Maria Filomena D. Singh has the distinction of being the last appointee of President Duterte to the Supreme Court and also the last associate justice to complete the 15-member group. Being last in these instances is just a coincidence for a lady who has achieved a lot of “firsts” in the field of jurisprudence.
She took over the post vacated with the retirement of Senior Associate Justice Estela M. Bernabe. Like Justice Bernabe, Justice Singh was also a metropolitan trial court and regional trial court judge before her promotion to the Court of Appeals (CA) in 2014.
Justice Singh started her journey to the highest court by obtaining a pre-law degree at the University of the Philippines where she graduated cum laude. She earned her juris doctor degree from the Ateneo de Manila University, with second honors distinction. She then studied at the Washington College of Law of the American University in Washington DC for a master of laws in International Legal Studies.
She practiced law for 10 years before joining the judiciary in 2002. In 2007, she received the “Don Antonio Madrigal Award” from the SC’s Society for Judicial Excellence. Justice Singh was also a Hubert Humphrey Fellow on Court Management and Judicial Education of the US Department of State from 2009 to 2010 when she worked with the World Bank’s International Reform Sector on judicial reform projects in Europe and Central Asia.
A trailblazer — she was the first Philippine Judicial Fellow of the Federal Judicial Center in Washington DC, the educational arm of the US Supreme Court. In the local scene, she is a member of the Philippine Judicial Academy (PhilJa), the education arm of the SC, Department of Civil Law and Committee on Curriculum Review.
At the Ateneo School of Law, Justice Singh is the vice chairperson of the Department of Thesis and Legal Writing and a Pre-Bar reviewer of Legal and Judicial Ethics. She is also a professor at the UP College of Law.
“We extend our most sincere congratulations to Justice Monette and we wish her all the best as she continues to carry out her responsibilities in the judiciary, albeit this time at the highest court of the land, with faithfulness to the Ateneo standards and values as to which we all strive to remain constantly true,” said a statement from the Ateneo School of Law.
It should be noted that upon the completion of the 15-member SC, there will be no mandatory vacancy in the next three years. Of the incumbent members, Justice Mario V. Lopez will retire in June 2025 while
Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo and Justice Amy C. Lazaro-Javier will both retire in November 2026.
Malacañang hailed the appointment of Justice Singh, noting that it is “confident that she would continue to uphold judicial excellence and independence in the High Court.” Various groups and individuals have also expressed their satisfaction in her appointment, noting that Justice Singh is not only known for her hard working nature but also for her integrity and commitment to give justice for all.
The Manila Bulletin joins the entire nation in welcoming Justice Singh; may her tenure at the Supreme Court be marked with innovations and trailblazing moments just as how she has accomplished her roles in life.