MANILA, Philippines – Justice Secretary Leila de Lima is taking her case directly before the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) after the Integrated Bar of the Philippines refused to junk several disbarment cases filed against her.
In an 11-page letter sent to the JBC, de Lima said the consolidated complaints filed by Ricardo Rivera, Fernando Perito and Nephtali Aliposa cannot be used to disqualify her from the list of possible candidates for Chief Justice because these are not regular administrative cases.
“If the undersigned will not hazard this passionate plea, and persuade the Council to the justness of her cause, then she has no business hoping to give justice to every Filipino as Chief Justice,” she said in the letter to the JBC.
She also blasted the alleged double standard imposed by the IBP when it dismissed the disbarment cases against Supreme Court magistrates Antonio Carpio and Maria Lourdes Sereno while keeping the disbarment case against her.
De Lima noted that lawyers with pending disbarment cases while being considered for an SC post “invariably find themselves at the mercy of the Court” since it is the SC that will decide if the cases should be junked.
“While the undersigned finds herself powerless in the face of the six-month lag in the referral of her disbarment cases to the IBP, not to mention the eight-month inaction in the show cause order the Court itself initiated against her, the justices of the Court are able to exonerate their colleagues from their own administrative cases, in time for and coinciding with the opening of the nominations for the position of chief justice,” she added.
President Aquino earlier confirmed that the Palace legal team is helping de Lima to overcome legal obstacles to her bid to join the shortlist for Chief Justice.
He declined to say if he is eyeing de Lima for the post, saying that he will first wait for the shortlist.
Sen. Francis Escudero, one of the two representatives of Congress in the JBC, has said he does not expect de Lima to be included in their shortlist.
He explained that under JBC rules, any person with a pending administrative case including a disbarment case is disqualified.
"We won't even put it to a vote. The rule will simply be applied unless by some stroke of luck or miracle, the case will be dismissed by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines," he told ANC.
He added: "It will be unfair if we make an exception to the rule because we have disqualified countless applicants who were similarly situated."