President’s cousin declines nomination for CJ post-A A +A
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
MANILA -- Losing presidential candidate Gilbert Teodoro, a second cousin of President Benigno Aquino III, declined his nomination for the Chief Justice position on Tuesday.
His decision was sent to the screening body Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) through a letter that has yet to be disclosed.
But hours before Teodoro’s decision, Malacañang said it is unfair that he will be denied of a chance to replace ousted Chief Justice Renato Corona simply because he is a relative of the President.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the selection of the next Chief Justice should be based on qualifications.
“We have no control over who gets nominated and it’s not a question of whether the Palace is comfortable or not but it’s a question of Attorney Teodoro being qualified,” Valte said.
Teodoro, a former defense secretary and Bar topnotcher, ran but lost to Aquino in the 2010 presidential elections.
He was nominated to the Chief Justice post by lawyer Jose Mallari to replace Corona, who was removed from office by the Senate impeachment court last May 29 for failing to report multi-million peso cash deposits in his asset statement, making him liable for betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution.
Those eyeing to head the judiciary include Associate Justices Arturo Brion and Roberto Abad, Elections Commissioner Rene Sarmiento, former San Juan representative Ronaldo Zamora, former University of the Philippines Law Dean Raul Pangalanan and women’s rights lawyer Katrina Legarda.
Rounding up the pool are De La Salle University Law School founding Dean Jose Manuel Diokno, retired Judge Manuel Siyangco Jr., former Ateneo de Manila Law School Dean Cesar Villanueva, and Rafael Morales.
The JBC, a constitutional body that screens and submits a shortlist of nominees in vacant judicial posts for the President’s consideration, will continue accepting applications and nominations until July 2 after a two-week extension.
The eight-member council said that of the nominees, 11 have accepted their nomination, including Brion and Abad, who was nominated by a certain Attorney Nilo Divina.
Brion was among the five most senior justices of the Supreme Court (SC) who were automatically nominated. The same could not be said about the four other senior justices -- acting chief justice Antonio Carpio, Presbitero Velasco Jr., Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, and Diosdado Peralta.
Other SC justices nominated were Maria Lourdes Sereno and Estela Perlas-Bernabe, who are both appointees of President Aquino; and Jose Perez.
Aside from Brion and Abad, those who have accepted their nomination were Diokno, tax lawyer Rodolfo Robles, Sarmiento, Siayngco, Villanueva, Zamora, Legarda, Morales and Pangalangan.
Court observers said that among the front-runners for the top judicial post is Carpio, the most senior justice in the SC.
Also considered strong contenders are Cabinet members Jardeleza, Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, who have yet to decide on their respective nominations.
Aquino earlier said he would prefer Henares and de Lima to remain in their current posts, although de Lima said she will still need to talk to the President to get his insight about her possible JBC campaign or to just joint LP as one of its senatorial bets.
The JBC received 48 applications since the searching process began two weeks ago. Of this number, two have applied – nurse Jocelyn Esquivel and former Malabon Regional Trial Court Judge Florentino Floro.
Esquivel's disqualification came last week because she is not a lawyer, while former Court of Appeals justice Hilarion Aquino was deleted from the roll because he is already past the mandatory retirement age of 70.
New nominees include former Senator Rene Saguisag, Presidential Commission on Good Government Chairman Andres Bautista and Court of Appeals Associate Justice Japar Dimaampao. (Virgil Lopez/ECV/Jill Beltran/Sunnex)