A group of judges who lost in the last Philippine Judges Association (PJA) elections was reportedly sowing intrigues against fellow magistrates by disseminating photos of judges and justices with the controversial “Arlene,” the woman reputed to fix court cases.
A highly reliable source in the judiciary told The Manila Times a defeated candidate in the PJA polls circulated the pictures of magistrates posing with Arlene Lerma taken at a celebration for the retiring Deputy Court Administrator Antonio Eugenio in Manila last year.
The source said a losing candidate from Metro Manila handed the picture to a provincial judge who was also defeated in the elections. Copies of the photo were distributed to other judiciary officials and the media.
The defeated PJA judges are said to enjoy the backing of a big law firm.
The candidates for the PJA presidency were Judge Ralph Lee of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC), Judge Rommel Baybay of the Makati RTC and Judge Felix Reyes of the Marikina RTC. Lee won the elections.
Supreme Court Justice Marvic Leonen headed the committee looking into the “Arlene” issue.
The source said the Leonen committee is investigating Lerma and one Arlene Frias from the Court of Appeals.
The Times tried to reach Frias but she refused to answer the phone or reply to text messages. Lerma is out of the country.
In a statement, Eugenio, a former Manila RTC Judge, admitted that the photo was taken during his retirement on November 20, 2012. He defended his fellow magistrates who were in the photos.
“The photo was taken during my retirement celebration of November 20, 2012. I was a prosecutor for eight years and a judge for 16 years before being promoted Deputy Court Administrator. During all those years, I developed many friendships among my peers. I have known them from way back even before they became justices,” Eugenio said.
He said he first met Lerma through Vice Mayor Isko Moreno of Manila.
Eugenio said he sought the assistance of Moreno in 2007 “when I became the first Manila Judge to be elected President of the Philippine Judges Association.”
Lerma “was always tasked by the Vice Mayor to give a helping hand to judges. In 2009, I was re-elected so each time I would ask for assistance from the Vice Mayor, the latter would instruct Arlene to take care of the matter for him. So Arlene and I became friends,” he said.
“Those who impute malice are simply malicious,” Eugenio said.