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Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo was appointed to the Supreme Court as Associate Justice on August 14, 2017, and later as the 27th Chief Justice of the Philippines on April 5, 2021. Prior to his appointment to the Supreme Court, he served as Associate Justice of the Sandiganbayan, later becoming Chairperson of its 7th Division.
Chief Justice Gesmundo obtained his law degree from the Ateneo de Manila University in 1984 and passed the Bar in April 1985. He entered government service in August 1985 as Trial Attorney in the Office of the Solicitor General. He was awarded as Most Outstanding Solicitor in 1998. He was on Seconded Appointment as Commissioner of the Presidential Commission on Good Government from July 17, 1998 to February 15, 2001. In August 2002, he was promoted to Assistant Solicitor General. He continued to serve in the Office of the Solicitor General until his appointment to the Sandiganbayan on October 15, 2005.
At the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Gesmundo was designated as the Chairperson of the Technical Working Group for the Revision of the Law Student Practice Rule (Rule 138-A) (later converted to the Oversight Committee for the Implementation of the Revised Student Practice Rule), the Committee and Technical Working Group for the 2019 Legal Education Summit, the Sub-Committee on Libraries and Research, and the Halls of Justice Coordinating Committee for the Cities of Manila and San Pablo, Laguna. He also served as the Working Chairperson of the Technical Working Group on the Proposed Guidelines for Republic Act No. 11362 (Community Service Act). He was Vice-Chairperson of the Ad Hoc Committee to update and enhance the Supreme Court’s Case Selection and Docket Management System, the Ad Hoc Committee for the Review of the Manual on Caseflow Management for Judges, Committee in the Implementation of the Judicial Integrity Board, Committee on Computerization and Library, Special Committee for the Rules on Procedure for Admiralty Cases, Special Committee for the Rules on Inspection (under the Philippine Competition Act), Sub-Committee for the Revision of the 1997 Rules on Civil Procedure, Sub-Committee for the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Oversight, Special Committee on the Rules of Procedure in Election Contests before the First Level Courts, Sub-Committee on the Revision of the Rules on Criminal Procedure, Sub-Committee for the Revision of the Rules of Procedure for Intellectual Property Rights Cases, the Special Committee on Virtual Hearings and Electronic Testimony, the Subcommittee on Computerization and Technology; Committee on the Revision of the Revised Rule on Summary Procedure; the Special Committee on Facilitated Naturalization for Refugees and Stateless Individuals; the Special Committee on the Proposed Rule on Criminal Confiscation and Forfeiture; and the Special Committee on the Proposed Court of Appeals Rule of Procedure Relating to An Unlawful Activity or a Money Laundering Offense Under Republic Act No. (RA) 9160, As Amended.
He was also designated as Member of the Committee on the Revision of the Rules of Court, the Committee on Continuing Legal Education and Bar Matters, the Special Committee on Speedy Trial, the Subcommittee on the Admission to the Bar, the Committee on Internal Rules of the Supreme Court, the Committee on Ethics and Ethical Standards, the Technical Working Group of the Committee on the New Supreme Court Complex.
Chief Justice Gesmundo is a member of the Corps of Professors of the Philippine Judicial Academy (PHILJA) and a Professorial Lecturer in remedial law. He was former Vice-Chairperson of the PHILJA’s Department of Remedial Law. He was the Examiner in Remedial Law in the 2009 and 2015 Bar examinations. He has taught various remedial law subjects at the Ateneo de Manila University, the Centro Escolar University School of Law and Jurisprudence, the Lyceum of the Philippines, the University of Perpetual Help System Dalta in Las Piñas City, the University of Sto. Tomas Faculty of Civil Law, and the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Pasay.
He was a member of the core committee of the National Conference for the Revision of the Rules of Civil Procedure, a joint project of the Supreme Court, the UP Law Center, the PHILJA, and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP). He is a member of the Committee on the Updating of the Benchbook for Philippine Trial Courts (Revised and Expanded) and of the Court of Tax Appeals 2004 Committee on Revision of the Rules of the Court of Tax Appeals.
Chief Justice Gesmundo has participated in various international events and in study visits abroad. On December 4 to 10, 2019, he attended the 2019 Global Alliance for Justice Education (GAJE) in Bandung, Indonesia under the behest of The Asia Foundation (TAF). On October 29 to November 2, 2019, he participated in the 101st International Refugee Law Course held in Sanremo, Italy under the invitation of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Representation in the Philippines. On September 15 to 26, 2019, he joined the Justice Sector Coordinating Council’s (JSSC) Study Tour of the Philippine Delegation to Europe, particularly, Spain and France, organized by the European Union-Governance in Justice (GOJUST) Programme. On August 15 to 25, 2019, he took part in a learning visit to Canberra, Sydney, and Melbourne, Australia, under the Public Accountability through Court Transformation Project funded by the Australian Government, with the goal to strengthen the anti-corruption expertise of the Supreme Court and the Sandiganbayan through international bench marking. The trip was sponsored by the TAF under its Philippines-Australia Information Exchange program. He also attended the 2019 American Association of Law Schools (AALS) Conference on Clinical Education held on May 4-7, 2019, in San Francisco, California, U.S.A., also sponsored by the TAF.
On October 1-11, 2018, he went on a learning visit to observe the Legal Aid Services of Harvard Law School, Georgetown University Law Center, and Suffolk University School of Law in the U.S.A., sponsored by the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), under the U.S. Department of State. The year previous, on May 6-11, 2017, he attended a study tour on speedy disposition of cases, likewise organized by the INL, at the U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C. and in Virginia, U.S.A.
He also participated in a study visit on Competition Law and Economics held in London, United Kingdom, on February 14-16, 2018. He attended the Regional Colloquium on the Enforcement of Intellectual Property for Judges in Higher Courts on October 17-18, 2017, held in Tokyo, Japan, organized by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), in cooperation with the Japan Patent Office (JPO). He participated in the ASEAN-USPTO Colloquium for the Judiciary on Management of Civil and Criminal IP Appellate Cases, held on September 20-22, 2017, in Bangkok, Thailand, organized by the ASEAN/United States Patent and Trademark Office.
On November 15-16, 2016, he participated in the Regional Preparatory Meeting for the Launch of a Global Judicial Integrity Network in Bangkok, Thailand, conducted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). On November 24-28, 2014, he attended the program “Corruption: Detection, Prevention and Suppression” held by the Ecole Nationale De La Magistrature (French National School for the Judiciary) in Paris, France. He also joined the Competition Workshop for Judges, held on October 22-24, 2013, at Gyeongju, Korea, organized by the OECD/Korea Policy Centre. He also completed a summer course on European Criminal Justice at the Academy of European Law (ERA) at Trier, Germany, held on June 27-July 1, 2011.
On April 16-20, 2012, he attended the 17th Executive Course on National Security held at the National Defense College of the Philippines. Under the sponsorship of the PHILJA, he participated in the Partnership Forum on Transnational Organized Crime conducted by the UNODC on January 27-29, 2010, in Bangkok, Thailand. Also under PHILJA’s sponsorship, he joined the seminar on Improvement of Judicial Fairness and Efficient Judicial Administration organized by the Supreme Court of Korea and the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and held on April 14-30, 2008, in Seoul, Korea.
Apart from his official duties, Chief Justice Gesmundo also participated as Co-Chairperson of the Final Board of Judges in Metrobank Foundation’s annual Search for Outstanding Filipinos in August 2019.
Prior to joining the government, Chief Justice Gesmundo worked as Research Analyst from 1977 to 1979 with Business Day Corporation, publisher of the business newspaper Business Day and Top 1000 Corporations of the Philippines wherein a few of his articles were published. In 1979-1980, he worked as Market Research Officer at the Office of the Australian Trade Commissioner, Australian Embassy, Manila, and continued as its Marketing Officer from 1980 to 1985. Chief Justice Gesmundo is the son of Juan A. Gesmundo, a farmer, and Zenaida B. Gahon, a public school teacher. He is married to Lynn Magpantay-Gesmundo, with whom he has a son, Alastair, and twin daughters, Ashley Nicole and Allison Arden.
Marvic M.V.F. Leonen is currently the Senior Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines. He is the Former Dean and Professor of Law at the University of the Philippines College of Law since 1989. He graduated with an AB Economics degree, magna cum laude, from the School of Economics in 1983. He obtained his Bachelor of Laws degree from the College of Law in 1987 ranking fourth. Later that year, he cofounded the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center, Inc, a legal and policy research and advocacy insitution which focused on providing legal services for upland rural poor and indigenous people’s communities. He served as the Center’s executive director for fifteen years. He also earned a Master of Laws degree from the Columbia Law School of the Columbia University in New York.
He first joined the faculty in 1989 as a professional lecturer in Philippine Indigenous Law. He became assistant professor during Dean Pacifico Agabin’s term and academic administrator under Dean Merlin M. Magalona’s term. In 2000, he was invited to act as the UP System’s University General Counsel. In 2005, he became the first Vice President for Legal Affairs of the UP System, and 2008, he became the Dean of the College of Law at the University of the Philippines.
In July 2010, He was named by Philippine President Benigno Aquino III as the Philippine government’s chief negotiator with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. He successfully led the parties into a framework agreement on the Bangsamoro which was signed on October 15, 2012. He was appointed to the Court on November 21, 2012.
– Doctor of Laws, Honoris Causa (Conferred by University of Cebu on June 27, 2022)
– LL.B., University of the Philippines (1987)
– LL.M., Columbia University, New York (2004)
– A.B. Economics, magna cum laude, University of the Philippines (1983)
– Chair, Government Negotiating Panel in Talks with the MILF, Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (2010-2012)
– Dean, UP College of Law (2008-2012)
– Vice-President for Legal Affairs, UP Diliman (2004-2008)
– General Counsel, UP Diliman (2000-2003)
– Director, Office of Legal Aid, UP Diliman (1998-2000)
– Former Vice Chair Friends of the Earth International
– Founding Member and former Executive Director, Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center (LRK-KSK) | 1987 – 2002
– Founding Member and former Executive Director, Sentro Para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo (SENTRA)
– Former Member, Alternative Law Group Network (ALG)
– Former Member, Free Legal Assistance Group
– Sat in the Boards of various support organizations for women, environment, farmers, et al
Justice Alfredo Benjamin Sabater Caguioa is the 174th Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.
Prior to his appointment on January 22, 2016, Justice Caguioa began his government service in the Executive Department, serving as Secretary of the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel (CPLC) to former President Benigno C. Aquino III.
As DOJ Secretary and Attorney-General of the government, Justice Caguioa rendered legal advice and opinions to government agencies and to government-owned and -controlled corporations. At the DOJ, he introduced reforms to streamline the agency’s operations and improve the quality of DOJ services to its stakeholders. He exercised supervision and control over the offices of the DOJ and exercised administrative supervision over DOJ-attached agencies such as the National Bureau of Investigation, Bureau of Immigration, Bureau of Corrections, Public Attorney’s Office, and Office of the Government Corporate Counsel. He also chaired the Inter-Agency Committee on Extra-Legal Killings, Enforced Disappearances, Torture and Other Grave Violations of the Right to Life, Liberty and Security of Persons as well as the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking.
As CPLC, Justice Caguioa rendered legal advice to the President on matters requiring Presidential action. He also advised the President on the legal aspects of national matters of high public interest and other policy concerns. He reviewed draft presidential and executive issuances emanating from the Office of the President and other executive agencies. He also reviewed decisions on administrative and criminal cases appealed to the Office of the President. As well, he reviewed government contracts requiring Presidential approval. He studied and made recommendations on legal issues brought to the attention of the President for the guidance of heads of departments, bureaus and offices in the Executive Branch. As CPLC, he served as a member of the Judicial Search Committee of the Office of the President that screens, evaluates and recommends to the President appointments to the Judiciary, National Labor Relations Commission and the Legal Education Board.
Prior to joining the government, Justice Caguioa had two and a half decades of experience in litigation and arbitration.
Justice Caguioa joined SyCip Salazar Hernandez & Gatmaitan (SyCip) in 1986 and was a partner there from 1994 until 2007. In SyCip, he successfully handled and tried a broad range of cases involving expropriation, conflicting mining and real property claims, infrastructure and engineering disputes, product liability and tort, debt recovery, medical malpractice, among others, representing or acting as principal counsel for foreign and local clients and corporations. He is experienced in commercial and arbitration cases with issues of corporate restructuring and rehabilitation, as well as intra-corporate and construction disputes.
In 1987, Justice Caguioa took a one-year leave from SyCip to practice with his father, the late Eduardo P. Caguioa, a retired Justice of the then Intermediate Appellate Court (now Court of Appeals) and a noted author on and professor of Civil Law. While with Justice Eduardo Caguioa, he handled mostly appeals to the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court.
In February 2007, Justice Caguioa withdrew from SyCip and founded Caguioa & Gatmaytan Law Firm (CaGat). He was at the helm of this full-service firm from its inception until his appointment as CPLC in January 2013. In CaGat, he specialized in civil and commercial litigation before courts and quasi-judicial bodies of all levels, and arbitration before various arbitration bodies. He was cited as a leading Philippine lawyer in the Dispute Resolution field by Chambers & Partners in its 2010 and 2011 Asia-Pacific publications. He actively practiced before the different levels of the prosecutorial system, and had acted as both private prosecutor and defense counsel before the regular courts and the Sandiganbayan.
Justice Caguioa taught Obligations and Contracts, Property, Statutory Construction, and Administrative Law at the Colleges of Law of Ateneo de Manila University, University of Santo Tomas and San Sebastian College.
Justice Caguioa obtained his degree in Economics (Honors Program) from the College of Arts and Sciences of Ateneo de Manila University in 1981 (Honorable Mention), and graduated with honors from its College of Law in 1985, ranking fifth in his class. He was admitted to the Philippine Bar in 1986 after placing fifteenth in the 1985 Bar examinations. He is currently the Chairperson of the Sub-Committee on Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Oversight and a member of the Sub-Committee for the Revision of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure.
Justice Ramon Paul L. Hernando was born in Tuguegarao City, Cagayan on August 27, 1966.
His primary years of schooling, from 1972 to 1978, were spent at the Tuguegarao East Central School. He later went to St. Louis High School of Tuguegarao for his secondary education, graduating with the Class of 1982. In 1986, he earned the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Literature from the Pontifical University of Sto. Tomas, paving the way for his eventual enrollment in law school, a boyhood wish. San Beda College of Law bestowed on him the Bachelor of Laws degree in 1990.
Prior to his admission to the Bar in 1992, Justice Hernando already commenced work in the public sector as a Confidential Assistant in the office of Supreme Court Justice Edgardo L. Paras in 1991. He never left government service from thereon. In the succeeding years, he worked in the office of Supreme Court Justice Florenz D. Regalado (1992-1998), the Department of Justice as a State Prosecutor (1998-2003), Presiding Judge of the RTC of San Pablo City, Laguna (2003-2006), RTC Judge of Quezon City (2006-2010) and Court of Appeals, to where he was promoted as an Associate Justice on February 16, 2010 at the age of 43.
He joined the Supreme Court as its 180th member on October 10, 2018 and is poised to serve in the High Court for the next 18 years, having turned 52 last August 27, 2018.
Fulfilling further a deeper childhood aspiration, Justice Hernando joined the Academe at about the same time that he started his service in government. Since 1992, he has been a Professor of Law in Civil Law, Remedial Law and Commercial Law in various law schools, including San Beda College of Law, Ateneo de Manila School of Law, UST Faculty of Civil Law, FEU Institute of Law, San Sebastian College of Law, Angeles University Foundation School of Law (Angeles City), University of San Carlos School of Law and Governance (Cebu City) and Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan College of Law (Cagayan de Oro City).
He shared his expertise in Commercial Law as a Bar Examiner in that subject in the 2009, 2011 and 2016 Bar Examinations.
Justice Henri Jean Paul B. Inting obtained his Bachelor of Laws degree from Ateneo de Davao University in 1982 where he graduated cum laude. Prior thereto, he earned a degree in Bachelor of Science, Major in Psychology from the University of San Carlos Cebu. He completed his elementary and secondary education from Ateneo de Davao.
For more than thirty years, he has devoted his entire career to public service.
In 1978, as a working law student, he started as Clerk in the Bureau of Lands and, a year later, as Legal Researcher in the City Court of Davao City. After passing the 1982 Bar Examinations, he began his legal career as Senior Corporate Attorney in the National Housing Authority in 1983, and, as Appellate Court Supervising Staff Assistant of the then Intermediate Appellate Court (now Court of Appeals) in 1984.
In 1986, he entered the then Citizen’s Legal Assistance Office, which later became known as the Public Attorney’s Office, where he served for nine years or until 1995. Subsequently, he became a prosecutor for three years.
In 1998, he began his career in the judiciary when he was appointed as Presiding Judge of the Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 33, where he served for six years until his promotion to Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 95 in 2004. Eight years later or in September 2012, he was appointed as Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals joining his sister, Associate Justice Socorro B. Inting, who would subsequently be appointed as Comelec Commissioner in 2018.
On May 29, 2019, he was appointed as the 183rd Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Justice Inting was born on September 4, 1957 in Bansalan, Davao del Sur to the late retired Regional Trial Court Judge Enrique B. Inting, Sr. and Ursulina B. Inting.
Justice Rodil V. Zalameda was appointed by President Rodrigo R. Duterte on his first application as member of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on August 6, 2019, after going through the first-ever written examinations for Supreme Court magistrate applicants.
Prior to his appointment as a Member of the High Court, Justice Zalameda was an Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals for 11 years and the Chairperson of its 17th Division.
Born in Caloocan City on August 2, 1963, Justice Zalameda obtained his Bachelor of Laws Degree from the Ateneo de Manila University in 1987 under an academic scholarship grant. Aside from his academic achievement as a dean’s lister, Justice Zalameda also participated in non-scholastic activities such as an associate editor of the Ateneo Law Journal, a senior staff member of the Ateneo Law Bulletin, and a member of the Fraternal Order of Utopia.
After passing the Bar examinations in 1988, he joined the Judiciary as Branch Clerk of the Makati City Regional Trial Court. He briefly left the government service and engaged in the private practice of law from 1990 to 1995. He returned to government service in 1995 as a Public Prosecutor until his appointment as the City Prosecutor of Mandaluyong in 2002 at the age of 39. In 2010, he was named Ulirang Mandaleño by the City Government of Mandaluyong in recognition of his distinguished career in public service.
Justice Mario Villamor Lopez became Associate Justice of the Supreme Court on December 5, 2019. His illustrious career began when he pursued Bachelor of Laws in San Beda College where he graduated with Cum Laude Honors. Throughout his study, Justice Lopez was noted for his remarkable proficiency and was one of the celebrated Top Thirty in the 1980 Bar Examinations.
His involvement in the judiciary started after law school as technical assistant in the Supreme Court (1981-1983) before working as Hearing Officer in the Supervision and Examination Sector, Central Bank of the Philippines (1983-1985). He served in the Government as Special Prosecution Officer with the Office of the Ombudsman until his appointment as RTC Judge of Batangas City in 1994. His legal acumen was immediately recognized. In 2005, he was honored with the Chief Justice Ramon Avanceña Award as Outstanding RTC Judge of the Philippines and for the Best Decision in a Civil Case in Second Level Courts. He is a recipient of the prestigious Service Award of the Province of La Union in 2013.
Since then, the distinguished Justice has been an active participant in the continuing development of the legal education. He is a professor at San Beda College, University of the Philippines, University of Asia and the Pacific and Arellano University, where he was named the Most Outstanding Professor of the Year (2002 and 2004). He is also a notable pre-bar reviewer handling criminal law in various schools. He is an MCLE lecturer and has conducted lectures in various institutions, and IBP San Francisco, California, USA Chapter. In April 2015, he was a Guest Lecturer at the University of California in Berkeley, California, USA. He is currently, a Professorial Lecturer II at the Philippine Judicial Academy (PHILJA) of the Supreme Court of the Philippines.
Justice Lopez is a State Party Governmental Expert in Criminal Law of the UN Convention Against Corruption, a member of the Society for Judicial Excellence, ASEAN Law Association, an alumnus of the Harvard Law School, Massachusetts, USA, and a fellow of the Academy of American and International Law, Plano, Texas, USA. He is also a member of the 2014 Code of Crimes Committee and the Bar Exams Expert Committee at the University of the Philippines. He was the examiner in Criminal Law for the 2009 Bar Examination, and Legal Ethics for the 2017 Bar Examination.
Before his appointment to the Supreme Court, Justice Lopez served as Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals for thirteen years. He was the Chairperson of the Twelfth Division and the Chairperson of the Court of Appeals Rules Committee.
Justice Samuel H. Gaerlan was born on December 19, 1958 in San Juan, La Union. He obtained his Bachelor of Laws degree from San Beda College in 1983 and was admitted to the Philippine Bar the year after.
He started his professional career as a private practitioner, serving as lead counsel, Executive Director and/or Corporate Secretary of various companies and associations. Among others, he worked for the Philippine Association of Securities, Brokers and Dealers, Inc. and Securities Investors Protection Fund, Inc.
Heeding the call and finding fulfillment in the greater goal of administering justice, he became Public Attorney II of the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) under the Department of Justice (DOJ) from 1990 to 1993. Then, he joined the bench and climbed up the ladder by serving as Presiding Judge of the following: Municipal Trial Court of Bangar, La Union from 1993 to 2001; Regional Trial Court of San Fernando City, La Union, Branch 26, from 2001 to 2004; and Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 92, from 2004 to 2009.
Notably, he has proven to be an effective officer of the court as he bagged several awards, namely: Most Outstanding RTC Judge of La Union for the year 2003 by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), La Union Chapter and Judicial Excellence Award for the year 2007 by the Rotary Club. Likewise, during his stint as Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, he was elected as Director for Quezon City of the Philippine Judges Association (PJA). Subsequently, he was given the mandate of judges all over the country and was chosen to be the Vice-President for Internal Affairs of the said association.
On July 15, 2009, he was appointed as Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals. He served as Chairperson of the Seventeenth (17th) Division before being appointed to the Supreme Court as the 187th Associate Justice on January 8, 2020.
Given his expertise in various fields of law, he has been invited by several law schools to teach Constitutional Law, Obligations and Contracts, as well as Legal Ethics.
He is married to Ma. Nenette Almoradie-Gaerlan with whom he has two children, Shalom Christian and Shanon Christopher.
Justice Ricardo de Rivera Rosario was born on October 15, 1958 to Atty. Eduardo Gutierrez Rosario of Pangasinan and Mrs. Anita Alvarez De Rivera of Aparri, Cagayan. He is the fourth of thirteen siblings: Ma. Elena, Eduardo Jr., Benjamin, (Ricardo), Ma. Elizabeth, Renato, Ma. Theresa, Ma. Anita, Enrico, Edgardo, Rossano, Ma. Cristina and Bernard.
Justice Rosario obtained his pre-law degree in Political Science from the Far Eastern University in 1979, and his Bachelor of Laws degree from the Ateneo de Manila University in 1983. He is a proud member of the Aquila Legis Fraternity.
After passing the Bar in 1984, Justice Rosario began his legal career as a Legal Officer at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), followed by a stint as Senior Corporate Attorney at the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS). By 1994, Justice Rosario was a Senior Assistant City Prosecutor for Quezon City.
Justice Rosario’s career in the judiciary spanned 23 years prior to his appointment by President Rodrigo R. Duterte to the Supreme Court. He became Judge of the Metropolitan Trial Court of Manila in 1997; Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Makati in 2000; and Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals in 2005, serving as Chairperson of various committees, including Chairperson of the Ninth Division of that Court. He served in the Court of Appeals for 15 years until his appointment to the Supreme Court in October 2020 to replace retired Associate Justice Jose C. Reyes, Jr.
Justice Rosario is happily married to Maridur Virtucio Rosario, the hardworking, energetic and charismatic Regional Director of Region 8-A Makati in the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR). They have three children: Miguel Antonio, a businessman and graduate of the University of Santo Tomas; Anna Margarita, a doctor of medicine who graduated from the Ateneo de Manila University School of Medicine and Public Health; and Allyssa Martha, a law student at the University of the Philippines College of Law. At the time of this writing, Justice Rosario is blessed with one grandson, Renzo Angelo.
Justice Jhosep Y. Lopez joined the Supreme Court as its 190th Associate Justice on January 25, 2021.
Before joining the Supreme Court, Justice Lopez served as an Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals for almost nine years.
After passing the Bar in 1989, Justice Lopez worked as Legal Counsel of the University of the Philippines (UP) for a year before being promoted as Chief Legal Officer of the UP Manila-Philippine General Hospital. In 1991, he worked as Chief Legal Counsel of the Senate under then Senate President Jovito Salonga. He ran for public office a year later and served as Councilor of the Third District of Manila for four terms. He also held the post of Chief Legal Consultant of then Health Secretary Felipe Estrella, until then Agriculture Secretary Edgardo Angara tapped him to become the Philippines’ first agriculture attaché to Beijing, China. From 2001, he again served as City Councilor of Manila until his appointment as City Prosecutor of Manila in February of 2006. He remained at this post until his appointment to the Court of Appeals in 2012.
Justice Lopez also taught law at the UP College of Law, New Era University College of Law, and the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila College of Law.
Justice Lopez earned his Political Science degree, cum laude, in 1984 from UP Diliman, where he also obtained his law degree in 1988. He was admitted to the Philippine Bar in 1989.
Justice Japar Babay Dimaampao served as an Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals (CA) for more than 17 years and was the Chairperson of its 3rd Division before his appointment as the 191st Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.
He previously served as a Legislative Staff Officer and as a Political Affairs Assistant IV at the House of Representatives; as a Court Attorney at the Court of Appeals; as a Senior State Prosecutor at the Department of Justice; and then as Presiding Judge of Branch 208 and as Executive Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Mandaluyong City. He was promoted to the Court of Appeals on April 2, 2004.
A graduate of the University of the East College of Law, Justice Dimaampao is a Certified Public Accountant and has taught Civil Law, Commercial Law, and Taxation at his alma mater and at the San Beda University College of Law (Mendiola and Alabang), the University of Santos Tomas (UST) Faculty of Civil Law, De La Salle University College of Law, and Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, among others. He was likewise a bar reviewer at the Magnificus Bar Review Center, the University of San Carlos in Cebu, UST Faculty of Civil Law, San Beda University, and San Sebastian College – Recoletos.
He was the 2013 and 2016 Bar Examiner in Civil Law, and the 2019 Bar Examiner in Taxation. Likewise, he served as the 2006 Shari’ah Bar Examiner on Succession, Wills, Adjudication and Settlement of Estate, and was the Chairperson of the 16th Special Shari’ah Bar, held in 2020.
Justice Dimaampao was the Chairperson of the CA’s Committee on Rules/Raffle, Committee on Inventory and Audit of Caseload of Retiring Justices, and Committee on Travel. He served as Vice Chairperson of the Supreme Court’s Sub-Committee on Special Commercial Courts. He is likewise a Professorial Lecturer II at the Department of Shari’ah and Islamic Jurisprudence of the Supreme Court’s Philippine Judicial Academy.
He has authored several books on Taxation and Commercial Law, and was a Pedro Concepcion Professorial Chairholder for Commercial Law and the 2018 Metrobank Foundation Professorial Chairholder in Taxation Law. Justice Dimaampao is also a member of the Committee on Bar Examinations in Commercial Law and Taxation.
Born in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur on December 27, 1963, Justice Dimaampao is happily married to Maria Gina Perez Villapañe of Mainit, Surigao del Norte.
Justice Jose Midas P. Marquez joined the Supreme Court as its 192nd Associate Justice on November 16, 2021.
Prior to being appointed as Supreme Court Justice, Justice Marquez served as Court Administrator for almost 12 years.
A “homegrown Justice” of the Court, Justice Marquez began his career in the High Court in 1991 as an apprentice, and then later as a law clerk, in the Office of Associate Justice Abraham F. Sarmiento. He then rose from the ranks by occupying various positions in the Offices of Senior Associate Justices Ameurfina A. Melencio-Herrera and Josue N. Bellosillo until he became Court Attorney VI in 1995. In 1999, Justice Marquez was appointed as Deputy Secretary of the Senate Electoral Tribunal, detailed at the Office of the Chairperson. He then served as Chief of Staff of then Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno from 2006 to 2010. During this time, he also concurrently held the posts of Assistant Court Administrator, Chief of the Public Information Office, and Spokesperson of the Court. In January 2010, he was appointed Court Administrator.
Justice Marquez obtained from the Ateneo de Manila University both his Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics in 1987 and his Juris Doctor degree in 1993. He was admitted to the Philippine Bar in 1994.
Justice Antonio T. Kho, Jr. joined the Supreme Court as its 193rd Associate Justice on February 24, 2022.
Before his appointment to the Supreme Court, Justice Kho served as Commissioner of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) until his retirement in February 2022. Prior to his appointment as COMELEC Commissioner, Justice Kho served as Undersecretary of the Department of Justice from September 2016 to July 15, 2018, until he was appointed to the COMELEC on July 16, 2018.
Justice Kho was engaged in the private practice of law for more than 20 years. He also taught at the San Beda College of Law, Arellano Law School, and then De La Salle University College of Law (now De La Salle University Tañada-Diokno School of Law).
Justice Kho earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and Bachelor of Science degree in Commerce from the De La Salle University in 1986. He received his Bachelor of Laws degree from the San Beda College of Law in 1991, placing 10th in the Bar Examinations held that year. He was admitted to the Philippine Bar in 1992.
Justice Maria Filomena D. Singh earned her Juris Doctor degree from the Ateneo de Manila University School of Law with Second Honors distinction. She pursued further studies at the Washington College of Law of the American University in Washington, D.C., USA for a Master of Laws in International Legal Studies. She earlier obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English major in Imaginative Writing, cum laude, from the University of the Philippines.
A career jurist who served in all levels of the judicial hierarchy, Justice Singh practiced law for 10 years before joining the Judiciary in October 2002 as the Presiding Judge of Branch 31 of the Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City. She was appointed Executive Judge of the MeTC-Quezon City thereafter and served for two terms in that capacity. Simultaneously, Justice Singh was selected and sat as the Representative of all First Level Courts in the country on the Board of Trustees of the Philippine Judicial Academy. She served on the PhilJA BOT until her promotion to the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City as Presiding Judge of Branch 85 in June of 2007. Justice Singh was bestowed the Don Antonio Madrigal Award as Most Outstanding First Level Court Judge of 2007 by the Society for Judicial Excellence of the Supreme Court.
From August 2009 to June 2010, Justice Singh was a Hubert H. Humphrey Fellow on Court Management and Judicial Education of the US Department of State in the USA and in the course of such Fellowship, she worked with the World Bank’s Institutional Reform Sector, specifically on judicial reform projects in Europe and Central Asia. During the same year, Justice Singh also became the first Philippine Judicial Fellow at the Federal Judicial Center in Washington, D.C., the educational arm of the US Supreme Court and the counterpart of the PhilJA.
On March 14, 2014, Justice Singh was appointed as an Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals. She served as the Chairperson of the Court’s Committee on Continuing Judicial Education, and as a Member of the Court’s Committee on Rules, Committee on Gender and Development, and an Editor of the Court of Appeals Journal.
While serving as a Judge and, thereafter, as an Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals, Justice Singh served on several committees of the Supreme Court, including the Technical Working Group that drafted the Rule on Small Claims and its templates; the Technical Working Group on the Updating of the Philippine Benchbook of Forms for Trial Court Judges; the Technical Working Group on the Revision of the Rules Governing Notaries Public.
In 2017, Justice Singh had the privilege of drafting Chapter 6 on the Swift and Fair Administration of Justice of the Philippine Development Plan, the economic blueprint of the country for 2017-2040. In this Chapter, Justice Singh pushed for a sector approach for the delivery of justice, a monumental shift from the traditional individual agency approach.
Justice Singh was the Chairperson of the Civil Law Department of the Philippine Judicial Academy, and sat in its Sub-Committee for Curriculum Review. She was likewise a member of the faculty of a number of law schools in the country, including the Ateneo de Manila University, the University of the Philippines College of Law, the University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Civil Law, the Lyceum of the Philippines University College of Law, the Centro Escolar University School of Law and Jurisprudence, the De La Salle University College of Law, and the Manuel L. Quezon University College of Law.
In 2021, Justice Singh was appointed as the Expert Resource Person of the Legal Education Board Curriculum Revision Committee, in the crafting of the Revised Model Curriculum for legal education.
Justice Singh is a published author. In 2021, she co-authored a best- selling pre-week reviewer on Remedial Law for bar examinees. She presented a paper on Court and Case Management upon the invitation of the International Organization for Judicial Training, the global network of judicial training institutions. She has also written a Toolkit for Philippine Trial Judges, as well as a working paper on Enforcement of Ethical Standards. She has published a number of articles in the Court of Appeals Journal and the Ateneo Law Journal, including the articles entitled “Rule 42: Writing Finis to a 20- Year Redundancy” and “The Hearsay Rule: A Paradigm Shift.”
Justice Singh was also an active lecturer on the Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) circuit for lawyers prior to her appointment to the Supreme Court.
In 2021, Justice Singh delivered the 17th Metrobank Foundation Professorial Chair lecture entitled “Wielding the Sword: The Role of Judicial Education in the Administration of Justice.” The Metrobank Professorial Chair is a distinguished lecture series for outstanding members of the judiciary, which seeks to promote judicial excellence through the delivery of timely and comprehensive discourses. Justice Singh is the first and only female chairholdger in the Program’s history.
On 18 May 2022, Justice Singh took her oath before Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo as the 194th Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.
Currently, Justice Singh is the Co-Chairperson of the Committee on Gender Responsiveness in the Judiciary, and the Planning Committee of Chapter 13.2 of the Philippine Development Plan 2023-2028, on the Enhanced Administration of Justice. She is also the Chairperson of the following Sub-Committees and Technical Working Groups: the Justice Sector Coordinating Council Technical Working Group on Processes and Capacity Building, the Sub-Committee the Review of the New Code of Judicial Conduct for the Philippine Judiciary; the Sub-Committee for the Review of the Code of Conduct for Court Personnel; the Technical Working Group to Compile, Classify, and Index All Pertinent Rules, Guidelines and Issuances on Pleading, Practice and Procedure; the Technical Working Group on Disposal of Unserviceable Properties; the Technical Working Group to Study Proposals Regarding the Adoption of Filtering Mechanisms to be Required Prior to Resort to Court Action; the Technical Working Group Under the Sub-Committee for the Revision of the Rules of Civil Procedure to Study and Revise the Book of Forms; and the Technical Working Group on Feminism in Philippine Jurisprudence.
Justice Singh is the Vice Chairperson of the Committee for the Council of ASEAN Chief Justices Working Group on the Conduct of Videoconferencing; the Supreme Court Governing Council for Mental Health; the Sub-Committee for the Revision of the Code of Professional Responsibility; the Oversight Committee for the Implementation of Rule 138-A or the Revised Law Student Practice Rule; the Technical Working Group for Forms Under the Sub-Committee for the Revision of the Rules of Criminal Procedure; and the Technical Working Group That Will Study The Reports Entitled “Preparing and Implementing the Digital Information System Access Plan” and “Organizational Assessment and Quasi-Diagnostic Process Mapping” and Propose Recommendations on Their Key Results. Justice Singh is also a Co-Vice Chairperson of the Committee on Sustainability and Environmental Concerns.
Justice Singh is also a Member of the Technical Working Group on Electronic Notarization; the Committee on the Revision of the Rule of Summary Procedure and Small Claims Cases; the Sub-Committee on the Revision of the Rules of Criminal Procedure; and the Philippine Statistical Development Program Steering Committee.
Justice Singh is the representative of the Philippine Judiciary in the Panel of Referees of the Journal of the Malaysian Judiciary.
In April 2023, Justice Singh was invited to sit as a member of the Advisory Working Group of the United Nations Development Programme – Judicial Integrity Network in ASEAN.
In May 2023, Justice Singh was designated as the Focal Person for the Supreme Court in the Philippine Open Government Partnership Initiative.
On May 11, 2023, after receiving the highest number of votes, Justice Singh was elected as a Director for the Asia Pacific Region of the International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ). The IAWJ is an organization composed of 6,500 visionary women judges in more than 100 countries, whose objective is to empower women judges to uproot gender bias, end discriminatory laws, advance gender- responsive courts, and promote human rights for all.
In July 2023, Justice Singh was elected to the Governing Council of the Global Judicial Institute of the Environment in New York City, where she also participated in the drafting of the Model Forest Act Initiative in New York City.
Born on June 25, 1966, Justice Singh, a single parent, has four children – Maria Clara Francesca, Jude Anthony, Joseph Gerard, and Joshua John. She is the daughter of Harry Francisco M. Singh and Atty. Clara Dizon Dumandan-Singh.
Statement of Commitment to Data Privacy and Security
The Supreme Court of the Philippines respects your privacy, and your data privacy rights, as well as employs reasonable measures to protect your personal data in accordance with Republic Act No. 10173 or the Data Privacy Act of 2012 (DPA), its Implementing Rules and Regulations, and the various issuances of the National Privacy Commission (NPC) (collectively, the Data Privacy Regulations).
Brief Service Description and its General Purpose
Use of the Supreme Court Website
The Supreme Court website serves as the online repository of Supreme Court information, references, and resources accessible to the public. By agreeing to use the Supreme Court website, you agree to the collection, use, disclosure, processing, and storage of your personal data to enable us to monitor the website’s engagement.
What personal data do we collect?
The following personal data are collected by WordPress Statistics, a third-party party service, to enable us to monitor the website’s performance through its engagement with visitors:
For further understanding, please see brief discussion on WordPress Statistics below.
Why do we collect your personal data?
The data collected by WordPress Statistics shall be used to enable us to monitor the website’s performance through its engagement with visitors.
How do we process your personal data?
Personal data by WordPress Statistics collected shall be processed for purposes of determining the profile of SC website users for reference in helping the Supreme Court in effectively managing the SC website as well as in the SC’s dissemination of information to the public.
Where you have provided us with your personal data, you agree to our collection, use, disclosure, storage, and other processing of your personal data for the purposes and in the manner set forth in this Privacy Notice.
How do we protect your personal data?
The foregoing personal data, which are encrypted, shall be captured, stored, and retrieved by the Supreme Court and its offices solely for the specific purposes stated in the Privacy Notice, i.e., for reference in helping the Supreme Court in effectively managing the SC website and for proper processing of queries/requests and contacting the data subject to respond to the queries/requests. The data shall be processed and stored with utmost security and confidentiality.
Only authorized website administrators of the Supreme Court have access to the collected data stored and hosted in the Supreme Court servers, which in turn is subject to strict security protocols.
How long will we keep your personal data?
The collected personal data shall be stored in the Supreme Court server. The Supreme Court Management Information System Office (MISO) maintains the database for the transmission of the personal data. Only the administrators of the SC website, MISO, and authorized offices shall have access to such data. Such personal data shall not be shared with unauthorized persons.
Personal data collected by WordPress Statistics shall be retained for a period of one year. For exceptional circumstances, the data may be retained for as long as needed in the performance of the functions of the Supreme Court and its offices.
Under the Data Privacy Regulations, retention of personal data shall only be for as long as necessary:
(a) for the fulfillment of the declared, specified, and legitimate purpose, or when the processing relevant to the purpose has been terminated;
(b) for the establishment, exercise, or defense of legal claims; or
(c) for legitimate business purposes, which must be consistent with standards followed by the applicable industry or approved by appropriate government agency.
However, personal data originally collected for a declared, specified, or legitimate purpose may be processed further for historical, statistical, or scientific purposes, and, in cases laid down in law, may be stored for longer periods, subject to implementation of the appropriate organizational, physical, and technical security measures.
In all cases, your personal data will be stored in a secure manner to ensure its confidentiality, integrity, and availability.
What are your rights as a data subject?
Under the Data Privacy Regulations, you are entitled to the following rights as data subject in relation to the personal data collected by WordPress Statistics. These rights may be exercised at your discretion:
(a) The right to be informed
You have the right to be informed whether personal data pertaining to you, obtained through the WordPress Statistics, shall be, are being or have been processed.
(b) The right to access
Under the DPA, individuals can request access to any of their personal data (obtained either through the WordPress Statistics), held by the Supreme Court, subject to certain restrictions. Any such request should be addressed to the Data Protection Officer.
(c) The right to object
You have a right to object to the processing of your personal data, including processing for direct marketing, automated processing, or profiling.
(d) The right to erasure or blocking
You have the right to suspend, withdraw or order the blocking, removal, or destruction of your personal data from the Supreme Court’s system as obtained either through WordPress Statistics, subject to the provisions of the Data Privacy Regulations.
(e) The right to damages
You have the right to be indemnified for any damages sustained due to inaccurate, incomplete, outdated, false, unlawfully obtained, or unauthorized use of personal data, considering any violation of your rights and freedoms as data subject.
(f) The right to file a complaint before the National Privacy Commission (NPC)
If you feel that your rights have been violated or your personal data has been misused, maliciously disclosed, or improperly disposed of, you have the right to file a complaint before the NPC.
(g) The right to rectification
You have the right to dispute any inaccuracy or error in your personal data and have the Supreme Court correct it immediately, unless the request is vexatious or unreasonable.
(h) The right to data portability
You have the right to obtain a copy of your data in an electronic or structure format that is commonly used and allows for further use by the data subject.
Changes to our Privacy Notice:
This Privacy Notice may be updated from time to time. If material changes are required, any revisions shall be published on the Supreme Court website under the News and Announcements page for your immediate guidance. Therefore, we encourage you to review this Privacy Notice periodically so that you are up to date on our most current policies and practices. This Privacy Notice was last updated on August 30, 2023.
How do you contact us?
If you have any privacy concerns or questions about your data privacy rights or our Privacy Notice, please contact us through:
JUDICIARY’S DATA PROTECTION OFFICER
Supreme Court of the Philippines
Padre Faura St., Ermita, Manila Philippines 1000
+63 3 8552 9532
As in the 1935 and 1973 Constitutions, the 1987 Constitution provides that “[t]he judicial power shall be vested in one Supreme Court and in such lower courts as may be established by law.” (Art. VII, Sec. 1). The exercise of judicial power is shared by the Supreme Court with all lower courts, but it is only the Supreme Court’s decisions that are vested with precedential value or doctrinal authority, as its interpretations of the Constitution and the laws are final and beyond review by any other branch of government.
Unlike the 1935 and 1973 Constitutions, however, the 1987 Constitution defines the concept of judicial power. Under paragraph 2 of Section 1, Article VIII, “judicial power” includes not only the “duty of the courts of justice to settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable” but also “to determine whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the government.” This latter provision dilutes the effectivity of the “political question” doctrine which places specific questions best submitted to the political wisdom of the people beyond the review of the courts.
Building on previous experiences under former Constitutions, the 1987 Constitution provides for specific safeguards to ensure the independence of the Judiciary. These are found in the following provisions:
The Supreme Court under the present Constitution is composed of a Chief Justice and 14 Associate Justices. The members of the Court are appointed by the President from a list, prepared by the Judicial and Bar Council, of at least three nominees for every vacancy. This new process is intended to “de-politicize” the courts of justice, ensure the choice of competent judges, and fill existing vacancies without undue delay.
Shortly after assuming office as the seventh President of the Republic of the Philippines after the successful People Power Revolution, then President Corazon C. Aquino declared the existence of a revolutionary government under Proclamation No. 1 dated February 25, 1986. Among the more significant portions of this Proclamation was an instruction for “all appointive officials to submit their courtesy resignations beginning with the members of the Supreme Court.” The call was unprecedented, considering the separation of powers that the previous Constitutions had always ordained, but understandable considering the revolutionary nature of the post-People Power government. Heeding the call, the members of the Judiciary—from the Supreme Court to the Municipal Circuit Courts—placed their offices at the disposal of the President and submitted their resignations. President Corazon C, Aquino proceeded to reorganize the entire Court, appointing all 15 members.
On March 25, 1986, President Corazon Aquino, through Proclamation No. 3, also abolished the 1973 Constitution and put in place a Provisional “Freedom” Constitution. Under Article I, Section 2 of the Freedom Constitution, the provisions of the 1973 Constitution on the judiciary were adopted insofar as they were not inconsistent with Proclamation No. 3.
Article V of Proclamation No. 3 provided for the convening of a Constitutional Commission composed of 50 appointive members to draft a new constitution; this would be implemented by Proclamation No. 9. Under the leadership of retired SC Justice Cecilia Muñoz Palma as its President, the Constitutional Commission of 1986 submitted its output of to the people for ratification.
By a vote of 76.30%, the Filipino people then ratified the Constitution submitted to them in a national plebiscite on February 2, 1987.
President Aquino, other civilian officials, and members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, upon the announcement of the ratification of the 1987 Constitution, swore allegiance to the new charter on February 11, 1987 thereby putting an end to the revolutionary government.
The declaration of Martial Law through Proclamation No. 1081 by former President Ferdinand E, Marcos in 1972 brought about the transition from the 1935 Constitution to the 1973 Constitution. This transition had implications on the Court’s composition and functions.
This period also brought in many legal issues of transcendental importance and consequence. Among these were the legality of the ratification of a new Constitution, the assumption of the totality of government authority by President Marcos, and the power to review the factual basis for a declaration of Martial Law by the Chief Executive, among others. Also writ large during this period was the relationship between the Court and the Chief Executive who, under Amendment No. 6 to the 1973 Constitution, had assumed legislative powers even while an elected legislative body continued to function.
The 1973 Constitution increased the number of the members of the Supreme Court from 11 to 15, with a Chief Justice and 14 Associate Justices. The Justices of the Court were appointed by the President alone, without the consent, approval, or recommendation of any other body or officials.
Following liberation from the Japanese occupation at the end of the Second World War and the Philippines’ subsequent independence from the United States, Republic Act No. 296 or the Judiciary Act of 1948 was enacted. This law grouped together the cases over which the Supreme Court could exercise exclusive jurisdiction for review on appeal, certiorari, or writ of error.
Following the ratification of the 1935 Philippine Constitution in a plebiscite, the principle of separation of powers was adopted, not by express and specific provision to that effect, but by actual division of powers of the government—executive, legislative, and judicial—in different articles of the 1935 Constitution.
As in the United States, the judicial power was vested by the 1935 Constitution “in one Supreme Court and in such inferior courts as may be established by law.” It devolved on the Judiciary to determine whether the acts of the other two departments were in harmony with the fundamental law.
The Court during the Commonwealth was composed of “a Chief Justice and ten Associate Justices, and may sit en banc or in two divisions, unless otherwise provided by law.”
On June 11, 1901, the Second Philippine Commission passed Act No. 136 entitled “An Act Providing for the Organization of Courts in the Philippine Islands” formally establishing the Supreme Court of the Philippine Islands and creating Courts of First Instance and Justices of the Peace Courts throughout the land. The judicial organization established by the Act was conceived by the American lawyers in the Philippine Commission, with its basic structures patterned after similar organizations in the United States.
The Supreme Court created under the Act was composed of a Chief Justice and six Judges. Five members of the Court could form a quorum, and the concurrence of at least four members was necessary to pronounce a judgment.
Act No. 136 abolished the Audiencia established under General Order No. 20 and declared that the Supreme Court created by the Act be substituted in its place. This effectively severed any nexus between the present Supreme Court and the Audiencia.
The Anglo-American legal system under which the Supreme Court of the Philippine Islands was expected to operate was entirely different from the old Spanish system that Filipinos were familiar with. Adjustments had to be made; hence, the decisions of the Supreme Court during its early years reflected a blend of both the Anglo-American and Spanish systems. The jurisprudence was a gentle transition from the old order to the new.
After Spain’s defeat in the Spanish-American War in the late 1890s, The subsequent occupation by the Americans of the Philippine Islands paved the way for considerable changes in the control, disposition, and governance of the Islands.
The judicial system established during the regime of the military government functioned as an instrument of the executive—not of the judiciary—as an independent and separate branch of government. Secretary of State John Hay, on May 12, 1899, proposed a plan for a colonial government of the Philippine Islands which would give Filipinos the largest measure of self-government. The plan contemplated an independent judiciary manned by judges chosen from qualified locals and Americans.
On May 29, 1899, General Elwell Stephen Otis, Military Governor for the Philippines, issued General Order No. 20, reestablishing the Audiencia Teritorial de Manila which was to apply Spanish laws and jurisprudence recognized by the American military governor as continuing in force.
The Audiencia was composed of a presiding officer and eight members organized into two divisions: the sala de lo civil or the civil branch, and the sala de lo criminal or the criminal branch.
It was General Otis himself who personally selected the first appointees to the Audiencia. Cayetano L. Arellano was appointed President (equivalent to Chief Justice) of the Court, with Manuel Araullo as president of the sala de lo civil and Raymundo Melliza as president of the salo de lo criminal. Gregorio Araneta and Lt. Col. E.H. Crowder were appointed associate justices of the civil branch while Ambrosio Rianzares, Julio Llorente, Major R.W. Young, and Captain W.E. Brikhimer were designated associate justices of the criminal branch. Thus, the reestablished Audiencia became the first agency of the new insular government where Filipinos were appointed side by side with Americans.
During the early Spanish occupation, King Philip II established the Real Audiencia de Manila which was given not only judicial but legislative, executive, advisory, and administrative functions as well. Composed of the incumbent governor general as the presidente (presiding officer), four oidores (equivalent to associate justices), an asesor (legal adviser), an alguacil mayor (chief constable), among other officials, the Real Audiencia de Manila was both a trial and appellate court. It had exclusive original, concurrent original, and exclusive appellate jurisdictions.
Initially, the Audiencia was given a non-judicial role in the colonial administration, to deal with unforeseen problems within the territory that arose from time to time—it was given the power to supervise certain phases of ecclesiastical affairs as well as regulatory functions, such as fixing of prices at which merchants could sell their commodities. Likewise, the Audiencia had executive functions, like the allotment of lands to the settlers of newly established pueblos. However, by 1861, the Audiencia had ceased to perform these executive and administrative functions and had been restricted to the administration of justice.
When the Audiencia Territorial de Cebu was established in 1886, the name of the Real Audiencia de Manila was changed to Audiencia Territorial de Manila.
When the Spanish colonizers first arrived in the Philippine archipelago, they found the indigenous Filipinos without any written laws. The laws enforced were mainly derived from customs, usages, and tradition. These laws were believed to be God-given and were orally transmitted from generation to generation.
A remarkable feature of these customs and traditions was that they were found to be very similar to one another notwithstanding that they were observed in widely dispersed islands of the archipelago. There were no judges and lawyers who were trained formally in the law, although there were elders who devoted time to the study of the customs, usages, and traditions of their tribes to qualify them as consultants or advisers on these matters.
The unit of government of the indigenous Filipinos was the barangay, which was a family-based community of 30 to 100 families, occupying a pook (“locality” or “area”) headed by a chieftain called datu who exercised all functions of government—executive, legislative, and judicial—a barangay was not only a political but a social and an economic organization. In the exercise of his judicial authority, the datu acted as a judge (hukom) in settling disputes and deciding cases in his barangay.