‘I won’t turn down challenge’ – Carpio

Purple S. Romero
(UPDATED) Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio says he's inclined to accept nomination for the chief justice position

CLARK, Philippines (UPDATED) – Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio on Friday, June 29, dropped hints he would accept his nomination for the position of chief justice.

In an interview with reporters after a speech in Clark, Pampanga, Carpio said: “I will not turn down any challenge to lead the judiciary if given the opportunity.” Asked to elaborate, Carpio said: “It’s part of my work. There’s no reason for me to depart from my work.”

As the most senior justice in the High Tribunal, Carpio is automatically nominated to the post vacated exactly a month ago, May 29, by dismissed Chief Justice Renato Corona. As a result of his seniority, Carpio was also named acting chief justice a day after the Senate impeachment court convicted Corona of betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution.

In a speech before members of the Central Luzon chapter of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines in Mimosa Clark, the Acting Chief Justice said: “Decisons are the best evidence of the competence, integrity and independence of a justice. A decision can reveal if that judge or justice knows his law or that a judge or justice has favored a litigant, whether a judge or justice has a steely or wimpy decisional independence.”

Carpio has been known for his decisions and dissenting opinions in political cases involving former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who appointed him to the SC. In SC rulings that favored Arroyo and her allies, Carpio was often part of the dissenting minority.

Carpio said that to decrease political debt on the part of those applying for judicial positions, the High Court should be given the leeway to assign them, instead of mandating them to apply for the position, be vetted by the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) and appointed by the President again.

Carpio also said the JBC should enforce the signing of the bank waiver as a requirement not only for those seeking positions in the SC, but also in the Office of the Ombudsman and appellate courts.

Carpio said that regardless of who the next chief justice will be, he or she should pursue the following reforms in the judiciary: decentralize the management of courts, publish financial reports, and expedite the resolution of cases.

Track record

At least 13 nominees have so far formally accepted their nomination to the post. The deadline for the rest of the nominees, including Carpio, to formalize their acceptance is on Monday, July 2.

Carpio told reporters that the nominees’ independence should be judged based on the decisions they have made in the past as lawyers, judges or justices. “You have to look at the record of a candidate. All of us are appointed by the President. But it doesn’t mean that all those appointed by the President are loyal to him. They should be loyal to the Constitution.”

Asked about political factors that may affect the choice for the next chief justice, Carpio said: “Wala naman (None so far). We are very tranquil about these things.”

A reporter asked him, will you seize the opportunity? He said: “Abangan (Just wait).”

Carpio is closely identified with his former law firm, the CVC law, or Villaraza, Cruz, Marcelo & Angangco, which played influential roles in the Ramos and Arroyo administrations.

Corona himself had accused Carpio of being behind the plot to oust him from the SC.

As a result, allies of President Benigno Aquino III have been convincing him not to appoint Carpio and choose an outsider instead.

Other lawyers, however, have asked the President to honor the seniority tradition in the High Tribunal. – Rappler.com

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