Carpio among chief justice bets

By Edu Punay, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jun 08 2012 01:29 AM | Updated as of Jun 08 2012 08:23 PM

MANILA, Philippines - A member of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) confirmed Thursday that acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio and Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza have been nominated for chief justice.

Lawyer Jose Mejia, regular member of the JBC from academe, said Carpio has been included in the initial list of candidates after he and the other four most senior justices of the Supreme Court (SC) were automatically nominated under the rules.

Carpio, who heads the JBC as ex-officio chairman, inhibited last Monday from the selection process for the post of chief justice.

Carpio finished law at the University of the Philippines and placed sixth in the 1975 Bar examinations. He is a founding partner of the Villaraza Cruz Marcelo and Angangco Law office.

The four other magistrates in the list are Associate Justices Presbitero Velasco Jr., Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Arturo Brion and Diosdado Peralta.

Mejia said Jardeleza, on the other hand, was nominated by UP College of Law Dean Danny Concepcion last Wednesday when the JBC started accepting applications and recommendations for the top judicial post vacated by ousted chief justice Renato Corona last May 29 after he was found guilty by the Senate impeachment court.

Jardeleza was deputy ombudsman for Luzon before he was named solicitor general last February.

He also finished his law degree from UP and earned his master’s degree from Harvard University in the US. He is also a former lawyer and executive of San Miguel Corp.

Apart from Jardeleza, who is reportedly among those being considered by President Aquino for chief justice, the council had received two more recommendations.

Mejia confirmed that lawyer and women’s rights advocate Katrina Legarda was nominated by UP Law Professor Myrna Feliciano, while Ateneo law school Dean Cesar Villanueva was recommended by lawyer Ramon Torralba Jr.

Legarda is known in legal circles as a defender of abused women and children.

She was lead counsel in the statutory rape case filed by an 11-year-old girl against then Zamboanga del Norte Rep. Romeo Jalosjos.

Her “battered women syndrome” defense strategy had also led to the acquittal of a woman who had been sentenced to death for killing her husband.

The SC has since accepted this as valid legal defense.

Villanueva, on the other hand, is a recognized authority in Philippine commercial law. He placed second in the Bar exams in 1981.

There were two other applications accepted by the JBC, but Mejia said he could not recall their names because they were not prominent.

The JBC will accept recommendations until June 18. The nominees will then be asked to formally manifest if they will accept the nominations.

Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima admitted yesterday her being considered for chief justice as earlier reported was still uncertain.

She said she would make the decision if and when she would be nominated and President Aquino would endorse her.

“I will defer to the wishes and wisdom of the President. I hope to get the chance to talk to him first,” she told reporters.

“Personally, I am not interested. If no one nominates me then that’s fine. I’ll have a quieter life. If I will be nominated, then that’s the time I will decide,” she said.

De Lima, an ex-officio member of JBC who also inhibited from the discussions on the new chief justice, said comments in the media made for or against her possible nomination remain as speculations.

“Now those making comments, especially columnists in newspapers, are a bit offensive already. I think they should hold their horses,” she appealed.

President Aquino, meanwhile, refused to comment on Carpio’s nomination as chief justice.

Asked whether the removal of Corona could promote better relations between the executive and judiciary, Aquino said, “I think so.”

“In fact, I’m almost certain that...will be the case,” Aquino said.

He clarified that he was not trying to influence the JBC indirectly by commenting on the issue of next chief justice.

“I distinctly remember the JBC resisted (former president) Arroyo’s request for an expanded list. The Constitution says three nominees for the position,” Aquino said.

He said he was bound by the list to be provided by the JBC.

“The Constitution says so. That’s the only party (that) can nominate. I have to fill the position in 90 days. They have promised to finish their deliberations in a month,” Aquino said.

The President said he would interview all nominees to make sure he would make the right choice.

“There has to be a solid basis (for the appointment). For instance, my appointees to the Supreme Court, I really interviewed all of the candidates,” Aquino said.

14 nominees for CA

The JBC has listed 14 nominees for three vacancies in the Court of Appeals (CA).

Insiders in the judiciary dominated the shortlist released yesterday by the eight-man council, which included 11 judges of regional trial courts, two members of academe and an assistant solicitor general.

Assistant Solicitor General Roman del Rosario, Judge Jonel Mercado of Guagua, Pampanga Regional Trial Court and Judge Ruben Reynaldo Roxas of the Manila RTC topped the list after garnering seven votes each from members of JBC during deliberations last Monday.

Cebu RTC Judge Simeon Dumdum, Quezon City RTC Judges Henri Paul Inting and Edgar Santos got six votes each.

The others in the shortlist submitted to President Aquino were Iligan RTC Judge Oscar Badelles, Gapan, Nueva Ecija RTC Judge Celso Baguio, corporate lawyer Rochelle Yvette Dakanay-Galano, Arellano Assistant Law Dean Arellano Virgilio Gesmundo, Malolos RTC Judge Wilfredo Nieves, Makati RTC Judge Perpetua Pano and Tuguegarao, Cagayan RTC Judge Vilma Pauig and Quezon City RTC Judge Marie Christine Jacob. They got five votes each.

President Aquino will pick three new associate justices of the CA from the shortlist to replace Justices Josefina Guevarra-Salonga who retired last February, and Juan Enriquez and Antonio Villamor who will retire in June and July, respectively. With Aurea Calica, Christina Mendez