SC Launches Ethics Caravan to Revise Code of Professional Responsibility
September 15, 2022
The Supreme Court launched the Ethics Caravan for the Proposed Code of Professional Responsibility and Accountability (CPRA) on September 14, 2022 at the University of San Carlos, Cebu City.
The five-leg Ethics Caravan aims to introduce the proposed CPRAand 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 (Code) and craft a modern, relevant, and responsive guide for lawyers’ conduct.
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 (IBP), 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 Strategic Plan for Judicial Innovations 2022-2027.
Suggestions and inputs gathered during the Ethics Caravan from judges, lawyers, different chapters of the IBP, related government entities and organizations, members of the academe, and the public will be submitted to the Supreme Court En Banc for its consideration.
The Ethics Caravan’s launch in Cebu was headed by Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo, who emphasized the addition of “accountability” in the title of the old Code as a significant change reinforcing ethical commitment among lawyers. “It is time to change not just the Code itself, but the people’s attitude towards it. We must convince everyone that ethics is a way of life,” said the Chief Justice.
Senior Associate Jusice Marvic M.V.F. Leonen, in a recorded message, also 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Lazaro-Javier, who opened the launch as Sub-Committee Chairperson, also stressed the importance of revising the Code’s outdated provisions, inviting stakeholders to work together as co-authors of the proposed CPRA. “This is our legacy to ourselves, to aspiring lawyers, and to generations to come,” said the Justice.
Justices Samuel H. Gaerlan and Maria Filomena D. Singh, as Sub-Committee Vice Chairpersons, also took part in presenting the proposed CPRA. Justice Gaerlan explained the shift in the proposed CPRA to a values-based framework, providing solutions that “respond and jive with the current times and seamlessly meld with our distinct Filipino culture.” He also pointed to the addition of social media guidelines in the proposed CPRA in order to promote responsible use of the medium among lawyers.
Justice Singh introduced the proposed Preamble, which contextualizes the role of ethics and an ethical lawyer in society. Noting that “the standard of conduct expected of lawyers is higher than for any other profession,” Justice Singh reminded lawyers that ethics “is not something we wear to work one day and leave at home the next day. It should be a conscious effort to contextualize all our actions, not selectively but universally. We cannot be ethical in one thing, and unethical in another thing.”
Supreme Court Justices Rodil V. Zalameda, Jhosep Y. Lopez, Jose Midas P. Marquez, and Antonio T. Kho, Jr. also attended the launch.
Following yesterday’s launch in Cebu for Regions VI, VII, VIII, and the province of Palawan, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hold the next legs of the Ethics Caravan in Davao City in October 2022 for Regions IX, X, XI, XII, CARAGA, and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao; in Naga City in November 2022 for Regions IV-B and V; in Baguio City in January 2023 for Regions I, II, and CAR; and in the National Capital Region (NCR) also in January 2023 for Regions III, IV-A, and the NCR.
The Caravan will culminate in the National Summit on Ethical Standards for Lawyers in February 2023.