Senator Leila M. de Lima has thanked retired Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio for exemplifying his patriotism and commitment in fighting for human rights and the country’s sovereignty during his 18 years of exemplary service in the High Court.
De Lima, a known social justice and human rights defender here and abroad, said she believes that Carpio’s mandatory retirement will not prevent him from standing up against injustices committed against the Filipinos.
“I express my deepest respect and gratitude to him for being a true servant of the Filipino people – always standing for truth and justice without fear,” she said in her recent Dispatch from Crame No. 632.
“Thank you Justice Carpio for all that you have done for our country. I know that beyond your years of public service, you will continue on with your patriotic pursuits,” she added.
After 18 years, Carpio retired from the Supreme Court on his 70th birthday last October 26. It was the mandatory retirement age for members of the judiciary.
Carpio, who has been vocal on issues involving sovereignty and maritime dispute, was part of the Philippine legal team that won in the country’s claim against China over the South China Sea (SCS) territories in 2016.
De Lima pointed out that working alongside Carpio in The Hague for the Philippines’ historic case against China is among the things she treasures as they defended the country’s territorial rights in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) together with the rest of the Philippine delegation.
“It was a monumental victory for our country and generations yet to come. I know that Justice Carpio will keep on fighting for this victory even in retirement,” she said.
In his years in the Court, Carpio also made a mark for voting against De Lima’s unjust detention, the ouster of former chief justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, and the burial of late strongman Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, among others.
“I am also eternally grateful to you for your dissenting opinion in the case we filed questioning my arrest last Feb. 24, 2017, proclaiming it so powerfully that my continued detention is ‘one of the grossest injustices ever perpetrated in recent memory in full view of the Filipino nation and the entire world,’” she recalled.
During these dark days under the leadership of a looming authoritarian, the lady Senator from Bicol said Carpio has served as an inspiration to her to fight for what is right and just no matter the cost.
“One word to describe your legacy: Patriot. The truest of its kind, for you stood up for your country and your countrymen at great cost to yourself, even though not many of them understand your contributions to their freedom in their daily lives,” she said.
According to the Senator, Carpio is “the best chief justice we never had” even as she praised him for being “a true sentinel of law and democracy.”