Mysterious consistent bypass


Ali G. Macabalang

THE five straight bypasses on popular nominations of Court of Appeals Associate Justice Japar Dimaampao in his highly endorsed bid for appointment in the Supreme Court have left lingering questions that only God knows and the people of the Palace led by the President can answer.

Since 2016 16, Justice Dimaampao has topped the Judicial Bar Council’s (JBC’s) roster of nominees to SC. And in his latest bid for appointment, he remained the top nominee the JBC even as he set a record of being the No. 1 choice, too, of 14 sitting SC magistrates, 11 of whose votes he garnered.

Observers from the Muslim, Christian and IP sectors have expressed preference for Dimaampao, citing his colorful records in legal practices.

Of the five unsuccessful bids, Dimaampao’s latest bid was the most confusing one because I had the chance to trade words with Palace spokesman Harry Roque about it.

I talked over the phone with Secretary Roque on June 8 for two reasons – one for my proposal for possible revival of Palace accommodation of media representative from Mindanao in its weekly press briefing, and another about my inquiry on the consistent nomination of Dimaampao.

On the inquiry, Sec. Roque mentioned twice the word “confirmed” in regards to reported appointment of the Maranao dignitary by the President. But he pointed out that he would make the “official announcement” as soon as he got hold of a copy of the appointment.

Everybody was surprised when Sec. Roque announced to Palace reporters that the President appointed CA Justice Priscilla Baltazar-Padilla on July 16 as new member of the High Tribunal, replacing Justice Andres Reyes who retired last May.

Why Sec. Roque’s information to me did not come into reality became an issue when one avid supporter of the bypassed nominee, who is a friend to me like his late father, accused me of fomenting fake news when a I made a post on his upcoming occupancy of an SC seat. I had deleted the post on the request of supporters and even Dimaampao himself for fear that it might “preempt” his appointment.

Dimaampao’s latest fate reminded me of a sad experience in my three-month stint in the Palace in 1992 along with no MinDA Secretary Manny Piñol and Blah Bagundang then of the Philippine Star.

While looking for a stapler in one of the tables at the office of the then Palace Spokesperson Anabelle Abaya, I stumbled on a piece of document, which I later found to be a signed appointment of former President Diosdado Macapagal in a government regulatory body. The paper was dated at least two months earlier.

I am now left with lingering questions: Has there been an unscrupulous scheme of hiding appointments in the Palace? Did President give credence to competing quarters’ insinuations that Dimaampao is identified with the Yellow party? Is political color given more weight over academic excellence and colorful career qualifications?

* * *

Both Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Damagoso and the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos led by Secretary Saidamen Pangarungan made history on Wednesday, July 22 when they broke the ground to build a Muslim cemetery and a cultural hall in San Andres District.

Muslim residents in Manila, especially those involved in trades, have always faced difficulty in finding a place for burial of their dead for decades. Many of them spent extra cost, time and efforts to bring their dead back to their homes in Mindanao.

The completion of twin projects, said to be funded with 49.3 million pesos by the Manila government, will be a great relief for the Muslim transients and residents in the premier city.


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