CJSearch PROFILE: Senior Associate Justice Antonio Tirol Carpio

By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 19 2012 11:26 AM | Updated as of Jul 26 2012 06:47 PM

The 148th Justice of the Supreme Court

MANILA - Senior Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio is the most senior sitting magistrate of the Supreme Court (SC).

He was born on Oct. 26, 1949; he is now 62 years old.

He obtained his law degree at the University of the Philippines (UP) where he graduated Valedictorian and cum laude in 1975.

He took up AB Economics as pre-Law at the Ateneo De Manila University (1970); he finished secondary school at the Ateneo De Davao (1966) where he also completed his elementary education (1962).

Carpio took the Bar Examinations in 1976 and landed on the 6th place with a grade of 85.70%.

He was the first appointee to the Supreme Court by Pres. Gloria Arroyo; he was sworn in as Associate Justice on October 26, 2001.

Professional background

Justice Carpio began his private practice at the Villafuerte Zamora and Associates law firm immediately after passing the Bar up to 1979.

He was part of the Zamora Zamora Reverente Trinidad Ferrer Carpio and Associates law firm from 1979 to 1980.

It was in 1980 when he co-founded what will later be dubbed 'The Firm," the Carpio Villaraza Cruz (CVC) and Associates law offices where he stayed up to 1992. At the same time, he served as a professorial lecturer at the UP College of Law (1983-1992).

Pres. Fidel Ramos appointed him as Chief Presidential Legal Council in the Office of the President in 1992; he held the post for 4 years.

He served as member of the UP Board of Regents from 1993 to 1998.

Carpio became the executive director of the ASEAN Business Law program of the UP College of Law in 1997. It was also the same time he returned to CVC. He stayed with the firm for another 4 years.

He currently serves as Senior Associate Justice or officer-in-charge of the high court by virtue of Sec. 12, Chapter II of Republic Act (RA) No. 926 (Judiciary Act of 1948), which states: "In case of a vacancy in the office of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court or of his inability to perform the duties and powers of his office, they shall devolve upon the Associate Justice who is first in precedence, until such disability is removed, or another Chief Justice is appointed and duly qualified."

Carpio is the chairperson of the Court's Second Division. He also chairs the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET).

Awards, other credentials

He was awarded the Outstanding Achievement Award in Law by the Ateneo de Manila Alumni Association in 1991.

In 1998, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Merit by then Pres. Ramos.

In 2002, he was the recipient of the Distinguished Alumnus Award given by the Ateneo De Davao Alumni Association.

He was conferred a Doctorate of Laws, honoris causa, by the Ateneo de Davao University.

Endorsements for Chief Justice, oppositions

As the most senior justice of the Supreme Court, Carpio was automatically nominated for the post vacated by Chief Justice Renato Corona. He was also nominated separately by Allan Jose Villarante (July 1, 2012) and Atty. Reynaldo Princesa (July 2, 2012).

The following formally opposed his nomination:

1. Juancho Daaco

On June 13, Daaco opposed the nomination of Carpio, and Associate Justices Presbitero Velasco, Jr., Diosdado Peralta, Mariano Del Castillo, and Jose Mendoza, whom he alleged of grave abuse of discretion and authority and with manifest partiality as members of the Second Division. Daaco claimed that the magistrates of the Second Division "ignored the very strict rules governing petitions for certiorari" by allowing the submission of a comment in a pending case despite the lapse of the period allowing such.

2. Lauro Vizconde.

Vizconde accused Carpio, a witness for the defense in the trial for the murder of Vizconde's wife, Estrellita, and daughters Carmela and Anne Marie Jennifer, of trying to influence the outcome of the case before the Court of Appeals (CA) and the SC in favor of accused Hubert Webb. The Vizcondes were murdered inside their Paranaque City residence in June 1991. Webb and 6 others were convicted by a trial court; they elevated the case to the CA, and then the SC.
Vizconde also told the JBC that Carpio's possible appointment as the next chief magistrate will create "the impression of Executive control over the Judiciary" because of his "association" with Pres. Aquino.

3. Dante Jimenez

Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) president Jimenez pointed out that Carpio will be a "biased" Chief Justice representing the "old boys' club" in the high court.

Notable ponencias

People's Initiative

Carpio wrote the ponencia in Raul Lambino (consolidated petitions) vs. Comelec involving the constitutionality of what was dubbed the 2006 "people's initiative" to amend the 1987 Constitution.
The high court en banc, in its decision dated Oct. 25, 2006, upheld the poll body in junking the bid for the 6,327,952 million signature-strong initiative by the Lambino group as a means to amend the charter. The high court ruled that the group failed to comply with the basic requirements of the Constitution for a people's initiative as provided for in Sec. 2, Art. XVII which states that it must be "upon a petition of at least twelve per centum of the total number of registered voters, of which every legislative district must be represented by at least three per centum of the registered voters therein."

In his ponencia, Carpio wrote: "This is one act the Court cannot and should never do. As the ultimate guardian of the Consitution, this Court is sworn to perform its solemn duty to defend and protect the Constitution, which embodies the real sovereign will of the people... To allow this constitutionally infirm initiative, propelled by deceptively gathered signatures, to alter basic principles in the Constitution is to allow a desecration of the Constitution."

PLDT foreign ownership

Carpio also wrote the ponencia in the case of Wilson Gamboa vs. Finance Sec. Margarito Teves, et al. which involves the determination of the extent of foreign ownership in telecommunications giant Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT).

In the en banc decision dated June 28, 2011, the high court ordered the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to determine the extent of allowable foreign ownership in PLDT, and if the firm has violated the Constitutional provision limiting foreign ownership of companies in the country to 40%. The high court held that the term "capital" in Sec. 11, Art. XII (National Economy and Patrimony) of the 1987 Constitution refers only to voting stocks or common shares.

In his ponencia, Carpio wrote: "The Court should never open to foreign control what the Constitution has expressly reserved to Filipinos for that would be a betrayal of the Constitution and of the national interest. The Court must perform its solemn duty to defend and uphold the intent and letter of the Constitution to ensure, in the words of the Constitution, "a self-reliant and independent national economy effectively controlled by Filipinos."