De Lima faces dilemma in Supreme Court, says SantiagoPhilippine Daily Inquirer
Will a justice secretary who once drew flak for openly defying a Supreme Court temporary restraining order (TRO) be fit to head the judiciary?
Such will be the issue against Justice Secretary Leila De Lima in the event that she is picked to replace ousted Chief Justice Renato Corona, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago said Thursday.
Santiago acknowledged that De Lima had likewise criticized Corona in public, which apparently took place amid the TRO controversy and during the four-month impeachment trial.
“Well, if I were the ex-Chief Justice, I would commit suicide. I think that would be a major service to my country because I really cannot see that kind of mentality ruling the Supreme Court,” she said in jest at the weekly Senate media forum.
Santiago said De Lima might eventually have to address the issue when she is interviewed by the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), along with 21 other applicants for Chief Justice.
“Let’s see her explain this because if she becomes chief justice and under her, the Supreme Court, or even a branch of the Supreme Court, issues a TRO and someone refuses to obey it using the same grounds, then she’ll certainly be in a dilemma,” she said.
De Lima is scheduled to be interviewed first by the JBC at the Supreme Court’s Division Hearing Room in Manila on July 24. Interviews will be open to live media coverage, a first in the selection process.
Santiago, a constitutional law expert and former trial court judge, was among the fiercest critics of De Lima’s decision to ignore the Supreme Court TRO late last year.
Back then, the high court allowed former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, now Pampanga representative, to seek medical treatment abroad in the absence of any case filed against her.
The Commission on Elections, with the assistance of the Department of Justice, eventually rushed an electoral sabotage case against Arroyo, who was later ordered arrested by a Pasay judge.
“I will say that my eyebrows rose to the ceiling when I heard the secretary of justice outright refused to obey a TRO because law students are taught that when the Supreme Court issues a TRO, it’s like God issuing a mandate—you have to obey immediately,” Santiago recalled.
The senator said the Aquino administration was also facing a “dilemma” in choosing the next Chief Justice. The President had openly campaigned for Corona’s removal.
“If it appoints a person too closely associated with the President, then people will say the impeachment trial was just a melodrama. It was simply meant to remove somebody in favor of somebody better controlled by Malacañang and there is now reasonable doubt on whether the man was really guilty,” she said.
“But at the same time, the President will want to have control, if possible, of the Supreme Court. That’s the dream of all presidents.” Christian V. Esguerra
Originally posted at 10:21 pm | Thursday, July 12, 2012
Tags: chief justice , chief justice nominations , Department of Justice , DoJ , Judicial and Bar Council , Judiciary , Leila de Lima , Miriam Defensor-Santiago , News , Politics , Senate , Supreme Court , temporary restraining orders