IBP junks De Lima plea anew; it’s now JBC’s callBy Christine O. Avendaño
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima is now counting on the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) to keep her nomination as Chief Justice alive after the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) denied anew on Monday her appeal for the dismissal of the disbarment cases against her.
“Be that as it may, I have already stated in my letters to the JBC that I leave (my fate) to the council,” De Lima said Monday after learning that the IBP had thrown out her appeal.
She said she hoped the JBC would allow the candidates’ bids to stand or fall on their merits and not on the “expedient, and not remotely underhanded, means of disqualifying an otherwise qualified candidate,” De Lima said.
De Lima remains a nominee at least until Wednesday when the JBC votes on its three choices for a successor to ousted Chief Justice Renato Corona.
The eight-member JBC had set the vote for Monday, but postponed it to give Sen. Francis Escudero time to go over the transcripts and records of the council’s interviews with the 20 nominees.
The Senate’s representative in the council, Escudero did not take part in the interviews because of a Supreme Court ruling that Congress should have only one representative in the JBC, in this case Iloilo Rep. Nathaniel Tupas Jr.
Aside from De Lima, three other nominees are facing disqualification for having pending regular administrative cases. They are Presidential Commission on Good Government Chair Andres Bautista, Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza and Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Teresita J. Herbosa.
All four nominees have written the JBC, asking the council to disregard the cases, as these are harassment suits, according to JBC member Jose Mejia.
De Lima has written the JBC five times.
Case against Carpio
Anticrime campaigner Lauro Vizconde on Monday filed a case for the disbarment of another nominee, acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio.
Vizconde himself went to the Supreme Court to file the case against Carpio whom, he alleged, was “corrupt” and should not remain as a member of the bar.
Vizconde told reporters that he filed the case against Carpio because the JBC appeared to have ignored the opposition he filed against the nomination of the acting Chief Justice.
“We want to give it a try if this case I filed would have any effect on the opposition I filed with the JBC,” Vizconde said.
He said he hoped President Beningo Aquino would “think twice” about appointing Carpio as Chief Justice now that a disbarment case had been brought against the acting Chief Justice.
Use of clout
In his filing with the Supreme Court, Vizconde alleged that Carpio violated the Code of Judicial Conduct and the Code of Professional Responsibility by using his influence as presidential legal counsel in the administration of President Fidel Ramos to manipulate appointments in government offices and in the judiciary through his law firm.
Vizconde said Carpio and his law firm was behind the ouster in 2001 of President Joseph Estrada and the rise of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who, in turn appointed him to serve on the Supreme Court.
Vizconde also charged that Carpio had a hand in the impeachment of Corona.
Vizconde alleged that Carpio influenced the Supreme Court into acquitting Hubert Webb and his coaccused in the murder of Vizconde’s wife and two children in 1991.
No new arguments
In a phone interview, IBP spokesperson Trixie Reyes-Angeles said the IBP affirmed Monday its July 30 decision to proceed with the investigation of the disbarment cases against De Lima.
Angeles said the IBP denied De Lima’s latest petition because the justice secretary offered no new arguments.
The IBP also took into consideration the opposition of the complainants to De Lima’s appeal, Angeles said.
She said the IBP would issue a “more comprehensive” resolution on De Lima’s petition on Tuesday.
De Lima is facing two disbarment cases for her defiance of a Supreme Court order allowing former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to leave the country to seek medical treatment abroad, and her disparaging remarks against Corona.
Prima facie finding
In a statement released by her office, De Lima, who was in Albay province on Monday for the burial of her father, said it was “unfortunate” that the IBP maintained its decision based on assumptions and not on the Rules of Court on IBP investigations and Supreme Court decisions.
She said the rules required a prima facie finding before somebody could be considered charged. But there remained no resolution from either the Supreme Court or the IBP that there was a prima facie finding in the cases against her, she said.
“This is why the IBP had to assume there was one, even when it cannot point out to any document to that effect, except the recommendations of the IBP investigator finding no merit in two of the disbarment cases and which the IBP ignored,” De Lima said.
She said she hoped the JBC would listen to her appeal.
The JBC was unable to take up De Lima’s fifth appeal because it postponed the vote to give Escudero a chance to catch up.
“I think the matter of her qualification or disqualification will be taken up by the JBC on Aug. 8,” Supreme Court spokesperson Cleoresty Guerra said.
Tupas, the House’s representative in the JBC, said he asked for a deferment because he wanted to examine the financial disclosures of the nominees against their bank accounts.
He said the JBC would tackle De Lima’s request for fairness toward nominees with pending disbarment cases when the council returns Wednesday.