Published On: Tue, Apr 2nd, 2019

Supreme Court works with PDEA to probe judges’ alleged drug links

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This is a slight departure from the response of former chief justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, who said the drug list makes judges ‘vulnerable and veritable targets’

Published 3:30 PM, April 02, 2019

Updated 3:30 PM, April 02, 2019

NARCO LIST. The Supreme Court says on April 2, 2019, that it will investigate the alleged involvement of judges in the drug trade. Photo by Lian Buan/Rappler

NARCO LIST. The Supreme Court says on April 2, 2019, that it will investigate the alleged involvement of judges in the drug trade. Photo by Lian Buan/Rappler

BAGUIO, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) said on Tuesday, April 2, that it will coordinate with the executive branch to investigate judges who are allegedly involved in the drug trade.

Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta will first coordinate with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), which produced a drug list that supposedly includes judges.

“This will pave the way for a formal fact-finding and administrative investigation by the Supreme Court,” said SC Spokesman Brian Keith Hosaka in a news conference on Tuesday.

An administrative proceeding can result in disciplinary actions against judges.

Hosaka said the en banc decided on this step in light of “news reports about judges purportedly linked to the illegal drug trade.”

This is a slight departure from the response of former chief justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, who said the drug list makes judges “vulnerable and veritable targets.”

Sereno said in August 2016 that it was “premature” for President Rodrigo Duterte to announce the names of the judges at that time, which started the President’s word war against the former chief magistrate.

In December 2016, the SC cleared 3 judges for lack of evidence. Sereno would eventually be ousted less than two years later in an unprecedented quo warranto proceeding.

“The Supreme Court, like in the past, will and shall not tolerate any illegal or corrupt activities within its ranks,” Hosaka said.

As for the politicians in the so-called narco list, the Department of the Interior and Local Government has started filing official complaints before the Office of the Ombudsman.

The Office of the Ombudsman can proceed to resolve the administrative complaints, after which it can penalize the official if there is evidence.

Judges, meanwhile, are under the jurisdiction of the SC – a point that Sereno had always stressed during her term.

Human rights lawyer and senatorial candidate Chel Diokno said Duterte’s drug list, “in a single stroke, destroyed the independence of the judiciary.” – Rappler.com

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