MANILA (3rd Update, 3:40 p.m.) -- President Benigno Aquino III has two weeks or until August 27 to pick the successor of ousted Chief Justice Renato Corona after the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) finally came up with a shortlist of eight nominees on Monday.
The shortlist submitted on the same day to Malacañang culminates the JBC's two-month search, which was saddled with controversies from representation issue on the part of Congress and Palace's supposed hand in lobbying for administration candidates.
Leading the eight-man field is Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio who received seven votes followed by Associate Justices Roberto Abad (six votes); Arturo Brion (six votes); Maria Lourdes Sereno (six votes); and Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza (six votes).
Completing the list are former San Juan City Representative (Ronaldo Zamora (six votes); Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro (five votes); and former Ateneo de Manila law Dean Cesar Villanueva (five votes).
Only those who received at least five votes should be given a slot in the list, according to JBC rules.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, once a perceived frontrunner for the post, was disqualified after a Malacañang representative failed to convince the JBC to suspend the rules on disqualification of candidates with pending cases.
"I honestly don't know how to react. Why was I singled out?" she said in a chance interview.
De Lima 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 Corona early this year.
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) junked her appeal to expedite the resolution of the cases as her replacement in the JBC, Palace Undersecretary Michael Musngi, moved last Friday to relax the rules on disqualification to make the selection process equitable.
Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio
Rule 4 Section 5 of the JBC disqualifies applicants to judicial posts if they have pending criminal or regular administrative cases, pending criminal cases in foreign courts or tribunals and have been convicted in a case where the penalty was over P10,000 unless granted judicial clemency.
The JBC failed to get a consensus anew on the matter although this will be a subject of future discussion, academe representative Jose Mejia said.
"We will take that up at a proper time but not now because there was no consensus. There was no division of the house," Iloilo Representative Niel Tupas Jr. said.
IBP spokesperson Trixie Angeles, meanwhile, declined to comment further about de Lima's fate.
"We did not push for her disqualification. It's under the JBC rules that those who have disbarment cases before the IBP will be disqualified," she said by phone.
Corona was removed by the Senate impeachment court last May 29 for betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution after he misdeclared his peso and dollar deposits in the asset statement.
Twenty people were considered to be his replacement, who came from the judiciary, academe, government and the private sector. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)