Senator Angara presses Alan Cayetano as Corona replacementBy Cathy Yamsuan
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—A senator on Thursday warned Malacañang against choosing a politician as the next Chief Justice.
But a colleague of his thinks the senator is actually up to the job of succeeding Renato Corona, who was ousted as chief justice by the Senate impeachment court Tuesday.
Sen. Edgardo Angara believes Senate Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano is “more than qualified” despite the latter’s reservations about President Aquino choosing a new Chief Justice from the ranks of elected officials.
Both Angara and Cayetano, however, believe it is legal for the President to look beyond the crop of Supreme Court justices in choosing a new head of the judiciary.
“I strongly recommend against politicians,” Cayetano announced at the Kapihan sa Senado forum on Thursday.
“The problem with politicians is that we are partisan. Since everyone knows who are our allies and supporters, there would already be doubt about a new Chief Justice’s integrity at the very beginning,” he said.
Cayetano is campaigning for a “new paradigm of transparency and accountability,” an idea he initially pitched during his speech explaining his vote of “guilty” at the conclusion of Corona’s impeachment trial on Tuesday.
He said he would prefer that Malacañang chooses an academician “or a lawyer with 30 to 40 years of practice, one whom we know loves the law and not its benefits.”
Corona’s ouster has created a void in the Supreme Court since his removal is immediate. Senior associate justice Antonio Carpio has been named acting Chief Justice in the meantime.
Under the law, Malacañang chooses a new member of the Supreme Court from a list provided by the Judicial and Bar Council chaired by the Chief Justice.
Sen. Franklin Drilon has been floated as a Corona replacement, an idea he vehemently rejected.
Angara, speaking in Thursday’s forum, maintained that party affiliation should not be a ground for disqualification to remove politicians from the JBC short list.
“I don’t think that should be an impediment. Let us not stigmatize a person just because he has a relationship to the one in power,” Angara said.
Sen. Francis Pangilinan, for his part, urged the JBC to allow the public to witness its deliberations.