Bare bank accounts, aspirants for chief justice toldBy Tetch Torres
MANILA, Philippines—Those aspiring to be Chief Justice should sign a waiver for the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) to be able to compare statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) and his bank deposits, Senator Francis Escudero said in an interview on Radyo Inquirer 990AM.
Escudero, an ex-officio member of the JBC, said it is time to up the ante on the qualifications of a chief justice.
“We have removed someone from office because his SALN and bank deposits do not match. We do not want this to happen again,” Escudero said.
Renato Corona has been removed as chief justice after he admitted that he has $2.4 million in four bank accounts and P80 million in three accounts not indicated in his SALN.
Escudero said that such a requirement is not under the rules and the Constitution “but I will encourage my fellow JBC members to support my proposal.”
Under Article 8 Section 7 of the 1987 Constitution, a member of the Supreme Court must be a natural-born citizen of the Philippines, at least 40 years of age, and must have been for 15 years or more, a judge of a lower court or engaged in the practice of law in the Philippines.
The same law also requires that a member of the Judiciary must be “a person of proven competence, integrity, probity, and independence.”
The JBC is the constitutionally mandated body to screen and recommend to the President of the Philippines aspirants to Judiciary post and the Office of the Ombudsman.
Aside from Escudero, other members of the JBC are Justice Secretary Leila De Lima and Iloilo Representative Niel Tupas Jr, both ex-officio members while its regular members include retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Regino Hermisisima Jr., Atty. Jose V. Mejia as representative of the academe; Atty. Aurora Santiago Lagman as representative for the private sector and Atty. Maria Milagros N. Fernan-Cayosa, representative of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.