MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang said the replacement for Justice Secretary Leila de Lima in the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) screening process for the next chief justice may come from outside the justice department.
According to Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda, the Constitutional Commission envisioned the secretary of justice to sit as an alter ego of the President and not as a representative of the DOJ.
He said the appointment will be left to the President’s prerogative.
“Based on the records of the Constitutional Commission, when the Secretary of Justice sits in the JBC, he does not sit there as SOJ. He sits there primarily as the alter ego of the President. Nagsabi po ang JBC ng kanilang prefrence but the choice of who will be the replacement of Secretary Leila de Lima is with the Office of the President. So it will be based on the choice of the President. Will it be an undersecretary or will it be a Cabinet-rank member because Cabinet secretaries are also alter egos? We don’t know yet kung sino,” Lacierda said.
Lacierda stressed that de Lima will be replaced only insofar as the JBC deliberates on the nominees to become the next chief justice and that she would still participate in the JBC’s deliberations for other judicial positions.
De Lima inhibited from the proceedings after she was nominated for the post.
“It will be left with the Office of the President to choose who will be the designated replacement, only insofar as the discussions on the selection of the chief justice,” Lacierda said.
“The JBC naman has several issues there. They have discussions on nominees for judges, MTC, RTC, CA. Doon, pwede pa mag-participate si Acting Chief Justice Carpio at si Secretary Leila de Lima. Insofar as the choice on the selection of the chief justice, doon silang dalawa mag-iinhibit. The replacement is only for that particular topic.”