3 judges’ take on corruption sought
The administrator of the Supreme Court has asked three candidates for president of the Philippine Judges Association (PJA) to comment on allegations that three individuals linked to rumors of corruption in the judiciary had “booked rooms in a posh hotel in Makati for judges [to persuade these judges] to vote for” one of the candidates.
Justice Midas Marquez, the head of the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA), said the OCA had been monitoring the corruption reports as early as September and conducting a discreet investigation.
He said the initial investigation showed that the talk involving the judges began during the start of the campaign for the PJA presidential election which was held last Wednesday.
“It appears that all of these are related to the recently concluded elections of the PJA even before [the OCA issued] a circular reiterating the guidelines of the conduct of the election of judges associations, particularly the prohibited acts and practices relative to elections,” he said.
Marquez said he had asked the three candidates—Judge Ralph Lee of Quezon City, Judge Rommel Baybay of Makati City, Judge Felix Reyes of Marikina City—to submit their comment on the allegations of irregularities related to the PJA election.
After the three judges submit their comments, Marquez said the OCA would look into at least three people who have been linked to the alleged corruption in the judiciary.
“We are looking into three individuals and we will ask them to give their side after the PJA candidates have submitted their comments on the allegations,” he said.
Marquez declined to name the three individuals as he said it would be unfair to persons who could be innocent.
The high court administrator stressed that no government funds were involved in the alleged corruption.
“The report was an exaggeration because in the first place no government funds could be involved,” Marquez said in a phone interview.
He said the investigation is still continuing even if the elections have been concluded.
He said that at the conclusion of the PJA election where Lee emerged as the winner, he told the judges that with all the controversies involving the executive and the legislative branches, “it was the judiciary’s chance to rise above the fray.”
He said he had informed Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno of the investigation and will submit the results to her.
In a speech before the Philippine Bar Association recently, Sereno called on the lawyers to be whistle-blowers and identify the corrupt judges and other members of the judiciary.
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