MANILA, Philippines – Court of Appeals Associate Justice Noel Tijam downplayed concerns that he would be beholden to his classmate, President Rodrigo Duterte, if he becomes the next Supreme Court (SC) associate justice.
Tijam faced the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) panel on Wednesday, November 16, during the public interview as part of his application to replace retiring SC Associate Justice Jose Perez.
JBC member Jose Mejia noted that Tijam has himself announced that he is a classmate of the President.
Tijam graduated magna cum laude from San Beda College in 1967, and graduated salutatorian from the San Beda College of Law in 1971.
Asked how he would be able to maintain his independence given this close connection, Tijam cited how he had previously issued rulings against two other former presidents.
Tijam was appointed Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 judge in 1994 by former president Fidel Ramos, and then to the Court of Appeals in 2003 under former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
He pointed out that in 2013, he wrote the CA decision affirming the constitutionality of former president Benigno Aquino III’s revocation of Arroyo’s so-called “midnight appointments,” revoking almost 600 appointments.
“Presidents do not make any attempt to influence judges and I have never experienced that,” he said.
In the case of Duterte, Tijam said that he is not the kind of person to ask favors.
“Knowing him, he’s full of pride, he has a personality, he will be the last person to ask favors in the judiciary,” he said. – Rappler.com