MANILA - Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo believes President Rodrigo Duterte's move to identify alleged 'narco-judges' poses an opportunity, instead of a threat, to the judiciary members.
This, after Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno advised "narco-judges' not to "surrender" to authorities without an arrest warrant.
She also called the announcement "premature," saying it ''will have the unwarranted effect of rendering the judge "veritably useless" in discharging his adjudicative role. ''
In response to Sereno, Panelo said the president's announcement will give the judges an opportunity to defend themselves.
"The announcement is to the Judges' advantage as it will give them the opportunity to clear their names thru the media rather than when cases are formally filed against them which will give them a short time to file their counter-affidavits, and preclude them from discussing their defense in public because it will become subjudice," he said.
Panelo added that Duterte is just doing his "duty to serve and protect the people" with his announcement.
"PRRD's (President Rodrigo Roa Duterte) announcing the names on the list of suspected drug lords, protectors and coddlers is pursuant to his constitutional duty to serve and protect the people," he said.
Included in the list of personalities named by Duterte are seven judges, namely, Lorenda Mupas of Dasmariñas, Cavite; Judge Antonio Reyes of Baguio City; Judge Adriano Savillo of Iloilo City; Judge Domingo Casiple of Kalibo, Aklan; Judge Rene Gonzales of Iloilo City; Judge Roberto Navidad of Calbayog City, Samar; and Judge Exequil Dagala of Dapa-Socorro, Surigao.
Sereno however noted that Navidad was killed on January 14, 2008 at the age of 69. Reports said Navidad had just come from a pharmacy when he was shot dead by a lone assailant.
DUTERTE'S LIST: 'Narco' politicos, lawmen, judges