Today is Sunday, August 19, 2018

Three Justices Retire


The 4th of July is Independence Day in the USA, and celebrated as Phil-Am Friendship Day in the Philippines; that day, this year 2008, is a quiet milestone in the history of the Philippine Court of Appeals. One of the Court's loyal stalwarts and a tireless worker, bids us all a reluctant and fond good-bye. After a lifetime of public service as a judge, educator, prosecutor, and lawyer, the Honorable Justice Rodrigo Villanueva Cosico will take his bow as the Court of Appeals’ Associate Justice and Chairman of the Court's Third Division.

Having worked in the Court of Appeals for eleven years with Justice Rodrigo V. Cosico, or “Rod” to his friends, made me feel that I was engaged in a mission, giving me an experience of personal growth full of God’s blessings. Behind that amiable and quiet demeanor he brings to work daily, there lies a resolute and firm conviction to do what is just, because of his deep respect for the rule of law. These traits of Justice Cosico endeared him to his friends and co-workers in the Court, and earned for him the respect of the legal community.

A native son of San Pablo City, Laguna, Justice Cosico is the son of Alfredo Cosico, chief clerk in the city attorney's office, and Carmen Villanueva, a housewife. He is married to Evelyn P. Cordova with whom he has three children: Rex, Engeline and Christian. Justice Cosico and his wife Evelyn reside in a simple and well-managed household in San Pedro, Laguna. He dotes on his five grandchildren, Rexanne Monique, Mark Joshua, Chloe Julian, Chelsea Jane, and Cheska Jeanine.

Justice Cosico worked as a court employee simultaneously studying law at San Pablo Colleges. He passed the bar in 1961, and took up his LL.M. at the University of the Philippines, with a UPLC scholarship from 1977 to 1980. In 1976 he became a United Nations Asia Far East Institute Fellow in Fuchu, Japan. In 1999 Justice Cosico participated in the Academy of American and International Law at Dallas, Texas, USA. In 2003, the student government of his alma mater San Pablo Colleges gave him the distinction of being the school’s “Most Outstanding Alumnus for Government Service -- Judiciary/Law” on December 30, 1998.

Justice Cosico served with the National Prosecution Service for 23 years prior to his appointment as Regional Trial Court Judge in January of 1987. As a Judge, he was twice finalist, in 1993 and again in 1995, for the “Annual Awards for Judicial Excellence.” On August 20, 1997, after more than 10 years as a trial court judge, he was promoted to the Court of Appeals, where he has served as Associate Justice ever since. In recognition of his long exemplary service in the judiciary, the Rotary Club of Manila honored him with the “Justice George Malcolm Award” in 2005. Justice Rodrigo V. Cosico spent forty-four years in public service without interruption, and without succumbing to the temptation of having a more lucrative practice of law in the private sector.

In spite of his busy schedule, he has found time to serve with the academe. He taught at the University of Perpetual Help School of Law from 1994 to 2000. He was also law professor at the San Beda College of Law in Alabang.

On May 7, 2008, the City Government of his native city, San Pablo, on the occasion of its Charter Foundation, recognized Justice Rodrigo V. Cosico, as one of its “Ten Outstanding Citizens.”

Justice Cosico has always penned his decisions with clarity and precision, avoiding verbosity or loquaciousness. Justice Cosico was never one to turn his back on or buckle to the pressures and challenges of being a hardworking jurist. His record of ponencias, which includes some of the most difficult and celebrated criminal cases in Philippine judicial annals, such as the Vizconde Massacre (appeal) and the Payumo Massacre (trial) cases, attest to the fact that he welcomes the responsibilities of his office, risks and pitfalls notwithstanding, giving each one the attention and resolution it deserves.

Although the law dictates that he retires at the age of seventy, retirement for Justice Cosico will not signal an end to his public service, as he will no doubt continue in his civic and academic concerns, in order to continue to serve his fellowmen.

Justice “Rod,” you will be greatly missed here at the Court of Appeals!

- Atty. Manuel G. Asuncion, Jr.


I recall my boyhood days when many of my classmates asked me where my father got his name. My father, CA Associate Justice Lucenito N. Tagle, got his name from Lucena City, his place of birth. His parents probably had a hard time thinking of a name for their newborn son, who was already the tenth of a brood, which would eventually reach to 16 sons and daughters.

My grandparents were Atty. Vicente Tagle, Sr., then BIR Regional Director of Manila, and Micaela Nolasco Tagle, the daughter of Dr. Juan Nolasco (former Senator and a Mayor of Manila after liberation). My mom jokingly tells us that it was always like “fiesta” in my dad's house in Tondo because of the sheer number. In retrospect, I guess that is where my dad acquired his “go get'em!” attitude and drive, since he practically grew up in a family composed of members more than that of a basketball team.

Scenes from my dad's childhood also abound in my memory from the stories of my “titos” and “titas.” I was frequently told how diligent and hard working he was. He never grew tired of his studies and always kept his “A” game on tap. During his schoolboy days in Magat Salamat Elementary School, he was accelerated twice; a tough act to follow until now.

Right after finishing his secondary education in Torres High School, he proceeded to take up law in U.P. where he graduated in 1960. He was barely 21 years old when he passed the bar the following year. He immediately went to work as a special attorney in the COMELEC before proceeding to the active practice of law for nearly thirty years.

He was associated with Justice Dante O. Tiñga of the Supreme Court as well as with Justice Francisco Acosta and Justice Japar Dimaampao in a law office. In spite of his busy schedule, he found time to teach Remedial Law, Civil Law and other subjects at the U.E. College of Law.

He was appointed RTC Judge of Imus, Cavite in May 1990, where he served fourteen years. He was designated Executive Judge three times. While serving as RTC Judge, he found time to study at the Academy of American and International Law at the Southwestern University of Dallas, Texas. He was delegate to various seminars and conventions organized by the Philippine Judicial Academy (PHILJA) here and abroad. He is also a member of LAWASIA Philippines and a participant in Lawasia conferences in Tokyo and Manila.

I still remember my dad fondly dressed in his judicial robe, gavel in hand. He exuded an air of confidence and moral uprightness truly becoming of a great magistrate. He wrote his decisions with fervor and immersed himself in the intricacies of the case. He was a fair and impartial judge who literally maintained “order” in his court. But behind that strict and austere demeanor, he was always very approachable and gracious to those who sought his advice. His jovial and hospitable character was never lost in spite of the overflowing paperwork that constantly flooded his table.

I usually tease my dad and call him “the juggler.” He is a master in the art of multi-tasking. He has juggled his career with his social, civic and religious obligations. While being a consultant of PHILCONSA, he was also President-Nominee for the Rotary Club of Downtown Manila. He is assistant director of the Christian Family Movement, Diocese of Cubao. He served as Master of the Fourth Degree of the Knights of Columbus in the NCR and was a former State Advocate and Grand Knight of two Knights of Columbus Councils. He was President of Christ the King Parish Pastoral Council in Greenmeadows, Quezon City and an active member and speaker for the PREX (Parish Pastoral Experience) in his parish.

“Justice Nitoy”, as his friends fondly call him, was appointed Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals in April 2004. A few days after, he was sent by PHILJA to Bangkok as delegate to the Asean Environmental Law and Sustainable Development forum.

I am personally moved by my dad's dedication to his job. His patience, level-headedness and round-the-clock work ethic remains unsurpassed. There was never an instance when he complained or lost his cool under the strain and demands of his office. He was always in control even when confronted by the most sensitive and pressing issues. As Webster defines it: “Justice is the authority and power to uphold what is right, just or lawful and to do something in a manner worthy of one's abilities.”

And now that he is retiring from the service, my dad is optimistic about the future. While he regrets hanging his judicial robe, it does not mean that he will abandon “Lady Justice.” The waltz that he and “Lady Justice” started years ago will live on in his memory, and his legacy will continue to resonate within the walls and halls of this august Court of Appeals!

- Jovin M. Tagle


Thirty-six years ago Agustin “Gus” Dizon entered the Philippine Judiciary as the Municipal Judge of Mexico, Pampanga. Fast-forward to the present, the erstwhile Municipal Judge had, with indefatigable hard work, unwavering dedication and judicious acumen, gracefully climbed the judicial hierarchy and is now a magistrate of the second highest court of the land.

Due to retire from the judiciary on 27 June 2008, CA Justice Gus Dizon has served with distinction and integrity. He has earned the admiration and respect of his colleagues and the entire legal community for his affable demeanor, intellectual acuity and judicial restraint. Already highly esteemed for his myriad feats in the judicial, civil and social arena, he needs no further accolades.

Going beyond Justice Dizon’s impressive track record and astounding achievements, one will be pleasantly surprised at his humility and pragmatism. Ever the lively and entertaining speaker, a conversation with him is guaranteed to enthrall each and every person whom he is talking with. There is no doubt that the man is a walking “Book of Quotations.” Even when talking about something as mundane as the weather and the traffic, he effortlessly injects verbatim and with much gusto, remarkable words of wisdom and astute nuggets of reality by the greatest personas of the world; and in the process, he transforms what otherwise would have been a dull moment to an engaging intercourse of humor and insight.

At first blush, he seems to be a spiritual person. However, spend a few more minutes with him and you will discover that he truly is a highly spiritual man, who abides by his principles and beliefs. A zealous advocate and believer of reincarnation and karma, his actuations mirror that of a person who values the wealth of friendships and relationships. Ever mindful of attracting good karma in his everyday life, he treats everyone with deep respect and fair dealing.

Justice Dizon believes that the best and effective way to reduce the crime rate in our country is for our political, educational and religious leaders to teach and sink into the consciousness of our people the law of karma.

As a believer of the law of karma, Justice Dizon once intoned, "I wish and pray that in the not so distant future a majority if not all of our people will believe more in the law of karma which is biblical than the church doctrine of forgiveness of sins." As he said "it is easier to do wrong, if you feel somebody (the priest) can forgive you or you can go to confession and receive absolution.

It is doubtful that such escapist teachings can be attributed to Jesus. In Matthew 7:2, he said, "The measure you give will be the measure you get." And in Luke 12:59, using the example of a man in prison for his debts, Jesus declared this general law as applying to all of us, "I tell you, you will never get out till you have paid the last copper." Similarly, St. Paul said, "Be not deceived, God is not mocked. Whatever you sow that shall you also reap" (Galatians 6:7)

And continuing, Justice Dizon emphatically said "when people are convinced that there is a law of exact compensation in the universe and it will operate whether the authorities catch up with them or not, they are not likely to commit crimes against society. The theosophist Helena Blanatski once wrote, "The most fertile source of all crimes and immorality is the belief that it is possible for people to escape the consequences of their own actions. Once teach them karma and reincarnation and besides feeling in themselves the true dignity of human nature, they will turn from evil and avoid it as they would a physical danger."

Many will surely miss him when he bids good-bye to the Court, which he has so laboriously served. But this is not the last we will see from the amiably jolly person who is Justice Gus Dizon. Retirement is not the end of the world; rather, it is the coming of fruition of what had already been sown and nurtured in a life being lived well. In this respect then, Gus Dizon will definitely reap a roaring and bountiful harvest.

Kudos and Congratulations!

- Executive Justice Arsenio J. Magpale (Ret.)

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