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Integrity, Transparency and Accountability…Hallmarks of PTJLI

22 November 2012

Speech-Hallmarks-of-PTJLISpeech of Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" R. Marcos
19th National Convention Seminar of the Philippine Trial Judges League, Inc.
Fort Ilocandia, Ilocos Norte

To the officers and members of the Philippine Trial Judges League, Inc., to incumbent President, Judge Alfred Alex Castillo, Madame and Mister Judges, your Honors, ladies and gentlemen, a pleasant afternoon to you all.

With pride and enthusiasm, I give you a warm Ilocano welcome to my beloved homeland of Ilocos Norte. Naragsak nga isasangbayyo iti probinsya tayo nga Ilocos Norte!

I thank you for most sincerely for inviting me to your National Convention, albeit on the basis of my being perceived as “one of the prominent political personalities of Ilocos Norte” and for this. I thank you very much.

Thank you even more for choosing Ilocos Norte as the venue for your National Convention this year, aptly themed “Integrity, Transparency, Accountability.”

While you are here in our province, I also hope that the relative calm and serenity that Ilocos Norte offers can provide the appropriate mood and ambience as you reflect on and make a careful self-examination of your avowed ideals in relation to this year’s theme vis-à-vis your judicial duties.

Honorable Judges, We come from different sides of the fence in the government machinery; I am from the legislative department, and you all represent the judicial department. So in my address, I will not attempt to dictate upon you or impose my will over you, lest I be accused of violating the principle of separation of powers and my actions be tainted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, which may be a proper subject of judicial review. (JOKE)

However, despite our separation of powers, we find common ground in the Constitution and the laws, as well as the universal principles and virtues such as justice, equality, order, sanctity of rights and liberties, among others, the quest for which are ingrained in our duties and mandates.

We also find common ground in our interdepartmental and mutual courtesy, cooperation and coordination as to ensure a smooth operation of the government machinery, to find the delicate balance between authority and liberty, and to avoid the awful spectacle of a constitutional crisis.

I will not attempt to lecture to you about these principles and virtues, as I know that we are all fully aware of our constitutional and legal mandates.

At any rate, I give my 10-centavos worth on this year’s theme of Integrity, Transparency and Accountability. Because of their inherent importance in the work of judges, these aptly called “hallmarks” of the Philippine Trial Judges League should be permanently adopted, and be made to permeate and resonate beyond this event and all throughout the duration of your careers.

With these hallmarks, the Philippine Judiciary shall be able to truly cement itself as the last bastion of justice and democracy, and finally get rid of the irksome stereotype of “hoodlums in robes” that had been baptized the Philippine Judiciary in the 1990s. If these ideals were instilled, we shall effectively erase the old notions that our courts are easily bought, pressured and influenced.

Integrity is the most basic of these. In fact, no less than the Article VIII of the Constitution expressly demands this from a member of the Judiciary.

Transparency is most important especially since we espouse a democratic form of government. We should move away from the notion that court proceedings are arcane and clandestine, and not for the common tao to appreciate and understand. It helps that the Constitution demands that court decisions should express “clearly and distinctly the facts and the law on which it is based”.

Accountability is likewise important, not to anyone else, but to the citizenry. Accountability not to the appointing power, but to the sovereign Filipino people, from whom all government authority emanates. And the kind of accountability that the decisions rendered, because of its correctness and wisdom, can be defended not only in the higher or appellate courts, but also in any other place, be it at Plaza Miranda or before the parliament of the streets.

Truly, the importance of the judiciary cannot be overemphasized. “Although holding ‘neither the purse nor sword,’ the judiciary occupies a vital and indispensable part in our system of government, for it is the ultimate guardian of the Constitution. The political departments, if only because of the nature of their powers, have a tendency to bend, if not actually break the laws, sometimes for the best of motives or out of mistaken zeal, but more often because of a desire for self-aggrandizement. When they do so, the judiciary is expected to rectify the wrong and affirm its ‘sacred and solemn duty’ to uphold the Constitution and the laws of the land.”

Those words are not mine, I must admit. I just quoted and borrowed them from the esteemed Justice Isagani Cruz. “Constitutional Law”, 2007 edition, page 21. With that disclaimer, please do not subject me to cyber-bullying afterwards and call me a “lying thief” because of plagiarism. Or as a now-famous personality has coined recently, “AMALAYER”. (JOKE)

By the way, for your information, my Cybercrime version really did not have that libel clause.

Oh well, at least the Cybercrime Law is one less law that you would have to handle and interpret for the meantime, thus, temporarily declogging your case loads and dockets.

My fellow Civil Servants, we should always uphold the Constitution. For the Constitution itself and the Bill of Rights serve as the limits of our respective authorities. I know fully well the primacy and paramount importance of our liberties, as enshrined in the Bill of Rights. I have been involved in litigations myself, and I have realized that the Bill of Rights is a person’s only effective guarantee of protection against the strong arm of the government and in my case, against a vindictive and unfriendly administration.

Moreover, in the recent impeachment proceedings, while sitting as a Senator-Judge, I have seen once again firsthand the importance of the Bill of Rights at work.

For six (6) straight months, I experienced what it was like to be in your position. Imagine, for six (6) months, I was also called “Your Honor”, just like you!

The Bill of Rights is really very, very important. You may or may not have agreed with my conservatism in that trial of our Chief Justice, but in my appreciation of the evidence presented during the trial and in my decision, I clung to and stood by the Bill of Rights as I noted in decision. And I quote:

“The Lady Justice wears a blindfold for a reason. She is to render judgment based on law and evidence, without regard to the circumstances and personalities of the parties involved --- however controversial they may be. She is to dispense justice without fear or favor.”

X x x. The Bill of Rights stands supreme over all the powers of government, including the power to impeach. And nowhere is this precept more apposite than in this case, where the government has mustered all the resources at its disposal, not only to secure evidence against the Chief Justice but, further, to ensure his conviction.”

Ladies and gentlemen, now, six months after the Senate’s verdict, I still stand pat by my belief that–like the Lady Justice–I shall find solace in the fact that my decision to acquit the respondent, though maybe not popular, was fair, impartial and just.

Guided by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your oath of office–especially the unique pledge to “administer justice without respect to person and do equal right to the poor and the rich,”–the Canons of Judicial Ethics, and the Code of Judicial Conduct,you will always be able to render your brand of complete, equitable and meaningful justice to the citizenry, as mandated by the laws and the Constitution.

I also exhort my most respected friends in the judiciary to be at liberty to suggest new legislations to us your legislators as well as how we can improve and remedy legislations, since you have “exceptional opportunity to observe the operation of statutes”, as recognized by no less than Canon 21 of your Canons of Judicial Ethics. Thus, we shall not only strengthen our body of laws but we shall also strengthen the independence and interdependence of the legislature and the judiciary.

Lest, I get carried away with my legal/judicial rumination, let me stop at this point. Again, thank you very much. Thank you for having me, and thank you for choosing Ilocos Norte. I hope you will have an enjoyable and productive stay in our lovely province.

While you are here, I hope that you can be able to summon the Muse to help you draft enlightened and inspired decisions.
As a result, may you be able to come up with inspired and poetic lines in your decisions, such as the wildly popular: "bombardment of the drawbridge;" "shelling of the castle of orgasmic potency;" and "strafing of the citadel of passion."

I wish you all the best! Maraming salamat po sa inyong lahat!
As they say in our local tongue, Agragsak tayo amin!

Dios to agngina kadakayo amin! Mabuhay – Good afternoon!