Confirmation of Menardo I. Guevarra as Secretary of Justice
Plenary Session, Commission on Appointments
May 30, 2018
Delivered by Senator WIN GATCHALIAN
Chairman, CA Committee on Justice and Judicial and Bar Council
Mr. Chairman, honorable members of the Commission on Appointments, good morning.
Justice holds a preeminent position among the ideals that bind us, the sovereign Filipino People, together as a democratic republic. No less than the Preamble of the Constitution affirms this when it proclaims the building of a “just and humane society”, and the creation of a regime of truth and justice, as fundamental considerations in the establishment of our constitutional system of government. As such, the faithful and effective administration of justice is one of the most solemn and inviolable duties of Government to the People – a duty that must be faithfully executed by the three great branches of government within their respective spheres of power.
In the executive branch, it is the Secretary of Justice who plays the most important role in the administration of justice. As the head of the Department of Justice and overseer of its constituent bodies, the duties of his office require the Secretary of Justice to function as the government’s head prosecutor, legal adviser, parole officer, and jail warden, all in one. Upon him falls the burden of ensuring that the executive arm of the country’s apparatus of justice functions efficiently and effectively, free from the shadow of corruption or impropriety.
The responsibilities of the Secretary of Justice are certainly a lot to handle, but based on his credentials and experience, I am confident that Menardo I. Guevarra is up to the task.
Secretary Guevarra is no stranger to public service. In fact, he got his start in the public sector right after college, serving as an economist at NEDA and BSP for 12 years. After graduating from law school and placing second on the 1985 Bar Examination, he served as a technical assistant with the 1986 Constitutional Commission.
After many decades in private legal practice, Secretary Guevarra returned to public service – this time, as a high-level government official. He served as Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs and Commissioner of the Philippine Competition Commission under the second Aquino administration before becoming Senior Deputy Executive Secretary under President Rodrigo Duterte.
Secretary Guevarra’s considerable experience in government, from entry-level positions all the way to the highest levels of the executive branch, should serve him well in his new role, as will the expertise in criminal law he has amassed over decades of experience as a veteran private practitioner and law professor.
Significantly, it seems that Secretary Guevarra is well aware of the challenges facing the DOJ after recent controversies, and is willing to face these challenges head-on. He has pledged to reform the DOJ’s image and transform the department into a “cornerstone of our justice system,” to use his own words.
During his short time on the job so far, Secretary Guevarra has been pro-active in fulfilling this ambitious but worthy promise. I am hopeful that the good Secretary will stay true to his word and pursue his vision for the Department of Justice with courage, perseverance, and integrity. Like I said earlier, the new Secretary of Justice has a difficult task ahead of him – but no challenge, no matter how daunting, should be able to stop a genuine public servant from achieving the change he seeks to create for the benefit of the people. In my humble estimation, it appears that Secretary Guevarra is more than capable of keeping his promise and making real change, as long as he stays the course he has set for himself.
On that note, Mr. Chairman, as Chairman of the Committee on Justice and Judicial and Bar Council, I am honored to move for the Commission’s confirmation of the ad interim appointment of the Honorable Menardo I. Guevarra as Secretary of Justice.
So moved, Mr. Chairman.