"Hold. Hold. And hold."
MANILA, Philippines - These were the very words of martyred Chief Justice Jose Abad Santos to Filipino soldiers in Bataan during Word War II. These are the same words former Chief Justice Reynato Puno, the predecessor of impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona, wants officials and employees of the Judiciary to keep in mind during these trying times for the 3rd branch of government.
Speaking before retired and incumbent justices, officials and employees of the Supreme Court and lower courts during today's book launch of "The History of the Supreme Court" coinciding with the high court's 111th anniversary, Puno called on the Judiciary to continue to serve the Filipino people in fulfillment of its mandate.
"The Court (Supreme Court) may be down for the moment but with Gods' grace it will not stay down for long... There is no better message to our Judiciary than the supplication of Chief Justice Jose Abad Santos to hold. Hold. And hold," Puno said.
The Judiciary "appears to be in disarray after the impeachment of our 23rd Chief Justice," Puno said, but he expressed confidence that the institution will withstand the tests of the times.
"Some are disappointed. Some are confused. Some appear to be in a spiritual slump for they perceive a severely wounded Judiciary after its collision with the political branches of government. This is not new. This is exactly the same sentiment of our soldiers in Bataan in World War II after they fought and lost battle after battle against the Japanese," Puno said.
"The Supreme Court has a life of its own. With the aid of the divine providence, it was established by the people and for as long as it serves the people, nothing will prevail against it," he added.
Abad Santos martyrdom
Puno said the martyrdom of Abad Santos should remind public servants under the Judiciary to remain true to their oath.
Abad Santos was the 5th Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. He was executed by the Japanese for refusing to cooperate with them.
Puno headed the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) in 2010 that screened nominees and applicants for 23rd Chief Justice, the same council that unanimously voted in favor of Corona to be part of the shortlist of candidates. Then President Gloria Arroyo picked Corona from the shortlist and appointed him.