July 25, 2012 · Posted in: General
PRESIDENT BENIGNO S. AQUINO III should appoint a sitting Justice of the Supreme Court as the new Chief Justice so the judiciary could “forgive” him and the House of Representatives for the impeachment of former Chief Justice Renato Corona.
This was the position put forth by Supreme Court Associate Justice Roberto Abad during his interview by members of the Judicial and Bar Council on the second day of the screening of nominees for the position of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Abad was the 7th nominee to be interviewed by the JBC.
Abad told the JBC that it would be better if President Aquino appointed a court insider as the new Chief Justice so that the new appointee could start a “renewal.”
Abad said if the President appoints an outsider, this would only aggravate the tensions between the executive and the judiciary.
Moreover, Abad said only an insider could “forgive” the President and the House of Representatives for what they had done to the judiciary, referring to the impeachment of former Chief Justice Renato Corona.
“Mas mabuti kung taga-loob,” Abad told the JBC. “Kung taga-loob, parang magkakaroon ng renewal within. If it is an outsider, nasugatan na nga ang Supreme Court, sinusubsob mo pa sa lupa?”
“Kung sa labas kukuha, parang you don’t trust those already part of the judiciary,” Abad added. Pero kung nasa loob na, and with someone with a mindset to forgive… Dapat ang gagawinng Chief Justice dito is to forgive the President and Congress for what they have already suffered.”
To this, Rep. Neil Tupas Jr., the representative of the House of Representatives in the JBC and the former lead prosecutor in the impeachment trial of Corona, asked: “Ano po ang ginawa namin?”
Abad clarified that he meant there was a need for both sides to forgive each other for what had happened.
Abad immediately replied: “At kayo rin po, patawarin ninyo kami.”
“There can be no healing of wounds unless there is forgiveness.” Abad added.
Abad admitted that he had taken part in the weekly masses held by Supreme Court employees in support of Corona during the impeachment trial, saying he was there as a personal friend of Corona. “He is my friend also, and I am loyal to friends. Loyalty to friend, but I am not going to betray the institution.”
Two other aspirants who were interviewed by the JBC Wednesday morning however gave a contrasting view.
Attorney Rafael Morales and former UP College of Law Dean Raul Pangalangan told the JBC that the Supreme Court needed an outsider who could give the court a fresh and impartial approach.
In fact, Dean Pangalangan said that if it were not for the impeachment of Corona, the JBC would not even be screening outsiders for the position of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Pangalangan said that the impeachment of Corona had opened the door to outsiders to accept nominations to the highest judicial post in the land.
“Had it not been for that event, no outsider will have the nerve to accept a nomination, because it is too much of an overwhelming barrier,” Pangalangan said.
“It is time to restore credibility, and the first step is to appoint an outsider as the Chief Justice,” said Morales, also a professor at the UP College of Law.
Pangalangan also pointed to the need to “depoliticise” the judicial system. Pangalangan said this not only referred to depoliticising the appointments of judges and justices, but to shielding the judiciary from other political plays as well.
The best proof of this problem, Pangalangan says, is the fact that the Supreme Court already has its own spokesman. In the past, he said, the court only spoke through the decisions it rendered. “Why hire someone to interpret the decisions for us?”
“We have to strengthen the court so we can stand firm and stand fast against pressures,” he said.