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Justices Antonio Carpio and Arturo Brion have so far stayed away three times in as many public and Malacanang-related functions within the first week of assumption of their junior colleague Ma. Lourdes Sereno as chief justice.
The two justices were again no-shows Wednesday during the Sereno-initiated dialogue with Budget Secretary Florencio Abad to haggle on increased budget for the judiciary.
According to two sources with strong Supreme Court ties, Carpio and Brion both did not want their hands tied should a legal challenge arise against Malacanang's action on the so-called special allowances for the judiciary.
The two justices were also absent during the other Saturday's oath-taking of Sereno in Malacanang, as well as last Monday's flag-raising ceremony at the Supreme Court to welcome the new head of the judiciary.
The sources confirmed a Philippine Star report that "a number of justices" turned off their cell phones that Saturday amid repeated calls and text message from Malacanang inviting the gods of Padre Faura to attend Sereno's oath-taking.
In addition to Carpio and Brion, Justices Presbitero Velasco Jr., Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin and Martin Villarama Jr., all of whom had been by-passed by the Palace in favor by Sereno, were also absent in the swearing-in and flag-ceremonies.
But the five later showed up in the Sereno-Abad meeting.
The five justices overcame their reservations and decided to help guide their new chief justice since, the source said, echoing the words of Abad, "she (Sereno) wanted to be familiar with the budget process."
Minnie O dragged in Cebu circus
Poor Minnie Osmena.
Not only did she have to play mother hen to her brother Tommy while he was being treated in the United States, the New York-based heiress now might even get dragged before the Ombudsman in the latest flare-up between the congressman and Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama.
Rep. Tommy Osmena had pointed to sister Minnie and her son Paulo as the buyers of two Dodge Charger police package cars that were supposed to have been donated to City Hall, but instead ended up being used by Tommy -- complete with Cebu City seal and siren "for bragging rights" -- even after he stepped down as mayor in 2010.
Tommy traded barbed comments with Rama, Osmena's vice mayor until two years ago, after the latter said he would question before the anti-graft office how the cars -- painted in black and white to simulate US police cars -- had ended up in Osmena's fleet.
As Tommy explained to the Cebu press, the two cars had been acquired from film producer Michael Gleissner, whom Osmena helped in getting Filipino citizenship after the German national leased space in Tommy's pet project, South Road Properties, and built his Bigfoot Studios there.
After using the two cars in a movie shoot, Gleissner wanted to donate the cars to City Hall, but changed his mind and instead wanted Tommy to personally have them after learning that the mayor was nearing his term-limit by 2010.
Tommy told reporters that he did not want the donation, but ended up getting the cars anyway after Minnie came to the rescue and paid for them.
Now, Rama, who will square off with come-backing Tommy in next year's elections, wants to pin down Osmena in his theory that it all had been a simulated sale, with Minnie as mere conduit.
Tommy's reply to Rama's threat was vintage Tommy: So sue me!
• Antonio "Tonypet" Albano has resigned as president of the sequestered RPN-9 television station, reportedly to run for Congress in Isabela for the same seat now occupied by his aging father, Rodolfo Albano.
• ICTSI chairman Enrique Razon Jr and SM heiress Teresita Sy have agreed to speak and share their experience with their fellow billionaires in the Oct. 21-23 Forbes Global CEO Conference in Dubai.
It will be the second time for Razon to address the Forbes conference.
• Dusit Thani Manila president Evelyn Singson has lodged a complaint with the Securities and Exchange Commission against SGV over the 2009 audited financial statement of Asian Hospital, the Alabang medical facility which Singson co-founded and where she was former chairman.
Heard through the grapevine
America's Next Top Model judge, Filipino blogger BryanBoy has sought legal advice on the explosive allegations made by his best-friend-turned-worst-nightmare, fellow fashion blogger Chuvaness, in the latest issue of Rogue magazine.
Apparently anticipating a legal storm, both Chuvaness and Rogue had their lawyers read through the expose before approving the print run.