By Ellson Quismorio
Court of Appeals (CA) Associate Justice Japar Dimaampao’s bid to become a Supreme Court (SC) magistrate has gained significant support, particularly from Muslim members of the House of Representatives.
“It is high time that another Muslim joins the High Court bench,” Deputy Speaker and Basilan lone district Rep. Mujiv Hataman said.
If fortunate enough, Dimaampao will only be the second Moro to be appointed to the SC, next to Abdulwahid Bidin, who was appointed Associate Justice in 1987 by then-President Corazon Aquino, noted Hataman.
According to him, he and his Muslim colleagues have expressed their full backing to the bid of Marawi City-born Dimaampao, who is aiming to fill the seat vacated by Justice Mariano del Castillo who retired last July 29.
Hataman said they are calling on President Rodrigo Duterte to select Dimaampao from the shortlist of candidates submitted by the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC). He underscored that the appointments of Bidin and Dimaampao–should it push through–will have been 32.years apart.
“That is how long we have been waiting for a Muslim magistrate in the high bench. And we believe that Associate Justice Dimaampao is competent, qualified and possesses both the moral and legal authority to sit as a member of the SC,” he added.
Making the call along with Hataman are Maguindanao Reps. Datu Roonie Sinsuat and Esmael Mangudadatu, Sulu Rep. Munir M. Arbison, Tawi-Tawi Rep. Rashidin Matba, Lanao del Sur Reps. Yasser Alonto Balindong and Ansaruddin Abdul Malik Adiong, and Anak Mindanao Rep. Amihilda Sangcopan
“The fact the the JBC deemed Dimaampao to make it to the shortlist is a testament to his high qualifications to join the SC. He has been a member of the CA for the past 15 years. The time is really ripe for a Muslim to sit on the SC bench,” explained the Deputy Speaker.
“This is also to signify compliance, although coming very late, with an unenforced provision in the ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) law for the appointment of a Muslim jurist coming from the region,” Hataman said.
“ARMM is now defunct, but I believe we owe it to BARMM (Bangsamoro in ARMM) and the Moro people to give them proper representation in the SC,” he further stated.
Section 2, Article VIII of Republic Act No. 9054 or the ARMM Act stipulates that “it shall be the policy of the central government or national government that, whenever feasible, at least one (1) justice in the Supreme Court and two (2) justices in the Court of Appeals shall come from qualified jurists of the autonomous region.”
BARMM, through the Bangsamoro Parliament, is also calling for Dimaampao’s appointment to the SC.
“The whole Muslim community is behind Associate Justice Dimaampao. With the establishment of the BARMM, we look forward that this time, our hopes and dreams will be finally realized. And this includes proper representation in the highest court in the land,” Hataman concluded.