MANILA, Philippines—Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Friday said she was not aware that Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno had fired psychologists and psychiatrists from the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC).
De Lima, vice chair of the JBC, said the council would keep its requirement for applicants for judicial positions to undergo psychological and psychiatric examinations.
But the JBC will “clean up the process’’ and determine who should conduct the exams, she said.
The results of the exams are supposed to be confidential, but the results of Sereno’s exams when she was applying for the job of Chief Justice were leaked.
It seems that Sereno, chair of the JBC, had discovered who leaked the results of her exams, which showed she got poor marks, and she reportedly fired them.
In an interview, De Lima acknowledged that the JBC had a “couple of meetings regarding the propriety, desirability and necessity” of requiring the exams.
The discussions included the questions of keeping the requirement and, if it would be kept, who should handle them, De Lima said.
The decision was to keep the exams, but De Lima said the council would ensure that the tests are handled by “competent and objective’’ people whose findings will not be questioned or doubted.
For her, she said, the exams should be required, but the council must ensure that the “methods and bases” used are “scientific and objective.”
But De Lima said the psychological exam remained merely a “guide and not a fixed criterion’’ for the JBC in considering nominees.
Asked whether Sereno has sole prerogative to replace psychologists and psychiatrists, De Lima said the “surest way is to get the approval of the JBC.’’
But De Lima said she had yet to find out whether Sereno indeed fired the JBC psychologists and psychiatrists and whether the decision was hers alone.
She admitted some JBC members had some reservations sometimes on the findings and scores that a nominee got from these exams. Some members wondered the basis for these results.
For De Lima, she said she was fine to keep these psych exams as a requirement for nominees just as long as the JBC was sure that the “methods and bases’’ used here were “scientific and objective.’’