One meeting was organized to welcome visiting former Press Secretary Buddy Gomez, who describes himself in his Facebook account as a Texas-based “retired undocumented OFW.”
Last week, the group met again, this time to honor one of its own, Adolf Azcuna. Azcuna is the first Filipino to be appointed as Commissioner of the International Commission of Jurists.
Not to be confused with the International Court of Justice or World Court, the International Commission of Jurists is an international non-government organization dedicated to the promotion of human rights.
It is composed of 60 eminent jurists and academics from all over the world. They are chosen for their “advocacy and policy work aimed at strengthening the role of lawyers and judges in protecting and promoting human rights and the rule of law.”
The International Commission of Jurists is based in Geneva, with regional offices in Thailand, South Africa, Guatemala, Nepal and North America.
Azcuna will continue as Chancellor of the Philippine Judicial Academy – the “finishing school” for judges and court personnel. As ICJ Commissioner, he will be asked to lecture now and then on human rights and the rule of law and the strengthening of the justice system in Asia.
With his legal and judicial experience as well as his fundamental commitment to human rights, the job fits Azcuna to a “t”.
A brilliant product of the Ateneo College of Law, (he was bar topnother in 1962 ) he also completed post graduate studies in International Law and Jurisprudence at the University of Salzburg in Austria.
He was a delegate to the 1971 Constitutional Convention and also a member of the Constitutional Commission of 1986. During the Cory administration, he served consecutively as Presidential Spokesperson, Press Secretary and later as Presidential Legal Counsel.
Post Cory, he became a partner in the Azcuna, Yorac, Arroyo and Chua Law Office until 2002 when he was appointed Associate Justice of the Supreme Court by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
When Azcuna retired from the Supreme Court in 2009, then Chief Justice Reynato Puno acknowledged Azcuna not only for his erudite decisions but most importantly, for Azcuna’s bold initiatives in laying the constitutional foundation for the adoption by the Supreme Court of the Writ of Amparo.
Azcuna achieved this by authoring the appropriate provisions in both the 1971 and 1986 constitutions, as well as his extensive researches and scholarly dissertation on the Writ of Amparo.
In a nutshell, the Writ of Amparo provides “additional deterrence” to possible abuses committed by misguided elements who have been blamed for extra-legal killings and enforced disappearances.
At the Philippine Judicial Academy, Azcuna is a strong advocate of speedy conflict resolution and the implementation of the Justice on Wheels program.
He is now very much in demand as a resource speaker and consultant on current legal issues, the latest of which involves the constitutionality of the Bangsamoro Basic Law.
Aside from this writer, present during last week’s lunch were former Press Secretaries Rod Reyes, Ducky Paredes, Jun Icban, and former Undersecretary Deedee Siytangco. We missed Dong Puno and Chito Villanueva. Kit Tatad, again, was out the country. We will probably have Davao-based Jess Dureza join us next time when he is in town. Guests included Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma, Maria Montelibano of Radio TV Malacanan and newly-appointed Communications Undersecretary Jan Co Chua. Lunch host Mike Toledo (late for the meal because of an extended meeting with his Philex boss MVP) arrived just in time to pick up the tab