Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Aquino told: Don’t break tradition in appointing CJ

NAMING a senior justice to take over the affairs of the Supreme Court is being advised as this will minimize the jockeying for appointment from within or outside the chamber, a former nominee for the position of Chief Justice said over the weekend.

Raphael Lotilla, Energy secretary to former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, turned down his nomination to succeed ousted Renato Corona after thinking about the endorsement by economists Roberto de Ocampo, Calixto Chikiamko and Gloria Tan Climaco.

“I suggest that only for overwhelming reasons, such as the inability of the incumbent members of the Court to redeem themselves and the institution, should we consider appointing from outside of the Court. Whether these weighty considerations exist, the appointing power can be a better judge from the unobstructed view of the leader’s lair,” he said.

President Benigno Aquino III is reportedly considering appointing an outsider as head of the Judiciary, with the names of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares being floated as contenders.

In one of his interviews, the President said he would rather keep de Lima and Henares in the Cabinet to finish pending tasks.

In the case of de Lima, Aquino said she should hasten the resolution of high profile cases, while Henares was asked to build on the gains of improving tax collection.

“I have not yet spoken to the President,” an undecided de Lima told reporters.

Lotilla’s decision not to apply has brought the number of potential nominees to 26. These include the eight magistrates of the Supreme Court, namely: acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio and Justices Presbitero Velasco Jr., Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Arturo Brion, Diosdado Peralta, Jose Perez, Roberto Abad and Maria Lourdes Sereno.

Nominated as well are Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza, government chief peace negotiator with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Marvic Leonen, University of the East College of Law Dean Amado Valdez, Integrated Bar of the Philippines president Roan Libarios, lawyers Rodolfo Robles and Pedro Aquino and Elections Commissioner Rene Sarmiento.

The rest of the pool are managing partner of Sycip Salazar, Hernandez and Gatmaitan law firm Rafael Morales, Vice Mayor Nepomuceno Aparis, former Solicitor General Francisco Chavez, ex-Makati City Representative Teodoro Locsin Jr., former Ateneo de Manila Law Dean Cesar Villanueva, former University of the Philippines Law Dean Raul Pangalanan, and women’s rights advocate Katrina Legarda.

Legarda and Pangalanan have already accepted their nominations, while the rest are given by the screening body Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) until Monday, June 18, to decide if they want to be included in the initial list of applicants. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex