Pangalangan’s priority: consolidate SC
The former dean of the UP Law School says that after the traumatic experience of impeachment and conviction, consolidation of the High Court will be a priority

MANILA, Philippines – Raul Pangalangan, former dean of the University of the Philippines Law School told the Judicial and Bar Council on Wednesday, July 25, that the most urgent task of the new chief justice is “consolidation of the institution,” after the “traumatic” process by which the sitting chief justice was removed.

If appointed chief justice, the 53-year-old law professor said he would also push for judicial reforms and address the need to boost staff morale and benefits. He conceded that having been a member of Supreme Court committees in the past, he is aware that administrative reforms are already being implemented.

“The institution has to consolidate itself internally at level of justices and staff – the Supreme Court vis-à-vis all the way to trial judges, and the Court vis-à-vis other branches of government,” Pangalangan said. The latter may be sensitive, given recently concluded proceedings against the chief justice, but the best time to do it, Pangalangan added, is when the new chief justice takes over.

Yet it was because of the impeachment trial that outsiders have accepted nominations to the post of chief justice. “Because of those events we are here,” the constitutional and public international law expert said.

South China Sea

Asked what his position is on the South China Sea territorial dispute with China, he said he agrees with the position taken by Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario: to “multilateralize” the issue. After all, it is a multilateral dispute among Asean countries.

When asked by JBC member and retired Court of Appeals Justice Aurora Santiago-Lagman what the face of a Pangalangan court would be, Pangalangan said his legacy would be both administrative and judicial.

He would like a Supreme Court under his leadership to speak with a clear voice and to have core “agreement” on constitutional norms and important issues. “It will be a court that exercised its judicial power judiciously.”

Charter change

Asked about charter change by JBC presiding officer Diosdado Peralta, Pangalangan said he was “conservative on many things” and that he is prepared to accept the constitutional text as it is. “I would focus less on amendment of constitutional text but more on the refinement of judicial interpretation.”

Among the worst criticism he has received was when he was opposed as dean of the UP College of Law. Pangalangan said he was referred to as the “dean loved by no one except his wife.”

Fortunately, by the time he presided over the first faculty meeting, he was already enjoying the support of his colleagues. Pangalangan served as Law School dean from 1999 to 2005.

The candidate who was kidded as always having been shortlisted but never appointed, said, “Hope springs eternal.” – 


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