Marinduque province.
His daughter, Tricia Nicole Velasco-Catera, is representative of the Ang Mata’y Alagaan (party-list in Congress, a post once held by her mother.
Asked whether the congressman’s online posts had compromised his father’s position, former Court of Appeals Justice Hector Hofileña, a legal ethics expert, replied: “I do not see any ethical issue in the absence of any specific case involved.”