The Supreme Court has included in its roster Justice Domingo Imperial who sat as a magistrate of the High Court during the Japanese occupation in the 1940s.
In a four-page resolution, the Court En Banc ordered the Office of Administrative Services (OAS) of the Supreme Court to update the Roster of Supreme Court justices to include Justice Imperial who was assigned Roll No. 42-A in the Roll of Justices.
The matter was spawned by the 2018 email of Dr. Roger L. Mendoza, son of retired SC Associate Justice Vicente V. Mendoza, who raised the non-inclusion of Justice Imperial in the roster of Associate Justices of the SC despite designated as one of its members. Dr. Mendoza explained that Justice Imperial, together with Justice Jose G. Generoso, Justice Jose M. Hontiveros, and Justice Jose Lopez Vito, was designated as a High Court magistrate in 1942 but had been excluded in the total count of SC justices.
The OAS, upon the directive of the Supreme Court, conducted an inquiry and reported to the SC last May 16 that pursuant to Commonwealth Act No. 3, Justices Imperial, Generoso, Hontiveros, and Vito, were designated by the then Chair of the Executive Commission under the Japanese Imperial Command to sit temporarily as Justices of the SC for the purpose of reaching a quorum and disposing specifically assigned criminal cases. The designation was published in the Official Gazette No. 5, page 307 in May 1942.
The OAS reported “that the failure to recognize Justice Imperial was unintentional and inadvertent.” It said that all four were considered incumbent Justices of the SC by virtue of their valid and legal designation; that three of the four, except Justice Imperial, designated as SC Associate Justice by the Japanese Imperial Command were included in the SC Roster of Justices shows that the real intention was to recognize and include them in the said list; and that their inclusion acknowledges and confirms their services as magistrates.
Thus, the OAS recommended “in the spirit of justice, fairness and uniformity” the inclusion of Justice Imperial in the list of SC Justices “by assigning to him the same number assigned to Justice Generoso, ‘in accordance with the date of designation and in alphabetical order,’ adding a suffix letter (a) to provide a distinction.”