Palace: Santiago, Drilon qualified for Chief Justice post-A A +A
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
MALACANANG welcomed Wednesday the nomination of Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Franklin Drilon to be the next Chief Justice.
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said both senators are "qualified" for the post vacated by Renato Corona, who was removed by the Senate impeachment court last month.
"Well, both of them are obviously qualified. They've both shown their intellectual brilliance in the Senate halls and in the passage of several bills and also during the impeachment trial," Lacierda said.
Santiago and Drilon were classmates at the University of the Philippines College of Law. They graduated in 1969 with Drilon finishing third in the Bar examinations on the same year.
The two senators were on the opposite side of the fence during the impeachment trial of Corona, who was found guilty of betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution for concealing multi-million peso cash assets.
Santiago voted for Corona's acquittal while Drilon, a key ally of President Benigno Aquino III, moved for conviction.
Asked if their participation in the trial should push them to turn down the nomination, Lacierda left the decision to the senators and to the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), which will gauge their respective qualifications.
Meanwhile, the Palace refused to comment on the proposal for the nominees to undergo psychological test leaving the matter to the JBC, which is tasked by the Constitution to screen the nominees for judicial posts.
"If they wish to impose an additional qualification, that’s something that we leave with the JBC," said Lacierda.
Senator Francis Pangilinan defended the JBC practice of conducting psychological tests as he reacted to statements that nominees to the post should object to this requirement for being unconstitutional.
"The mandate of the JBC is to ensure that those shortlisted are qualified and meet the requirements laid down by the Constitution," said Pangilinan, the Senate representative to the JBC from 2001-2007.
Earlier, election lawyer Romulo Macalintal said signing a bank waiver and undergoing a psychological test are not provided for by the Constitution, as well as discriminatory because these have not been required of applicants for positions in the lower courts, and even for other government officials.
"These aspirants should take a stand on this constitutional issue even to the extent of jeopardizing their chances of being appointed to the said position to prove that they are ready to set aside personal interests in defense of our constitution," Macalintal said.
The JBC set the deadline for the nomination for the next Chief Justice to July 2.
Lacierda said there is nothing to worry about the long list of nominees since not all of them have signified their intention to seek the highest post in the judiciary.
“The list will be finalized on July 2 because if the JBC does not hear from you, you will be taken out of the list,” he said.
The JBC has so far received 65 recommendations and applications but only 13 of the nominees had accepted the endorsement.
Meantime, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte, said it is early to say that nominees who are allied with the administration have an edge in the selection process.
"It is premature to state that just because a person is allied with President Aquino, he or she will end up in the JBC short list. Ultimately it is the JBC that determines who will end up in the list, subject to the qualifications set by law,” she said.
Cabinet officials such as Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima were also nominated but they have yet to decide whether to accept or reject their nominations.
Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa declined his nomination on Monday. (Jill Beltran/Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)