MANILA – Contrary to claims that the Supreme Court (SC) is interfering in presidential matters by directing the Executive Secretary to formalize charges against four judges allegedly involved in the drug trade, it "acted well within its powers," said the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP).
It is part of the high court's job to discipline judges in accordance with the three government branches' separation of powers, the IBP said, as laid out in the Constitution.
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In addition, while President Rodrigo Duterte may have found just cause in revealing the names of the judges so they will explain themselves publicly, there is a need to protect the members of the judiciary from such exposure, because they "perform unique functions so essential in the dispensation of justice that require insulation or protection from all types of unwarranted pressure," the IBP said in a statement on Thursday.
The judges should be given the opportunity to explain their defense, "in keeping with the rudimentary rules of administrative due process," which should be followed in making judges answer for any crimes. Once the complaints are sent to the SC, it can then perform its duty to police its own ranks.
Cooperation and convergence, the bar association emphasized, is key in serving the Filipino people.
This call has been echoed by some lawmakers, who suggested that all branches of government coordinate its efforts at revolutionizing justice in the Philippines through a joint advisory and consultative council.
On Wednesday, Palace Chief Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo chided Chief Justice Sereno for supposedly "reprimanding" Duterte for naming seven alleged "narco-judges." Three have since been revealed to have died, retired, and been dishonorably discharged from duty.
"You do not reprimand the president if you are a coequal branch. You can write the president and inquire," he said.