MANILA, Philippines – Associate Justice Arturo Brion admitted before the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) on Wednesday, July 25, that graft and corruption exist in the judiciary, and it needs help in solving the problem.
“We really have a problem, we can’t deny that,” said Brion, the second associate justice interviewed by the JBC, the body that screens nominees for judicial posts. Brion is one of the Supreme Court senior justices automatically nominated to replace impeached chief justice Renato Corona.
Brion noted, however, that corruption is not just a judiciary problem, but a “societal” one. Hence, he said a concerted action by all branches of government is necessary to address it.
“There should be cooperation among the departments of government. If I were chief justice, I would have no qualms about approaching, say, [congressmen]. We need them.”
He also recognized that the public perceives the courts as corrupt. This was highlighted during the impeachment trial of Corona, who was found guilty of violating the Constitution for failing to declare P183 millions in bank accounts in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN), he added.
“But I would like to tell the public that we have been taking steps… individually and as a court.”
He said transparency and accountability are key. “After the decision in the impeachment trial, I phoned Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales and told her I am sending her a waiver [to look into my accounts]. Justice [Martin] Villarama also did this. There may be others who did this.”
He said the Corona trial was a “big blow” to the Supreme Court, but the court, nevertheless, remains strong.
“That time has passed. The Supreme Court is a collegial court. We are a strong court. And now, we need a strong leader to guide us towards our goals.”
Fast-tracking disposal of cases
After improving transparency in the courts, Brion said a perennial problem should be addressed next: the slow resolution of cases in the country.
Asked how he plans to deal with this if he were chosen as the next chief justice, he said he would continue to support the decision to hire a “pool” of lawyers who will dispose of the oldest cases pending before the Supreme Court.
He will also propose that all cases be decided en banc.
“All cases we decide en banc instead of by division,” he said.
“This is quite a radical proposal. But this is an answer to the clogging of cases. Things will move faster [this way].”
“I think it is doable. The en banc will only be deliberating on the final decision. There will be completion [of the cases] at the lower levels… then you toss them to the en banc and the en banc will decide on them.” – Rappler.com
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