We shall discuss the Judicial Integrity Board. Its creation, functions, and purpose, among others.
“Compared to other public functions and duties, the dispensing of justice, being extremely important, is both delicate and singular. To sit in judgment over one’s fellow man, to pass upon their controversies involving their rights and fortunes, and in criminal cases, determine their innocence or guilt, which decision affects and involves their freedom, their honor, even their lives, is no ordinary chore or business. It is a serious task, weighty and fraught with grave responsibility and of far-reaching effects, a task earnest and solemn, almost partaking of the divine.”1 – Justice M. Montemayor, Concurring
Judicial Integrity Board
The judges and employees of the courts of justice play a vital role in ensuring that justice is rightfully served in an expeditious and fair manner. Deciding the faith of a party in a case, either for the aggrieved party, the plaintiff, the accused or defendant, is never an easy feat.
There will be decisions that might contradict the public expectations or the personal moral conviction of a judge. Yet, at the end of the day, what the law dictates, the courts must apply. Judges, therefore, are expected not to ride the waves of public clamor, nor decide based on their personal conscience, but based purely on law. And that is integrity.
The 1987 Philippine Constitution embodies the same principle as it mandates that members of the Judiciary must be of proven competence, integrity, probity, and independence.2 Further, the United Nations for one advocates the “triple I” in advancing effective judicial resolution.
According to the body, integrity, independence, and impartiality are the key prerequisites for establishing an effective and functional judiciary and judicial system for the peaceful resolution of legal disputes.3
When a judge of a court of justice misapplies the law, or intentionally circumvents the same, not only that a party is deprived of justice, but the image of the entire judiciary will be put in peril., a pernicious effect in the offing.
The Supreme Court has time and again explained that “the people’s confidence in the judicial system is founded not only on the competence and diligence of the members of the bench, but also on their integrity and moral uprightness. A judge must not only be honest but also appear to be so; not only be a good judge, but also a good person.”4
It is therefore important that proper measures should be put in place to guarantee judicial integrity in the administration of justice and that the independence of the judiciary will not be just a myth or an empty ideal.
As the Court declared in Barja vs. Bercacio,5 there is no place in the judiciary for those who cannot meet the exacting standards of judicial competence and integrity. Although every office in the government is a public trust, no position exacts a greater demand on moral righteousness and uprightness of an individual than a seat in the judiciary.6
The Supreme Court, the constitutional repository of judicial power and administrator of all courts and its personnel, has both the duty and the power to pursue its constitutional missions and ideals through the creation of a body or an office to promote integrity and curb corruption in the Judiciary.7 In this light, the Judicial Integrity Board (JIB) was established by the High Court, which will be extensively discussed in this article.
A.M. No. 18-01-05-SC provides for the establishment of the JIB and the Corruption Prevention and Investigation Office (CPIO). These offices are established under the mandate of the Constitution that the Supreme Court shall have administrative supervision over all courts and the personnel thereof.8
This mandate also provides for the duty and power of the Supreme Court to pursue its constitutional missions and ideals through the creation of a creation of a body or an office to promote integrity and curb corruption in the Judiciary.9
The creation of JIB has provided for the necessity to specify the power, functions, and authorities of the same, in relation to Rule 140 of the Revised Rules of Court, as amended, (Rules of Court) and the functions, duties and responsibilities of the Office of the Executive and Assistant Executive Director, and the Office of the General Counsel.
On October 19, 2020, then Chief Justice Diosdado M. Peralta sworn in the members of the JIB, which will further strengthen integrity and prevent corruption in the Judiciary.
The JIB is composed of:
- Supreme Court Associate Justice (Ret.) and Philippine Judicial Academy (PHILJA) Vice Chancellor Romeo Callejo, Sr. as Chair;
- SC Associate Justice (Ret.) and former Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) Governing Board Chair Angelina Sandoval-Gutierrez as Vice-Chair; and
- Court of Appeals Justice (Ret.) Sesinando Villon, Sandiganbayan Justice (Ret.) Rodolfo Ponferrada, and Court of Tax Appeals Justice (Ret.) Cielito Mindaro-Grulla as members.
Justices Callejo and Gutierrez will serve in the JIB for three years and two years, respectively. Justices Villon, Ponferrada, and Mindaro-Grulla will serve for three years, two years, and one year, respectively.
The JIB and the CPIO were recently reinvigorated under Chief Justice Peralta’s Ten-Point Program, mainly focusing on the core area of integrity. The Chief Justice vowed to continue the weeding out of misfits and purging of the Judiciary.
Powers and Function
Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno was in office when the Judicial Integrity Board was first conceived. However, her position was terminated after an unprecedented quo warranto decision that declared her appointment to be illegal.
Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Sereno’s successor, lasted for only 46 days, but on October 2, 2018, she and the other members of the court signed the Administrative Order (AO) 18-01-05-SC, creating the JIB. Under Lucas Bersamin, the chief justice who succeeded him, there was no follow-through.
The Office of the Court Administrator (OCA), which is in charge of disciplining lower court justices, judges, and staff, formed a committee to review the duties of the JIB and determine whether there were any overlaps. Gesmundo informed the JBC that the board would accept all grievances, including those lodged in an anonymous manner.
The CPIO and the Office of the General Counsel will be the JIB’s two offices. Investigations, intelligence gathering, monitoring, entrapment, and lifestyle checks will all be carried out by the CPIO. The JIB may begin an investigation with the assistance of the court’s Research and Investigation Division without the requirement for a formal complaint against judges or other court employees.
Serious allegations including bribery, deceit, gross misconduct, and immorality fall under the jurisdiction of the JIB, although less serious allegations like decision-making delays and absenteeism may be sent to the OCA.
The powers and function of JIB revolves mainly on investigating, assessing, and acting against all complaints to the members of the judiciary and court personnel. The end goal is to further strengthen the integrity and prevent corruption in the judiciary.
The example of the said committees or offices mentioned thereto are:
- The Committee on Ethics in Special Concerns of the Court of Appeals provided for in the Procedure in Administrative Cases,
- The Committee on Ethics of the Sandiganbayan,
- The Committee of the Court of Tax Appeals on Employee’s Rules of Discipline, Office of the Court Administrator for the personnel of the First and Second Level Courts, including those of Shari’ah High Court, and the Shari’ah District and Circuit Courts, and Complaints and Investigation Division (CID) of the Office of the Administrative Services for the personnel of the Supreme Court and offices under its supervision, including those of the Offices of the Court Administrators, the Deputy Court Administrators, and the Assistant Court Administrators.10
Within sixty (60) calendar days, or within any extension thereof granted by the JIB, the investigation conducted by the Committee or Office who was delegated to investigate, shall terminate such investigation and thereafter submit its “Report and Recommendation” thereof, and the evidence adduced therein, and the records of the case to the JIB. In turn, the JIB shall then submit its “Report and Recommendation” within thirty (30) calendar days to the Supreme Court for appropriate action or resolution in accordance with the administrative circulars.11
The anonymous complaints and reports received by Chiefs and Heads of Offices, Services and other court officials shall be immediately referred to the JIB for the evaluation and assessment.
The JIB also has the power and authority to recommend to the Supreme Court the preventive suspension of the Respondent Justices, Court Administrator, Deputy Court Administrators or Assistant Court Administrators, Judges or court personnel pending resolution of the investigations of the disciplinary actions against them or any of them.
They also have the power to issue subpoena and subpoena duces tecum for the appearance and attendance of the parties and their witnesses in the investigation by the JIB of disciplinary actions against any of the said Court Officials. T
hey also have the authority to assist the Supreme Court in the exercise of its inherent disciplinary powers under Section 11, Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution; and perform such other functions, duties and responsibilities as provided for in Rule 140 of the Rules of Court, as well as Administrative Circulars, Resolutions or other issuances of the Supreme Court.
The JIB is vested with administrative supervision and control over the Executive Director, the General Counsel and personnel of said offices and other units in the Office of the Executive Director, subject to the supervision and control of the Supreme Court.12
As provided in A.M. No. 18-01-05-SC, JIB has jurisdiction over administrative complaints against the (a) Presiding Justices and Associate Justices of the appellate courts and Judges of the lower courts, except those complaints against the Chief Justice and the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court; and (b) Court officials and employees, involving violations of the “Code of Conduct for Court Personnel”, and of the Civil Service Laws and Rules.
For administrative complaints, JIB has exclusive jurisdiction over (a) Court officials with Salary Grades 30 and 31, excluding those that are not within the jurisdiction of the JIB, regardless of the gravity of the administrative offense; (b) First and Second Level Court Judges, including Shari’ah District and Circuit Court Judges, charged with serious charges under Rule 140 of the Rules of Court; and (c) Court officials or employees, with Salary Grades 27 to 29, regardless of the gravity of the violation of the “Code of Conduct for Court Personnel” and of the Civil Service Laws and Rules.
In case the administrative complaints is against a Judge and it involves less serious charges and light charges under Rule 140 of the Rules of Court, The JIB may refer and delegate the investigation of such administrative complaints to the OCA.
On the other hand, if the administrative complaint is against court officials or employees with Salary Grade 26 and below, regardless of the gravity of violation of the “Code of Conduct for Court Personnel,” JIB may refer it to the respective Committee or Office having control or supervision to said employee or official.
Justices of the Supreme Court have exempted themselves from the JIB’s purview. Their defense is that, according to the 1987 Constitution, high court justices are impeachable officers and can only be dismissed by impeachment and quo warranto
Being the third branch of the Philippine Government, the Judiciary is the interpreter of the laws of the land. One of its constitutionally vested powers is to “settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable, and to determine whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the Government.”13
With this, it is imperative to maintain its highest degree of integrity and shall bear no shadow of corruption so as to assure the public that the guardian of their rights is an impartial and efficient body.
As previously discussed, JIB was created pursuant to the constitutionally vested power of the Supreme Court on the supervision over Judges and personnel of the judiciary. It aims to promote and even strengthen judicial integrity and to prevent corruption within its halls. This is why cases over court personnel were previously filed before the OCA and not with the Civil Service Commission.
With the reinvigoration of the JIB, it only shows that the judiciary is the bulwark of democracy, as this will act on the complaints over erring Judges and court personnel, who are in the first line of defense striking in its equal stilts the scales of justice.
Again, with the creation of this office, the OCA may now focus on its administrative functions such as “administrative intervention in the management of lower courts, overseeing of halls of justice and court houses, issuing court circulars and memoranda, and providing public assistance and information.”16
On the other hand, the administrative supervision over erring judges and court personnel granted to the JIB, this will focus in eradicating corruption in the judiciary as this is the primary purpose in the creation of this body.
In sum, JIB has its purpose of supervising administratively, the erring judges and court personnel in the exercise of their judicial powers, duties, and responsibilities in order to bolster the public trust in the Judiciary. This is a special development for the Philippine Judiciary in taking its step to attain the highest standard of efficiency and integrity.
Application of Code of Judicial Conduct
The preamble of the Code of Judicial Conduct states that “An honorable, competent and independent judiciary exists to administer justice and thus promote the unity of the country, the stability of government, and the well-being of the people.”
It capsulizes what the judiciary should be. Since the judiciary, as an institution, can only be as honorable, competent and independent as judges who compose it, the five canons and implementing rules of the Code require what judges ought and ought not to do in their official and private conduct, so as to have an honorable, competent and independent judiciary and enable them to achieve its ultimate aim — to promote justice by administering it fairly, impartially and promptly.
The administration of justice is a joint responsibility of the judge and the lawyer. The judge expects a lawyer to properly perform his role in the same manner that the lawyer expects a judge to do his part. The people expect of them a sense of shared responsibility, which is a crucial factor in the administration of justice.17
Their relations should be based on mutual respect and on a deep appreciation by one of the duties of the other. Only in this manner can each of them minimize occasions for delinquency and help attain the ends of justice.
Upon his assumption to office, a judge ceases to be an ordinary mortal. He becomes the visible representation of the law and, more importantly, of justice. He must be the embodiment of competence, integrity and independence.18
No position exacts greater demand on moral righteousness and uprightness of an individual than a seat in the Judiciary. A magistrate of the law must comport himself at all times in such manner that his conduct, official or otherwise, can bear the most searching scrutiny of the public that looks up to him as the epitome of integrity and justice.19
A judge should be attentive, impartial and, since he is to administer the law and apply it to the facts, he should be studious of the principles of law, knowledgeable in procedural rules and diligent in endeavoring to ascertain the facts.20
He should have moral and intellectual courage and independence of mind in the discharge of his duties for only in that way can he merit his judicial position and the support and confidence of the people in him.21
He should not be swayed by public clamor or considerations of personal popularity.22 Nor should he allow himself to be influenced by outside pressure to decide a case in a particular way23 or to be moved by pride, prejudice, passion or pettiness in the performance of his official functions.24
He should do honor to his position not only by rendering just, correct and impartial decisions but doing so in a manner free from any suspicion as to their fairness and impartiality and as to his integrity.25
For a spotless dispensation of justice requires not only that the decision rendered be intrinsically fair but that the judge rendering it must at all times maintain the appearance of fairness and impartiality. His language, both written and spoken, must be guarded and measured, lest the best of intentions be misconstrued.26
A.] The anonymous complaint against Judge Laarni N. Dajao
This administrative matter pertains to the vulgar and unbecoming conduct of Judge Laarni N. Dajao (Judge Dajao), Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 27, Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte, constituting violations of Sections 1 and 2, Canon 4 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct.27
Unknown person accused Judge Dajao of (1) manifesting a pattern of unprofessional conduct in terms of language and deed, as observed from a number of his hearings. The letter-complaint expressed that in the Order dated 27 November 2013, Judge Dajao used words which were malicious, degrading, and disgraceful to the image of the court and the legal profession.28
In the said Order, the anonymous observer posited that Judge Dajao mentioned “big dick/penis, homophobic baklita, idiot, ugok, psychopath” and imputed a “sexual relationship with a man who is the accused in his sala, etc.”29
The letter-complaint also cited that Judge Dajao placed “Dr.” and “Ph.D.” beside his name, a questionable act since judges are enjoined to foster humility in their profession. Thus, the complaint prayed that Judge Dajao be reprimanded and disciplined for unprofessional conduct.30
Issue: Whether Judge Dajao be reprimanded and disciplined for unprofessional conduct.
Yes. Judge is GUILTY of VULGAR and UNBECOMING CONDUCT
Sections 1 and 2 of Canon 4 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct which covers propriety state: Propriety and the appearance of propriety are essential to the performance of all the activities of a judge.31
SECTION 1. Judges shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all of their activities.32
SECTION 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.33
Moreover, a judge should possess the virtue of gravitas. He should be learned in the law, dignified in demeanor, refined in speech and virtuous in character. Besides having the requisite learning in the law, he must exhibit that hallmark judicial temperament of utmost sobriety and self-restraint.34
In this connection, he should be considerate, courteous and civil to all persons who come to his court. A judge who is inconsiderate, discourteous or uncivil to lawyers, litigants or witnesses who appear in his sala commits an impropriety.35
In the present case, insulting and insensitive language used by Judge Dajao in the Order he issued such as “idiot”, “psychopath”, “big dick (penis)”, “sadistic”, and “homophobic baklita” is a language not befitting a judge. It must be emphasized that judges are enjoined to always be temperate, patient and courteous both in conduct and language.36
Here, Judge Dajao’s unguarded written words, as well as insinuations of a sexual relationship between the parties involved in the case he was hearing, fell short of the standards expected of a magistrate of the law and constituted vulgar and unbecoming conduct that eroded public confidence in the judiciary.37
Also, in declaring that “the act of Judge Dajao in adding “Dr.” and “Ph.D” to his name in the subject order gives the impression that he is egotistical, and wants to be recognized by the litigants that other than being a magistrate, the inclusion of a title in the order, other than his official designation as a judge, was unwarranted.”38
Canon 2, Rule 2.02 of the Code of Judicial Conduct provides that “a judge should not seek publicity for personal vainglory.” Used in its ordinary meaning, vainglory refers to an individual’s excessive or ostentatious pride, especially in one’s achievements. Canon 1 on Integrity and Canon 2 on Propriety of the Code of Judicial Conduct proscribes judges from engaging in self-promotion and indulging their vanity and pride.39
Further, it should be borne in mind that it is the express mandate of the Canons of Judicial Ethics that “justice should not be bounded by the individual idiosyncrasies of those who administer it. A judge should adopt the usual and expected method of doing justice, and not seek to be extreme or peculiar in his judgment, or spectacular or sensational in the conduct of his court.40
B.] The case of Judge Lorredo
In Magno vs. Lorredo,41 during the course of the preliminary conference, Judge Lorredo asked the complainant’s counsel: “What did you do to convince those up there [RTC], that you were able to secure that kind of decision.”42
In reply: “I never follow-up on my cases, Your Honor.” Judge Lorredo also told the defendants that their lawyer is “mahina” or “hihina-hina,” and further uttered that “[g]inawa ko na nga ang desisyon dito sa kasong ito, at panalo kayo, ngayon talo pa kayo sa RTC.”43
The Court found Judge Lorredo’s insulting statements during the preliminary conference and in his pleadings before the Court are obviously offensive, distasteful, and inexcusable. Judge Lorredo was fined in the amount of P5,000, with stern warning that a repetition of the same or similar act shall be dealt with more severely.44
In Espejon vs. Lorredo,45 In its Report and Recommendation, the Judicial Integrity Board (JIB) faulted Judge Lorredo for declaring outright that complainants are not the owners of the property and must therefore vacate the same during the preliminary conference where he was encouraging the parties to reach an amicable settlement.46
The JIB held that by doing so, Judge Lorredo virtually prejudged the case in favor of the plaintiffs therein when he should have only explained the applicable law and directed the parties to make concessions which they may or may not accept.47
Worse, according to the JIB, Judge Lorredo admitted using the Bible in deciding cases when he should have insulated himself from his religious beliefs and acted only on the basis of the evidence and the law as shown by the records of the case before him.48
As well, his remarks against homosexuality were irrelevant to the issue in the case and had no place in the course of a preliminary conference. Complainants’ alleged that homosexuality was a personal and private matter between them which Judge Lorredo should have respected and refrained from bringing to fore.49
During the course of the preliminary conference, Judge Lorredo asked the complainant: “Wala naman kayong relationship na yung bawal sa Bible? Homosexual relationship? Wala bang bading sa inyong dalawa?” In reply: “Ay wala po, sir.”50
In his Comment, Judge Lorredo explained it was merely his intention to warn complainants about God’s dislike for homosexuals, and stressed it was on account of one of them pointing to the other as homosexual which made him talk more about God’s dislike for homosexuals.51
The Court found Judge Lorredo guilty of simple misconduct and conduct of unbecoming of a judge and fined in the amount of P40,000 and 10,000, respectively. The Court also found him guilty of sexual harassment and imposed a suspension of thirty days without pay, with stern warning that a repetition of the same or similar act shall be dealt with more severely.52
C.] The case of Judge Jaime E. Contreras
“A judge is not above the law. When a magistrate refuses to submit to judicial processes by becoming a fugitive from justice, he disrespects the law he is sworn to uphold and protect. By turning into a transgressor of the law, he brings disrepute to his office and impairs public confidence in the Judiciary.”53
The Supreme Court dismissed Judge Jaime E. Contreras, Presiding Judge of Branch 25, Regional Trial Court (RTC), Naga City, Camarines Sur for grave misconduct. The respondent Judge is also facing criminal charges of three (3) counts of rape, one (1) count of attempted rape, and eight (8) counts of acts of lasciviousness and violation or R.A. 7610 before Branch 41, RTC of Daet, Camarines Norte. The RTC had already issued orders of arrest against Contreras, but he has evaded arrest for several years now.54
The dismissal stemmed from the administrative complaint filed in 2014 before the OCA by the respondent judge’s purported victim of sexual molestation and rape. The honorable Court forfeited all benefits of Judge Contreras, except his accrued leave credits. He was also banned for employment in any public office. It also referred the case to the Office of the Bar Confidant for the purpose of initiating disbarment proceedings.55
The Complainant narrated that the the first molestation happened in 1994. Then it subsequently got worse and became more frequent. In 2004, the respondent judge was said to have brought the victim to a motel and raped her, not to mention that it happened several times. The said judge even took naked pictures of the victim and threatened that he would spread her naked photos if she disclosed his transgressions to anyone. But when her naked photos eventually leaked in July 2014, the victim finally decided to file criminal and administrative charges against the respondent judge.56
The Court gave full accordance to the OCA’s recommendation of imposing the penalty of dismissal for Judge Contreras who has been evading arrest. The Court held that a judge who deliberately and continuously fails and refused to comply with lawful orders or resolutions is guilty of grave misconduct.57
By becoming a fugitive from justice and evading arrest, Judge Contreras has committed grave misconduct. Thus, it ruled that the appropriate penalty against the respondent judge was dismissal from service, which carries with it accessory penalties. The Court further noted that grave misconduct is punishable by the penalty of dismissal even if committed for the first time.58
The Court likewise noted that this was not the first time that Judge Contreras failed to act beyond reproach and was found guilty of an administrative infraction. In 2016, the Court found him guilty of dishonesty for failure to disclose in his personal data sheet (PDS) when he applied as judge, that he was charged and found guilty of simple misconduct by the Office of the Ombudsman.59
D.] The case of Judge Marino E. Rubia
In this case, the court was confronted with the issue whether a judge’s mere presence in the dinner meeting with a complainant provides a ground for administrative liability. In the said meeting, Judge Rubia asked the complainant inappropriate questions which were not related to the case in which can be inferred that the Judge had been talking to the opposing counsel regarding matters outside the court proceedings.60
The Supreme Court held that Judge Rubia’s mere presence in the dinner meeting provides a ground for Administrative Liability. He was found guilty of gross misconduct and conduct of unbecoming of a judge for violating Canons 2, 3 and 5 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct.61
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 view of a reasonable observer.62
Section 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.63
Section 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.64
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.65
Section 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.66
Section 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.67
Section 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.68
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.69
Section 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.70
Section 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.71
The respondent judge actions belittled the integrity required of judges in all their dealings inside and outside the courts. For these actions, respondent Judge Rubia now lost the requisite integrity, impartiality, and propriety fundamental to his office.
He cannot be allowed to remain a member of the judiciary. In addition, he failed to subscribe to the highest moral fiber mandated of the judiciary and its personnel. Their actions tainted their office and besmirched its integrity
All of these rules indicate that service in the judiciary means a continuous study and research on the law from beginning to end, including international law and covenants.72
Under the Rules of Court, gross ignorance of the law or procedure constitutes a serious charge for which disciplinary proceedings may be instituted by the Supreme Court against judges of regular and special courts as well as justices of the Court of Appeals and the Sandiganbayan.
However, in the absence of bad faith, fraud, dishonesty or deliberate intent to do injustice, incorrect rulings do not give rise to a charge of ignorance of the law.
As seen in the Poso vs. Mijares,73 good faith of fallible discretion inheres only within the perimeter of tolerable judgment and does not apply where the issues are so simple and the applicable legal principles evident and basic as to be beyond possible margin of error.74
Delay in disposition of cases also constitutes a violation of this Canon which provides that “judges shall perform all duties including the delivery of reserved decisions, efficiently, fairly and with reasonable promptness.”75
Moreover, it is the sworn duty or judges to administer justice without undue delay under the time-honored precept that justice delayed is justice denied.76
When for valid reasons, cases submitted for decision or resolution could not be resolved within the prescribed period, judges have a remedy. Upon proper application with the Supreme Court, and in meritorious cases, especially those involving difficult questions of law or complex issues or when the judge is overburdened with a heavy caseload through no fault of his delay.77
- Justice M. Montemayor in Ocampo vs. Secretary of Justice, G.R. No. L-7910, January 18, 1955
- Section 7(3), Article VIII of the 1987 Philippine Constitution
- United Nations, Integrity in the Criminal Justice System
- Berin vs. Barte, A.M. No. MTJ-02-1443, July 31, 2002
- A.M. No. 561-MJ, December 29, 1976
- A.M. No. 18-01-05-SC
- Id., A.M. No. 18-01-05-SC
- Sec. 1, Article VIII, 1987 Constitution
- Supra., A.M. No. 18-01-05-SC, July 7, 2020
- Par. I (c) 1 of Circular No. 30-91, September 30, 1991
- Office of the Court Administrator
- Luque vs. Kayanan, G.R. No. L-26826, August 29, 1969
- OCA vs. Gines, A.M. No. RTJ-92-802 July 5, 1993
- Lachica vs. Flordeliza, A.M. No. MTJ-94-921, March 5, 1996
- Canon 4, Canons of Judicial Ethics; Aducayen vs. Flores, 51 SCRA 78 ; Secretary of Justice vs. Bullecer, 56 SCRA 24 
- Hadjirul Tahil vs. Eisma, 65 SCRA 378 
- Canon 13, Canons of Judicial Ethics
- Supra., Hadjirul Tahil vs. Eisma, 65 SCRA 378 
- Austria vs. Masaquel, 20 SCRA 1247 ; Baja vs. Macandog, 158 SCRA 391 
- Masadao and Elizaga Re Criminal Case No. 4954-M, 155 SCRA 72 ; Naldoza v. Lavilles, 254 SCRA 286 
- Masadao and Elizaga Re Criminal Case No. 4954-M, 155 SCRA 72 ; Naldoza v. Lavilles, 254 SCRA 286 
- A.M. No. RTJ-16-2456, March 02, 2020
- Ibid., Section 1, Canon 4 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct
- Ibid., Section 2, Canon 4 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct
- A.M. No. MTJ-17-1905, August 30, 2017
- A.M. No. MTJ-22-007, March 09, 2022
- A.M. No. RTJ-15-2437, December 9, 2020
- A.M. No. RTJ-15-2416, included in A.M. No. RTJ-15-2413. September 25, 2018
- Canon 2, New Code of Judicial Conduct
- Canon 3, New Code of Judicial Conduct
- Canon 4, New Code of Judicial Conduct
- Lopez v Fernandez, AM No. 2124-MJ, September 11, 1980
- A.M. No. RTJ-02-1693 August 21, 2002
- Corpus vs. Ochotorena, A.M. No. RTJ-04-1861, July 30, 2004
- Castro vs. Malazo, A.M. No. 1237-CAR, August 21, 1980
- Celino vs. Abrogar, A.M. No. RTJ-95-1317, June 27, 1995