Oct 242014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2005/12/05MANILA5914.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05MANILA5914
2005-12-21 09:21
2011-08-30 01:44
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO2112
PP RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #5914 3550921
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 210921Z DEC 05
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8115
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RUEAWJA/DOJ WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEAHLC/DHS WASHINGTON DC
UNCLAS MANILA 005914

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP, EAP/MTS, EAP/MLS, INR/EAP, INR/B
DEPT PLEASE PASS TO USAID ANE/TS – L. SAULS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KCOR PREL ECON EAID ETRD PINR RP
SUBJECT: PRESIDENT ARROYO APPOINTS NEW SUPREME COURT CHIEF JUSTICE

REF: A. MANILA 5806

¶B. MANILA 5688
¶C. MANILA 5012

¶1. (SBU) Summary: On December 20, President Arroyo
appointed Associate Justice Artemio V. Panganiban, 69, as
the next Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the
Philippines. Panganiban is a well-respected, articulate
jurist and is expected to continue the judicial reforms
begun by his predecessor, Hilario Davide, Jr. His tenure
will be brief, however, because he will be forced to step
down a year from now when he reaches the mandatory
retirement age of 70. End Summary.

¶2. (U) President Arroyo appointed Artemio V. Panganiban as
the 21st Chief Justice of the Philippine Supreme Court on
December 20. Arroyo chose Panganiban from a list of three
current associate justices submitted by the Judicial and Bar
Council (JBC) — a presidentially-appointed advisory group –
– on December 2 (ref A). Panganiban’s appointment came as a
surprise to some because, in giving the nod to Panganiban,
President Arroyo passed over the most senior judge on the
Supreme Court, Associate Justice Reynato Puno (who is also
well-regarded).

¶3. (U) Born to impoverished parents, Panganiban attended
public schools before earning a law degree from Manila’s Far
Eastern University. He is married to Elenita Carpio
Panganiban, a professor and former associate dean at the
Asian Institute of Management. After teaching law and
serving as the President of the “Philippine Daily Inquirer”
newspaper (a Manila-based English-language daily),
Panganiban joined the Supreme Court in 1995, when then-
President Fidel V. Ramos appointed him associate justice.
He gained some notoriety in 2001 when he helped convince
Chief Justice Hilario Davide, Jr., to swear then-Vice
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in as the country’s new
President during the “EDSA II” uprising against former
President Joseph Estrada. (Note: Panganiban later recused
himself from a Supreme Court vote upholding the legality of
Arroyo’s assumption of office. End Note.)

¶4. (U) Panganiban in known as an articulate, prolific
writer and has written over 1,000 decisions for the Supreme
Court, as well as a book every year since 1995. He is the
member of the Supreme Court most closely associated with the
judicial reform initiatives of former Chief Justice Davide
and is a major proponent of computerization of the
judiciary. In a December 2004 high-profile case, Panganiban
penned a mammoth 270-page decision upholding the
constitutionality of the Philippine Mining Act, effectively
clearing the way for additional foreign investment in the
mining sector.

¶5. (U) The selection process for the new Chief Justice was
quick and uneventful. The JBC listened to a week of public
comments in November before submitting a list to the
President of the three most senior associate justices on the
Supreme Court. Arroyo wasted no time in filling the
position, announcing her decision the day after outgoing
Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr., retired. A USAID-
funded project called “Supreme Court Appointments Watch”
coordinated with Philippine NGOs to conduct public
information campaigns and to encourage greater public
participation in the appointment process.

¶6. (U) Because of his age, however, his tenure will be
brief. Panganiban will turn 70 (the mandatory age of
retirement) on December 7, 2006. At that time, he will be
required to step down from the bench and the selection
process for the next Chief Justice will begin again.

¶7. (SBU) Comment: Panganiban is generally well-respected
as an accomplished and thoughtful jurist. He has said he
will continue Davide’s reform initiatives aimed at reducing
the backlog of cases, hiring more judges, and removing
corrupt officials. Reaction to his appointment has
basically been positive. That said, Opposition elements are
already beginning to assert that he was chosen by Arroyo
because she believes he supports her administration and she
might need his help on key cases in the coming year.

JONES

   

 

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