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MANILA, Philippines -- Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno said they will use the high tribunal's disciplinary powers to punish judges and court personnel engaged in corrupt practices.
“We are aware that corruption is an obstacle to development. It is a complex problem which has to be confronted through a variety of independent initiatives to strengthen integrity and prevent opportunities for corruption among members of the judiciary. One flank in this battle against corruption is the Supreme Court’s use of its disciplinary powers,” Sereno said.
From 2012 to date, the Supreme Court has dismissed 12 judges and one Sandiganbayan justice; suspended 13; fined 88; reprimanded 18; admonished 31; and forfeited the benefits of three.
She noted that 31 lawyers have also been disbarred; 194 suspended from the practice of law; 30 suspended from the practice of law and notarial practice; eight suspended from notarial practice; 32 reprimanded; three fined and reprimanded; 80 admonished; two censured; six warned; 313 fined and warned; 16 ordered arrested; and one dropped and stricken off the roll of attorneys – all for a total of 716 penalized lawyers since 2012.
Sereno said for lower court employees, since 2010, the SC has admonished 42; forfeited the benefits of 35; censured two; dismissed 116 from service; fined 240; reprimanded 221; and suspended 227.
She added that three of the most famous administrative investigations have been done "on our own initiative, or motu proprio, without a formal complainant".
She said she will be proposing more proactive and preventive measures against corruption.
“It is true that our people must have a reason to trust its government. That is why the Judiciary has been working harder than ever before. My earnest request is that our four-year effort to reform the judiciary and the justice system, and to bring about an era of honest service by the members of the bench and bar, be supported in the same way that any genuine reform effort in whatever sector must be supported. We have only one country to serve,” said Sereno.
Meanwhile, the Chief Justice also noted that from 2013 to date, the Court of Appeals (CA) has issued only a single temporary restraining order (TRO) against a government infrastructure project.
She said that in 2015, out of the 2,039 petitions for a TRO on various subject matters, only 50 TROs (none involving any government infrastructure project) were issued by the CA, or about 2.45 percent; and the Supreme Court since 2012 has only issued one TRO against a government infrastructure project.
She explained that since the 1990s, the Court has issued seven circulars to all its 2,400 lower courts reminding them of the prohibition in issuing TROs and writ of preliminary injunctions (WPIs) against government infrastructure projects.
"We are still at the preliminary stage of getting TRO data from the lower courts. Our initial impression is that the TROs being issued by the lower courts are not against government infrastructure projects,” she noted.
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