MANILA, Philippines - Justice Secretary Leila de Lima as Chief Justice will definitely be a dilemma, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago said on Thursday.
During the Kapihan sa Senado, the outspoken senator told reporters the Aquino administration will be “in a dilemma there if it appoints a person too closely associated with the President.”
She said people will come to the conclusion that the impeachment of former Chief Justice Renato Corona was just a “melodrama.” People will think the trial was only implemented to remove Corona for someone who Malacañang can control.
“There is now reasonable doubt whether the man was really guilty but at the same time the President will want to have a control, if possible, of the Supreme Court. That’s the dream of all presidents. So, I think we have to choose somebody non-controversial but has a record of expertise,” she said.
Santiago said she has a better candidate in mind.
“Of course, my priority would be a female simply because we never had a female chief justice but there is another public official whom I think fits my requirements for non-controversial character,” she said.
Santiago said “we cannot afford more controversy after the impeachment.”
De Lima has drawn flak for approving a plan to evict members of the media from the same building where her office is situated.
Santiago said her “eyebrows rose to the ceiling” when de Lima refused to obey the TRO issued by the then Corona-led Supreme Court, which allowed former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to leave the country.
The SC's TRO was then one of the grounds used by the prosecutors to remove Corona from office. De Lima was called as a witness for the prosecution.
“I will say that my eyebrows rose to the ceiling when the Secretary of Justice outright refused to obey a TRO because law students are taught that when the Supreme Court issues a TRO, [it] is like God has issued a mandate to obey immediately,” Santiago said.
She said this same issue, however, could be de Lima’s Achilles heel.
“Let’s just see her explain this. If she becomes Chief Justice and under her the Supreme Court issues a TRO and someone refuses to obey it using the same grounds then she will certainly be in a dilemma,” she said.