Supreme Court Intensifies Clean-Up Drive in judiciary.(Main News)

Article excerpt

Byline: REY G. PANALIGAN

The Supreme Court has intensified its drive against dishonesty, incompetence, and inefficiency in the judiciary by treating an administrative cases against its members and court personnel who are lawyers as disbarment proceedings that may result simultaneously in their dismissal from their posts and removal as members of the bar.

Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide Jr. said that the automatic conversion of an administrative case will be done if the violations raised are also grounds for disbarment, like violation of the Lawyer's Oath, the Code of Professional Responsibility, and the Canons of Legal Ethics.

Before the adoption of this new rule, a disbarment case against a member of the judiciary and court personnel who is a lawyer wass filed separately from an administrative case and requires separate proceedings.

Davide announced the new rule on administrative cases last night in his speech at the Law Day celebration and induction ceremony of the Philippine Bar Association (PBA) in Makati City.

He said the new rule, which was approved by the Supreme last Tuesday, will be effective Oct. 1 and is a supplement to Rule 140 of the Rules of Court.

Covered by the new rule are justices of the Court of Appeals and the Sandiganbayan, judges of the trial courts, and court personnel who are lawyers.

Justices of the Supreme Court may be removed only through impeachment.

According to the Davide, the implementation of the new rule next month "will intensify our resolve to weed out the misfits in the judiciary."

He admitted that there are cases of dishonesty, "even moral pollution," in the judiciary, but the Supreme Court has been tough in dealing with these irregularities.

He pointed out that proof of the judiciary's desire to weed out misfits is the imposition of disciplinary action against about 700 judges and court personnel since 1999.

But he said the figure represents only about 3 percent of the judiciary's population. Thus, "it is equally true that men and women of competence, integrity, the straight and honest far outnumber the crooked and corrupt in the judiciary," he said. …