Retired CJ Puno: Judiciary at a 'low point'
MANILA, Philippines - Dismissed chief justice Renato Corona leaves his successor a judiciary that is in "disarray" and with "low" morale.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a Supreme Court book launch on Monday, June 11, retired SC chief justice Reynato Puno lamented, "the judiciary is now in disarray… Some are disappointed, some are confused, some appear to be in a spiritual slump for they perceive a severely wounded judiciary."
It is at a "low point" and will recover with "God's help," he added.
Puno's statements came as the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) screens candidates for the chief justice post.
So far, 5, including 3 Cabinet officials, have been nominated to the post. Automatically nominated meanwhile, are the most senior SC justices -- Antonio Carpio, Arturo Brion, Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Diosdado Peralta, and Presbitero Velasco Jr.
Carpio, who is now acting chief justice, said it is time to put Corona's impeachment behind and move forward. "We have to move on," he told the media during the same event.
Carpio believes however that Corona's removal does not have a "chilling effect" on the judiciary even as some quarters expressed concern that it puts a damper on justices' independence.
"I don't think that's the intention of the Constitution (to have a chilling effect). The Constitution provides that justices and other Constitutional officers are the subject of impeachment, but it doesn't mean that if an impeachment charge is filed against one person, the entire institution is also charged."
"It has no chilling effect on me," he added.
On May 29, Corona was found guilty by the Senate impeachment court of violating the Constitution and betraying the public trust after he failed to disclose P183 million in peso and dollar accounts in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth.
The JBC is accepting applications and nominations for the vacated position until June 18. President Aquino has until August 29 to choose the next chief justice.
Carpio assured the public the SC will not be an "Aquino court" amid criticisms that the President will now be able to control it once he names a new chief justice.
Aquino was accused of orchestrating a personal vendetta against Corona in relation to an SC decision ordering the distribution of Hacienda Luisita to farmers. Aquino's family owned the sugar plantation. Aquino had shares in the property but sold them when he ran in the 2010 presidential elections.
"We are all professionals here. Let's face it, whoever will be chief justice, we will support him. But we are also independent. It doesn't mean that if he makes a certain decision, we will follow. No, we are very independent," Carpio said.
No decision yet
Carpio has yet to decide if he's accepting his nomination to the chief justice post.
He said he will just give the JBC a letter stating his decision, adding it will also address criticisms thrown at him.
Sen Jinggoy Estrada earlier said Carpio should decline the nomination out of "delicadeza."
Carpio and Corona have been rivals for the post in 2010. Corona secured the post after Carpio withdrew from the race due to the ban on midnight appointments.
The law bars the President from making any appointments two months before elections and up until the end of his or her term on June 30th. The SC however set this aside, ruling that the judiciary is exempted from the appointment ban. - Rappler.com
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