Senior Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe on Tuesday, March 8, 2022, paid tribute to the women who were appointed Justices of the Supreme Court as she welcomed attendees and guests to the 27th National Convention and Seminar of the Philippine Women Judges Association (PWJA) .
In her valedictory address as PWJA President, Senior Associate Justice Perlas-Bernabe recognized all the “16 women in the entire history of the Supreme Court who have broken the proverbial ‘glass ceiling’ and dared to tread this male-dominated world.” They are Associate Justices Cecilia Muñoz Palma (appointed in 1973), Ameurfina A. Melencio-Herrera (1979), Irene R. Cortes (1987), Carolina C. Griño-Aquino (1988), Flerida Ruth P. Romero (1991), Minerva P. Gonzaga-Reyes (1999), Consuelo Ynares-Santiago (1999), Angelina Sandoval-Gutierrez (2000), Ma. Alicia Austria- Martinez (2002), Conchita Carpio Morales (2002), Minita V. Chico- Nazario (2004), Teresita J. Leonardo De-Castro (2007), SAJ Bernabe herself (2011), Rosmari D. Carandang (2018), Amy C. Lazaro-Javier (2019), and Priscilla J. Baltazar-Padilla (2020). Justice Leonardo-De Castro was eventually appointed the 24th Chief Justice of the Philippines.
“These women may have represented a small minority, as in fact, when I retire in May, the next PWJA President, Justice Amy Lazaro-Javier, will be the lone lady Justice sitting in the High Court due to the untimely death of Justice Baltazar-Padilla, but remember this: they have already carved a path for you, my dear sisters, in the advancement of gender equality and women empowerment in the Judiciary. It is my most fervent hope that these 16 trailblazers will inspire you to wield your own axes and cut through the institutional barriers to make a more expansive clearing for lady magistrates,” said SAJ Perlas-Bernabe.
She added: “While we can be warriors at heart, our manner of dispensation of justice has always been marked by refined strength and deep compassion. This is our distinctive touch – the touch that heals, unites, and moves people towards redemptive and productive action.”
Alluding to the Convention’s theme, PWJA: Livin’ La Vida Corona!, Senior Associate Justice Perlas-Bernabe underscored that PWJA faced its greatest challenge in the last two years due to global health crisis but the judges and Justices that comprise the PWJA refused to cower in fear, nor be shackled by pandemic restrictions. “Instead, each and every one of you stretched out your compassionate hands to colleagues and subordinates alike, as well as the communities that surround you – hands that comforted, prayed, and extended financial assistance to those affected by the corona virus and other catastrophic natural calamities,” she stressed.
Senior Associate Justice Bernabe referred to the PWJA members as “’she-roes’ – of justice and social equality” and expressed optimism that the PWJA is well on its way into becoming what they had envisioned it to be – a transformational force, driven by determined and upright women judges and Justices who lead by example, thereby creating a strong national consciousness not only for the ideals of justice but also of social equality. Founded by Supreme Court Justice and Philippine Judicial Chancellor Emeritus Ameurfina A. Melencio-Herrera on September 5, 1987, the PWJA is the organization of female judges and Justices nationwide.###