MANILA, October 19, 2005
 (STAR) By Perseus Echeminada - Former Supreme Court justice Cecilia Muñoz Palma will be inducted in Washington tomorrow by the prestigious International Women’s Forum (IWF) into its International Hall of Fame "for making a difference as a fearless woman prosecutor, fighter for truth and justice and for the full dedication of her career to God, country and fellowmen."

Palma will receive "The Women Who Make a Difference Award" and join former President Corazon Aquino and other woman leaders in the roster of IWF Hall of Fame honorees, among them former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, former Irish president Mary Robinson,, and heads of state Gro Harlem of Norway, Violeta de Chamorro of Nicaragua, Hanna Suchocka of Poland and Eugenia Charles of Dominica.

Other past awardees are Katherine Graham of The Washington Post, Rosa Parks, mother of the civil rights movement, US astronaut Sally Ride, and several other women from various parts of the world who made a difference in their respective fields of endeavor.

For health reasons, however, Palma will be unable to make the trip to the US to attend the historic ceremonies and receive the award at the JW Marriott Hotel in Washington.

Her son Tady Palma, secretary to Quezon City Mayor Feliciano Belmonte Jr., told the STAR that his sister Pearl will receive the award on behalf of their mother, who is now 92 years old.

"My sister will be representing our mother during the ceremonies," he said.

Celing, as she is fondly called by close friends and relatives, began her career in public service as the first woman prosecutor of Quezon city in 1947 and as the first woman judge in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental and in San Pablo City, Laguna.

A graduate of the University of the Philippines College of Law, Palma topped the 1937 bar exam with 92.6 percent. She also obtained two master of Laws degrees and is a recipient of nine honorary degrees here and abroad.

Palma’s career reached its peak in 1973 when she became the first Filipino woman to be appointed as Supreme Court justice.

According to former Supreme Court justice Jose B.L. Reyes, Palma’s appointment to the high court brought her conviction and courage to the fore during the dark years of martial law when she dared expose what she believed to be the shortcomings of the

military regime and openly criticized its disregard of constitutional principles and disrespect for human rights.

"In numerous Supreme Court opinions she eloquently and succinctly argued her point, sometimes packing her family off to her native Batangas to write these opinions in seclusion away from the reaches of those who would intimidate her," Reyes said.

After retiring from public service, Palma continued fighting for truth and justice. She won a seat in the now defunct Batasan Pambansa and when President Ferdinand Marcos called for snap elections, she mobilized volunteers to campaign for Mrs. Aquino.

She was also a major personality that became a rallying point for the eventual fall of Marcos during the EDSA people power II that catapulted Aquino into the presidency.

Although she opposed the revolutionary government’s move to set aside the Marcos constitution, Palma accepted the appointment to join the 1986 Constitutional Commission.

In 2003, Palma was chosen as among the most outstanding citizens of Quezon City.

A compilation of selected decisions, opinions and speeches and writings by Palma was published in 2001. The book has become a valuable reference for law students.

The IWF is a global organization of women with significant and diverse achievements who came together across national and international boundaries to share knowledge and ideas, to enrich each other’s lives, to prove a network of support and to exert influence.

The Women’s group was founded in the United States in 1992, its has forums in 21 countries and counts among its members head of states, top corporate executives, academics, artist, athletes, diplomats and makers of public policy and opinion.

Current president is former Canadian prime minister Kim Campbell.

In the Philippines, the IWC chapter was founded in 1992 by former senator Leticia Ramos-Shahani, Labor Secretary Patricia

Sto. Tomas, former tourism secretary Mina Gabor and civic leader Maribel Ongpin.

Members include international businesswoman Josie Natori, Ambassador Delia Albert, former justice Harriet Demietriou, Mother Earth chairwomanr Tes Choa, and former Civil Service commissioner Corazon Alma de Leon.
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