Freeman Region

Judges, court workers warned of irresponsible use of social media

Eileen Nazareno-Ballesteros - The Freeman

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines — Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez reminded all judges and court employees to be cautious and circumspect in the use of social media.

Marquez, in his OCA Circular 173-2017 dated August 17, 2017, cautioned judges and court personnel—who participate in social media—to be “circumspect in posting photographs, liking posts and making comments in public on social networking sites, for 'public confidence in the judiciary (may be) eroded by their irresponsible or improper conduct."

While judges and court personnel are not prohibited from engaging in social.media, he reminded them that, when they do, 'they do not thereby shed off their status as members of the judiciary.'"

Using a social networking site, such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, “is an exercise of freedom of expression," but “there are restrictions upon a judge's conduct inherent in the office."

Marquez said photographs and commentaries, which are otherwise acceptable to the general public, “may be considered inappropriate for members of the judiciary due to the higher standard of integrity, candor and fairness reposed on them."

Whether it is a personal matter or part of the judicial duties, "communicating and socializing through social networks, … creates and contributes to the people's opinion not just of the judge but of the entire judiciary of which he or she is a part," Marquez explained.

Marquez said judges and court employees — deemed visible personification of law and justice —“have a higher standard of conduct (Section 6, Canon 4 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct) thus they shall always conduct themselves in a manner as to preserve the dignity of the judicial office and the impartiality and independence of the Judiciary."

The Philippine Association of Court Employees, which has about 25,000 members from first and second level courts across the country, said it will abide by this order even if it does not have a penalty for non-compliance. (FREEMAN)

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