MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno Aquino III has interviewed all candidates for the position of justice of the Supreme Court, except for frontrunner and peace negotiator Marvic Leonen.
In an interview with radio dzRB, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said Leonen is only abroad at the moment, which was why he was not able to meet with Aquino on Saturday. Leonen is currently in Malaysia for the 33rd formal exploratory talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
She said Aquino will still interview Leonen once both are back here in the country.
A flu-stricken Aquino finished interviewing the other candidates on Saturday before he left for the ASEAN summit.
Besides Leonen, the other candidates for the position vacated by newly installed Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno are: Court of Appeals Presiding Justice Andres Reyes ; Court of Appeals Justices Rosmari Carandang, Jose Reyes Jr. and Noel Tijam; former Energy Secretary Raphael P.M. Lotilla and La Salle Law founding dean Jose Manuel Diokno.
In Malaysia, Leonen was asked what his chances are in getting the position. He reiterated anew: “It’s the same as the others.”
Leonen is the frontrunner for the position. He supposedly gained his chance after successfully leading the peace talks with the MILF.
Malacanang claimed, however, that Leonen is not a shoo-in for the post. Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda claimed the interviews would be paramount.
“The President will give each nominee the opportunity to be heard. [He] will speak to them and, on that basis, choose who will be the next associate justice,’’ Lacierda said.
Leonen also stressed previously he has no qualms about leaving his current post. He had said that the team working with the MILF is doing well. – with a report from David Dizon, ABS-CBNnews.com