De Lima appeals IBP decision on disbarment
MANILA, Philippines - In a last-minute bid to avert her possible disqualification from the chief justice selection process, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima asked the biggest lawyers' group in the country on Wednesday, August 1, to reverse its decision to probe further the disbarment cases filed against her.
Rappler learned from reliable sources that De Lima has filed a motion for reconsideration before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), asking the group to dismiss two disbarment cases against her without conducting a formal investigation.
De Lima's move came days before the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), the body that screens candidates for judicial posts, votes on a shortlist of candidates for chief justice on Monday, August 6.
This gives the IBP Board of Governors no choice but to tackle her appeal within the week. Lawyers told Rappler that a former government official has been calling up IBP governors to come to Manila to convene a meeting.
De Lima is reportedly the choice of President Benigno Aquino III for the highest judicial post in the country. However, JBC rules state that contenders with pending administrative and criminal cases should be disqualified.
A source said that De Lima argued in her motion for reconsideration that the Supreme Court did not explicitly state in its July 3 resolution that they found merit in the disbarment cases when they referred them to the IBP.
The IBP board said in its July 28 ruling, however, that if a complaint is filed directly with the IBP, the group's investigator can determine if the complaint has merit, and dismiss it if there's none. But if a disbarment complaint is filed with the SC -- like De Lima's case -- and the High Court refers it to the IBP for investigation, there is presumption that the SC has already found basis to have the cases probed further.
"Otherwise, the Supreme Court would have summarily dismissed the case, instead of referring it to the IBP to conduct investigation," the IBP board said in its resolution.
Three disbarment complaints had been filed against De Lima. The IBP, however, consolidated two complaints, which were filed by Ricardo Rivera, Fernando Perito and Nephtali Aliposa, into one since they all used as basis De Lima's defiance of a Supreme Court temporary restraining order (TRO) in November 2011. The TRO was supposed to stop her from implementing a travel ban on former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her husband Jose Miguel "Mike" Arroyo.
Another case filed by lawyer Augusto Sundiam seeks De Lima's disbarment for a stinging statement made by the Justice Secretary against dismissed chief justice Renato Corona. De Lima called Corona a "tyrant who holds himself above justice and accountability" on national television. - Rappler.com
More in #SCWatch:
- 22 official candidates for Chief Justice
- JBC to interview CJ candidates starting July 24
- 25 accept nominations for chief justice
- Questions for chief justice candidates
- JBC should review process of choosing CJ
- Besides JBC, Palace has judicial search committee
- CONVERSATIONS: How should the JBC choose the next chief justice? #SCWatch
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