President Rodrigo Duterte’s newly appointed Justice Secretary vice the controversial Vitaliano Aguirre II promised to bring back the glory days of the Department of Justice (DOJ).
We believe the newly appointed Secretary is a good choice for the job and can accomplish this seemingly impossible task.
Guevarra has the proper academic background, tools and experience. Let us start with his backstory.
He took up graduate studies in Economics at the University of the Philippines after obtaining his A.B. degree, Major in Political Science, from the Ateneo de Manila University in 1974.
He worked as staff economist at the National Economic and Development Authority and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, and took up law in the evening at the Ateneo.
Yes, apparently Guevarra was a working student. Even more impressive was the fact that he finished his Bachelor of Laws degree at Ateneo with Second Honors in 1985 and was Magna Cum Laude in his AB degree in 1974.
Obviously, the man’s a hard worker. That’s something that a lot of entitled people nowadays can learn from. Millennial or not.
Being a working student notwithstanding, Guevarra placed second in the 1985 Bar examinations. Topping the rigorous and highly competitive Bar examinations is a bragging right belonging only to a very elite few.
Guevarra’s first job as a lawyer was with the technical staff of the 1986 Constitutional Commission. So we can safely assume that he is well versed on the Basic Law of the Land since he was at its very center when it was being crafted.
That means he will not idly standby should anyone mess around with its provisions.
He later joined a well-known law firm in Makati and formed his own law partnership in 1990.
Until April 2015, Atty. Guevarra was in active private law practice and faculty member of the Ateneo School of Law.
He returned to government service through his appointment as Member of the Philippine Truth Commission, Deputy Executive Secretary for legal affairs at the Office of the President in May 2015, and Commissioner, Philippine Competition Commission, in February 2016.
Not too many people know that he started serving the President when he was still Davao City mayor. For 30 years, he was the law partner of President Duterte’s righthand man, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.
He was the President’s Senior Deputy Executive Secretary prior to his current post.
As Guevarra himself told the media after the announcement of his latest appointment , “I guess the President trusted the righthand man of his righthand man.”
Guevarra admits the Justice Department is suffering from a huge image problem.
As he told DOJ employees during his first flag-raising ceremony, “the building stays the same, but somehow it is corroded inside. It looks solid, but its structural integrity is suspect, both literally and metaphorically.”
Not one to be daunted by this insurmountable undertaking, Guevarra said he was ready to fix the problem but asked for the help of DOJ employees to do this.
A key statement he said was : “It is my personal mission to restore the DOJ’s dignified and respectable image.”
But he also had the humility to ask his DOJ co-workers: “Can I do it? I cannot do it alone. I need you, all of you, to start an inner revolution of our values.”
A man with hubris, Guevarra is certainly not.
It is to be noted that this is the second time that Guevarra was asked by the President to be his Justice Secretary. He declined the first time. But not this time around.
Perhaps this is the right time for Guevarra to take over the helm of the Justice Department. Everything in its proper time…. as they say.
Guevarra pointed out that the President reminded him to do only what is right. He emphasized:
“I have absolutely no agenda — political or otherwise. My only ambition is to do my job well. I make my decisions based on facts, my choices based on merit. Everything else based on the rule of law – with lots of compassion on the side.”
Well said, Mr. Secretary.
We will be keeping a close watch over your tenure as the head of the department responsible for upholding the rule of law in the country.
As Proverbs 21:15 says: “When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers.”
It is no mean job. It will certainly not be an easy job. Rest assured we will be wishing you well, Sir.