MANILA, Philippines – If he gets chosen as one of the two new associate justices in the Supreme Court (SC), Court of Appeals (CA) Associate Justice Japar Dimaampao said he can contribute to enriching jurisprudence on sharia law.
During his interview with members of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) on Wednesday, November 16, Dimaampao was asked what would make him different from the sitting SC justices.
“I have high regard for present members of SC. With all humility, I can bring to court my integrity. With all humility, I can contribute in enriching jurisprudence on sharia, taxation, and commercial law, given my stint with academe,” he added.
JBC Regular Member Maria Milagros Fernan-Cayosa then asked Dimaampao about whether there is a necessity to organize a sharia appellate court considering the few number of cases pending before sharia courts.
“It's a fact that there are few sharia cases but the fact remains, cases involving sharia must still be resolved in accordance with sharia. It’s the clamor of my Muslim brethren that this sharia appellate court, it’s about time to accept applicants, because I was told there are really [people] interested to apply,” the CA justice said.
Cayosa then disclosed that a sharia appellate court has not been organized because there is “no urgent need," so the JBC could not determine if there are sufficient applicants for it.
“Do I take it that should you be appointed, that you would push for the organization of the sharia appellate court?” she asked.
Dimaampao answered: “By God’s grace, your honor, I will try.”
Cayosa also asked if Dimaampao feels he has better chances of being appointed because he comes from Mindanao, where President Rodrigo Duterte also hails from.
"It's a reality that the President hails from Mindanao. It's also a fact that the President has a Moro blood, a Muslim blood. I think it's just one of the factors that compelled me to accept those nominations, because to me there is a glimmer of hope unlike before,” he answered.
Asked what his contributions would be to the Muslim community, Dimaampao said there is an erroneous decision on sharia, Bongdagjy vs Bongdagjy which was promulgated December 7, 2001, which, he said, is “an injustice to Muslims in this country.”
"By God’s grace, if I would be appointed to the Court, I can help the Court with all humility in avoiding erroneous decisions on sharia which will eventually amount to injustices to Muslims in this country. I can be of help in preventing such possible influx of decisions which are not resolved in accordance with sharia and existing Islamic jurisprudence.”
During the interview, he recommended areas in taxation that he believes should be amended. He also gave his thoughts on death penalty, mining, and extrajudicial killings.
At least two members of the JBC also asked Dimaampao about SC decisions where he thinks the High Court made a mistake.
He enumerated a few, but repeatedly said that since the SC is the final arbiter of these decisions, his views have “no bearing at all.” Among these cases are:
Dimaampao, according to his profile on the CA website, studied at the University of the East, where he obtained his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree in 1982, and his Bachelor of Laws in 1987.
According to his profile, Dimaampao, carries the distinction of being the first and only Muslim senior state prosecutor, bar reviewer, professor of law of the University of Santo Tomas, and member of the University of the Philippines Law Center, committee on Bar examinations in commercial law and taxation.
He served as Regional Trial Court judge and executive judge of Mandaluyong City before taking his oath of office as CA associate justice.
The JBC will be interviewing applicants eyeing the two slots in the SC on Wednesday and Thursday, November 16 and 17.
The posts in contention will be vacated by Associate Justice Jose Perez and Associate Justice Arturo Brion, who will reach the mandatory retirement age of 70 on December 14 and 29, respectively.
A shortlist of candidates will be submitted by the JBC to President Rodrigo Duterte, who will appoint the new SC magistrates. Under his term, Duterte will get to appoint 10 SC magistrates to replace retiring justices in the next 3 years. – Rappler.com
Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.