MANILA (UPDATE) – A Supreme Court (SC) investigating body has summoned a certain Arlene Angeles Lerma, one of the alleged ''Ma'am Arlenes'' accused of peddling influence in the judiciary.
The SC Ad Hoc Committee, chaired by SC Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, ordered Lerma to attend its 14th session.
"In its forthcoming 14th meeting, the Committee has invited Ms. Arlene Angeles Lerma, among other resource persons, to attend. It has served its invitation to Ms. Lerma at her last known address and also through other persons who know Ms. Lerma personally," the SC public information office said.
Lerma has been dubbed as the Janet Lim Napoles of the judiciary. She is one of at least three persons tagged as "Ma'am Arlene," who influences judges into handing out decisions "for a price."
"Ma'am Arlene" also allegedly influenced the outcome of the elections for Philippine Judges Association (PJA) officers.
A column by Philippine Star's Jarius Bondoc earlier said Ma'am Arlene also supposedly "throws birthday bashes for Appellate Court justices and trial court judges, and bankrolls their family junkets abroad."
Bondoc described Arlene as the "magistrates' go-to girl if they need to give an offspring an expensive graduation or wedding gift. She makes them dependent on her, for a reason."
SC Administrator Midas Marquez had revealed that the high court was looking into three possible "Ma'am Arlenes."
Marquez said initial findings point to a clerk from the Court of Appeals, a former employee at Manila Regional Trial Court, and a known contact from Manila City Hall.
A photo obtained by the media, meanwhile, showed Lerma rubbing elbows with some judges and justices. A Philippine Star report said the photo was taken during the retirement of Deputy Court Administrator Antonio Eugenio Jr. on Nov. 20, 2012.
Eugenio said Lerma was a former staff of Manila Vice Mayor Isko Moreno. He told STAR that the presence of members of the judiciary in the event with Lerma was only coincidental.
Moreno, for his part, admitted that he is indeed a friend of one of the persons being tagged as "Ma'am Arlene." He noted that the Arlene he knows works for the private sector.
The SC committee, composed of Leonen and retired SC Associate Justices Alicia Austria-Martinez and Romeo Callejo Sr., has already accepted sworn statements from 32 resource persons from the judiciary and other government bodies in its 13 sessions.
It said its proceedings and deliberations are confidential but are on record in order "to allow greater freedom on the part of resource persons to speak and to give the Committee members the flexibility to probe more deeply."
"It (committee) has also received many documents, photographs, and reports as well as information and tips, many of them coming from official as well as unofficial sources," the SC PIO said.
"The Committee has also been relying on information provided by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), which has been in close coordination with the Investigating Committee."
The committee is expected to submit its preliminary report to the SC, sitting as a full court, in the summer session next month.