Kim Henares likely to be asked to stay at BIR
- Published on Tuesday, 12 June 2012 01:15
- Written by EVANGELINE DE VERA
By A Web design Company
SUPREME Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, leading candidate for the top judicial post, yesterday said he would not mind being bypassed by President Aquino in the selection of the next chief justice.
Carpio is sitting as acting chief justice, being the next most senior magistrate in terms of appointment. He is automatically nominated for the post of chief justice, along with four other senior justices of the SC.
Last week, he inhibited himself from the deliberations of the Judicial and Bar Council which screens nominees and applicants to the post vacated by impeached Renato Corona.
Carpio, in a rare ambush interview with media, was asked if he was praying to become the next chief justice, and if it was part of his career path.
“No. For me, I respect the prerogative of the President, so I am not demanding or asking anything. It’s his right to choose from the list that is submitted (by the JBC) and that is my policy ever since, provided of course that the President has the power,” he said in the interview during the SC’s 111th anniversary celebration.
Carpio was apparently referring to the case of Corona who was appointed in May 2010 as replacement for then retiring Chief Justice Reynato Puno. During the selection process, Carpio declined nomination on the ground that it should be the next President, and not Arroyo, who should appoint the next chief justice. His position was that Arroyo was no longer allowed to make appointments because of the election ban.
“The last time, I declined the nomination because I believed she (Arroyo) could no longer appoint,” he told reporters at the launch of the book, “History of the Supreme Court,” which features all former chief justices including Corona. The impeachment of Corona was not in the book.
Carpio indicated he is not inclined to turn down his automatic nomination.
“I inhibited already in the deliberations so I don’t see any problem (although) there are those who say I should decline,” he said.
Asked for his reaction if Aquino would not name him as next chief justice, he said, “That’s the right of the President, the power given to him by the Constitution and I respect the Constitution. The Constitution is my bible.”
Carpio also said there is nothing in the Constitution which categorically states that the most senior member of the SC should be appointed chief justice.
On calls for the President to appoint an outsider, Carpio declined to comment, saying it would be self-serving.
Aside from Carpio, other SC justices automatically nominated are Presbitero Velasco Jr., Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Arturo Brion and Diosdado Peralta.
Other nominees are Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza, lawyer Katrina Legarda, former UP dean Raul Pangalangan, and former Ateneo dean Cesar Villanueva.
Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares was nominated last week to the JBC. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, who has also inhibited in the JBC deliberations, was nominated yesterday by Dante Jimenez, chairman of the Volunteers against Crime and Corruption.
Aquino said last week he and De Lima will discuss the matter because the justice chief has a lot on her plate, hinting that he wants her to stay in her job.
Yesterday, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said Malacañang is considering the “loss and gain” of appointing Henares as chief justice.
“That is why there is an assessment of what will be the gain and loss to the Executive branch if the President would decide to appoint Kim Henares. Those things are still being discussed and, like I said…it‘s not farfetched to see the President meeting and discussing this thing with Commissioner Kim Henares,” he said.
Lacierda said Aquino considers De Lima and Henares as “the most feared women” in his administration and “they have been doing a very effective job in their positions.”
“Like what he (Aquino) said, he would have to assess the loss to the Executive Branch if either one of them is appointed to the position of chief justice and transferred over to the judicial branch of government…But let me emphasize that we believe that both women are qualified to become the next chief justice,” he said.
Asked if the President is considering both women as chief justice, he said, “It has crossed his mind.”
At past 6 p.m., Lacierda issued a statement seeking to clarify reports that President Aquino has expressed preference for Henares.
“Just for clarification, the President has mentioned in several interviews that Secretary De Lima and Commissioner Kim Henares have performed well as members of the Executive branch and would personally prefer that they remain in their present positions. However, the President would wish to meet with them in order to discuss their plans and preferences,” Lacierda said.
Carpio rallied Supreme Court employees to unite and move on from the impeachment trial of Corona.
“We have to move forward. We have to learn from the lessons of the impeachment and I think we can do the job. There are a lot of professionals here in the SC, most of the people here,” he said at the sidelines of the book launching.
Carpio belied claims the judiciary has lost its independence with Corona’s impeachment. He pointed out that the impeachment complaint was lodged by the House of Representatives only against Corona and not against the entire court.
“We have all our individual opinions on that, but if you look at the impeachment charge, it’s directed against one justice, it’s not directed against the entire Judiciary. I don’t think that’s the intention of the Constitution. When the Constitution provides that justices, other constitutional officers are subject to impeachment, it doesn’t mean that if an impeachment charge is filed against that person, the entire institution is also charged. The Constitution does not say that,” he said.
Thus, he said, there is no basis for statements that Corona’s ouster of Corona sends a “chilling effect” on other magistrates of the high court. “I don’t know, it has no chilling effect on me,” Carpio said.
He shrugged off allegations that Aquino’s appointment of the next chief justice will render the SC an adjunct of the executive branch.
“I don’t think that will be the case because a lot of the justices are really independent. Whoever is our chief justice, we will support, but we are also independent. It doesn’t mean that if the chief justice has a certain position, we will just follow. No, each one is an independent republic,” he said.
Carpio said that to erase the perception that magistrates are wont to stash secret wealth, which was brought about by the impeachment of Corona, he has directed the SC’s Public Information Office to upload on the court’s official website the Commission on Audit’s 2010 report on the summary of the justices’ SALN, as well as the latest financial reports of the SC’s judiciary development fund and special allotment fund for the sake of transparency.
“The impeachment taught us lessons and I think we are learning from it. We have decided to release our SALNs and we have decided to make public our financial reports. Last week I directed that all these financial reports be uploaded in our website…So the court, in effect, has reacted to these charges for lack of transparency by being transparent,” he said.
Corona earlier accused the Aquino administration of undermining judicial independence in causing his removal from office, and urged his trial prosecutors and Aquino allies to also issue waivers in the confidentiality of their respective SALNs.
Carpio, in a speech before SC employees, said the history of the SC as an institution was written “long after the heat of battle or the passion of the event has passed.”
He said that while the decisions of the SC are final in the legal sense, they are nevertheless subject to review by history.
“Justices of the highest court cannot escape the judgment of history. The final judge of the beneficial or detrimental effects of Supreme Court decisions is history,” he said.
Puno, who was among the guests during the book launching, said the judiciary appears to be in disarray following the impeachment trial, but the incoming chief justice must now lift the morale of the court.
“Some are disappointed, some are confused, some appear to be in a spiritual slump for they perceive a severely wounded judiciary after its collision with the political branches of government…There is no better message to our judiciary than the supplication of Chief Justice Jose Abad Santos ‘to hold, hold, and hold.’ The SC has a life of its own. With the aid of the Divine Providence, it was established by the people and for as long as it serves the people, nothing will prevail against it. The Court may be down for the moment but with God’s grace, it will not stay down for long,” he said. – With Regina Bengco