PHILJA Officials


Justice Ascuna

Chancellor, Philippine Judicial Academy
Associate Justice (Ret), Supreme Court of the Philippines

Justice Adolfo S. Azcuna was born in Katipunan, Zamboanga Del Norte on February 16, 1939, the son of Felipe B. Azcuna and Carmen S. Sevilla. He received the degree of Bachelor of Arts, with academic honors, at the Ateneo de Manila in 1959 and the degree of Bachelor of Laws, cum laude, at the same institution in 1962. He was admitted to the Philippine Bar in 1963, placing 4th in the 1962 bar examinations. He forthwith embarked on a government career as Assistant Private Secretary of then Presiding Justice Jose P. Bengzon of the Court of Appeals in 1963 and, thereafter, upon the appointment of the latter to the Supreme Court in 1964, as his Private Secretary.

Justice Azcuna taught International Law at his alma mater, Ateneo de Manila, from 1967 to 1986. In 1982, he completed post-graduate studies in International Law and Jurisprudence at the McGeorge School of Law in Salzburg, Austria.

Representing Zamboanga Del Norte, he was elected as member of the 1971 Constitutional Convention. Subsequently, he was appointed as a member of the 1986 Constitutional Commission. He held several government posts during the term of President Corazon C. Aquino, first as Presidential Legal Counsel, then as Press Secretary and subsequently as Presidential Spokesperson. In 1991, he was appointed Chairperson of the Philippine National Bank. On October 17, 2002, he was appointed Associate Justice of the Supreme Court by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

In his Opening Remarks delivered at the Lecture Forum on the Writ of Amparo before the RTC judges of the NCJR on October 15, 2007, then Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno said, “In 1987, Justice Adolf Azcuna, then one of the commissioners tasked by President Corazon Aquino to draft the 1987 Constitution, embedded in its backbone a provision giving the Supreme Court the extra power to promulgate rules which would give life to the writ of amparo to protect the constitutional rights of our people. Through his initiative, the rule-making power of the Supreme Court was expanded to complement the awesome power of Congress to make laws. Historically, it is the parliament that protects the rights of people through its lawmaking power. Justice Azcuna allowed the Supreme Court to have a share in the exercise of this power by expanding its rule-making power.”

In 2007, Justice Azcuna was conferred the Metrobank Foundation Professorial Chair in International and Human Rights Law for which he delivered a presentation entitled, "International Humanitarian Law: A Field Guide to the Basics.”

Justice Azcuna retired from the Supreme Court on February 16, 2009 and was appointed, on June 1, 2009, Chancellor of the Philippine Judicial Academy, a post he currently holds.

Justice Azcuna's major publications include "International Sales of Goods," "Transnational Law Practice," "International Law Teaching in the Philippines," "Doing Business in the Philippines," "Foreign Judgment [Monetary] Enforcements in the Philippines," "Piercing the Veil of Corporate Entity: From Willets to Santos," "ASEAN Conflict of Law," "The Supreme Court and Public International Law," and his two Supreme Court books: “Seeing Reality in Today’s World” and “Seeking Justice in Today’s World.”

On November 12, 2012, Justice Azcuna delivered a presentation entitled, “The Writ of Amparo: The Philippine Experience So Far,” as the first recipient of the Founding Chancellor Emeritus Justice Ameurfina Melencio-Herrera Award for the Most Outstanding Professorial Lecturer.

On January 8, 2013, the Junior Chamber International (JCI) Senate Philippines and the Insular Life Assurance Co., Ltd. conferred to Justice Azcuna The Outstanding Filipino (TOFIL) Award for 2012 in the field of Justice/Law.

On February 14-15, 2013, he served as resource speaker in an Academic Seminar for Prosecutors and Judges in Nay Pyi Daw, Myanmar on The Prerogative Writs under their New Constitution which took effect in 2011. Subsequently, he represented the Philippines on February 28 to March 2, 2013, at the International Red Cross Asian Experts Conference in Bangkok.

As a holder of the Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban Professorial Chair on Liberty and Prosperity, Justice Azcuna delivered a presentation titled, “Supreme Court Decisions on the Economic Provisions of the Constitution” on April 18, 2013 at the Ateneo School of Law.

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) has elected Justice Azcuna as one of its five new commissioners for a term of five years from August 12, 2014 to August 11, 2019. The ICJ is dedicated to ensuring respect for international human rights standards through the law. Commissioners are known for their experience, knowledge and fundamental commitment to human rights [].

The Ateneo Law School in coordination with the Philippine Association of Law Schools, and the Embassy of Spain in the Philippines invited Justice Azcuna to speak on the International Scientific Congress on Private Law of the Philippines and Spain. He presented a Paper on “The Constitutional Function of Human Rights Principles within the Context of Private Law in the Philippines,” on June 14, 2016, Ateneo Professional Schools Building, Rockwell Center Makati City.

Justice Azcuna attended and delivered a Paper entitled “The Philippine Malolos Constitution: A Pioneering Asian Democratic Charter” at the Konrad-Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) Forum on Constitutionalism in Asia held in Singapore on June 28-29, 2016.

On September 27, 2016, the Ateneo de Manila University on its 2016 Traditional University Awards conferred with Justice Azcuna the highest award, the Lux-in-Domino Award. The Lux-in-domino Award is a capstone award that requires the crowning achievement of both life and work, given to an extraordinary individual who has incarnated in life, and perhaps even in death, in an outstanding and exemplary manner, the noblest ideals of the Ateneo de Manila University. “For living as a selfless public servant who puts country before self and as a man of deep faith whose devotion to his family is unchanging; for devoting more than 50 years of his life to judicial work, driven by a commitment to the delivery of justice; for ensuring the protection of every Filipino’s constitutional right to life, liberty, and security through the writ of amparo; for lighting a path of excellence, service, and probity that young Filipinos and Ateneans may follow.”

On September 29, 2016, Justice Azcuna delivered his public lecture for the 2016 Traditional University Awards entitled “TRAINING THE JUDICIARY – THE PHILIPPINE EXPERIENCE 1996-2016” at the Ateneo Law School, Rockwell Drive, Makati City.

Justice Azcuna is married to Maria Asuncion Aunario, Dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences at St. Scholastica's College. They are blessed with four children and four grandchildren.



Vice Chancellor and Acting Chief of Finance, Philippine Judicial Academy
Retired Associate Justice, Supreme Court of the Philippines

JUSTICE ROMEO J. CALLEJO, SR. was born in Sta. Lucia, Ilocos Sur on April 28, 1937 to Pedro Callejo, Sr. and Rosario Joven Callejo.

In 1955, Justice Callejo went to Manila to enroll at San Beda College where he graduated with an Associate in Arts degree. He pursued his Benedictine education further and took up Law. Upon passing the Bar the following year, Justice Callejo joined the law office of the late Senator Jose W. Diokno. He later became a Partner in the Montenegro, Mandayag and Hernandez Law Office until his appointment as Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Manila in 1987.

It was not long before Justice Callejo would return to his alma mater where he taught Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, Evidence and Trial Technique for 14 years. He conducted Pre-Bar review lectures in Remedial and Criminal Law in San Beda, and later in the Ateneo de Manila University where he also taught Criminal Law and Evidence.

Justice Callejo served as a Regional Trial Court Judge in the City of Manila until his appointment to the Court of Appeals in 1994. He was named Outstanding Judge of Manila twice—in 1991 and 1994. In 1993, he was awarded the much coveted Cayetano Arellano Award for Judicial Excellence by the Foundation for Judicial Excellence.

Prior to his appointment to highest court of the land on September 3, 2002, Justice Callejo was Chairperson of the 10th Division of the Court of Appeals. He had also served as the Chairman of the Philippine Judicial Academy’s Department of Criminal Law since 1998. He was also a lecturer in Criminal Law at the UP Law Center.

As an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Callejo chaired the Committee on Legal Education and Bar Matters. Justice Callejo was a delegate in the Conference on International Terrorism of the World Jurist Association (WJA) in 2002 in Madrid, Spain, and again in 2003 in Sydney, Australia where the WJA celebrated its 40th year. He was the Chairperson of the Bar Examinations Committee in 2005.

After his retirement from the High Court, he was the Chairperson of the Supreme Court Committee, which drafted the Revision of Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Court that was approved by the Supreme Court, and of the Rules of Evidence pending approval by the Supreme Court.

Justice Callejo is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Society of Judicial Excellence and an alumnus of the Academy of Comparative and International Law of the University of Texas (at Dallas).

Justice Callejo is married to Ma. Filipinas Villanueva. They are blessed with two children, Romeo Gerard Callejo, Jr. and Geraldine Callejo-Geday. He is a proud grandfather to Jacqueline, Alicia and Amelie.



Executive Secretary, Philippine Judicial Academy

Justice Buzon obtained her Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws degrees from the University of the Philippines in 1963 and 1967, respectively, and passed the Bar Examinations also in 1967. Her work experiences include: Researcher in the Concepcion, Balajadia and Victorino Law Office; Researcher in the Court of Appeals; Chief Legal Officer and Special Prosecutor in the Office of the Tanodbayan; Judge of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 170, Malabon and Branch 91, Quezon City; and Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals until her early retirement on March 19, 2008.

Justice Buzon was Bar Examiner in Legal Ethics and Practical Exercises in the 1992 Bar Examinations. In 1995, she was recognized by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Quezon City Chapter as One of the Ten Most Outstanding Judges of Quezon City and received an Award for Judicial Excellence from the Rotary Club of Metro Sta. Mesa. She was also given Plaques of Distinction by the UP Women Lawyers Circle (WILOCI) in 1987 and 1997.

Currently, Justice Buzon is the Executive Secretary of the Philippine Judicial Academy and Acting Chief of Office of the Philippine Mediation Center Office.



Chief of Office for Academic Affairs

Justice Delilah Vidallon Magtolis is a multi – awarded jurist with almost 23 years of service in the judiciary. She was first appointed as a Metropolitan Trial Court Judge in Quezon City at the Judiciary Reorganization of January 1983, and was promoted as RTC Judge in the same city during the reorganization occasioned by the EDSA revolution of 1986. Her award for Judicial Excellence catapulted her to the Court of Appeals in 1994, and it is in this Court where she stayed the longest. After her compulsory retirement in November, 2005 from the Court of Appeals where she received an Achievement award for having disposed of all her cases submitted for decision, she was taken by the Supreme Court to be the Executive Secretary of its training arm, the Philippine Judicial Academy. She held such position until May 31, 2008, as she became the Chief of Office for Academic Affairs effective June 1, 2008.

As a trial judge, she was the recipient of various awards, foremost of which were: the Cayetano Arellano Award for Judicial Excellence as Outstanding RTC Judge, given by the Foundation for Judicial Excellence in 1992, and Most Outstanding RTC Judge among the five nationally – selected in 1989 by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, both after a nationwide search, thorough screening and clandestine investigation. Her other awards include, among others, that of outstanding Judge, IBP of Quezon City; Outstanding Jurist and Public Servant, Quezon City Youth Development Foundation; Woman of Distinction in the Field of Justice, YWCA of Quezon City on its 20th Anniversary; Certificate of Merit from the Philippine Women Judges Association for her “Innovations on Judicial Management and Procedures”: Ulirang Ina Award in the field of Judiciary given by the National Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day Foundation; and Area Champion, Impromptu Speech Contest, Toastmasters International (Area 2, Division A).

Justice Magtolis is a graduate of the Francisco College (Ll.B., Magna Cum Laude, 1959), and the Far Eastern University (BSC, 1955). She also took up graduate studies in Public Administration at the University of the Philippines, after winning a graduate fellowship thereat. At Harvard University, Massachusetts, USA, she took up special courses in Law and the Internet, Developments in Family Law, International Litigation, and Public and Private International Economic Law. She has attended various trainings/seminars in the United States of America, Canada, and South Korea.

Working her way through college, Justice Magtolis has more than 48 years of government service. She is also a Professorial Lecturer of the Philippine Judicial Academy, and of certain MCLE providers. She was a former Lecturer of the Institute of Judicial Administration of the University of the Philippines, and of the Department of Justice. She has written several legal articles, published or unpublished, and is a co-author of the Benchbook on “The Child in the Justice System”, published by the FairCHILD and the U.P. Law Center in 1994.

She is also active in socio-civic work, particularly in promotion of the rights and interests of women and children. Justice Magtolis is a Caviteña by blood, her parents (Leon A. Vidallon and Dionisia Cajapin Vidallon, both deceased) being both from Cavite (Alfonso and Kawit, respectively). She is married to Engineer Isagani M. Magtolis of Negros Oriental, with whom she has three daughters, a physician, an information technology manager with M.B.A., and a Lawyer.



Chief of Office, Research, Publications and Linkages Office, PHILJA

Professor Sedfrey M. Candelaria heads the Research, Publications and Linkages Office of the Philippine Judicial Academy (PHILJA), chairs its Department of Special Areas of Concern, and belongs to the PHILJA Corps of Professors.

Professor Candelaria was appointed Dean of the Ateneo Law School in February 2012, where he teaches Constitutional Law, Public International Law, Indigenous Peoples and the Law, Children’s Rights, and International Economic Law. He also teaches at the Political Science Department, European Studies Program and University for Peace-Consortium of the Ateneo de Manila University.

He is the current president of the Philippine Association of Law Schools and a member of the Mandatory Continuing Legal Education Board of the Philippines. He also sits as a member of the Subcommittee on Admission to the Bar, and the Subcommittee on Maintenance of Membership in the Philippine Bar, both of the Supreme Court’s Committee on Continuing Legal Education and Bar Matters.

A Fellow of the Commonwealth Judicial Education Institute (CJEI) in Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada, Dean Candelaria has also authored several articles on constitutional law, law and economic development, judicial education, peace process, human rights, and international law. He has edited and conducted researches for UNICEF, ILO, UNHCR, UNDP and APEC Study Center.

He obtained his Master of Laws degree at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, and his Bachelor of Laws degree at the Ateneo Law School. He has also been conferred the Diplomate in Juridical Science by the San Beda Graduate School of Law.

Dean Candelaria was actively involved in some celebrated test case litigation before the Supreme Court notably the Asia-Pacific Conference on East Timor, Davide Impeachment, IPRA and the GRP-MILF MOA-AD.He was also engaged as Peace Panel Member in the past peace negotiations with the CPP/NPA/NDF and MILF under the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process.

During the 2010 Bar Examinations, Dean Candelaria was an examiner in Political and Public International Law.



PHILJA Chief of Office for Administration

Atty. Elmer DG. Eleria is currently the PHILJA Chief of Office for Administration. At one time, he was designated as the Acting Head of the Academic Affairs Office and the Concurrent Head of the Administrative Office.

Atty. Eleria obtained his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Bachelor of Laws from Saint Louis University in Baguio City. He likewise took up a certificate course on Learning Design and Evaluation in the Research and Development of the Ateneo De Manila University Center for Organization.

Prior to his employment in PHILJA, Atty. Eleria was an Associate Lawyer in Anarna Law Office and a Human Resource Manager in Estrada (CB Balingit) Group of Companies.

In 2008, he started his career in PHILJA as Attorney III in the Office of the Vice Chancellor until his appointment in 2009 as the SC Chief Judicial Staff Officer in the Administrative Office.

Given the recognition as the 2014 PHILJA Employee of the Year, he has been involved in PHILJA Committees such as the Supreme Court Data Reconciliation Committee, PHILJA Management Committee, PHILJA Training Center Executive Committee and Benchbook Revision Committee. He was likewise assigned to represent PHILJA in various committees in the Court

He attended the World Judiciary Transformation Framework and Metrics held on August 18-19, 2016 in Bangkok, Thailand, as nominated by the PHILJA Chancellor, Justice Adolfo S. Azcuna. In 2017, he was one of the PHILJA delegates who participated in the International Exchange Program at the Federal Judicial Center, Washington D.C. USA and the National Center for State Courts, Virginia, USA.

He is a Guest Professorial Lecturer of the De La Salle University Dasmariñas where he teaches Business Laws for Accountancy students, specifically, Obligation and Contracts, Law on Business Organizations, Negotiable Instruments Law, Law on Sales, Agency and Credit Transactions.

He is married to a law school classmate, Atty. Corazon F. Arafol-Eleria who is now working as a Supreme Court Attorney. They have a wonderful boy, Ezekiel.



Chief of Office, Philippine Mediation Center Office

Judge Mona Lisa V. Tiongson-Tabora graduated with honors at the St. Paul College of Manila earning a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree in 1981. Two years later, she married her college sweetheart, Engr. Antonio R. Tabora, Jr., a former Vice Mayor and 3-term Councilor of Baguio City.

A mother of five and grandmother of four, Judge Tabora completed her Bachelor of Laws degree at the top of her class, graduating valedictorian and cum laude at the Baguio Colleges Foundation (now known as the University of the Cordilleras) in 1991. After passing the Bar Examinations given that year, she worked with Baguio City Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan as Secretary to the Mayor. A year later, she was appointed as Branch Clerk of Court of the Baguio City Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 60 and served in such capacity for nine years.

She completed and passed the first Pre-Judicature Program of the Philippine Judicial Academy held in 2000 attended by 100 participants.

Appointed to the bench in 2002, she first served as Presiding Judge of the Municipal Circuit Trial Court of San Juan-San Gabriel, La Union. Three and a half years later, she was promoted to Branch 26 of the RTC of San Fernando City, La Union. Stricken with cancer after her promotion, she continued to work and even presided over two courts, while undergoing chemotherapy, as she was designated as Acting Presiding Judge (APJ) of Baguio City RTC Branch 7. In 2008, she was eventually transferred to the said court in a permanent capacity. In 2011, she served as Assisting Judge of Mandaluyong City RTC Branch 209. In November 2012, she was designated as APJ of RTC Manila, Branch 21 (Tax Court) on a full-time basis for two and a half years, and she concurrently served as APJ of RTC Manila, Branch 5 (Family Court). She was also designated as Acting Presiding Judge of RTC Makati, Branch 149 (Commercial Court) from April 2014 to February 2015 while serving as Pairing Judge of RTC Manila, Branch 22 for five months. She then returned to her regular court in Baguio City in March 2015.

Before her retirement effective July 1, 2019, Judge Tabora received extensive training in mediation as her courts in San Fernando City, La Union and Baguio City were designated as pilot courts when the Alternative Dispute Resolution Juris Project, sponsored by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), was first rolled out in 2006. After completing the Trainor's Training Course on Cybercrime sponsored by the European Union, which was implemented by the Council of Europe in tandem with the Department of Justice, she volunteered as resource speaker for the Office of Cybercrime –Department of Justice.



PHILJA Chief of Office
for Training Center (General Manager)

PHILJA Training Center Office

Mr. Romulo M. Abancio, Jr., head of the Corporate Planning Division of the PHILJA Administrative Office, is also the Acting Manager of the PHILJA Training Center (PTC), the Academy’s facility for its training programs and activities.

A Career Executive Service Officer (CESO), Mr. Abancio earned his B.S. Biological Science degree at the West Visayas State University in Iloilo City and his Master of Arts in Governmental Management at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, as well as units in Law and Doctorate in Public Management.

Mr. Abancio started his career in government as Clerk IV in the then Judicial Reforms Office and later as Executive Assistant IV under Chancellor Justice Ameurfina A. Melencio Herrera. He was appointed on April 1, 2004, as the first PMC Unit Supervisor in Bacolod City, where he received a commendation for proposing and preparing the Guidelines for the Establishment of PMC Units and the Criteria for the selection of sites. On October 1, 2004, he returned to the Office of the Chancellor as Executive Assistant V, until he assumed his current position as SC Chief Judicial Staff Officer on March 26, 2008.

In August 2011, Mr. Abancio completed his training in hotel operations for housekeeping, security, sales and marketing, engineering, and purchasing at the Linden Suites.

He is also the 2010 Communications Excellence awardee under the Supreme Court’s Program on Awards and Incentives for Service Excellence (PRAISE).