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Lifestyle audit on justices, judges okayed

As part of its reforms to cleanse the judiciary of corruption and maintain its integrity, the Supreme Court has created two permanent offices: the Judicial Integrity Board, which will act on complaints against erring justices, judges, and court personnel; and the Corruption Prevention and Investigation Office, which will conduct lifestyle checks on them.

In an en banc resolution dated Oct. 2, the Court approved the recommendation of the Technical Working Group on Judicial Integrity to create the JIB and CPIO.

The full court also amended 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.

The CPIO is mandated to conduct investigation and intelligence, surveillance or entrapment operations or lifestyle checks to detect and identify justices of Court of Appeals, Sandiganbayan, Court of Tax Appeals, 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 Court said 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.

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 the filing and it is shown prima facie, that is intended to harass and embarrass the respondent, the JIB will recommend to the Court the dismissal of the complaint and that the complainant be cited for indirect contempt.

If the 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.

The integrity board is composed of a chairman, vice chairman, and three regular members who shall be appointed for a term of three years without reappointment. Of those first appointed, the chairman shall hold office for three years, the vice chairman 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 chairman and vice chairman must be retired justices of the SC and are entitled to a compensation equivalent to the compensation of an incumbent SC justice, 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.

Topics: Supreme Court , Judicial Integrity Board , Corruption Prevention and Investigation Office ,
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