Judicial Integrity and the Rule of Law

Manila Bulletin, July 3, 2009 | Go to article overview

Judicial Integrity and the Rule of Law


(Keynote address during the First Cascading of the Strengthening of the Integrity of the Judiciary (SIJ) Project, Grand Men Seng Hotel, Davao City, June 25, 2009.)Maayong buntag sa inyong tanan. Mr. Scott Ciment, ACA Midas Marquez, ACA Thelma Bahia, my law school classmate, Davao City RTC Judge Wating Ibarreta, distinguished participants.On behalf of the Supreme Court of the Philippines, I would like to sincerely thank all the participants, our fellow workers in the Judiciary, for your attendance in this event. We also wish to express our gratitude to the American Bar Association – Rule of Law Initiative (ABA-ROLI) for its invaluable assistance to this project.Today the Supreme Court launches the Strengthening of the Integrity of the Judiciary (SIJ) Project in our first and second level courts with one goal in mind: To elicit the active participation of all the members of the judiciary in its efforts to curb and curtail corruption and thus raise the bar of the judiciary’s integrity to the highest level possible. The SIJ Project seeks to review, assess, and enhance the performance and efficiency of courts and propose solutions to long-festering problems that demean and denigrate our judicial institutions.The SIJ project is the result of the Integrity Development Review for the Judiciary (IDR), an initiative of the court to eliminate opportunities for corruption within the Judiciary by systematically examining its integrity measures, identifying institutional weaknesses and assessing the functions of the courts in terms of their vulnerability to corruption. The SIJ Project is a Supreme Court initiative to promote public trust and confidence by squarely addressing the issue of corruption in the Judiciary. The Supreme Court launched this Project on February 4, 2008. If you are wondering why it took the Supreme Court this long to cascade the project down to our first and second level courts, the fact is we wanted to begin with ourselves.The SIJ project began by assessing the Supreme Court and its administrative offices and allied agencies. The results were startling yet very encouraging. We saw how some systems needed fixing or improvement, such as our case management systems, procurement systems, administrative and personnel recruitment, selection and promotion, and many other areas that were assessed and found wanting.The SIJ project was implemented pursuant to Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno’s desire to reinforce and amplify the judiciary’s credibility and increase the level of public trust in it. Thus the SIJ Project is a corruption reform measure wholly self-initiated, spearheaded and managed, by the Judiciary for the singular purpose of ennobling justice as the highest ideal of our society.The SIJ project seeks to deliver the following inputs:1) A communication strategyto generate support for the initiative;2) A report on the results of the performance and integrity review survey;3) Development of performance and integrity enhancement measures;4) Implementation of the performance and integrity enhancement measures through trainings, workshops, consensus-building activities and other actions;5) a strategy for sustaining initiatives and gains; and guidebooks for the conduct of integrity and performance review in the courts.The project began with technical assistance from the United States Agency for International Development, through the Rule of Law Effectiveness Project (USAID-ROLE). The Supreme Court formed the Technical Working Group and the Assessment Team of the IDR, and tasked them to conduct a comprehensive review of the processes and functions of the Supreme Court.Last year, the TWG and the Assessment Team submitted their studies and proposed several measures, both procedural and institutional, to the Supreme Court en banc.The TWG and the Assessment Team also made an extensive survey of the stakeholders through focus group discussions, interviews and confidential measures to elicit inputs from the judicial sector, the prosecution service, lawyers’ groups, the IBP, the litigants and other stakeholders in the judicial system. …

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