Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo commemorated the 80th Anniversary of the Martyrdom of Supreme Court Chief Justice Jose Basco Abad Santos with a wreath-laying ceremony at the JASA Monument, Capitol Grounds, Sto. Niño Viejo City of San Fernando, Pampanga on Saturday.
In his message, Chief Justice Gesmundo took to the martyr’s own words: “‘It is an honor to die for one’s country,’ as Jose Abad Santos told his son moments before he was executed. As he had lived his life with honor and integrity, he bravely accepted his fate when the Japanese ordered his execution eighty years ago. Indeed, he chose death rather than betray his country, and he preferred ‘to die rather than live in shame.’”
The Chief Justice also took the occasion to speak of the Judiciary and acknowledge acts of heroism, saying “I will refer you to those Justices and judges who had been killed in the line of duty, and to date, there have been many; and the court officials and employees who work beyond usual hours, under conditions of cramped office space and unusually heavy workload, and during the pandemic, to this may be added, with threat to their health and safety — all in order to fulfill our constitutionally- mandated duty of dispensing justice, without fear or favor.”
“To leave a legacy as JAS’ would indeed be extraordinary, but to live a life as his legacy demanded should be nothing but natural for us. Our appreciation of the life of JAS should not merely be by words, but by our own deed as well,” underscored Chief Justice Gesmundo. He added: “That is why, in what we have to do or say each day, we need not look anywhere or ask anyone, only the great life of Jose Abad Santos is what we have to mirror in our lives. Our lives will be great too, that is the truth.”
Speaking for the Abad Santos clan, great-grandniece Ms. Desiree Ann Cua-Benipayo, author of HONOR: The Legacy of Jose Abad Santos, echoed the Chief Justice’s sentiment, saying that “[Jose Abad Santos] could have chosen the easy way out — collaborate with the enemy and live out his last years in privilege. All he needed to do was to raise his right hand in a mythical pledge of allegiance, as many others had done. But he knew he could never live with the fact that if he did so, he would be a
traitor not just to his beloved country, but to the very principles and ideals he held sacred in life.”
The event also featured a tribute by Poet Laureate of Pampanga, Francisco M. Guinu and a song number, “Tatang Ku,” both in the native Pampango dialect. The Chief Justice was welcomed by Vice Governor Lilia G. Pineda and the Executive Judges of the Judicial Districts of Pampanga.