In a ceremony held at the Malcolm Hall, College of Law in Diliman on December 10 and livestreamed via YouTube, the University of the Philippines (UP) conferred a Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, degree upon UP College of Law alumnus and retired Justice of the Supreme Court Antonio T. Carpio.
The honorary degree is conferred by the University upon individuals for outstanding achievements in their fields and exemplary service to their fellowmen. In the citation for the conferment of the honorary degree, Justice Carpio was lauded for his “distinguished service to the nation” as Senior Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, “exhibiting impartiality, accountability and dedication to upholding the Constitution and the rule of law”; for ardently defending human rights and championing freedom of expression; for advocating “the protection and preservation of the country’s territorial rights and maritime sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea amid great adversity”; and for being “a true icon of the Filipino people, embodying a courageous life led in service to the country”, among others.
After receiving his honorary degree, Justice Carpio delivered a lecture on defending the Philippines’ sovereign territorial rights in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) against China’s incursions into the territory in violation of international laws. He exhorted “the best and the brightest legal warriors in our country” to stand up and fight to free the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) from foreign encroachment using the rule of law.
Justice Carpio obtained his law degree from UP in 1975, graduating valedictorian and cum laude, then placed sixth in the Bar exams that same year. He went into private practice after graduating and was a professorial lecturer at the UP College of Law from 1983 to 1992 until his appointment as Chief Presidential Legal Counsel. He served as a member of the UP Board of Regents from 1993 to 1998.
He was sworn in as member of the Supreme Court on October 26, 2001, becoming one of the youngest appointees as Supreme Court Associate Justice. Since then, his exemplary service to the highest court in the land has earned him numerous recognitions including the Presidential Medal of Merit, and the UP Alumni Association’s Outstanding UP Alumnus in Public International Law award and, later, the Most Outstanding Alumnus award. He has been most recognized in his role in shedding light upon the issue of territory and sovereignty in the WPS. He retired from the Supreme Court in 2019.
The ceremony was attended by members of the UP Board of Regents, officials of the UP System and UP Diliman, members of the academic community of the UP College of Law represented by its dean, Atty. Fides C. Cordero-Tan, and former UP Law dean and Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Marvic MVF Leonen. A special musical tribute was offered to the honoree by the UP Singing Ambassadors, while a special video tribute to Justice Carpio followed the formal conferment ceremony and lecture.