SC creates panel to probe 'Ma'am Arlene'
MANILA (UPDATE) - The Supreme Court (SC), in its en banc session on Thursday, created a committee chaired by Associate Justice Marvic Leonen to investigate the alleged case-fixing within the judiciary by a certain "Ma'am Arlene."
This move came on the heels of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno's request for the Department of Justice (DOJ), through Justice Secretary Leila De Lima, to probe the controversy.
Leonen's committee, which will include two retired SC justices to be named by him, will consolidate the reports from the separate investigations being conducted by the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA), Court of Appeals (CA), and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), which De Lima tasked to undertake the justice department's probe.
De Lima, for her part, has inhibited from the NBI probe due to the pendency of contempt and disbarment proceedings against her in connection with the travel ban against former President Gloria Arroyo and her husband, Mike.
Court Administrator Midas Marquez earlier said rumors of an alleged Napoles-type scandal in the judiciary perpetrated by an alleged 'Ma'm Arlene' are greatly exaggerated.
He said that first of all, there are no public funds involved in the alleged transactions and that when they checked the facts of reports of 50 rooms being booked in a hotel, it turned out to be false.
He said that the report started as a smear campaign against someone aspiring for the presidency of the Philippine Judges Association (PJA), which was picked up by some columnists.
The rumors were published in the Daily Tribune on September 12, then Bandera on September 27, then in the Philippine Star on Thursday but there are no last names.
He said that he is now investigating the matter and that based on the initial findings, the issue started because of the hotly contested PJA elections that concluded the other day.
Marquez said that the investigation is moving and that before people will be named, they have to conduct a more extensive investigation.
He said that there are three different "Arlenes" being looked into in the investigation. Initial findings pointed to a clerk from the Court of Appeals, a former employee at the Manila Regional Trial Court, and a known contact from Manila City Hall.