Improve values education to cut corruption: De Castro

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 24 2012 12:39 PM | Updated as of Jul 24 2012 09:39 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Law schools should give more priority to ethics as a means to reduce corruption in the judiciary, according to an outsider-nominee for Chief Justice.

Interviewed on Tuesday by the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), Soledad Cagampang-de Castro, 67, said law schools, as well as pre-law education, do not give the right amount of time teaching students about values and ethics.

She said ethics should not just be one subject and should not be relegated to the background.

"I think there is a need to go back to the teaching or imbibing of values," she said. "We should have continuous training in law school in ethics."

She said the curriculum should be revised to give more emphasis on ethical conduct of lawyers.

De Castro said she taught in varous law schools for 11 years and found out that many law students, especially working students not from the famous schools who already have their own careers, "never had logic, ethics and philosophy [subjects]."

"These are the basic values, the subjects that imbibe, that teach you the values of good lawyers," she said.

She said the Supreme Court should prescribe these subjects as a step toward improving the quality of lawyers.

Short stint in SC

Since she will only serve for 3 years if chosen as Chief Justice, De Castro said she would have to work double-time so she can implement the reforms needed to speed up the administration of justice.

Instead of reviewing the organization in a year, she would have to do it in 6 months so that the changes can be implemented as soon as possible, she added.

Despite being semi-retired from private practice in her family's law firm, De Castro said "it's never too late to do something."

She said her doctors have cleared her for the job, and she believes she can handle the full-time work of heading an organization with 22,000 personnel.

De Castro said her experience in the private sector--she worked in Benguet Corp. for 16 years--will help her initiate organizational reforms in the judiciary.

Humane CJ, common good

Aside from being clean, honest and independent, she said a Chief Justice must also be "humane," which will help her address the wants and needs of the employees in the judiciary.

Asked how she will deal with the other justices being an outsider, De Castro said a Chief Justice should not lead or deal with his or her colleagues but should just be "coordinating and cooperating."

She also said she joined the search for Chief Justice in order to give the JBC alternatives "rather than limit" the candidates to those from the public sector who are already known to many.

She said her husband Atty. Arturo de Castro, supports her bid even if he also nominated other candidates. "Yes, I know, and I respect his opinion," she said.

Asked about her views on whether a justice should decide based on the common good or on what is just and right, she said the task of justices is not to pronounce policy but to dispense justice based on the rule of law and a set of facts.

Common good is a policy issue that is more addressed to legislators, she said.