THE Supreme Court (SC) has ordered the dismissal from service of a Surigao Del Norte Judge for siring a child with a woman other than his wife and for pointing a gun at his neighbor.
In its decision dated July 25, the SC found Judge Exequil Dagala of the Municipal Circuit Trial Court of Dapa, Surigao Del Norte, guilty of immorality and gross misconduct for acts that violated the lawyers Code of Ethics.
The SC has likewise disqualified Dagala from re-employment in all public offices and ordered the forfeiture of his retirement and other benefits except accrued leave credits.
The case against Dagala stemmed from a complaint filed by an anonymous person to the Office of the Ombudsman in 2015.
The unidentified complainant who is a resident of San Isidro, Siargao Island, Surigao Del Norte, had witnessed how Dagala threatened his neighbor with an M-16 rifle during a land dispute.
The complainant had taped the said altercation.
Upholding the findings of the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA), the High Court said that there was sufficient evidence to hold Dagala accountable for gross misconduct in connection with the September 29, 2015 incident.
The OCA identified the man brandishing the high-powered rifle in the video as Dagala, who had also failed to deny the allegations.
The SC said that Dagala's actions as recorded in the video "are unacceptable for a member of the bench and should merit a finding of administrative liability."
Likewise, the high court agreed with OCA's findings that Dagala was guilty of immorality for siring a child out of wedlock while his marriage is still in effect.
The SC stressed that it does not "seek to interfere with a judge's relationships" but underscored that immorality is a valid ground for sanctioning members of the Judiciary.
In August last year, President Rodrigo Duterte identified Dagala as one of the judges involved in illegal drug trading in the country.
After an investigation, the SC cleared Dagala of any involvement in illegal drugs due to the absence of evidence.
The SC earlier vowed to revisit the case should evidence against Dagala, and the other judges identified by the President surface. (SunStar Philippines)