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moments mundane and magical

May it please the Court

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For nearly an hour,  I stood and made my case before the gods of Mt. Olympus, my heart in my mouth.  It was my very first time to actually argue before the Philippine Supreme Court — and I was  co-counsel to Prof. Harry Roque in a petition we filed on behalf of  residents of the Province of Palawan in their bid to get a rightful share in the proceeds of the Malampaya oil and gas wells.  Our case rested on the constitutionalization of the international legal regime of the Continental Shelf and the constitutional and statutory grant of fiscal autonomy for local governments.

I barely survived the intense  questioning — for the most part, by  Justices Antonio Carpio and Teresita De Castro. We were given 25 minutes to make our arguments. Prof. Roque, who was first to argue, took 17 minutes to discuss the first three points of our case. I  took care of the last two points in 8 minutes. But the interpellation took much longer. Prof. Roque was grilled for a little more than two hours, and I, for nearly an hour.

When it was all  over, I was simply thankful that I survived the ordeal without throwing up or fainting in shame and terror. It was an unforgettable day for another reason — the oral arguments were held a day after the Maguindanao Massacre.  The very next day, I took the earliest flight to Davao City  to head for Maguindanao  and see how the Center for International Law may assist authorities and families of the victims in the quest for justice.

The photo below was taken after the oral arguments. (From L-R: Me,  Prof.  Roque, Dr. Raul C. Pangalangan and the DFA’s Mr. Henry Bensurto, the latter two being amici curiae in the case).

The same photo introduces the sixth and last installment in the SIX BIG QUESTIONS project of Gideon Strauss, senior fellow of the US-based Center for Public Justice.   In this project,  I join several guest bloggers in his blog in answering, in 250 words or less, six questions that deal with faith, character, vision and personal context.  What contributions am I called to make? And my response is found here. For my fifth post, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Written by Romel

November 28, 2011 at 3:46 pm

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