Sponsored golf tournaments not for justices and judges
Several years ago, the Inquirer published my letter regarding a golf tournament for the benefit of retired judges, with then-Court Administrator (now Associate Justice) Presbitero Velasco Jr. as tournament director. (“Tournament puts judges in compromising situation,” Inquirer, 7/18/02)
I said no such tournament should be held because it presents opportunities for the members of the judiciary—especially justices of the appellate courts—to mingle with lawyers and litigants who are more than willing sponsors. From there, graft and corruption begins.
In fact, Associate Justice Josue Bellosillo, acting chief justice in the absence of Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr., commented on television that the tournament should not be held. Nevertheless, I learned that it pushed through.
In the Inquirer’s June 2 issue, there is an article titled “CJ Puno Cup unfolds at Wack Wack.” The golf tournament is being held to raise funds for ex-Chief Justice Reynato Puno’s 100 million trees project—a very noble end, but a most unethical and unjustified means.
The tournament is presented by San Miguel Corp. and Bank of Commerce. The principal sponsors, among others, are JM Pizarras and Associates, ICTSI and Metro Pacific Tollways Corp.
San Miguel Corp. and Bank of Commerce are owned by Eduardo Cojuangco Jr. who just won the coco levy case in the Supreme Court. I am sure both companies, including ICTSI and Metro Pacific, have pending cases in the Supreme Court. And so does the JM Pizarras Law Office.
While Puno has retired, undoubtedly he still wields vast influence in the Supreme Court, where—according to my lawyer friends—it matters.
As earlier said, at the tournament, members of the judiciary, lawyers and litigants (corporations) will hobnob with each other. From there, graft and corruption begins.
I thought that members of the judiciary should shy away from socials, except those within their family circle, short of being monks. But holding a golf tournament where members of the judiciary, lawyers and litigants will participate—as beneficiary, players or sponsors—negates the very idea of seclusion.
I subscribe to St. Augustine’s advice: “Complete abstinence is easier than perfect moderation.”
Members of the judiciary should abstain from, rather than merely moderate, their socials—which a golf tournament undoubtedly is.
—F. CARMELO J. AQUINO,
111 Esteban Mayo St., Lipa City
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