August 11, 2011
Bernice Camille V. Bauzon
Chief Justice Renato Corona on Thursday vowed to enforce judicial reforms in the Supreme Court (SC) that would be responsive to the needs of society and local and foreign investors.
At the same time, Corona batted for amendments to economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution.
In his speech before the European Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines (ECCP) and the Makati Business Club (MBC), he
specified the changes in the SC that he hopes to accomplish during his term as the 23rd chief magistrate of the country.
Among these reforms are strengthening of integrity of judicial officers and of coordination among key agencies, enhancing of people's access to justice especially by the poor, building of justice halls across the country, developing the High Tribunal's information and technology system and overhauling the conduct of the Bar examinations.
Corona said that he believed that these changes in the Supreme Court will help enhance the country's capacity to attract foreign investors.
To ECCP President Hubert d'Aboville, the Chief Justice pledged to institutionalize the judicial reforms in the interest of the local and foreign business communities.
"The business sector is interested in a more efficient judicial system that will prosecute traffickers [and] illegal recruiters. For us, justice delayed is practically justice denied," Corona said.
"[We want] a system that will be responsive to the needs of the business sector and society," d'Aboville said, specifically pointing to corporate harassment and questionable transactions as just some ofthe contentious areas that he wants the government to address.
According to Corona, it was high time that economic provisions in the 1987 Constitution be amended.
"Yes, they (provisions) need to be revised. The Philippines needs to break away from a purely restrictive and ultra nationalistic [approach]. [We should] open up for fair competition because we are definitely lagging behind [in this aspect]," he said during the open forum.
Corona added that he personally believed that the Supreme Court "should not be dabbling in economics, we have no choice."
Citing Article 9 of the Civil Code, which provides that no judge or court shall decline to render judgment by reason of the silence, obscurity or insufficiency of the laws," the Chief Justice said that "when somebody brings a case before the Supreme Court, we cannot ignore it."
"So, ifyou don t want us to meddle in economic affairs, don't bring a case before us," he added in jest.
Meanwhile, Corona signed the "Integrity Pledge" of the Integrity Initiative program headed by ECCP.
With 600 company-members and 12 secretaries, the program hopes to level the playing field in the business community by eradicating corruption in the judiciary.
Corona pledged to combat graft and corruption, uphold and ensure implementation of Republic Act 6713 (Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees), conduct training programs for judicial officers and personnel, implement appropriate internal systems to prevent unethical conduct and maintain appropriate financial reporting mechanism to ensure accuracy and transparency.
He also vowed to reduce red tape in the judiciary, maintain channels of communications where ethical concerns about judicial officials and personnel can be raised, institute corrective measures and apply disciplinary sanctions against erring court officials, enter into integrity pacts with government and private entities, and engage only with parties that have existing internal control systems on transparency, integrity, and corporate governance.
Source: Manila Times; News; 05 August 2011