JBC Day 2 interview: Bets make pitch for speedy dispensation of justiceBy Tetch Torres
MANILA, Philippines—Clogged court dockets and low compensation of judges and court employees are the problems candidates for Chief Justice see as among the reasons for the slow dispensation of justice.
On day two of live media interview Wednesday, two Associate Justices of the Supreme Court – Associate Justices Arturo Brion and Roberto Abad – were quizzed by the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC).
Brion is the high court’s fourth most senior justice and is automatically nominated for the top judicial post.
Aside from Abad and Brion, also interviewed were Managing Partner of Sycip, Salazar Hernandez Law Office Rafael Morales, former UP Law Dean Raul Pangalangan, Comelec Commissioner Rene Sarmiento and retired Judge Manuel Siayngco.
Justice Abad said he is not happy with the case congestion in courts and the kind of system that the Philippines has which is taking a long time to resolve a case.
“All cases should be heard in one sitting, on a face to face hearing with judgment rendered at the end of the day,” Abad said.
He also added that there should be healing because the Supreme Court is a “wounded court” after the impeachment trial.
However, he said, the impeachment has forced members of the court to examine their conscience.
“We will forgive the legislature and you will also forgive us,” Abad said in response to the queries of Iloilo Representative Niel Tupas Jr.
Morales said his two priorities if ever appointed would be filling up vacancies and work for the upward adjustment of salaries of judges and court employees. He said he will also push for an increase in the judiciary’s budget.
Morales believes that one of the causes why there is slow dispensation of justice is because the judiciary is undermanned.
If appointed, Pangalangan said he would push for reforms that would boost staff morale and benefits.
“The institution needs to consolidate itself internally,” Pangalangan said. Like Justice Abad who thinks that the high court was wounded with the impeachment trial, Pangalangan believes that the best time for reforms is now, after suffering a “traumatic process” that removed Renato Corona from office.
He also noted that the Judiciary Development Fund (JDF) can be managed properly in such a manner that it can be further used for improving the lives of the court employees.
Brion admitted that the high court is also besieged with problems which include lack of budget, facilities affecting the disposition of cases.
“In the Judiciary, we have problems, I am not denying that,” Brion said.
“It can be that financial resources available to the Judiciary are not trickling down to the lower courts. That I have to find out,” Brion told JBC members.
Brion added that they also need to work with all branches of government to rid of corruption which he characterized as a societal problem.
“I think the public also needs to be assured that there are no shenanigans occurring in the judiciary,” Brion said.
“Law is the glue, the Constitution is the glue that binds this nation…the court is the guardian,” he added.
The Comelec Commissioner believes that the country should adopt a restorative justice.
He said a person convicted of a crime should be “rehabilitated.”
“Every person has good qualities. By restoring his dignity, the person will be a productive member of society,” Sarmiento said.
The last candidate for the day, Siayngco, said there is not enough rewards system for judges and court employees.
“We should encourage them to aspire for a higher position,” Siayngco told JBC members. He opted for an early retirement at age 62 saying he got tired of dreaming of a promotion.
On Day 3 of public interview Thursday, the JBC will grill University of the East law dean Amado D. Valdez, Acting Chief Justice Antonio T. Carpio, SC Justice Teresita J. Leonardo-De Castro, and former Ateneo law dean Cesar L. Villanueva.
Those scheduled on Friday are Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Teresita J. Herbosa, former Executive Secretary Ronaldo B. Zamora, SC Justice Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno, and SC Justice Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr.