Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Next Chief Justice must first submit waiver on bank deposits-JBC

..Candidates for the next Supreme Court chief justice are now required to submit a waiver on bank deposits, the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) said Monday. Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero, the Senate representative to the JBC, proposed the new application requirement which was unanimously agreed upon by the collegial body. “The body's approval of my motion is just being consistent to the general sentiment of the people during and after the tedious impeachment process: that is to set the highest bar for transparency and accountability among those who are in and those who wish to join government service,” Escudero said. Ex-chief justice Renato Corona was removed from office after he was found guilty by the impeachment court of culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust for untruthfully declaring his statements of assets, liabilities and net worth. Escudero said aspirants who are from the government will be asked to provide their SALNs while those from the private sector will be required to submit their income tax returns from two previous years. This will allow the council to check if the applicants’ bank accounts are reflected in their SALNs or ITRs, the senator noted. “We just removed a CJ because of his deficient bank accounts, and the last thing we want is to choose another CJ whose bank accounts are not reflected in his SALN,” he added. Escudero said after today’s deliberation, the JBC will publish notices of vacancy and acceptance of application and nomination for the highest magistrate position. President Benigno Aquino III will appoint the next chief justice from the shortlist of the JBC. Under the existing JBC requirements, all court applicants must be Filipino citizens; possess proven competence, integrity, probity and independence and a member of the Philippine bar; at least 40 years old; and have served 15 years or more as a judge of a lower court or in the practice of law in the Philippines. Since Corona’s conviction, the names of Senator Franklin Drilon, Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares, Department of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, and Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, who is now the acting chief justice based on seniority, emerged as the probable new chief justice. However, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago told reporters Monday that De Lima and Morales should not accept the JBC nomination. "If they participated in the impeachment trial, it cannot be helped but raise doubts in the minds of the public that they were testifying so they can get rid of the incumbent and replace him. I'm afraid they have disqualified themselves morally from that vantage point," Santiago said. ..