By ANDREO CALONZO
Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio said Monday the high court will not be under the control of President Benigno Aquino III once a new head of the judiciary is appointed.
Speaking for the first time to reporters after former Chief Justice Renato Corona’s removal from office, Carpio said the high court will remain independent, whoever its next head might be.
“A lot of justices are really independent… I am sure the justices will decide independently on every issue,” he told reporters.
He added that he personally thinks that Corona’s ouster has “no chilling effect” on his job as an SC justice.
On May 29, the Senate impeachment court found Corona guilty of failing to disclose certain properties and sums of money in his statements of assets, liabilities and net worth.
The Supreme Court is composed of three appointees of Aquino while the remaining 11, including Carpio, are appointees of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Mrs. Arroyo now represents Pampanga’s second district in the House of Representatives.
Following Corona’s ouster, Aquino is tasked to appoint the next SC chief magistrate. He is given 90 days to select the next head of the judiciary, based on a list to be submitted by the Judicial and Bar Council.
Carpio, who is automatically nominated to be next chief justice being one of the most senior SC magistrates, said the judiciary should already “move forward” after Corona was convicted by the Senate impeachment court.
“We have to learn lessons from the impeachment. I think we can do the job. There are a lot of professionals, many, most of the people here,” he said.
Carpio added the SC learned the value of transparency after Corona’s removal from office.
“The impeachment thought us lessons. I think we are learning. We have already decided to release our SALNs and we have also decided to make public our financial reports,” Carpio said.
The 14 SC justices also decided to publicly release copies of their SALNs a day after Corona’s conviction.
He added that “a lot of traditions in the SC” have hindered in the release of these public documents in the past.
Carpio likewise said he has already directed SC employees to upload all financial reports on the high court’s website.
Next chief justice?
Carpio further said that he has not yet decided whether or not to accept his nomination as the next chief justice.
“I don’t know about that. You [will] know when I write my response (to the nomination),” he said.
He added that he will respect President Aquino’s choice for the next head of the judiciary, even if it is not him.
“For me, I respect the prerogative of the President so I am not demanding or asking anything. It is his right to choose from the list that is submitted and that is my policy ever since,” he said.
Carpio also refused to comment on the suggestion to pick an outsider as the next chief magistrate, saying speaking on the matter will be “self-serving” on his part. — RSJ, GMA News