“Rely solely on your work’s merit to get ahead.”
Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo De Castro relayed this message to 1,724 successful Bar examinees in her speech during their oath-taking ceremony at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Manila.
She told the new lawyers that some people could be promoted ahead of them “because of carefully cultivated, glittering persona and a talent for self promotion and credit grabbing, instead of substantial accomplishment.”
However, De Castro said they should not be disillusioned because “ it is pure folly to build a career on patronage.”
“Something as simple as diligence helps you to avoid playing politics…It is hard work, mastery of your craft, integrity that will ensure longevity in this profession,” De Castro said.
In 2012, De Castro, being one of the most senior Supreme Court justices applied for the Chief Justice post following the impeachment of then Chief Justice Renato Corona. However, none of the senior justices were chosen. The one who took Corona’s post was Sereno, one of the most junior justices at that time.
“When they attain a position of authority without real effort, they tend to be blinded by power and intoxicated by the perks and privileges attached to the position,” she said without giving any reference to the ousted chief magistrate.
“You will see it many times in your career that those who rise too fast often fall just as quickly. As Justice Francis (Jardeleza) said earlier, the arrogance will always have a comeuppance. My wish is that none of you will fall prey to that kind of hubris,” De Castro added.
De Castro will undergo mandatory retirement at the age of 70 in October. She has been nominated by retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Arturo Brion to be the next Ombudsman but she declined.
Her career spanned 45 years in government starting as a lowly clerk at the Department of Justice (DOJ) and rising from the ranks to be a Sandiganbayan Justice, Presiding Justice and eventually, Justice of the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, she also reminded the new lawyers to refrain from commercialism or from seeking celebrity status.
“That sort of behavior is frowned upon in the Code of Professional Responsibility,” she said.
Like Justice Bersamin, De Castro also reminded the new lawyers to protect the Judiciary and respecting the judicial process.
“The duty to give due respect to the courts does not end when the case is decided. Lawyers should be gracious in defeat….If you lose your case on the merits fair and square, own up to it. Don’t blame others and don’t prop up your bruised ego at the expense of your colleagues’ hard earned reputation and the goodwill of the people for the justice system,” De Castro added. /vvp
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