The Supreme Court (SC) has dismissed a Siargao judge implicated by President Rodrigo Duterte as one of those with links to the narcotics trade, on charges of immorality and gross misconduct.
Ordered dismissed from the service for “gross misconduct and immorality” was Judge Exequil Dagala of the Municipal Circuit Trial Court (MCTC) in Dapa- Socorro towns in Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte.
In its decision promulgated on July 25, the court ordered the forfeiture of the judge’s retirement benefits and barred him from reinstatement or appointment to any public office.
The administrative cases against Dagala stemmed from a complaint filed in 2015 by a resident of San Isidro town , who witnessed the altercation involving his neighbors and Judge Dagala over a land dispute.
The incident which was caught on camera showed Dagala shouting invectives while brandishing an M-16 armalite rifle.
He was also accused of immorality for siring a child out of wedlock during the subsistence of his marriage.
In its ruling, the SC said Dagala’s actuation in connection with the Sept. 29, 2015 incident as recorded in the video “are unacceptable for a member of the bench and should merit a finding of administrative liability. This is without prejudice to any criminal action that may also be filed against him.”
The SC also pointed out that Immorality is a recognized ground for the discipline of judges and justices under the Rules of Court.
“The record is clear as evidenced by the certificate of live birth, showing Judge Dagala was father of the child as shown by his signature in the affidavit of acknowledgement of paternity and the date of birth was during the subsistence of his marriage to his legal wife,” it said.
The court said it does not “seek to interfere with a judge’s relationships” but nevertheless stressed that immorality is a valid ground for sanctioning members of the Judiciary because it challenges his or her capacity to dispense justice, erodes the faith and confidence of the public in the administration of justice, and impacts the judiciary’s legitimacy.
Dagala is one of the seven judges in the country mentioned by Duterte as one of those with links to the narcotics trade.
In August last year, Dagala submitted his irrevocable resignation before SC Administrator Jose Midas Marquez to dispel suspicion of partiality in any investigation that the government may conduct regarding his alleged involvement in the drug trade.
He vehemently denied any links to illegal drugs and said he was open to any lifestyle check.
The court turned down the resignation and eventually cleared the judge of involvement in illegal drugs trade for lack of evidence. By CLC