Body formed to probe judicial corruption

Posted on October 18, 2013

THE SUPREME COURT (SC) has formed a committee to probe the circulating stories of alleged corruption in the Judiciary involving certain influence peddlers.

SC spokesperson Theodore O. Te said in a press briefing yesterday that Associate Justice Mario Victor “Marvic” F. Leonen will head the committee that will investigate the alleged influence peddlers in the Judiciary named “Ma’am Arlene.”

Two retired high court justices to be named by Mr. Leonen will be the members of the committee.

“Arlene” is said to be a fixer within the Judiciary who allegedly influence the outcome of certain cases.

She was also implicated in the alleged corrupt acts during the election of a judges’ association.

The SC spokesperson said Mr. Leonen’s committee would consolidate the parallel probes of the SC’s Office of the Court Administrator, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) as requested by Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes P.A. Sereno, and the Court of Appeals initiated by Presiding Justice Andres B. Reyes, Jr.

The NBI probe’s findings would be submitted to Mr. Leonen’s committee.

Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Leila M. de Lima inhibited herself from the NBI probe due to pending contempt and disbarment cases before the Supreme Court.

Instead, Ms. de Lima instructed Acting NBI Director Medardo G. De Lemos to form a “dedicated team” to investigate the alleged influence peddlers.

Ms. Sereno earlier requested NBI to do an investigation for the “possible violation of applicable criminal laws” in the recent election of the officers of the Philippine Judges Association (PJA).

The Chief Justice’s request also included the identity of private individuals who, on its face, appear to have influenced “specific members of the Judiciary in the outcome of specific cases” which may appear in the course of the investigation.

Court Administrator Jose Midas P. Marquez earlier said he has been discreetly investigating the issue as early as the first week of September when the issue first came up.

He added he already issued a circular reiterating the guidelines and prohibited acts during the election of judges’ associations.

As this developed, the SC also ordered a Sandiganbayan justice and four other lawyers to comment on their alleged relations with businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, the purported mastermind of the pork barrel scam where congressional funds were allegedly diverted to bogus nongovernment organizations.

Anti-graft Justice Gregory S. Ong and lawyers Mark Oliveros, Editha Talaboc, Raymond Gerardo Tansip and Joshua Lapuz were given 10 days to submit their comment in relation to their alleged involvement with Ms. Napoles.

The SC directive was based on sworn allegations made by whistle-blowers Benhur K. Luy and Marina Sula in a Senate Blue Ribbon committee hearing on Sept. 26. -- Mikhail Franz E. Flores