By J. Myrna Dimaranan Vidal
that the man who could best describe Presiding Justice Conrado M.
Vasquez, Jr, is his former schoolmate in the elementary and high
school, corresponding request was made in this regard to Hon.
Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno. The following is the Chief Justice’s
candid comment on Our PJ:
Justice Vasquez is the epitome of a humble leader who does not
pretend to have all the answers but is instead open and receptive to
the ideas of others. He is also a good team leader who gets
things done by making people come and work together, rather than as
individuals, towards a common aspiration.
let’s hear from the man of the hour himself… (I was
given the honor to do a one on one interview with Papa Choy.)
Q: Your appointment
as Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeals
has been met with jubilation in the CA. To what do you
attribute this unprecedented approval?
A: I think
it is assuming too much that my appointment as PJ was met with
jubilation by the justices and the rank and file in the Court of
Appeals. Ok, even granting it to be true, it could not be
unprecedented since other PJs before were also received with approval
in the Court. Neither can I give you a definite answer as to
what I attribute such reaction to my appointment. All my life,
I have always pursued an ordinary life, doing things the way I feel
they should be done and relating with others by just being me.
you had a lucrative law practice before you opted
to join the judiciary. What made you give up all this in
exchange for a low paying job as RTC Judge?
twenty-five (25) years of practice of law was really not so
lucrative. I was rendering pro bono legal services
to almost all my townmates as an election promise. Later, after
the martial law regime, my parents saw an opportunity to take me out
of politics by joining the judiciary and follow my father's
Q: You performed
legislative work as councilor for 4 years and
then that of the Executive as Vice Mayor for another 4 years, and now
you are in the judiciary. Which job do you consider as the most
fulfilling and interesting?
legislative experience as municipal councilor and vice-mayor, and my
stint in the judiciary are both fulfilling and interesting.
Honestly, though, I would still consider politics as more relaxing
and full of life. In politics, I enjoyed to the hilt my
interaction with my townmates without any inhibition nor
reservation. I understood their plights, needs, hopes and
desires, and assisted them in any possible way I could. In the
judiciary, albeit also fulfilling, we have to maintain and keep a
distance even from our closest of friends, relatives and allies.
lessons did you learn from your career in politics and
in active practice of law which are relevant to the problems
beseeching the courts?
lot of things. In politics and practice of law, I was able to
immerse into the lives of people and feel their demands and problems,
and realized the hardship of the poor in seeking fair justice.
These predicaments cause delay in court litigations which eventually
lead to injustice. I see these difficulties as relevant to the
problems of our courts today that need to be properly addressed.
Q: You were
an RTC Judge for 7 years and a CA Associate Justice
for 13 long years before you finally won your present position.
Have you in the past at one time or another, ever pondered and
regretted having entered the judiciary?
I did. During the first two years after my appointment as an
RTC Judge, I was looking for a graceful way out and go back to the
practice of law. I entertained fear that the salary of an RTC
Judge could not support my growing family. But then, as I
pondered on that apprehension, the thought of my father's living a
simple life within his means, walked me through and kept me in the
is a growing consensus among legal circles and other
concerned civic and business groups for the amendment of the
Philippine Constitution to lodge the appointment of judges and
justices to the Supreme Court, to solve, among others, the evil of
political patronage. What is your stand on this?
offer no objection to the idea. I believe the Supreme Court is
in a better position to determine the qualifications of possible
number one problem of the CA as in other courts, is the
clogging of the court's docket. What is your vision to solve
problem of the clogging of Court's dockets has existed for decades
now and the subject of a lot of measures to remedy the dilemma.
Lately, however, the latest report I got shows that last year, the
Court of Appeals' total disposition of cases reached up to 104% which
is 4% over the cases filed in the year. I have, therefore, high
hopes that with the present membership of the Court composed of
young, talented and energetic justices, the backlog of cases in the
CA will be drastically reduced. Add to this is the
computerization project of the Court which hopefully, if budget
permits, will be operational in due time.
have been a Division Chairman for seven years. How
do you avoid bitter conflicts among your division members when
contentious issues crop up?
of opinions in resolving cases in all the divisions I have been
assigned is a welcome occurrence. In deliberating on
contentious issues, we focus our discussion on what is right and not
on who is right, at the same time, respecting each other's view on a
professional level. At the end of the day, bitter conflicts are
are known as a low-key CA magistrate. Are you
willing to shed off this image of invisibility and like Hon. Chief
Justice Reynato S. Puno embark on judicial activism so as to steer
public awareness on the role of the judiciary in nation building?
I am willing to join hands with the Chief Justice, Hon. Reynato
S. Puno, in that endeavor. I sincerely believe that the
judiciary is a bulwark of democracy.
cannot veer away from the national problems like
corruption in the government, including the judiciary, unsolved
killings and others. In what way can the judiciary be a part of
the solution to these problems?
judiciary is a major player in solving these problems and can help a
lot by simply dispensing justice equally and fairly to rich and poor
alike without fear or favor. When wrongdoers are made aware
that the courts will spare no one in punishing criminals and
grafters, illegal activities including violations of human rights
will surely be curtailed. As to extrajudicial killings and
enforced disappearances, we now have the Writ of Amparo offering
protection to our citizens' life, security and liberty. Indeed,
a trustworthy judiciary will greatly help build a strong Republic.
this connection, are you in favor of making available the
CA justices' Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN)
to the general public to give meaning to the Constitutional provision
on the right to access to information on matters of public concern?
personally believe that the Statement of Assets and Liabilities and
Networth (SALN) should enjoy confidentiality, but being part of
public records, the general public may not be denied access to the
information therein contained. After all, if one has nothing to
hide, what is there to be worried about.
CA justices and employees are asking if they can expect
the PJ to take a more aggressive stance to work for the augmentation
of our allowances and other allowable perks. What is your
comment on this?
augmentation of court employees' allowances and benefits must and has
always been the target of any Presiding Justice. Yes, I will.
do you wish the CA to be known under your watch?
more than the usual. A Court of Appeals that is credible,
responsive and proud where everyone is rest assured that
justice through law prevails.