Tribute to women jurists
I did not hear him or his spokesperson Salvador Panelo say it; nonetheless, I think President Duterte, intentionally or unintentionally, bestowed a rousing tribute to women-jurists by naming an eminently qualified lady to the Supreme Court, Amy C. Lazaro-Javier, during the Women’s Month of March.
Valedictorian (magna cum laude) of the 1982 law class of the University of Santo Tomas (UST), Justice Javier consistently topped her mates from kindergarten to college. Aside from her intellectual supremacy, she has a veritable reputation for integrity and industry, qualities needed to help ease the clogged dockets of the Supreme Court.
During her 12-year stint (2007-2019) in the Court of Appeals (CA), Javier maintained a zero backlog and was always prompt in deciding all the cases assigned to her. For 24 years (1983-2007), she worked in the Office of the Solicitor General (14 of the 24 as assistant solicitor general) until her appointment to the Supreme Court.
The President’s tribute becomes even more gratifying given that his last appointee to the Court on Nov. 28, 2018 was also a brilliant lady, Justice Rosmari D. Carandang.
Like Javier, Carandang is known for her superior intellect, graduating valedictorian in elementary and high school, and salutatorian (cum laude) of the 1975 law class of the University of the Philippines (UP). She placed ninth in the 1975 bar exam with a grade of 84.95.
In that famous UP law class of 1975, she was bested only by Senior Justice Antonio T. Carpio, who graduated valedictorian and placed sixth in the same bar exam she took.
Though unquestionably outstanding during their CA tenures, Javier and Carandang still went through the biblical eye of the needle: Each had to pass eight nominations by the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) before finally reaching the highest court of the land.
Together with incumbent Justice Estela M. Perlas-Bernabe, the salutatorian of the 1976 law class of Ateneo de Manila, they form a formidable triumvirate in the Supreme Court. Coming from the top graduates of the top law schools in the country—Ateneo de Manila, UP and UST—they can, I dare say, match the gravitas of the gentlemen in the Court.
But please do not expect them to vote together all the time. Indeed, they fiercely value their independence. For example, while Bernabe voted with the majority in allowing the burial of former president Ferdinand Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani, Carandang and Javier boldly declared during their separate JBC interviews that they would have joined the minority.
Interestingly, the over 400-year-old UST Faculty of Civil Law has produced 10 male Supreme Court members (six were chief justices), but only two ladies — Javier and retired feisty Justice Angelina Sandoval-Gutierrez.
In contrast, the 108-year-old UP College of Law has contributed 11 ladies (one incumbent and 10 retired) to the Supreme Court, while the 83-year-old Ateneo de Manila School of Law has only one — Bernabe.
Javier bested nine other JBC nominees: CA Justices Manuel M. Barrios, Japar B. Dimaampao, Ramon A. Cruz, Ramon D. Garcia, Mario V. Lopez and Apolinario D. Bruselas Jr., Sandiganbayan (SBN) Presiding Justice Amparo M. Cabotaje-Tang, Court Administrator Jose Midas P. Marquez and former Ateneo de Manila law dean Cesar L. Villanueva.
However, Dimaampao, Garcia, Lopez, Cabotaje-Tang, Marquez and Villanueva have been renominated by the JBC to replace Justice Noel G. Tijam, who retired on Jan. 5 and was later named as a JBC member. They are joined in the race by six others: CA Justices Edgardo L. Delos Santos, Henri Jean Paul B. Inting, Jhosep Y. Lopez, Eduardo B. Peralta Jr., Ricardo D. Rosario, and Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) Presiding Justice Roman G. Del Rosario.
Aside from Marquez and Villanueva, all these nominees for the last two slots come from the CA, SBN and CTA. I think that’s because the President has shown a fondness for promoting appellate jurists, per my column on Dec. 16, 2018 titled “Duterte’s appointees dominate SC.”
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