SC aspirants grilled on pressing issues
The Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) has started its public interview for the two of the at least 10 Supreme Court Associate Justice positions that will be filled up by President Rodrigo Duterte.
Seven aspirants, who are vying for the position that will be vacated by Associate Justice Jose Perez who will compulsorily retire on Dec. 14, answered questions about their qualifications and their possible contributions to the judiciary if appointed.
They were also grilled on pressing issues such as the burial of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (LNMB) and the spate of extrajudicial killings (EJK) of drug suspects in the country.
Two of the aspirants, Court of Appeals Associate Justice Japar B. Dimaampao and Law Professor Rita Linda S. Jimeno both maintained that the rights of the public must be respected and uphold the rule of law.
“War on drugs is something that I support [because] all our citizens should be protected. But the rights of the civilians must also be protected,” Jimeno said.
Dimaampao, on the other hand, said extrajudicial killing “is committed without due process of law, without legal safeguards, without judicial proceedings. With that definition, they have no place in our democratic system.”
Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) Chief Persida Rueda-Acosta, meanwhile, said all the recent killings of drug suspects should not be blamed in its entirety to the government.
She said the death of motorcycle rider John dela Riarte by two Philippine National Police Highway Patrol Group personnel last July is extrajudicial killing.
Davao City Regional Trial Court Judge Rowena M. Apao-Adlawan believes there is no extrajudicial killing because the President himself committed to upholding the rule of law.
On the Marcos burial, Jimeno said she respects the majority opinion of the justices, but stressed that it has nothing to do with her being an Ilocana.
“My view has nothing to do with my being an Ilocana. It is my respect for the rule of law which tells me the Supreme Court’s decision should be respected, and I do respect it,” Jimeno told the seven-member council.
Sandiganbayan Associate Justice Samuel Martires, for his part, said he would also concur with the high court’s ruling.
If he is a member of the high court, Martires said he would have concurred with the opinion of Associate Justice Jose Mendoza that the case involves a political question that is beyond the judicial review power of the judiciary.
In the said concurring opinion, Mendoza held that allowing Marcos’ burial at LNMB does not necessarily make him a hero and does not rewrite the nation’s history on martial law.
Regarding the plan of suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao, Dimaampao and Chief Legal Counsel Ricardo V. Paras III both said that it can only be done during the existence of rebellion or invasion pursuant to the conditions set by the Constitution.
The aspirants are also candidates for the position to be vacated by Associate Justice Arturo Brion.
Aside from Acosta, Ventura-Jimeno, Apao-Adlawan, Dimaampao, Paras and Martires, other candidates are CA Associate Justice Noel Tijam, CA Presiding Justice Andres Reyes Jr. and CA Justices Apolinario Bruselas Jr., Rosmari Carandang, Stephen Cruz and Jose Reyes Jr., Quezon City Judge Reynaldo Daway and Sandiganbayan Justice Alex Quiroz.
The JBC will screen the aspirants and submit a shortlist to the President. The President has 90 days from vacancy of the position to appoint. RAM
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