Through The Years:
Celebrating the Life and Achievements of
Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban
(A speech delivered by Justice Angelina Sandoval-Gutierrez during the Tribute entitled “Through the Years: Celebrating the Life and Achievements of Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban”, on November 15, 2006, at 1:30 o-clock in the afternoon, PhilAm Life Auditorium, United Nations Avenue.)
Our honouree, Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban, Mrs. Elenita C. Panganiban, the first lady of the judiciary, fellow workers in the Supreme Court, esteemed members of the bench and the bar, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon and a warm welcome to all!
Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “every man is entitled to be valued by his best moment.” Taking a cue from it, I must say that today’s presentation is a fitting, at the same time, a well-deserved tribute to our beloved chief justice on the occasion of his forthcoming retirement. This occasion is an excellent opportunity to celebrate his virtues and many accomplishments.
Chief Justice Panganiban joined the Supreme Court in 1995, equipped with the excellent academic and professional record. Since then, he has strengthened the Supreme Court with his competence, integrity and independence — virtues that made him a strong pillar of our institution.
Recently, you observed these outstanding virtues. In our nation’s most defining moments, the court, under Chief Justice Panganiban, has served as a great force in stabilizing our democracy and restoring our people’s faith in the rule of law and the judiciary. The landmark decisions in “E.O. 464,” “CPR,” “PP 1017,” “Sabio case,” and “Cha-Cha” distinguished the Supreme Court as a courageous and independent institution — one we can all be proud of.
As a fellow magistrate, I am fortunate to observe closely Chief Justice Panganiban. Allow me to give you an insider’s account. In the en banc conference room, one can feel his exuding presence. He radiates the strength of his character and the integrity of his convictions. He directs our deliberations with calm and authority. Even at times when emotions run high, he maintains civility and sobriety that earn for him our respect and dignified obedience. Added to these is the excellent quality of his mind. Behind his amiable and unassuming exterior is a mind of enormous force and brilliance. No wonder, he is most successful in providing persuasive directions to the court through his compact, clear and logical opinions. Indeed, he is a leader, “a chief,” in the truest sense of the word.
Another source of pride and admiration is our chief justice’s ability and enthusiasm to stand side by side with the magistrates of the world in a march towards judicial reforms. Under his leadership, the court has successfully staged last October the global forum on liberty and prosperity. With this, he has secured for the Philippine Judiciary a place in the international sphere. No wonder the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Spain and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Constitutional court of Egypt entered into separate agreement on mutual cooperation with Chief Justice Panganiban whereby their respective judiciaries will share with each other knowledge, experience and good practices through the exchange of jurists and court personnel.
But, above everything else, I am sure court officials and employees will remember Chief Justice Panganiban for his generosity and deep concern in their welfare. In a span of less than one year, he has showered all court personnel financial benefits, thus fulfilling, his promise of granting them “maximum benefits allowed by law and within his discretion.” I can say that more than a chief justice, he is also a good father to all in the judiciary.
In sum, Chief Justice Panganiban has lived the full spectrum of a diverse life — as a lawyer, scholar, businessman, magistrate, husband and father. He has moral courage and a limitless capacity for intellectual excellence. Today’s grand exhibition of the arts is the noblest tribute we can bestow upon him. Let rhythm and sound be our medium in extolling his achievements and virtues. For like a melody that lingers after the song ended, his legacy will continue to echo even long after his retirement.
We pay tribute too to his loving wife, Lenie, whose intelligence and quiet courage have provided Chief Justice Panganiban with inspiration and guidance in the joy and tribulations of his life and victories of his career.
Allow me to cut short my welcome remarks at this point lest I would be speechless when our honoree’s retirement comes. As I welcome everyone to this happy occasion, let me just assure our chief justice that on his retirement day, we will bid him, not “goodbye” but “au revoir,” knowing that he leaves only his presence, but not our hearts. And with it comes the wish that his future be exceedingly fruitful, serene and fulfilling.
Once again good afternoon and enjoy the rest of the day!