Category Archives: Introductions

Remarks by Marixi R. Prieto, Chair of the Philippine Daily Inquirer during the book launching of CJ Panganiban’s “With Due Respect 2” on March 15, 2017 at the De La Salle University campus in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig

My Friend, CJ Panganiban

CJ Panganiban is not just our esteemed Inquirer columnist, more than that, he is a very dear friend of mine. His first and second book, With Due Respect is a testament to his advocacy of educating the “common tao” about legal matters in a way that we can easily comprehend. In fact, law students can use this as their reference book. They will definitely find words of wisdom and clarity of thought, through his insights of our history, politics and rule of law. This is part of his life’s legacy as well as his journey with the Inquirer.

 

We are truly privileged and honored to have him in our roster of influential columnists. Thank you CJ Panganiban for making the Inquirer your platform to spread your wit and humor, your wisdom and knowledge, your values and passion. You have helped us in our mission to empower the Filipino people. Mabuhay ka. Thank you and enjoy the rest of the evening.

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Speech delivered by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P. A. Sereno during the launch of retired Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban’s book With Due Respect 2 on March 15, 2017 at the De La Salle University (DLSU) College of Law, Rufino Campus, Bonifacio Global City

Thank you, dear friends.
I am here today as a true admirer of Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban. More than anything, it is what he has stood for in his life as a jurist that has impressed upon me the importance of the position I now hold. But allow me to also say that I am grateful to Marixi Rufino-Prieto, to “Sandy” Prieto-Romualdez, to “Charlie” Rufino, “JV” [Rufino, John Nery, Juliet Labog-Javellana, and the entire Philippine Daily Inquirer for continuing to hold the nation a loft in a certain sense to a standard whereby everyone is called to a search for truth. And I guess your role remains unparalleled, and the fact that you have sustained this crusade of yours, if I may say so, speaks volumes about the men and women who make both your on-grid world and your off-grid world authentic. So mabuhay kayo, Inquirer.
Allow me to dispense with mentioning the dignitaries who are here today. There are many, but except for one very special person, Washington SyCip. Dear Wash, I know that not many especially not many among our fellowmen know the kind of wisdom you have imparted to so many leaders of this country. And we hope that you will continue this singular role that you have played in the history of this country. So Wash, here’s to your continued good health.
Allow me to say that it is in fact a distinct honor, indeed a pleasure, to join you in this gathering where both the world of the judiciary and that of the media meet, albeit in a social setting, as befits the man whose book is being launched today. He is none other than our dear friend, retired Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban, who uniquely straddles both worlds.
As you may know, Chief Justice Art is one of only three living predecessors as Chief Justice of the Philippines. Even as retired Chief Justice, he continues to support the work that the Judiciary does—very recently, he, together with former Chief Justices Hilario G. Davide and Reynato S. Puno, have agreed to help the Judicial and Bar Council to work as consultants without any payment. (applause) So Chief, this is a rare occasion for me to thank you for that kind of service you still continue to lend to the Judicial and Bar Council and indirectly to the judiciary.
He has been very instrumental in explaining the work of the judiciary, particularly the Supreme Court with his column in the Philippine Daily Inquirer. And may I acknowledge that it is through John, he has become a chief teacher of law. And I needed very little persuasion to accept this invitation today as he launches yet another book because I am so convinced that with his prolific pen, this time containing his selected Inquirer columns from 2011-2016, he will again continue with this kind of encouraging atmosphere that we have set for him today to continue educating us again and again. For purpose of disclosure of self-interest to those who may not have read the book yet that I am lauding his work, but it includes a little something about my appointment as Chief Justice. So pardon me for that.
I, of course, have been informed that this is actually the second collection of selected writings from Chief Justice Panganiban’s column “With Due Respect,” and I heard from JV the wonderful success that the first volume merited. And we should all be glad that writing on Philippine law, politics, culture, the philosophies of the various Justices, inside stories even, have merited a high place in the readership of Amazon.com. So I am very sure, Chief Justice, with all conviction, it will not be your last collection of volumes. (applause) Through God’s grace, I am praying and so many people are praying for you to continue to remain strong.
Indeed Chief Justice Panganiban’s blossoming as columnist, which incidentally he lists first as his present occupation—I am sure, Marixi, it is not the one that earns him the most income, no? (laughter)—is proof that there is life after retirement from the Supreme Court, including retirement from the exalted position of Chief Justice. But how can anyone expect a personality as vital as that of Chief Justice Panganiban to not have his voice heard anymore when he retired considering that his voice had eloquently and powerfully stood up for the liberty and prosperity of our people when he was sitting in the Court?
In hindsight, his becoming a newspaper columnist should not totally come as a surprise to anyone; there were already portents of this in his past. In his youth, he peddled newspapers in the streets of Sampaloc, Manila, and growing up, he became a member and editor of various campus publications. Prior to his appointment to the Supreme Court, he served as President of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. In his 11-year judicial career, all spent in the Supreme Court, he wrote prodigiously with an output of 1,200 full decisions and opinions as well as one book in every year of his tenure in the Supreme Court. Printer’s ink may thus be said to run in his veins—I don’t know the brand or quality (laughter)—so that not even the discouragement of his acknowledged “guru and surrogate father,” the late Senate President Jovito [R.] Salonga, as well as eminently practical reasons, swayed him from accepting the offer of Philippine Daily Inquirer Chair Marixi Prieto to write a column for the paper after his retirement from the Supreme Court in 2006. In fact I harbor a suspicion that it was in fact Senator Salonga’s discouraging comment that “No retired chief justice has become a columnist” that he took as a challenge and may even have subconsciously spurred CJ Art to accept Ms. Prieto’s offer and make history once again.
Certainly his story—Chief Justice Panganiban’s experiences, his convictions, his hopes, his dreams dreams—forms the perspective from which he writes his column. As a self-made man who overcame a hardscrabble youth which caused him to forego a scholarship to Yale Law School, his personal mantra is “Good news, bad news. Who Knows? I will just keep on doing my best and God will do the rest,” quoting from one of his favorite stories which appears more than once in his book.
And true enough, without fail for the last 10 years and counting, his column has appeared in the Sunday edition of the Inquirer. He wrote through “time constraints, occasional illnesses, carpal tunnel of… two hands, business commitments, speaking engagements and travel abroad.” Nothing could have sustained such an effort but a belief on his part in the importance of his work as a column writer of a daily with a readership as wide as the Inquirer’s. And his work is important, make no mistake about it.
As I have stated in the preface I wrote for his book, it has been said that the decisions of the Supreme Court, besides resolving legal disputes, can also be viewed as civic education for our people; and our justices, to use the words of former Yale Law dean Eugene Rostrow, viewed as “inevitable teachers in a vital national seminar.” Through his column, CJ Art, even after retirement from the Court, continues to empower our people to engage and take part in the public discourse and debate by informing them about the national issues affecting them. For instance, he has written on the right to information, the move to federalism, judicial reforms, and how the judiciary can help the national economy; as well as walked his readers through such historic events as EDSA 1 and 2 and the impeachment of a Chief Justice. Take note that it is his personal choice to write about such issues as the Inquirer gives him a free hand on what to write about. His is no small contribution as, to quote our landmark decision in Valmonte v. Belmonte, an informed citizenry is vital to the democratic government envisioned under our Constitution. I myself have gone on record in saying that our nation cannot progress unless we as a people engage in a national dialogue about our pressing issues and concerns and how to address them rather than leave everything to the say-so of our elected representatives and the mandarins in civil service.
CJ Art evidently understands this dynamic as a reading of his book readily reveals. He has always been a firm believer that the people should be provided with more, and not less, information about matters of government and governance. When he was a member of the Supreme Court, he was instrumental in the establishment of the Supreme Court’s Public Information Office, a first in the then nearly century-old history of the Court, to disseminate information about the Court, its decisions, and activities. So Atty. “Teddy” Te has him also to thank for this initiative. In my term as Chief Justice, I have also endeavored to give our people greater access to the Court. For example, in 2013 we made use of the available technology and started live streaming oral arguments, such as the one held yesterday on the petition filed by Senator Leila de Lima. In past years, people had to physically trek to the Supreme Court and line up to get passes on a “first come first served basis” to be able to enter the En Banc session hall and watch oral arguments. Thanks to CJ Art and similar visionaries, the Court is now firmly on the path of greater transparency and accountability. Please noe that in accordance to my request to Chief Public Information Officer Atty. Theodore Te, whatever information that is not confidential and will not hamper the work of the Court should be made available. (applause)
In closing, I would like to thank CJ Art not as Chief Justice but also in my capacity as a citizen for the immeasurable public service he has rendered through his column. His plain language approach in explaining the work of the Court that often involves the use of jargon or technical language has brought the Court and the work of the courts closer to the people. It is a rare gift that he has—being able to merge clear and plain language without sacrificing the substance of law in his columns. Knowing CJ Art to also be a prayerful person, may I close with a prayer that his “ageless passion” continue to burn bright as he pursues his advocacy of “safeguarding the liberty and nurturing the prosperity of our people under the rule of law,” and that he continue to find great joy and personal fulfillment in writing his column. Pagpalain kayo ng Poong Maykapal at Mabuhay po kayo, CJ Art!

[1] Artemio V. Panganiban. “Joy in writing for the Inquirer.” February 12, 2017. http://opinion.inquirer.net/101589/joy-writing-inquirer, accessed March 14, 2017.

[1] Id.

[1] G.R. No. 74930, February 13, 1989.

[1] Title of the musical on Chief Justice Panganiban’s life story.

[1]Thank you to all.” Closing Remarks of retired Chief Justice ARTEMIO V. PANGANIBAN, Chairman of the Foundation for Liberty and Prosperity, during the Formal Award Ceremony for the LibPros Scholarship Program at the University of the Philippines new campus at the Bonifacio Global City, Taguig on December 1, 2016. https://cjpanganiban.com/2016/12/01/thank-you-to-all/, accessed March 14, 2017.

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Celine Panganiban Hannett, daughter of Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban, during the staging of the musical, “Ageless Passion” on December 20, 2016 at the new Maybank Performing Arts Theater, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.

 

My Super Dad

(Opening Remarks of Celine Panganiban Hannett, daughter of Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban, during the staging of the musical, “Ageless Passion” on December 20, 2016 at the new Maybank Performing Arts Theater, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.)

 

Thank you, Your Eminence, Luis Antonio G. Cardinal Tagle, for singing the “Prayer of St. Francis,” as our invocation this evening . We are so honored by your presence… how about another round of claps…

 

 

Your Eminence, distinguished guests, family, friends…Good evening. My name is Celine Panganiban Hannett. Thank you all very much for coming tonight. On behalf of my beautiful mother Leni, and my siblings Len, Archie, Tet and Mabel, I welcome you to the celebration of Dad’s 80 wonderful years.

 

 

Tonight, we present you a musicale about his life… the story of a boy who pulled himself out of poverty, and through sheer hard work, determination and the support of his wife, achieved what most lawyers can only dream of, the pinnacle of a law career, becoming the Chief among equals at the Supreme Court. And while Chief Justice Art mandatorily retired from the Supreme Court at the age of 70, the story of hard work and dedication continues as he defies retirement and journeys into the corporate world.

 

 

Before we watch the show, please allow me to tell you about another facet of this man, our Dad, Lolo to his grandkids, that only we know and hold dearly in our hearts… the man who is the focal point of our lives, loves and families.

 

He launched us, his children, to new careers and new horizons. He sent us all to the United States to complete our graduate education. I left Manila almost 30 years ago to pursue a master in business at the University of Chicago. My siblings all completed graduate degrees at schools of their choice… University of California, Stanford University, University of Michigan, Harvard University. This is perhaps one of the most significant reversals…successes… in his life – that he witnessed his children live the dream he had to let go. Dad had given up a full scholarship covering tuition and living expenses at the Yale Law School because, lacking in money and connections, he couldn’t raise funds to pay his airfare. He was able to facilitate for his children, what he himself couldn’t do—study in his dream school. But he didn’t let that setback stop him from achieving other dreams.

 

With new opportunities, come new choices and new challenges. Our family is now separated by distance and time…Dad, Mom, Len, Tet and their families live here in Manila, while Mabel, Archie and I live with our families in metro New York City. Thousands of miles of ocean and thirteen time zones are no match to the desire of this family to be together. With Dad as the chief, in the last 25 years through today, our family travels the world multiple times each year to be together.

 

 

For two weeks every December, all the Panganibans, 22 of us, meet up to celebrate Christmas and family somewhere. To encourage us all to come, like a real patriarch, Dad generously sponsors all land arrangements at our destinations, whether it’s visiting American landscapes like the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley or Lake Tahoe; marveling the grand architecture of Rome, Florence or Venice; braving the Great Wall of China; admiring scenery all over Australia; or simply having the grandchildren enjoy magical moments and dance with Lolo and Mickey Mouse under the stars and fireworks in Orlando, Anaheim, Tokyo and Hong Kong. Dad not only gets   us all together, but also ensures we have new joint experiences and delightful adventures. Our children, his grandchildren, are so lucky to see and experience so much, so young

 

More than the world, Dad makes sure that the Philippines ranks number one in our hearts. Dad has an open invitation for all of us to tour the Philippines together. Dad and Mom take time out and brave the elements, sometimes even rough travel in propeller planes in typhoons, so we could all celebrate family. His lucky grandchildren chased “butanding” in Sorsogon while Lolo stood on a small “banca” and watched them in the middle of pouring rain and rough seas. The children have ridden behind Lolo on an ATV along Mayon Volcano; marveled at and swam through the lagoons, caves, corrals and lakes in Coron, El Nido and Puerto Princesa. Lolo Art even patiently woos grandchildren out of deep sulks and petulant moments. Of course, it helps that Lolo has an unlimited supply of Toblerone in his back pocket… There have been so many destinations…. Cebu, Bohol, Boracay, Quezon….. dear Lolo making memories with his grandchildren, while giving them the gift of life and adventure, and love for the Philippines.

 

In describing our adventures, I may have given a glimpse of the limitless energy of this man, who it seems, has more zest than all 5 of his children combined. During trips and hectic itineraries with him, we take turns being entertained by Dad. Two years ago, we were scheduled to visit Padre Pio’s memorial in Italy. On the day of the tour, however, a serious snowstorm hit the place; more than half of our 20-person Panganiban contingent opted to rest and skip the tour. Not Dad. Dad, along with his sturdy son and sons-in-law, braved the snowfall, frigid temperature and icy roads, on foot, to tour Padre Pio’s grave and museum! Dad outlasted us, his four daughters, who are a few decades his junior.

 

Beneath all the energy and vitality, is a man of empathy and love for his wife, the strong woman behind this successful man. At restaurants, Dad checks the menu for Mom, mindful of her allergies. On our trips, he makes sure Mom has rest spots where she can opt to watch people or read. One Christmas day in California a few years ago, we had to rush Mom to the emergency room at 3 in the morning due to a hypertensive attack. Thankfully, Mom was observed and treated with no further issues. But I recount this story because it was the only time I had ever seen my Super Dad ashen and speechless with worry and powerlessness.

 

I can go on forever talking about Dad, but we are all here not to listen to me talk. Today, we celebrate 80 years of his life. You are about to watch the story of his successes and some failures too. I do hope I have also provided you glimpses of the story of his loves. And Dad, it is my big blessing to be your daughter.

 

 

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you once again for joining us. Enjoy the show.

 

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Chief Justice (ret.) Hilario G. Davide, Jr. at the launch of Chief Justice Panganibans’s book titled “With Due Respect, selected columns in the Inquirer” held on March 29, 2012 at Powerbooks, Greenbelt, Makati City.

A Great Man, A Great Soul

By Chief Justice (ret.) Hilario G. Davide, Jr. at the launch of Chief Justice Panganibans’s book titled “With Due Respect, selected columns in the Inquirer” held on March 29, 2012 at Powerbooks, Greenbelt, Makati City.

I thank the Philippine Daily Inquirer for inviting me to attend this launching of Chief Justice Panganiban’s book With Due Respect, a collection of selected columns written by him in the PDI, and to be requested to deliver a message at such event. The occasion brings me back to the glorious days Chief Justice Art and I had together at the Supreme Court from his assumption of office as Associate Justice on 10 October 1995 until my retirement at midnight of 19 December 2005 upon reaching the mandatory age of retirement of 70. I was appointed ahead of him on 24 January 1991. It was my rare privilege to have worked with a great man, a great soul, who glorified God and magnified the Court in everything he did. In my Foreword to his tenth book entitled Judicial Renaissance (he was still an Associate Justice at that time), published to mark the tenth anniversary of his appointment to the Court, I said:

Justice Panganiban’s dignified obedience to the law and the universal precepts of justice exemplifies the organic necessity to administer justice swiftly, fairly, equally and effectively. As I have once said, our duty to administer justice today is an organic necessity because, to me, our living in a national life is no longer a privilege or even a duty, but is now a necessity. In our country today it is not enough to be an instrument of justice. We must be courageous and faithful disciples of the law and ministers of the temple of justice.

In the field of sober, wise, judicious, and principled decision-making, Justice Panganiban has stood out as an unrelenting public man…. Justice Panganiban visibly typifies through his work a dedicated human spirit burning with the conviction of a true lover of the law. There is nothing strained or forced in his judicial writing. It flowers immaculately as a stream of justice.

In my Foreword to the book SUMMA, a syllabi of the decisions and opinions of Chief Justice Art compiled by Atty. Emma Matammu, I also wrote:

The anthology embodies the unflagging determination not just of a tireless public servant but more of a learned jurist who is an embodiment of intelligence, competence, integrity, industry, probity, and independence. It provides an aperture to a vast and varied jurisprudential landscape, a legacy of the 21st Chief Justice of the Republic of the Philippines. And, above all, it exhorts every student and servant of the law to once again engage in intellectual collaboration as an ingredient for a richer, fuller life in the law.

Mr. Chief Justice Art was the most prolific writer among all Justices ever appointed to the Court since 1901. One hundred seventy three justices have so far been appointed to the Court. Twenty-three of them became Chief Justice. Every year from 1995 until his retirement on 6 December 2006, Chief Justice Art published a book to celebrate the anniversary of his membership in the Court. He had written a total of eleven books, to seven of which I wrote the Foreword. His legal scholarship is reflected in more than one thousand decisions and separate concurring and dissenting opinions. He had written the 246-page decision in the case of La Bugal B’laan vs. Ramos upholding the constitutionality of the Mining Act of 1995 — the longest and most substantiated ruling in the 104-year history of the Court as of 2005. The decision is a book in itself.

Five books were also written about Chief Justice Art, among which is the SUMMA I earlier mentioned.

In a little less than a year as Chief Justice, Chief Justice Art pursued without cease his judicial philosophy and program he outlined upon assumption as such, to wit: a) a Judiciary characterized by four ins: independence, integrity, industry and intelligence; one that is morally courageous to stand its ground against the onslaughts of influence, interference, indifference, and insolence; and that is impervious to the plague of “ships”: kinship, relationship, friendship and fellowship; b) continuation and revitalization of the Supreme Court’s ongoing Action Program for Judicial Reform (APJR) which I initiated; c) revitalization of the legal profession; and d) achieving the loftier goals of safeguarding the liberty and nurturing the prosperity of our people.

His eleventh book is aptly entitled Liberty and Prosperity. Its acronym is LP which also stands for Leni Panganiban.

“Ageless Passion”, the special musicale for Chief Justice Art at 75, held on 20 December 2011 at the Meralco Theater reminds us that as a Justice and Leader, Chief Justice Art lived by three e-values for our age and beyond: Excellence, Ethics and Eternity.

This Ageless Passion has AP as acronym. AP, of course, is Artemio Panganiban.

I did not even realize upon its initiation that the APJR I earlier mentioned as acronym for the Action Program for Judicial Reform is also acronym for Artemio Panganiban and Judicial Reform.

Because of that Ageless Passion retirement did not stop him from pursuing with vigor his philosophy and principles of life and his passion for justice, law and truth. Two months after retirement he started writing his columns in the Philippine Daily Inquirer. The columns have become the pillars for the further articulation of his philosophy and principles. The book WITH DUE RESPECT consolidates and compiles selected columns logically arranged for easy reading and understanding. The book consists of 318 pages, covers a collection of columns, the earliest of which was on 11 February 2007, which is actually the last chapter – Chapter 15 – entitled Visionary Leadership by Example, of Book 7. The latest is the column 27 February 2011, which is the last chapter – Chapter 10 – entitled Tread Cautiously and Prudently, of Book 4. The columns devoted to justice and law do not only reflect the innumerable principles that embody and give meaning to justice and law, and truth but of the sacred task and responsibility of those who are to administer justice and those who are to make or who are to and execute and enforce the laws. His special gifts of reason, wit, knowledge, wisdom, prudence and probity, easily provide guiding lights to public servants on what to do and what not to do to serve the ends of justice, law and truth, and to observe with utmost fidelity the public trust character of public office. Whether he addresses himself to specific persons or issues, such as on reforms, these values are the heart, the centerpiece. If only we hearken to his voice and sound views, many of the problems we face today would not have surfaced. Consider his columns on the Supreme Court incorporated in Book #2 of WITH DUE RESPECT. Reflect especially on Chapter 6 thereof on Midnight Chief Justice and on Chapter 9 thereof on Regaining Public Trust. His views on these impacted on the future of the Court.

Consider, too, Book 3 on Legal Reform, Book 4 on Matters of Law and Book 5 on Election Reform.

Our reflection on these can bring the greatest good to our country and people or could open our minds to disastrous consequences.

Let me, however, put on record that we did hearken to some of his wise counsel and we prevented instability, disorder, chaos.

Now, friends, the book launched today is divided into seven (7) books. Each book is a veritable separate book. You can add these to the eleven Chief Justice Art had written when he was a Member of the Supreme Court.

Seven has a special place in both the Old and the New Testaments which mention it more than a hundred times. Its symbolic meaning is completeness and perfection (Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, 286, 1199, 1469). Among the familiar seven in the Bible are: the completion in 7 days of the work of creation; the Seven Last Words of Jesus; the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit; and the seven I AM statements of Jesus Christ found in the Gospel according to John, to wit:

I am the Bread of Life.
I am the Light of the World.
I am the Door of the Sheep.
I am the Good Shepherd.
I am the Resurrection and the Life.
I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
I am the True Vine.

Now, ARTEMIO also contains seven letters. Knowing him through what he has accomplished through his Ageless Passion he has been formed with the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: fear of God, knowledge, understanding, wisdom, piety, fortitude, counsel. Nonetheless, he has to complete himself again. With permission from PDI and with all due respect, let me say that his columns after 27 February 2011 must also be compiled into another book which should be launched on his 76th birthday on 6 December 2012. That would be a very interesting book for it will include his columns on the Impeachment of the Chief Justice which would influence one way or the other the wise resolution of the issue involved.

Let me now conclude by reminding ourselves that we are in the midst of the Lenten Season for the year 2012. This coming Sunday will be Palm Sunday and the following Sunday would be Easter Sunday. This is the season when the thoughts of purification and conversion and love and service should be closest to our hearts and minds. Let the Season bring us closer to the Lord and to the Joy of Easter.

Before you leave, you must have a copy of WITH DUE RESPECT.

I thank you.

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Aurelio Montinola III, President of the Bankers’ Association of the Philippines and of the Bank of the Philippine Islands, on the launch by the Philippine Daily Inquirer of the book “With Due Respect” on Mar 29, 2012 at the Powerbooks, Greenbelt 4, Makati

What Differentiates Chief Justice Panganiban

By Aurelio Montinola III, President of the Bankers’ Association of the Philippines and of the Bank of the Philippine Islands, on the launching by the Philippine Daily Inquirer of the book authored by Chief Justice Panganiban titled “With Due Respect” held on March 29, 2012 at the Powerbooks, Greenbelt 4, Makati City.

In a recent television interview, IMF Chief Cristine Lagarde was asked if there was anything in her background that helped prepare her for the global role that she now has. She responded by saying that it was her being a lawyer and a previous head of Baker Mckenzie in the US that has given her the edge of better understanding what to do and what not to do in the global crisis she now deftly manages.

If I were to ask a similar question of Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban, I would venture to say that his previous background in business is what differentiates him from many other Chief Justices.

As a former head of Baron Travel, he created a business that flourished in the 80s — Secretary Mon Jimenez would have been proud of his branding and communication skills when he fashioned his Baron Travel Girl contest at a time when many Filipinas dream was to win a beauty contest, and many Filipinos secret dream was to meet the Baron Travel Girl.

But more importantly, he understood the opportunities, the risks, the challenges, and the distinctive culture of business being primarily a private sector initiative – which is why he is remembered for leading a Supreme Court that, except for rulings on observance of law, generally preferred to leave the interpretation of business rules to businessmen and not to potentially disruptive court rulings.

The Lawyer and later, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court

On a broader front, he perfected the nuances of being around at the big moments of political history and discreetly giving well thought out, pragmatic legal advice to key political leaders. He also perfected preserving the independence of the Supreme Court, having a working coequal relationship with the Chief Executive, and getting his own Supreme Court justices to work as a team.

I remember him as a voracious reader, but one who could wade through immense stacks of paper to distill the most important arguments pro and con, and then translate this into a view that could lengthily buttress a position that he would take. I am also told that he has put together an insightful compilation of his major Supreme Court positions and decisions.

Although I am not a lawyer, the title of his book today aptly describes the feeling of lawyers and non-lawyers toward his Court and also to him: “With Due Respect”. My recollection also is that he rated respectably high in Surveys regarding government officials’ capability and popularity.

The Independent Director and the Inquirer Columnist (and now author)

For those of us who have to contemplate life after retirement from a most hectic career, one can admiringly look to the model of Chief Justice Art — whom some of us had the privilege of watching a musicale aptly entitled “Ageless Passion” at the Meralco Theater fairly recently.

After the Supreme Court, he quietly re-entered the world of business by serving in a few corporate Boards, which have become so many that whenever we at BPI lend a lot of money to a major Philippine name, we often hear the familiar “Mr. Chairman, Abstain, Independent Director” from Director Panganiban.

However, on matters of broad corporate policy of instructive comments on what is going on in the country, his ultra perceptive comments cut through the air like a knife through butter and distill instant knowledge for those present. He also asks the right questions, and always gives a clearly understandable answer on even the more complex subjects that show his insightful understanding of the relationship between business and law. If there were such a degree as a PHD for Business and Law, he would be a perfect candidate — a glance at his resume shows 5 awards for Doctor of Laws — Honoris Causa.

Finally, we are blessed with CJ Panganiban’s transformation into one of the most readable and balanced columnists at the Inquirer. He has “fearless views”, and “balanced news.” He writes them well, but he is always careful to explain the other side (even if it is very clear whose side or whose view he is espousing).

Best of all, he uses the first third of his column to explain the background, in layman’s terms, of what he will espouse in the next two thirds of his column. Also, after voluminous treatises in law in an earlier life, he has mastered the not-so-easy transition into a three-column article — almost like an English composition homework once a week on an interesting topic of his choice. As Isagani Yambot notes in his Foreword, “While many of the columns deal with the technical matters of law, they are written in simple, understandable language that uses a minimum of legal jargon. Because of their simplicity of style, clarity of thought, and unassailable logic, the columns make for interesting and instructive reading.”

Ladies and gentlemen, during the current impeachment hearings, some people watch the actual court proceedings, other wait for the TV news or commentaries — I simply read CJ Art’s weekend piece to understand the big picture as well as the legal nuances during the trial.

My congratulations then to Chief Justice Art Panganiban — one of FEU’s most distinguished law alumni, one of BPI’s respected Independent Directors, but most of all for sharing his knowledge and wisdom with all through his Inquirer Column entitled “With Due Respect.”

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Ms. Chit Lijauco, Managing Editor, Philippine Tatler Magazine, May 2009 issue.

Down Memory Lane

FORMER CHIEF JUSTICE ARTEMIO PANGANIBAN WALKS CHIT LIJAUCO THROUGH ONE PHASE IN HIS LIFE VIA A ROOMFUL OF MEMORIABILIA

IN 1992 WHEN ARTEMIO V. PANGANIBAN was invited by President Fidel V. Ramos to be the Justice Secretary, his response was, “Mr. President, I might be the wrong choice; I did not campaign for you.” To which Ramos answered, “I know. You did not even vote for me!”

This was the thought that passed through Panganiban’s mind as he led us around a room filled with memorabilia of his 11 years in the Supreme Court, the second offer of Ramos after the Justice Secretary’s post was turned down. “It is a less political appointment,” he says. Clearly, it was a good choice as he spent his happiest as well as most productive years, ending in the highest judicial position in the country, Chief Justice.

The one-room structure behind the main house brims with memories. Nine togas on mannequins and one in a box; countless photographs, plaques, medals, trophies of recognition; precious souvenirs from heads of state; the seal, the gavel and the desk he used (this last one he bought); a corner dedicated to Rotary International, he being a Rotarian and past president of the Rotary Club of Manila; and so much more. “I still have so much more things to display,” says Panganiban, who has painstakingly organized and labelled the items with actuarial fastidiousness.

The unique display is a statement of a prolific career. In the time he spent at the Supreme Court, he wrote about 1,200 full-length decisions, 100 separate opinions, several thousand minute resolutions and 11 books. “One book a year and no cases left undecided,” said Justice Romeo J. Callejo Sr of what he calls Panganiban’s “unsurpassed record.”

Justice Callejo might as well have described the broader spectrum of his colleague’s career. For Panganiban has not just achieved an “unsurpassed record” in the Supreme Court; he has done so, and is still doing so, in the many facets of his life.

A lawyer, consultant, writer, businessman, professor, civic leader: these are some of the many hats he wears that summarize his numerous positions, past and present, in varied organizations from corporations to religious groups, from universities to his very own travel agency.

Baron travel, a leader in the industry, came about because of a personal promise. Early in life, he twice received a scholarship to study in the United States but failed to take either one, because he couldn’t afford the air fare. “It was then I told myself that my children will not suffer the same disadvantage and can travel anywhere in the world any time they want,” he says. Indeed, all his five children took their postgraduate studies abroad. “Well,” Panganiban quips, “if I had the money then, I would have bought an airline instead.”

The memories come back in a continuous current. One so dear is a carved signboard bearing his name. “It is a gift from the inmates of the Bilibid Prison [the national penitentiary],” he says. “They invited me once to be a guest speaker.” The invitation was a bit disconcerting. After all, he wrote the decision that convicted many of them. But he was unperturbed. “I gave them a message of hope,” he says. “I told them they are better off than others imprisoned by greed or by poor health; that after serving their sentence they will be free, but these people will never be free until, perhaps, death.”

Life after retirement from the Supreme Court is still active as he is now a sought-after adviser, consultant or independent director of several businesses as well as civic, non-government and religious groups. He also writes a daily column for a major newspaper and although he has decided not to go back to taking on cases, he does give legal advice to those who seek him out. He certainly would need a second house for these new memories.

Written by Chit Lijauco, Managing Editor, Philippine Tatler
Reproduced from the PHILIPPINE TATLER
May 2009 issue

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Robert Kwan, Chairman of the Board, St. Luke’s Hospital, upon reading two of Chief Justice Panganiban’s books

Thank you very much for your gift of wisdom through your books, Liberty and Prosperity and Summa. I enjoyed reading them. I also enjoyed your book, Leadership by Example, which was given to me by former Chief Justice Davide.

God has gifted you with prophetic words, which are great quotes. While reading them, I highlighted those quotes so hopefully my kids will also learn from them when they review the books I have read.

May God bless you with good health for sharing His wisdom just as He did to David for sharing His psalms and proverbs.

Robert Kwan
Chairman of the Board
St. Luke’s Hospital

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