THE PRESIDENT’S list of “narco-officials” appears to be in need of further revalidation as it included a judge who died eight years ago and another magistrate already dismissed from service.
Four military personnel on the list are no longer connected with the Armed Forces of the Philippines, while a former spokesman of the Iloilo City mayor was mistakenly listed as a party-list representative.
Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno listed the names of seven judges mentioned by Duterte last Sunday as well as their status, in a letter of explanation to the President on Monday.
They are Judge Lorenda Mupas, Judge Roberto Navidad, Judge Rene Gonzales, Judge Exequil Dagala, Judge Adriano Savillo, Judge Domingo Casiple and Judge Antonio Reyes.
Sereno told Duterte that Navidad, formerly of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 32 in Calbayog City, Samar, died in 2008 at the age of 69.
Mupas was dismissed in 2007 as judge of Dasmariñas, Cavite “for gross ignorance of the law/misconduct,” while Gonzales, formerly of the Metropolitan Trial Court (MTC) Branch 7 in Iloilo City, “compulsorily retired” in June 2016.
Sereno said three judges, Dagala of the MTC in Dapa-Socorro, Surigao; Savillo of RTC Branch 30 in Iloilo City; and Casiple of RTC Branch 7 in Kalibo, Aklan do not have jurisdiction over drug cases.
Only Reyes of RTC Branch 61 in Baguio City hears cases involving illegal drugs, she added.
Sereno told Duterte “it would be helpful to know the specifics on how judges without jurisdiction over drugs cases influence the drug trade in their localities.”
“The Court would consider it important to know the source and basis of any allegation that specific judges are involved in the illegal drugs trade in line with its duty to exercise administrative supervision over all lower courts,” she added.
While the judiciary supports Duterte in its fight against drugs, naming a judge as protector of illegal drug traders renders him “veritably useless in discharging his adjudicative role,” Sereno said.
She also expressed concern that judges may become targets of vigilante killings because of the President’s “premature public announcement.”
The Supreme Court however is investigating a report on a judge allegedly linked to drugs, but he is not on Duterte’s list, Sereno said.
Also on Monday, Col. Edgard Arevalo, chief of the AFP Public Affairs Office, said four military personnel on Duterte’s list—Cpl. Alfrenz Gurias Abedin, Pfc. Dalimama Ipad, Pfc. Philip Miro and militiaman Casimiro Castro—have long been discharged from the service.
Another military figure on the list, former brigadier general Leoncio Daniega, died on May 8, 2010.
Records from the AFP Pensions and Gratuity Management Center showed that Daniega retired from the service in December 1994.
Others remain at large.
“We are still in the process of determining the whereabouts of SSgt. Vic de la Cruz and Cpl. Cusinan Lopez. The AFP is checking with other units that may have SSgt. de la Cruz and Lopez in their roster,” Arevalo said.
In Iloilo City, officials noted that Jeffrey Celis, a former spokesman of the mayor, never became a party-list representative.
Senate President Pro-Tempore Franklin Drilon, who hails from Iloilo, said the President’s shame campaign was not based on evidence.
“It is based on intelligence reports, which may or may not be true. In fact the President admitted that,” he said in a radio interview.