Disbarment case vs ex-lawmakers junked

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THE Supreme Court (SC) has junked a disbarment complaint against two former congressmen stemming from charges against suspected Cebu drug lord Calvin de Jesus Tan.

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In a full-court ruling promulgated by Clerk of Court Felipa Anama, the tribunal dismissed the administrative charges against former House members Roque Ablan Jr. and Antonio Cuenco for being unmeritorious as it declared the case closed and terminated.

In September 2004, a raid by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) on a suspected shabu laboratory in Mandaue City, Cebu, led to the arrest of 11 suspects whom the local media collectively referred to as the “Shabu 11.”

They were charged before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Mandaue for violation of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, which was raffled to Branch 28 Judge Marilyn Yap.

Later, Ablan and Cuenco in their respective official capacities as the chairman and vice chairman of the House Committee on Dangerous Drugs went to Mandaue City Jail to conduct an investigation of the “Shabu 11.”

With PDEA Regional Director Amado Marquez Jr., they filed a joint affidavit with the Office of the City Prosecutor stating that a certain Calvin de Jesus Tan (a.k.a. Lin Chui Wi or Joey Lin) had financed the establishment and operations of the alleged shabu lab.

An amended information against the “Shabu 11,” that included Tan as accused, was later filed before the RTC.

The judge issued an arrest order against Tan that also led to the cancellation of his passport.

Tan’s counsel, lawyer Gloria Lastimosa-Dalawampu, subsequently filed a complaint against the two lawmakers.

But in its resolution, the court held that Ablan and Cuenco should not be disciplined for their conduct in relation to the discharge of their duties as members of the dangerous drugs committee.

“In line with the principle of separation of powers, we cannot overstep our boundaries in order to inquire into the conduct of the respondents as members of Congress,” it said.

“At any rate, we cannot find any transgressions committed by respondents of their lawyer’s oath and the ethical norms as members of the legal profession,” the SC added.

The ruling was promulgated last April 18 but was released to the media only recently.

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