MANILA, Sept 9 The Philippines' Supreme Court
removed one judge, suspended another and disciplined two others
on Tuesday after a bribe was allegedly offered during legal
deliberations over a corporate takeover battle.
"This is a wake-up call for all our justices," Jose Midas
Marquez, the Supreme Court spokesman, told reporters.
In July the Court of Appeals halted an attempt by the state
pension fund, GSIS, to wrest control of Manila Electric
(MER.PS) from the Lopez family, one of the Philippines'
Amid allegations of underhanded dealings, the 15-member
Supreme Court looked into the proceedings and found there were
no deliberations on the case.
One of the five justices handling it had written a ruling
before a petition was filed. He was dismissed for violating the
magistrate's "code of judicial conduct".
The inquiry said that a 10 million peso ($214,000) bribe had
been offered to one justice by a businessman who wanted a
ruling in favour of the Lopez family.
The Lopez family has denied any part in the controversy.
The businessman has denied offering a bribe.
A senior state official had also tried to convince his
younger brother, a member of the court, to rule in favour of
the government pension fund, according to the Supreme Court
Marquez said one appeals justice was suspended for two
months for discussing the case with a private businessman and
his older brother who occupies a government position. Two other
justices were reprimanded for their role in the controversy.
Marquez said the high tribunal also asked the justice
department to investigate the businessman at the centre of the
Corruption is widespread in the Philippines, rated 131st
out of 179 countries by graft watchdog Transparency
International in a 2007 report, in which the lower the ranking
the more corrupt a country is considered.
Rogue soldiers have highlighted corruption concerns in
three failed attempts to seize power from President Gloria
(Reporting by Manny Mogato; Editing by Carmel Crimmins and