Carpio is acting Chief Justice

by Ira Pedrasa,

Posted at May 30 2012 04:05 PM | Updated as of May 31 2012 02:23 AM

All SC justices agree to release SALNs

MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) - Supreme Court (SC) Associate Justice Antonio Carpio is now the acting chief justice following the Senate's conviction of ex-chief magistrate Renato Corona.

In a press conference Wednesday, acting SC spokesperson Ma. Victoria Gleoresty Guerra said Carpio became acting chief justice since he is the most senior member of the court.

“It’s by operation of law because he’s the senior justice," she said.

Guerra also announced that all SC justices have decided to release their respective statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) in the aftermath of Corona's conviction.

"It was the collective decision of the Court to release the SALNs in full, not [just] summaries," she said.

She said this decision was reached during a special full-court meeting called by Carpio.

“It’s for transparency and accountability,” Guerra said.

Marquez leaves SC PIO

Guerra was also appointed as acting SC Public Information Office (PIO) chief. She will be co-terminus with Carpio.

She temporarily replaces Jose Midas Marquez, whose role as SC spokesman ended with the ouster of Corona.

“He’s [Marquez] still the court administrator, which is a permanent position,” she said.

“His [Marquez’s] being the spokesman was just an additional [job]. As he said to us, it’s already overdue that he give up his [spokesman's] duties,” Guerra said.

The co-terminus employees in the Office of the Chief Justice who worked for Corona were given employment extensions of 30 more days.

The Senate on Tuesday found Corona guilty of betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution for not disclosing his SALN as required under the Constitution.

Twenty senators voted to convict, and only 3 voted to acquit Corona.

SALN guidelines

Guerra said the guidelines on the release of the SALNs will be taken up during a special full-court meeting on June 13.

Before Corona's impeachment trial, the SC policy on the release of the justices' SALNs was only upon request, except in cases where “the request is not made in good faith and for a legitimate purpose, but to fish for information and, with the implicit threat of its disclosure, to influence a decision...”

No request for justices' SALNs was ever approved prior to Corona's impeachment.

SC Clerk of Court Enriqueta Vidal initially decided against turning over Corona's SALN to the impeachment court when she testified last January 18, since she had not gotten the court's clearance. She eventually turned them over after she was ordered to do so by the impeachment court. 

The Office of the Clerk of Court is the repository of justices’ SALNs.

Corona's SALNs showed that he failed to disclose his multi-million dollar and peso accounts, a fact that Corona himself admitted before the impeachment court last May 25.

The high court will also tackle the petitions seeking to nullify the Commission on Elections’ move to purchase 82,000 precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines for the 2013 mid-term elections.

The high court earlier issued a temporary restraining order on the Comelec's decision.

Guerra said the regular en banc meeting will resume on June 19.

Absent in today’s special session were Associate Justices Lucas Bersamin and Diosdado Peralta. They were both in Baguio City for lectures.