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I. JUDICIAL POWER AND THE ROLE OF THE JUDICIARY 1[1] The Philippine Constitution vests judicial power in one Supreme Court and in such lower courts as may be established by law. 2[2] Judicial power is described by the same section of the Constitution as follows
Judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual controversies involvin! ri!hts which are le!ally demandable and enforceable" and to determine whether or not there has been a !rave abuse of discretion amountin! to lac# or e$cess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the !overnment.

The use of the word %includes% connotes that the provision is not an e$haustive enumeration of what is comprised in judicial power. The use of the word %duty% emphasi&es the obli!ation of the courts of justice to e$ercise the judicial power in actual controversies. The inclusion of the duty to determine whether or not there has been a !rave abuse of discretion amountin! to lac# or e$cess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the !overnment is in accord with the role of the judiciary as the last bulwar# of the constitutional ri!hts and liberties of the people. 'owever" it does dispense with the doctrine that purely political (uestions are beyond the pale of judicial review. The importance of the Judiciary in Philippine society is succinctly spelled out in the Preamble of the Code of Judicial Conduct )[)]
*n honorable" competent and independent judiciary e$ists to administer justice and thus promote the unity of the country" the stability of !overnment" and the well+bein! of the people.

This is an improvement of Canon 2 of the Canons of Judicial ,thics which provided that -The courts e$ist to promote justice. and thus to aid in securin! the contentment and happiness of the people.-/[/] The role of the Judiciary has been depicted in florid lan!ua!e
0owhen as now is the duty of the Supreme Court in upholdin! the moral tenets of our Constitution and laws more imperative. 1n no idea is the moral sense more inherent and manifest than in justice. 2y the nature of their social function" the or!ans of judicial power are placed in the dominant position of the hi!hest moral leadership. 0ever was the need of such moral leadership 3 inspired" dynamic" militant 3 felt with more acuteness than in the present sta!e of our travel toward national destiny. 4ic#edness and lac# of scruples are on a rampa!e in every social strata" private and official. 5la!rant violations of the fundamental law are committed with callous nonchalance" while robbery" banditry and !an!sterism are practiced in broad dayli!ht. 5undamental ri!hts and privile!es" liberties and immunities" whether private or official" are trampled down with satrapic insolence" while murders and wanton attac#s a!ainst honor are perpetrated as e$citin! sport. !raft" corruption" and absolute lac# of principles in many hi!h places. blac# mar#et" !amblin!" shady ne!otiations" and e$ploitation of the innocent and the wea# in some other spheres.

1[1] 2[2]

Excerpted from the draft on 'Judicial Ethics' by retired Court of Appeals Justice Hector L. Hofile a. Constitution! Art. "###! $ec. 1. %romul&ated by the $upreme Court of the %hilippines on $eptember '! 1()(. Administrati+e ,rder -o. 1'.! /epartment of Justice! Au&ust 1! 1(*).



The ultimate hope to escape collapse must be pinned on the judiciary for the latter to fulfill with unrelentless strai!ht+forwardness the duties of moral leadership entrusted to it by the Constitution. The judiciary should be the mi!hty euphroe that must lin# the loosened or severed moral cords and stren!then the bonds which will #eep society from disinte!ratin!.6[6]

Twenty+one years later" the Supreme Court came up with a more pra!matic description lin#in! the judiciary to the rule of law" thus
7aw stands for order" for the peaceful and systematic adjustment of frictions and conflicts unavoidable in a modern society with its comple$ities and clashin! interests. The instrumentality for such balancin! or harmoni&ation is the judiciary and other a!encies e$ercisin! (uasi+judicial powers. 4hen judicial or (uasi+judicial tribunals spea#" what they decree must be obeyed" what they ordain must be followed. * party dissatisfied may as# for a reconsideration and" if denied" may !o on to a hi!her tribunal. *s lon! as the orders stand unmodified" however" they must" even if susceptible to well+founded doubts on jurisdictional !rounds" be faithfully complied with. Such is the way of the law. So it has been in the past. So it should continue to be. 1f it were otherwise" the intellect no lon!er holds sway" the dictates of moderation are i!nored" and passion ta#es over.8[8]

1n administerin! justice" the judiciary decides controversies between the party liti!ants. *t the same time" it also contributes to the establishment of the 9ule of 7aw without which there will be chaos in the community. 4hat is more si!nificant" however" is that the judiciary achieves such !oal by relyin! on the moral force !enerated by the (uality of its wor# in administerin! justice. 1t has been pointed out that
*mon! the three powers of !overnment" the judiciary is in the material sense the wea#est. *lthou!h its function in society is as noble and important as the ones entrusted to the le!islative and e$ecutive powers" and there is none loftier that our mind may conceive or to which the most ambitious heart may aspire" it needs the active and positive help of other a!encies to ma#e it effective. Con!ress must provide for the ade(uate bud!et" and the e$ecutive power the necessary force to ma#e effective the orders and decisions of tribunals. To compensate for that comparative physical wea#ness of the judicial power" it is necessary that jud!es and courts should ac(uire the unbounded moral force which sprin!s from the !eneral faith and confidence of !overnment and people ali#e. That moral force" althou!h intan!ible" immeasurable and imponderable" is as effective as any cosmic force" if not more. 4e hold as an a$iom that spiritual ener!y is stron!er than atomic ener!y" the mi!hty basic force of material universe. 2ut to obtain and retain public faith and confidence" it is necessary that courts and jud!es should show by their acts that they are actually entitled to such faith and confidence. 9ecalcitrant insubordination and indiscipline are not the means. :n the contrary" they will only provo#e public suspicion and distrust" if not popular wrath and condemnation.;[;]

To !ain and maintain such confidence of the people" the judiciary must" in the words of the Code of Judicial Conduct" be <honorable" competent and independent.= 'avin! efficient jud!es is one of the basic means to achieve this end" and this 2enchboo# for Trial Court Jud!es aims to help jud!es attain that necessary efficiency. II. THE BENCHBOOK AS A TOOL FOR JUDGES

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#loilo %ro+incial 1arden! 2) %hil. 0(( [1(*2]! dissentin& opinion of Justice 3re&orio %erfecto. %hilippine Association of 4ree Labor 5nions 6%A4L57 +. $al+ador! 3. 8. -o. L9.(*21! $eptember .)! 1(')! .0 $C8A :(:. 2[2] ;alabon +. ;he %ro+incial 1arden! 2) %hil. 0(( [1(*2].


Proceedin!s before courts can ta#e different forms that are !overned by different rules which cannot be found in any sin!le law" or rule" but must often be ta#en from pronouncements of the Supreme Court or inferred from a process of readin! rules to!ether. 4hile rules of procedure may appear to be strai!htforward and uncomplicated" jurisprudence uncovers nuances and introduces subtleties that are less obvious. 7i#ewise" for Jud!es to dispense true and meanin!ful justice" they must have the ability to decide when it is proper to adhere to precedent" and when it would best serve the interests of justice to innovate. This is a balancin! act that will defy even the most learned of jurists. Jud!es re(uire a handy reminder of which rules are infle$ible" and what principles provide the foundation for fle$ible rules. The printed 2enchboo# was born from the need for a sin!le source of direct but complete answers to the most fre(uently raised (uestions. 1ts online counterpart promises to brin! that utility to Jud!es across the Philippines. ,$perts in the relevant fields were tapped to compile the information in the 2enchboo#. They were assisted by personnel from the Supreme Court and the 1nternational >evelopment 7aw 1nstitute. 9etired Supreme Court Justice *meurfina *. ?elencio 'errera" current Chancellor of the Philippine Judicial *cademy" remar#s that with the 2enchboo#" %There should be less reason now for uncertainty in matters pertainin! to remedial law principally" and" we hope" less reason to find jud!es remiss in their duty of applyin! the law correctly" intelli!ently and judiciously.% Court *dministrator *lfredo 7. 2enipayo credits the 2enchboo# with %providin! a standard reference wor# that will tirelessly remind our jud!es of both the immutable fundamentals of the law and the ceaseless evolution of le!al thou!ht and jurisprudence.% The 2enchboo# thus %ma#es it that much easier to stri#e that !olden middle way between stability and dynamism.% The 2enchboo#" however" is not the sin!le solution to a Jud!e@s every problem. 4hile the 2enchboo# is intended to enhance the (uality of performance of Jud!es" constant learnin! by the Jud!e must complement its use. The 2enchboo# is thus nothin! less" and nothin! more" than a tool to help Jud!es dispense justice more efficiently" but the ma$imi&ation of its potentials will depend on the s#ills of the Jud!e involved.