La Union judge admonished over social media posts

Evelyn Macairan - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court (SC) reminded judges yesterday to be mindful of what they post on social media as it admonished a regional trial court judge in La Union for posting photos of himself half-naked and revealing his tattoos.

In a decision penned by SC Associate Justice Jean Paul Inting, the high court said the judge, who was not identified, was found guilty of conduct unbecoming of a judge.

“The court once again reminds judges to be mindful of what they communicate in social networking sites regardless of whether it is personal matter or a part of his or her judicial functions... Content inauditability creates and contributes to the public’s perception not only of the concerned judges, but more importantly of the judiciary as a whole,” the SC said.

“By posting the pictures on Facebook, (respondent judge) placed himself in a situation where he and the status he holds as a sitting judge became the object of the public’s criticism and ridicule,” the high tribunal said.

The administrative case filed against the judge stemmed from printouts of the pictures he posted on Facebook, which were received by the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA).

In his defense, the judge said his account was hacked and the privacy settings were changed from private to public.

He said his photos were intended to be viewed only by his friends on Facebook and not by the public.

The OCA said the judge violated the New Code of Judicial Conduct as well as OCA Circular 173-2017. It recommended a fine of P15,000 fine and a reprimand with a strong warning.

”The respondent judge is admonished to be more circumspect in his professional and personal dealings on social media and sternly warned that a repetition of the same similar acts shall be dealt with more severely,” the high tribunal said as it adopted the findings of the OCA.

The SC clarified that impropriety covered only the photos the judge posted on social media and has nothing to do with his decision to have tattoos.

It also took note of the judge’s admission that he has a “sizeable” number of Facebook friends who could access his daily posts.


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