MANILA -- A transparency watchdog on Monday filed an ethics complaint against Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo De Castro before the Supreme Court in connection with the filing of an impeachment case against Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno.
In a five-page complaint, the Filipino Alliance for Transparency and Empowerment (FATE) through its spokesperson Jo Perez asked the high court to investigate De Castro and mete the appropriate penalty on her for misconduct for allegedly leaking internal documents that were later used by lawyer Larry Gadon in filing the impeachment complaint against Sereno.
The group accused De Castro of violating Rules 9 and 10 of the SC Internal Rules and Section 9, Canon 4 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct pertaining to the confidentiality of information acquired by jurists in their judicial capacity.
These internal memoranda, deliberations, and actions taken during sessions are evidently confidential in nature based on Rules 9 and 10 of the Supreme Court Internal Rules. Thus, to maintain the integrity of the Honorable Supreme Court, we respectfully beseech that an immediate investigation be conducted on the leakage of confidential matters supposedly committed by the Honorable Justice De Castro, it added.
It noted that based on the verified complaint for impeachment filed by Gadon against Sereno shows that it refers to, among others, internal memoranda and deliberations and actions taken during sessions of the Court's en banc Honorable and even the identity of the member-in-charge of some cases.
The group noted that during the Nov. 22, 2017, hearing of the Committee of Justice of the House of Representatives on the impeachment proceeding, Gadon testified under oath, that he was told of these confidential matters by a broadsheet reporter, Jomar Canlas, who, in turn, learned these confidential matters from De Castro.
The group said Gadon in effect identified De Castro as the source of the leaked internal matters.
Considering the unauthorized leak of these confidential Court matters, it is most respectfully requested that the Honorable Court En Banc forthwith look into this matter and investigate the Hon. Justice de Castro, the group said.
Should it be found that the Hon. Justice de Castro was the cause of, or had participation in, the leakage of confidential Court matters, she should be penalized accordingly by this Honorable Court En Banc, it added.
De Castro though has already denied being the source or giving such information to Canlas.
The group said the institution of administrative disciplinary cases against sitting justices of the SC for leaking confidential information has precedent as it cited the case of Justice Ruben Reyes who was penalized in 2009 for leaking an unpromulgated decision on an election case involving the citizenship of Negros Oriental Rep. Jocelyn Limkaichong.
The SC also ordered the indefinite suspension of Reyes from law practice after finding him guilty of gross misconduct for violating his oath as a member of the Bar as well as the Code of Professional Responsibility.
Reyes was also directed to pay a fine of PHP500,000.
Source: Philippine News Agency