Aquino: Sereno appointment based on JBC shortlist
Former President Benigno S. Aquino III asserted Tuesday that the appointment of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno went through the process and his decision to appoint her as top magistrate was based on the shortlist submitted to him by the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC).
Speaking to reporters after the Liberal Party (LP) National Executive Council Meeting, Aquino said his role as appointing authority could not make him liable for graft since it was the JBC which screens candidates for the Chief Justice position as well as other judicial posts, and all he did was choose from among the applicants qualified by the constitutional body.
“I’m assuming that the complaint says something like ‘hindi siya nagsubmit ng SALN (Statement of Assets and Liabilities) niya, dapat hindi mo siya inappoint. Ang presidente under the Constitution, pwede kang mamili ‘don sa ni-release na list na in-approve ng JBC,” Aquino noted.
“Hindi na sasabihin sa’yo kung bakit ito ang desisyon namin,” he added.
The former Chief Executive further explained that the presumption of regularity on the application of aspirants rests on the JBC.
“Ang presumption of regularity, sa JBC. So pagdating sa akin (recommendations), wala na halos detalye, ang sinasabi lahat ito pumasa sa qualifications. Gano’n ang sistema […] medyo nag-iisip ako, ano na naman kaya ang mali ko ‘don?” Aquino said.
Aquino disclosed receiving a letter from the Supreme Court (SC), asking him to comment on the removal of Sereno, who was removed from office via a quo warranto case filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida, the government’s principal lawyer, before the high tribunal.
The SC granted the quo warranto petition, voting 8-6, last May 11.
“I have an order to comment on the complaint filed against us for the appointment of Chief Justice Sereno to that position. It’s a one-page letter,” he said.
He also maintained that the executive branch has no control over the judiciary even if it tasked to appoint SC justices. He said the executive branch however ensures the judiciary gets sufficient to carry out its function.
“Nakalagay doon may reklamo daw sa pagkakatalaga kay Chief Justice Sereno bilang Chief Justice, violation of anti-graft and corrupt practices. Sa totoo lang, kapag Pangulo kayo, hindi kayo pwedeng maki-alam sa pagtatalaga ng Chief (Justice),” Aquino pointed out.
“Bakit? Eh kung sino man ang itatalaga doon, wala kang paki-alam. Ang paki-alam mo na lang eh gawin mo ng tama ang budget nila. Pero kung anong pagtatalo nila, pagsusuri, lahat ‘yon, wala kang pakialam,” he also said. /kga
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