MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) -- Afer much dilly-dallying, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has accepted her nomination for the Chief Justice post.
In a statement sent to reporters, de Lima said: ”What the judiciary needs is an effective and trusted leader. That, to me, is the call of the times.”
She said that after a “deeper reflection and further consultations with my family and close confidants, and amidst my initial hesitance and apprehensions, I now feel that I will be up to the challenge and will now take on the challenge.”
She said she will be honored to “submit myself to the scrutiny of my peers at the [Judicial and Bar Council, or JBC] and the general public, for eventual consideration of the President.”
She supposedly accepted the nomination after a heart-to-heart talk with President Benigno Aquino III.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said she is not sure if there was indeed a discussion, but said de Lima met with Aquino, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda and Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo on Friday morning over budgetary concerns.
“We’ll leave it to Secretary de Lima to speak about it,” Valte said.
De Lima was one of those who got the nominations early, but declined to immediately accept saying she has to think things through. Last week, she said talks of nomination have brought intense pressures on her.
De Lima was one of the witnesses brought to court by the prosecution in the impeachment trial of former Chief Justice Renato Corona.
Her acceptance does not mean an automatic inclusion in the JBC process as the JBC has yet to consider cases filed against her.
Court watchers are saying that de Lima's acceptance and the number of aspirants will test the independence of the JBC.
In the past, the most number of nominees the JBC has submitted for the position of chief justice is five, and the least is three.
The shortlist has always contained the names of incumbent members of SC, except in 2010 when the shortlist of four included Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Edilberto Sandoval.
De Lima has a pending disbarment case. Private lawyer Agustin Sundiam earlier asked the high court to take disciplinary action against De Lima and also Lacierda for their earlier remarks on national television. where they called Corona a “lawless tyrant.”
De Lima is apparently dismissing this, saying: “I sincerely believe that, at the minimum, I have my character and resolve as a person, and my track record and passion as a public servant, to offer for such a crucial and revered post.” – with a report from Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News