Supreme Court grants clemency to Quezon City’s ‘jet ski’ judgeBy Jerome Aning
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—The Supreme Court has granted judicial clemency to a Quezon City judge who was earlier fined for his failure to decide on pending cases within the period required by law.
In a full court ruling signed by Felipa Anama, deputy clerk of court, the high court approved Judge Ralph Lee’s request for judicial clemency, which would make him eligible for nomination or appointment to a higher post in the judicial department.
“As the penalty of fine we imposed on Judge Lee exceeds P10,000, he is disqualified for appointment to any judicial post or as Ombudsman or Deputy Ombudsman unless judicial clemency is granted by the court under … [JBC rule],” the ruling noted.
The high court said it “now deems it fair, appropriate and timely to open the door to Judge Lee to allow him to seek further opportunities in the judiciary.”
Lee, a former agent of the National Bureau of Investigation, is known to be aspiring for the position of former NBI Director Magtanggol Gatdula who has been relieved of his post.
In March 2009, the Supreme Court fined Lee P20,000 after finding out that he had left several cases undecided when he was promoted from Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 38 judge to RTC Branch 83 judge. The justices found Lee liable for his failure to decide the cases within the period required by law.
The court also warned Lee that the repetition of the same or similar offense would be dealt with more severely.
It noted that Lee’s monthly report on August 2005 stated that he had no more pending cases in the MeTC. However, the court administrator found out that there were eight cases that Lee had failed to decide which he did not include in his report.
In a request dated Feb. 1, 2012, Lee appealed for judicial clemency, saying he was now at the point of his career where he is qualified to aspire for a higher position in the judiciary.
He said the sanction imposed on him “precludes him from qualifying for a promotion in the judiciary, or from being appointed to any similar government office where appointment is governed by the rules of the Judicial and Bar Council.”
Lee gained fame in September 2009 when he used his jet ski to rescue over 100 people in Novaliches, Quezon City, who were stranded on rooftops due to the floods spawned by Tropical Storm “Ondoy.”