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:

  1. Natural-born citizen of the Philippines;
  2. at least 40 years of age;
  3. 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
  4. 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 and corruption.

The Supreme Court has the following powers:

  1. Exercise original jurisdiction over cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, and over petitons for certiorari, prohibition, mandamus, quo warranto, and habeas corpus.
  2. Review, revise, reverse, modify, or affirm an appeal for certiorari, final judgements, and decrees of inferior courts.
  3. Assign temporariky judges of inferior courts to other stations as public interest many require;
  4. Order a change of venue or place of trial to avoid a miscarriage of justice.
  5. Promulgate rules concerning pleading, practice, and procedure in all courts, the admission to practice of law, and the integratin of the Bar.
  6. Exercise administrative supervision over all the courts of justice and their personnel.
  7. Discipline judges of inferior courts and, by a vote of at least eight justices, order their dismissal. 
  8. 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

What's New??

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 system.

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 

Associates Justices

  1. Hon. Josue N. Bellosillo
  2. Hon. Hilario G. Daide, Jr.
  3. Hon. Ricardo J. Francisco
  4. Hon. Regino C. Hermosisima, Jr.
  5. Hon. Santiago M. Kapunan
  6. Hon. Jose A. R. Melo
  7. Hon. Vicente J. Mendoza
  8. Hon. Teodoro R. Padilla
  9. Hon. Artemio V. Panganiban
  10. Hon. Reynato S. Puno
  11. Hon. Florenz D. Regalado
  12. Hon. Flerida Ruth P. Romero
  13. Hon. Jose P. Torres, Jr.
  14. Hon. Jose C. Vitug

Supreme Court Officials:

Court Administrator Hon. Ernani Cruz Pano
Judicial and Bar Council Supreme Court
Annex Building, Padre Faura St., Ermita Manila
Tel. Nos. : 524-73-09
Fax No. : 524-73-09

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.

Chairman Hon.Andres R. Narvasa 

Judiciary Planning, Development, and Implementation Office
Old Supreme Court Building, Padre Faura Street, Ermita, Manila Tel
Nos. : 524-77-89/528-19-56

Chairman Hon.Andres R. Narvasa

What's New??

The Supreme Court acquitted 35 fishermen charged with cyanide fishing and said the law enforcers themselves wer the one guilty.

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 Appeals of the Philippines
Maria Orosa Street, Ermita, Manila
Tel Nos. : 524-12-41
Fax No. : 526-58-34

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

What's New??

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, 1994.

Court of Tax Appeals
29 Hizon Laboratory Bldg., Quezon Avenue, Quezon City
Tel. Nos. : 712-46-09/712-46-31
Fax Nos. : 712-46-31/741-14-59

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 Instance.

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.

What's New??

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 P20,000.00

These courts took the place of the city and Municipal Circuit Courts.

The decisions of these courts are appealable to the Regional Trial courts.

Ground Floor, Old Legislative Building, Executive House
Taft Avenue, 1000, Ermita, Manila
Tel. Nos. : 527-11-64/527-12-52
Fax No. : 527-11-55

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 by law.

This is an entirely new court established especially to control graft and corruption committed by public officials.

Presiding Justice Hon.Francis E. Garchitorena

What's New??

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 firm.

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.

Office of the Ombudsman 
MWSS Bldg., 176 Arroceros Street, Manila
Tel. Nos. : 528-06-47/528-06-79/528-14-76
Fax No. : 528-14-16

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 F. Guerrero

Deputy Ombudsman for Visayas Arturo C. Mojica

Deputy Ombudsman for Mindanao Margarito Gervacio, Jr.

Deputy Ombudsman for Military Manuel B. Casaclang

Special Prosecutor- Leonardo Tamayo

What's New??

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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