by Ali G. Macabalang
Some good news surfaced this week. Alhamdulillah!
Two of the favorable developments happened with the direct acts of President Rody Duterte, who has elevated Court of Appeals Associate Japar Dimaampao to the Supreme Court finally, and certified to urgency of House Bill 10121 for the deferment of the 2022 regional Parliament polls and extend the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) lifespan to 2025.
The President’s appointment of Justice Dimaampao did not only give justice to the appointee, supporters but also fulfilled the intents in the state’s peace accords with the MILF and the MNLF for equitable representation of Muslim Filipinos to all government institutions as much as possible.
In the case of Justice Dimaampao, his elevation to the High Tribunal ended the vacuum of Muslim representation in 34 years after President Cory Aquino named Judge Abdulwahid Bidin in 1987 as first FilipinoMuslim SC justice.
The fates of late Justice Bidin (who died on Feb. 2, 1999) and Justice Dimaampao involved wide contrast. The former was nominated once, backed by multi-sectors and even journalists including me, and made it. The former had since 2016 been nominated six times consistently as one of top three contenders, once as No. 1, but was bypassed.
Dimaampao’s sixth bypass in 2020 was a hard-to-forget event for me. I knew he was appointed SC justice as bared to me over the phone by Palace spokesman Harry Roque. I was too trusting of his words that I heralded the news in the social media only to get criticized by partisan sectors when the appointment never surfaced.
I won’t reiterate my past narratives on my knowledge of “hiding of” or “missing” appointments in the Palace because I felt relieved by Dimaampao’s success finally in his seventh bid.
Thousands of people from Muslim, Christian and Lumad sectors are happy with the appointment of a second Muslim justice, who is perceived not only for his sterling career records and personal traits.
During our pilgrimage in Makkah (on) the invitation of the King of Saudi Arabia in 2011, one of us was the Philippine champion in reading the Qur’an. He once rendered Qur’an reading, and I saw the tears rolling down the eyes of the good Justice (Dimaampao) indicating his good iman and humility. He’s a good Muslim,” said Islamic Studies Dr. Anshari Ali, incumbent chancellor of MSU-Gen. Santos campus.
Thousands of people have also expressed joy over President Duterte’s last-ditch issuance of urgent endorsement of the bill extending the BTA lifespan to 2025 for the interim BARMM governance to have “sufficient time to complete its mandate” under its charter (R.A. 11054) and the state’s peace accords with the MILF.
For what reasons why the President made the urgent endorsement of the bill and the Palace released Dimaampao’s appointment paper signed last July 2 just this week, I don’t know. I could just hint at the heating up political fever for the 2022 elections.
Candidly, I would not mind if the two Presidential acts were laced with heavy political undertones. I can just thank him with a prayer – sana all!
I hope he will also certify urgently the Marawi compensation bill, whose version in the House was passed recently, in the Senate.
I hope he will also crack the whip on officials responsible in the snail-paced rehabilitation of Marawi, especially those who may have pocket parts of the reconstruction funds and are remiss in tracing the location of IDPs in other parts of the country, ascertain their true plights and bring them home.
I would also want to see the Chief Executive ending his ultra protective stance for some cabinet members perceived to be remiss in the campaign against the spread of COVID-19 disease, or involved in kickbacks of funds. Amen!