MANILA, Philippines – The Judicial Bar Council has extended the nomination for the chief justice position, the 4th highest ranking post in the land, to July 2. The nomination period was initially expected to end today, June 18.
Thus far, 32 have been nominated to the post. Two have been disqualified – Court of Appeals Justice Hilarion Aquino because of age (he is 80 years old and the mandatory retirement age of Supreme Court justices is 70), and the teacher-nurse Jocelyn Esquivel. Nominees must be lawyers.
Two other nominees have declined their nominations – Former energy secretary Raphael “Popo” Lotilla and assistant provincial prosecutor Marianito Sasondoncillo.
The 5 most senior justices who are automatically nominated to the post include: acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio and Associate Justices Arturo Brion, Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Diosdado Peralta, and Presbitero Velasco Jr.
Three other SC justices have been nominated – Justices Jose Perez, Lourdes Sereno, and Roberto Abad. The latter is the oldest justice in the SC at age 68 and will serve only until 2014 if he gets appointed.
16 other outsiders to the SC have likewise been nominated to replace Renato Corona who was convicted last May.
Three nominees have so far accepted their nominations: UP law professors Katrina Legarda, Raul Pangalangan, and Rafael Morales.
Whether or not Carpio, the most senior among the SC justices and current acting Chief Justice, will accept the automatic nomination remains to be seen.
Meanwhile, Malacañang welcomed the JBC decision to extend the deadline for accepting nominations for chief justice.
In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the extension “will allow the public, civil society, academe, and others to have time to nominate individuals for consideration. What is at stake at the end of this exercise is for the JBC to present a list of meritorious nominees for the consideration of the President.”
“This is a time when restoring faith in the judiciary and the courts is a cause that calls for the broadest participation and the widest possible pool of candidates,” Lacierda said.
The appointment of a new chief justice is a landmark moment in efforts to achieve judicial reform, he added.
“As the recent decision of the Supreme Court (SC) indicates, a new era of transparency and accountability is dawning in the judiciary. The disclosure of personal SALNs and the financial operations of the SC, including its use of various funds, will already keep the administration determine the proper budgetary support for a reenergized SC to clean up the ranks of the judiciary with a view to speeding up the work of the courts,” Lacierda’s said. – Rappler.com
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