VACC accuses two Trial Judges for Judicial blunder and Gross violation of the New Code of Judicial Conduct | The FENIX Files

THE NEW CODE OF JUDICIAL CONDUCT FOR THE PHILIPPINE JUDICIARY HAS VIOLATED IN CAMARINES NORTE, HABITUALLY?

CAMARINES NORTE, Bicol, Philippines, October 5, 2016 | The FENIX Files – The Volunteer Against Crime and Corruption (VACC-Camarines Norte) sued two (2) Trial Judges of 5th judicial Region in Daet, Camarines Norte for Judicial blunder at the Office of Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P. A. Sereno and to the Office of the Court Administrator.

Copy of the VACC Camarines Norte’s complaint to Supreme Court:

vacc-letter-complaint-to-chief-justice-cerenovacc-letter-complaint-to-chief-justice-cereno-page-2

 

chief_justice_ma-_lourdes_p-a-_sereno_official

The Honourable Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines

The VACC Camarines Norte has called the attention of Supreme Court Chief Justice Sereno in a complaint filed yesterday, October 3, 2016 against Judge Roberto A. Escaro, Presiding Judge of Branch 38, Regional Trial Court of Daet, Camarines Norte for committing judicial blunder by rendering a 20-day TRO and acted gross ignorance of the law, grave abuse of discretion and gross violation of the new code of judicial conduct.

CONTINUING DESPERATE MOVE TO STOP OMBUDSMAN SUSPENSION ORDER

Earlier, VACC already filed a complaint against Judge Arniel A. Dating of Branch 41, also of RTC of Daet, Camarines Norte,for issuing on August 8, 2016, a 72-hour Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against the order of DILG Regional Director Elouisa Pastor for the continued service of Governor Edgardo Tallado’s, Ombudsman imposed 1-year suspension.

According to VACC Camarines Norte, The TRO was immediately issued upon the filing of the Verified Complaint of suspended Governor Tallado, despite the fact that the document sought to be restrained as attached to said complaint is unsigned. VACC, added that during the hearing on the extension of the TRO, Director Pastor’s lawyer denied having issued the supposed DILG order presented as evidence by suspended Governor Tallado. This was supported by the August 14, 2016 Memorandum of Regional Director Pastor which categorically referred to the unsigned order as not authentic, fabricated, and being used by Governor Tallado to seek some irregular relief from the court.

The VACC mentioned also that the very same issues raised in the complaint are already pending with the Court of Appeals, which left no more justification for Judge Arniel Dating to finally dismissed the case on August 17, 2016, out of judicial courtesy for the Court of Appeals, and lack of jurisdiction, forum shopping, which caused delaying 9 days the implementation of Ombudsman suspension order.

Afterwards, on September 15, 2016, DILG Secretary Ismael Sueno directed Director Pastor “to ensure that Governor Tallado ceases from discharging the functions of the Office of the Governor” and to fully serve his 1-year suspension.

Copy of the memorandum from DILG Secretary Ismael Sueno to DILG Regional Director Elouisa Pastor:

dilg-memo-page-1dilg-memo-page-2dilg-memo-page-3

Regional Director Pastor in turn issued a Cease and Desist Order (CDO) dated September 20, 2016, and served to Gov. Tallado on September 21, 2016.

Copy of DILG Regional Director Elouisa Pastor Cease and Desist Order (CDO) to Gov. Tallado:

dilg-pd-memo-to-talladodilg-rd-memo-to-tallado-page-2

But then again, VACC said, Tallado utilizing the same arguments in his previous complaint, again filed similar action against the same Director Pastor and seeking once more the same reliefs to stop Ombudsman suspension order by way of a  TRO and injunction the continuation of his 1-year suspension.

On the other hand, VACC informed the Chief Justice that Executive Judge Evan D. Dizon did not grant the 72-hour TRO. But when the case was raffled to Judge Escaro, he conducted a hearing on the TRO on September 23, 2016, he released a 20-day TRO surprisingly also dated September 23, 2016, this is despite that the DILG Cease and Desist Order (CDO) was already served on September 22, 2016, and with the order of succession having already taken place. The TRO therefore is already moot and academic according to VACC.

Very disturbing to the observing public VACC said, is what Judge Escaro actually restrained was the implementation of the October 2, 2015 Order of the Ombudsman suspending Gov. Tallado for 1 year, which had long been implemented since October 27, 2015. What is being enforced by Secretary Sueno is the continuous serving thereof by Gov. Tallado, who just reassumed the Office without legal basis, as disclosed during the September 23 hearing on the TRO.  The RTC of Camarines Norte VACC explained has no authority to be enjoined the DILG orders and to hear, try and decide the same, but the Court of Appeals, which is already admittedly hearing the same on appeal.

At the end, VACC accused Judge Escaro have acted in gross ignorance of the law, grave abuse of discretion and gross neglect of duty, to the damage and prejudice of the concerned government agencies, and the constituents of Camarines Norte as well. VACC also added that it sent a wrong signal on the integrity and independence of the judiciary and the entire judicial system itself.

Meanwhile, the Samahang Gagabay Sa Inaasam Na Pagbabago Ng Bayan (SAGIP-BAYAN), Inc., recommended to the VACC Camarines Norte to include with their complaint the gross violation committed by Judge Escaro to the following circulars:

  1. OCA CIRCULAR NO. 79-03 issued by the Office of the Court Administrator and Administrative Circular No. 07-99, issued by the Supreme Court which contains the list of cases wherein courts and trial judges are not allowed to issue TRO or writs of preliminary injunction in particular to the investigation conducted by the Ombudsman, cited the Section 14 of Republic Act No. 6770, otherwise known as the Ombudsman Act of 1989 provides that: Sec. 14.  Restrictions. – No writ of injunction shall be issued by any court to delay an investigation being conducted by the Ombudsman under this Act, unless there is a prima facie evidence that the subject matter of the investigation is outside the jurisdiction of the Office of the Ombudsman. No court shall hear any appeal or application for remedy against the decision or findings of the Ombudsman, except the Supreme Court, on pure question of law.
  2. Gross violation of the New Code of Judicial Conduct, which violations of judges penalized with dismissal from the service with forfeiture of all retirement benefits and disqualification from reinstatement or appointment in any public office including GOCC’s.

Sagip-Bayan, Inc, also mentioned that Judge Escaro shall disqualify himself from participating in the mentioned proceedings in which he is unable to decide the matter impartially because of his honorarium being received from the Provincial Government of Camarines Norte, which Governor Tallado in his letter dated May 21, 2014, to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Camarines Norte, he requested for authority from the august body to increase the monthly honorarium of Judge Roberto Escaro from P5,000.00 to P10,000.00 and it was approved by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.

Copy of the letter of Governor Tallado, requesting authority to increase monthly allowance of Judge Escaro. 

tallados-request-for-increase-of-judge-escaros-allowance

The New Code of Judicial Conduct says that Judges shall not only be free from inappropriate connections with, and influence by, the executive and legislative branches of government, but must also appear to be free therefrom to a reasonable observer.  Mere congeniality between a judge and a governor may not necessarily be unethical, but it may still create the appearance of impropriety.

The New Code of Judicial Conduct also said that Judges shall disqualify themselves from participating in any proceedings in which they are unable to decide the matter impartially or in which it may appear to a reasonable observer that they are unable to decide the matter impartially.

WHAT JUDICIAL CONDUCT MUST BE A JUDGE EXERCISE?

new-code-of-judicial-conduct

THE PHILIPPINE NEW CODE OF JUDICIAL CONDUCT OF 2004

The Supreme Court has consistently stressed the importance of maintaining public confidence in the judicial system and in the moral authority and integrity of the judiciary.Thus it is that while we already had Canons of Judicial Ethics and a Code of Judicial Conduct, the Supreme Court saw fit to promulgate The New Code of Judicial Conduct for the Philippine Judiciary on 27 April 2004 patterned after the Bangalore Draft of the Code of Judicial Conduct. A Code of Judicial Conduct, no matter how wisely crafted, does not necessarily translate into ethical conduct on the part of magistrates and officers of the law. It is, however, certain that without a Code of Conduct a judge will find it difficult to navigate ethically through the mined waters of professional conduct and even in their everyday life as a judge. Prudence is certainly a necessary virtue, but the gray areas are many and questions they raised, difficult.

The Supreme Court has done its job. It has promulgated the New Code of Judicial Conduct for the Philippine Judiciary. What remains to be done is the important thing – to make the Code a living reality in the honorable, decent, respectable and inspiring conduct of our justices, judges and judicial officials. No code can ever achieve the disposition and the decision to conduct oneself ethically, but the direction one must go, the guidepost to use when one chooses to conduct oneself with honor and to hold oneself out to the public as the Republic’s credible agent for the administration of justice, is what a Code of Conduct fundamentally is.

Our hope for a judiciary renewed is not in this Code, however. It is in our justices and judges, individually and collectively, guided by their own consciences and motivated by the highest of aspirations to be independent magistrates of competence, integrity and probity.

WHEREAS, at the Round Table Meeting of Chief Justices held at the Peace Palace, The Hague, on 25-26 November 2002, at which the Philippine Supreme Court was represented by the Chief Justice and Associate Justice Reynato S. Puno, the Bangalore Draft of the Code of Judicial Conduct adopted by the Judicial Group on Strengthening Judicial Integrity was deliberated upon and approved after incorporating therein several amendments;

WHEREAS, the Bangalore Draft, as amended, is intended to be the Universal Declaration of Judicial Standards applicable in all judiciaries;

WHEREAS, the Bangalore Draft is founded upon a universal recognition that a competent, independent and impartial judiciary is essential if the courts are to fulfill their role in upholding constitutionalism and the rule of law; that public confidence in the judicial system and in the moral authority and integrity of the judiciary is of utmost importance in a modern democratic society; and that it is essential that judges, individually and collectively, respect and honor judicial office as a public trust and strive to enhance and maintain confidence in the judicial system;

WHEREAS, the adoption of the universal declaration of standards for ethical conduct of judges embodied in the Bangalore Draft as revised at the Round Table Conference of Chief Justices at The Hague is imperative not only to update and correlate the Code of Judicial Conduct and the Canons of Judicial Ethics adopted for the Philippines, but also to stress the Philippines’ solidarity with the universal clamor for a universal code of judicial ethics.

NOW, THEREFORE, the Court hereby adopts this New Code of Judicial Conduct for the Philippine Judiciary:

CANON 1

INDEPENDENCE

Judicial independence is a pre-requisite to the rule of law and a fundamental guarantee of a fair trial. A judge shall therefore uphold and exemplify judicial independence in both its individual and institutional aspects.

SECTION 1. Judges shall exercise the judicial function independently on the basis of their assessment of the facts and in accordance with a conscientious understanding of the law, free of any extraneous influence, inducement, pressure, threat or interference, direct or indirect, from any quarter or for any reason.

SEC. 2. In performing judicial duties, judges shall be independent from judicial colleagues in respect of decisions which the judge is obliged to make independently.

SEC. 3. Judges shall refrain from influencing in any manner the outcome of litigation or dispute pending before another court or administrative agency.

SEC. 4. Judges shall not allow family, social, or other relationships to influence judicial conduct or judgment. The prestige of judicial office shall not be used or lent to advance the private interests of others, nor convey or permit others to convey the impression that they are in a special position to influence the judge.

SEC. 5. Judges shall not only be free from inappropriate connections with, and influence by, the executive and legislative branches of government, but must also appear to be free therefrom to a reasonable observer.

SEC. 6. Judges shall be independent in relation to society in general and in relation to the particular parties to a dispute which he or she has to adjudicate.

SEC. 7. Judges shall encourage and uphold safeguards for the discharge of judicial duties in order to maintain and enhance the institutional and operational independence of the judiciary.

SEC. 8. Judges shall exhibit and promote high standards of judicial conduct in order to reinforce public confidence in the judiciary, which is fundamental to the maintenance of judicial independence.

CANON 2

INTEGRITY

Integrity is essential not only to the proper discharge of the judicial office but also to the personal demeanor of judges.

SECTION 1. Judges shall ensure that not only is their conduct above reproach, but that it is perceived to be so in the view of a reasonable observer.

SEC. 2. The behavior and conduct of judges must reaffirm the people’s faith in the integrity of the judiciary. Justice must not merely be done but must also be seen to be done.

SEC. 3. Judges should take or initiate appropriate disciplinary measures against lawyers or court personnel for unprofessional conduct of which the judge may have become aware.

CANON 3

IMPARTIALITY

Impartiality is essential to the proper discharge of the judicial office. It applies not only to the decision itself but also to the process by which the decision is made.

SECTION 1. Judges shall perform their judicial duties without favor, bias or prejudice.

SEC. 2. Judges shall ensure that his or her conduct, both in and out of court, maintains and enhances the confidence of the public, the legal profession and litigants in the impartiality of the judge and of the judiciary.

SEC. 3. Judges shall, so far as is reasonable, so conduct themselves as to minimize the occasions on which it will be necessary for them to be disqualified from hearing or deciding cases.

SEC. 4. Judges shall not knowingly, while a proceeding is before or could come before them, make any comment that might reasonably be expected to affect the outcome of such proceeding or impair the manifest fairness of the process. Nor shall judges make any comment in public or otherwise that might affect the fair trial of any person or issue.

SEC. 5. Judges shall disqualify themselves from participating in any proceedings in which they are unable to decide the matter impartially or in which it may appear to a reasonable observer that they are unable to decide the matter impartially. Such proceedings include, but are not limited to, instances where

(a) The judge has actual bias or prejudice concerning a party or personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary facts concerning the proceedings;

(b) The judge previously served as a lawyer or was a material witness in the matter in controversy;

(c) The judge, or a member of his or her family, has an economic interest in the outcome of the matter in controversy;

(d) The judge served as executor, administrator, guardian, trustee or lawyer in the case or matter in controversy, or a former associate of the judge served as counsel during their association, or the judge or lawyer was a material witness therein;

(e) The judge’s ruling in a lower court is the subject of review;

(f) The judge is related by consanguinity or affinity to a party litigant within the sixth civil degree or to counsel within the fourth civil degree; or

(g) The judge knows that his or her spouse or child has a financial interest, as heir, legatee, creditor, fiduciary, or otherwise, in the subject matter in controversy or in a party to the proceeding, or any other interest that could be substantially affected by the outcome of the proceedings;

SEC. 6. A judge disqualified as stated above may, instead of withdrawing from the proceeding, disclose on the records the basis of disqualification. If, based on such disclosure, the parties and lawyers, independently of the judge’s participation, all agree in writing that the reason for the inhibition is immaterial or unsubstantial, the judge may then participate in the proceeding. The agreement, signed by all parties and lawyers, shall be incorporated in the record of the proceedings.

CANON 4

PROPRIETY

Propriety and the appearance of propriety are essential to the performance of all the activities of a judge.

SECTION 1. Judges shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all of their activities.

SEC. 2. As a subject of constant public scrutiny, judges must accept personal restrictions that might be viewed as burdensome by the ordinary citizen and should do so freely and willingly. In particular, judges shall conduct themselves in a way that is consistent with the dignity of the judicial office.

SEC. 3. Judges shall, in their personal relations with individual members of the legal profession who practice regularly in their court, avoid situations which might reasonably give rise to the suspicion or appearance of favoritism or partiality.

SEC. 4. Judges shall not participate in the determination of a case in which any member of their family represents a litigant or is associated in any manner with the case.

SEC. 5. Judges shall not allow the use of their residence by a member of the legal profession to receive clients of the latter or of other members of the legal profession.

SEC. 6. Judges, like any other citizen, are entitled to freedom of expression, belief, association and assembly, but in exercising such rights, they shall always conduct themselves in such a manner as to preserve the dignity of the judicial office and the impartiality and independence of the judiciary.

SEC. 7. Judges shall inform themselves about their personal fiduciary and financial interests and shall make reasonable efforts to be informed about the financial interests of members of their family.

SEC. 8. Judges shall not use or lend the prestige of the judicial office to advance their private interests, or those of a member of their family or of anyone else, nor shall they convey or permit others to convey the impression that anyone is in a special position improperly to influence them in the performance of judicial duties.

SEC. 9. Confidential information acquired by judges in their judicial capacity shall not be used or disclosed for any other purpose related to their judicial duties.

SEC. 10. Subject to the proper performance of judicial duties, judges may

(a) Write, lecture, teach and participate in activities concerning the law, the legal system, the administration of justice or related matters;

(b) Appear at a public hearing before an official body concerned with matters relating to the law, the legal system, the administration of justice or related matters;

(c) Engage in other activities if such activities do not detract from the dignity of the judicial office or otherwise interfere with the performance of judicial duties.

SEC. 11. Judges shall not practice law whilst the holder of judicial office.

SEC. 12. Judges may form or join associations of judges or participate in other organizations representing the interests of judges.

SEC. 13. Judges and members of their families shall neither ask for, nor accept, any gift, bequest, loan or favor in relation to anything done or to be done or omitted to be done by him or her in connection with the performance of judicial duties.

SEC. 14. Judges shall not knowingly permit court staff or others subject to their influence, direction or authority, to ask for, or accept, any gift, bequest, loan or favor in relation to anything done or to be done or omitted to be done in connection with their duties or functions.

SEC. 15. Subject to law and to any legal requirements of public disclosure, judges may receive a token gift, award or benefit as appropriate to the occasion on which it is made,provided that such gift, award or benefit might not reasonably be perceived as intended to influence the judge in the performance of judicial duties or otherwise give rise to an appearance of partiality.

CANON 5

EQUALITY

Ensuring equality of treatment to all before the courts is essential to the due performance of the judicial office.

SECTION 1. Judges shall be aware of, and understand, diversity in society and differences arising from various sources, including but not limited to race, color, sex, religion, national origin, caste, disability, age, marital status, sexual orientation, social and economic status and other like causes.

SEC. 2. Judges shall not, in the performance of judicial duties, by words or conduct, manifest bias or prejudice towards any person or group on irrelevant grounds.

SEC. 3. Judges shall carry out judicial duties with appropriate consideration for all persons, such as the parties, witnesses, lawyers, court staff and judicial colleagues, without differentiation on any irrelevant ground, immaterial to the proper performance of such duties.

SEC. 4. Judges shall not knowingly permit court staff or others subject to his or her influence, direction or control to differentiate between persons concerned, in a matter before the judge, on any irrelevant ground.

SEC. 5. Judges shall require lawyers in proceedings before the court to refrain from manifesting, by words or conduct, bias or prejudice based on irrelevant grounds, except such as are legally relevant to an issue in proceedings and may be the subject of legitimate advocacy.

CANON 6

COMPETENCE AND DILIGENCE

Competence and diligence are prerequisites to the due performance of judicial office.

SECTION 1. The judicial duties of a judge take precedence over all other activities.

SEC. 2. Judges shall devote their professional activity to judicial duties, which include not only the performance of judicial functions and responsibilities in court and the making of decisions, but also other tasks relevant to the judicial office or the court’s operations.

SEC. 3. Judges shall take reasonable steps to maintain and enhance their knowledge, skills and personal qualities necessary for the proper performance of judicial duties, taking advantage for this purpose of the training and other facilities which should be made available, under judicial control, to judges.

SEC. 4. Judges shall keep themselves informed about relevant developments of international law, including international conventions and other instruments establishing human rights norms.

SEC. 5. Judges shall perform all judicial duties, including the delivery of reserved decisions, efficiently, fairly and with reasonable promptness.

SEC. 6. Judges shall maintain order and decorum in all proceedings before the court and be patient, dignified and courteous in relation to litigants, witnesses, lawyers and others with whom the judge deals in an official capacity. Judges shall require similar conduct of legal representatives, court staff and others subject to their influence, direction or control.

SEC. 7. Judges shall not engage in conduct incompatible with the diligent discharge of judicial duties.

This New Code of Judicial Conduct for the Philippine Judiciary shall take effect on the first day of June 2004, following its publication not later than 15 May 2004 in two newspapers of large circulation in the Philippines to ensure its widest publicity.

Promulgated 27th day of April 2004.

 

One thought on “VACC accuses two Trial Judges for Judicial blunder and Gross violation of the New Code of Judicial Conduct | The FENIX Files

  1. Pingback: VACC sued Judges for Judicial blunder and Gross violation of the New Code of Judicial Conduct | Sagip-Bayan Journal | Sagip-Bayan Journal

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s