Opening Remarks of retired Chief Justice ARTEMIO V. PANGANIBAN, in his capacity as Chairman of ALA Philippines, during the launch of the Asean Law Institute on April 13, 2019 at the New World Hotel, Makati City
Your Honors, Justices, Judges, Government Officials, other Members of the Legal Profession, Your Excellencies of the Diplomatic Corps, Other Distinguished Guests, Friends.
As Chairman of your host chapter, the ALA Philippines, I welcome all of you today. We are pleased and happy that you have come to attend the launching of the Asean Law Institute, which, as you know, is a major project of the Asean Law Association (ALA).
I greet most especially, the Honorable Sundaresh Menon, in his triple capacities as the Chief Justice of Singapore, as President of ALA and as Chairman of the Council of Asean Chief Justices. I thank you, Mr. Chief Justice, for taking time out from your busy schedule to honor us with your visit. In my opinion, the Chief Justice of Singapore is the most powerful in the world because, under the Singapore Constitution, he is authorized to appoint all other justices and judges. Though the government, meaning the Prime Minister and Parliament, theoretically have veto power, historically, no appointee has been rejected.
I also pay special tribute and congratulations to the newly-elected officers of the Asean Law Institute, namely, Ambassador Avelino V. Cruz, as the chairman, Justice Lee Siew Kin, as the Vice Chairman, and Professor Andre Palacios, as the Executive Director.
You may be wondering why I addressed Ave Cruz as “Ambassador.” Well, our President Rodrigo Duterte wanted Ave to join government but he respectfully declined all the juicy positions offered him because, at his senior age, he no longer wanted the stresses and headaches connected with government service. But, his former student, the President, would not just let him go and named him Special Envoy to the European Union, with the rank of Ambassador, without compensation, to act as his roving trouble shooter. Ave therefore performs government functions without being a government official; yes, he is an ambassador without having to be stationed abroad and without abandoning his Philippine home. Also, Ave Cruz chairs the San Beda University Law Alumni Association, the most sought after recruitment agency for appointment to senior positions in the Philippine government.
I am also pleased to welcome three past President of ALA who are with us, Justice Chao Hick Tin, the Honorable T. P. B. Menon, and, of course, Ave Cruz, the immediate past president.
May I also welcome the members of the diplomatic corps especially, Ambassador Sung Yong Kim of the United States, Ambassador Gerald Ho Wei Hong of Singapore, Ambassador Song Kane Luangmuninthone of Laos, and Ambassador Win Naing of Myanmar, as well as the Deputy Head of Delegation of the European Union, Thomas Wiersing, the Deputy Chief of Mission of China, Tan Qingsheng, and the officials of various ranks of Russia, Cambodia, Malaysia and Thailand.
From the Philippine officialdom, may I greet and welcome, the Honorable Salvador Medialdea, our Executive Secretary often referred to as the “Little President.” He will be introduced properly later but let me just say that Bing Bong, as we fondly call him, is an old ALA hand, having participated in many past ALA functions, most recently, at the ALA General Assembly held last year in Singapore where he was a member of the Philippine delegation. By the way, he is also a recruit of the San Beda University Law Alumni Association.
May I also greet the Honorable Lucas P. Bersamin, the incumbent Chief Justice of the Philippines and the honorary chairman of ALA Philippines, who was also part of the Philippine delegation to the ALA General Assembly in Singapore last year?
I also say a special welcome for the President of the University of the Philippines and immediate law dean, Danilo Concepcion, whose prospective entry a membership in our Supreme Court is momentarily postponed till he finishes his term as president of the premier state university in 2023.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the Philippines has always been an active and dedicated member of the Asean Law Association. It has always been supportive of all its plans and programs. And today is no different. We have sponsored the creation of the Asean Law Institute which we are inaugurating today. In fact, we have donated the equivalent of one hundred thousand dollars to jump start it. Needless to say, we pledge to continue supporting it, and with the steadfast cooperation and equal backing of the other ALA members, we know it will succeed in its mission of harmonizing Asean laws to promote trade, investments, capital formation, labor exchanges and professional services in our region.
Maraming salamat po.