MANILA, AUGUST 15, 2012 (INQUIRER) By Tetch Torres - Justice Secretary Leila De Lima (photo) on Tuesday accused the Supreme Court, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) and the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) of conspiring to drop her from the shortlist of nominees for chief justice.

De Lima said the three judicial bodies could have conspired because of their perception that she was a Palace favorite.

“The Supreme Court, the IBP and the JBC, it looked like they all agreed trying to pin me down and bonding together as if they have a common objective—that is, anybody but De Lima,” she told reporters on Tuesday.

After several postponements that critics attributed to De Lima’s appeal to suspend the rules disqualifying her candidacy, the JBC on Monday announced the eight final candidates, with acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio topping the shortlist.

De Lima, who is facing disbarment cases for badmouthing former chief justice Renato Corona and ignoring a Supreme Court order, is not on the shortlist.

She said that the disbarment complaints against her were referred by the Supreme Court to the IBP only after she accepted the chief justice nomination on July 3.

“They sat down on those cases for six or seven months and then when they learned that I have accepted the nomination, that’s the time they [the Supreme Court] referred it [to the IBP],” De Lima said.

She also noted the dismissal of an administrative case against Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Teresita Herbosa on August 1 while the disbarment complaint against Solicitor-General Francis Jardeleza remains pending with the high court’s office of the Bar Confidant.

“What about the other cases? One was dismissed on August 1, it was well within the selection process, and then one was still pending, not referred to the IBP. Why was that other complaint not referred to the IBP? Bakit ‘yong sa akin lang?” she said.

“You can’t blame me if I feel this way. Why? There is nothing I can do now that can really undo the turn of events. For my part, I just want to move on,” De Lima said.


JBC debunks conspiracy theory By Edu Punay and Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) Updated August 16, 2012 12:00 AMComments (3)

MANILA, Philippines - Members of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) debunked yesterday Justice Secretary Leila de Lima’s insinuation that they had conspired with the Supreme Court (SC) and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) to foil her bid to become the next chief justice.

Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. and lawyer Jose Mejia said they only applied the rule when they collegially decided to disqualify De Lima on the same day the JBC voted on the final shortlist of candidates for chief justice because of her two pending disbarment cases with the IBP.

“As far as I am concerned, as far as the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) is concerned, there was no such conspiracy. I am sure about that because I was there during the entire nomination process,” Tupas told ANC’s “Headstart.”

“Her disqualification is obviously painful for her. I hope she gets over this quickly,” he added.

The congressman had supported the proposal of the Palace’s representative in the JBC, Undersecretary for special concerns Michael Frederick Musngi, to suspend the rule and allow De Lima to remain as candidate for the top judicial post.

“Actually, there was a motion to include De Lima, but it just so happens that majority rules. Those who were against the motion were of the belief that the rule should not be changed in the middle of the contest,” he stressed.

“We the eight members were evenly split. A consensus would have qualified Secretary De Lima,” he said.

He said the council did not favor incumbent SC justices.

“In fact, we broke tradition by including three outsiders in the list of nominees. This is the first time it happened in 111 years. Before, all nominees for chief justice came from the Supreme Court,” he said.

He added that another proof that the JBC did not favor sitting justices was the council’s rejection of nominated SC members’ request to be exempted from certain requirements, including the psycho-neuro test and public interview.

Responding to questions, Tupas said that if President Aquino appoints a sitting justice as chief justice, he cannot choose from the same JBC list of eight nominees to fill the position to be vacated by the appointee.

“That list is only for the position of chief justice. We will have to do a separate nomination process for the position of associate justice that would be vacated,” he said.

Mejia, who represents academe in the JBC, also denied De Lima’s allegation.

“There was no conscious attempt to single her (De Lima) out. It was only incidental that we needed to apply the rules on each of the candidates,” he explained.

The SC and the IBP had already denied De Lima’s allegation.

SC spokesperson Ma. Victoria Gleoresty Guerra said she does not want to preempt the SC on the issue of whether or not the Justice secretary’s raising her allegation constitutes contempt of court.

The JBC disqualified De Lima after the IBP board of governors dismissed her motions seeking summary dismissal of the cases filed against her by lawyers Ricardo Rivera and Agustin Sundiam last year, which were endorsed by the high court only last April.

Rivera said De Lima should be disbarred for defying the temporary restraining order issued by the Supreme Court in November 2011 on the travel ban on former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her husband Jose Miguel Arroyo.

Sundiam, on the other hand, said De Lima should be disbarred because of her stinging statement against former chief justice Renato Corona, whom she branded as a “tyrant who holds himself above justice and accountability.”

‘Long shortlist’

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda, meanwhile, called it the JBC’s “long shortlist,” but stressed it’s now entirely up to the President to make a choice.

In the past, the JBC shortlist consisted only of five or six names.

“It’s now the consideration of the President. We’d like to call it the long shortlist. But that will be entirely for the consideration of the President. So let’s just wait,” Lacierda’s deputy Abigail Valte said.

Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio topped the list.

Also on the list were fellow justices Roberto Abad, Arturo Brion, Teresita de Castro, and Ma. Lourdes Sereno.

Former congressman Ronaldo Zamora, Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza and law dean Cesar Villanueva also made it to the shortlist.

Lacierda also advised the JBC not to speculate on the President’s next move.

“We haven’t made a move yet, so the JBC should not be saying things at the moment,” he said in Filipino.

He said the President is unlikely to return the shortlist.

“Based on the past actuations of our President, he has never returned the list yet. But we have not discussed it,” he said.

“If you base it on past actuations, past actions of the President, he has never returned the list,” Lacierda said, referring to the appointments of Justices Sereno, Bienvenido Reyes and Estela Perlas-Bernabe.

Lacierda also declined to comment on De Lima’s case or on whether she could be accommodated in the next vacancy in the high tribunal.

“We don’t know when the next vacancy will be. We don’t know yet so I can’t say and I would have to defer to Secretary De Lima if ever her name is again nominated as an associate justice,” he told a news briefing.

“We will leave it with her if and when her name is submitted as a nominee again for the next vacant position in the SC.” – Delon Porcalla

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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