ROXAS City — The judiciary also needs to protect itself from bitter criticisms and attacks, according to a Capiceño lawyer.
Criminal lawyer Nelson Borja likened the judiciary to “other branches of government who are also duty-bound to protect themselves from harsh and sullied attacks.”
“Otherwise, there would be chaos, anarchy and disorder that would undermine the existence of our democratic institution,” said Atty. Borja.
Borja’s comment came after the Supreme Court (SC) issued a show cause order to 37 University of the Philippines law professors.
The high court ordered the law professors to explain why they should not be held in contempt for calling the resignation of Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo through media pronouncements and newspaper publications.
Del Castillo was accused by law professors of copying the works of three American legal experts in his April 28, 2010 decision on a reparation case filed by comfort women during World War II.
The high tribunal, however, dismissed the plagiarism case against Castillo for lack of merit.
It said the legal researcher forgot to make acknowledgments in writing the ponencia “without malicious intent.”
Borja said the practice of law is not a legal right but a mere privilege granted by the SC to persons with “special qualifications and unflinching good moral character.”
“As lawyers and officers of the court, we are governed by the Cannon of Professional Responsibility… it is incumbent upon the members of the legal profession to… protect the judiciary as an institution,” he stressed.
Borja also downplayed what some law professors and other lawmakers said that the move was within the parameters of Constitution-guaranteed free speech and expression.
He said the Constitutional right of free speech is not absolute.
“Unlike other branches of government, the judiciary is non-political and sensitive to conflicting legal issues,” he said.
“There are legal remedies and reasonable safeguards in exercising the right of free speech and expression without necessarily resorting the destruction of the basic foundations of the institution through public criticism and unworthy condemnation,” said Borja.