JBC receives 3 nominees for next Chief Justice-A A +A
Thursday, June 7, 2012
MANILA -- The Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) received Thursday nominations for a woman's rights advocate, a state lawyer and a former law school dean, a day after formally opening nominations for the Chief Justice post.
The three nominees were lawyer Katrina Legarda, Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza and Cesar Villaneuva, dean emeritus of the Ateneo Law School.
The early nominees would join Associate Justices Antonio Carpio, Prebitero Velasco Jr., Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Arturo Brion and Diosdado Peralta, the five senior magistrates of the Supreme Court who were automatically nominated to the Chief Justice post, unless they would decline their nomination.
The JBC, a constitutional body tasked to screen and recommend to the President nominees to vacant judicial posts, opened the nomination for the Chief Justice post following the removal of Renato Corona, who was convicted by the Senate impeachment court on May 29 for betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution for failing to declare his peso and dollar bank deposits in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN).
The eight-man panel will stop receiving applications and nominations for the post on June 18 as it begins scheduling the public interview of aspirants starting on June 25.
The JBC members will then vote and submit a shortlist to the President.
Under the Constitution, the President has 90 days to fill up the vacancy, starting from the time the vacancy was created.
This is the second nomination for all three candidates.
Legarda, who has made a name for herself as defender of abused women and children, acted as legal counsel to an 11-year-old girl who filed a statutory rape case against then Zamboanga del Norte representative Romeo Jalosjos, and successfully prosecuted the case that led to the lawmaker's conviction.
She was also nominated in 2010 for a vacancy in the High Court, but lost to Maria Lourdes Sereno, President Benigno Aquino III's first appointee to the Supreme Court.
Jardeleza also vied for a slot in the high tribunal in 2011, but his bid was not successful. However, Aquino appointed him as solicitor general, replacing Jose Anselmo Cadiz.
Prior to his appointment as solicitor general, Jardeleza served as deputy ombudsman for Luzon. He used to be the senior vice president and general counsel of San Miguel Corporation from 1996 up to 2010, and was a partner of the Angara Abello Concepcion Regala and Cruz law firm in 1981.
For his part, Villanueva was a second-placer in the 1981 bar examinations, and has since been considered an authority in Philippine commercial law.
He graduated magna cum laude from Holy Angel University. He took the Philippine CPA Board Examinations in 1982 and ranked sixth nationwide.
During his public interview with the JBC in 2008 when he first aspired to become a Supreme Court justice, Villanueva said he is in favor of amending the Constitution to make businessmen more competitive with the rest of the world.
While the three candidates enjoyed their nomination, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima appeared to be fishing for one - herself. An ex-officio member of the JBC, de Lima decided last Monday to inhibit herself in vetting nominees because of the possibility that she herself might be nominated.
In an interview with reporters Thursday, de Lima said she will not apply for the Chief Justice post, but would welcome a nomination, if there is any.
"I will not apply. Let's wait for a nomination, if any. If none, so be it. I will have a quieter life," she told reporters.
De Lima said she would still have to talk to the President if he wanted her to join the judiciary or be part of the senatorial ticket of the ruling Liberal Party.
Malacañang said de Lima is qualified to be the next Chief Justice, even if she failed to pass the Commission on Appointments (CA) for several times.
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said de Lima's possible nomination to the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) is different from her confirmation as Cabinet secretary.
"The JBC will not consider the fact that she was not confirmed as a basis for not considering her," Lacierda said.
"All of the nominees will be interviewed by the JBC and they will weigh the considerations and the qualifications of each nominee based on their qualification," he added.
Lacierda said the Palace has no information yet if anyone is going to submit de Lima's name to the JBC.
De Lima and Bureau of Internal Revenue commissioner Kim Henares were reportedly being eyed as replacement for Corona.
Henares on Thursday, during the BIR's filing of a tax evasion case at the Department of Justice, defended Aquino's prerogative to nominate and appoint the next chief justice.
"There is nothing preventing the President from nominating anyone. It is his right to do that, but I do not know if he will do that," he said.
Apparently, even the rules of the JBC promulgated by the Supreme Court in November 2000 sided with Henares.
Rule 1, Section 1.5 states that "application for appointment may be done by the applicant himself or by recommendation of another person, an association or organization. In the latter case, the applicant concerned must manifest his acceptance of the recommendation either in the recommendation paper itself or in a separate document."
"There is no prohibition but it might be improper since he (Aquino) is already the appointing authority. Anyone can nominate anyway," Senator Francis Escudero, a member of the JBC, said in a text message to Sun.Star.
Like de Lima, Henares was also being asked to decline any nomination out of delicadeza because she testified against Corona during the impeachment trial, but the country’s top tax collector said that being nominated is an "opportunity and an honor."
Henares admitted that she has not spoken with Aquino regarding reports that she is being considered for the post vacated by Corona.
The government official also figured in the recently concluded impeachment trial where she told senator-judges that Corona's two daughters are not capable of buying high-end properties if based on their tax returns, among other findings.
"It's an opportunity; it's an honor to be mentioned as a possible candidate. Every opportunity should be studied well before one makes a decision," she said, adding her testimony at the impeachment trial should not be a reason to decline the invitation.
Lacierda earlier said Henares and de Lima are qualified for the post citing their competence and integrity.
Senator Miriam Santiago, however, frowned at their possible nomination because both officials testified at the impeachment trial of Corona. (JCV/Virgil Lopez/Jill Beltran/Sunnex)