Supreme Court’s Acting Chief Justice is a Mindanawon

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 02 March) — Senior Associate Justice Antonio Tirol Carpio has taken over as Acting Chief Justice of the Supreme Court starting March 1, the date of effectivity of the “indefinite leave” filed by Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, who is facing impeachment by Congress.

This is the second time Carpio, chair of the Second Division and of the Senate Electoral Tribunal, is serving as Acting Chief Justice. The first was in 2012 when he assumed the post vacated by the impeached Renato Corona, from May 29, 2012 until Sereno, Corona’s successor, was appointed on August 24 that same year. Sereno, the country’s first woman Chief Justice, also has Mindanawon roots: she was born in Manila but her father was from Siasi, Sulu. Her husband is from Davao City.

Senior Associate Justice Antonio Tirol Carpio, Acting Chief Justice as of 01 March 2018. Photo courtesy of the SC website

Carpio was sworn in as member of the Supreme Court on October 26, 2001, his 52nd birthday. He is set to retire next year when he reaches 70.

Under the Duterte administration, Carpio has been among the dissenting voices in the Supreme Court. He voted against the Marcos burial in 2016, last year argued that martial law should have been declared only in Marawi City and not in all of Mindanao’s 27 provinces and 33 cities, and dissented as well in the extension of martial law.

He has also been very vocal on the issue of the West Philippine Sea and the Duterte administration’s policy towards China.  Only last week, he told CNN Philippines that China’s continued militarization there is a national threat.

“If the present administration is sleeping on their job, it’s our duty to wake them up and to tell them to protect our sovereign rights,” he said.

“Once we lose our sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea, we can never get it back… China will never return it,” Carpio added.

According to his profile posted on the SC website, Carpio, shortly after his appointment in 2001, launched for the judiciary the Supreme Court e-library, the first full-text searchable and retrievable on-line law library in the Philippines and among the first in Asia.

The profile noted that Carpio has penned at least “836 full-blown decisions, leaving no backlog in his docket, a feat rarely attained by a Supreme Court magistrate.”

Carpio finished elementary and high school at the Ateneo de Davao University, obtained his AB Economics degree at the Ateneo de Manila University and Law at the University of the Philippines where he graduated Cum Laude and was the class Valedictorian.

He placed sixth in the 1975 Bar Examinations.

Campus writer

Carpio was also a campus writer.  He was editor in chief of The Guidon, the school paper of the ADMU, Managing Editor of the Philippine Collegian while in UP and chair of the Editorial Board of the Philippine Law Journal.

After passing the bar, Carpio went into private practice and founded the Carpio Villaraza and Cruz Law firm.

He served as Professorial Lecturer at UP Law from 1983 until 1992 when President Fidel Ramos appointed him Chief Presidential Legal Counsel, with cabinet rank.

“As such he worked for major reforms in telecommunications, shipping, civil aviation, and insurance industries,” it said.

Carpio also served as member of the UP Board of Regents from 1993 to 1998.

He received various awards including a Presidential Medal of Merit from President Fidel Ramos in 1998 for his “distinguished and exemplary service” to the country; received the Outstanding Achievement Award in Law from the Ateneo de Manila Alumni Association in 1991;  was recipient of the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Ateneo de Davao Alumni Association in 2002; and was  conferred a Doctorate of Laws, honoris causa, by the Ateneo de Davao University in 2009.

In 2015, the U.P. Alumni Association named him Outstanding U.P. Alumni in Public International Law.

Carpio has lectured extensively on the West Philippine Sea dispute in various local and international fora. (MindaNews)