Aquino clueless on Supreme Court nominees—EscuderoBy Cathy Yamsuan
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The public can rest assured that Malacañang does not have a preordained candidate in the still-expanding list of nominees for Chief Justice, Senator Francis Escudero, a member of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), said Wednesday.
Escudero noted that President Benigno Aquino was not a lawyer and “totally…doesn’t know anything about” most of the 42 names nominated to replace ousted Chief Justice Renato Corona.
“President Aquino does not belong to the legal profession so these names may sound like…foreigners and strangers to him,” Escudero told a television interview.
“None of the names pop out (in the sense) that the President has indicated that ‘this is the guy I want,’” among the list of nominees, he said.
“I haven’t sensed that from him. He does not know anything about (most of the nominees) save for what he reads about them in the newspapers, if the nominees are known,” Escudero said.
“Really, I think the President genuinely doesn’t have anyone in mind up to this point and is in the search himself,” the senator said.
Escudero, the lone senator representative to the JBC selection panel and a close friend of Mr. Aquino, said he would also be unable to predict the President’s choice.
“When we submit a list to the President, we don’t know who he will appoint…But the buck stops with the President,” he said.
Ideally, the list of nominees to replace the Chief Justice should include “representation in all the regions, various persuasions, schools and backgrounds, a mix of private and government,” he said.
Among the more prominent nominees who are not Supreme Court insiders are Justice Secretary Leila de Lima; Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares; Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza; Marvic Leonen, chief government negotiator with Muslim rebels; Alexander Padilla, government negotiator with the communist insurgents; Andres Bautista, chairman of the Presidential Commission on Good Government; Teresita Herbosa, chairperson of the Securities and Exchange Commission; elections commissioner Rene Sarmiento, law professor Raul Pangalangan and former congressman Ronaldo Zamora.
Escudero said that in the case of Henares and De Lima, it would be “awkward” for them to even consider their nominations since they took part in the process of removing Corona as prosecution witnesses in the impeachment trial.
The senator said the JBC cannot concentrate or trim down the list to nominees that caters to a specific concern of the administration, like tax collection for example.