Today is Tuesday, May 22, 2018

IBP's Testimonial in Honor of SC Justice Ruben T. Reyes

By J. Mar Del Castillo

I met Justice Ruben T. Reyes fairly recently when I was appointed to the Court of Appeals – in August 2001. He was then a chairman of a division and, as with all ambitious chairmen, the top post of being the Presiding Justice then riveted his gaze. But of course, he eyed every vacancy in the Supreme Court and after several missed attempts, he settled for the CA Pjship in December 2005.

In August this year, by one stroke of luck, the heavens opened for him – and he has Justice Greg Ong’s “natural-born” issue to thank. In his case, the true-blue Bulakeño has worked, for no one can ever question his being natural born Pinoy despite his Sri Lankan looks. And as the saying goes, the heavens look down and favor those who persevere. If I can describe the totality of his virtues in one word: it is PERSEVERANCE.

Frankly, I don’t know why I am invited to give this speech in his honor. When we are together, our colleages would tease us as “Lone Ranger and Tonto,” but I leave it to you to decide which is which. I really do not know where to begin to describe this tall and dark man, with salt and pepper hair that gives him the ‘dignified’ but ‘rugged’ look ala George Clooney, or as in the local version – maginoo ngunit bastos.

We were together for some time in the CA. At one time, he was my chairman, with Justice Dacudao as our senior member, and I was the junior member. He would often brag that we were the best division members he ever had because he never had any problems with us notwithstanding J. Dacudao’s headstrongness and bullheadedness. I’d tag along with RTR for work-related activities. I was with him for the inspection and familiarization in CA Cebu and CA Cagayan de Oro; went with him to Congress to lobby for the passage of our budget; went even to the Hague, Netherlands with him to attend a crash course on International Criminal Law; and was with him seven times in Congress attending all the SONAs of the President, if only to remind her that our honoree was an aspirant to the Supreme Court! As for the unofficial activities – well I’d rather not go into that as I invoke my right to privacy or right against self-incrimination.

After being with this man several times, I more or less already have an insight into this man’s mindset and character. Although misunderstood by others for his loudness and seemingly crazy ideas and sayings at times, Ruben is engaging and funny, and, for the record, he means well in the things that he does nagpapakatotoo lang siya – and I saw the goodness and the man of mettle in him. A year ago, I barged into his office complaining of chest pains. Upon seeing me with a distorted face, he stood up, dropped everything he was doing and he immediately adjourned the meeting of the department heads in the CA and forthwith rushed me to the hospital. Days later, I survived the quintuple heart by-pass operation. I’m grateful for the attention and care he gave.

Now, I’m speaking in front of him, this time in front of the Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. His eyeing on the ultimate prize has finally paid off, a reward for his years of hard work and vigor and passion and firmness on matters, be they significant or petty. I speak before him as his brother in the profession and as his concerned friend who believes in him. Albeit unsolicited, consider my advice.

Make your decisions significant and far-reaching, for they will become part of the laws of the land that will have a great impact on the nation and the people. Make the SC proud by building a good reputation and a great legacy – just do things right and do the right things, for what you do now will echo in eternity. Like the narra tree which you have planted near the gate of the CA, the good things you’ll do for the Highest Court of the land will grow and will long be remembered. A huge amount of work awaits you (I understand 1000 inherited cases and counting), and it is up to you to prove your detractors, wrong. Time is not on your side. You have a little over a year to go before you leave the service. So buckle down to work and maybe cut down on attending testimonials in your honor and MCLEs for these are just distractions that will dissipate your time and energy.

When you get overwhelmed by all the seemingly insurmountable difficulties of your office, bear in mind that a journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step, so choose each step very carefully.

And, finally, but more importantly, when you get swell-headed because of the awesome powers of your office, remember the saying Sic Transit Gloria Mundi – The glory of the world is fleeting.

So begin now, the challenges beckon you in the Supreme Court and may God bless you always as well as all of us here.

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