Press Release
October 26, 2019

Dispatch from Crame No. 632:
Sen. Leila M. de Lima on the retirement of Senior Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio


Congratulations and happy birthday to Senior Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio who, as he turns 70 today, retires from the Supreme Court after 18 years of exemplary service to the nation. I express my deepest respect and gratitude to him for being a true servant of the Filipino people - always standing for truth and justice without fear.

Working alongside Justice Carpio in The Hague for the Philippines' historic case against China is among the things I treasure, as we defended our country's territorial rights in the West Philippine Sea together with the rest of the Philippine delegation. It was a monumental victory for our country and generations yet to come. I know that Justice Carpio will keep on fighting for this victory even in retirement.

Displaying his brand of selfless leadership, Justice Carpio said: "What is more important for the nation is that we preserve our sovereignty and sovereign rights because if we lose these, we lose that forever. That's far more important than any position."

On a both professional and personal note, from one public servant to another, we have both seen how the Rule of Law can truly work as the ultimate equalizer that could defend the rights and interests of common and marginalized people from the abuses of the rich and powerful, and even the sovereignty of one developing nation against the strong-arm bullying tactics of an economic and military superpower. It is, therefore, all the more disheartening to see the Rule of Law itself being weaponized as a tool for reprisal and the silencing of dissent.

In these dark days, you have served as an inspiration to me to keep on fighting because I know that hope springs eternal for as long as there are legal luminaries such as yourself, whose brilliance is rivaled only by your patriotism. One word to describe your legacy: Patriot. The truest of its kind, for you stood up for your country and your countrymen at great cost to yourself, even though not many of them understand your contributions to their freedom in their daily lives.

I am also eternally grateful to you for your dissenting opinion in the case we filed questioning my arrest last Feb. 24, 2017, proclaiming it so powerfully that my continued detention is "one of the grossest injustices ever perpetrated in recent memory in full view of the Filipino nation and the entire world."

Thank you Justice Carpio for all that you have done for our country. I know that beyond your years of public service, you will continue on with your patriotic pursuits.

Indeed, you are the best chief justice we never had. In fact, cumulatively, you have been the longest serving Acting Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. You served our country exceptionally well with courage, dignity and brilliance that equally matched your compassion for the rule of law. You are a true sentinel of law and democracy. For all of these and more, we, as a nation, are forever in your debt.

Maraming, maraming salamat at mabuhay po kayo! God be with you always, Sir!

(Access the handwritten version of Dispatch from Crame No. 632, here:

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