Sereno asks De Lima to probe 'Ma'm Arlene'
MANILA - Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno has asked Justice Secretary Leila De Lima to probe the alleged existence of an influential fixer within the Judiciary named 'Ma'am Arlene.'
De Lima said Sereno made the request today, Monday, even as the Supreme Court (SC) Office of the Court Administrator (OCA), headed by Atty. Jose Midas Marquez, is already investigating the controversy.
Some have likened this 'Ma'am Arlene' to Janet Lim Napoles, the businesswoman tagged as the brains behind the multi-billion peso 'pork barrel' scam, although Marquez said this issue is different because there are no public funds involved.
De Lima said she has directed the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), an attached agency of the Department of Justice (DOJ), to undertake the parallel probe.
"This morning, actually, I had a meeting with Chief Justice [Maria Lourdes] Sereno. She called for me lalo na nung nabasa niya sa dyaryo na I said something na if the NBI would be asked by the Supreme Court, particularly, by the Chief Justice ay pwede kami mag-ibestiga.'
"So she formally requested already that, even if iniimbestigahan na rin daw yan ng SC through Court Administrator Midas, the Chief Justice still wants the NBI to do the investigation also," De Lima said.
De Lima said the issue must be looked into since it alleges corruption in the courts.
The controversy is being linked to the equally controversial election of officers of the Philippine Judges Association (PJA) recently, where 'Ma'am Arlene' was said to have worked her 'magic' to influence the selection process.
"Kailangan lang imbestigahan because it speaks of an alleged corruption within the Judiciary and key institutions of the justice system. And ganyan na nati-taint ang integrity, yung process of election and process of choosing the head of the judges association, then it's worth looking into.'
"May nakakarating na report kay Chief Justice na nagkaroon nga ng mga hindi kanais-nais na activities or para bang naging political game na these contenders in the Judiciary have resorted to mga dirty tactics... [that] can only be said to be present in political elections...'
"Nakarating na rin sa Judiciary, na hindi dapat. It's supposed to be a very professional organization, and, therefore, they're supposed to be immune from these foul tactics," De Lima said.
Although 'Ma'm Arlene' is also reportedly being linked to personalities in the DOJ and the Office of the Ombudsman, the justice chief said no such report has reached her office.
As of now, De Lima said she has the full name of this supposed influential "fixer," and tasked the NBI to verify the information.