MANILA, Philippines - Justice Secretary Leila de Lima may be among Malacanang's top picks for the position of Ombudsman, but the justice chief has formally declined her nomination.
De Lima transmitted a formal notice to the secretariat of the Judicial and Bar Council(JBC) Friday morning declining the nomination made by Assistant State Prosecutor Romeo Senson last May 10.
"I have to set the records straight, categorically, that I am not interested," de Lima said.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte told reporters Thursday "many would cower if Secretary de Lima would be placed at the Office of the Ombudsman" and that she was "fit for the job" but was quick to point out the justice chief was not interested in the post.
De Lima said she suspected cases against her are being filed before the Office of the Ombudsman one after the other to block her transfer.
"Sa tingin ko isa yan sa mga rason na nagsusunod sunod yung mga kaso ko. Akala nila interesado ako. And look at the cases, they are nuisance suits! Yung latest nga di ko nga maalala kung kailan ko napirmahan yung resolution na yun," she said.
The justice chief was referring to a second complaint filed against her for alleged Gross Neglect of Duty and Dereliction of Duty for approving a recommendation for the dismissal of an immigration officer in an administrative case. The complaint was filed last May 4.
De Lima also has a pending plunder case for the revocation of the reward for an informant in a tax evasion case involving the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and the Bank of America, and recently, the subject of an urgent request for investigation for the deportation of several Taiwanese nationals to mainland China in February.
Under JBC rules, any pending administrative or criminal case against a nominee/applicant to the Ombudsman post is a ground for disqualification.
Aside from officially declining her nomination at the JBC, De Lima told ABS-CBN News Thursday she informed President Aquino during a meeting in Malacanan that she was declining the nomination.
"In passing, napag-usapan namin and I told the president I was declining. And he respects, I think, my decision," she said.
Under JBC rules, any nomination or recommendation should be formally accepted by the nominee "either in the nomination/recommendation paper itself or in a separate document."
Asked if she preferred an appointment to the Supreme Court as an Associate Justice with the impending retirement of two Associate Justices - Conchita Carpio Morales and Antonio Eduardo Nachura - de Lima said it was "too early" to consider it.
"You know naman the Supreme Court... Magsusulat and magsusulat ka lang dyan ng resolution. I cannot express my views publicly and that would be uncharacteristic of me," she said.
JBC rules also provide that any candidate to the Supreme Court must have no pending administrative or criminal cases.