Age, lack of experience not a must to become Chief Justice—EscuderoBy Katherine Evangelista
MANILA, Philippines – Age and lack of experience should not be major considerations in selecting the next Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero said Thursday.
“Are we going for stability, predictability of decision and of the court? Or gusto ba nating may bagong dugong pumapasok dun, bagong ideya, bagong kaalaman, bagong perspektiba kasabay ng pagbabago din ng panahon (Or do we want a new blood with new ideas, new knowledge, new perspective attuned with the changing times). Those will be considerations that will be up for the President and us,”Escudero said in the Kapihan sa Senado press briefing.
Escudero is the ex-officio member of the Judicial Bar Council, which is tasked to oversee the selection of the next Chief Justice.
Escudero’s reaction came after the Palace issued a statement saying the next Chief Justice need not be old. He said he believes that age and lack of experience are not a hindrance.
“Naniniwala ako na hindi kapansanan ang paggiging bata, binato sa akin yan at ilang beses ginamit laban sa akin yan, sa mga nagdaang panahon. Hindi kakulangan ang kawalan ng karanasan (I believe that it’s not a disability if you’re young. Many times in the past being young has been used to attack me. It’s not a disadvantage if you lack experience),” he said.
Chief Justice for 30 years
However, he noted that if a young Chief Justice will be appointed, like someone his age—42 years old—that person will be in the position for nearly 30 years before he or she will retire.
He added in the case of Bureau of Internal Revenue chief Henares and other younger nominees, their age is not an automatic reason for their disqualification. Henares, one of the witnesses who testified during the impeachment of former Chief Justice Renato Corona, earlier expressed interest in the position and said she has as edge over other candidates and nominees.
Escudero said, “It could work for or against them, again, if you are after stability and predictability of the decisions of the court that will last a long time, then perhaps you might want to go for that. If you are after a new perspective every once in a while and not to tie the hands of the next President and be bound by the choice of this President for the next four or five Presidents, that would be subject to the exercise of the President’s wisdom and in way, the discretion of the JBC as well.”
“We will weigh and consider that,” he added.
Escudero said the JBC intends to submit its short list of nominees for the chief justice position on July 15 to give President Aquino about a month-and-a-half to study the list of names and conduct his own research on the background of each nominee before deciding who to appoint.
The JBC is required by law to submit not less than three names to the President and the President is mandated to appoint a new official 90 days after the post was vacated, Escudero said.