Philippine Society. Politics. Rants. Critiques.

The “Art” of Judge Abundiente: A One-on-one Interview

| Wednesday, April 7, 2010

JR's Personal Note: This was the article I have written in reference to my interview with the professorial lecturer, Judge Arthur L. Abundiente. I hope my publication of this article will be beneficial most especially to the students of MSU College of Law in Iligan City.


From being a practicing lawyer and a professorial lecturer, the now “Judge” Arthur L. Abundiente, adds his latest appointment as the Presiding Judge for RTC Branch 25 to his long string of stellar achievements.

The Nexus travelled 88 kilometers to sit and chat (over a cup of coffee), with Judge Abundiente in his new office at the Hall of Justice in Cagayan de Oro City. He talks about his life as the Presiding Judge, on his first upcoming book, and on leaving it to the “Fortune-teller”…

Congratulations Sir, now “Judge Abundiente” on your latest feat. So, how did it all start?

Thanks. First, I applied for three RTC branches; Branch 25 and 40 (in Cagayan de Oro) and Branch 4 in Iligan City. I’ve submitted my application on the later part of 2008, then took the screening exam in Davao City. Of all the applicants for the certain branch, only three will make it to the shortlist that would be presented to the President of the Philippines by the Judicial and Bar Council.

JBC called me up and notified me that I was nominated in all three branches where I applied for. Of the three branches, I accepted the nomination for RTC Branch 25. I confirmed the nomination at the Malacanang Palace as such that on November 18 of last year, I was chosen by the President (Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo) of the three applicants.

I received the information last January 19. I took my oath on January 20 and I reported to my office five days after.

You mentioned that of the twenty applicants for Branch 25, it was shortlisted to only three, what do you think was your edge?

Kay lupig nako sila [chuckles]. I have been a practicing lawyer for more than 10 years; I’ve been a practicing lawyer since 1988. I have appeared at trial courts and even at the Court of Appeals.

So was this really your plan even before?

Yes, definitely. My “original”plan was, before I reach the age of 50 I will be a judge. I believe that at fifty, I am already matured and experienced enough to “decide on the fate of fellow human beings”. But it came a little “earlier than predicted” – I’m currently 49 [grins].

Regarding work ethics, what’s the difference between that of a lawyer and a judge?

Now I say it’s easier. I only appear on trials. Compared to a lawyer, there is a need for a lot of work like preparing cases, etc. but the work that I do now is studying the case, reading the stenographic references and records.

How would a typical office day go?

From my apartment, I wake up early in order to report to my office thirty-minutes before the office hours start. I am always here from seven thirty in the morning up until five in the afternoon. I can breathe easier now and I have free time to spent for a project that I’ve wanted to do a long time ago.

Which is?

I am in the process of finishing my new book entitled, “The Fundamentals of Criminal Law”. Right now, I’ve already finished 80% of Book I and 40% of Book II of the Revised Penal Code.

Wow. The people from College of Law badly want you to answer this next question: Would you stop teaching now at our college given that you’re already occupied as a presiding judge?

No. As I always say, “teaching is my therapy”. Since 1981, I was already teaching. I was given teaching offers here in CDO, like in Liceo (de Cagayan), but I turned them down. I would still teach at MSU College of Law in Iligan but for not more than eight (8) units of law subjects on Saturdays.

You mentioned in our past interviews that you wanted to be a judge because “you’re ready”. Now that you’re a judge, it seemed you were correct with your forecast. So what is next for Judge Abundiente in the near future?

You know I can’t be a judge for 21 more years [chuckles] (because 70 is the retirement age for RTC judges). Next would probably be promoted to the Court of Appeals or even to the Supreme Court. “I can only pray for something else but it’s all up to God. I would just happily leave the fortune-telling to “The Fortune-teller”.

*Interview by 1st Year Law student, JR Lopez-Gonzales, at the office of Judge Arthur L. Abundiente at Hall of Justice, Branch 25 in Cagayan de Oro City last March 18.


Today in History:

Araw ng Kagitingan (Day of Valor) Holiday in the Philippines. April 9.

"In line with the elections, I hope that we will be able to vote the people that should really be trusted. We need credible and experienced leaders."

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