The possible appointment of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima as the 24th chief justice of the Supreme Court has not gained support, even from President Benigno Aquino’s allies in Negros.
Two Bacolod lawyers, who supported Aquino for president and joined the call for the ouster of Renato Corana as chief justice, yesterday said De Lima should not have accepted the nomination to the post.
“She is definitely gutsy and decisive and may be a better choice than all other candidates, but appointing her as CJ seems to be replacing the Arroyo lackey with one of Aquino’s. Too bad for her but yes, such appointment is in bad taste,” lawyer Andrea Si said.
“She is too close to PNoy to pass the ‘Caesar’s Wife Test’ (of being above suspicion),” lawyer Andres Hagad said.
Felomino Tan, president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines–Negros Occidental chapter, said that, personally, he thinks De Lima’s acceptance of the nomination is in bad taste.
There is no question about her qualification for the job, it is the fact that she testified against Corona at his impeachment trial that makes her wanting his job in bad taste, Tan said.
It will look like she sought his ouster so she could have his job, he added.
De Lima should not have accepted the nomination, she is only giving the president a problem, Tan added.
“If a nomination to a post would cause the President to be cast in a grey area, I would decline it immediately,” Rep. Julio Ledesma IV (Neg. Occ., 1st District) said, in reaction to De Lima’s acceptance of the nomination to become chief justice.
But Edwin Balajadia, a member of the Negrenses 4 Corona’s Resignation, said De Lima could be a good chief justice as she has independence of mind, integrity, legal competence, and more importantly, the moral courageto stand up for what she believes is right.
That is, if she is endorsed by the Judicial and Bar Council and gets the nod of the President, he added.
De Lima yesterday told reporters in Manila: “I was able to prove my independence when I (headed) an independent constitutional body and I can do that again.”
She was chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights from 2008 to 2010.
“I can prove again my sense of independence and my capacity for independence if I join another independent body (like the Supreme Court),” she added.*CPG