26 September 2022
Another member of the Bench is again challenged. A much respected, upright, and competent judge, after resolving a case against the government over a repealed law, had been red-tagged.
We are painfully aware that prior to this incident, judges had been vilified with labels such as hoodlums in robes, protectors of drug pushers and drug lords, and some have even been killed.
Except for the usual statement of condemnation and call to action every time a member of the Bench has fallen in the line of duty, we, members of the court, have often kept silent whenever our decisions came under attack. We have chosen to let our decisions speak on our behalf, aware that judicial remedies are available for the parties affected.
Recent events, however, have magnified the effect of criticisms on the judiciary. Accessibility to social media platforms has exacerbated and intensified the formation of public views, in many cases, without the solid backing of verified facts. Worse, threats of physical harm are unabashedly posted on social media without consideration for the law and public order.
We, members of HUKOM, Inc., an organization of trial court judges, view these acts (e.g. red-tagging, online vilification, doxing, etc.) as attacks on the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary. We cannot rest easy and accept them as normal and ordinary. These acts must be called out because of their chilling effect on the exercise of our judicial function and the lasting damage they cause to our institution.
As members of the Bench, we call on our fellow judges: let us refuse to be victims; let us choose to be enablers of the rule of law. Let us not normalize the use of violence against persons as a form of redress by being silent. And we appeal to all sectors to help us serve the public better by allowing us the space to do so without threat, pressure, and improper interference.
Without fear and favor, we will persevere.