Press Release
January 9, 2019

Dispatch from Crame No. 445:
Sen. Leila M. de Lima’s statement on the “Fearless Four” and the Imperative Need for an Independent Judiciary (09 January 2019)

No society can call itself truly just and free without an independent judiciary. On the freedom of the courts depends so much the exercise of our liberties. On the moral authority of the judiciary relies so much of the quality of justice that we pursue.

And, an independent judiciary rests largely on the integrity, competence and uprightness of its judges.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer honored four (4) courageous judges as Filipinos of the Year 2018. No accolade is more fitting for the “Fearless Four”: Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judges Rodolfo Azucena, Jr. of Caloocan City, Arlene Lirag Palabrica of Tagum City, Alexander Tamayo of Malolos City, and Andres Soriano of Makati City.

Judge Azucena convicted three (3) police officers for the extrajudicial killing of minor Kian delos Santos. Judge Palabrica ordered the immediate release of the group of activists led by Ka Satur Ocampo and Rep. France Castro, who were arrested by the military after bringing food and supplies to the beleaguered teachers and pupils in a “Lumad” school in Davao del Norte. Judge Tamayo convicted former Major General Jovito Palparan and two (2) subordinates for the kidnapping and serious illegal detention of UP students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan. Judge Soriano denied the DOJ’s applications for arrest warrant and hold-departure order on Sen. Sonny Trillanes.

Napapanahon at angkop ang pagkilala sa magigiting na hukom na ito. Patunay sila na sa gitna ng dilim at lagim ng kasalukuyang panahon at pamumuno ay may ningas pa rin ng pag-asa mula sa ilang nananatiling malalaya at matatapang na instrumento ng katarungan. Babala rin sila sa mga abusado at mapaniil. Inspirasyon naman sila sa iba pang mabubuting kawani ng pamahalaan.

The Code of Judicial Conduct underscores judicial independence as a pre-requisite to rule of law. Indeed, not only is it a requirement for the maintenance of public order, judicial independence is a cornerstone of constitutional democracy. It assures freedom to the individual; it guarantees the right of determination and development of a people; it safeguards against the persecution and other abuses by the different branches and functionaries of government.

Sa isang malaya at matatag na hudikatura ay makakaasa ng patas na pagtrato ang lahat -- maging ang mga magbubukid, manggagawa, katutubo, babae, kabataan, mahihirap, aktibista, kritiko at iba pang naisasantabi at inaapi. An impartial and competent judge always independently acts on the basis of facts and evidence and in accordance with a conscientious understanding and application of the law, free from any extraneous influence or pressure.

I therefore salute Hon. Judges Azucena, Palabrica, Tamayo and Soriano and others in their league. May your tribe truly increase! May you serve as exemplars and inspiration to workers in the public sector, diligently treating public office as a public trust, painstakingly striving to regain public confidence in our institutions, and valiantly asserting our democratic values and principles as a people.

A hope-filled New Year!

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