Palace lauds Carpio; Chavez says he’s ‘too late the hero’By Norman Bordadora, Philip C. Tubeza
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Malacañang on Saturday welcomed acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio’s acceptance of his nomination for Chief Justice, saying that Carpio is “a great legal mind.”
But for former Solicitor General Francisco Chavez, Carpio is “too late the hero.”
According to Chavez, Carpio has been serving on the Supreme Court for 11 years, but has “not contributed to the realization of the reforms” he is proposing now.
Ricky Carandang, head of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office, said “Justice Carpio has every right to be considered for the post and we respect that.”
“Justice Carpio is also a great legal mind,” Carandang added in his text message to the Inquirer.
Carpio is qualified to become Chief Justice, he said, “but there’s a diverse list of nominees and a number of them would certainly be qualified.”
Chavez, also a nominee for Chief Justice, said that what the Supreme Court badly needs is a “unifying figure” from outside who can heal the “infighting” on the court that has “become personal” and has “impaired” the institution.
He said Carpio could have introduced changes even if he was only an associate justice on the court.
“Eleven years wasted. One does not have to be Chief Justice to provide the necessary integrity within the judicial system,” Chavez said. “Each justice of the Supreme Court is a firebrand unto himself to introduce these reforms.”
“And it is not as if it is a hidden spark of genius that when one reaches the highest point of possibility of becoming Chief Justice, one is able to drum up all of these reforms,” he said.
Dreams are free
“But of course, there is nothing wrong with dreaming of becoming Chief Justice. Dreams are free. There is no law against it,” Chavez added.
He pointed that no one had formally nominated Carpio, although, as the most senior associate justice on the Supreme Court, he is automatically nominated to be Chief Justice.
“I would rather that the next Chief Justice come from outside,” Chavez said. “It would I think provide the opportunity to heal the wounds of the institution. It would also be a breather to the infighting within the court.”
The impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona, Chavez said, sowed division on the Supreme Court, with Corona himself accusing Carpio of plotting his ouster.
“(Appointing an insider) would only continue and prolong (the infighting),” Chavez said. “(The next Chief Justice) should be a unifying figure, not an aggravating circumstance,” he said.
The divisions on the Supreme Court should only be “in terms of honest intellectual discussions of cases,” Chavez said. “But the dispute has already gone beyond that into the area of the personal. You have an impaired institution.”
Whiff of fresh air
He said that appointing an outsider would also “usher in a whiff of fresh air from a person who I assume the moment he raises his hand to take his oath will initially say ‘Thank you’ to the President but then in the same breath will also declare his unconditional loyalty to the Constitution and laws over and above everything and and everyone else.”
“As for me, I look at the life of a justice of the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court and more so the Chief Justice as one bordering on social retardation and I am a highly social animal,” Chavez said.
“Surely, I do not want to break the rhythm of my life,” he said.