Sen. Francis Escudero
MANILA, Philippines – Sen. Francis Escudero, as a member of the vetting body for aspirants to the judiciary, voted to include Supreme Court Associate Justice Renato Corona in their shortlist for the post of Chief Justice in May 2010.
Escudero is the Senate representative in the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), which screens and nominates contenders to posts in the judiciary. The JBC was put in a difficult spot in 2010 after another member, then Quezon City Rep. Matias Defensor, said that the council should start the selection process for Chief Justice amid an appointment ban.
The President is barred from making any appointments 2 months before the elections and up until her term ends on June 30, but the SC eventually ruled that the judiciary is exempted from this ban.
Before the Court ruled on the matter, Escudero said he expressed the hope that the JBC submit its shortlist after the High Tribunal rules on it. When it did, he said that he was “disappointed.”
In July 2011, allegations came out that Escudero accompanied retired Court of Appeals Justice Artemio Tuquero to a meeting with President Benigno Aquino III. Tuquero was one of the aspirants to the post of ombudsman then. Tuquero is a member of the powerful religious organization Iglesia ni Cristo, along with retired Supreme Court Justice Serafin Cuevas, Corona’s lead counsel in his impeachment trial.
Escudero also is a key ally of Vice President Jejomar Binay, who is fighting an electoral protest filed by Mar Roxas with the Presidential Electoral Tribunal that is headed by Corona.
Profession: A partner in the law firm Escudero, Marasigan, Sta. Ana, Vallente and Villareal Law Office.
Fraternity: Alpha Phi Beta. One of his fraternity brothers include retired SC Chief Justice Reynato Puno, Ramon Esguerra, one of Corona’s lawyers and spokespersons, and Roan Libarios, current president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines. (The IBP has expressed its support for Corona).
Senate bloc: Escudero resigned from the Nationalist People’s Coalition in 2010. He is considered an administration ally, supporting then presidential candidate Benigno Aquino III in the 2010 elections. But Escudero endorsed then Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay for the vice-presidency, instead of backing Aquino’s running mate, Sen. Manuel ‘Mar’ Roxas. Roxas filed an electoral protest against Binay before the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, which is also composed of the SC. The case is still pending.
Senate committee: Justice and Human Rights, Environment and Natural Resources
Current term: 2007 to 2013
Eligible for reelection? Yes. This is Escudero’s first term. He is still allowed to bid for reelection.
Political Party: Independent
Role in previous impeachments: Escudero, then an NPC member, signed the impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Hilario Davide in 2003. His partymates Rep. Gilbert Teodoro and Rep. Felix Fuentebella filed the complaint over the alleged malversation of the Judiciary Development Fund.
Corona’s purported refusal to account for the JDF and the special allowances for judges is the eighth article of impeachment.
Position aired and published on Corona and on issues related to the Articles of Impeachment:
He said Akbayan, a party-list group that supports Aquino, did not have the standing to ask Corona to inhibit from the cases involving former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
Akbayan urged Corona to inhibit from the cases questioning the constitutionality of the watch list order issued against Arroyo and the joint panel (composed of the Department of Justice and the Commission on Elections) which investigated her on charges of electoral sabotage.
Escudero agreed with the High Court’s issuance of a temporary restraining order enjoining the DOJ from enforcing its watch list order against Arroyo and her husband, Jose Miguel. Escudero said that what the DOJ should have done was to file a case against her with a court.
Palace insiders have said that Escudero tried to discourage President Aquino from pursuing the impeachment of Corona. – Rappler.com