Tupas wants CJ bets' SALNs scrutinized

By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 30 2012 06:39 PM | Updated as of May 31 2012 02:39 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Chief Prosecutor Niel Tupas Jr. on Wednesday said the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) will require scrutiny of the statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) of the candidates for chief justice of the Supreme Court.

Tupas is a member of the JBC, the constitutional body tasked with picking members of the Supreme Court and the Ombudsman for the appointment of the President.

He said the next chief justice must be a natural born citizen and must have had a long time practice of law.

He said the next chief justice need not be picked from the sitting justices of the court though traditionally, seniority is honored. They must also have proven competence, integrity and independence.

Tupas said technically, Senator Franklin Drilon, who is reportedly interested in the job, can become chief justice but he will have to first pass scrutiny by the JBC.

Drilon denied today that he wants to become chief justice, saying that he will accomplish more as a senator.

Tupas said the President has 90 days to pick a new chief justice. Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio is currently the acting chief justice.

He said there may be a problem now with the JBC since the JBC chair is the chief justice. There is no provision that allows an acting chief justice to preside over the JBC.

The lawmaker said he will propose that the JBC meet this week or next week to process applications but they have to select a new presiding officer from among themselves.

Del Castillo impeachment

Meantime, Tupas said former Chief Justice Renato Corona must still be held accountable even after he was removed from office.

He also doesn't expect the House to act on the impeachment complaint against Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo before it goes on sine die adjournment next week. Del Castillo's impeachment case is pending before the plenary.

He was charged in connection with alleged plagiarism of a Supreme Court ruling.