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Speech at the 18th Sheriffs Confederation Philippines National Convention

22 April 2015

Speech at Sheriffs Confederation Philippines National Convention

Maraming salamat po sa pagkumbida sa inyong lingkod upang makasama kayo rito sa inyong National Convention!

Medyo kakaiba po ang aking pakiramdam ngayon—at malamang kayo rin—dahil alam naman nating lahat na we come from different sides of the fence in the government. I am from the legislative branch, whereas you all hail from the judiciary.

So I won’t even dare lecture to you today and will keep my remarks as short as possible, as requested by your President, Sheriff Labayani. Para naman hindi ako maakusahan ng paglabag sa “principles separation of powers and judicial autonomy”, at para hindi rin magtampo sa inyo ang ating Chief Justice!

Higit sa lahat, ang takot ko kasi ay baka ako ay makasuhan sa Korte Suprema ng petition for certiorari or prohibition under Rule 65 on the ground of “grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction”!

Kaya anuman ang mga sasabihin ko sa inyo ngayong umaga, treat them as mere “ADVICE” or “SUGGESTIONS”—and not an “ORDER”—‘ika nga ng magaling na pangangatwiran ni former PNP Director-General Purisima!

Anyway, kidding aside, I warmly congratulate you on your National Convention for this year. At this early juncture, please allow me to first highlight the importance of your assembly. Because of this, your particular unit in the larger scheme of the judicial branch of government is afforded the opportunity to accumulate and listen to all the local experiences—both good and bad—of court sheriffs from all over the country, and consolidate them into this centralized repository of information made possible by this forum.

Then, to ensure maximum effect, please make sure that all these compiled data and the collective wisdom of the group, as well as your analyses and findings and your appropriate recommendations, are properly reported afterwards to the Supreme Court, for its appropriate and timely action.

So let’s all take advantage of this very valuable opportunity for you to self-diagnose your particular sector and recommend the appropriate solutions to the Supreme Court, in order to protect your own interests and welfare as a distinct component of the judiciary.
Kaya naman maganda rin na nandirito upang makinig sa inyo ang mga kinatawan mula sa Office of the Court Administrator at sa Court Management Office ng ating Korte Suprema.

Hindi na ako magpapaligoy-ligoy pa. Alam naman natin ang mahalagang papel na ginagampanan ng mga court sheriffs.

In essence, court sheriffs are tasked to execute and implement final judgments, which, in the words of the Supreme Court, are the “fruit and end of the lawsuit” and the “life of the law”, and which, if not enforced, are mere “empty victories on the part of the prevailing parties”. Thus, this essential task of court sheriffs, according to the Supreme Court, is deemed a “major component of the ideal administration of justice”.

Wow, big words!

Sadyang napakabigat ng katungkulang ito ng ating mga sheriffs. Kung kaya naman sinabi ng Korte Suprema na “mabilis at maagap” dapat ang mga sheriffs tungkol dito. You have no discretion whatsoever. At hindi rin daw kayo pwedeng magkamali.

The expectations are high, and the standards, very exacting. In fact, court sheriffs are held to the same high standards set for judges and other judicial employees.

But if we analyze the plantilla positions of court sheriffs, they are just given items with either Salary Grade 10 or Salary Grade 12. Wala pa sa kalahati ng Salary Grade ng isang Judge o maging ng isang Clerk of Court.

Then, if court sheriffs fail to implement a final judgment, the Supreme Court said that a presumption is created that they are either “waiting for additional financial consideration” from the winning party, or that they have “already received a bribe from the losing party” to precisely delay the implementation.

Kawawa naman ang mga sheriffs! Walang kawala! Napakahirap ng kanilang kalagayan!

Akala ko ba, court sheriffs are the ones who ensure that the law is brought to life? Akala ko ba mahalaga sila, dahil kung walang speedy enforcement, final judgments are mere “empty victories”. Parang papel lamang sa kamay ng nanalo. Para bagang winning Lotto ticket, pero hindi makuha-kuha ang premyo.

These humble observations of mine lead to the analysis that court sheriffs need to be more encouraged and empowered, not merely in their morale, but more importantly, in their economic situation. Perhaps it is high time to consider the upgrading of the salary grades of court sheriffs. Their salary grades should be made commensurate to their functions and service to the judiciary!

Court sheriffs should also be adequately staffed and given sufficient resources to form and assemble an ably capacitated and secured implementation team. This is because in case of failure to execute, sheriffs face the dreadful possibility of dismissal from the service. Thus, they should be fairly afforded reasonable means and wherewithal to accomplish such a very daunting task with dreadful consequences.

The dignity of their office too needs to be strengthened further. The Office of the Court Sheriff should be accorded the ample respect and dignity due and that befit its official functions. Indeed, if it is true that in the course of their work in the field, they carry with them the image and name of the judiciary, then they should likewise be treated with equal honor and respect, just as our honorable judicial magistrates.

Hindi ‘yung kapag kailangang pumasok sa isang exclusive na subdivision para mag-serve o mag-implement ng writ of execution, hindi papapasukin ng security guard ang sheriff, na para bang isa siyang nuisance or suspicious personality. Hindi ‘yung kapag may scheduled implementation, kukuyugin ng mga bodyguards at bubugbugin pa ng Mayor!

Considering unfortunate incidents that befell and continue to befall court sheriffs in the course of their work, perhaps it is also high time to consider granting them a form of “hazard pay” to counterbalance all the occupational risks and hazards attendant to their official functions.

Sabi nga ng Supreme Court, court sheriffs are the “frontliners of the justice system”. Ayun, kaya naman sila agad ang unang nakakasalo ng mga suntok at batok ng publiko!

Considering the nature of their functions, court sheriffs are true “agents of law” or “law enforcers” in their own right. They too partake in the very important State function of maintaining “rule of law” in our society—in their case, a “rule of case law or jurisprudence” or a “rule of civil law”. Again, without them, case law would be mere words and empty victories.

Through the court sheriffs’ indispensable role, justice indeed comes full circle. As such, court sheriffs equally deserve a rightful and glorified place in the judiciary, which is popularly perceived to be the “domain of lawyers”.

Kung ang mga judges at mga abogado ang tinaguriang mga “UTAK” ng hudikatura, ang mga court sheriffs naman ang siyang “MUSCLE” o “KALAMNAN” nito! Though substantially different in nature, your ministerial functions serve to complement those of adjudication towards the same desired results of a complete, effective and efficient administration of justice and in the maintenance of rule of law in our country.

To end, all these humble opinions of a legislator—an outsider to the judiciary—need further refinement and elaboration from your kindred minds. I hope that these ruminations can provoke thought and inspire action in you, and also prove to be useful in your findings, analyses and your eventual report to the Supreme Court, which has the last say about the way our judiciary is organized and run—consistent with our well-settled ideals of an independent and autonomous judiciary.

So, my dear friends, let me end on that high note. Once again, I congratulate all of you as you head on to the first day of your National Convention. I hope and wish that you will all have a very inspired, productive and meaningful Convention.

Mabuhay ang ating mga court sheriffs sa buong bansa! Mabuhay ang Sheriffs’ Confederation of the Philippines!

Hanggang sa ating muling pagkikita!

Maraming salamat po at magandang umaga sa inyong lahat!