I am greatly honored to have been invited to greet Justice Antonio T. Carpio today, his 60th birthday. Justice Carpio is a man of a few words. I do not mean that his vocabulary is short or that he has nothing to say. Quite the contrary, he has mastered the English language. What I mean is that he does not waste words, he does not speak merely to impress or write merely to show-off. Rather, he goes for the jugular. He does not go around the bush.
During Court sessions, he speaks and writes emphatically, with authority, backed up by deep research and unassailable logic. Pity the person on the other side of the argument. He or she is always overwhelmed.
Justice Carpio is a man of deep convictions and enormous moral courage. He is always guided by basic values like integrity, honor, patriotism and accountability. He hates forked tongues, two-faced Januses, grafters, and schemers.
He backs up his conviction with resolute action. He never wavers or compromises his basic principles. He resigned his Cabinet posts during the Ramos presidency when he could no longer agree with the policies of his superiors.
He was Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s counsel prior her ascension to the presidency; he was her first appointee to the Supreme Court. But he did not hesitate to strike down her unconstitutional and irregular actions, especially the many attempts to extend her reign unconstitutionally. In fact, he was ready to resign his magistracy had the Court given its imprimatur to the people’s initiative to shift our presidential form of government to parliamentary system.
He could have just kept quiet and went along sheepishly. But he chose to speak out and to speak pointedly, nay harshly, as befits his office as a member of the highest court of the land. To him, it is more important to be correct, to be honor bound than to be titled grandiosely and be damned in history.
Friends, join me as I offer a toast to a man of conviction, honor and courage. Justice Antonio Tirol Carpio, May his tribe increase and may he continue to be the conscience of the nation and the nemesis of schemers and thieves. Mabuhay!