A life of a judge is supposedly a sad one.
Because a judge has the sacred obligation to uphold the integrity and independence of the judiciary, he or she is duty-bound to avoid not only actual acts of impropriety but mere appearance of impropriety.
Hence, magistrates are discouraged, or even forbidden, from attending parties, social gatherings and other public events specially if there is a high possibility that litigants or lawyers with pending or decided cases in their respective courts will also attend such gatherings and the concerned magistrate might be seen talking or bonding with a litigant or lawyer.
To reiterate, mere appearance of impropriety should be avoided.
These set of guiding principles and ethical standards are provided under the Code of Judicial Conduct which all judges and justices are strictly required to follow and observe.
But it seems that Supreme Court Associate Justice Teresita De Castro thinks that she is exempted from the application of this code as a picture of her having dinner with former president and now Pampanga representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA), Mike Arroyo with other guests has surfaced in the internet.
It is not clear if the photo was taken before or after the Supreme Court has decided to dismiss the plunder case filed against the former president but the same is immaterial.
The Supreme Court ruled to dismiss the plunder case filed against GMA even before the prosecutors from the Office of the Ombudsman were given the opportunity to present their evidence.
De Castro, appointed by GMA in the high court, is one of the justices who voted for dismissal.
Aside from the photo of De Castro showing her closeness with the Arroyos, pictures of Court Administrator Midas Marquez attending the birthday party of Atty. Larry Gadon also circulated in the internet.
The photos was shared by actress by Vivian Velez in her Facebook account. Also in attendance in the said party were Mike Arroyo and Dante Jimenez of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), a rabid supporter of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Gadon is the lawyer who filed the impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno. Marquez and De Castro, on the other hand, testified before the Committee on Justice hearing the said impeachment complaint.
After the photo of Marquez at Gadon’s birthday bash went viral in the internet, netizens started to share other pictures of Marquez indicating his ties with the Duterte administration and its allies.
One photo shows Marquez sporting a Duterte campaign shirt during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Another photo shows Marquez travelling with known Duterte supporters lead by Atty. Bruce Rivera.
Marquez, as Court Administrator, holds a position equivalent to a justice. That is why he is sometimes referred to as “Justice Marquez.” As such, he is also covered by the above-mentioned Code of Judicial Conduct.
Undeniably, both De Castro and Marquez committed acts of impropriety and are guilty of unethical conduct.
In addition, Marquez violated the Civil Service rule prohibiting government employees including those in the judiciary from participating or engaging in partisan political activity like campaigning in favor of a candidate.
But the most important revelation about this is the unmasking of the people who are behind the effort to remove Chief Justice Sereno.
The Arroyos, with the blessing of Duterte, are definitely the masterminds of this sinister plot. Some say it is their way of avenging the impeachment and eventual removal of GMA’s midnight Chief Justice, the late Renato Corona.
De Castro and Marquez, although motivated by their own personal vendetta, like De Castro’s failed bid to become Chief Justice, are just acting as mere lieutenants following orders from the higher-ups.
While Gadon is being his normal self, a morally-depraved puppet willing to take up the cudgels in behalf of his evil masters.