Carpio, De Lima urged to withdrawBy Gil C. Cabacungan
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima should take the high road and withdraw from the race on who would lead the Supreme Court.
Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II warned that their decision to accept their respective nominations to succeed the ousted Chief Justice Renato Corona would only put President Aquino in a “bad light.”
Gonzales said that their qualifications to the post were not in doubt but their sense of “delicadeza” (propriety). De Lima was a prosecution witness in the impeachment trial of Corona while Carpio was accused of coveting Corona’s post and engineering his impeachment.
“There is no question, the two are both experienced legal personalities to hold the post. They are highly competent, capable and knowledgeable. But they should consider that mere acceptance of their nominations may put President Aquino in a bad light as this may give life to the statement of former Chief Justice Corona that he was deliberately removed to be replaced by another who has close ties with the Chief Executive,” Gonzales said
Gonzales, along with Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., is President Aquino’s point man in the Lower House where 188 members signed, verified and approved the impeachment complaint in less than five hours. They spoke with the President a day before the filing of the impeachment complaint.
“This (withdrawal of nominations) will ensure the judicial independence of the Supreme Court,” said Gonzales.
Since Corona was impeached primarily because of his purported bias toward former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Gonzales was worried that the appointment of a new Chief Justice perceived as loyal to the President would be seen as no different from Corona’s case.
“The nominees associated with President Aquino and former President Arroyo should not join the selection process and instead voluntary withdraw their nominations. This is for the good of the country to guarantee the judicial independence of the Supreme Court from the Executive, influential political figures and other parties,” Gonzales said. “The challenge for him (President Aquino) is to appoint the next Chief Justice who is very much qualified and has no connection with him.”