MANILA – The Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) on Monday honored newly installed Supreme Court Associate Justice Henri Jean Paul Inting, the first public attorney to ever become justice of the high tribunal.
In a simple ceremony on the sidelines of PAO’s quarterly meeting of senior officials and regional directors, PAO presented a statuette of Lady Justice to Inting, whom PAO officials say is an inspiration and source of pride for the agency.
Inting joined the then Citizens’ Legal Assistance Office in 1986 and stayed on as PAO lawyer until 1995 before he became a prosecutor and eventually joined the judiciary in 1998.
Inting said he was humbled and honored to be recognized as the first public defender to have made it to the Supreme Court.
“This is a distinction that I will wear with great pride and gratitude. I hope my accomplishment ... inspires other PAO lawyers,” he said.
Recognizing his return to his roots, Inting looked back at his first few years as a PAO lawyer – visiting jails, mingling with clients and interviewing them for their defense.
“I would amuse myself by saying, ‘salamat at nakalabas ako nang buhay,’” he said in jest.
“My experiences in the PAO opened my eyes to the grave realities besetting our justice system. Here, not only was my mind trained to become a skilled lawyer but my heart was filled with compassion and concern for our less fortunate brothers and sisters and a burning desire to be of greater service to our people especially the disadvantaged and the oppressed,” he shared.
Inting challenged PAO to continue its mandate.
“The vision of the PAO to provide indigent litigants, the oppressed and marginalized and underprivileged members of our society free access to courts, judicial and quasi-judicial agencies assumes greater significance today because of the ever-increasing number of our impoverished brethren in dire need of legal services, aid and counsel,” he said.
“I hope that the PAO and the Court continue its strong and committed partnership in the never-ending work of improving the administration of justice for the benefit of our people and nation especially the poor and disadvantaged sectors of our society,” he added.
In the same ceremony, PAO also handed out a statuette of Lady Justice to Inting’s elder sister, Commission on Elections Commissioner Socorro Inting, who had also once served as PAO lawyer. Socorro’s daughter is currently also with PAO.