MANILA — The Supreme Court (SC) needs to proactively address the alleged corruption in the Judiciary.
This was the proposal made by Associate Justice Arturo Brion before the SC en banc stemming from Atty. Lorna Kapunan’s revelations in an interview with broadcaster Anthony Taberna in his program “Umagang Kay Ganda” on Nov. 21, 2013 on the alleged corruption involving certain court members.
Brion recommended that the matter be referred for further investigation as done in the “Ma’am Arlene” inquiry.
Concurring with the proposal of Brion was Associate Justice Marvic Leonen.
During the interview on national television, Kapunan told Taberna some unfounded insinuations that several members of the Judiciary could easily be bribed at the expense of justice.
Thus, the SC ordered Kapunan to submit an explanation because she made unwarranted remarks which tended to erode public trust and confidence in the courts.
In her explanation, Kapunan said that the remarks made in the said interview were not intended to insult, malign, embarrass, or bring the court into disrepute.
The lawyer invoked her constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech. She added though that she is not unaware of the corresponding obligation to exercise said right responsibly.
The SC said that the right invoked by Kapunan is not without limitations.
In the Aug. 12, 2014 SC ruling promulgated by Clerk of Court Atty. Enriqueta Vidal, it reminded Kapunan that “comments against the courts must not go beyond the bounds of courtesy and fairness in order not to destroy the people’s trust in the judicial system.”
The SC said that as a member of the Philippine Bar, Kapunan “is under obligation to maintain at all times a respectful attitude toward the courts.”
“This responsibility of a lawyer in relation to the court is imposed under the Code of Professional Responsibility,” it added.
The SC found no solid basis to punish Kapunan.
However, Brion suggested “the matter should be dealt with appropriately given the extent and gravity of the substance of her disclosure on the alleged corruption in the Judiciary and the public perception her statements represent.”