The majority in the Sangguniang Panlalawigan has approved a resolution asking the Supreme Court for the immediate relief of Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 43 Presiding Judge Lelu P. Contreras, who is also the Executive Judge and acting presiding judge of RTC Branch 42, for lack of trust and confidence.
Sponsored by PBM Giovanni Balmadrid, the resolution is co-sponsored by PBMs Arnel Turado, Jose Romeo Francisco, Lorenzo Templonuevo Jr., Gregorio Angeles and Joseph Al Randie Wong.
The main reason for the ouster move appears to be the discovery of the shabu laboratory in Palta Small last Nov. 26, 2016.
According to the PBMs, “because of the unreasonable delay in the issuance of the search warrant being applied for with the RTC of Catanduanes under Judge Lelu P. Contreras, the alleged maintainer/owner/operator of the aforesaid shabu laboratory had escaped before a search warrant could be served so that the people of Catanduanes are now confused as to who will divulge the true information about the existence of said shabu.”
It cited the judge’s statement on the issue that was published in the Tribune, her appearance before the recent House Committee on Dangerous Drugs public hearing to explain the matter and where “she lied before the committee when she denied having been to the site of the laboratory but later admitted that she did.”
The PBMs also pointed to her violation of the constitutional limitation which prohibits members of the Supreme Court and of other courts from being designated to any agency performing quasi-judicial or administrative function when she accepted the post of vice chairperson of the Technical Working Group (TWG) of the Community-Based Treatment and Rehabilitation Program (CBTRP) of the province pursuant to Executive Order No. 20, series of 2016. They cited a function of the TWG to submit completion reports of surrendering drug users to the judiciary.
The resolution also heavily quoted large portions of a Jule 2015 Tribune column of Atty. Romulo Atencia as proof of numerous reports of Judge Contreras’ lack of impartiality in the delivery of justice.
“Judge Contreras’ transgression or violation of the provisions of the Code of Judicial Conduct is evident,” the SP stated, citing the provision of the code which states that a judge should uphold the integrity and independence of the judiciary, avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all activities and shall not accept appointment or designation to any agency performing quasi-judicial or administrative functions.
“In view of the foregoing particularly the said unnecessary delay in the issuance of search warrant having been deliberately committed tp the detriment of all Catandunganons, and the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Catanduanes has eventually lost its trust and confidence to the Executive and Presiding Judge Hon. Lelu P. Contreras of the Regional Trial Court Braches (sic) 42 & 43, and because of this, her relief from said position is a fitting disciplinary action from the High Court and is truly in line with the thrust of the Duterte’s presidency in getting rid of all undeserving government officials under his administration,” the SP emphasized.
Copies of the measure are to be sent to the Supreme Court, Pres. Rodrigo Duterte, Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Governor Joseph Cua and Vice Governor Shirley Abundo.
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We hope to have the news releases, which are accommodated for free, published by next week.
THE PET FLIES. A couple shared their apartment with a parakeet. Since the exterminator was due to come, they put the parakeet in the bedroom and hung a sign on the door: “Please skip this room. Do not open door. Pet flies.”
The exterminator came, and on his receipt he wrote: “Finished all of apartment except room with pet flies.”