SC to receive report on judicial corruption probe by early 2014

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Friday, December 13, 2013

A COMMITTEE tasked by the Supreme Court (SC) to investigate alleged reports of corruption and influence peddling in the judiciary will submit its initial findings to the justices within six months since the probe started last October.

In a statement, the SC Ad Hoc Committee headed by Associate Justice Marvic Leonen asked for public understanding after three newspapers published a photo on Friday of alleged decision-broker Arlene Angeles Lerma attending a party for a retired judge.

The panel said the photo is just one of many documents and pieces of information they are looking into as it reminded the media to find the "right balance" between informing the public and the importance of allowing the committee to do its job well.

"[D]etermining the truth is often not achieved by a mad rush based on incomplete pictures, suggestive images or unsubstantiated contexts. It is best achieved by a sober, clear, complete and independent look at the entire context. This is what the committee has committed to do," it said.

Since its formation, the committee has met almost every week and summoned resource persons such as Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez, Deputy Court Administrators Raul Villanueva and Jenny Lind Delorino.

It has also received many documents and photographs, information and tips coming from official as well as unofficial sources.

"We continue to appreciate those who have the courage to come forward to enable the committee to do its work and hence assist the Supreme Court do its work to deliver justice," the committee said.

Assisting Leonen in the committee, which collates the findings of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), the Court of Appeals (CA) and the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA), are retired Associate Justices Alicia Austria-Martinez and Romeo Callejo, Jr.

The newspaper report said Lerma was the "Ma'am Arlene" who asked favorable rulings for her wealthy clients by throwing parties and showering gifts to the appellate court justices, judges and their relatives.

"Ma'am Arlene" was also said to have influenced the results of the elections for the presidency of the Philippine Judges Association (PJA) last October after spending for the accommodation of some 50 judges in a Makati hotel.

Lerma has not yet returned to the country since leaving for Singapore on October 16 to receive treatment for a serious illness, according to Bureau of Immigration. (Sunnex)

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