De Castro denies approving request to defer vote on JBC shortlist
“May nagsabi na ako daw, sabi ni chief justice. Eh bakit ako pa tintuturo eh lagi naman akong kontra sa kanya?” (Somebody said it was me, according to the Chief Justice. Why should I be the one when I’m always opposed to her?)
So said Supreme Court (SC) Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo De Castro during the House impeachment hearing Tuesday as she denied calling off a high court voting to recommend a shortlist of candidates for an SC vacancy in 2014.
De Castro’s remarks drew laughter from the crowd as she contested a portion of Sereno’s letter to all 15 justices in May 2014 saying she approved the request of “several justices” to call off the voting for those included in the JBC shortlist for associate justice posts.
De Castro said Sereno was attributing the recommendation to other justices, including her, when in fact, it was only the chief magistrate’s idea to do away with the voting.
It was during that time that then Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza was eased out of the JBC shortlist. Retired Justice Arturo Brion said Sereno manipulated the shortlist to exclude Jardeleza.
“When the justices were discussing among themselves, trying to find out who these justices are, nobody would own up to the recommendation mentioned until one of the justices said that according to chief justice, I was the one who made the recommendation,” De Castro told the panel.
When the en banc met in a session after Sereno sent out the letters, De Castro manifested her denial.
“To put it on record, I did not make that recommendation to the chief justice for all justices to know that she can’t attribute that recommendation to me,” De Castro said.
“During that confrontation, the chief justice can’t mention a single name, until finally she said, oh because I don’t like your recommendees. I don’t think you’re making the proper choice so it turned out that it was her own decision not to get the recommendation from the justices,” she said.
Sereno is facing an impeachment complaint, with the manipulation of Jardeleza’s exclusion from the shortlist as one of the bases.
The complaint said Sereno made a last-minute objection to the inclusion of Jardeleza in the list of nominees, questioning the latter’s morality and accusing him of engaging into insider trading.
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