THE JUDICIARY BRANCH
In a democracy, the judiciary is the final
bulwark of liberty. It protects the poor and the weak against oppression
by the wealthy and the influential. It protects the right to life, property,
and the pursuit of happiness against the tyranny of violence, or abusive
power, or unscrupulous ambitions.
The judicial power is vested in the Supreme
Court, as well as in lower courts as my he established by law. The inferior
courts include: the Court of Appeals, the Court of Tax Appeals; the Regional
Trial Courts the Metropolitan Trial Courts; and the Sandigan bayan, and
the Office of the Ombudsman.
Judicial power includes the authority of the
courts to hear and settle disputes. Such disputes may involve conflicts
between or among private persons. They may also be between private citizens
and the government or between one agency of the government and other.
The Supreme Court is the highest tribunal
in the Philippines. It consists of the Chief Justice and 14 Associate Justices,
appointed by the following are the qualifications to become a member of
the Supreme Court:
- Natural-born citizen
of the Philippines;
- at least 40 years
- a judge in a court
of record for at least 15 years or engaged in the practice of law in the
Philippines for the same period; and
- a person of proven
competence, integrity, probity and independence. They hold office during
good behavior until they reach the age of 70 years or become incapacitated
to discharge the duties of their office. They can be removed only by impeachment.
Grounds for impeachment include conviction of culpable violation of the
Philippine Constitution, treason, bribery, other high crimes, or graft
The Supreme Court has the following powers:
- Exercise original
jurisdiction over cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and
consuls, and over petitons for certiorari, prohibition, mandamus, quo warranto,
and habeas corpus.
- Review, revise,
reverse, modify, or affirm an appeal for certiorari, final judgements,
and decrees of inferior courts.
- Assign temporariky
judges of inferior courts to other stations as public interest many require;
- Order a change of
venue or place of trial to avoid a miscarriage of justice.
- Promulgate rules
concerning pleading, practice, and procedure in all courts, the admission
to practice of law, and the integratin of the Bar.
- Exercise administrative
supervision over all the courts of justice and their personnel.
- Discipline judges
of inferior courts and, by a vote of at least eight justices, order their
- Appoint all officials
and employees of the Judiciary, in accordance with the Civil Service Law.
The Supreme Court of the Philippines The
Court of Appeals of the Philippines Court of Tax Appeals The Regional Trial
Courts Metropolitan Trial Courts Sandiganbayan Office of the Ombudsman
Although many Filipinos percieve it as corrupt,
the justice system only needs some repair and adjustment, not an overhaul,
to make it more effective and responsive to people's needs.
To effect the changes, autorithies must act
decisively on charges of corruption within the system and reform the legal
education to stress integrity and social responsibility among future lawyers.
Dealing with corruption is clearly a priority in effecting reforms in the
The Supreme Court of the Philippines Padre
Faura Street, Cor. Tat Avenue, Ermita, 1000, Manila Tel. Nos. : 521-18-36/521-80-22/523-13-06
Fax Nos. : 522-32-11/624-74-96
Chief Justice - Hon.
Andres R. Narvasa
- Hon. Josue N. Bellosillo
- Hon. Hilario G.
- Hon. Ricardo J.
- Hon. Regino C. Hermosisima,
- Hon. Santiago M.
- Hon. Jose A. R.
- Hon. Vicente J.
- Hon. Teodoro R.
- Hon. Artemio V.
- Hon. Reynato S.
- Hon. Florenz D.
- Hon. Flerida Ruth
- Hon. Jose P. Torres,
- Hon. Jose C. Vitug
Supreme Court Officials:
Hon. Ernani Cruz Pano
Judicial and Bar
Council Supreme Court
Padre Faura St., Ermita Manila
Tel. Nos. : 524-73-09
Fax No. : 524-73-09
Development, and Implementation Office
Old Supreme Court
Building, Padre Faura Street, Ermita, Manila Tel
Nos. : 524-77-89/528-19-56
This Council is composed of the Chief Justice
as ex-officio Chairman, the Secretary of Justice, a representative of Congress
as ex-officio member, a representative of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines,
a professor of law, a retired member of the Supreme Court, and a representative
of the private sector. Its principal function is to recommend appointees
to the judiciary. It may also exercise such other functions and duties
as may be assigne by the Supreme Court.
Court of Appeals
of the Philippines
Maria Orosa Street,
Tel Nos. : 524-12-41
Fax No. : 526-58-34
The Supreme Court acquitted 35 fishermen charged
with cyanide fishing and said the law enforcers themselves wer the one
The 25-page decision overturned an earlier
ruling issued by a lower court -- and affirmed by the Court of Appeals
-- which sentenced the group, including two foreigners, to a prison term
of more than eight years and ordered the confiscation of the "mother
boat" and 28 small fiberglass ones.
"Apparently, the members of the PNP Maritime
Command and the Task Force Bantay Dagat were the one engaged in an illegal
fishing expedition," said Justice Reynaldo Puno, who wrote the decision.
Court of Tax
29 Hizon Laboratory
Bldg., Quezon Avenue, Quezon City
Tel. Nos. : 712-46-09/712-46-31
Fax Nos. : 712-46-31/741-14-59
The Court of Appeals, with is composed of
a Presiding Justice and 50 Associate Justices, operates in 17 divisions,
each comprising three members. It has jurisdiction in all cases appealed
from the Regional Trial Courts, which are not required to be brought to
the Supreme Court. It can also issue writs of mandamus, prohibition, inhunction,
certiorari and habeas corpus.
The members of this court have the same qualifications
as those of the Supreme Court. They can be removed only by impeachment.
Presiding Justice Hon.Nathaniel
P. De Pano
The Court of Appeals upheld the constitutionality
of an executive order that provided tax and duty-free privileges to residents
and business enterprises inside the former US naval base in Subic, Zambales.
In an 18 page decision, the court's special
13th division dismissed the petition of three Olongapo residents who contended
that Executive Order (EO) No. 97-A violated the equal-protection clause
of the Constitution. Said EO was issued by President Ramos on June 19,
Composed of a Presiding Judge and two Associate
Judges -- all appointed by the President -- this court is a highly specialized
agency which revies tax cases and expedites the collection of taxes. It
has exclusive jurisdiction to review the decisions of the commissioners
of the bureaus of Customs and Internal Revenue and the various provincial
and city Boards of Assessments.
The decision of this court is appealable to
the Supreme Court.
Presiding Judge Hon.
Ernesto D. Acosta
The Regional Trial Courts (RTC's)
There are 15 RTCs established all over
the country, based on population. These courts replaced the Courts of First
These courts are charged with the adjudication of criminal, civil, juvenile,
and domestic relations, and agrarian and urban land reform cases which
do not fall under the jurisdiction of quasi-judicial bodies and agencies.
The Supreme Court ordered the government to justify the continued detention
of militant labor leader, Filemon "Popoy" Lagman on murder charges.
This developed as the Marikina Regional Trial Court postponed the arraignment
on the charge against Lagman, pending the resolution of a habeas corpus
petition which his lawyer filed before the high tribunal.
Metropolitan Trial Courts
These courts adjudicate legal controversies
which include criminal cases not cognizable by the RTCs; cases in violation
of ordinances punishable by imprisonment of not exceeding four years and
two months or a fine of not more than P4,000.00 and civil actions; and
probate proceedings where the value of property or demand does not exceed
Ground Floor, Old
Legislative Building, Executive House
Taft Avenue, 1000,
Tel. Nos. : 527-11-64/527-12-52
Fax No. : 527-11-55
These courts took the place of the city and Municipal Circuit Courts.
The decisions of these courts are appealable to the Regional Trial courts.
Office of the
MWSS Bldg., 176
Arroceros Street, Manila
Tel. Nos. : 528-06-47/528-06-79/528-14-76
Fax No. : 528-14-16
The Sandiganbayan, composed of a Presiding
Justice and eight Associate Justices, has jurisdiction over criminal and
civil cases involving graft and corrupt practices and other offenses committed
by public officers and employees, including those in government-owned and
controlled corporations, in relation to their office as may be determined
This is an entirely new court established especially to control graft and
corruption committed by public officials.
Presiding Justice Hon.Francis E. Garchitorena
The government stands to lose $2 billion if the Sandiganbayan issues a
favorable decision on the aircraft deal forged by the PCGG with US-based
The deal -- involving the sale of an F-50 jet to the Walter Fuller Aircraft
Sales Corp. -- recently triggered a controversy when Hank Hendricson, a
political counselor of the US Embassy, tried to bully Sandiganbayan presiding
justice Francis Gachitorena into issuing a favorable decision.
This office is an independent body which receives
and investigates complaints relative to public officials, including government-owned
and controlled corporations. It is composed of the Ombudsman, known as
the Tanodbayan; one overall Deputy; and least one Deputy each for Luzon,
Visayas, and Mindanao. A separate Deputy for the military establisments
is likewise appointed.
The mission of Ombudsman is to promote the highest standards of ethics
and efficiency in the government and to petition the government for the
redress of grievances and complaints against public officials and employees.
Ombudsman Aniano A. Desierto
Overall Deputy Ombudsman Francisco A. Villa
Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon Jesus
Deputy Ombudsman for Visayas
Deputy Ombudsman for Mindanao Margarito
Deputy Ombudsman for Military Manuel
Special Prosecutor- Leonardo
The Office of the Ombudsman will investigate
three former DECS secretaries -- Lourdes Quisumbing, Isidro Carino, and
Armand Fabella, for the alleged misuse of P506.9 million in funds intended
for the printing and distribution of DECS's instructional materials from
1987 to 1994.
The investigation would be based on the 1995
DECS audit report released by the COA. The report showed that funds intended
for the printing of books and other instructional materials needed by the
different regions of DECS were not utilized in accordance with the law.
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