SAMUEL R. MARTIRES
Samuel Reyes Martires, the sixth Ombudsman of the Republic of the Philippines, had priestly aspirations. But fate intervened and he went on to become a lawyer and more importantly, to tread a remarkable journey in public service.
The significance of this interesting twist in his professional career is not lost on him. “I am the first lawyer in the family. Everyone was happy when I passed the bar. I did not take it against anyone (who believed otherwise),” he reveals in Benchmark, the official quarterly magazine of the Supreme Court Public Information Office. In this interview, Justice Martires shared that, except for his mother, the idea of having a career in the legal profession, and more so in the judiciary, was far removed from the minds of the people who knew him.
But he surprised them all.
After receiving his Bachelor of Arts degree from the Manuel L. Quezon University in 1971, this son of Palapag, Northern Samar took up law at San Beda College of Law. Imbued by the school’s motto of ora et labora (prayer and hard work), he earned his Bachelor of Laws degree in 1975. In 1976, he passed the Bar Examinations.
Public service is wired in the DNA of Ombudsman Martires. Right after passing the bar, he worked as Legal Officer 2 at the Department of Public Works, Transportation and Communication until 1979. From 1979 to 1984, he served as Assistant Department Manager at the Ministry of Human Settlements.
He went on hiatus from government service when he engaged in private practice from 1987 to 2000.
Upon the prodding of his mother to take on a position in the judiciary, he decided to go back and serve in government. By virtue of hard work and discipline, he went on to carve a checkered career in the judiciary.
In July 2000, he was appointed as the Presiding Judge of Regional Trial Court, Branch 32 of Agoo, La Union.
Within five years, or in 2005, he was appointed as the 49th Justice of the Sandiganbayan where he served for almost a decade.
In March 2017, Justice Martires took his oath as the 175th Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines.
In August 2018, six months before his compulsory retirement from the Supreme Court, he asked the Court’s approval for early retirement so that he could fulfill a lifelong dream: to serve and protect the Filipino people as Ombudsman of the Republic of the Philippines.