MANILA, Philippines – Several senators said Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and Commissioner Kim Jacinto-Henares of the Bureau of Internal Revenue should refuse their possible nomination as Chief Justice.
“[Their nomination] can’t help but raised doubts that they (De Lima and Henares) testified [before the impeachment court] to get rid of him [former Chief justice Renato Corona,” said Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, one of the three senator-judges who voted to acquit Corona in the allegations that he willfully failed to declare all his assets including hid dollar and peso deposits in his statements of assets, liabilities and networth.
De Lima as well as Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio recused themselves from the Judicial and Bar Council proceedings last Monday owing to their possible nomination as the country’s top judge. Besides Carpio, de Lima and Henares , the four other most senior justices of the SC may also be included in the short list to be submitted to the President Benigno Simeon Aquino III.
The JBC will accept nominations for the Chief Justice until June 18 and the short list may be submitted to the President by the end of July.
Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero, a member of the JBC and one of the 20 sentaor judges who voted to convict Corona, cited “delicadeza (propriety)” in urging both de Lima and Henares to refuse their nomination.
However, another Senator – Francis Pangilinan- said he sees no reason to exclude de Lima and Henares from the nomination process “at this time”.
“We should bring in a as many as possible [candidates] , we should many choices and select the best [from them]. At this point I’d rather not exclude anyone. Let’s see how they defend themselves, assuming they will appear, then we will make a better judgment,” Pangilinan said.
On Monday, the JBC has also decided to require nominees to submit their waiver to allow the scrutiny of their bank deposits.