04 September 2013

Meet The Country's 3 Furies of Justice

Three Furies of Justice
In Greek mythology the three Furies are the chthonic deities of vengeance created when Cronos castrated his father Ouranus and threw his genitalia into the sea, the Furies emerged from the drops of blood. There were three sisters: Alecto, Megaera and Tisiphone. These three sisters soon became the forever loyal servants of Hades.

In the Philippines, the 'three furies of justice' is the name coined to describe the three ladies of an eight-member Inter-agency Anti-Graft Coordinating Council (IAAGCC). These are Commission on Audit (COA) Chairperson Ma. Gracia Pulido-Tan, Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Leila de Lima and Office of the Ombudsman head Conchita Carpio Morales. And like the 3 mythical characters, the 3 prominent lawyers are charged with punishing those who committed moral crimes in the country.

Chairperson Ma. Gracia Pulido-Tan

Chairperson Grace Pulido-Tan obtained her degree in Accountancy from the University of the Philippines (UP) as a Government and college scholar. She went on to finish Law at the top ten of her class, where she distinguished herself as a member of the Order of the Purple Feather, and the Editorial Board of the Philippine Law Journal. Thereafter, she went to the New York University for her Master of Laws (Tax) as a Gerald Wallace scholar.

She started her career in 1982 as an Associate at the Sycip Salazar Feliciano and Hernandez Law Offices, the biggest law firm in the Philippines. After completing her Master of Laws, she worked as a Tax Specialist at the New York City offices of KPMG Peat Marwick Main & Co. She returned to the Philippines in 1988 and co-founded the Tan Venturanza Valdez Law offices where she was the Senior Partner in charge of Tax and Special Projects until she joined government service in 2002.

Chairperson Tan first served the government as Commissioner of the Presidential Commission on Good Government, taking charge of the management of sequestered assets and the financial affairs of the Commission. From 2003-2005, she served as Undersecretary of Finance (Revenue Operations Group) and supervised the Bureau of Internal Revenue, Bureau of Customs (BoC), and the One Stop Shop Duty Drawback Center. She also headed the Department’s Task Force on Revenue Measures, and shepherded the enactment of several tax measures into law.

She returned to private practice in 2005, but resumed taught at UP where she is a Professor of Tax Law. She was also a consultant of the Ways and Means Committee of the Senate and also served as international consultant to various governance projects under the aegis of multilateral development agencies.

The 58-year old mother of five was appointed by President Benigno Aquino III as Chairperson of COA on April 2011. She is the the first woman to head the Supreme Audit Institution of the Philippines.

Secretary Leila de Lima

Secretary Leila de Lima was born on 27 August 1959 in Iriga, Camarines Sur. She is the eldest daughter of former Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Vicente B. de Lima and Norma E. Magistrad.

De Lima graduated from La Consolacion Academy in Iriga before entering De La Salle University, where she graduated with a degree in political science in 1980. She placed 8th in the 1985 bar exam after completing her law degree in San Beda College that year.

Prior to being appointed secretary of the DOJ, de Lima was the chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) from 2008 to June 2010. During her term, de Lima was active in addressing the growing number of cases of extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances and torture during the Arroyo administration. With her reputation as a human rights defender, GMA Network recognized her as the nation’s "Public Servant of the Year" in 2009.

On 30 June 2010, President Aquino III appointed de Lima to head the DOJ where she initiated the review of the case of the Maguindanao Massacre. She also ordered the review of the Morong 43 case and the arrest of senator Panfilo Lacson in connection with the Dacer-Corbito double murder case.

In October 2011, de Lima ordered the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to place Pampanga congresswoman Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA) and former First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo in its watchlist on charges of plunder and electoral sabotage. Prior to that, the secretary placed the former first couples' son Juan Miguel Arroyo of the Ang Galing Pinoy party-list and his wife Angel on watchlist on cases of tax evasion.

The former president insisted that the watchlist order is unconstitutional because the cases filed against her are still pending in the DOJ and are not yet filed in the Sandiganbayan (Anti-Graft Court of the Philippines). However, upon the recommendation the of Department of Health (DOH), de Lima reaffirmed the watchlist order and cited "national interest" as the premise of the order.

Arroyo's camp later filed a petition for temporary restraining order (TRO) against the immigration watchlist order in the Supreme Court of the Philippines (SC), which was granted by the court en banc via an 8-5 vote. Nonetheless, de Lima stood firm on her order, even requesting the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) through the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) to bar the Arroyos from leaving the country.

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales was born on 19 June 1941 in Paoay, Ilocos Norte. She is the daughter of Lucas D. Carpio, a judge, and Maria Claudio Carpio.

In 1964, Carpio-Morales earned a Bachelor's degree in Economics at the University of the Philippines. In 1968, she earned a Bachelor of Laws at the University of the Philippines College of Law.

From 1968 to 1971, she started her career in a Manila law firm where she was an Assistant Attorney. In 1971, a former University of the Philippines professor of Carpio-Morales, Secretary of Justice Vicente Abad Santos, took her in as a Special Assistant at the Department of Justice. From 1971 to 1983, Carpio-Morales worked at the Department of Justice as assistant, lawyer, researcher, assistant special lawyer and senior state counsel before she became a judge.

Between 1983 to 1986, President Ferdinand Marcos appointed Carpio-Morales as a Regional Trial Court judge in Pili, Camarines Sur. After that, she was appointed by President Corazon Aquino as RTC judge in Pasay City on 4 November 1986. She headed the 7th Division of the Court of Appeals in 1994 after she got the nod from President Fidel V. Ramos.

In 2000, Carpio-Morales was a bar examiner in legal ethics. She also conferred the Ulirang Ina Award for Law and the Judiciary by the National Mother's Day & Father's Day Foundation, Inc.

On September 3, 2002, upon the unanimous endorsement of the members of the Judicial and Bar Council, Carpio-Morales was appointed to the high court by former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Traditionally, it is the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines who administers the oath of office to the incoming President and the Vice President. However, incoming President Aquino refused to allow Chief Justice Renato Corona to swear him into office, due to Aquino's opposition to the midnight appointment by outgoing President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, two days after the 2010 elections and a month before Arroyo's term expires.

Instead, Aquino formally requested Associate Justice Carpio-Morales, who also opposed the midnight appointment of Corona, to swear him and Vice President Jejomar Binay into office on 30 June 2010. This was followed by her appointment as Ombudsman of the Philippines on 25 July 2011 until the present.