De Lima nominated for chief justice post

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) - Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has been nominated to replace dismissed Chief Justice Renato Corona, making her the third member of President Aquino's cabinet to be recommended for the post.

Dante Jimenez, the founding chair of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, told Rappler he nominated de Lima to the post on Monday, June 11.

"She is the most qualified, with her competence, diligence, integrity and independence," Jimenez said.

He added that de Lima has proven she can be independent since the time she chaired the Commission on Human Rights under the administration of former President Gloria Arroyo. De Lima then described Arroyo's human rights record as "dismal."

"If appointed [as chief justice], she will perform the same kind of independence," Jimenez said.

De Lima has yet to decide if she will accept the nomination or not.

In a text message to Rappler, she said, "I don't know yet. Will discuss first with the President. My father's advice, 'sundin kung anong gusto ni PNoy' (give in to what PNoy wants)."

De Lima was one of the witnesses in the impeachment trial of Corona. She testified that Corona allegedly ordered the promulgation of his version of a resolution confirming that Arroyo complied with all conditions for traveling abroad. The resolution barred de Lima from enforcing a travel ban against Arroyo and her husband, Jose Miguel, in relation to the electoral sabotage case against the former President.

De Lima is one of 3 Cabinet officials nominated for the chief justice post. The other two are Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares and Solicitor-General Francis Jardeleza.

Other nominees include lawyer Katrina Legarda, former Ateneo Law Dean Cesar Villanueva and the five most senior SC justices -- Antonio Carpio, Arturo Brion, Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Diosdado Peralta and Presbitero Velasco Jr.

Corona was removed from service after he was found guilty of violating the Constitution and betraying public trust for failing to declare P183-million in peso and dollar accounts in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth.

The Judicial and Bar Council will accept applications and nominations for the vacated post until June 18. It will submit a short list to President Aquino, which will then choose the next chief justice. - Rappler.com, with reports from Purple S. Romero

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