Visionary Leadership By Example

Keynote address delivered by retired Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban on the opening day of the 9th National Ayala Young Leaders Congress (AYLC 2007) on February 7-9, 2007, at the San Miguel Corporation Management Training Center, Alfonso, Cavite.

May I thank Mr. Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, chairman and CEO of the Ayala Corporation, who was aptly described by Starweek [1] as the “philanthropreneur,” and acclaimed by the Management Association of the Philippines as the “Management Man of the Year 2006,” for inviting me to keynote the 9th National Ayala Young Leaders Congress (AYLC 2007). May I also commend the Ayala Corporation itself for launching this program in 1998 and for doggedly pursuing it during the past nine years as its strategic investment on the youth, and ultimately, in the future of this country.

It is heartwarming to see private business devote its treasure, talent and time to help attain national goals and aspirations, even if the activities undertaken may not be directly and immediately related to the accumulation of profit and private wealth.

Indeed, I accepted this invitation to dialogue with this year’s crop of well-selected campus personalities because I, too, believe that building the confidence and honing the leadership skills of our youth leaders is a worthy investment in national development.

Memories of My Own Student Days

My presence here today brings back nostalgic memories of my own student days some 50 years ago, and of my own search for identity, pursuit of excellence, chase for exuberance, and quest for enduring values. Now, in my sunset years, I truly cherish these memories, as I recall them to be some of the happiest and most enjoyable years of my life when I could unabashedly say I was truly free. You see, I was very poor and orphaned early in life. I had nothing. No worldly treasures to keep, no reputation to protect, no close relatives to defer to.

There was no Ayala Corporation to guide me, no AYLC to teach me, and no JAZA to fund my activities. But just the same, I organized (along with several others) and headed the National Union of Students of the Philippines . TheNUSP was born as a rebellion against a decadent student milieu that was prostituted and muzzled by the government then. The NUSP was formed out of the conviction that the young must be freed from the political apron strings of the old. The NUSP espoused the idea and ideal that students can think for themselves, know what is best for them and for their future, and thus must be given the freedom to pursue their destiny. The NUSP was founded on the proposition that the best in a person and in society can be attained only in freedom, dignity, equality and shared responsibility.

Some of my contemporaries then were Emmanuel Soriano, Homobono Adaza, John Osmeña, Raul Roco, Rene Saguisag and Jesus Elbinias. The NUSP’s alumni of the 60s, 70s and 80s included checkered personalities like Ricardo Puno Jr., Michael Mastura, Salvador Britanico, Jose Cuisia, Sonia Malasarte, Macapanton Abbas Jr., Mervyn Encanto, Sonia Zaldivar, Miriam Defensor, Tina Monzon, Jose Lina, Sonny Ramirez, Edgar Jopson, Francis Pangilinan, Chito Gascon, and if I may be permitted to add, Elenita Carpio who is now known as AIM Professor Leni Panganiban, my loving wife.

A New Paradigm of Harnessing Leadership

Indeed, by their fruits you shall know them. But you may ask: If 50 years ago NUSP was already shaping leaders, as indeed it has produced some of the country’s dynamic leaders, why is the country still struggling with the same problems of violence, malgovernance, corruption and poverty? In fact, it would appear that the problems have worsened — violence is more deadly; corruption, more rampant; malgovernance, more endemic; and poverty, more widespread.

That there are still problems and granted, arguendo, that the problems have in fact worsened over the years, should not daunt us into inaction or doubt; but should challenge us to try even harder. After all, life is a continuous process of facing mutating challenges and conquering increasingly more formidable odds. That is why I welcome theAYLC, which promises to provide what the youth of yesterday lacked, and to solve the more perplexing challenges of this century. I am sure that twenty, thirty years from now, you — the alumni of AYLC — will be recalling memories of this Congress, and exchanging notes on how each of you has been helped by the inspirations evoked, the discussions shared, and the lessons learned here.

Indeed, Ayala has elevated the paradigm for youth leadership by focusing its resources on a scientific and systematic method of harnessing and developing the executive skills of the young.

Mountains of Leadership Literature

In tackling this year’s AYLC theme, “Leadership in Challenging Times,” I realize that there are mountains of existing literature, speeches, books, articles, even movies and TV shows, on effective leadership. They describe how charisma, good looks, imagination, genes, science, passion, opportunity, and greed have propelled many people — both the popular and the obscure; the brainy and the mediocre; the plodding and the lucky — to the center stage of leadership in business organizations; in civic groups, in religious hierarchies, in political machineries, and ultimately in governmental positions.

I will not be true to myself, and perhaps even unfair to you, if I just mouthed the incantations of these “how tos.” If I did just that, you might be better off surfing the Internet, rather than listening to a rehash and recycle of these published leadership ideas. At least, in the Internet, you have the complete freedom to shut off the computer, or change the window at will. Thus, to justify my presence here, I will just speak from my heart and say plainly how I believe young people can meet the leadership challenges confronting them in the 21st century.

Clear Idea of Goals and Methods

Right off, let me say that every leader must have a clear idea of what ultimately he or she wants to accomplish, and of the specific ways of how to achieve the declared goals. If one is embarking on a journey, one must have — prior to departure — a pre-selected destination, and a specific mode on how to get there. I refer to this statement of goals, values and methods as the “vision-mission” of every leader or organization. Some good examples of Vision-Mission Statements are those of the Ayala Corporation [2], the Ayala Foundation [3], and the Philippine Daily Inquirer [4], copies of which I am including as footnotes so you can study them later.

Now, it is one thing to be able to put together a vision and mission statement, it is quite another to get an organization to embrace it and get it done. Otherwise stated, talk is easy, but let’s see some action. More pointedly, did I, as your keynote speaker, have a vision-mission statement, and as Chief Justice, was I able to get it done?

Well, you be the judge. Let me just give you the facts.

Two Roles of the Chief Justice

Let me start off by saying that the Chief Justice has two major roles: first, he is the highest magistrate of the land, the primus inter pares (the first among equals) among the fifteen members of the Supreme Court; and second, he is the leader of the entire judicial branch of government composed of about 2,000 justices and judges plus about 26,000 employees nationwide; as well as of the Philippine bar composed of about 40,000 lawyers.

As primus inter pares, the Chief Justice presides over all en banc sessions of the Supreme Court. He is thus able to control the flow of the proceedings. He shapes the Court’s agenda, opens the discussion of the cases and summarizes the arguments. Nonetheless, like his fourteen colleagues, he has only one vote. So, it is by his moral ascendancy and persuasive skills, not by any boss-subordinate relationship, that the Chief Justice leads the Supreme Court.

On the other hand, the Chief Justice is also the Chief Executive Officer of the entire judiciary.

Outside the realm of decision-making in the Supreme Court in which he has one solitary vote, the Chief Justice is the unquestioned administrative boss of the entire Judicial Department of government; nothing happens without his say-so. But more than a boss, he is the leader of the judiciary. The 2,000 justices and judges, as well as the 26,000 court personnel all over the country, hold him up for inspiration and example. Indeed, the Chief Justice is looked up to as the leader who inspires, motivates, and leads other officials to work unceasingly, to rise above their puny limitations, to excel beyond themselves, and to achieve collectively their loftiest dreams and highest aspirations.

Sometimes, these two major roles of the Chief Justice clash. Let me explain.

As a jurist, the Chief Justice is expected to be detached, mysterious, unreachable, untouchable and even unfathomable; yet as a leader and CEO, he must be transparent, knowable, accountable and reachable. The judge in him impels him to follow tradition, to uphold precedents and to stabilize judicial thought; the leader in him, requires him to innovate, to re-engineer, to reinvent new and better ways of managing and moving forward. As a jurist, the CJ must be a recluse; yet, as a leader, he must have people skills.


After briefly explaining the dual roles of the Chief Justice, let me now directly answer the earlier question of how I have, during my tenure, put into practice my earlier thesis about goals and methods.

Upon being inducted into office, I did announce my vision-mission statement, which is summarized, as follows:


A judiciary that safeguards the liberty and nurtures the prosperity of our people under the rule of law.


  1. To lead a judiciary characterized by four Ins: independence, integrity, industry and intelligence.
  2. To reform the justice system by fighting the four ACID problems that corrode justice in our country; namely, (a) limited access to justice by the poor; (b) corruption; (c) incompetence; and (d) delay in the delivery of quality judgments.
  3. To revitalize the legal profession by breeding competent and ethical lawyers.
  4. To grant all judicial employees maximum benefits allowed by law and within my discretion to give; in turn, I ask for three things encapsulated in the code DHL: dedication to duty; honesty in every way, and full loyalty to the Supreme Court.

There are three key words or phrases in my “vision,” namely: liberty, prosperity and rule of law. Let me say a few more words about each of them.

Safeguarding Liberty

Safeguarding liberty has long been a traditional expectation from our courts. Their role is to be the great equalizers when individual freedoms—whether civil, political or economic—are buffeted by the awesome powers of the State and governmental institutions. These epic constitutional struggles between the government and its citizens are written in the annals of our nation’s history, to be invoked over and over, as often as challenges to individual liberty persist to this day.

Indeed, an individual becomes a majority of one when courts uphold that person’s freedom, which may have been transgressed by an unconstitutional law passed by the people’s representatives and approved by a President elected by a majority of the voters.

From the British Magna Carta, to the French Revolution, to the American Declaration of Independence, and to the Filipino struggle for nationhood as codified in the Malolos Constitution, history rings for the people’s right to participate in the political processes, including the freedom to vote and be voted for; as well as the freedoms of expression, of assembly and of religion.

A never-ending saga of trials and triumphs for the judiciary and for our people is the battle for civil liberties, especially the inviolability of our persons from illegal arrests and our homes from arbitrary searches and seizures, those guaranteeing our freedoms of abode and travel, and the so-called Miranda rights of persons accused of crimes.

Judicial Policy to Uphold Liberty

In litigations involving civil liberties, I believe that the scales of justice should weigh heavily against the government and in favor of the people — particularly the poor, the oppressed, the marginalized, the dispossessed, and the weak. Laws and actions that restrict fundamental rights, like freedom of expression and of the press, come to the courts with a heavy presumption against their validity. This policy is commonly referred to as “heightened” or “strict” scrutiny.

Consistent with this policy of “strict” scrutiny, the Supreme Court last year—during my incumbency as Chief Justice—promulgated three landmark decisions involving (1) Executive Order 464 in which the right of Congress to summon executive officials for investigations in aid of legislation, in conjunction with the people’s right to information on matter of public concern, was upheld; [5] (2) the so-called Calibrated Preemptive Response (CPR) policy was scuttled as the High Court ruled in favor of the people’s right to peaceful assembly for a redress of grievances; [6] and (3) Presidential Proclamation 1071, in which the fundamental rights of the people under a “state of national emergency” [7] were recognized. Verily, in all these pivotal cases, the Supreme Court upheld the primacy of civil liberties over governmental actions.

Nurturing Prosperity

While safeguarding liberty is a fairly common task for the judiciary, nurturing prosperity is something even seasoned jurists and lawyers may not all readily understand and agree with. Some of them may even disagree with the proposition that the judiciary should exert conscious thought and effort to nurture progress. Nonetheless, I strongly advocate that whatever the measure of a country’s economic progress, courts should contribute to the nurturance of prosperity.

True, the two political branches of government—meaning the Presidency and Congress—have been given the primary responsibility of promoting the economic well-being of the country. But it is equally true that the Constitution contains several provisions involving the economic rights of our people which the judiciary is mandated to protect and enforce.

Thus, our basic law [8] commands the State to “promote a just and dynamic social order that will ensure the prosperity and independence of the nation and free the people from poverty x x x.”

Equally significant is Article XII, which is devoted in its entirety to “National Economy and Patrimony,” the goals of which are set forth without equivocation: “a more equitable distribution of opportunities, income and wealth; a sustained increase in the amount of goods and services produced by the nation for the benefit of the people; and an expanding productivity as the key to raising the quality of life for all, especially the underprivileged.” [9] We can truly say that in our country, Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s famous “freedom from want” [10] has been constitutionalized. What we need is a responsive government to implement it and a prudent judiciary to enforce it.

It is also clear that the Constitution does not contemplate palliatives as the solution to our economic woes. Donations and dole-outs, while welcome, cannot constitute the promise of prosperity that the fundamental law holds out. What the spirit and the letter of the Constitution demand is the institutionalization of social justice. [11]

The Constitution does not end by merely directing that priority be given to social justice. It further decrees that “the promotion of social justice shall include the commitment to create economic opportunities based on freedom of initiative and self-reliance.” [12] In so doing, it subscribes to the classical thought that social justice is a matter of distributive justice; that is, all social groups participate equitably in the resources, the patrimony and the progress of the nation. Hence, the systematic and systemic exclusion of any social group from the blessings of prosperity constitutes social injustice.

These pronouncements of our Constitution, as well as the activist efforts of the business/philanthropical sector and the supportive stance of international developmental institutions to help the human race [13] buttress my belief that political liberty, the clarion call of the past, must continuously be safeguarded in the present and in the future, if we must be true to Wendell Phillip’s reminder that “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” However, I am equally persuaded that the prosperity of our people requires as much nurturing in the present century as that accorded to liberty in the past. To be relevant, courts must be constantly attuned to the needs of the present and the vagaries of the future, so that they can respond timely and prudently to the people’s ever-expanding well-being.

The Judiciarys Response to The Call for Poverty Alleviation

After hearing all these motherhood incantations, you may now ask: how can and how has, in fact, the judiciary responded to the call for the alleviation of poverty, disease and disability?

My answer: In litigations affecting prosperity, development and the economy, the courts—as a matter of policy—must defer as much as possible, to the actions of the political branches of government, namely the Presidency and Congress. This approach is referred to as the “deferential” interpretation of laws and executive actions.

And how has this judicial policy been implemented by the Supreme Court in its decisions? Let me cite two specific cases.

In Tanada v. Angara [14], the Court deferred to the wisdom of the Senate when it upheld that legislative body’s consent to the Philippine ratification of the World Trade Organization Agreement. To demonstrate this deference more vividly, I would like to quote portions of the Decision which I had the honor of writing, as follows:

“It is not impossible to surmise that this Court, or at least some of its members, may even agree with petitioners that it is more advantageous to the national interest to strike down Senate Resolution No. 97 (which embodied the Upper House’s consent to the ratification of the WTO Treaty). But that is not a legal reason to attribute grave abuse of discretion to the Senate and to nullify its decision. To do so would constitute grave abuse in the exercise of our own judicial power and duty. Ineludably, what the Senate did was a valid exercise of its authority. As to whether such exercise was wise, beneficial or viable is outside the realm of judicial inquiry and review. That is a matter between the elected policy makers and the people. As to whether the nation should join the worldwide march toward trade liberalization and economic globalization is a matter that our people should determine in electing their policy makers. x x x.”

This laissez-faire judicial policy on economic issues was reiterated in La Bugal-Blaan Tribal Association v. Ramos, [15] which affirmed the constitutionality of the Mining Law allowing 100-percent foreign investments in large-scale mining. Thus, the Court held thus:

“x x x. The Constitution should be read in broad, life-giving strokes. It should not be used to strangulate economic growth or to serve narrow, parochial interest. Rather, it should be construed to grant the President and Congress sufficient discretion and reasonable leeway to enable them to attract foreign investments and expertise, as well as to secure for our people and our posterity the blessings of prosperity and peace.”

Let me just stress that my vision is not liberty or prosperity; it is liberty and prosperity. These twin beacons of justice must go together; we cannot sacrifice one for the other; they may otherwise be stated as freedom and food, democracy and development, ethics and economics, integrity and investments.

To my mind, the peculiar facts and distinct circumstances of the Philippines make the formula Liberty and Prosperity still the most viable economic and judicial philosophy here. After all, during the years of Martial Law, authoritarian rule was proven to be incapable of producing meaningful long-term economic progress. Even more important, our people value their freedoms very dearly and will not exchange them for food, Indeed, the Filipinos may endure occasional hunger, but they will never tolerate injustice and indignity for long.

Rule of Law

The third key phrase in my “Vision” is “rule of law.” The safeguarding of liberty and the nurturance of prosperity must always be planned, worked on and carried out in accordance with, and within the limitations contained in pre-agreed rules and procedures. Let me give some parallels in common experiences.

Every sport has rules. When these rules are violated, a foul is called and, depending on the gravity of the act, the offender is penalized. No team, no matter how talented or strong, can win without following the rules. Thus, when a basketball player “forces” himself on the opposite team, a foul is called and the basket made is not counted. The referees cannot award the trophy, until the game is finished within the prescribed period. And after the regulation time, no basket may be counted.

In the same manner, no person may be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law. In their impatience, some people resort to short cuts and immediately condemn an accused because lengthy “procedures” should not stand in the way of “justice.” If the accused is obviously guilty because his crime had been committed in the full view of cameras, why should the State waste valuable time and resources in hearing and trying him? Just jail him, period. So they say.

There is an inherent danger in this argument. When people ignore the rule of law and belittle due process, they really abet authoritarianism. What differentiates libertarianism from authoritarianism or dictatorship is the rule of law. No person, no matter how powerful or talented, can be above the law. Everyone, rich or poor, powerful or powerless, must follow pre-agreed rules.

The rule of law also differentiates democracy from the rule of the mob. The mere fact that the gallery wants a team to win despite repeated violations of the rules will not entitle that team to the trophy. The mere fact that, allegedly, six million people have lodged a petition [16] to initiate changes in our Constitution in violation of the constitutional procedures governing amendments and revisions is of no moment; it cannot be allowed. The rule of law will not tolerate short cuts and bully tactics. The end never justifies the means.

In a speech before the Global Forum on Liberty and Prosperity held in Makati on October 18-20, 2006, Canadian Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin exclaimed that the “rule of law is the cornerstone of all democratic societies… without the rule of law, government officials are not bound by standards of conduct. Without the rule of law, the dignity and equality of all people is not affirmed and their ability to seek redress for grievances and societal commitments is limited. Without the rule of law, we have no means of ensuring meaningful participation by the people in formulating and enacting the norms and standards which organize the kind of societies in which we want to live.”

Mission of the Judges

After that extended discussion of my vision, let me now explain my “mission”—how in general the vision could be fulfilled. From Day One of my incumbency, I knew I could not accomplish my vision single-handedly. I needed the help of my major constituencies—the 2,000 justices and trial judges, the 26,000 judicial personnel (clerks of courts, sheriffs, stenographers, bailiffs, even the messengers and the janitors), and the 40,000 lawyers all over the country.

Thus, to the judges, I addressed the first mission: embrace the judiciary’s CORE VALUES: four Ins(independence, integrity, industry and intelligence); to the lawyers, I pleaded for EC (ethics and competence) and from the employees, I asked for DHL (dedication, honesty and loyalty). And from all of them, I appealed for reforms in the justice system, to fight the ACID problems that corrode justice (access to justice by the poor, corruption, incompetence and delay in making quality judgments).

A few words about my mission for the judges: the four Ins or CORE VALUES. The first In, independence, is probably the most important attribute of a judge. Magistrates decide litigations only on the basis of the rational relationship between the law and the facts, free from any extraneous influence. They should not allow the “ships” that plague public service — kinship, relationship, friendship and fellowship — to interfere in their work. They should resist influence, interference, indifference and insolence from any source. A referee in a basketball game must not take sides; so must a judge be fair and objective at all times.

Independence requires the men and women who wear the black robes to be free not only of mental and emotional biases but also of emotional baggage brought about by a misplaced sense of gratitude to the appointing authority (or to those who claim to have had a hand in their appointments.) Of course, this is easy to say but sometimes difficult to implement. Pressures on judges come not just directly, but many times indirectly from relatives, close friends, and even family physicians or dentists.

The greatest threat to civil liberties emanate from the government, particularly from executive officials. Ironically, the appointing authority of judges is the President who has control and supervision over the entire Executive Department. And yet, judges are expected to be neutral in every struggle between the government and the citizens. Worse, under my vision of safeguarding liberty, laws and actions that restrict fundamental rights come to court with a heavy presumption against their validity; and, thus, judges are called upon to scrutinize them strictly against the executive official who issued, or who are enforcing them. And, to stress, when a court decides to uphold the right of the citizen, that individual becomes a majority of one against an entire government voted to office by a majority of our people.

Such is the awesome task of a judge: To apply the Constitution and the law objectively, and to do justice “though the heavens may fall.”

Integrity, Not Mere Honesty

The second In, integrity, goes beyond mere honesty in dealing with fellow human beings; it is not a mere refusal to tell a falsehood; it encompasses the moral courage to denounce a wrong and to promote the truth.

I attended a Mass not too long ago presided by a well-known archbishop who delivered a stirring homily. He said: “In the Old Testament, there are Ten Commandments, but in the New, our Lord Jesus Christ reduced them to two: love thy God, and love thy neighbor. And how does one love thy neighbor?”

Quoting Scriptures, Archbishop Oscar Cruz explained the obvious answer: we show love when we feed the hungry, clothe the naked and visit the prisoners. But the sagacious prelate went beyond the Gospel and asked: Shall we just feed the hungry, but not go after the greedy person who deprived them of food? Shall we just provide clothing without chasing the robber who stole the clothes; shall we just visit the prisoner without bringing to justice their rapacious prosecutors, biased witnesses and corrupt judges?

Indeed, integrity, and love for that matter, cannot be a passive condoner of wrongdoings. Above all, it should include the moral courage to pursue and punish the wrongdoers.

During the martial law years, the country was besieged by officials who arrogated absolute power to themselves, plundered the treasury, and used their public offices to amass ill-gotten wealth. There were, however, a handful who—even while serving under the authoritarian regime—kept themselves personally pure, discharged their functions efficiently, and refused to join the corrupt in raiding the public treasury. While these few good men and women can be described as honest public servants, they did nothing to stamp out the evil around them, contented as they were with distancing themselves from the evil conspiracy.

Towering above them were those who not only kept themselves clean and honest, but also worked fervently and actively—at the risk of their own safety, earthly possessions and careers—to restore freedom, to denounce the plunderers, and to make truth and justice prevail. More than being honest, they were persons of moral courage; they were men and women of integrity.

By the same token, judges must not only be free of falsehoods; they must also have the moral courage to rid society of those numbing falsehoods. By their actions and decisions, sometimes by their stirring dissents, they reveal their character and herald the lacerating truth.

Integrity also includes intellectual decency and a deep sense of personal honor, which transcend a desire for personal acclaim or recognition. Persons of true integrity perform their tasks faithfully, regardless of whether their work is recognized by others, and whether it leads to their promotion.

Integrity likewise encompasses impartiality. Judges of integrity perform their duties without fear or favor, bias or prejudice. They ensure that their conduct is above reproach. Propriety and the appearance of propriety are essential to the proper performance of their duties. Thus is their credibility maintained at all times. It goes without saying that they avoid, as far as possible, any undue social contact and unnecessary fellowship with litigants and lawyers.

Industry and Intelligence

Industry, the third In of a good judge, demands a personal passion for work, not only during office hours but also in the evenings and early mornings when—free from the hustle and bustle of office and trial routines—judges find the solitude to wrestle with their conscience; to pray and to gather courage to accord what is due every person, pursuant to the letter and the spirit of the law, regardless of personal consequences.

The fourth In, intelligence, refers to both knowledge and wisdom. Judges must master the law. To earn the respect of lawyers and litigants, they must be able to preside authoritatively over trials and rule reasonably well on fine points of law and evidence brought before their courts.

For purposes of our present discussion, intelligence may be equated with excellence, which in turn demands mastery of our chosen vocation and familiarity with all branches of knowledge. Simply put, it means knowing everything about something and something about everything. As I always say, it is not enough for judges to be walking databases of the Constitution, the law and jurisprudence; they must also have a working knowledge of the arts, history, health, medicine, philosophy, mathematics, physics, psychology, economics, computers and the latest biosciences and biotechnologies

The Mission of Lawyers

The “mission” I spelled out for lawyers is captured by the words “competence and ethics.” These go together. Lawyers must not only be competent, they must also be ethical.

To be sure, attorneys-at-law have a great role in shaping public opinion. Not only do they raise the people’s consciousness of burning issues, but also reflect the nation’s pulse. Members of the bar are almost always consulted and their views obtained on almost any conceivable topic of importance—on presidential issuances, legislative proposals and enactments, elections, and sometimes even fashion.

Sadly, however, some lawyers have forgotten the great burden that comes with their awesome responsibility and authority. Some have become so adept at being technicians of the law they have come to regard it as the end, rather than as a means to something much more important. Indeed, many lawyers have had so much success in defending their client’s causes—right or wrong—that they have lost sight of their first and foremost duty, which is to serve the ends of truth and justice. Worse, some have jumbled up their hierarchy of responsibilities to put their interests first, those of their clients second, and justice a far third.

In my books and addresses, I have always stressed that an ethical compass is required of lawyers. Ethics in our profession cannot be overemphasized; attorneys are always expected to uphold fidelity to truth and justice. Quality justice always begins with a high standard of ethics.

The Mission of Judicial Employees

The Chief Justice’s constituencies include not only the bench and the bar but also all employees of the Judicial Department of the government. Thus, I had a mission for them too: DHL (dedication to duty, honesty and loyalty). But the mission is not one way. I pledged to grant them maximum financial benefits within my discretion to give. And indeed, I delivered on my vow by granting them cash benefits of at least P10,000 per month over and above their usual salaries. The esprit d’corps rose to an all time high and the employees reciprocated with unprecedented DHL.

This shows that leadership is also sharing and caring. More than just reciprocating, the judicial employees found that their dedication, honesty and loyalty were recognized and rewarded. The democratic leader is followed because he is credible and loved, not because he is feared and dreaded.

The ACID Problems

Thus far, I have discussed the specific “missions” of each of the three major components of the Philippine judiciary. In addition to their specific goal, all three sectors were called to accomplish a general goal, that is, to reform the justice system by eliminating, or at least minimizing, the four ACID problems that corrode justice (limited access to the court system; corruption; incompetence; and delay).

I will no longer explain in detail these ACID topics. Otherwise, I will take one more hour of your time. However, for your workshop discussions, I have annexed to the hard copy of this speech, Chapter 10 entitled “Addressing theACID Problems of the Philippine Judiciary” of my new book, Liberty and Prosperity, published in October 2006. And those interested in more details can refer to another book I wrote in 2005, Judicial Renaissance, in which these reforms are discussed at length.

During your group discussions, you may also want to craft your personal and/or common (for AYLC 2007) vision-mission statement, and how you intend to accomplish it. That puts into action what you learned in theory.


Let me end this address with a little story, a true story.

On his first day in office, the new chief executive of one of the top ten Philippine companies asked how many cars were assigned to his office as president. He was stunned to learn that there were more than five dozens. He retained only one and ordered the immediate sale of the remainder.

On his second day, an assistant visited his office with a big briefcase full of cash, which he was told was his personal share of the commissions for advertising placed by his companies in several media outlets. He ordered the assistant to hand them over officially to the company cashier, and to have them deposited in the company’s bank account.

On his third day, he noticed that many of the executives under him arrived in their offices only about 10:00 a.m. Without commenting on the dismaying habits of his subordinates, he asked his secretary to make arrangements so that he could be brought to the office by his driver at 8:00 a.m. daily.

In those first three days, without giving a pep talk and without criticizing anyone, the executive led his subordinates and employees in practicing prudence in spending, integrity in money matters and on-time office arrival. After a few years of leadership by example, the worth of the corporation multiplied tenfold and its corporate ethics, a hundred fold.

Ladies and gentlemen, there are many ways to lead: by delivering boring lectures like this, by sporting an iron fist to badger everyone on the way, by buying people’s loyalties and obeisance, and by inheriting a throne and commanding reverence appropriate to the king.

It helps to be a great orator and a financial wizard. Patting backs and rewarding good work have their uses. But leadership by example is the most credible way to lead.

Having a clear vision and mission is an essential beginning. Leading by example is the best, if not the only, way to accomplish the vision and mission.

After 60 minutes of talking, I can now summarize in four words my short answer to AYLC’s crucial question of how to lead during these challenging times: visionary leadership by example.

Maraming salamat po.


Keynote address delivered by retired Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban on the opening day of the 9th National Ayala Young Leaders Congress (AYLC 2007) on February 7-9, 2007, at the San Miguel Corporation Management Training Center, Alfonso, Cavite.

[1] See Starweek (the Sunday magazine of the Philippine Star) issue of January 21, 2007.

[2] “Mission

“Ayala Corporation, a holding company with a diverse business portfolio, has a legacy of pioneering the future. Founded in 1834, it has achieved its position of leadership by being values driven, goals oriented, and stakeholder focused. Anchored on values of integrity, long-term vision, empowering leadership, and commitment to national development, we fulfill our mission to ensure long-term profitability, increase shareholder value, provide career opportunities, and create synergies as we build mutually beneficial partnerships and alliances with those who share our philosophy and values. With entrepreneurial strength, we continue to create a future that nurtures to fruition our business endeavors and personal aspirations.”, last visited on Jan. 29, 2007.

[4] “Vision

“Our vision is to be a leading foundation committed to national development harnessing corporate social responsibility towards:

– Developing social technologies providing better quality of life

– Facilitating access to knowledge and learning; and

– Instilling pride in being a Filipino”, last visited on Jan. 29, 2007


“To be the dominant, most respected and influential Philippine media organization for Filipinos here and abroad.


“We are a world-class processor of news and information, publishing the country’s newspaper of record, informing and influencing our public, providing other excellent services and serving as a catalyst for social progress – all within the framework of a liberal democracy.



“We uphold the highest standards in journalism and provide top-quality service to readers, advertisers and clients. We perform our roles to the best of our abilities and continuously seek to improve our expertise and skills. We strive to be reliable, accurate, efficient and effective in the delivery of our services and management of our finances.


“We abide by the principles of honesty, fairness and incorruptibility in our journalistic, business and interpersonal conduct. Through these, we establish our credibility and become worthy of the trust of our stakeholders.

“Editorial Independence

“We maintain the freedom to take a position regardless of external and internal pressure, ensure that we hear out all sides, decide responsibility without fear or favor, and respect independent thinking and freedom to express views and opinions.


“We work for the betterment of our nation and strive to preserve and conserve resources in all our undertakings.


“We respect and trust each member of the team and work harmoniously to achieve the organization’s goals.


“We continuously improve and respond to the changing needs of the environment, the market and the organization. We adopt an open-minded, forward-looking and proactive stance in meeting the challenges of the future.

“In upholding these values, we seek the guidance of Divine Providence to attain higher levels of development.”, last visited on Jan. 29, 2007

[5] Senate v. Ermita, GR No. 169777, April 20, 2006. More accurately, the Court invalidated the major provisions of Executive Order No. 464. In its simplest terms, the Decision held that Congress had the right to compel the appearance of executive officials in congressional investigations, because the power of legislative inquiry was as broad as the power to legislate. Hence, held to be unconstitutional were the provisions of EO 464 that allowed the Executive Branch to evade congressional requests for information without properly invoking executive privilege in recognized instances. Nonetheless, the Court directed Congress to indicate, in its invitation to executive officials, the subject matter of the inquiry and of related questions, so that the President or the Executive Secretary could properly invoke executive privilege, if warranted.

To the extent that investigations in aid of legislation were to be generally conducted in public, the Court held that “any executive issuance tending to unduly limit disclosures of information in such investigations necessarily deprives the people of information which, being presumed to be in aid of legislation, is presumed to be a matter of public concern. The citizens are thereby denied access to information which they can use in formulating their own opinions on the matter before Congress – – opinions which they can communicate to their representatives and other government officials through the various legal means allowed by their freedom of expression. x x x.”

[6] Bayan v. Ermita, GR No. 169838, April 25, 2006. This ponencia, penned by Justice Adolfo S. Azcuna, stated thus:

“x x x[T]his Court reiterates its basic policy of upholding the fundamental rights of our people, especially freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. In several policy addresses, Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban has repeatedly vowed to uphold the liberty of our people and to nurture their prosperity. He said that ‘in cases involving liberty, the scales of justice should weigh heavily against the government and in favor of the poor, the oppressed, the marginalized, the dispossessed and the weak. Indeed, laws and actions that restrict fundamental rights come to the courts with a heavy presumption against their validity. These laws and actions are subjected to heightened scrutiny.”

[7] David v. Arroyo, GR No. 171396, May 3, 2006. Writing for the majority in this case, Justice Angelina Sandoval-Gutierrez ruled as follows:

“All powers need some restraint; practical adjustments rather than rigid formula are necessary. Superior strength — the use of force — cannot make wrongs into rights. In this regard, the courts should be vigilant in safeguarding the constitutional rights of the citizens, specially their liberty.

“Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban’s philosophy of liberty is thus most relevant. He said: ‘In cases involving liberty, the scales of justice should weigh heavily against the government and in favor of the poor, the oppressed, the marginalized, the dispossessed and the weak.’ Laws and actions that restrict fundamental rights come to the courts with a heavy presumption against their constitutional validity.”

[8] The following provisions of the Constitution, among others, mandate the State to promote economic prosperity:

Article II (Declaration of Principles and State Policies)

“Sec. 9. The State shall promote a just and dynamic social order that will ensure the prosperity and independence of the nation and free the people from poverty through policies that provide adequate social services, promote full employment, a rising standard of living, and an improved quality of life for all.

“Sec. 17. The State shall give priority to education, science and technology, arts, culture, and sports to foster patriotism and nationalism, accelerate social progress, and promote total human liberation and development.”

Article XII (National Economy and Patrimony)

“Sec.1. The goals of the national economy are a more equitable distribution of opportunities, income, and wealth; a sustained increase in the amount of goods and services produced by the nation for the benefit of the people; and an expanding productivity as the key to raising the quality of life for all, especially the underprivileged.

“The State shall promote industrialization and full employment based on sound agricultural development and agrarian reform, through industries that make full and efficient use of human and natural resources, and which are competitive in both domestic and foreign markets. However, the State shall protect Filipino enterprises against unfair foreign competition and trade practices.

“In the pursuit of these goals, all sectors of the economy and all regions of the country shall be given optimum opportunity to develop. Private enterprises, including corporations, shall be encouraged to broaden the base of their ownership.”

“Sec. 12. The State shall promote the preferential use of Filipino labor, domestic materials and locally produced goods, and adopt measures that help make them competitive.”

“Sec. 13. The State shall pursue a trade policy that serves the general welfare and utilizes all forms and arrangements of exchange on the basis of equality and reciprocity.”

[9] Art. XII, Sec.1.

[10] During his annual message to the US Congress on January 6, 1941, Roosevelt outlined, as his vision for the world, four freedoms: freedom of speech and expression, freedom of every person to worship God, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.

[11] Thus, Sec. 1 of Art. XIII of the Constitution expressly ordains as follows:

“The Congress shall give highest priority to the enactment of measures that protect and enhance the right of all the people to human dignity, reduce social, economic and political inequalities, and remove cultural inequities by equitably diffusing wealth and political power for the common good.

“To this end, the State shall regulate the acquisition, ownership, use an disposition of property and its increments.”

[12] Art. XIII, Sec. 2

[13] In my recent book, Liberty and Prosperity, I explained the emerging role of private business and the international developmental agencies in nurturing prosperity, alleviating poverty and healing diseases.

[14] 338 Phil. 546, 604-605, May 2, 1997, per Panganiban, J. (now CJ).

[15] 445 SCRA 1, December 1, 2004, per Panganiban, J. (now CJ).

[16] In the famous 2006 initiative case, Lambino v. Comelec, GR No. 174153, October 25, 2006, I wrote in my Separate Concurring Opinion, thus:

“At bottom, the issue in this case is simply the Rule of Law. Initiative, like referendum and recall, is a treasured feature of the Filipino constitutional system. It was born out of our world-admired and often-imitated People Power, but its misuse and abuse must be resolutely rejected. Democracy must be cherished, but mob rule vanquished.

“The Constitution is a sacred social compact, forged between the government and the people, between each individual and the rest of the citizenry. Through it, the people have solemnly expressed their will that all of them shall be governed by laws, and their rights limited by agreed-upon covenants to promote the common good. It we are to uphold the Rule of Law and reject the rule of the mob, we must faithfully abide by the processes the Constitution has ordained in order to bring about a peaceful, just and human society. Assuming arguendo that six million people allegedly gave their assent to the proposed changes in the Constitution, they are nevertheless still bound by the social covenant — the present Constitution — which was ratified by a far greater majority almost twenty years ago. I do not denigrate the majesty of the sovereign will; rather, I elevate our society to the loftiest perch, because our government must remain as one of laws and not of men.”


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