MANILA, Philippines - So what if he has no experience in litigation?
Former energy secretary Raphael "Popo" Lotilla said this will not keep him from performing his duties well if he gets appointed as Supreme Court associate justice.
Lotilla is one of the candidates for the post vacated by Maria Lourdes Sereno, who was appointed Chief Justice. He was grilled by the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), the body that screens applicants and nominees for judicial posts, in an interview on Thursday, October 25.
“It's true I have no experience in the judiciary, but it's quite important to bring perspective as well from the executive,” he said.
Lotilla served as energy secretary during the time of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and worked in the National Economic and Development Authority.
Like Sereno, Lotilla also taught in the University of the Philippines College of Law.
Sereno asked him how he thinks he can work with other members of the court whose politics, viewpoints and policy outlooks may vary from his.
Lotilla said he is used to the culture of working in a team and will not have a problem being in a collegial court.
“I don't have a monopoly of ideas. I'm open to contributing to collegial decisions,” he said.
He added that he wants to be remembered as someone who helped strengthen the judiciary as an institution.
In 2008, Lotilla was nominated to the High Court, but was disqualified because of a pending administrative case. He was nominated for chief justice in June 2012 but he declined to pursue it, saying the tradition of appointing the most senior justice to the highest judicial post must be respected.
Aside from Lotilla, other candidates who were interviewed by the JBC Thursday included Judge Adoracion Cruz-Avisado; CA Justices Magdangal De Leon, Isaias Dicdican, Jose Reyes, Noel Tijam; CA Presiding Justice Andres Reyes; and former University of the Philippines Law Dean Marvic Leonen.
A recurring issue raised in the interviews was Sereno's policy of dignified silence, where justices are discouraged from discussing their opinions in public. Sereno said a justice's stance is best known through his or her decisions.
Lotilla said he agrees with this, but added the media should still be given the opportunity to make clarifications about court decisions.
Tijam and Reyes said that not all issues that concern the Court should be kept away from the public.
Tijam said while decisions speak best of the justices' stance, the judiciary should inform the public of the reforms that it has introduced to improve access to justice.
Reyes, on the other hand, said the decision-making process should be confidential, but not the decisions.
CA Presiding Justice Andres Reyes was quizzed about the constitutional prohibition against political dynasties.
He said that this is a complex issue. “How does one define political dynasty?” he asked.
If two people from the same family could not hold political posts, “does it mean you can't have two justices [from the same family] at the same time?”
A petition to ban political dynasties is pending before the High Court. The Volunteers against Crime and Corruption filed the petition on October 25, asking the Court to order Congress to define -- and ban -- political dynasties.
Article II, Section 26 of the Constitution states that “the State shall guarantee equal access of opportunities for public service and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law.” - Rappler.com
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