Mr. Justice Jose C. Campos, Jr.
(9 April 1923 – 9 April 2022)
This is the story of a man who worked his way from the academe to become an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. He started at the bottom of the academic ladder as an Instructor and worked his way to become a Full Professor in the College of law of the University of the Philippines in nine years. He rose to be an administrator and an official of the University for the next 12 years of his academic career. In the judiciary, he started at the bottom of the judicial ladder as a Trial Judge for 11 years, with a side trip to the Executive department as Acting Chairman of the Board of Transportation for almost 4 years. He was promoted to the Intermediate Appellate Court, later reorganized as the Court of Appeals, where he stayed for nine years. Finally, less than a year from reaching retirement age, he was appointed to the highest court as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. His assignments to Branch 30 of the CFI of Pasay City and Branch 4 CFI of Quezon City, as well as his designation as Acting Chairman of the Board of Transportation, were direct mandates from the President to clean these graft-ridden offices.
His journey of 52 years started when he enrolled at the University of the Philippines in 1940 as valedictorian from the Cavite High School. At the university, he was a consistent scholar in the College of Liberal Arts and later in the College of Law. As a student, he was active in extracurricular activities. He was elected President of the Senior Student Council and became the Business Manager of the Philippinensian, the seniors’ yearbook. He was a member of the Varsity Volleyball Team for several years, earning a University Sweater during his senior year for being an outstanding athlete. He graduated from the U.P. College of Law in 1949, cum laude, as salutatorian of his class. When he took the Bar examinations that year, he was a topnotcher, placing fifth with a grade of 93. 1. The year after his graduation, he was appointed as an Instructor in the College of Law, and a year later, left for the United States to pursue graduate studies at the Yale Law School. In addition to a Yale fellowship, he was also a Fullbright-Smith Mundt grantee. He came home a year later with a Master of Laws degree, specializing in Corporation Law and Taxation. He authored several law textbooks covering the Corporation Code, Negotiable Instruments Law, Insurance Law and the Law on Transportation and the Public Service Law. These books have been used not only in the U.P College of Law but also in private law schools in the Philippines.
In the early 1950’s, the U.P. Board of Regents adopted a policy of selecting young faculty members as understudies for positions of responsibility in the administration of the University. In pursuance of this policy, Prof. Campos was appointed as Chairman of The University Committee on Student Organizations and Activities (UCCSOA) in 1955. This committee was the forerunner of the Office of Student Affairs and was composed of the deans and directors of all the colleges. In 1956, he was appointed as Acting Registrar at that time the third highest ranking official of the University. When the position of Secretary of the University was created in 1958, he was the first appointee to the position. At the same time, he was concurrently Budget Director and Assistant to the President. In 1960, on the recommendation of the Hannah Committee which was created to help in the reorganization of the university administration, he was sent to the United States to study, observe and train in the modern concepts of university administration. He spent six months in twelve different universities, taking courses in school administration, and visiting, observing and training in every phase of running a university. Upon his return he was designated as Business Executive and was charged with the supervision and control of all university activities classified as non-academic in nature. At the age of 37, he was entrusted with the business and financial functions of the university. He introduced a new concept in running a university, embarking on income producing activities theretofore considered as alien to the purpose of an educational institution. The Office of Auxiliary Enterprises was created under the Office of the Business Executive to take charge of the University food service, the student dormitories, the faculty, employee and staff housing, a book store, a service center for vehicles, a printing bureau and a golf course. He started and developed a 4000- hectare plantation of rubber, coffee, coconut, citrus, rambutan, and black pepper as well as a cattle ranch in the island of Basilan, known as the U. P. Land Grant. He made it a self-contained community for some 600 workers, complete with adequate housing, electricity, water supply, a complete elementary and high school, and a chapel. It had a 5-bed hospital staffed with two doctors, three nurses, a dental clinic and staff complying with the minimum requirements of a community hospital. He built some 100 kilometers of roads and bridges criss-crossing the whole plantation, with a security force of some 30 policemen. In Luzon, he supervised the operations of a logging concession of a 6000-hectare forest area granted to the university to be developed as another land grant. It is located along the Famy-Infanta road crossing the Sierra Madre mountains. As Business Executive, he graduated from being a classroom teacher to becoming a business entrepreneur, making money for the university to augment its limited budget from the national government.
In 1969, he was recommended by the International Cooperative Administration of the United States to be the Business Officer of the Asian Institute of Technology in Bangkok, Thailand (formerly the SEATO Graduate School). He accepted the position of Business Manager of AIT and served for over a year, while taking a leave from U. P. The AIT was in the process of building a new campus at Rangshit, 20 miles north of Bangkok. He made good use of his experience and expertise in university administration.
In 1971, his career took a new course. He was appointed judge of the Court of First Instance of the Seventh Judicial District with official station in Pasay City, with instructions from the President to “clean” the court, perceived by many as graft-ridden. A year later, he was given the additional assignment of presiding over what the President described as the most corrupt court in Quezon City – Branch 4. The former Presiding Judge had been purged from the judiciary on the first anniversary of Martial Law. Then Judge Campos remained as a trial court judge for eleven years with a side trip as Acting Chairman of the Board of Transportation, a graft-ridden agency which he was tasked to clean and restore its good image. On January 13, 1983, as a reward for having successfully instituted reforms in the agency, he was promoted to become an Associate Justice of the Intermediate Appellate Court, later reorganized as the Court of Appeals.
Prior to his stint in the Board of Transportation, he had been consistently recommended by the Supreme Court for promotion to the appellate court, but was always bypassed for political reasons – that he was the brother of the leader of the Unido in Cavite, or that his brother-in-law was instrumental in the escape of Eugenio Lopez Jr. from the Fort Bonifacio stockade. Finally, in 1992, after more than nine years in the Court of Appeals, he was promoted by President Fidel V. Ramos as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. He holds the distinction of being the first Caviteno to be appointed to the Supreme Court after World War 11, and to leave the judiciary only upon reaching the compulsory retirement age of 70, with honor and dignity.
Five months after retiring from the Supreme Court, he was appointed by the President as member of the Judicial and Bar Council. This office was established under the 1987 Constitution and was vested with the exclusive authority to select, screen and nominate candidates for appointments to the judiciary – from the lowest trial judge to the Justices of the Court of Appeals and of the Supreme Court, including the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. It intends to eliminate political interference in the appointments of members of the Bench, which was the bane of our judicial system. In this Council (JBC), he set up high standards of qualifications for judicial aspirants and required all candidates to undergo a psychological-psychiatric examination before they are nominated for appointment to the President. He retired from the JBC in July 1997, after serving the judiciary a total of 25 years.
While he was in the public service, he was the recipient of several honors. In 1979, he was chosen by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines as one of the outstanding judges of the Court of First Instance. On April 26, 198l, the University of the Philippines, through its President and Board of Regents, presented him with a Diploma of Merit and Recognition for faithful and dedicated service as a Law Professor and Business Executive of the university. In 1983, the Philippine Fulbright Scholars’ Association cited him as the outstanding Fulbrighter in the field of law and legal education. On March 20, 1985, President Marcos gave him a Commendation at a ceremony in Malacanang, complete with TV coverage, for having done a good job in improving the image of the Board of Transportation. On June 30, 1991, the Cavite High School Alumni Association, during its inaugural meeting, honored him as the outstanding graduate. On March 29, 1996, the Dasmarinas Elementary School and the Dasmarinas Elementary School Alumni Association conferred on him a plaque of Distinction as the Most Outstanding Graduate of the school. On June 14, 2002, the Cavite National High School Classes Alumni Association chose him as one of its outstanding graduates during its centenary and conferred on him the GAWAD GINTONG KALABAW award in the form of a medallion handed to him by no less than President Gloria Macapagal -Arroyo at Malacanang. The following day, June 15, 2002, the University of the Philippines Alumni Association conferred on him the Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award for the year 2002, for exemplary and dedicated service in the academe and in the judiciary, during the Alumni Homecoming and Reunion of Classes held at the Bahay ng Alumni on the Diliman campus.
Justice Campos, who died on 3 January 2005, was married to Maria Clara Lopez-Campos, a Professor Emerita of the College of Law, University of the Philippines.
(SOURCE: The View from Mr. Olympus: Selected Decisions of Mr. Justice Jose C. Campos, Jr.)