NUMBERS – people, cases, funds – are a messy, maddening mix in the courts. The numbers defy all myth and romance about the majesty and dread that literature ascribes to the men and women in robes, and indications are they pose a perpetual challenge for the administrators of the country’s judicial system.
Indeed, attempts of the judiciary to keep a firm grip on its budget and fiscal processes alone have already triggered periodic delays in completing audit reports, as well as caused recurring disputes on compliance with budget circulars that should apply across the bureaucracy.
AMID the relentless reticence of the justices of the Supreme Court to publicly disclose their statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN), the PCIJ launched a research into what could be their business interests and financial holdings by mining public records.
Our first stop was the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), where we found various companies listing the names of various justices as either incorporators, stockholders or board members. To verify the list, the PCIJ gathered the latest Articles of Incorporation, General Information Sheets, and Financial Statements of these companies.
GOOD GOVERNANCE is the solemn promise of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III. Transparency and respect for access to information could enable it; the rule of law, or the prosecution of cases built on evidence before the courts, could assure it endures.
In President Aquino’s epic effort to rid the government of corruption, the judiciary will perform the critical role of arbiter, judge, and guardian. Yet the judiciary itself is nurturing a black hole of information, which could swallow into nothingness initiatives to limit, if not stop, corruption.
© 1989–2023 All rights reserved. Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism.