The Supreme Court (SC) has turned down the resignation of one of the four active judges linked by President Rodrigo Duterte to the illegal drug trade.
High court spokesman Theodore Te, in a press conference on Tuesday, said Judge Exiquil Dagala of the Municipal Trial Court of Dapa-Socorro, Surigao submitted his irrevocable resignation to Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez on August 8, a day after the President exposed to the public the names of policemen, soldiers, local officials, and judges who are allegedly protectors of illegal drug traders.
However, the 15-man tribunal refused to accept the resignation because Dagala was already under investigation for other irregularities before his name was mentioned by the President.
“He remains under the jurisdiction of the Court as far as administrative discipline is concerned and will be subject to the fact-finding investigation to be conducted by retired SC Justice Roberto Abad,” Te told reporters.
Dagala is one of the four active judges being investigated by the high court in connection with the illegal drug trade. The others are Antonio Reyes (Baguio City, Regional Trial Court or RTC Branch 61), Adriano Savillo (Iloilo City, RTC Branch 30) and Domingo Casiple (Kalibo, Aklan, RTC Branch 7).
Te also announced that an unnamed judge being probed by the high court for links to illegal drugs had been suspended.
“The judge will be facing a formal administrative complaint and has already been suspended until further notice. The identity cannot be revealed as administrative complaints are confidential in nature until resolved,” he said.
The unidentified judge is not on the list read by Duterte on August 7 in Davao City, Te said.
Sereno was surprised by the announcement of the President and expressed her reservations, saying on August 8 that the accused judges should not turn themselves in without a warrant of arrest.
In response, Duterte threatened to declare Martial law or defy judicial orders. Sereno refused to be drawn to a word war and Duterte later apologized publicly to the Chief Justice for his “harsh” words.
PNP, PDEA ordered to produce evidence
Also on Tuesday, the Supreme Court gave seven days to Philippine National Police Director General Ronald
“Bato” de la Rosa and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director General Isidro Lapeña to back up the accusations against the four judges through affidavits or other information.
When information is submitted, the four judges will be required to file their answers, the court said.
The documents will form part of the investigation to be done by Abad, who was directed, along with court officials and other parties, to treat the proceedings with confidentiality.
The tribunal also directed the clerk of court en banc or any division clerks of court to administer oaths to any witness against the judges.
Abad was required to submit findings in a month.