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SC creates two permanent offices to ensure integrity in judiciary

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To strengthen integrity and prevent corruption in the judiciary, the Supreme Court (SC) has created two permanent offices: the Judicial Integrity Board (JIB), which will act on complaints against erring justices, judges, and court personnel; and the Corruption Prevention and Investigation Office (CPIO) which will conduct a lifestyle check on them.

The creation of these two permanent offices is by virtue of the En Banc Resolution dated October 2, 2018 in A.M. No. 18-01-5-SC approving the recommendation of the Technical Working Group on Judicial Integrity to create JIB and CPIO.

The Court likewise approved to amend salient provisions in Rule 140 of the Rules of Court to incorporate the JIB. Rule 140 covers the Discipline of Judges of Regular and Special Courts, Justices of the Court of Appeals, The Sandiganbayan, Court of Tax Appeals, Court Administrator, Deputy Court Administrator and Assistant Court Administrator.

Under the Committee on Continuing Legal Education and Bar Matters, the TWG on Judicial Integrity was established by the SC through Memorandum Order No. 38-A-2016.

The CPIO is tasked to conduct investigation and/or intelligence, surveillance or entrapment operations or lifestyle check to detect and identify Justices of Court of Appeals (CA), Sandiganbayan (SB), Court of Tax Appeals (CTA), and judges and personnel of the lower courts, including the Shari’a Courts, and the officials and employees of the Office of the Jurisconsult, Court Administrator, Deputy Court Administrator, Assistant Court Administrator and their personnel.

The proceedings for the discipline of the justices, judges, and court personnel “may be instituted, motu proprio, by the SC, in the [JIB]” and also by way of a verified complaint, supported by affidavits and other authentic documents, or upon anonymous complaint, supported by public records of indubitable integrity.

The Resolution also provided that disciplinary actions or proceedings initiated by the SC, motu proprio, or on the basis of a verified or anonymous complaint, records or documents/papers against those concerned, or on the basis of newspaper or media reports, shall be docketed, in the SC, as a regular administrative matter, for appropriate final action of the SC in the absence of substantial factual issues.

If a disciplinary action is filed with the JIB six months before the compulsory retirement of the individual for an alleged cause of action that occurred at least a year before such filing and shown prima facie, that is intended to harass and embarrass the respondent, the JIB shall recommend to the SC the dismissal of said complaint and that the complainant be cited by the SC for indirect contempt. If complainant is a lawyer, the same may further be required to show cause why he or she should not be administratively sanctioned as a member of the Philippine Bar and as an officer of the Court.

Any disciplinary action that can be resolved on the basis of the pleadings of the parties, documents/papers or court records and/or documents or papers filed with or submitted by them to the JIB shall be deemed submitted for the preparation and submission by the JIB of its Report and Recommendation to the SC within 60 days from receipt of the said pleadings and/or records or documents.

However, if based on the pleadings of the parties, there is prima facie case against the respondent but substantial factual issues are raised, the JIB shall recommend to the SC that the case be considered and docketed as a regular administrative matter and that the JIB be directed to conduct formal investigation of the substantial factual issues raised by the parties and to submit a report and recommendation to the SC within 60 days from the termination of such investigation. The JIB shall, thereafter, prepare and submit to the SC the “Report and Recommendation” of its investigation, 60 days from the termination of its investigation or, as modified by the SC.

The JIB shall be composed of a Chair, Vice Chair, and three regular members who shall be appointed for a term of three years without reappointment. Of those first appointed, the Chair shall hold office for three years, the Vice Chair for two years, two regular members for two years, and the other regular member for one year, without reappointment. Appointment to any vacancy shall be only for the unexpired portion of the term of the predecessor.

The Chair and Vice Chair must be retired Justices of the SC and are entitled to a compensation equivalent to the compensation of an incumbent Justice of the SC, while the regular members must be either a retired justice of the CA, SB, or CTA and are entitled to a compensation equivalent to the salary of the Justice of the CA, SB, or CTA from which they retired.

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