Today is Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Aiming Properly

by: J. Michael P. Elbinias

It’s all in the air. Its status is unknown. Yet, it is the subject of persistent talks that cannot be ignored. In the spirit of searching for truth and of what is correct on a matter that affects many, the proposed reorganization of the Court is therefore discussed.

Strict observance of seniority is a rule that is rumored to be adopted, whereby the most senior 23 Justices will occupy the positions of Chairmen in Manila, Cebu, and CDO. What this also means is that Senior and Junior Justices will have to complete their respective tours in CDO, move to Cebu, transfer to Manila, then return to CDO as a member in another capacity, and so on.

This situation of Justices and their staff in having to be displaced frequently throughout their careers, will be cemented by a concomitant proposal to remove the practice of “waivers”, which practice allows Justices to move to Manila without loss of seniority by those who waived.

All of these proposals arose from the need to address complaints of some litigants. In so doing however, the waiver became viewed by some as a “culprit”. Consequently, the practice was sought removed in order to supposedly obviate possible familiarity and pressure.

Considering that those complaints were unproven however, then much less could a conclusion be made that the problems were caused by the organizational structure or the practice of waivers. If being assigned to a place for a long time was a problem, then this would mean that the assignment of trial judges to permanent salas was similarly wrong all this time.

Frequency of transfers brought about by strict seniority and the removal of waivers will not only incur more expenses for the Court, but also for the Justices and their staff. As a result, it would be callous and cruel to impose on their families the dilemma of being constantly uprooted, or of being separated lengthily which in turn entices family dissolution and problems.

The practice of waivers is a treasured hope and joy to those who sacrifice in the meantime being assigned to stations far from their families. Removing the waiver deflates morale, and discourages the best and brightest from joining the Court.

There is also the dreaded possibility that those who filed the complaints may only view such proposed changes as cosmetic. Although the suggestion that complainants offered of abolishing the Cebu and CDO stations has questions on its legality, yet, under it, the transfer of offices would be made only once, and employees could choose once and for all whether to stay or not.

Meanwhile, any other proposal made that does not equally apply to all stations would violate the undeniable nature of being only “one” Court of Appeals.

The solution to complaints will always be to directly address their allegations. It is also certain that the best situation to follow is the way things are, including the waivers. Hopefully then, any idea that even causes more problems will, as a subject of discussion, simply . . . vanish.

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