Samira Gutoc. INQUIRER.net/Pathricia Ann V. Roxas
MANILA, Philippines — Marawi civic leader Samira Gutoc on Monday urged President Rodrigo Duterte to appoint a second Muslim magistrate in the history of the Supreme Court (SC) “to ensure that the rights of minorities are promoted and safeguarded.”
“Napakahalaga na ang susunod na maitatalagang mahistrado sa Korte Suprema ay mulat din sa mga isyung dinaranas ng mga Pilipinong Muslim at may dunong na nahasa sa dekadang pakikipagtuos ng rehiyon sa mga sakuna at problema sa kapayapaan,” Gutoc, an opposition senatorial candidate, said in a statement.
The SC has had only one Muslim justice in its history, Abdulwahid Bidin, who was appointed Associate Justice in 1987 by then President Corazon Aquino.
Gutoc is throwing her support for the bid of Marawi City-born Court of Appeals (CA) Associate Justice Japar Dimaampao for the Associate Justice post that will be vacated by Justice Noel Tijam, who would retire on January 5, 2019.
If appointed, Gutoc said Dimaampao could be the second justice to be placed in the SC, finally honoring the long-unenforced provision under Republic Act No. 9054 or the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) law.
Section 2, Article VIII of the ARMM Act states that “it shall be the policy of the central government or national government that, whenever feasible, at least one (1) justice in the Supreme Court and two (2) justices in the Court of Appeals shall come from qualified jurists of the autonomous region.”
“It is now feasible and we have a qualified candidate. Aside from the basic qualifications, the Constitution states that the member of the Judiciary must be a person of proven competence, integrity, probity and independence,” Gutoc said.
“Filipino Muslims also have what it takes to be one of those magistrates vested with the enormous responsibility to pen decisions and resolutions that could shape our nation,” she added.
Dimaampao has been included in the Judicial and Bar Council’s 10-man shortlist sent to Duterte last December 7. He has 90 days from January 5, 2019 to appoint Tijam’s successor, according to the Constitution.
CA Justices Manuel Barrios, Amy Lazaro-Javier, Ramon Cruz, Ramon Garcia, Mario Lopez and Apolinario Bruselas Jr.; and Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang; lawyer Cesar Villanueva; and SC Administrator Jose Midas Marquez were also included in the shortlist. /kga
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