The Philippine Judges Association (PJA) has condemned the “abusive” and “vicious” attacks against courts and judges.
In a statement, the PJA said it is “saddened by how the judiciary is being dragged and vilified just because a decision was rendered in a manner not acceptable to the parties therein.”
They did not identify a specific case.
“The attacks on the judiciary are so vicious that they may lead to the public losing faith and respect in our judicial system,” the association said.
It said the Philippine judiciary has received “virulent attacks” from the public “for the past several days.”
The association issued the statement a week after a trial court judge in Manila convicted Rappler CEO Maria Ressa and former researcher Reynaldo Santos Jr. of cyber libel.
Critics of the decision said it would result in a chilling effect on the press.
Some of the criticism was directed towards Judge Rainelda Estacio-Montesa herself.
Though the PJA did not name any particular case, its president, Judge Felix Reyes, confirmed the statement was related to Ressa’s conviction.
The PJA said the role of the courts is to settle controversies based on evidence and laws and that remedies are available when a party loses a case.
“This kind of system makes people rely upon our courts with substantial certainty; it encourages the resolution of disputes in courtrooms rather than on the streets,” it said.
“Abusive criticisms and unfounded innuendos hurled against courts and judges erode the public’s trust and confidence on the very institution tasked to protect the people’s rights,” it said.
Citing the Supreme Court on an administrative case in 2008, the PJA said “personal attacks, criticisms laden with political threats, those that misrepresent and distort the nature and context of judicial decisions, those that are misleading or without factual or legal basis, and those that blame the judges for the ills of society, damage the integrity of the judiciary and threat the doctrine of judicial independence.” /Stacy Ang