SC Chief Justice Peralta bids farewell to judiciary ahead of early retirement

Robie de Guzman   •   March 22, 2021   •   542

 

MANILA, Philippines – Supreme Court Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta on Monday bid goodbye to his fellow justices and employees of the judiciary, days ahead of his scheduled retirement on March 27.

During his last flag-raising ceremony as chief magistrate, Peralta enumerated the achievements of the judiciary branch under his helm, which was marked with challenges brought about by the coronavirus pandemic and other issues concerning members of the legal profession.

“Under my helm, the Supreme Court has formulated and approved 18 procedural rules and guidelines meant to improve the administration of justice and address the problem of clogged court dockets,” he said.

The high court restructured and streamlined the plantilla of various offices, divisions, and services of the Court “so as to guarantee the security of tenure for the employees and to improve our processes,” Peralta said.

“We have established the Judiciary Public Assistance Section (JPAS), to promptly receive and act on concerns, issues, suggestions, and other relevant matters including complaints against erring court officials and employees,” he said.

He also organized the Judicial Integrity Board to further prevent and curb corruption in the judiciary.

Peralta will retire from service on March 27, a year ahead of his mandatory retirement at the age of 70. This is after the Supreme Court en banc approved his application for early retirement last January.

He thanked everyone for their support throughout his 34-year career in government service.

“I will forever remember the fond memories I have of working for and with all of you,” he said.

“While I prepare to hang my judicial robe, this is definitely not the end of us seeing each other. Rest assured that I will still make myself available to the Supreme Court if I’m and when the time comes that my assistance is needed,” he added.

Peralta started his public career in 1987 as the Third Assistant City Fiscal of Laoag City then went on to become a regional trial court judge in 1994.

He was named associate justice of the Sandiganbayan in 2002 and became its presiding justice in 2008 before he was appointed to the Supreme Court in 2009.

President Rodrigo Duterte appointed him to Supreme Court’s top post on October 23, 2019.

Restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic prompted the Supreme Court to conduct a 30-minute hybrid flag-raising ceremony, which was a scale-down from the traditional last flag-raising ceremony given to a retiring chief magistrate.

The Supreme Court said the ceremony was without any arrival honors and attended only by a select few Court employees mostly coming from the Office of the Chief Justice, including the Chief Justice’s immediate family ― his wife Court of Appeals Associate Justice Fernanda Lampas Peralta and children.

Other attendees participated virtually.

There were no photo opportunities as the outgoing chief justice immediately retreated to his office after his speech, the SC Public Information Office said.

 

Supreme Court revises rules on use of laptops during Bar exams

Robie de Guzman   •   January 24, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court will allow examinees to keep reviewers in their laptops that they will be using for the Bar exams, according to an advisory released on Monday.

“Examinees are now allowed to keep reviewers in their laptops, which should always be saved in their local folders and not downloadable from their clouds,” Bar Exams chairperson Justice Marvic Leonen said in Bar Bulletin no. 35.

In previous bulletins, Bar examinees were advised to organize and offload their law-related files into external devices before taking the Bar examinations. They were also prohibited from using their laptops other than to use Examplify during the test proper.

The new bulletin allows examinees to access their files on the laptop for any last-minute studying once done with the security and health check.

Examinees may also review their own files during lunch breaks.

“In any event, examinees must close all reviewers and other law-related files 30 minutes before the first bell (7:30 a.m.; 1:30 p.m.) rings,” Leonen said.

The SC reminded examinees that they are responsible for the safekeeping of their laptops and it will not be liable should they spill anything on their laptops or do any damage that might render their laptops unusable for the succeeding exam.

“Examinees shall also not be allowed to avail of the back-up computers should such a situation arise,” it added.

The SC also said that talking to other examinees is prohibited, as well as sharing their computer screens or files.

“Silence and physical distancing will be strictly enforced,” it said.

“Those who will violate this rule may face disciplinary action,” it added.

The high court likewise advised examinees not to attempt any form of cheating even with the relaxed policy.

“As those who have completed the sample exams already know, Examplify is a secure delivery program, designed to prohibit examinees from exiting the application once the test proper has begun,” it said.

“Trying to access files during the test proper is a futile effort and a violation of the Honor Code,” it added.

Examinees are still prohibited from connecting to the internet at all times, unless authorized.

“Attempting to connect to the internet while inside the premises of the local testing center, other than to download the examination file and to submit the answer file shall be considered cheating,” the SC said.

The high court also reminded examinees that they are “absolutely prohibited from using their laptops for social media once they enter the premises.”

It also reiterated previous Bar bulletins that the bringing of iPads, tablets, or other gadgets is prohibited and will be confiscated by security.

Leonen warned that no second chances will be given to anyone who will be caught violating the rules.

“Any form of cheating will not be tolerated. Anyone who will be caught violating these rules will be automatically disqualified from the 2020/21 Bar Examination and future bar examinations. No second chances will be given for any breach of the Honor Code,” he said.

Leonen earlier urged Bar takers to strictly observe health protocols and go on quarantine before the exams.

Fully vaccinated examinees are required to undergo only one antigen test within 48 hours before the first examination.

“Those who will test positive under the antigen test shall be required to comply with the guidelines of their local testing center’s local government unit,” Leonen said.

Unvaccinated examinees, on the other hand, will be required to present negative nasal or saliva RT-PCR Test results taken within 72 hours before the first examination. Information about testing will be received through email by each examinees.

Those who have recovered from COVID-19 shall still be required to undergo an antigen test or RT-PCR test before the first examination.

Examinees who present a positive test result but have since recovered from COVID-19 up to a month before the first Bar examination day shall be required to present an affidavit stating under oath that they are considered by the local government units as a “recovered” case and they have completed the required isolation period.

“Any false statement shall be cause for outright disqualification,” Leonen said.

Supreme Court issues TRO vs COMELEC’s decision to cancel Senate bet’s COC

Robie de Guzman   •   January 20, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) has issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the Commission on Election’s (COMELEC) decision to declare as a nuisance and cancel the certificate of candidacy of a senatorial aspirant.

In a document posted by the SC Public Information Office on Twitter, the high court granted the petition of Norman Cordero Marquez, assailing the poll body’s decision to cancel his candidacy for the May 2022 elections.

The SC said the petition appears to be sufficient in form and substance.

Considering the allegations contained, the issues raised and the arguments adduced in the petition, the court said it has required the COMELEC to comment on the petition within a non-extendible period of 10 days from notice.

“Now, therefore, respondent COMELEC is hereby required to comment on the petition within a non-extendible period of 10 days from notice hereof,” the document read.

“Meanwhile, a temporary restraining order is issued, effective immediately and continuing until further orders this court,” it added.

Supreme Court moves Bar exams to February

Robie de Guzman   •   January 14, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) on Friday announced that the Bar examinations have been rescheduled to February 4 (Friday) and February 6 (Sunday).

The SC said this is in consideration for those who may not be able to push through with the exams due to the current COVID-19 situation.

The Bar exams were originally scheduled for January 23 to 25, 2022.

In a Bar bulletin, the SC said a total of 8,546 Bar examinees have reported that some of them have tested positive for COVID-19, living with COVID patients, or under quarantine due to direct contact.

The high court also said that 16 of the 31 teams that will be deployed will be “critically understaffed” if the current schedule were maintained.

“Considering these numbers, as well as the projections of the Court’s expert consultants on the progress of this current COVID-19 surge, the Supreme Court En Banc has unanimously decided that the Bar examinations be rescheduled to February 4, 2022, Friday; and February 6, 2022, Sunday,” the SC said.

Bar exams chairperson, SC Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, has urged Bar examinees to strictly undergo quarantine by January 20.

Bar takers who have concerns that are not within the competence of the SC’s help desks are advised to contact the SC via BarChairLeonen@gmail.com.

“Be patient. Take a few days off to regain your composure and then continue with your preparations. Soon, those who have the determination, tenacity, and resilience to overcome these challenges will become great lawyers who will serve our people well,” he said.

Leonen also expressed gratitude to local government units as well as schools that will host the command center and serve as local testing centers.

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