THE Supreme Court has exonerated the three judges President Duterte implicated in the illegal drugs trade.
The high tribunal cleared the three judges after the agencies tasked to present evidence against them -- the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) -- have failed to submit any proof to substantiate Duterte’s claim.
Cleared were Judges Exequil Dagala of the Dapa-Socorro, Surigao municipal circuit trial court; Adriano Savillo Iloilo City regional trial court; Domingo Casiple of Kalibo, Aklan RTC.
“We affirm our commitment not to shirk from our responsibility of imposing disciplinary action upon any erring judicial officer or personnel. Yet we must also be steadfast in our undertaking to not be the instrument that destroys the reputation of any member of the bench by pronouncing guilt based on speculation,” the high court said.
It was retired SC Associate Justice Roberto Abad who conducted the investigation but terminated the inquiry against the judges for the state’s lack of interest to prosecute.
The SC en banc affirmed Abad’s recommendation.
“Acting on his Report, the Court found that no prima facie case has been established against the said judges. It was constrained to terminate the investigation considering that despite repeated pleas, the PDEA insisted that no witness is willing to come forward and that it has exhausted the documentary evidence it can submit,” the high court said.
Also, the high court bewailed that the premature disclosure of the names of the judges have put their lives in danger and damaged their reputation.
“The Court also noted that the judges had been placed in danger and that their reputations had been damaged by the premature announcement of their alleged involvement in the drug trade which the investigation had revealed as unwarranted,” the high court said.