Justice Secretary Leila De Lima: From DOJ to SC, another Aquino political ploy?

According to DOJ Secretary Leila de Lima never will she back out from the challenge for chief justice post (Paraphrased). (Photo retrieved from: showbiznest.blogspot.com)

(This article is also posted on AllVoices.)

Among aspirants to become the next chief justice of the Philippine Supreme Court, Justice Secretary Leila De Lima could be the most (com)promising and exciting nominee for vigilant Filipinos to continue calling for her disqualification or rejection from the chief justice post.

Why and why not?

Firstly, Secretary De Lima is among the trusted cabinet members of Aquino administration.  Does this amount to her disqualification? No, but for delicadeza, she rather have declined the nomination, long before she knew she have gotten five endorsements for the post.

Secondly, Secretary De Lima has a disbarment complaint filed by Atty. Agustin Sundiam. Does this, again, amount to her disqualification? Technically, no. However, I would call this case, “wait-and-see case” because only the Supreme Court can decide how the disbarment complaint filed against De Lima be taken into consideration.

Now, what should be the yardstick for the Judicial and Bar Council to shortlist nominees?

Before the Judicial and Bar Council shortlist nominees, the Council is guided by the JBC Rule 009, which retaliates the basic qualifications for a nominee: statutory qualifications; competence; integrity; probity; and sound physical, mental, and emotional aspects.  From here, the long list of nominees is born. So Secretary dDe Lima was nominated by the five recommending parties and the former accepted it.

Now, because the JBC has modified their selection process into a televised one, in short they made it transparent to the public, the nominees are deemed to be exposed to the public opinion and prejudice. Secretary De Lima perhaps will likely play a “devil’s advocate”, if and only if JBC sticks to their commitment to rigorously screen nominees up to their last drop of integrity, probity, competence, and a leadership beyond doubt.  Would the secretary back off this time? Definitely, no and not yer born in her mind to step backward from the challenges.

What happens when the Supreme Court allow De Lima despite the disbarment complaint or the JBC includes her to the shortlisted nominees?

Definitely, all is well for Secretary De Lima, and the shortlist will be forwarded to the President of the Republic for him to choose ONLY one, not two, from the list.

What happens next?

This should not be the question after all. For the answer is possible for Secretary De Lima to run laughing all the way to the Supreme Court. This is the most possible answer of the question.

However, the journey of Secretary De Lima from DOJ to SC would might be a disguise trap of the Aquino administration for critics of the government and that will serve as a vehicle for Aquino to earn back the waning trust of many Filipinos.  Conversely, it can also be argued that the President is in dire need of an obedient chief justice. Secretary De Lima can not be a trusted cabinet secretary if she has the proven tract of defiance of the President’s wishes, if logic is to be consulted.

Secretary de Lima expressed her acceptance after her “deeper reflection” and “further consultations with” according to her. She also said according to Inquirer.net that the judiciary needs an effective and trusted leader and that to her is the call of time (Emphasis added). Secretary De Lima accordingly added that she would be honored to submit herself to the scrutiny of her peers at the Judicial Bar Council and the general public for possible consideration of the President. De Lima also described herself as what she believed sincerely that at the minimum, she has a character and resolve as a person and has a track record and passion as a public servant to offer for such a crucial and revered post.

Well, what is her edge among aspirants based on her statements?

I haven’t seen her cut stood out from the rest based on her statements. Moreover, I added emphasis to effective and trusted qualities of a leader for the judiciary as what she said.  Secretary De Lima, herself, knew that being obedient does not correlate to being effective.  However, being obedient does correlate to being trusted.  Then, what a shameful statement caught right from her statement via text message.

Furthermore, she described herself as having a character and having resoluteness as a person and a track record and having a passion to serve the public.  Then, what’s the difference from the rest of nominees.  I mean, who is now engaged in self-gratifying? Well, De Lima should worry not because everybody does it, especially in selling yourself for a particular position.

But  still, for integrity, competence to interpret laws based on constitutionality, and probity wise, Secretary De Lima is either likely to be thought twice for consideration or is outright failure. Why?  Because simply defying of a certain Supreme Court’s decision just because of simply invoking the inherent police power of the state and simply being careful not to be blamed should Arroyo failed to return to the country is not, my goodness, an exercise of integrity, probity, and competence to interpret laws!

In fact, for Associate Justice De Castro, the way De Lima interpreted the law showed that the DOJ secretary was more powerful than the court!  What a blackout of the law! Where shall we go when that is the way the future chief justice interprets the law? JBC should have known of this De Lima’s interpretation, of course they are. Then by that viewpoint, is Secretary De Lima competent after all?

Again, from the Aquino administration’s view, I surmise that De Lima may not be their best choice; from the JBC, I presume them to think twice to shortlist de Lima. Given all these, I therefore express my point of observation that Secretary De Lima is only a “nuisance candidate” for the chief justice post; a “tactical pretense” to gain back the trust and confidence of the Filipinos should Aquino deselect her trusted Secretary De Lima. Or worst, it could be an exercise of President’s badly in need of an “obedient” chief justice, nobody knows . . .

The Supreme Court is the court of last resort.  High expectation of integrity, probity or independence, and competence to interpret laws shall be the objective yardstick for the JBC to shortlist nominees and for the President of the Republic to choose from that list. It is objective, because those highly expected qualities are simply can not be spoken or explained. Rather, these can be seen through their (nominees) actions in the past proven beyond doubt!


Related Readings:

  1. What makes De Lima a LAUGHINGSTOCK before the impeachment court?
  2. The DOJ and Its (Seems to Be) Ignorance of the LAW: Will It Excuse Sec. De Lima from the Dilemma of Justice Apprehension?
  3. Aquino and DOJ’s Dillydallying over Arroyo’s Medical Travel Request: A BLATANT CONTEMPT for a Constitutional Right!


____________. Rules of the Judicial and Bar Council. Judicial and Bar Council, Philippines: November, 2009. (http://jbc.judiciary.gov.ph/index.php/jbc-rules-and-regulations/jbc-009) Date Accessed: July 7, 2012, 8:23 P.M.

Dizon, David. JBC won’t disqualify de Lima as CJ bet. ABS-CBNnews.com, Philippines: July 6 (?), 2012. (http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/07/06/12/jbc-wont-disqualify-de-lima-cj-bet) Date Accessed: July 7, 2012, 8:51 P.M.

Lawas, Hector with Manalastas, Jester. De Lima won’t quit. Journal Online, Philippines: July 4, 2012. (http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/headlines/33182-de-lima-wont-quit) Date Accessed: July 7, 2012, 9:00 P.M.

Pimentel, Aquilino “Koko”, III. Press Release: Pimentel: Those facing disbarment complaints can be nominated as CJ. Senate of the Philippines, Philippines: June, 25, 2012. (http://www.senate.gov.ph/press_release/2012/0625_pimentel1.asp) Date Accessed: July 7, 2012, 8:29 P.M.

Punay, Edu. De Lima accepts Chief Justice nomination (The Philippine Star). philSTAR.com, Philippines: July 2, 2012. (http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=823121) Date Accessed: July 7, 2012, 8:57 P.M.

Ramos, Marlon. Supreme Court takes de Lima to task (Report from Philippine Daily Inquirer). Inquirer News, Philippines: December 2, 2011. (http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/103915/supreme-court-takes-de-lima-to-task) Date Accessed: July 7, 2012, 8:46 P.M.

Torres, Tetch. De Lima accepts Chief Justice nomination. Inquirer.net, Philippines: July 1, 2012. (http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/221439/de-lima-accepts-chief-justice-nomination) Date Accessed: July 7, 2012, 9:04 P.M.

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  3. […] my previous post, Justice Secretary Leila De Lima: From DOJ to SC, another Aquino political ploy? , I implied the possible plan of Aquino administration in the nomination of Secretary De Lima to […]

  4. […] Supreme Court Associate Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno was included in the JBC shortlist while DOJ Sec. Leila De Lima was out in the list.  According to ANC, Sec. De Lima is asking for JBC’s explanation for her […]

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