Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin has assured President Rodrigo Duterte that the Supreme Court’s campaign against corruption will continue until the judiciary is cleansed of misfits and scalawags.
“The President does not need to remind us but thank you to him. We have been constantly, consistently cleaning the ranks of the judiciary as well as the legal profession and of our ranks of employees for any kind of misfit or scalawag or misbehaving or unworthy members of this components of our judicial system,” Bersamin said, in an interview before the weekend.
I assure the people that the SC has already acted on so many complaints,” he added.
While the SC has acted judiciously on complaints filed against justices, judges and personnel in the judiciary, Bersamin pointed out that they also dismissed cases for wanting of evidence.
“We have been very active in ferreting the ranks of our judges and lawyers [of misfits and scalawags], but we have also been protecting those who were guiltless,” he emphasized.
“We have also dismissed complaints that never had to be filed in the first place because it is not fair for judges to be pilloried or the lawyers to be charged without basis,” he said.
Bersamin also welcomed the 41-percent approval rating he got from the Pulse Asia survey conducted last June.
“We are happy . . . The good ratings are always welcome, but that is not what we aspire for. We always think of the people that we serve, the entire country and if we get good ratings in surveys, that is a clear bonus for us,” said Bersamin, who confirmed his and most of the SC justices’ attendance during the 4th State of the Nation Address of President Duterte today.
“I am sure that the people who might approved of us are really satisfied on how we are working in the judiciary,” he added.
Immediately after his appointment as top magistrate last year, Bersamin ordered a purge against “misfits and scalawags” in the courts, especially in the provinces where there is prevalence of corruption.
Bersamin specifically instructed Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez to start the cleansing with the courts in his home province, Abra.
“I directed [Marquez] to start with [my] home province of Abra. That is a marching order… no matter if they are my relatives or not,” Bersamin said.
According to him, the campaign against corruption in judiciary should start in courts in the provinces where he believes there still is a strong perception that justice is only for the strong, the influential and the wealthy.
“Those judges and employees in the provinces who have contributed to this wrong perception about the judiciary will have to go,” the top magistrate warned.
With this perception, Bersamin said there is a need need to “purge the judiciary of misfits and scalawags and enforce the rules of discipline.”
The Chief Justice has set the anti-corruption campaign as one of his priorities in his one-year tenure in the top judicial post.
Bersamin, who was appointed by President Duterte as successor of Chief Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro in November 2018, will retire on October 18 this year, when he reaches his mandatory retirement age of 70.