MANILA - The Supreme Court (SC) has ordered further investigation of four regional trial court (RTC) judges in connection with the high court's probe into the influence-peddling controversy hounding the judiciary, particularly the elections of the Philippine Judges Association (PJA) last October 2013.
In an en banc resolution dated July 22 but released to the media on Thursday, the high court directed the Court of Appeals (CA) to further investigate Judge Rommel Baybay of Makati RTC Branch 132, Judge Ralph Lee of Quezon City RTC Branch 83, Judge Marino Rubia of Binan, Laguna Branch 24, and Judge Lyliha Aquino of Manila RTC Branch 24.
The action taken was on the initial report of the SC Investigating Committee headed by Associate Justice Marvic Leonen.
The investigation ordered by the high court is "in relation to the findings of violations of our laws and rules in the conduct of the elections of the Philippine Judges Association (PJA) officers."
"The judges shall be investigated individually by different investigating justices. The Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeals is directed to raffle the investigation for each judge among the associate justices. The justices to whom this matter will be raffled to are ordered to conduct the investigation and submit a report and recommendation to this Court (SC) within 90 days from raffle," the resolution read.
The PJA elections became controversial after it was reported that its outcome was influenced by a certain 'Ma'am Arlene.'
The separate investigations will be conducted with confidentiality.
"The investigation(s) shall be conducted with utmost confidentiality and the report and recommendation shall be directly submitted to the Clerk of Court of the Supreme Court in a sealed envelope," the resolution read.
The high court also suspended the recognition of Lee and Aquino as president and secretary-general of PJA, respectively, and ordered the recall of Aquino as Acting Presiding Judge of Manila RTC Branch 24 and directed that she return to her former station, Tuguegarao RTC Branch 4.
The other recommendations of the investigating committee will be further deliberated and acted upon, in due time.