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CANON 5 -EQUALITY

ENSURING EQUALITY OF TREATMENT TO ALL


BEFORE THE COURTS IS ESSENTIAL TO THE
DUE PERFORMANCE OF THE JUDICIAL
OFFICE.
Note: A judge must be able to render substantial justice and
maintain public confidence in the judicial system, by being
aware of the diversity in society. With that awareness, a
judge should not yield to first impression, reach hasty
conclusions or prejudge matters. (Castillo v. Judge Juan, 62
SCRA 124)
Sec. 1,Canon 5,NCJC: Judges shall be aware of and
understand diversity in society and differences arising
from various sources, including, but not limited to,
race, color, sex, religion, national origin, caste,
disability, age, marital status, sexual orientation, social
and economic status, and other like causes.
Q: What is the reason for this rule?
A: To render substantial justice and maintain public
confidence in the judicial system, judges are expected to be
aware of the diversity in society that results from an
increased worldwide exchange of people and ideas.
Note: Judges should be mindful of the various international
instruments and treaties ratified by the Philippines, which
affirm the equality of all human beings and establish a norm
of non-discrimination without distinction as to race, sex,
language, or religion.
Judges should not yield to first impression, reach hasty
conclusions or prejudge matters. They have a duty to
ensure that the minority status of a party plays no part in
their decisions.
Sec. 2, Canon 5, NCJC: Judges shall not, in the
performance of judicial duties, by words or conduct,
manifest bias or prejudice towards any person or group
on irrelevant grounds.
Note: Magistrates of law must comport themselves at all
times in such a manner that their conduct, can withstand the
highest level of public scrutiny.
Judges should avoid private remarks, hasty conclusions, or
distasteful jokes that may give even erroneous impressions
of prejudice and lead the public to believe that cases before
them are being prejudged.
Sec. 3, Canon 5, NCJC: Judges shall carry out judicial
duties with appropriate consideration for all persons,
such as the parties, witnesses, lawyers, court staff and
judicial colleagues, without differentiation on any
irrelevant ground, immaterial to the proper performance
of such duties.
Note: As arbiters of the law, judges should be
conscientious, studious, courteous, patient and punctual in
the discharge of their judicial duties,
recognizing that time of litigants, witnesses and
counsel is of value.

Judges should act with decorum toward jurors, parties, court


staff, spectators, and alike.
Q: Judge Tormis made a comment in a certain case to
the effect that the same should be dismissed as the act
complained of was already decriminalized by a special
law. Thereafter, Judge Navarro, who previously handled
the case before he was appointed as a judge, barged
into the office of Judge Tormis telling to the staff that
their judge does not know her law. Judge Tormis then
retaliated by saying that to her, the office of Judge
Navarro does not exist. Are the judges guilty of conduct
unbecoming of a judge?
A: Yes. Judges, being dispensers of justice should not act in
a way that would cast suspicion in order to preserve faith in
the administration of justice. They should so behave to
avoid poor public impression on the judiciary. Here, the
judges act of fighting each other by uttering derogatory
remarks against each other is a conduct unbecoming of a
judge for which they should be disciplined as their fight has
impaired the image of the judiciary. (Navarro v. Tormis, A.M.
No. MTJ-00-1337, Apr. 27, 2004)
Q: Atty. Quinto was the defense counsel in a criminal
case. In his verified complaint, he alleged that during
the hearing, he manifested that he was waiving the
presentation of evidence for the accused. Judge Vios
then allegedly got angry, shouted and scolded him,
stating that the defense had no right to waive the
presentation of evidence. He did not even listen to Atty.
Quintos explanation and, thereafter, compelled the
latter to withdraw his appearance as counsel of the
accused, under pain of contempt. In the presence of the
complainant, Judge Vios appointed a counsel de
officio. May Judge Vios be held administratively liable
for compelling the lawyer to withdraw as counsel for the
accused under pain of contempt?
A: Yes. A judge should avoid unconsciously falling into the
attitude of mind that the litigants are made for the courts,
instead of the courts for the litigants. Here, the judge should
be held liable for misconduct when he threatened to punish
complainant for contempt of court if he would refuse to
withdraw his appearance, as counsel for the accused, when
the latter insisted on waiving the presentation of the
evidence for the defense. (Atty. Quinto v. Judge Vios, A.M.
No. MTJ-04- 1551, May 21, 2004)
Note: Unequal and disparate treatment in the courthouse,
whether intentional or perceived, is unacceptable and can
negatively impact the professional lives of attorneys and
employees, the assessment of claims of litigants, and the
respect and credibility of the justice system.
Sec. 4, Canon 5, NCJC: Judges shall not knowingly
permit court staff or others subject to his or her
influence, direction or control to differentiate between
persons concerned, in a matter before the judge, on
any irrelevant ground.
Q: What are the duties of judges under this
section?

A: 1. To ensure that court personnel under their supervision


do not discriminate by dispensing special favors or
disclosing confidential information to any unauthorized
person, regardless of whether such information came from
authorized or unauthorized sources; and
2. To organize their courts to ensure the prompt and
convenient dispatch of business and should not tolerate
misconduct by clerks, sheriffs and other assistants who are
sometimes prone to expect favors or special treatment due
to their professional relationship with the judge.
Note: All personnel involved in the dispensation of justice
should conduct themselves with a high degree of
responsibility. (Mataga v. Rosete, A.M. No. MTJ-03-1488,
Oct. 13, 2004)
Sec. 5, Canon 5, NCJC: Judges shall require lawyers in
proceedings before the court to refrain from
manifesting, by words or conduct, bias or prejudice
based on irrelevant grounds, except such as are legally
relevant to an issue in proceedings and may be the
subject of legitimate advocacy.
Note: Judges should conduct proceedings in court with
dignity and in a manner that reflects the importance and
seriousness of proceedings. They should maintain order
and proper decorum in the court. (Rule 3.03, Canon 3, 1989
Code of Judicial Conduct) Judges have the duty to prevent
lawyers from abusing witnesses with unfair treatment. As

courts are expected to ensure equality, any lawyer who


makes an insensitive or demeaning comment in court
should be admonished.
Q: During the hearing of a case for statutory rape filed
against X, the lawyer is asking the 6- year-old victim to
relate exactly and step by step the sexual intercourse
between her and the accused. The lawyer is also asking
questions whether at the time of the alleged rape, the
accuseds penis is hard, and whether at the time they
were caught, the accused was still pushing and pulling
his penis inside her vagina. Should the judge allow
such questions?
A: No. The judge shall require lawyers to refrain from
making abusive and uncalled for queries. Here, the fact that
the victim of rape is a child of tender years, there is more
reason to require the lawyer to be tactful. No woman
especially child of tender years would exactly remember
step by step the sexual intercourse in the hands of the
maniacal beast. Hence, all the questions asked are
excessive. (People v. Boras, G.R. No. 127495, Dec. 22,
2000)
Note: This line of questioning may be relevant if the
aggrieved party is an adult but not to a child. The Rule on
the examination of a child witness (A.M. No. 004-07-SC)
protects children so that developmentally appropriate
questions can only be asked.