By Ali Macabalang
COTABATO CITY – The Bangsamoro parliament is also pushing for the appointment of Marawi-born Japar Dimaampao as associate justice in the Supreme Court, saying his entry to the High Tribunal will flesh out the Duterte government’s commitment to mend “historical injustices” in the country’s minority Muslim community.
Dimaampao, a Court of Appeals associate justice for 15 years, is one of the six applicants shortlisted by the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) to replace retired justice Mariano del Castillo, who officially left the SC bench on July 29.
His nomination was the latest of several similar moves by the JBC, which often placed Dimaampao at the upper crust of the shortlists. But he was able to secure an appointment under the Aquino regime and the present administration.
“Justice Dimaampao deserves to occupy the seat to be vacated by Justice Mariano del Castillo, not only for his vast experience in the Appellate Court in the review and revision of judgments and orders of lower courts, but also for him to continue the legacy of being an inspiration and an example for the Bangsamoro,” said the regional parliament in a resolution.
Dimaampao’s entry to the Supreme Court will also imply “the recognition of the aspirations of Muslim Filipinos, and the legitimacy of the cause of the Bangsamoro People,” added the endorsement, docketed as Resolution No. 125 by the Bangsamoro Transition Authority’s (BTA’s) parliament.
The resolution, authored by parliament lawyer-member Paisalin Tago and co-sponsored by his colleagues in the 80-member BTA, said Dimaampao’s appointment would make him the “only second Muslim justice in SC history.” The first was Abdulwahid Bidin of Sulu who was appointed Associate Justice in 1987 and had retired on April 7, 1995.
The BTA is the governing body of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), which Pres. Duterte officially inaugurated last March 29 following the ratification a month earlier of R.A. 11054, a law enacted in July 2018 in pursuit of the government’s 2013 and 2014 peace accords with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
BARMM replaced the 29-yer old Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), whose last administration led by Regional Governor Mujiv Hataman had endorsed Dimaampao to past vacancies in the High Tribunal since 2016.
“Justice Dimaampao is publicly known as a highly respected figure especially in the Muslim world. As a Bangsamoro himself, he carries with him the aspiration to uplift the lives and pursue the rights of people that past governments seemed to have sidelined,” Hataman said in an unheeded endorsement.
Dimaampao belongs to the country’s Maranao tribe, to which the President has traced with pride his grand maternal lineage.
But beyond the lineage consideration, Dimaampao has “proven efficacy” in his 15-year stint in the Court of Appeals, as former executive judge of the Regional Trial Court in Mandaluyong City, and in other undertakings as prominent lecturer on taxation and commercial law, the BTA resolution said.
Supporters have cited Dimaampao in his continuing push for the organization of a sharia appellate court and his vow to enrich jurisprudence on sharia law.
BARMM Chief Minister Ahod “Murad” Ebrahim had reportedly made a personal endorsement of Dimaampao to the President. The BTA resolution urged him this time to make “official representation” for the nominee.