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Report ‘corrupt’ judges, court personnel, SC tells public

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REELING from another scandal of corruption involving a trial judge and a branch clerk of court, the Supreme Court, under Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo, has created a specific channel where the public can send information on court officers and personnel involved in corruption and other malpractices.

In a statement, the SC said under Memorandum Order (MO) 72-2024 dated June 19, 2024 signed by Senior Associate Chief Justice Marvin Leonen, the public is enjoined to send in their information at email at: integrity@judiciary.gov.ph.

The highest court said the new channel is to show its “commitment to rid our courts of all forms of corruption involving… violation of our laws against graft and corruption, our Code of Judicial Responsibility, and related laws and issuances by any judge, justice, or court personnel at any level.”

The email would be accessible only to all the magistrates of the Supreme Court.

“In the alternative, any complaint can be confidentially communicated directly to the Chief Justice, the Senior Associate Justice, or any Associate Justice of the Supreme Court,” the order added.

The new mechanism was implemented after Pasay City Regional Trial Court Branch 108 Judge Alberto Cansino and Officer-in-Charge/Acting Branch Clerk of Court Mariejoy Lagman allegedly accepted P6 million from a litigant in exchange for a favorable judgment in a civil case last May 24, 2024, during an entrapment operation conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

Both court officers have since then been slapped with a preventive suspension lasting 90 days.

Supreme Court administrator Raul Villanueva, in his report to the magistrates, said the NBI operation was prompted by an “anonymous complaint” the Judicial Integrity Board (JIB) received via email.

After the NBI verified the information, the entrapment operation was set leading to the arrest of Judge Cansino and Lagman.

The SC also assured that “whistleblowers” with credible information would be protected while also warning that lawyers “who participate, advise, or tolerate any form of corruption shall be dealt with severely.”

Acts considered as constituting corruption include extortion of money, gift, or favor from any litigant or counsel of any party to influence a case or court process; extortion of money, gift, or favor from any litigant or counsel for the service of any process, including warrants, summons, and writs of execution; extortion of money, gift, or favor from any litigant or counsel for any activity of judges, justices or court personnel;

Extortion of money, gift, or favor to gain inside information as to the progress of any case, including the name of the ponente in any appellate court including the Supreme Court; and names and activities of any influence peddler who claims to be able to obtain favors in any court.

The SC also called on the public to not “prematurely” post on social media any information being investigated by the court in order not to undermine the effort to arrest those involved in any court shenanigan.

To drive home its seriousness, the SC also mandated for Memorandum Order 24-2024 to be posted “prominently” in all courts and halls of justice all over the country.

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