Supreme Court of the Philippines

De Lima’s future dilemma

Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago says De Lima's defiance of an SCO TRO will make her bid to be Chief Justice difficult

RAISED EYEBROWS. Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago says De Lima's defiance of an SCO TRO will make her bid to be Chief Justice difficult. File photo by Senate pool

MANILA, Philippines – For Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, Justice Secretary Leila De Lima’s bid to be the next Chief Justice is problematic.

In a press conference on Thursday, July 12, Santiago said De Lima’s decision to defy a Supreme Court temporary restraining order in November 2011 makes difficult her decision to vie to lead the very same tribunal.

The TRO allowed former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to go abroad. De Lima and President Benigno Aquino III feared that by obeying the TRO, government would have allowed Arroyo to escape prosecution.

Santiago said, “I will say my eyebrows rose to the ceiling when I heard the Secretary of Justice outright refused to obey a TRO because law students are taught that when the Supreme Court issues a TRO, it’s like God has issued a mandate,” Santiago said. Watch here:

The senator said while De Lima had explained that she did not follow the TRO because she did not get a copy on time, her defiance may still be a reason to question her during the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) interviews.

“Let’s see her explain this because if she becomes Chief Justice, and under her, the Supreme Court or even a branch of the Supreme Court issues a TRO and someone refuses to obey it using the same grounds then certainly she’ll be in a dilemma.”

The senator added, “It will be very, very difficult.”

Miriam rooting for ‘male public official’

Santiago also warned President Benigno Aquino III against appointing someone closely associated with him. 

“Then people will say the impeachment trial was just a melodrama; it was simply meant to remove somebody in favor of somebody better controlled by Malacañang.”

Asked about how De Lima criticized then Chief Justice Renato Corona, Santiago said, “If I were the ex-Chief Justice, I will commit suicide because I really cannot see that kind of mentality ruling the Supreme court.”

Santiago was among only 3 senators who voted to acquit Corona in the impeachment trial, along with Senators Joker Arroyo and Bongbong Marcos. 

The senator advised Aquino to appoint a non-controversial Chief Justice with a record of expertise. She said she had somebody in mind.

“There is another public official who I think fits my requirement,” she said. “It’s a male and maamo ang mukha niya.” (He has a gentle face.)

Reporters asked if she was referring to Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza but Santiago just said, “I heard his name but I will not confirm it.”

‘Stop molesting me, you mongoloids!’

In the press conference, Santiago also reiterated her decision not to resign from the Senate even if she was already elected as a judge of The Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC).

Santiago again explained that ICC rules state that new judges will only be called to duty once the retiring judges have finished their cases and appeals.

The new ICC judge added that there is no legal basis for her to resign and for a 13th senator to be elected in 2013.

She attributed to a black propaganda repeated calls for her to resign and a petition for her to be disqualified from the ICC because of her outburst during the impeachment trial. 

Addressing her critics, she said, “Pwede ba, make up your mind. Gusto niyo ba ako ma-disqualify o hindi mag-report [sa ICC]? Stop molesting me, you mongoloids!” –


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