Two new bodies to probe complaints against magistrates

November 13, 2018

THE Supreme Court yesterday announced the creation of two bodies that will handle complaints against erring members of the judiciary.

In a resolution released yesterday, the SC approved the establishment of the Judicial Integrity Board (JIB) and the Corruption Prevention and Investigation Office (CPIO) in a bid to address corruption in the judiciary.

The JIB will resolve complaints against erring justices in appellate courts, trial court judges, as well as court officials and personnel, while the CPIO is tasked to conduct lifestyle checks on them. Both are permanent offices under the supervision of the SC.

The SC created the new bodies upon recommendation of its technical working group on judicial integrity under the committee on continuing legal education and Bar matters.

It amended salient provisions in Rule 140 of the Rules of Court, which covers rules on disciplinary actions on members of the judiciary, to incorporate the new bodies.

Under the new rules, the CPIO is tasked to conduct investigation and/or intelligence, surveillance or entrapment operations or lifestyle check on justices of Court of Appeals (CA), Sandiganbayan (SB), Court of Tax Appeals (CTA), and judges and personnel of the lower courts, including shari’a courts, and officials and employees of the Office of the Jurisconsult and Office of the Court Administrator.

The proceedings for the discipline of the justices, judges and court personnel will start with the filing of a verified complaint supported by affidavits and other authentic documents or an anonymous complaint supported by public records of indubitable integrity.  

The resolution also provided that disciplinary actions or proceedings against erring members of the judiciary could be initiated by the Court on the basis of a verified or anonymous complaint, records or documents/papers against those concerned, or newspaper or media reports.

In the same resolution, the SC warned that complainants who will file charges against judges and court personnel without basis and with the intention of just harassing or embarrassing the respondents would be cited for indirect contempt of court.

For complaint with basis, the JIB shall seek approval from the SC for the conduct of a formal investigation of respondents and submit its report and recommendation to the Court within 60 days from the termination of investigation.

The JIB will be composed of a chair and vice chair -- both retired justices of the SC who will be entitled to compensation equivalent to that of an incumbent justice of the High Tribunal -- and three regular members who shall be appointed for a term of three years without reappointment.