MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) – Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Commissioner Kim Henares has yet to decide whether she’ll accept or decline her nomination to the Chief Justice post, a role she believes is “equally important.”
Henares was nominated to replace dismissed Chief Justice Renato Corona by lawyer Elpidio Jamora Jr on Thursday, June 7, Rappler gathered from court insiders.
“Personally, I have to think about it because I’m doing a lot of things at the BIR, if [my work] is something worth giving up to do something that’s equally important,” she told ABS-CBN News Channel in a phone interview Friday, June 8.
Asked where she thinks she’ll be more effective, she replied, “That is one of the questions I have to answer. As of now, I cannot say which one is more important, meatier and more urgent.”
Prior to becoming BIR chief, Henares served as tax lawyer in two reputable law offices in the country, head of compliance and legal affairs at ING Bank and a development specialist at the World Bank. “It’s a pretty well-developed background. It’s not purely legal, it has a lot of management and reform skills developed through the years,” she said in response to a question about her qualifications for the post of chief justice.
She said she will decide on her nomination by June 18, the deadline set by the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) for accepting candidates. She also said she will consult President Aquino on the matter.
Henares is a key figure in the Aquino administration’s efforts to improve the country’s revenue collections by running after tax evaders.
A witness in the impeachment trial of Corona, she is currently leading a probe into the alleged deficiencies in the former chief justice’s income tax returns.
Aquino believes Henares is qualified to fill the vacancy in the highest court. But he said he’s uncertain whether letting her go from his Cabinet would do more good.
Commenting on calls for the President to appoint someone who’s not an ally to the chief justice post, Henares said: “I think the President has proven he will do what is right for our country. I don’t think he will appoint somebody, whether he knows them or he doesn’t know them, who he doesn’t believe will be able to push the judicial reform agenda that he has promised.”
Henares is the 4th person outside the Supreme Court and the 2nd Cabinet official who has been nominated to the JBC, the body tasked to screen candidates for chief justice and present a shortlist to Aquino.
Before her, lawyer Katrina Legarda, former Ateneo Law Dean Cesar Villanueva and another Cabinet member — Solicitor-General Francis Jardeleza — were also nominated to the highest judicial post.
Automatically nominated, meanwhile, are the five most senior SC justices: Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio and Associate Justices Arturo Brion, Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Diosdado Peralta, and Presbitero Velasco Jr.
Applications and nominations may be submitted to the JBC until June 18.
Aquino has until August 29 to choose Corona’s replacement. Corona was found guilty of violating the Constitution by the Senate impeachment court on May 29 after he failed to disclose P183 million in peso and dollar bank accounts in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth. – Rappler.com, with report from Purple S. Romero
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