MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang justified President Aquino’s appointment of an undersecretary from the Office of the President (OP), saying he needs an “alter ego” to represent him in the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) following the inhibition of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.
In a letter to acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio, President Aquino said he is designating Attorney Michael Frederick L. Musngi, Undersecretary of the Office of Special Concerns under the OP, “as the representative of the Executive Branch” to replace de Lima, “for the sole purpose of participating in the deliberations of the Judicial and Bar Council for the selection of nominees for the position of chief justice.”
“Number one, Undersecretary Mike Musngi is a lawyer. We need a lawyer present there. And as I said, notwithstanding the position—was it JBC that preferred an undersecretary from the DOJ?—it is a decision of the President because the one who sits there is an alter ego," Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said.
"Since he addresses the special concerns, this is only of a temporary situation. He, being the Undersecretary for Special Concerns, the President, the Executive Secretary, felt that he will be able to perform the obligation."
President Aquino appointed Musngi as De Lima's replacement and the council, via consensus, decided to grant the Palace's request.
Musngi, an undersecretary under the Office of the President (OP), officially became a lawyer on Dec. 17, 2012. He is a member of the Aquila Legis fraternity.