Accuses Supreme Court, JBC, IBP of conspiring to bring her down
- Published on Wednesday, 15 August 2012 00:00
- Written by EVANGELINE DE VERA
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DISGRUNTLED over the supposed “prejudice” against her, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima yesterday accused the Supreme Court, the Judicial and Bar Council, and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines of conspiring to bring her down and spoiling her chances of being appointed chief justice.
De Lima told reporters that “unseen forces” worked to ensure her exclusion from the list of candidates to the top judicial post, hinting that some influential personalities in legal circles as well as fraternities meddled in the selection process.
And the reason there was a supposed conspiracy against her?
De Lima said it could be because of the impression she was a favored candidate of the Palace.
SC spokeswoman Gleo Guerra belied De Lima’s claims but said the justice secretary is entitled to her opinion.
“All three bodies – the SC, IBP and JBC – are just following the rules,” Guerra said.
She declined to answer when asked if De Lima’s statement is contemptuous to the court.
The IBP likewise denied De Lima’s allegations. “We cannot fault Secretary De Lima for being emotional at this time. But the IBP simply applied the laws and rules in her case,” said its spokeswoman, Trixie Angeles.
IBP president Roan Libarios said the IBP did not intend to delay the resolution of De Lima’s disbarment cases to derail her chances of being shortlisted by the JBC.
“There is no conspiracy. The IBP acted on the case based on the rules,” he said.
Under JBC rules, candidates with pending cases are disqualified unless they have their cases resolved before the council selects those who will be in the shortlist. The JBC conducted the voting last Monday.
De Lima said she would no longer appeal the decision of the JBC, given the deadline for President Aquino to fill the vacancy. She also acknowledged the JBC’s sole jurisdiction to choose who among the candidates should be shortlisted.
JBC member Jose Mejia, asked if an appeal is allowed, said, “To my knowledge, no.”
The JBC submitted its shortlist to Malacañang last Monday after voting. The shortlist has eight names, composed of incumbent SC justices, a state lawyer, a former law dean and a politician.
Under the Constitution, the President has 90 days to appoint a new chief justice, commencing from the time the vacancy was created, which was last May 29.
De Lima further said, “It seems obvious that the SC, the IBP and the JBC have agreed in trying to pin me down, banding together as if they have a common objective – anybody but De Lima. That is what I’m feeling. I just cannot understand...why was I singled out, kung bakit sa akin lang ang pinagalaw nila (na kaso) in this very crucial time. Noong July 3 lang nila (SC) ni-refer sa IBP, wala nang chance iyan i-resolve pa ng IBP,” she said.
De Lima was referring to her disbarment case which the Supreme Court referred to the IBP. Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, who got the most number of votes among the eight names in the shortlist, had a disbarment case but this was dismissed by the Supreme Court last Friday. Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza, who also made it to the shortlist, also has a disbarment case but the tribunal has not referred this to the IBP.
The six others in the shortlist are Associate Justices Roberto Abad, Arturo Brion, Maria Lourdes Sereno, and Teresita Leonardo de-Castro; former Executive Secretary and San Juan Rep. Ronaldo Zamora; and former Ateneo Law dean Cesar Villanueva.
De Lima said she was still trying to come to terms with the “unfair” decision of the JBC panel to disqualify her on account of pending disbarment cases against her.
She said the JBC rule on disqualification favors court “insiders” who cannot be disqualified, removed or charged because they are impeachable officials.
De Lima was apparently alluding to Carpio. The disbarment complaint against Carpio was filed last week by Lauro Vizconde for allegedly influencing his fellow magistrates in reversing the guilty verdict against Hubert Webb and several others, who were principal accused in the murder of his wife and daughters in 1991.
Despite the setback, De Lima said she would continue to perform her duties as member of the JBC, being part of her constitutional mandate as justice secretary.
“I can still work with them (other members of the JBC), that’s my mandate. I’m the secretary of justice, I cannot relinquish that duty because that is in the Constitution. If I relinquish that, I might as well resign as secretary of justice,” she said.
JBC member Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. said De Lima was assured of one vote – his – if she had not been disqualified.
“I sympathize with the Secretary…I would have voted for her kung na-qualify siya,” Tupas said.
But he belied De Lima’s claim she was singled out.
Tupas, lead prosecutor in the impeachment case of ousted chief justice Renato Corona, said Jardeleza was not disqualified because there was no prima facie evidence in the disbarment case against him while the case of Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Teresita Herbosa was already dismissed by the SC.
Herbosa failed to make it to the shortlist.
Tupas said had the JBC suspended the rules, only De Lima would have benefited. – With Wendell Vigilia