Prosecutors are Gatekeepers of the Judiciary - Chief Justice Gesmundo
Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo acknowledged the important role of the prosecutors earlier today, calling them “gatekeepers of the Judiciary,” as he reminded them that they have “a responsibility greater than other lawyers and officers of the court, in upholding our justice system.”
Speaking as guest of honor during the third day of the 32nd National Convention of the Prosecutors’ League of the Philippines (PLP) at SMX Lanang in Davao City, Chief Justice Gesmundo also urged the PLP to support the Supreme Court’s Strategic Plan for Judicial Innovations 2022- 2027 (SPJI).
The Chief Justice remarked that the duty of the Judiciary to dispense justice can only be truly fulfilled if it is able to perform its functions with fairness and efficiency, and in our criminal justice system, adding that our courts depend on the work of public prosecutors to ensure just that.
Addressing the public prosecutors, he said that the judiciary can only render justice in criminal cases when provided with the solid groundwork laid by the prosecution.
“Judges rely on the cases you build, the evidence you gather, and the arguments you present in order to make informed and impartial decisions. Without your commitment to truth and justice, the criminal justice system would be rendered ineffectual,” he emphasized.
Chief Justice Gesmundo reminded the public prosecutors of their responsibility in ensuring that the justice system is at work. “With your initial evaluation lies not just the peace of mind of a person accused but also his or her freedom. Lest you forget, you are the gatekeepers of the judiciary”, and it is equally your duty to protect the rights of an accused, to free him or her of the burden of a criminal charge, when you honestly believe that the evidence presents no reasonable certainty of conviction,” he stressed.
The Chief Justice lamented that jail congestion or overcrowding is a fact in our country. He shared that a study that he had read estimated the number of persons deprived of liberty, as of December 31, 2021, at 199,079 persons “or at least 179 PDLs per 100,000 population in the Philippines. 69.51% of PDLs were undergoing preventive detention and 30.49% were sentenced.”
The Chief Justice stressed that legal professionals have a responsibility not just to their clients, but to the public as well, and not just to the profession itself, but also to the justice system in general. He said: “As part of the legal profession, it is our duty to maintain this nobility by practicing our profession to secure peace and order in society through the maintenance and safeguarding of the rule of law and through the promotion of justice. Let us approach our work with this sense of purpose, and with all humility, so that we may be open to improving ourselves in the fulfillment of our mandated duties.”
Joining the Chief Justice were Justice Rodil V. Zalameda and Justice Jhosep Y. Lopez, two of the six incumbent Justices of the Supreme Court who previously served as prosecutors under the Department of Justices (DOJ). The other Members of the High Court who served as DOJ Prosecutors are Justice Ramon Paul L. Hernando, Justice Henri Jean Paul B. Inting, Justice Ricardo R. Rosario, and Justice Japar B. Dimaampao.
Also present at the Convention were Deputy Court Administrator Leo T. Madrazo and Assistant Court Administrator and Public Information Office Chief Atty. Brian Keith F. Hosaka.
Former President Rodrigo R. Duterte, DOJ Secretary Jesus Crispin C. Remulla, and the DOJ Undersecretaries and Assistant Secretaries graced the event.
This year’s PLP national convention theme is: Prosecutors: Vanguards of Truth, Justice and Freedom.
Supreme Court Associate Justice Rodil V. Zalameda (right) poses for posterity with Department of Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin C. Remulla and Regional Prosecutor Irwin A. Malaya, President of the Prosecutors’ League of the Philippines, after receiving a plaque of appreciation for his “exemplary leadership and selfless service” for his work as a former prosecutor of Mandaluyong City. (Courtesy of the Supreme Court Public Information Office)
Supreme Court Associate Justice Jhosep Y. Lopez (right) receives a plaque of appreciation for his “exemplary leadership and selfless service” as a former prosecutor of Manila City from Department of Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin C. Remulla. Also in photo is Regional Prosecutor Irwin A. Malaya, President of the Prosecutors’ League of the Philippines. (Courtesy of the Supreme Court Public Information Office)