Carpio eyes top Supreme Court post
‘I will not turn down any challenge’By Jerome Aning
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio on Friday said he would accept his nomination as Chief Justice of the Philippines.
“I will not turn down any challenge to lead the judiciary if given the opportunity,” Carpio told reporters after speaking at the Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Central Luzon regional convention in Clark Freeport, Pampanga.
“It’s part of my work,” Carpio said. “There’s no reason for me to depart from my work.”
In his speech, Carpio spoke about reforms needed in the judiciary that, it is now understood, he would introduce if named Chief Justice.
Carpio spoke about the need to decongest the dockets, integrity and independence of judges, transparency and accountability in the judiciary, infrastructure needs of the judiciary, compensation of judges, court administration, and training for judges.
Of those, clogged dockets should get priority attention because delays in trial and decision “impair social justice, hinder economic development and erode public confidence in the justice system and ultimately in the entire government,” Carpio said.
To end this problem, Carpio suggested the adoption of a computerized case management system for all courts. The Court of Appeals has adopted the system, he said, and it has proved to be a success.
Carpio also recommended the creation of permanent administrative tribunals to expedite cases involving judges and justices. At present, he said, only temporary investigative bodies handle such cases.
“The leaders of the judiciary must lead by example,” Carpio said. The Chief Justice and associate justices, he said, must be the “embodiment of integrity and independence”—models for the rest of the judiciary to follow.
He said the JBC “must give greater weight to decisions of applicants who seek promotion to the judiciary,” as these are “evidence of the competence, integrity and independence of judges and justices.”
Asked if he would seize the opportunity if nominated, Carpio replied, “Abangan [Just wait for it].”
Carpio has not been nominated by anyone, but as the most senior Supreme Court justice he is automatically nominated together with the next four most senior justices on the court: Presbitero Velasco Jr., Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, Arturo Brion and Diosdado Peralta. Of the five, only Brion has accepted his nomination.
The Judicial and Bar Council’s deadline for the nomination and application for the position of Chief Justice is on Monday, July 2.
ABS-CBN News on Friday quoted Carpio as saying he would send his acceptance to the JBC in time for the deadline.
Carpio has been serving as acting Chief Justice sinceMay 29, when the Senate removed Renato Corona from office after a 44-day impeachment trial. Corona was convicted of culpable violation of the Constitution by not declaring $2.4 million and P80 million in bank deposits.
Asked how nominees and candidates for Chief Justice should be screened and chosen, Carpio replied: “You have to look at the record of a candidate. All of us (Supreme Court justices) are appointed by the President. But it doesn’t mean that all those appointed by the President are loyal to him. They should be loyal to the Constitution.”
Asked if political factors could affect the choice, Carpio said: “None so far. We’re very tranquil about these things.”
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court’s most senior career officer, Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez, has become the latest to be nominated as Chief Justice.
Marquez has been nominated by a certain Egay Bigay, who also has nominated Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr.
Like Ochoa, Marquez also declined his nomination.
“Thank you for the nomination, but I will have to decline,” Marquez said yesterday in a text message to reporters. “I lack the wisdom, qualities and experience to be a Chief Justice.”
According to the JBC list issued at 3:45 p.m. yesterday, the number of individuals who had applied and who had accepted nominations for Chief Justice stood at 16.
The latest to accept a nomination was University of the East law school dean Amado Valdez.
Aquino gets list July 30
Sen. Francis Escudero, one of four ex-officio members of the JBC, said on Thursday that he expected the number of aspirants to climb as the deadline neared.
“There will be more nominees and more applicants, which is good so that we have more choices,” Escudero told reporters after he addressed the IBP-Central Luzon chapter’s convention at Clark.
At the close of the July 2 deadline, the JBC will publish the names of the qualified aspirants, Escudero said. The aspirants will be interviewed and made to submit requirements.
Escudero said he would require the aspirants to sign waivers that would allow the government to inquire into their bank deposits and records.
When these are completed, he said, the JBC would deliberate, vote and submit to President Aquino a list of at least three nominees on July 30. Mr. Aquino will choose the next Chief Justice from that list.
Escudero said the JBC would continue working unless stopped by the Supreme Court on the question of composition.
Former Solicitor General Francisco Chavez is questioning the presence of two congressional representatives—one from the Senate, the other from the House of Representatives—in the JBC when the Constitution requires only one.
Escudero dared Chavez to raise the question to the Supreme Court. Chavez has said he will.
Escudero welcomed the prospect of a tussle in the Supreme Court. “At least this issue would be clarified,” he said in Filipino. “I have no problem with this and I will abide by whatever decision is reached.”
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, one of the nominees, said she could not decide whether or not to accept her nomination. She had said she could not imagine herself being a member of a collegial body, but she was “hesitant, reluctant” to accept or decline her nomination.
Lawyer Roan Libarios, president of the IBP, said the organization was looking at the leadership qualities of the nominees and applicants.
“If there is a big resentment against him, he cannot be an effective leader of the judiciary, he cannot inspire reforms,” Libarios said. “He should be someone who could unify the judiciary, not divide it.” With a report from Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon
First posted 12:04 am | Saturday, June 30th, 2012