MANILA, Philippines – A human rights lawyer and former senator believes appointing Associate Justice Antonio Carpio as the next Supreme Court chief justice, following the ouster of Renato Corona via impeachment trial, would create problems.
Lawyer Rene Saguisag said appointing Carpio, the most senior among Supreme Court justices, as the new chief justice would create controversy after Corona accused him of backing the impeachment trial.
“Well, I think it will present its own set of problems dahil identified siya sa isang faction. Nothing could be nicer than for Tony (Carpio) to say ‘I’m not interested,’” Saguisag told ABS-CBN’s Umgang Kay Ganda.
Carpio, who entered the Supreme Court ahead of Corona, did not accept his nomination as chief justice in 2010 due to a ban on "midnight appointments." This led to Corona's appointment as chief justice in 2010.
Saguisag said it would be better if President Aquino appoints as chief justice Associate Justice Roberto Abad, who will retire in 2014 after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 70.
Carpio, 62, on the other hand, will retire in 2019.
“Siguro maaaring para ma-dribble dribble muna, baka si (Roberto) Bobby Abad [muna ang i-appoint] dahil sandali na lang siya, and then later on saka na pumili ng iba,” he said.
“[Dapat] kumalma muna siguro. We don’t need another divisive issue, controversy,” he added.
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Senator Francis Escudero, in the same interview, echoed Saguisag’s opinion and said Aquino appointing someone identified with him would make the motive for impeaching Corona questionable.
“Sana ang piliin ng pangulo ay hindi mula sa sinumang panig o sinumang identified na malapit sa kanya para hindi mabigyan ng kulay ang naging desisyon ng kanyang partido sa pagpapaalis kay Corona,” Escudero said.
Saguisag said Aquino may choose to appoint someone out of the Supreme Court as the next chief justice, but noted that it is not the tradition.
As stated in the Constitution, the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) will have to convene to give the president a list containing at least three nominees for the now vacant position of chief justice.
The Constitution also requires that the position be filled within 90 days since its vacancy. The appointment that Aquino will make would not need any confirmation.