Judicial Integrity

Manila Bulletin, September 13, 2008 | Go to article overview

Judicial Integrity


The Supreme Court's decision on the high profile case involving the Court of Appeals -- dismissal of CA Justice Vicente Roxas, suspension of CA Justice Jose Sabio Jr., reprimand given to Presiding CA Justice Conrado Vasquez Jr. and CA Justice Bienvenido Reyes, and admonishment given to CA Justice Myrna Dimaranan Vidal was hailed by many as an indication that the Court is serious about cleansing the judiciary.

The case is unprecedented even if it is not the first (two CA justices have earlier been dismissed) but because it involved MERALCO and GSIS. This is perhaps why at least two of the justices "acted in due haste" and why Justice Roxas says he has reason to believe that it is politically motivated. Several legal groups however think that the punishment is too light, that it should include other justices and their disbarment as well. Too, that those responsible in corrupting the magistrates should likewise be exposed.

According to some informal surveys, it seems like the observance of ethics in the appellate court appears to be "fragile and uneven." This is why we are pleased to learn about the initiative of justices from the Court of Appeals who met with SC Chief Justice on plans to forge a covenant to restore public's trust in the judiciary.

This is also a wake-up call for the entire citizenry which should share responsibility either through monitoring and reporting acts of corruption by public officials. This is an opportunity for the Action Program for Judicial Reform (APJR) to revisit the issue of corruption, assess existing anti-corruption structures available, and come up with others that have been tried in other countries. Over the past eight years, the Supreme Court has successfully implemented the APJR by hastening access to justice, efficiency in court management, and the upgrading of competencies of judges and court personnel. This is done primarily through the Philippine Judicial Academy which has sponsored trainings for over 4,000 judges and court personnel. …

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