Judge's driver to be probed for alleged bribery
The Supreme Court (SC) has ordered an inventory of all cases handled by a Baguio City judge, who President Rodrigo Duterte publicly implicated last year in the illegal drugs trade.
The Office of the Court Administrator (OCA), led by lawyer Jose Midas Marquez, will conduct an inventory to determine whether the judge acquitted individuals in exchange for money.
This was contained in a 4-page resolution by the high court, as retired SC Associate Justice Roberto Abad completed his fact-finding investigation and submitted his findings and recommendations to the high court en banc.
In his report, Abad cited a sworn statement executed by a certain Melchora Nagen, who said Judge Antonio Reyes of the Baguio City Regional Trial Court Branch 1 had dismissed drug charges against her and other suspects in exchange for money.
Nagen claimed she obtained an acquittal and got out of detention by paying P50,000 through a certain Norma Domingo, a former drug detainee also acquitted by Reyes, who later used Nagen to allegedly negotiate payoffs from drug personalities charged before his sala.
Domingo also admitted that she issued a receipt for P300,000 that a certain Richard Lagunilla had given her allegedly to secure his acquittal.
Abad also cited an anonymous letter that alleged Reyes’ "pattern of bribery” in connection with Domingo’s activities. The sender claimed Reyes convicted his relatives for failure to raise the money asked of them.
Anti-narcotics agents from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) had planned in 2007 to entrap Reyes, but they did not proceed with the sting operation because alleged payments to the judge were made through his driver, according to Abad’s report.
The SC also ordered the OCA to investigate Reyes’ driver for bribery, and request the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to locate the witnesses named in the Abad report.
Abad earlier cleared 3 other judges publicly named by Duterte as part of his so-called “narco-list,” due to lack of evidence.