“To say that the past year had been a difficult one is beyond an understatement. In both the personal and professional aspects of our lives, we all have had to deal with the numerous repercussions of this global health crisis we are still facing…. I will forever remember the fond memories I have of working for and with all of you. While I prepare to hang my judicial robe, this is definitely not the end of us seeing each other. Rest assured that I will still make myself available to the Supreme Court if I’m and when the time comes that my assistance is needed,” says Chief Justice Diosdado M. Peralta in his last official flag-raising ceremony at the Supreme Court courtyard in Faura, Manila today.
The hybrid flag-raising ceremony was a scale-down from the previous and traditional last flag-raising ceremony given to a retiring chief magistrate. It was without any arrival honors and attended only by a select few Court employees mostly coming from the Office of the Chief Justice, including the Chief Justice’s immediate family ― his wife Court of Appeals Associate Justice Fernanda Lampas Peralta and children.
All those who attended were wearing face masks and face shields and practicing social distance, in strict compliance to the public health standards for COVID-19. They were spread out in the more than 1,200 sq.m. open grounds of the Supreme Court.
The other attendees participated virtually via livestream through the SC website and SC YouTube Channel. The entire proceedings lasted only 30 minutes and the usual photo opportunities were done away with as the Chief
The Chief Justice immediately retreated to his chambers after giving his message to the entire Judiciary.
Chief Justice Peralta will officially hang his judicial robes on March 27, a full year ahead of the magistrates’ mandatory age of retirement of 70. He retires after working for half a century, 34 years of which were spent in the Judiciary. He worked for a private firm while studying law at the Faculty of Civil Law of the Pontifical and Royal University of Santo Tomas and even after he passed the Bar Examinations in 1979. He was already the second highest Filipino executive in a Chinese-owned firm when he left and decided to join government service.
He started his public career in 1987 as the Third Assistant City Fiscal of Laoag City and then by 1994, he was the Presiding Judge of Branch 95 of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City. He was named Associate Justice of the Sandiganbayan in 2002 and became its Presiding Justice in 2008. On January 13, 2009, he was named as the 162nd Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. He was appointed as the 26th Chief Justice on October 23, 2019.
In his message, Chief Justice Peralta took pride in saying that almost all of his Ten Point-Program, which he had bared during his first flag ceremony as chief magistrate in 2019, had already come to fruition. The Ten Point Program focuses on four core areas ― efficiency, integrity, security and service.
Chief Justice Peralta said: “Under my helm, the Supreme Court has formulated and approved 18 procedural rules and guidelines meant to improve the administration of justice and address the problem of clogged court dockets. We have restructured and streamlined the plantilla of various offices, divisions, and services of the Court so as to guarantee security of tenure for the employees and to improve our processes. We have established the Judiciary Public Assistance Section, or JPAS, to promptly receive and act on concerns, issues, suggestions, and other relevant matters including complaints against erring court officials and employees. We have also formally organized the Judicial Integrity Board to further prevent and curb corruption in the Judiciary.”
He added: “In addition to these procedural and institutional reforms, the past year saw the Supreme Court addressing the various concerns and issues related with the task of judicial administration that were necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. We thus issued Administrative Circulars adopting measures to protect the safety and health of the court employees and court users, such as the daily court operations with skeleton staffing; restricting entry into Halls of Justices to only those with official business; reinforcing physical distancing within court premises; the constant sanitation of court premises and monitoring of the health of our court personnel; the restructuring of various face-to-face training programs and activities of the Court into hybrid or blended learning platforms; and the conduct of online trials and hearings in all the courts.”
The Chief Justice thanked everyone for the unwavering trust and support all have given him throughout his career in government service particularly during his stay at the Supreme Court, his second home for 12 years.
The ceremony this morning was also the last official flag-raising ceremony for Atty. Edgar O. Aricheta who is retiring as the En Banc Clerk of Court. ###