Palace distances self from attempt to save De Lima's candidacy-A A +A
Sunday, August 12, 2012
MALACANANG on Sunday distanced itself on the supposed move by the Executive department to keep Justice Secretary Leila De Lima in the race to become the next Chief Justice.
Last Friday, Palace Undersecretary Michael Frederick Musngi asked the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) to “amend or suspend” Section 5, Rule 4 of the council, which bars an aspirant with pending criminal and administrative cases from being considered in any judicial post.
Observers found this as a move to save De Lima, who is facing disbarment cases for defying a Supreme Court temporary restraining order on the travel ban on former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo last November and for publicly criticizing former Chief Justice Renato Corona.
“It is not for us to judge the actions of an independent body like the JBC,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said.
“We will defer any comment on the matter as the short list is yet to be submitted for the President's consideration."
Musngi’s motion prompted the JBC to suspend for the fifth time the selection of the nominees who will be included in the shortlist, which will be submitted to President Benigno Aquino III hopefully by Monday.
Aquino, in turn, has until August 27 to pick Corona's replacement.
Iloilo congressman Niel Tupas Jr., who represents the House of Representative in the JBC, on Saturday admitted that Musngi was indeed trying to accommodate de Lima and two other nominees from the Executive department to be considered for the shortlist despite the circumstances.
They are Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza and Securities and Exchange Commission chairperson Teresita Herbosa.
Tupas said this was expected since Musngi is from the Executive department.
On Monday's meeting, the JBC will first rule whether or not the issue on pending cases involves question on a nominee’s integrity, which is a main qualification for the post set by the Constitution.
He said that when qualification of any candidate is raised based on any of the main criteria, the council should decide unanimously. A single vote against a majority opinion serves as veto power.
Musngi’s designation as member of the JBC is being opposed following his action last Friday.
A complaint stated that a Justice Secretary should sit in the JBC under the 1987 Constitution and “not any other representative of the executive branch.”
Musngi was appointed by President Aquino to replace De Lima for the meantime after she accepted the nomination for the highest post in the judiciary.
The JBC has yet to act on the complaint against the Palace representative. (Jill Beltran/JCV/Sunnex)