SC Associate Justice Japar Dimaampao: second Moro named to high court

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 15 September) —  From Associate Justice in the Court of Appeals in the past 17 years, Japar Babay Dimaampao of Marawi City, is now Associate Justice in the Supreme Court, the second Moro in Philippine history to be named to the high tribunal.

Before Dimaampao, Abdulwahid Bidin of Sitangkai, Tawi-tawi served  as Associate Justice from January 12, 1987 to April 7, 1995.

The Supreme Court Public Information Office announced on September 14 that President Rodrigo Duterte had appointed Dimaampao as the 191st Associate Justice, taking over the seat vacated by Alexander Gesmundo who assumed the post as Chief Justice in April. The date of Dimaampao’s appointment was July 2.

Associate Justice Japar Dimaampao of the Court of Appeals, now Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.  Photo screengrabbed from Project Jurisprudence’s video, ‘Basics of Taxation’

On July 29 two years ago, the Bangsamoro Parliament passed a resolution endorsing the appointment of Dimaampao, who was born in Marawi City.

On October 28 that same year,  House Deputy Speaker and Basilan Representative Mujiv Hataman and seven other Moro representatives in the House – Maguindanao’s Datu Roonie Q. Sinsuat and Esmael G. Mangudadatu; Sulu’s Munir M. Arbison; Tawi-Tawi’s Rashidin H. Matba; Lanao del Sur’s Yasser Alonto Balindong and Ansaruddin Abdul Malik A. Adiong and Anak Mindanao Rep. Amihilda Sangcopan — also called on President Duterte to choose Dimaampao for the post vacated by Justice Mariano del Castillo who retired on July 29 that year.

Bidin was named Associate Justice by then President Corazon Aquino in 1987. He retired in 1995.  On September 2, 1996, the Philippine government signed with the Moro National Liberation Front a Final Peace Agreement which provided, among others, that “it shall be a policy of the National Government that at least one (1) justice in the Supreme Court and at least two (2) in the Court of Appeals shall come from the Autonomous Region.”

RA 9054 rephrased the peace agreement provision to read: “it shall be the policy of the central government or national government that, whenever feasible, at least one (1) justice in the Supreme Court and two (2) justices in the Court of Appeals shall come from qualified jurists of the autonomous region.”

The ARMM was replaced by the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in February this year, after the ratification of RA 11054, the enabling law of the peace agreement between government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

The Bangsamoro Parliament in its July 29, 2019 resolution noted that Dimaampao is an expert on taxation and commercial law, is the first and only Muslim senior state prosecutor, bar reviewer, professor of law at the University of Santo Tomas, and a member of the University of the Philippines’ Law Center, Committee on Bar Examinations in Commercial Law and Taxation.

“Justice Dimaampao deserves to occupy the seat to be vacated by Justice Mariano del Castillo, not only for his vast experience in the Appellate Court in the review and revision of judgments and orders of lower courts, but also to continue the legacy of being an inspiration and an example for the Bangsamoro People, especially in the recognition of the aspirations of Muslim Filipinos, and the legitimacy of the cause of the Bangsamoro People,” the resolution authored by Members of Parliament Amir Mawallil, Laisa Masuhud-Alamia, Anna Tarhata Basman, Don Mustapha Loong, Baintan Adil-Ampatuan, Rasul Ismael and Suharto Ambolodto, said. The other Members of Parliament co-authored the resolution.

In 2020, Dimaampao chaired the 2020 Committee on the Shari’ah Bar Examinations

In welcoming the appointment of Dimaampao, Bangsamoro Deputy Speaker Zia Alonto Adiong said “things have finally changed for the better, and in the interest of representation and justice in the highest tribunal of the country.”

“This is not the first time Justice Dimaampao has been nominated for the Supreme Court, with endorsements dating back to 2010. We congratulate him for his latest appointment in recognition of his exemplary record as a judge, and of the Bangsamoro people’s right to representation,” Adiong said.

Adiong recalled that during a Judicial and Bar Council interview in 2016, Justice Dimaampao said he can help prevent decisions that are not resolved in accordance with Sharia & existing Islamic jurisprudence, and he can help “with all humility” in avoiding decisions that can eventually amount to injustices against Muslims. (MindaNews)

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