Justice Roberto Abad and the ties that bind

When asked in 2008 if he will inhibit in cases involving Estelito Mendoza, a former colleague, Abad said he didn't see any reason for him to do so

MANILA, Philippines – Justice Roberto Abad, appointed to the High Court in 2009, may be a junior magistrate but he is the oldest among them and will already be retiring in 2014 once he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 70.

Lawyer Renato Saguisag hence said that Abad is fit to be an “interim chief justice,” whose short term is enough to “mend the ruptures”  of discord in the SC. Once the tension has eased, Saguisag said President Benigno Aquino III can appoint another chief justice.

Abad was nominated by UST law dean Nilo Divina, but has also included Jack Jimenez – one of the legal counsels of now dismissed chief justice Renato Corona in his impeachment trial – in his references.

He, along with fellow nominee Justice Arturo Brion and Justices Martin Villarama and Jose Perez, said they are willing to sign a bank waiver after Corona signed his before the impeachment court in May.

Competence 

Abad has disposed 77.28% or 1,524 out of the 1972 cases raffled off to him.

He has a monthly disposal rate of 44 cases. He has a current caseload of 508 cases as of June 30, 2012

Abad chaired the bar exam committee in 2011. It was under his term that the bar exam was revised – 60 percent covered multiple choice questions.

As chairman of the subcommittee on the revision of rules on civil procedure, Abad also proposed the conduct of preliminary conference and “one time face-to-face hearing,” to expedite the resolution of cases.

Abad finished law at the Ateneo de Manila University and completed his undergraduate studies in the Manuel L. Quezon University.

He taught at the UST College of law and was an assistant solicitor general in 1985.

Issues, controversies

Abad worked as an assistant solicitor general under then government counsel Mendoza in the 1980s. The two would later defend Lucio Tan’s companies in a tax-evasion case filed in 1993. 

When asked by Newsbreak in 2008 if he will inhibit in cases involving Mendoza, Abad said he didn’t see any reason for him to do so. True to his word, Abad did not inhibit from a labor case involving the Philippine Airlines, which Mendoza handles.

Abad, unlike the other SC justices nominated for the post of chief justice, also did not inhibit from the case questioning the composition of the Judicial and Bar Council – the body that screens and vets aspirants to the judiciary. Abad voted that there should be two congressional representatives in the JBC – one from the House of Representatives and the Senate, with one vote each.

Abad does not see eye-to-eye with another nominee for the chief justice post – Justice Lourdes Sereno – on an administrative case involving Justice Mariano del Castillo, who is accused of plagiarizing parts of his decision on the case Vinuya v. Executive Secretary.

Sereno voted against Del Castillo. Abad alleged though that Sereno also plagiarized some parts of her work when she was still part of the academe and the private sector. Sereno has denied this. – Rappler.com

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