Press Release
January 3, 2006

Drilon pays tribute to Justice Muoz-Palma

Senate President and Liberal Party head Franklin Drilon today paid tribute to the late former Supreme Court Justice Cecilia Muoz- Palma whom he described as one of the most brilliant legal minds the Philippines ever produced whose integrity is matched only by her unselfish dedication to the cause of justice and the common good.

Muoz-Palma died after suffering cardio-pulmonary failure at the St. Lukes Medical Center in Quezon City Monday. She was 92. Her remains will be taken to the Mt. Carmel Church in New Manila, Quezon City.

We will remember Justice Cecilia Muoz-Palma as one of the leading lights that guided our generation of Filipinos during the dark years of Martial Law. We were young lawyers then and we looked up to her as an inspiration in the quest for justice and the rule of law in the midst of oppression and tyranny. Justice Cecilia Muoz-Palma showed us that courage, integrity and honor must define a Filipino public servant, Drilon said.

Palma was the first female justice appointed to the High Court in 1973. She also became the first female president of a constitutional commission in 1986, where she helped craft what has since been called the 1987 Freedom Constitution.

The late Muoz-Palma was the first woman to top the Philippine Bar with a score of 92.6 percent in 1937 after graduation from the University of the Philippines College of Law. She also served as the countrys first female prosecutor in 1947 and the first woman judge of the Court of First Instance in the 1950s.

During the Martial Law years under the regime of the late strongman President Ferdinand Marcos, Palmas convictions and courage came to the fore when she "dared to expose what she believed to be the shortcomings of the military regime and openly criticized its disregard of constitutional principles and disrespect for the human rights of the weak and the oppressed," according to former Supreme Court Justice Jose B.L. Reyes.

Her retirement from the SC in 1978 did not stop Palmas crusade for truth and justice. She ran for and won a seat in the 1984 Batasang Pambansa, representing Quezon City. When Ferdinand Marcos called for snap elections in 1985, Palma issued a call for volunteers to campaign for Marcos nemesis, a housewife named Corazon Aquino. (###)

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