MANILA, Philippines - With only 5 days left to go for the submission of nominations and applications for Chief Justice and formal acceptance of nominations, Justice Sec. Leila De Lima still has not decided on whether to accept her nomination by the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption's (VACC) Dante Jimenez and the Zambales Chapter of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP).
Speaking to reporters in a chance interview this morning, De Lima said she hopes to discuss the matter with Pres. Aquino within the week so she may come up with a decision soon.
During his London visit, Mr. Aquino had mentioned that he intends to keep De Lima at the justice department for the meantime.
"I'm hoping na within the week ako kakausapin ng presidente and in fact, if I have the chance, for example, nasa palasyo lang naman ako at magkita kami, then maybe I can approach him and talk about it," De Lima said.
The President's preference will weigh heavily on her decision, the justice chief said.
"Ang inputs and insights of the presidente, importante din yan... he knows kung saan ako magiging effective," she said.
De Lima is also being considered to run for the Senate in next year's polls, a proposition she also has yet to consider.
"Sa Senate naman, politics doon, hindi ko rin alam kung ready akong sumama sa ganyang mundo ng politicians. Nahihirapan din ako minsan na makipag-relate sa politicians," she said.
"Not interested, but..."
De Lima pointed out that she is not "personally interested" in the post vacated by Chief Justice Renato Corona. She added that she may not be ready, for now, to head the top judicial post. She, however, said that she will reflect on her options.
"Personally, I'm not really interested... sa mga dati kong posisyon, I was also not personally interested but if I have to decide on those things then I'll deeply reflect on that... saan ba ako [to] best serve the public interest, the national interest, the public good," she said.
"Panibagong mundo na naman yun, I'm not being used to being in a collegial body. My persona and my personality, I think, I don't know kung bagay ako doon," she added.
De Lima used to head the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) before being appointed as Justice Secretary.
Not used to being "seldom seen, seldom heard"
De Lima pointed out that the Chief Justice is "seldom seen and seldom heard," something that does not fit her personality.
"To put it lightly, a Chief Justice is passive. Seldom seen, seldom heard. Only read. Can you imagine Leila De Lima seldom seen and seldom heard? Although, I can always adjust to any environment or atmosphere. I can be professional. Pero doon ako nag-aalangan, and whether at this point I'm ready to head such a crucial institution such as the Supreme Court," she said.
De Lima sits at the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), the body mandated under the Constitution to screen nominees and applicants for posts in the Judiciary, as an ex-officio member.
Should she accept her nomination, De Lima will have to inihibit from deliberations, public interviews, and the voting process for the next Chief Justice.
The JBC will submit a shortlist of the most qualified candidates to the post. Pres. Aquino will have to appoint the next Chief Justice within 90 days from vacancy.