Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban:
A Man of Service, A Great Man
(Delivered by Justice Angelina Sandoval-Gutierrez during the Testimonial Dinner, tendered by the Society for Judicial Excellence, in honor of Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban on January 19, 2006, at 6:00 o-clock in the afternoon, Manila Diamond Hotel.)
Our honouree, Mr. Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban, and Mrs Leni Panganiban, now the first lady of the judiciary, officers and members of the Society for Judicial Excellence, distinguished guests, especially Justice Hermosisima, Dean Dimayuga, Dir. Evelyn Dumdum, our Clerk of Court Ma. Luisa Villarama, Atty. Ishmael Khan, Atty. Lulu Laurea, ladies and gentlemen, good evening!
With the myriad compliments affectionately bestowed on our honouree by our excellent speakers, I believe I must only confine myself to the role thrust upon me – i.e., to bring this affair to its lifting culmination.
It has been a very splendid evening for all of us in the Society for Judicial Excellence. Breaking bread with the new chief justice signifies the continuation of the alliance we earlier forged with Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr. – an alliance made stronger by the fact that Chief Justice Panganiban is our society’s “founding father.” It was upon his advice and encouragement, as chairman of the Committee on Judicial Excellence Awards, that we organized ourselves into a Society. Yes, our Society is his brainchild. This evening, therefore, presents the excellent opportunity for the “father” and his “child” to pledge their support and commitment to one another. And without being too presumptuous, I am sure that with the chief justice as the “father,” a brighter future lies ahead for our Society and of course, for our members.
My dear awardees, lest our motive in holding this testimonial dinner be held suspect, let me emphasize that we honor Chief Justice Panganiban, not only because of his well-deserved appointment as chief justice, but also because of his unparalleled achievements. We have to grasp from his works the lessons that will propel us to greater heights of success. A role model, we have to follow his example. A summation of all his fine qualities mentioned this evening, shows that his is the finest standard of ethics, professional competence, integrity and independence – all the virtues and ideals for which our Society stands for. These are the same virtues and ideals that catapulted him to the category of those great men who have made their marks in history.
At this juncture, I am reminded of what Jane Addams, an American social activist, considered as “a great man who has made his mark in history.” She described him as follows:
“He is a man who has looked through the confusion of the moment and has seen the moral issue involved;
He is a man who has refused to have his sense of justice distorted;
He has listened to his conscience until it becomes a trumpet call to like-minded men, so that they gather about him and together, with mutual purpose and mutual aid, they make a new period in history.”
Chief Justice Panganiban is the embodiment of such “great man”. Thus, his conscience serves a trumpet call to all of us here who adhere to his ideals and virtues. And we know that if we join hands with him; if we open ourselves to his judicial reforms and assist him all the way; if we look up to him as a leader, we too can make a mark in the history of the Supreme Court.
Allow me to cut short my remarks at this point, lest I would be taking much of your precious time. As I bid you goodnight, let me leave to you some thoughts to ponder: “the lessons of great men are lost unless they reinforce upon our minds the highest demands which we make upon ourselves; they are lost unless they drive our sluggish wills forward in the direction of their highest ideals.” Tonight we have honoured our chief justice for his sterling qualities, but this would amount to nothing if we cannot draw from them the inspiration to continue our quest for the best and the highest in life.
Mabuhay si Chief Justice Panganiban!
Thank you and God bless everyone!