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Remove SC control over lawyers?


LIFE’S INSPIRATIONS: “… maintain justice in the courts…” (Amos 5:5, the Holy Bible).

WHAT ATTY. KAPUNAN SHOULD DO: Maybe, lawyer Lorna Patajo Kapunan (a colleague whom I worked with at the defunct Aksiyon Demokratiko Party to push the second presidential run of deceased Sen. Raul S. Roco in 2004), should include in her explanation before the Supreme Court disclosures about judicial corruption earlier aired by Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, and newspaper columnists Ramon Tulfo and Jarius Bondoc.

Why? Well, so the Supreme Court, which has ordered her to explain her statements in a TV interview about corruption in the judiciary, will also have the opportunity to assess whether the disclosures made by Estrada (specifically, about his claims about “hoodlums in robes” when he was president), Tulfo and Bondoc are true, and would merit sanctions against erring members of the judiciary, if any.

Kapunan should seize this opportunity to respond to calls by Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno herself for lawyers to come out in the open and expose the grafters and the corrupt in the judicial branch of government, instead of simply murmuring their complaints under bated breaths, and thereby trailblaze a cleansing process that would restore judges and justices to their noble role of maintaining justice in the courts.

REMOVE SC CONTROL OVER LAWYERS: In line with this, here are earlier columns I wrote about corruption in the judiciary. On September 27, 2013, I said: “If we really want lawyers to `spill the beans’ on corrupt judges and justices, as Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno proposed during a gathering on 25 September 2013, the first step that should be done is to remove Supreme Court control over the legal profession, and allow lawyers to police themselves through an independent Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP).

“For as long as any judge will have the opportunity of becoming a Supreme Court justice at some point in his or her judicial career, and the Supreme Court shall continue having the power of life and death, literally and figuratively, over any lawyer, talk about who is corrupt will remain `hushed-hushed’, `in bated breath’, and through `blind items’, for reprisals against whistle-blowing lawyers can come real fast and easy.”

SC SHOULD CALL WHISTLEBLOWERS, TOO: On October 11, 2013, I wrote: “Corruption in the judiciary is a very ticklish subject matter to tackle, simply because those supposed to be involved in it—the lawyers and the judges or justices and, many a time, even the prosecutors under the Department of Justice—simply would seldom talk and incriminate themselves. But, every now and then, there are some who are imbued with the courage to talk, and it is these people who should be called to spill the beans, so to speak.

“First, I am referring to Manila Mayor Joseph `Erap’ Estrada, whose short-lived presidency was pockmarked with accusations about what he referred to as `hoodlums in robes’. Indeed, everyone in the whole Philippine archipelago knew what he meant—corrupt judges, justices and prosecutors, or the members of the prosecution arm of the executive branch of government and the men and women of judiciary who sell, to the highest bidder, their decisions.

“However, he was never given a chance to detail his accusations, after he was ousted in what is now known as the second EDSA People Power Revolution, which ouster was subsequently confirmed and validated no less by the Supreme Court which found him to have abdicated his presidency. Maybe, if Chief Justice Sereno would really want to get to the bottom of corruption in the judiciary, Mayor Erap could be subpoenaed by the Court and compel him to tell the people what he really knew, or still knows, at present…”

WHY LAWYERS ARE SILENT: On October 13, 2013, here was what I said: “I say once again: remove the lawyers from the control of the Supreme Court (or) from the control of its justices. I am sure that if Filipino lawyers are longer subject to the control and disciplinary powers of the Supreme Court and its justices, they would fall one over the other in exposing bribery and corruption in the judiciary, if, indeed, there is any. But as long as the Supreme Court can either suspend or remove lawyers, lawyers would remain silent, as they are very silent now…”

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By Batas Mauricio

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