Amid disbarment complaints, De Lima stays as contender for CJ

The JBC will make its final decision on July 30

SHE STAYS ON. De Lima will know if she will still be allowed to stay in the race for the post of chief justice on July 30, when the JBC casts its vote.

MANILA, Philippines – Justice Secretary Leila de Lima will stay as a contender for the post of chief justice even as she faces two disbarment complaints filed against her in 2011. 

The Judicial and Bar Council – the body that vets aspirants to the judiciary for the President – said it will address the pending cases against nominees on July 30, its self-imposed deadline to come up with a shortlist.

“The rule is to wait for voting day because the cases might be dismissed by then,” Jose Mejia, one of the members of the JBC, said. 

If the cases are still not dismissed by July 30, then the JBC will have to disqualify the candidate facing disbarment, he added.

De Lima has a curious case.

In 2011, lawyers Ricardo Rivera and Augusto Sundiam went to the Supreme Court to file two disbarment complaints against her.

Rivera said De Lima should be disbarred for defying the temporary restraining order issued by the Supreme Court in November 2011, which stopped her from implementing a travel ban against former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her husband Jose Miguel ‘Mike’ Arroyo.

Sundiam, on the other hand, said De Lima should be disbarred because of her stinging statement against then Chief Justice Renato Corona, whom she called on national television a “tyrant who holds himself above justice and accountability.”

Under the rules, the SC refers such complaints to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), which is tasked to establish basis for the complaints.

On the other hand, Rule 4, Sec.5 of the JBC rules states that a regular disbarment complaint is considered grounds for disqualification.

Note that this is applicable only when a disbarment complaint had become a “regular” or full-blown administrative case. A contender cannot be disqualified if the disbarment complaint against him or her is still in its preliminary investigation stage.

Rappler learned that neither of the two disbarment complaints filed against De Lima exist in the records of the IBP.

“We checked our records, there’s none,” IBP president Roan Libarios told Rappler when asked if there are pending disbarment cases against De Lima.“IBP has not received any formal complaint or any formal referral [from the SC].”

Rappler earlier reported that De Lima is the top choice of President Aquino for the job. She was reluctant at first but finally decided to accept her nomination after a meeting with the President last June 29. –

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