Sunday, November 3, 2019

The Supreme Court has issued En Banc Resolution AM 18-01-05-SC on October 25, 2018, creating the Judicial Integrity Board and the Corruption Prevention and Corruption Office.

See -

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Hoodlums in robes
By Atty. Lorna Patajo-Kapunan
-October 28, 2019

Our Supreme Court has administrative supervision over all courts and the personnel thereof and has the power to discipline judges of lower courts, or order their dismissal by a vote of a majority of the members who actually took part in the deliberations on the issues in the case and voted thereon (Article VIII, Section 6 & 7, 1987 Constitution).

Pursuant thereto, the SC issued its En Banc Resolution (AM 18-01-05-SC) on October 25, 2018, creating the Judicial Integrity Board and the Corruption Prevention and Corruption Office, a permanent body with exclusive jurisdiction to investigate judicial misconduct and to recommend appropriate sanctions when proper. The JIB is composed of a chairman, and vice chairman who must be retired justices of the SC, and three regular members, who must be retired justices of the Court of Appeals (CA), Sandiganbayan or Court of Tax Appeals (CTA). The JIB serves for a term of three years without reappointment.

Proceedings for the discipline of Justices of the Sandiganbayan, CTA and judges and personnel of the lower courts, including the Sharia Courts, and the officials and employees of the Office of the Jurisconsult, Court Administrator, Deputy Court Administrator, Assistant Court Administrator and their personnel, may be instituted, motu proprio,by the SC, in the JIB. It may also be instituted by way of a verified complaint, supported by affidavits of persons who have personal knowledge of the facts alleged therein; or, by authentic documents which may substantiate said allegations, or upon an anonymous complaint, supported by public records of indubitable integrity (Section 1, AM 15-01-05 SC).

Complaints involving graft and corruption, and violations of ethical standards, including anonymous complaints, filed against members of the SC shall be referred to the Committee on Ethics and Ethical Standards which shall have the task of preliminarily investigating and of submitting its findings and recommendations to the SC en banc, in accordance with the Internal Rules of the SC (AM 10-4-20-SC).

Disciplinary actions or proceedings initiated by the SC, motu proprio, or on the basis of a verified or anonymous complaint, records or documents/papers filed with or submitted to the SC or, on the basis of newspaper or media reports, shall be docketed, in the SC, as a regular administrative matter, for appropriate final action of the SC in the absence of substantial factual issues (Section 4, AM 18-01-05-SC).

Disciplinary actions shall be instituted, motu proprio,by the JIB, in the SC, against any of those mentioned in Section 1 (1) on account of a conviction, of any of them, by the Sandiganbayan, or by the regular or special courts, or on account of any charge in the Sandiganbayan, or in a regular or special court for a felony or a crime defined by a speciallaw. The JIB shall submit a report of such conviction or criminal action to the SC, within 10 days from knowledge thereof, with a recommendation that the report be deemed, by the SC, as an administrative complaint against the said court official, and docketed as a regular administrative case and for the JIB to conduct an administrative investigation thereof.

Administrative charges that may be filed with the JIB may be serious, less serious, and light charges under Rule 140, Sections 21 to 24 entitled, “Discipline of Judges of Regular and Special Courts, Justices of the CA, Sandiganbayan, CTA, Court Administrator, Deputy Court Administer and Assistant Court Administrator.” These include the following:

Serious charges:

1. Bribery, direct or indirect;

2. Dishonesty and violations of the anti-graft and corrupt practices law (RA 3019);

3. Gross misconduct constituting violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct;

4. Knowingly rendering an unjust judgment or order as determined by a competent court in an appropriate proceeding;

5. Conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude;

6. Willful failure to pay just debt;

7. Borrowing money or property from lawyers and litigants in a case pending before the court;

8. Immorality;

9. Gross ignorance of the law or procedure;

10. Partisan political activities; and

11. Alcoholism and/or vicious habits.

Less serious charge:

1. Undue delay in rendering a decision or order, or in transmitting the records of a case;

2. Frequently and unjustified absences without leave or habitual tardiness;

3. Unauthorized practice of law;

4. Violation of Supreme Court rules, directives, and circulars;

5. Receiving additional or double compensation unless specifically
authorized by law;

6. Untruthful statements in the certificate of services; and

7. Simple Misconduct

Light charges:

1. Vulgar and unbecoming

2. Gambling in public;

3. Fraternizing with lawyers and litigants with pending case/cases in his court; and

4. Undue delay in the submission of monthly reports.

Rule 140 (ibid) provides the following sanctions:

A. If the respondent is guilty of a serious charge, any of the following sanctions may be imposed:

1. Dismissal from the service, forfeiture of all or part of the benefits as the Court may determine, and disqualification from reinstatement or appointment to any public office, including government-owned or controlled corporations. Provided, however,that the forfeiture of benefits shall in no case include accrued leave credits;

2. Suspension from office without salary and other benefits for more than three but not exceeding six months; or

3. A fine of more than P20,000 but not exceeding P40,000.

B. If the respondent is guilty of a less serious charge, any of the following sanctions shall be imposed:

1. Suspension from office without salary and other benefits for not less than one month nor more than three months; or

2. A fine of not more than P10,000 but not exceeding P20,000.

C. If the respondent is guilty of a light charge, any of the following sanctions shall be imposed:

1 A fine of not lessthan P1,000 but not exceeding P10,000 and/or

2. Censure;

3. Reprimand;

4. Admonition with warning

In support of the initiative of the SC of creating the JIB to ensure that “members of the Judiciary must be of proven competence, integrity, probity and independence” the private sector has responded “in kind” by the creation in 2012 and officially established in 2015, of its own Judicial Reform Initiative, a multi-organization group composed of such business organizations as Management Association of the Philippines, Institute of Corporate Directors, Financial Executives of the Philippines, Makati Business Club Foreign Chambers, law schools and other advocacy NGOs. The JRI “aims to be the voice of the private sector in seeking an effective and efficient justice system.”

I am now on my 40th year of law practice. Hopefully, I will see the day when hoodlums in robes get the justice they deserve.

With the Supreme Court’s Judicial Integrity Board and the Private Sector’s Judicial Reform Initiative, there is reason to hope!!!

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