President Rodrigo Duterte has appointed Court of Appeals Associate Justice Japar B. Dimaampao to the Supreme Court – only the second Muslim to become magistrate of the 15-member bench since the time of the late President Corazon Aquino.
In a transmittal letter, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea informed Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo of Dimaampao’s appointment to take over the Associate Justice seat vacated by Gesmundo when he was designated as top magistrate.
“I am pleased to transmit the appointment letter of Mr. Japar Babay Dimaampao as Associate Justice, Supreme Court, vice Alexander G. Gesmundo signed by President Duterte,” the letter stated.
Dimaampao is President Duterte’s 17th appointee to the high court.
Besides Gesmundo, Duterte had appointed three chief justices since he assumed the presidency, namely CJs Teresita de Castro, Lucas Bersamin and Diosdado Peralta.
Dimaampao has been a consistent nominee for an SC post since 2009, or when he was still 45 years old, with several Muslim groups pushing for his appointment as Muslim representative in the high tribunal.
The first Muslim to be appointed to the SC was Associate Justice Abdulwahid Bidin, who retired more than 30 years ago. He was appointed during the administration of former President Cory Aquino.
Dimaampao finished his law studies at the University of the East in 1987 and passed the bar examinations in 1988 with a rating of 77.97 percent.
He started as Senior State Prosecutor in the Department of Justice prior to becoming a regional trial court judge of Mandaluyong City, and finally as an appellate court justice by virtue of an appointment by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2004.