Source: Sun Star
MANILA (3rd Update, 3:40 p.m.) — President Benigno Aquino III has two weeks or until August 27 to pick the successor of ousted Chief Justice Renato Corona after the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) finally came up with a shortlist of eight nominees on Monday.
The shortlist submitted on the same day to Malacañang culminates the JBC’s two-month search, which was saddled with controversies from representation issue on the part of Congress and Palace’s supposed hand in lobbying for administration candidates.
Leading the eight-man field is Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio who received seven votes followed by Associate Justices Roberto Abad (six votes); Arturo Brion (six votes); Maria Lourdes Sereno (six votes); and Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza (six votes).
Completing the list are former San Juan City Representative (Ronaldo Zamora (six votes); Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro (five votes); and former Ateneo de Manila law Dean Cesar Villanueva (five votes).
Only those who received at least five votes should be given a slot in the list, according to JBC rules.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, once a perceived frontrunner for the post, was disqualified after a Malacañang representative failed to convince the JBC to suspend the rules on disqualification of candidates with pending cases.
“I honestly don’t know how to react. Why was I singled out?” she said in a chance interview.
De Lima is facing disbarment cases for defying a Supreme Court temporary restraining order on the travel ban on former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo last November and for publicly criticizing Corona early this year.
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) junked her appeal to expedite the resolution of the cases as her replacement in the JBC, Palace Undersecretary Michael Musngi, moved last Friday to relax the rules on disqualification to make the selection process equitable.
Rule 4 Section 5 of the JBC disqualifies applicants to judicial posts if they have pending criminal or regular administrative cases, pending criminal cases in foreign courts or tribunals and have been convicted in a case where the penalty was over P10,000 unless granted judicial clemency.
The JBC failed to get a consensus anew on the matter although this will be a subject of future discussion, academe representative Jose Mejia said.
“We will take that up at a proper time but not now because there was no consensus. There was no division of the house,” Iloilo Representative Niel Tupas Jr. said.
IBP spokesperson Trixie Angeles, meanwhile, declined to comment further about de Lima’s fate.
“We did not push for her disqualification. It’s under the JBC rules that those who have disbarment cases before the IBP will be disqualified,” she said by phone.
Corona was removed by the Senate impeachment court last May 29 for betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution after he misdeclared his peso and dollar deposits in the asset statement.
Twenty people were considered to be his replacement, who came from the judiciary, academe, government and the private sector. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)
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NOTE: If you can’t read the JBC tally sheet above, the following shows how the JBC members voted. Each member can vote up to eight candidates:
Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta, presiding officer — Abad, Brion, Carpio, De Castro, Supreme Court Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco
Undersecretary Frederick Musngi — Abad, PCGG Chair Andres Bautista, Carpio, SEC Chair Teresita Herbosa, Jardeleza, Sereno, Villanueva, Zamora
Senator Francis Escudero — Brion, Diokno, Herbosa, Jardeleza, former UP Law Dean Raul Pangalangan, Sereno, Velasco, Zamora
Rep. Niel Tupas, Jr. — Abad, Brion, Carpio, Jardeleza, De Castro, Pangalangan, Sereno, Zamora
Justice Regino Hermosisima, Jr. — Abad, Brion, Carpio, De Castro, Pangalangan, Velasco, Villanueva, Zamora
Justice Aurora Santiago Lagman — Brion, Carpio, Herbosa, Jardeleza, De Castro, Sereno, Villanueva, Zamora
Atty. Jose Mejia — Abad, Brion, Carpio, Diokno, Jardeleza, Sereno, Villanueva, Zamora
Atty. Maria Milagros Fernan-Cayosa — Abad, Bautista, Carpio, Herbosa, Jardeleza, De Castro, Sereno, Villanueva
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Palace denies pushing for De Lima
By Joyce Pangco Panares
Manila Standard Today
Malacanang on Sunday distanced itself from the actions of its representative in the Judicial and Bar Council seeking to accommodate Justice Secretary Leila de Lima in the short list of nominees for the next chief justice.
“It is not for us to judge the actions of an independent body like the JBC,” deputy presidential spokeswoman Abigail Valte said on.
“We will defer any comment on the matter as the shortlist has yet to be submitted for the President’s consideration.”
Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr., the House’s representative to the council, admitted that fellow council member Michael Musngi had been seeking to allow De Lima’s inclusion in the shortlist despite two pending disbarment cases against her that would normally disqualify her under the council’s rules.
Tupas said it was “understandable” because Musngi was from the Executive branch, being an official of the Office of the President’s Office of Special Concerns.
Musngi was appointed by the Palace to the JBC to replace De Lima, who had to inhibit herself from participating in the deliberations after accepting her nomination to the highest post in the Judiciary.
De Lima, Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza, and Securities and Exchange Commission head Teresita Herbosa face disqualification because of the pending cases against them.
De Lima actually once opposed a proposal to relax the JBC rule disqualifying candidates facing disbarment complaints from Judiciary posts.
Tupas first introduced the proposal in 2011, but three retired chief justices that the council consulted and De Lima herself who was sitting as a council member opposed the suggestion.
At the time, she said waiving or changing the rule would preempt the decision of the bodies tasked to handle the pending cases.
Earlier, another council member, Senator Francis Escudero, said De Lima’s inclusion would start a conflict as the disbarment case against her would ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court.
In the past, former solicitor general and Justice secretary Agnes Devanadera was disqualified because of an unresolved complaint against her before the Ombudsman.
The Judicial and Bar Council said Sunday there would no longer be any delays in the release of the shortlist after the group postponed a vote five times.
Tupas said they would vote today and transmit the shortlist to President Benigno Aquino III on the same day.
“We decided it should be the last reset considering the deadline for the chief executive to appoint the chief justice,” Tupas said.
The President had 90 days from May 29, when Chief Justice Renato Corona was ousted in an impeachment trial, to name a new chief justice. If the council submits its shortlist today, he will have barely two weeks to make the decision.
The voting was delayed five times in the past two weeks due to bad weather and a legal challenge questioning the council’s composition.
On Friday, the council’s members were unable to agree on Musngi’s proposal to change the rule that would bar De Lima, Jardeleza and Herbosa.
Today’s meeting is expected to start at 11 a.m.
The Constitution requires the chief justice to be at least 40 years of age, a judge in a court of record for at least 15 years or engaged in the practice of law in the Philippines for the same period, and a person of proven competence, integrity, probity and independence.
Tupas said when the qualification of any candidate was raised based on any of these main criteria, the council should decide unanimously. A single vote against a majority opinion served as a veto, he said.
On Friday, the council agreed to disqualify De Lima, Jardeleza and Herbosa but Musngi sought a suspension of the pending cases rule, a suggestion Tupas said he supported. With Rey E. Requejo