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MANILA, Philippines – One of the judges named by President Duterte as a protector of drug lords has resigned from his post.
Judge Exequil Dagala of the Dapa-Socorro Municipal Circuit Trial Court in Surigao del Norte submitted his irrevocable resignation to the Supreme Court (SC), a day after Duterte identified him as one of seven judges who allegedly protected drug lords.
SC spokesman Theodore Te said the high court did not accept Dagala’s resignation.
Te said Dagala was facing an administrative investigation for other offenses, even before Duterte announced in public the names of the alleged “narco-judges.”
“He remains under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court as far as administrative discipline is concerned and will be subject to the fact-finding investigation to be conducted by retired Justice Roberto Abad,” Te said.
Aside from Dagala, the other judges in Duterte’s list were Adriano Savillo of the Iloilo City Regional Trial Court; Domingo Casiple of Kalibo, Aklan RTC and Antonio Reyes of Baguio City RTC.
Three other judges no longer with the judiciary were also on the list.
Among them were Roberto Navidad of Calbayog City, Samar RTC and Lorenda Mupas of Dasmariñas, Cavite Municipal Trial Court.
Navidad was killed by a lone assailant in January 2008 and Mupas was dismissed in 2007 for gross ignorance of the law.
The third judge, Rene Gonzales of Iloilo City MTCC, retired in June and had not handled any drug cases in his sala.
The high tribunal has suspended a judge that was not on Duterte’s list but who is also being linked to the illegal drug trade.
The SC refused to identify the judge, until after resolution of an administrative complaint that would be filed against him.
“The judge will be facing a formal administrative complaint and has been suspended until further notice. The identity cannot be revealed as administrative complaints are confidential in nature, until resolved,” Te said.
Meanwhile, the SC has taken back its order for the Palace to file administrative charges against Dagala, Salvillo, Casiple and Reyes.
The SC, instead, issued a revised resolution yesterday inviting the chiefs of Philippine National Police (PNP) and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) to submit complaint-affidavits or other information against the four judges.
Last week, the SC directed the Palace or Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea to submit formal complaint-affidavits against the judges within seven days for purposes of administrative investigation.
The high court gave PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa and PDEA director general Isidro Lapeña seven days from receipt of notice to file their complaints.
The high court treated as mere information President Duterte’s speech on Aug. 7 announcing the names of alleged “narco-judges.”
The SC clarified that the fact-finding investigation on the judges is now on its own initiative.
The high court retained its order for the four judges to submit their answers within seven days from receipt of the complaint to be submitted by the anti-narcotics authorities.
It reiterated that Abad would conduct the probe within 30 days from submission of the answers of the four judges.
The high tribunal ordered Abad and all its officials to observe strict confidentiality of the administrative proceedings.
Te refused to explain why the SC revised its resolution. He also did not say whether Dela Rosa and Lapeña could opt not to submit the complaints, since the word used in the resolution was “invite.”
Malacañang questioned the SC order for Medialdea to file complaints against the judges, citing separation of powers of the two co-equal branches of government.
Earlier, Duterte and Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno appeared to be at loggerheads due to the naming of judges as alleged drug coddlers.
Sereno opted to keep silent when Duterte lambasted her for questioning his public announcement.
The President later apologized, and she accepted the apology.
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