The Supreme Court (SC) fined an officer of its judicial training school for allowing inside the SC some pamphlets which pushed for a favorable ruling for defeated 2016 vice presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. while his electoral protest was pending.
The high tribunal, in an eight-page decision, fined chief judicial staff officer Luningning Marin of the Philippine Judicial Academy (Philja) P1,000 for being guilty of “conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.”
SC Associate Justice Marvic Leonen penned the decision released on Friday, July 2.
The decision recalled that on July 1, 2019, Marin okayed the entry of two individuals, Arifa Macacua Jamil and Zeus Alonzo, into the SC main building.
She then accompanied the two to the SC justices’ offices, where Jamil and Alonzo distributed a 39-page pamphlet that offered a “simplified illustration” of Marcos’ electoral protest. The pamphlets then pushed for a ruling in favor of Marcos.
At the time, Marcos’ protest, which contested the victory of Vice President Leni Robredo in 2016, was still pending before the SC, seated as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal.
A month after the incident, the SC Office of Administrative Services (OAS) recommended that Marin be penalized for the infraction.
In her defense, Marin said Edgar Rozon, a former colleague’s son whom she has known since his childhood, contacted her about “filing or distributing something” in the SC. But Jamil and Alonzo arrived instead, explaining themselves as Rozon’s colleagues.
The OAS said Marin failed to ask about the two individuals’ business in SC and the contents of the envelope, and even talked to the SC guards to allow them in. Dealing with unknown individuals instead of Rozon himself should have likewise been a red flag, added the office.
Marin also admitted knowing that Rozon and his mother worked for Marcos. However, she did not deem this information important at the time.
Marin would have been punished with a suspension of 6 months and a day to one year, according to the 2017 Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service. The OAS also recommended a P3,000 fine.
But the SC only meted a P1,000 fine, after considering that this was Marin’s first offense during her three decades in the judiciary branch. The Court then issued a warning to Marin that repeating the same offense will be dealt with more severely.
“This Court has repeatedly cautioned its employees to always act with propriety and decorum, but above all else, must be above and beyond suspicion,” the SC said.
The SC continued, “Marin failed to be circumspect in balancing her personal dealing with a friend and her commitment to protect this institution. Her failure to prudently act may impair this Court’s image, cast doubt on the impartiality of the justices, and ultimately undermine the public’s trust in the judiciary.”
Philja was established in 1998 as the country’s training school for justices, judges, court personnel, lawyers, and aspirants to judicial posts. The Supreme Court administers and supervises its operations. – Rappler.com