Chief Justice Gesmundo to Legal Professionals: Regain Public’s Trust by Giving Dignity and Nobility to Our Profession
October 25, 2022
Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo yesterday urged the members of the legal community to give dignity and nobility to the profession so as to regain the trust of the people in lawyers and in the entire justice system.
Speaking at the second leg of the Ethics Caravan for the Proposed Code of Professional Responsibility and Accountability (CPRA) at the University of Mindanao, Matina Campus, Davao City, Davao del Sur on Monday, October 24, 2022, Chief Justice Gesmundo also underscored the importance of these inclusive and consultative dialogues with all concerned stakeholders in revising the Code.
“This a clarion call for all of us to take the responsibility of giving dignity and nobility to our profession, and by so doing, put back the trust of our people not only in lawyers, but in the justice system as a whole,” said Chief Justice Gesmundo, who also gave an overview of the Supreme Court’s Strategic Plan for Judicial Innovations 2022-2027 (SPJI).
The Chief Justice emphasized that lawyers, as officers of the court, “play a key role in the administration of justice and upholding the rule of law.”
However, the Chief Justice said that the legal profession “is no stranger to allegations of scandal and controversy. In fact, it is a general belief that in practice, lawyers either by hook or by crook use unsavory tactics to further their client’s, or even their own, interest,” he said. “Some lawyers even lie, cheat, or steal to gain the upper hand. It is no wonder that lawyers have often been perceived as liars, having no scruples at all, and only after his or her professional fees.”
The proposed CPRA seeks to improve and modernize the practice of law. The Chief Justice shared that it tackles the use of social media, formation and definition of the lawyer-client relationship, conduct of non-legal staff and other intricacies experienced by practitioners today. “The CPRA also consolidates separate regulations pertaining to the discipline of lawyers,” he said. “It also abbreviates administrative proceedings and imposes a standardized table of penalties for varying degrees of offenses. The CPRA not only addresses the punitive aspect of the unethical legal practice but also captures the ideal characteristics that all members of the bar must live up to- independence, propriety, fidelity, competence and diligence, equality, and accountability.”
Chief Justice Gesmundo stressed that apart from aiming to inform members of the Bar about the proposed CPRA, the goal of the Ethics Caravan “is to allow for a more inclusive and consultative dialogue with all relevant stakeholders including practitioners, the academe, and other stakeholders, to further fine-tune the proposed provisions and address any concern which might have been previously overlooked.”
The Chief Justice encourage everyone to work with the Judiciary and help it achieve its goal of delivering timely and effective justice, stressing that: “Efficiency, Innovation, and Access, the outcomes of the SPJI, may only be attained through meaningful cooperation between the members of the bar, the bench, court officials and employees, other public officials, and court users. This Ethics Caravan is an effort to open more avenues for cooperation between the Court and different sectors of relevant stakeholders.”
The five-leg Ethics Caravan is part of the Supreme Court’s efforts to update the 34-year old Code of Professional Responsibility and craft a modern, relevant, and responsive guide for lawyers’ conduct. The first Caravan was held in Cebu City last September. After the Cebu and Davao legs, consultations with stakeholders on the proposed CPRA will be conducted in Naga City, Baguio City, and the NCR.
Led by the Supreme Court Sub-Committee for the Revision of the Code of Professional Responsibility (Sub-Committee), with the support of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade-Australia, The Asia Foundation, The European Union, Justice Sector Reform Program: Governance in Justice, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and the Philippine Association of Law Schools, the Ethics Caravan is a series of consultations seeking to incorporate in the CPRA the underlying ethical considerations of a technology-driven Judiciary and legal profession in line with the Supreme Court’s SPJI.
Likewise, it aims to introduce the proposed CPRA and its salient provisions to stakeholders and the general public as part of the Supreme Court’s efforts to update the 34-year old Code of Professional Responsibility and craft a modern, relevant, and responsive guide for lawyers’ conduct.
Senior Associate Justice Marvic M.V.F. Leonen, in a recorded message, highlighted the proposed changes in the Lawyers’ Oath, including adding the word “justice” for the first time, underscoring the value of the Lawyer’s Oath as forming “the basic foundation of what a lawyer means.”
Justice Amy C. Lazaro-Javier, the Sub-Committee Chairperson, in her video recorded message, expressed her gratitude to all participants. She disclosed that “it was the choice and wish of the Chief Justice to hold every Ethics Caravan in the university where the teaching of ethics all begins and where the values we learned from home are fortified. We also recognize the role of the youth in nation building as future shapers of the world. The great lawyers of today were once law students.”
Justice Maria Filomena D. Singh, Sub-Committee Vice Chairperson, presented the proposed CPRA. She shared that the CPRA is the Court’s attempt in crafting more relevant and responsive guide for lawyers’ conduct.
The closing remarks of Justice Samuel H. Gaerlan, Sub-Committee Vice Chairperson, was read by Court of Appeals Justice Geraldine C. Fiel-Macaraig.
Supreme Court Justices Jhosep Y. Lopez, Japar B. Dimaampao, and Jose Midas P. Marquez also attended the second Ethics Caravan.
The Caravan will culminate in the National Summit on Ethical Standards for Lawyers which will be held in February 2023.
Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo waves to the participants of the second leg of the Ethics Caravan as he leaves the Auditorium of the University of Mindanao, Matina Campus, Davao City, Davao del Sur on Monday, October 24, 2022. (Courtesy of the SC Public Information Office)
Justice Maria Filomena D. Singh gives a presentation on the proposed Code of Professional Responsibility and Accountability (CPRA) during the second leg of the Ethics Caravan for the Proposed CPRA held at the Auditorium of the University of Mindanao, Matina Campus, Davao City, Davao del Sur on Monday, October 24, 2022. (Courtesy of the SC Public Information Office)