2010 judicial excellence awardees

SC Honors 2010 Outstanding Judges, Clerks of Court
Posted September 16, 2010; By Jay B. Rempillo


The Supreme Court, in cooperation with the Society for Judicial Excellence (SJE), today announced the Judiciary’s three outstanding judges and one outstanding clerk of court for this year. The winners will be honored in an awarding ceremony to be held at 4 p.m. this Friday, September 17, at the Centennial Hall A, Manila Hotel.
The Judicial Excellence Awardees for 2009 in the Second-Level Courts are Judge Victoria Isabel Alvarez Paredes of Caloocan City Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 124, Chief Justice Cayetano Arellano Awardee; Judge Iluminada P. Cabato of Baguio City RTC, Branch 59, Chief Justice Jose Abad Santos Awardee; and Judge Carmelita S. Manahan of Manila RTC, Branch 16, Chief Justice Ramon Avanceña Awardee. The lone recipient of the Outstanding Clerk of Court of the Second Level Courts is Atty. Gail M. Bacbac-Del Isen of Baguio City RTC, Branch 3 for Branch Clerk of Court (Multi-Sala).

Judge Paredes, the Chief Justice Cayetano Arellano Awardee for Outstanding Regional Trial Court Judge, has been a JEA finalist in 2005 and 2006. In 2006, she was adjudged Most Outstanding Gender Sensitive Judge of the Philippines by the National Commission on Women, the Supreme Court, Commission on Human Rights, United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Her average rate of case disposal from January 2009 to July 2010 stands at thirty (30) cases a month. More significantly, the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court have affirmed 95% of her decisions.

She has rendered uninterrupted service to the government for 25 years, starting as State Counsel, then Quezon City Second Assistant City Prosecutor with the Department of Justice in 1985 before her appointment to the Regional Trial Court of Caloocan City, Branch 124, in 1996. In 2005, five (5) years after her court was designated as a Family Court, she was appointed Executive Judge of the Caloocan City Regional Trial Court.

Judge Paredes graduated from the University of the Philippines with the degrees of Bachelor of Arts, major in Philosophy cum laude in 1975 and Bachelor of laws at the top ten of her class of 1979. She was awarded the Presidential Pin for Academic Excellence.

When asked about her work performance which has made a difference in the judicial system or society, she listed the following: active participation in the Enhanced Justice on Wheels (EJOW) project of the Supreme Court; adopting templates for frequently used or repetitive orders for speedier disposition to counsels and litigants; issuance of protection of orders even prior to the enactment of RA 9261; full utilization of mediation for the amicable settlement of cases; networking with non-governmental units (LGUs) to provide shelter ased/education/treatment/rehabilitation to minor offenders; full use of diversion proceedings to benefit not only the minor offenders but also the private complainants; and the institution of security measures to preserve the integrity of court records by using blue-colored papers for orders issued by her court.

Judge Cabato, the recipient of the Chief Justice Jose Abad Santos Award, is an educator by heart. With an education degree, she traveled to the far-flung town of Salegseg, Kalinga, and taught the native children at St. Theresita’s High School. Later on, she taught the children of mine workers in the Itogon, Benguet mining village, and also in her alma mater, Saint Louis School Campo Filipino, and stayed there for 15 years. But her father who was then Dean of the College of Law of Saint Louis University, Baguio City, prodded her to take up law. She obliged and graduated in the same university in 1979. She took the bar examinations and passed it the following year. She continued to nurture young minds as a professor of Criminal Law also at the Saint Louis University, where she served as a noted academician for 20 years.

As a young lawyer, she joined the government service as a Research Attorney at the Department of Justice. She rose from the ranks until her designation as 2nd Assistant City Prosecutor of Baguio City. She was then appointed to the judiciary as Municipal Trial Court Judge where she served for 14 years.

As a magistrate in the first level courts, Judge Cabato constantly espoused the rule of law and justice and maintained her independence, probity and integrity, thereby winning the respect and admiration of her colleagues, lawyers and public. Her hard work and dedication to her job stood out. The Foundation for Judicial Excellence named her Outstanding Municipal Trial Court Judge in 1997. And in 2001, she was selected for the National Centennial Municipal Trial Court Judge Award by the Supreme Court in celebration of its centennial year.

Judge Cabato was appointed Regional Trial Court Judge of the Baguio City Regional Trial Court, Branch 59 in November 2002. As a Family Court Judge, she takes time counseling minors and their parents. She also holds lectures on RA 8353- Anti-Rape Law, Women's Desk and Gender Sensitivity, Domestic Violence, Women's Rights as Human Rights, the Courts and the Criminal Justice System, parole and probation, to name a few. In addition to her judicial duties, Judge Cabato also served as officer in several organizations, including serving as Vice-President of the Philippine Women Judges Association and President of the Lady Lawyers of Baguio and Benguet, Inc.
Chief Justice Ramon Avanceña Awardee Judge Manahan is known to start court hearings on time, and schedules regular hearings to afford litigants their right to speedy trial. Her adherence for punctuality and strictness have reached even the international community, in fact, she had impressed foreign magistrates from the USA, Australia and Vietnam who had observed her court trials, which was published in the 18th Anniversary Edition of the “The Philippine Star” in its July 28, 2004 issue.

A graduate of the Manuel L. Quezon University, Judge Manahan passed the bar in 1990. She joined the bench in 1997 when she was appointed to the Municipal Trial Court of San Pedro, Laguna. She was promoted to the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 16 in 2002. Her hard work has paid off a thousandfold. Her sala was acknowledged and ranked as the number one in the City of Manila to have disposed of cases on the merits in 2009. Her branch was also ranked number one in 2007, and number two in 2008. Her capacity for work is second to none. Her passion for work is undiminished.
As a former public attorney, Judge Manahan would always guide new Public Attorneys Office (PAO) lawyers assigned to her court in the rules governing litigation. When these lawyers were eventually assigned to different courts or left the service, they brought with them the knowledge generously shared by Judge Manahan.

Judge Manahan’s leadership qualities were acknowledged when she was selected as one of the five Outstanding Regional Trial Court Judges in Manila in commemoration of its 438th Founding Anniversary on June 18, 2009.
Outstanding Branch Clerk of Court Atty. Del Isen was a Field Reporter and Broadcaster at the DZWX Bombo Radio, in Baguio City while attending college. But then she was forced to stop her schooling for a time due to financial constraints. She has only been a field reporter for a few months when she was hired to host her own radio program titled “Dear Tita Gail,” where she gave advice to listeners and letter-senders regarding their personal problems.

Atty. Gail eventually resumed her education and graduated in 1993 with a degree in Commerce, major in Economics. After graduation, she took the offer of the President of Al Amal Hospital to work as an Accountant’s Assistant in Qatif, Saudi Arabia where she worked for two years. She returned to the country but found few job opportunities for her prompting her to enter law school with the belief that this would open doors for her, as well as to fulfill her father’s dream of having a lawyer in the family.

Although Saint Louis University gave her a scholarship, Atty. Gail had to work her way through the college of law. To support herself, she put up a small backyard piggery. Her law classmates and professors would always notice her collecting garbage from the school canteen to augment the leftover food which she used to feed her swine. She did this everyday without any hesitation. Even with the death of her father just a week before taking the Bar examinations, she passed the bar in May 2002.
The Society for Judicial Excellence, through its Board of Trustees, administers the annual search for outstanding judges and clerks of court. It is headed by retired SC Justice Bernardo P. Pardo as Chairperson, retired SC Justice Angelina Sandoval-Gutierrez as Chairperson Emeritus, and Court of Appeals (CA) Justice Portia Aliño-Hormachuelos, as Vice-Chairperson. Its Board of Trustees include SC Justice Diosdado M. Peralta, retired SC Justice Romeo J. Callejo, Sr., CA Justices Josefina Guevara-Salonga and Apolinario D. Bruselas, Jr., retired Court Administrator Zenaida N. Elepaño, retired CA Justices Edgardo P. Cruz, Godardo A. Jacinto, and Jose C. de la Rama, Judges Oscar C. Herrera, Jr. and Kaudri L. Jainul, retired Judge Rosalina Luna Pison, and Atty. Engracio M. Escasinas, Jr. Atty. Ma. Luisa L. Laurea is Executive Director and also head of the JEA Secretariat.

The final selection of awardees was undertaken by the Board of Judges chaired by SC Senior Justice Antonio T. Carpio and vice-chaired by retired SC Justices Pardo and Sandoval-Gutierrez. Members include SC Justice Peralta, (ret.) SC Justice Callejo, Sr., retired SC Justices Carolina Griño-Aquino and Santiago M. Kapunan, Dean Amado L. Dimayuga of the Judicial and Bar Council, and Dean Virgilio B. Jara of the San Beda College of Law.

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