MANILA, Philippines – Supreme Court (SC) Associate Justice Roberto Abad retired from his post Thursday, May 22, as he reached the mandatory retirement age of 70.
Abad’s retirement makes way for the 5th appointee by President Benigno Aquino III to the High Court. As president, he has the sole power to choose from among the nominees recommended by the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC).
The newly retired justice was appointed to the SC on August 7, 2009.
With over 40 years of law practice and 10 years of lawyering for the government, Abad’s bid for the High Court was favored by then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Only two years left to serve the SC at the time, Abad was nominated in 2012 as SC chief justice; he did not get the appointment. The post was vacated by ousted magistrate Renato Corona, who was accused of violating the Constitution by underdeclaring his income and being untruthful in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth.
Following Corona’s dismissal, Abad referred to the SC as “wounded.” He said he would pursue reconciliation between the judicial and legislative branches of government, if appointed chief justice.
During the oral arguments on the Reproductive Health (RH) Law, court observers said Abad’s bias was obvious. Abad compared advocates of the law to German dictator and mass killer Adolf Hitler.
The law – which seeks, among others, to make modern contraception more widely available – was ruled constitutional by the SC with select provisions struck down. (READ: SC declares RH law constitutional)
The Catholic Church is the RH law’s staunchest critic. Abad is said to be religious, providing basic bible seminars to lay and religious catechists who teach religion and values to public school children.
In the ruling on the controversial Cybercrime Prevention Act, wherein he served as ponente or the judge writing for the court, Abad and the majority of the justices voted in favor of libel being a criminal offense. (READ: SC rules online libel constitutional)
The decision penned by Abad was heavily criticized by advocates of Internet freedom, who saw Abad’s then impending retirement as a chance to reverse the ruling. (READ: Hope renewed for SC review of Cybercrime ruling)
The SC later on denied bids for a judicial review of the decision filed by at least 5 groups of petitioners. (READ: SC denies bids to review SC Cybercrime ruling)
Public interviews for nominees to the Associate Justice post vacated by Abad have been set for May 29 and 30.
The following have been nominated to the post:
|Name of Applicant||Present Position|
|1. Antonio-Valenzuela, Nina G.||Associate Justice, Court of Appeals|
|2. Bruselas, Apolinario D.||Associate Justice, Court of Appeals|
|3. Carandang, Rosmari D.||Associate Justice, Court of Appeals|
|4. Cornejo, Maria Cristina J.||Associate Justice, Sandiganbayan|
|5. Daway, Reynaldo B.||Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court, Branch 90, Quezon City|
|6. Diokno, Jose Manuel I.||Dean, College of Law, DLSU; Chair, Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG)|
|7. Guanzon, Ma. Rowena V.||Commissioner, Commission on Audit|
|8. Hernando, Ramon Paul L.||Associate Justice, Court of Appeals|
|9. Jardeleza, Francis H.||Solicitor General|
|10. Lagos, Rafael R.||Associate Justice, Sandiganbayan|
|11. Pulido-Tan, Maria Gracia M.||Chairperson, Commission on Audit|
|12. Reyes, Andres Jr B.||Presiding Justice, Court of Appeals|
|13. Reyes, Jose Jr C.||Associate Justice, Court of Appeals|
|14. Tijam, Noel G.||Associate Justice, Court of Appeals|
|15. Cruz, Stephen C.||Associate Justice, Court of Appeals|
In a text message, JBC academe representative Jose Mejia said Diokno withdrew his nomination for Abad’s former post. “All the rest are set for interview,” he added. Diokno has yet to confirm this as of posting time.
The JBC, which recommends appointees to the judiciary, is headed by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno. The members include Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and Senator Aquilino Pimentel III as ex officio members, retired CA Justice Aurora Santiago-Lagman representing the private sector, Mejia representing the academe, and Maria Milagros N. Fernan-Cayosa representing the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.
Abad’s law practice started in 1968, when he spent a year as an associate at the now-closed Jose W. Diokno Law Office.
Prior to becoming a magistrate in the High Court deciding on cases that set a precedent for the rest of the country’s courts, Abad also worked for the SC from 1969 to 1975. He was technical assistant for 4 years and then associate attorney for a year.
He became Solicitor I in 1975 and climbed up the ranks for 10 years, until eventually becoming Assistant Solicitor General on July 1, 1985. He held the post for a year and set up his own private practice afterwards.
Abad was born and raised in Tondo, Manila, where he studied in public schools both at the elementary and high school levels. Abad received his bachelor’s degree from Manuel L. Quezon University, located in one of the busy and crowded streets of Quiapo, Manila.
Abad was never an honor student until finally entering law school at the Ateneo de Manila University, where he was a Dean’s Lister. He passed the Bar in September 1968 with a grade of 81.70%.
Abad is no stranger to the plight of the poor and the helpless.
He offered free legal services to the Department of Social Welfare for the prosecution of child abuse offenders, helped the Sisters of Charity of Our Lady of Perpetual Succor preserve a playground park for poor children in Fairview, Quezon City, and demanded action to rectify the defective construction of homes owned by the Angels of Hope Orphanage in Pulong Bunga, Silang, Cavite.
The newly retired justice also served as instructor, assistant professor, and eventually dean of the UST Faculty of Civil Law. – Rappler.com
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