Supreme Court Acting Chief Justice Josue Bellosillo on His 30th Year in the Judiciary
Panaligan, Rey G., Manila Bulletin
MEN and women who sit as members of the Supreme Court share the same qualification - they are the brightest in the legal profession.
They also share the same passion for intelligence, industry and integrity - the sterling virtues of a magistrate on whose hands lie the fate of every justiciable issue brought before him for adjudication.
Yet, only one thing makes the difference among them: their length of service in the judiciary.
Of the 15 incumbent Supreme Court justices, Senior Associate Justice Josue N. Bellosillo holds the distinction of having the longest length of service in the judiciary.
Justice Bellosillo celebrates today his 30th year in the judiciary. He was first appointed judge of the then court of agrarian relations in Iloilo on July 29, 1971.
Four years later in 1975, he was appointed judge of the then court of first instance, now regional trial court (RTC), also in Iloilo.
In 1982, he was transferred to Pasig in Metro Manila. In 1986 he was elevated to the then Intermediate Appellate Court, and a year later as associate justice of the Court of Appeals.
In 1991, Bellosillo was appointed court administrator through whose office the Supreme Court supervises all lower courts in the country.
On March 3, 1992, he was appointed associate justice of the Supreme Court.
"I thought it was just a few years ago. I never realized it was already three decades," Justice Bellosillo mused when the Bulletin visited him in his office.
With the travel abroad of Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide Jr. until August 5, Senior Associate Justice Bellosillo is the acting chief justice.
"My years as a trial court judge are the years in the judiciary I love most," he said. "There, you could immediately see the fruits of your labor, because you hand down your decision immediately after trial," he said.
"In the appellate court and here at the Supreme Court, your decisions would have to pass the concurrence of other justices," he pointed out.
He said his experience in the trial court made him knew the people better. "People from all walks of life came to see me. They consulted with me. They sought my advise. They aired to me their grievances. And of course, they asked for my help."
Bellosillo recalled that when he was a trial court judge in Iloilo and as an executive judge of the province, he launched the "Barangay Justice on Wheels" program to reach out to the masses.
He said he had to bring with him prosecutors, judges and lawyers to participate in the program by conducting mockup trials on the "Katarungang Pambarangay."
During weekends, he said, he also visited the provincial jail of Iloilo as part of his duty as executive judge of the province. "There I saw the inmates drawing their drinking water from rust-eaten drums. …