De Lima is not PNoy's CJ choice

MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino plans to ask Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to decline any nomination to the chief justice post, saying she still has a lot of pending work.

De Lima inhibited herself from the deliberations of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), the Constitutional body tasked to screen candidates for judicial posts, after her name was floated as a possible nominee to replace dismissed Chief Justice Renato Corona.

"Bakit kailangan mag-inhibit siya dahil kino-consider siya doon? Baka dapat kausapin ko siya na huwag ka nang magpa-consider diyan at gawin mo ang papel mo bilang vice chair ng JBC," Aquino told Philippine media on the sidelines of his 3-day state visit to the United Kingdom. (Why did she inhibit herself just because she is being considered for the post? Maybe I should talk to her, tell her not to consider the position and instead fulfill her role as JBC vice chair.)

"Maraming cases na pending na hina-handle niya." (There are so many pending cases she's handling.)

But the President said he will still consult de Lima on the matter, especially since "it's a new path to her career."

"I'd like to give her the courtesy of talking to her first before I release any official statement. We haven't talked yet."

De Lima earlier said she had no plans of applying for chief justice. She inhibited from the JBC deliberations to keep her "options open" should there be "a need later."

De Lima testified about the "irregularities" committed by Corona to block the Department of Justice's watchlist order against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her husband in relation to an electoral sabotage case. The justice secretary was the one who started the investigation into the Arroyos' involvement in the reported cheating in the 2007 elections.

De Lima is one of the Supreme Court "outsiders" being eyed for the highest judicial post in the country. The others are Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Commissioner Kim Henares and Solicitor-General Francis Jardeleza.

Jardeleza has just been nominated to the chief justice post, along with lawyer Katrina Legarda and former Ateneo Law Dean Cesar Villanueva.

Henares indicated a degree of openness to the position, but said she wanted to stay and finish her job at the BIR.

Aquino said that while both de Lima and Henares are competent, he was uncertain that letting them go from his Cabinet would do more good.

Nominations for chief justice opened on Wednesday, June 6, and will end on June 18. The JBC will submit a short list of names to the President, who will be the one to appoint someone to the post.

Former SC aspirants

Jardeleza, Legarda and Villanueva are the first to be nominated outside the SC. This is the second time that the 3 will attempt to get into the high court.

Jardeleza applied for the position of associate justice in 2011, while Legarda and Villanueva were nominated to the same position in 2010 and 2008, respectively.

Legarda is a practicing lawyer who specializes in family law. Villanueva is a certified public accountant who has a deep background in commercial law.

Jardeleza is new in his post as solicitor-general. Previously, he was deputy ombudsman for Luzon.

Before joining the government, he was general counsel of diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corp and partner at law firms ACCRA (Angara Abello Concepcion Regala & Cruz) and Roco, Buñag, Kapunan, Migallos & Jardeleza.

The 3 will be up against the 5 most senior SC justices who were automatically nominated -- Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio and Associate Justices Arturo Brion, Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Diosdado Peralta, and Presbitero Velasco Jr.

Carpio took over the reins of the SC after Corona was convicted by the Senate impeachment court on May 29. Corona was found guilty of violating the Constitution and betraying the public trust after he failed to declare P183-million in peso and dollar accounts in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth. - Rappler.com

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