Case vs Justice Carpio to precede JBC deliberationsBy Christine O. Avendaño
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The Supreme Court is expected to tackle on Wednesday the disbarment case filed against Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio by anticrime crusader Lauro Vizconde, only a few hours before the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) shall make its final three recommendations for Chief Justice to President Aquino.
Because of the heavy rains on Tuesday that resulted in the suspension of work in government offices, the Supreme Court will hold a special en banc session at 9 a.m. today, said the high court’s spokesperson Gleo Guerra.
In line with a Malacañang memorandum suspending work in government and private offices, Carpio yesterday suspended work at the Supreme Court and all lower courts in Metro Manila, including the Sandiganbayan and Court of Tax Appeals.
Guerra said the high court would take up the disbarment case against Carpio, who will preside over today’s en banc session but is expected to inhibit himself from the deliberations in the disbarment case against him.
In a petition he filed before the high court last Monday, Vizconde sought Carpio’s removal as a member of the bar, claiming that the Supreme Court magistrate had been using his influence to maneuver for the appointment of people in key government posts, including in the judiciary, since 1992 when he became presidential legal counsel to then President Fidel Ramos.
Vizconde also reiterated that Carpio had influenced the high court into acquitting Hubert Webb and his coaccused in the murder of Vizconde’s wife and two children in 1991.
Vizconde said he filed the case against Carpio because the JBC appeared to have ignored the opposition he had filed against Carpio’s nomination.
Now that a disbarment case had been brought against Carpio, Vizconde said it was his hope that President Aquino would “think twice’’ about appointing him Chief Justice.
But lawyer Frank Chavez said the JBC was likely to throw out the disbarment case against Carpio to “protect the insiders.”
Chavez said he believed the JBC had a “preference’’ for insiders of the high tribunal rather than outsiders as shown by the public interviews it conducted of the 20 nominees.
“The insiders were treated with so much deference… and they (JBC members) asked them leading questions to draw out the best in them,” while the outsiders got the tougher questions from the panel, he noted.
Chavez expressed the belief that most of the nominees who would end up on the JBC short list to be released today would be insiders.
The former solicitor general said he disagreed with any move to suspend the JBC rules on the matter of disqualifying nominees who have pending cases, saying that it was “not acceptable.”
Iloilo Representative Niel Tupas Jr., who sits as a member of the House of Representatives in the JBC, said on Monday the panel would take up Justice Secretary Leila de Lima’s petition for the council to be “fair and equitable” in deliberating on nominees with pending cases.
Tupas said this meant the panel would either amend or suspend the rules.
De Lima, who is facing two disbarment cases, is counting on the JBC to keep her nomination alive after the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) twice denied her appeal to have the disbarment cases against her dismissed, claiming they were harassment suits.
The disbarment cases against De Lima stemmed from allegedly disparaging remarks she made against then Chief Justice Renato Corona and her defiance of a high court order to allow former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to leave the country for medical treatment.
The JBC is expected to tackle three other nominees whose pending administrative cases could potentially disqualify them—Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza, Presidential Commission on Good Government Chairman
Andres Bautista, and Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Teresita Herbosa.
Whether Carpio will end up joining the four nominees with pending cases will depend on the outcome of the Supreme Court en banc hearing on his disbarment case.