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CANON 4, NCJC- PROPRIETY PROPRIETY AND THE APPEARANCE OF PROPRIETY ARE ESSENTIAL TO THE PERFORMANCE OF ALL THE ACTIVITIES

OF A JUDGE.
Note: The judges own perception of motives is not relevant when considering appearance of impropriety.

Sec. 1, Canon 4, NCJC: Judges shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all of their activities.
Note: The public holds judges to higher standards of integrity and ethical conduct than lawyers and other persons not invested with public trust.

Q: What does the Code prohibit? A: It prohibits not only actual impropriety but even the mere appearance of impropriety. Q: When can one say that there is an appearance of impropriety? A: When the conduct of a judge would create in reasonable minds a perception that the judges ability to carry out judicial responsibilities with integrity, impartiality and competence is impaired.
Note: Acts done by a judge which are not illegal may still constitute a violation of this rule.

Q: Cite examples of acts of a judge which are not illegal but will constitute a violation of this rule.

1. The act of a judge of hearing cases on a day when he is supposed to be on official leave. (Re: Anonymous complaint Against Judge EdmundoAcua, A.M. No. RTJ-04-1891, July 28, 2005) 2. Photograph showing the judge and a subordinate coming out of a hotel together even if there was no clear evidence of sexual congress between them is enough to give rise to the appearance of impropriety that the code strongly warns against. (Liwanag v. Lustre, A.M. No. MTJ-98-1168, Apr. 21 1999) 3. Joking remark made by a judge to a litigant suggesting that the litigant prove he harbored no ill feelings towards the judge. (Co v. Plata, A.M. No. MTJ-03-1501, Mar. 14, 2005) Q: Judge Lee was charged with conduct unbecoming of a judge for habitually using vulgar words especially when solemnizing marriage. It was alleged that in a certain marriage ceremony he made a comment that the bride and the groom should sexually satisfy each other so that his or her partner will not look for another. In his answer the judge contended that as solemnizing officer, it was his duty to so advice the couple, and his lecture about sex was intended for purposes of family planning and to forewarn the parties as to the cause of marital failure. Should the judge be disciplined? A: Yes. A judge shall avoid impropriety and appearance of impropriety in all his activities. Here, the advice of the judge using vulgar words during a wedding is not to be expected of a judge. Such gutter-language is even rarely heard in slums. When used by a judge, respect for the entire judiciary plummets to the levels where the people would begin to doubt the moral standards of judges and their capacity and fitness to dispense justice. (Hadap v. Lee, A.M. No. 1665-MJ, June 29, 1982) Q: During the hearing of an election protest filed by the brother of Judge Dojillo, the latter sat beside the counsel of his brother allegedly to give moral support. Did the judge commit any improper conduct? A: Yes. The judge violated the rule on impropriety under the NCJC Sec 1 Canon 4 for even if he did not intend to use his position as a judge to influence the outcome of his brothers election protest, it cannot be denied that his presence in the courtroom during the hearing of his brothers case would immediately give cause for the community to suspect that his being a colleague in the judiciary would influence the judge trying the case to favor his brother. (Vidal v. Judge Dojillo Jr., A.M. No. MTJ-05-1591, July 14, 2005)
Note: The Judges act in riding in defendants car deserves the stern probation of the Court. By such act, he openly exposed himself and the office he holds to suspicion, thus impairing the trust and faith of the people in the administration of justice. A judges official conduct should be free from the appearance of impropriety and his personal conduct and behavior should be beyond reproach. (Spouses Cabreana v. Avelino A.M. No. 1733 CFI September 30, 1981)

Q: Judge Duque of the RTC was charged with Impropriety, Corruption and Gross Misconduct. Reyes alleged that she was a party-in-intervention in Land Registration filed by the Philippine Savings Bank against the spouses Choi. In a Decision, Judge Duque granted the motion for the issuance of a writ of possession in favor of the bank. Complainant Reyes filed an Urgent Petition for Lifting and Setting Aside of Writ of Possession and Quashal of Notice to Vacate claiming that she bought the subject property from the spouses Choi and that she wa s in actual possession of the property with full knowledge of the bank. At the hearing, Atty. Ubana, the lawyer of Reyes, introduced her to Judge Duque who allegedly gave Reyes 30 days to settle matters with the bank. She was unable to re-negotiate with the bank. Reyes then allegedly received a phone call from Judge Duque and he instructed Reyes to go to his house and bring some money in order that he can deny the pending motion to break open. When she already had the money, she went to his house. The son of Judge Duque opened the gate. At his house, Judge Duque demanded money from her. Another incident happened, whereby Reyes went to the house of Judge Duque for the payment of a sum of money. Judge Duque allegedly scolded her for not bringing the whole amount. Judge Duque then locked the main door of his house and asked Reyes to step into his office. Judge Duque held the waist of Reyes, embraced and kissed her. Reyes tried to struggle and free herself. Judge Duque raised her skirt, opened her blouse and sucked her breasts. He touched her private parts and attempted to have sexual intercourse with Reyes. Reyes shouted for help but the TV was too loud. As a desperate move, Reyes appealed to Judge Duque saying: kung gusto mo, huwag dito. Sa

hotel, sasama ako sayo. Judge Duque suddenly stopped his sexual advances and ordered Reyes to fix her hair. Is the respondent judge guilty of impropriety and gross misconduct? A: Yes. Judges should avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all of their activities. Judges should conduct themselves in a way that is consistent with the dignity of the judicial office. Judges, like any other citizen, are entitled to freedom of expression, belief, association and assembly, but in exercising such rights, they should always conduct themselves in such a manner as to preserve the dignity of the judicial office and the impartiality and independence of the judiciary. The conduct of Judge Duque fell short of the exacting standards for members of the judiciary. He failed to behave in a manner that would promote confidence in the judiciary. Considering that a judge is a visible representation of the law and of justice, he is naturally expected to be the epitome of integrity and should be beyond reproach. Judge Duques conduct indubitably bore the marks of impropriety and immorality. He failed to live up to the high moral standards of the judiciary and even transgressed the ordinary norms of decency of society. Had Judge Duque not retired, his misconduct would have merited his dismissal from the service. (Reyes v. Duque, A.M. No. RTJ-08-2136 , September 21, 2010) Sec. 2, Canon 4, NCJC: As a subject of constant public scrutiny, judges must accept personal restrictions that might be viewed as burdensome by the ordinary citizen and should do so freely and willingly. In particular, judges shall conduct themselves in a way that is consistent with the dignity of the judicial office.
Note: Membership in the judiciary circumscribes ones personal conduct and imposes upon him certain restrictions, the faithful observance of which, is the price one has to pay for holding such a distinguished position. Accordingly, a magistrate of the law must comport himself in a manner that his conduct must be free of a whiff of impropriety, not only with respect to the performance of his official duties, but also to his behavior outside his sala and as a private individual. His conduct must be able to withstand the most searching public scrutiny, for the ethical principles and sense of propriety of a judge are essential to the preservation of the peoples faith in the judicial system lest public confidence in the judiciary would be eroded by the incompetent, irresponsible and negligent conduct of judges. (Bayaca v. Judge Ramos, A.M. No. MTJ-07-1676, Jan. 29, 2009)

Q: What is a dignified conduct? A: Dignified conduct is best described as conduct befitting men and women possessed of temperance and respect for the law and for others. Q: Judge Gonzales together with his two male friends went to the house of A and asked the two girls who were then boarding in As house to accompany his two male friends and take a stroll in the beach. When the girls refused, the judge admonished them. Consequently, the judge was charged with conduct unbecoming of a judge. Will the action prosper? A: Yes. A judge should so comport himself as not to degrade or bring embarrassment to his office. Here, Judge Gonzales act of imposing his will on the complainants constitutes conducts unbecoming of a judge who should be civil, humble and considerate of the rights of others. (Mariano v. Gonzales, A.M. No. 2180-MJ 114, May 31, 1982)
Note: In every litigation, the manner and attitude of a judge are crucial to everyone concerned. It is not for him to indulge or even to give the appearance of catering to the at-times human failing of yielding to first impressions. He is to refrain from reaching hasty conclusions or prejudging matters. It would be deplorable if he lays himself open to the suspicion of reacting to feelings rather than to facts, of being imprisoned in the net of his own sympathies and predilections. His language, both written and spoken, must be guarded and measured, lest the best intentions be misconstrued. He should avoid such action as would subject him to suspicion of interest in a case in his court. It is of utmost importance that a judge must preserve the trust and confidence reposed in him by the parties as an impartial, unbiased and dispassionate dispenser of justice. When he conducts himself in a manner that gives rise, fairly or unfairly, to perceptions of bias, such faith and confidence are eroded. His decisions, whether right or wrong, will always be under suspicion of irregularity. (Abesa v. Judge Nacional, A.M. No. MTJ05-1605, June 8, 2006)

Sec. 3, Canon 4, NCJC: Judges shall, in their personal relations with individual members of the legal profession who practice regularly in their court, avoid situations which might reasonably give rise to the suspicion or appearance of favoritism or partiality. Q: What is the reason for this rule? A: This section is directed at bolstering the principle of cold neutrality of an impartial judge as it requires judges to scrupulously guard against any act that may be construed as an expression of bias in favor of a litigant.
Note: Constant company with a lawyer tends to breed intimacy and camaraderie to the point that favors in the future may be asked from the judge which he may find it hard to resist. If a judge is seen eating and drinking in public places with a lawyer who has cases pending in his or her sala, public suspicion may be aroused, thus tending to erode the trust of litigants in the impartiality of the judge. (Padilla v. Zantua, G.R. No. 110990, Oct. 1994) Note: A judge shall avoid fraternizing with lawyers and litigants.

Q: Complainant Prosecutor filed an administrative complaint against respondent Sandiganbayan Justices for grave misconduct, conduct unbecoming a Justice, and conduct grossly prejudicial to the interest of the service. Allegedly, during a hearing, Justice Ong uttered words like We are playing Gods here, we will do what we want to do, your contempt is already out, we fined you eighteen thousand pesos, even if you will appeal, by that time I will be there, Justice of the Supreme Court. Also, he often asked lawyers from which law schools they had graduated, and frequently inquired whether the law school in which Justice Hernandez had studied and from which he had graduated was better than his (Justice Ongs) own alma mater. The complainant opined that the query was

manifestly intended to emphasize that the San Beda College of Law, the alma mater of Justice Ong, and the UP College of Law, that of Justice Hernandez, were the best law schools. On another occasion in that hearing in Cebu City, Justice Hernandez discourteously shouted at Prosecutor HazelinaTujan-Militante, who was then observing trial from the gallery and said You are better than Director Somido? Are you better than Director Chua? Are you here to supervise Somido? Your office is wasting funds for one prosecutor who is doing nothing . Finally, Justice Hernandez berated Atty. Pangalangan, the father of former UP Law Dean Raul Pangalangan, and uttered words such as Just because your son is always nominated by the JBC to Malacaang, you are acting like that! Do not forget that the brain of the child follows that of their (sic) mother. Should the respondent justices be held liable for conduct unbecoming? A: YES. Publicizing professional qualifications or boasting of having studied in and graduated from certain law schools, no matter how prestigious, might have even revealed, on the part of Justice Ong and Justice Hernandez, shows their bias for or against some lawyers. Their conduct was impermissible, consequently, for Section 3, Canon 4 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct for the Philippine Judiciary, demands that judges avoid situations that may reasonably give rise to the suspicion or appearance of favoritism or partiality in their personal relations with individual members of the legal profession who practice regularly in their courts. Judges should be dignified in demeanor, and refined in speech. In performing their judicial duties, they should not manifest bias or prejudice by word or conduct towards any person or group on irrelevant grounds. It is very essential that they should live up to the high standards their noble position on the Bench demands. Their language must be guarded and measured, lest the best of intentions be misconstrued. In this regard, Section 3, Canon 5 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct for the Philippine Judiciary, mandates judges to carry out judicial duties with appropriate consideration for all persons, such as the parties, witnesses, lawyers, court staff, and judicial colleagues, without differentiation on any irrelevant ground, immaterial to the proper performance of such duties. (Jamsani-Rodriguez v. Ong, A.M. No. 08-19-SB-J, August 24, 2010) Sec. 4, Canon 4, NCJC: Judges shall not participate in the determination of a case in which any member of their family represents a litigant or is associated in any manner with the case.
Note: This rule rests on the principle that no judge should preside in a case in which the judge is not wholly free, disinterested, impartial and independent.

Sec. 5, Canon 4, NCJC: Judges shall not allow the use of their residence by a member of the legal profession to receive clients of the latter or of other members of the legal profession.
Note: It was inappropriate for a judge to have entertained a litigant in his house particularly when the case is still pending before his sala. (J. King and Sons. V Hontanosas, Adm. Matter No. RTJ-03-1802, September 21, 2004)

Q: What is the reason for this rule? A: The reason is that judges are required to always exhibit cold neutrality of an impartial judge. Sec. 6, Canon 4, NCJC: Judges, like any other citizen, are entitled to freedom of expression, belief, association and assembly, but in exercising such rights, they shall always conduct themselves in such a manner as to preserve the dignity of the judicial office and the impartiality and independence of the judiciary.
Note: While judges are not expected to live a hermit-like existence or cease functioning as citizens of the Republic, they should remember that they do not disrobe themselves of their judicial office upon leaving their salas. In the exercise of their civil liberties, they should be circumspect and ever mindful that their continuing commitment to upholding the judiciary and its values places upon them certain implied restraints to their freedom.

Q: In an anonymous letter sent to the OCA, Judge Acua was charged with improper conduct for allegedly making humiliating statements such as putris, and putang-ina. In his comment, Judge Acua explained that those words are only his favorite expressions and they are not directed to any particular person. He also explained that his behavior is justified by the fact that he is still mourning the sudden demise of his eldest son. Is the Judge guilty of improper conduct? A: Yes. Judges are demanded to be always temperate, patient and courteous both in the conduct and language. Indeed, judges should so behave at all times because having accepted the esteemed position of a judge he ought to have known that more is expected of him than ordinary citizen. Here, the judges use of humiliating and insensitive expressions like putris and putang- ina is improper as such intemperate language detracts from how he should conduct himself. Moreover, it does not matter whether such expressions were directed to a particular person or not, as they give the impression of a persons ill manners. (Re: Anonymous complaint Against Judge Acua, A.M. No. RTJ04-1891, July 28, 2005)
Note: Judges in the exercise of their civil liberties, should be circumspect and ever mindful of their continuing commitment to uphold the judiciary and its values places upon them certain implied restraints to their freedom. A judge was admonished for the appearance of engaging in partisan politics when he participated in a political rally sponsored by one party, even though he only explained the mechanics of block voting to the audience. (Macias v. Arula, A.M. No. 1895-CFI, July 20, 1982)

Sec. 7, Canon 4, NCJC: Judges shall inform themselves about their personal fiduciary and financial interests and shall make reasonable efforts to be informed about the financial interests of members of their family.

Note: This section should be read in conjunction with Sec. 7 of the R.A. 6713 (Code of Conduct and Ethical standards for Public officials and Employee), which prohibits certain personal fiduciary and financial conflicts. A judge shall refrain from financial and business dealings that tend to reflect adversely on the court's impartiality, interfere with the proper performance of judicial activities, or increase involvement with lawyers or persons likely to come before the court.

Sec. 8, Canon 4, NCJC: Judges shall not use or lend the prestige of the judicial office to advance their private interests, or those of a member of their family or of anyone else, nor shall they convey or permit others to convey the impression that anyone is in a special position improperly to influence them in the performance of judicial duties. Q: What are the acts prohibited by the rule? A: 1. Judges act of using judicial office to advance private interests
Note: An RTC judge took advantage of his position, by filing in the Makati court a collection case in which he and his wife were the complainants. The Court ruled that although a stipulation in the contract gave the judge, as creditor, choice of venue, the judge had nonetheless fallen short of what is expected of him as a judicial officer. This act of the judge would lead the public, and in particular the judges adversary, to suspect that the judge would use the choice of venue as a means to exert influence in favor of himself. (Javier v. De Guzman, A.M. No. RTJ-89-380, Dec. 19, 1990)

2. Judges act of giving impression that he can be influenced to use the judicial office to advance the private interests of others.
Note: Another common violation of this rule is using judicial power to exact personal vengeance.

Q: Judge Escano was charged with allegedly using court facilities (bulletin board) in advertising for attractive waitresses and cooks for possible employment in their restaurant business. In addition, the judge also allowed the use of the court address to receive applications as well as his office in screening the applicants. In his comment, the judge explained that he merely wanted to give assistance to his wife, and the posting of advertisements as well as the conduct of screening in his office is the most convenient way for him considering the difficulty of locating the residence. Did the judge commit any unethical act? A: Yes. Judges shall not use or lend the prestige of the judicial office to advance their private interests for those of a member of a family. This is so to avoid possible interference which may be created by such business involvements in the exercise of their duties which may tend to corrode the respect and dignity of the court as bastion of justice. Here, the act of the judge in using the court facilities to promote family business is improper. (Dionisio v. Escano, A.M. No. RTJ-98-1400, Feb. 1, 1999) Q: What is ticket fixing? A: Ticket fixing is misconduct in which judges impermissibly take advantage of their public position to avoid punishment for traffic violations. Sec. 9, Canon 4, NCJC: Confidential information acquired by judges in their judicial capacity shall not be used or disclosed for any other purpose not related to their judicial duties.

Q: What is the reason for this rule? A: The prohibition will discourage, if not stop judges from making business speculations in some business ventures, the secrets of which they learned by reason of their position as judges. Q: Judge Lilagam was charged with improper conduct for allowing his wife to have access to court records. In his answer, the judge admitted that he requested his wife who was previously a legal researcher, to go over the records and pinpoint problem areas and to suggest measures to rectify the same and to improve the system of case monitoring. Is the judge guilty of improper conduct? A: Yes. Records of cases are necessarily confidential, and to preserve their integrity and confidentiality, access thereto ought to be limited only to the judge, the parties or their counsel and the appropriate court personnel in charged of the custody of said records. Here, since Mrs. Lilagam is not a court employee specifically in charge of the custody of said records, the judges act of al lowing her to have access thereto is improper as such would convey the impression that she isthe one who can influence the judges official function. (Gordon v. Lilagam, A.M. No. RTJ-00-1564, July 26, 2001) Q: At the pre-trial of a civil case for collection, one of the parties mentioned that he expected to settle his obligation as he was investing in some stocks of a realty corporation that were sure to soar in the market because of some confidential information he obtained from his brother-in-law, a top rank officer of the corporation. Upon hearing the information the judge lost no time in buying the stocks in the realty corporation and as predicted made a lot of money. Is the judge guilty of unethical conduct? A: Yes. Sec. 9, Canon 4 of NJCJprovides that no information acquired in a judicial capacity shall be used or disclosed by a jud ge in any financial dealing or for any other purpose not related to judicial activities. The judge in this case has violated the foregoing rule, and acted unethically. (1995 Bar Question) Q: May a violation of this rule constitute criminal offense? A: Yes. The act may constitute the following criminal offenses: Under Sec. ([k) of R.A. 3019, and under Art. 229 and 230 of the RPC, to wit: 1. Divulging valuable information of a confidential character, acquired by his office or by him on account of his official position to unauthorized persons, or releasing such information in advance of its authorized release date. (3[k] of R.A. 3019) 2. Revelation of secrets by an officer Any public officer who shall reveal any secret known to him by reason of his official capacity, or shall wrongfully deliver papers or copies of papers of which he may have charge and which should not be published, shall suffer imprisonment. (Art. 229, RPC) 3. Public officer revealing secrets of private individual Any public officer to whom the secrets of any private individual shall become known by reason of his office who shall reveal such secrets, shall suffer the penalties of arresto mayor and a fine. (Art. 230, RPC)

Sec. 10, Canon 4, NCJC: Subject to the proper performance of judicial duties, judges may: 1. Write, lecture, teach and participate in activities concerning the law, the legal system, the administration of justice or related matter; 2. Appear at a public hearing before an official body concerned with matters relating to the law, the legal system, the administration of justice or related matters; 3. Engage in other activities if such activities do not detract from the dignity of the judicial office or otherwise interfere with the performance of judicial duties.

Note: This section allows the judge to participate in legal academia and public discourse on legal matters with the proviso that there shall be no interference in the performance of the judges primary functions with respect to his or her jurisdiction. In dealing with the media however, the Philippine Judicial Academy suggests that a judge or court should avoid acrimonious debate with reporters and the public, for a knee jerk reaction from the court or judge may only provoke negative follow-up reports and articles. This sections tolerance of judicially-related activities is limited by Sec. 12, Article VIII of the Constitution, which prohibits judges from being designated to any agency performing quasi-judicial or administrative functions.

Q: May a judge be a member of the Provincial Committee on Justice? A: No. Such membership would violate the constitutional provision on the discharge by members of the judiciary of administrative functions in quasi-judicial or administrative agencies. This does not mean, however, that judges should adopt an attitude of monastic insensibility or unbecoming indifference to the Provincial/City Committee on Justice. As incumbent judges, they form part of the structure of government. Even as non-members, Judges should render assistance to said Committees to help promote the laudable purposes for which they exist, but only when such assistance may be reasonably incidental to the fulfillment of their judicial duties. (In Re: Designation of Judge Rodolfo U. Manzano, A.M. No. 88-7-1861-RTC, Oct. 5, 1988)
Note: Under Sec. 10(c), Section 10, Canon 4, a judge may engage in private business without the written permission of the Supreme Court. (Borre v. Moya, A.M. No. 1765-CFI, Oct. 17, 1980)

Sec. 11, Canon 4, NCJC: Judges shall not practice law whilst the holder of judicial office Q: What is the basis of the prohibition? A: This prohibition is based on the inherent incompatibility of the rights, duties and functions of the office of an attorney with the powers, duties and functions of a judge.
Note: Sec. 35 of Rule 138 of the Rules of Court prohibits judges from engaging in the practice of law or giving professional advice to clients. Philippine courts not only prohibit judges from overtly representing clients as counsel of record, but also from acting more subtly in a way more befitting an advocate than a judge. Note: While municipal judges can administer oaths or execute certificates on matters related to their official functions, they cannot notarize private documents. Judges assigned to municipalities and circuits may act as notaries provided all notarial fees charged be to the gove rnments account and a certification attesting to the lack of lawyers on notary in the municipality or circuit be made. (SC Circular 1-90)

Note: The rule disqualifying a municipal judge from engaging in the practice of law seeks to avoid the evil of possible use of the power and influence of his office to affect the outcome of the litigation where he is retained as counsel. Compelling reasons of public policy lie behind this prohibition, and judges are expected to conduct themselves in such a manner as to preclude any suspicion that they are representing the interests of party litigant (DiaAnonuevo v. Bercacio, A.M. No. 177-MTJ, November 27, 1975)

Q: Respondent Judge Lelina was administratively charged for violation of Section 35, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court and Rule 5.07, Canon 5 of the Code of Judicial Conduct. He was then preventively suspended by the Court on account of an earlier administrative complaint filed charging him with harassment in connection with the criminal complaint for Rape and the complaint for Abduction with Rape and Slight Illegal Detention. He then filed a Motion for Early Resolution of the criminal case praying for a resolution in his favor. Subsequently he appealed to the Court to grant him the permission to practice law during the remainder of his preventive suspension or, if such cannot be granted, to consider him resigned from the judiciary. It turned out that before he filed the abovesaid Manifestation, Appeal and Omnibus Motion, Judge Lelina engaged in the private practice of law. Did the judge commit any unethical act? A: Yes. Since Section 35, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court and Section 11, Canon 4 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct for the Philippine Judiciary does not make any distinction in prohibiting judges from engaging in the private practice of law while holding judicial office, no distinction should be made in its application. In the present case, Judge Lelina having been merely suspended and not dismissed from the service, he was still bound under the prohibition. (Binalay v. Lelina Jr, A.M. No. RTJ-08-2132, July 31, 2009) Q: In an extrajudicial settlement of the estate of the late Juan Mayaman, the heirs requested Judge Maawain, a family friend, to go over the document prepared by a new lawyer before they signed it. Judge Maawain agreed and even acted as an instrumental witness. Did Judge Maawain engage in the unauthorized practice of law? Why? A: No. In the case of de Castro v. Capulong, 118 SCRA 5 (1982), the Supreme Court held that a judge who merely acted as a witness to a document and who explained to the party waiving his rights of redemption over mortgaged properties the consequences thereof, does not engage himself in the practice of law. This appears to be more applicable to the case of Judge Maawain. He did not give professional advice in anticipation of litigation. He was just asked to review a deed of extrajudicial settlement of estate. He signed merely as an instrumental witness and not as a legal counsel. Besides, his act was an isolated act. (2002 Bar Question) Sec. 12, Canon 4, NCJC: Judges may form or join associations of judges or participate in other organizations representing the interests of judges.
Note: This rule recognizes the difference between membership in associations of judges and membership in associations of other legal professionals. While attendance at lavish events hosted by lawyers might create an appearance of impropriety, participation in judges-only organizations does not.

Q: What is the general rule with regard to prohibition against accepting gifts, bequests, or loans? A: The general rule is that found in Sections 13 and 14. Sec. 13, Canon 4, NCJC: Judges and members of their families shall neither ask for nor accept, any gift, bequest, loan or favor in relation to anything done or to be done or omitted to be done by him or her in connection with the performance of judicial duties. Sec. 14, Canon 4, NCJC: Judges shall not knowingly permit court staff or others subject to their influence, direction or authority, to ask for, or accept, any gift, bequest, loan or favor in relation to anything done, to be done or omitted to be done in connection with their duties or functions.
Note: Section 13 should be read in conjunction with Section 7(d) of R.A. 6713 (Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public officials and Employee) which provides that, public officials and employees shall not solicit or accept, directly or indirectly, any gift, gratuity, favor, entertainment, loan or anything of money value from any person in the course of their official duties or in connection with any operation being regulated by, or any transaction which may be affected by the functions of their office. Respondent Judge Ganay clearly fell short of the exacting standards set by the New Code of Judicial Conduct for the Philippine Judiciary. His acts of receiving lawbooks worth fifty thousand pesos, cellular phones and monthly cellular phone prepaid cards from the property guardians of the late Rev. Fr. Aspiras, who was then the ward of the court, constitute impropriety which the Court cannot allow. Respondent Judge Ganay s act of issuing Orders directing the manager of the PNB, La Union Branch to draw checks amounting to thousands of pesos from the account of the late Rev. Fr. Aspiras creates the impression of impropriety and subjects the court to suspicion of irregularities in the conduct of the proceedings. (Heirs of the late Rev. Fr. Jose Aspiras v. Judge Ganay, A.M. No. RTJ-07-2055, Dec. 17, 2009) Note: Section 14 should be read in relation to Section 7(d) of RA No. 6713 which prohibits public officials from soliciting or accepting gifts from any person in the course of their official duties.

Q: What is the reason for this rule? A: This section is intended to assure that what the judge cannot do directly (soliciting gifts), may not be done indirectly through the use of employees or staff members. Q: X was charged with grave threat before the sala of Judge Elias Lelina. During the pendency of the case, X offered a business partnership to the daughter of Judge Lelina who then accepted the same. Should the judge be disciplined? A: Yes. Judges should not allow members of their family to accept gifts nor favor in relation to anything done, to be done, or omitted to be done by the judge in connection with the performance of his official duties. Here , the judges act of allowing his daughter to accept the business offer of X despite knowledge of the possible intention of the latter who has pending case in his sala is improper. (Dulay v. Lelina Jr., A.M. No. RTJ-99-1516, July 14, 2005) Q: What is the exception to Sections 13 and 14 of Canon 4 of the NCJC? A: Canon 4, Section 15 of NCJC.

Sec. 15, Canon 4, NCJC: Subject to law and to any legal requirements of public disclosure, judges may receive a token gift, award or benefit as appropriate to the occasion on which it is made, provided that such gift, award or benefit might not reasonably be perceived as intended to influence the judge in the performance of official duties or otherwise give rise to an appearance of partiality.

Note: Judges are allowed to accept token gifts, awards, or benefits when given as a consequence of a special occasion.

Q: What gifts and grants from foreign countries are allowed? A: 1. The acceptance and retention by a public official or employee of a gift of nominal value tendered and received as a souvenir or mark of courtesy; 2. The acceptance by a public official or employee of a gift in the nature of a scholarship or fellowship grant or medical treatment; or 3. The acceptance by a public official or employee of travel grants or expenses for travel taking place entirely outside the Philippines (such as allowances, transportation, food and lodging) of more than nominal value if such acceptance is appropriate or consistent with the interest of the Philippines, and permitted by the head office, branch or agency to which the judge belongs. (Sec. 7[d], R.A. 6713) Q: When is a judge considered guilty of indirect bribery? Of direct bribery? A: Acceptance of gifts given by reason of the office of the judge is indirect bribery (Art. 211, Revised Penal Code) and when he agrees to perform an act constituting a crime in connection with the performance of his official duties in consideration of any offer, promise, gift or present receive by such officer, he is guilty of direct bribery (Art. 210, Revised Penal Code).
Note: GR: Under the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (RA 3019), the judge is liable criminally for directly or indirectly receiving gifts, presents or other pecuniary or material benefit for himself or for another under conditions provided in Section 2, pars. b and c of the law. XPN: Unsolicited gifts or presents of small value offered or given as a mere ordinary token of gratitude or friendship according to local custom or usage (Section 14, RA 3019) Note: Donations given to a judge or to his wife, descendants or ascendants by reason of his office are void (Art. 739, Civil Code). Ownership does not pass to the donee. Money or property donated is recoverably by the donor, his heirs or creditors. Note: Under Section 16 Article XI of the 1987 Constitution No loan, guarantee or other form of financial accommodation for any business purpose may be granted directly or indirectly by any government-owned or controlled bank or financialinstitution to xxx members of the Supreme Court xxx during their tenure. It is a serious misconduct for a judge to receive money from a litigant in the form of loans which he never intended to pay back. Even if the judge intends to pay, it is an act of impropriety to take a loan from a party litigant. The judge could not be wholly free from bias in deciding a case where his lender is a party. A judge should always strive to be free from suspicion and all forms of improprieties. (Ompoc v. Judge Torres, A.M. No. MTJ-86-11 September 27, 1989 Note: To ensure equality of treatment to all before the courts is essential to the due performance of the judicial office. As the guardians of justice, courts must adhere to the principle of equality. People expect the courts to be unaffected by differences in social status, degree of education and even physical abilities.