IBP: Next Chief Justice should not be Aquino’s ‘puppet’By Tetch Torres
MANILA, Philippines – Legal experts on Monday stressed on the need for a Chief Justice that is “not a puppet” of the President.
“Once a puppet, always a puppet,” New Era College of Law Dean Abraham Espejo said during the IBP Forum on defining the best candidate for the next Chief Justice. IBP stands for Integrated Bar of the Philippines, a national organization of lawyers.
Espejo said previous records must show that the aspirant has not shown subservience to the executive or legislative branches of the government.
Atty. Antonio Agustin, Dean of the Manuel L. Quezon University College of Law, warned that while closeness to the President may facilitate overhauling the Justice system, it would be a failure if the next Chief Justice “is toady and lacks strong convictions.”
Impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona has accused Aquino of attempting to control the Judiciary by pushing for impeachment.
Dean of Philippine Christian University College of Law retired Sandiganbayan Justice Raoul Victorino said President Benigno Aquino III must not only “hold true to constitutional mandate in making selection, but should also choose one of resolute principles.”
“The next CJ must be unwavering in defending the independence of judiciary,” Victorino said.
The forum, attended by retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Alicia Austria-Martinez and other deans of various law schools, was held a week before the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) conducts public interview of candidates for the top Supreme Court position.
The JBC has been encouraging the public to participate in choosing the next Chief Justice. It was also the first time that the JBC interview will be covered live by the media.