Politicizing the Judiciary: Campaigning for Chief Justice

It is quite ironic that in the newly-born desire of government figures to actively push for a more transparent, fair and apolitical selection of the next Chief Justice in light of recent events (specifically ex-Chief Justice Renato Corona’s removal from office), did the said process become more politicized than ever.

While I have explained in my previous article that the current president Noynoy Aquino’s unstoppable mouth holds much of the blame for tainting the selection of the next chief magistrate with political prejudice, it appears that there are other crucial factors at work; namely, the candidates themselves.

Recently, news from the country’s media outlets have been littered with statements from some of the nominees for the position of Chief Justice who supposedly showed probity and integrity in their respective jobs, and so deserve a chance to nab the job of being the head of the Supreme Court. However, all of these displays of “probity” and “integrity” in mainstream media to cater to Filipino tastes hardly sound… judicial in nature; not very Supreme-Court-ly, to say the least.

First, we have one of PNoy’s favorite ladies in the spotlight; the very likeable Justice Secretary Leila de Lima. Folks from the government showered de Lima with compliments about how she is very good at her job, and that she is fit for being a Chief Justice, given her astounding credibility in serving the public.

In separate nomination papers submitted to the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) chapter in Zambales province said De Lima exemplified the traits needed to head the Supreme Court.

(Source: Link)

While evidently flattered, the Justice Secretary appears to be eager to play a little game.

Justice Secretary Leila De Lima said she was not “personally interested” in the Chief Justice position but said she would have to think on her options.

(Source: Link)

Yes, your lady nominee is playing hard to get (pakipot in vernacular). De Lima also explained that she is not used to being in a collegial body, citing possible conflicts between her job and her own personality. She also felt uncomfortable about the prospect of being a Chief Justice, who is ideally not seen or heard, but rather read. But then, De Lima changed her tone as she went on.

“Although, I can always adjust to any environment or atmosphere. I can be professional. Pero doon ako nag-aalangan and whether at this point I’m ready to head such a crucial institution such as the Supreme Court,” she said, but added that she would also talk to President Aquino about it.

Of course people might object and argue de Lima is simply being humble instead of actually wanting the Court to chase her into becoming Chief Justice, but then a question will bother me: isn’t the best way to display humility the rejection of the nomination to begin with?

I mean, think about it. De Lima, if we take her word for it, said that she is not personally interested in becoming Chief Justice. That’s a major determinant of her capability to run the Supreme Court. How can you perform well in a particular job when you yourself admit that you don’t want the job in the first place? De Lima’s humility (if it exists) should result to her appeal to be excluded from the nomination. If she really wants the best for PNoy’s “good governance” program, surely she wouldn’t want the possibility of a Chief Justice who didn’t want to become one, and so would voluntarily reject her nomination?

Unless, of course, my suspicions are correct.

Meanwhile, we have our intrepid Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) commissioner Kim Henares to talk about. Together with de Lima, senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago expressed her opinion that they should not be included in the list of Chief Justice nominees, lest the Judiciary be politicized if they are appointed, since they stood witness against the former Chief Justice Renato Corona in his impeachment trial. Of course there’s no real law in the Constitution that does prohibit the two ladies from joining the bandwagon, and Henares was all too happy to take advantage.

Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares, President Benigno Aquino’s shooting buddy and front-runner for the seat of ousted Chief Justice Renato Corona, said on Tuesday she had the edge over all candidates for top magistrate.

In a chance interview during the traditional diplomatic reception on Independence Day in Malacañang, Henares told reporters that she was being lured by the opportunity the position of Chief Justice offered to undertake reforms in the judiciary.

(Source: Link)

Straight from the horse’s mouth, and, in this case, the horse is Henares herself. Referring to the opportunity to become Chief Justice as if it’s some sort of a calling, Henares then began to explain why she had this “edge” over the other candidates as if the CJ selection is some sort of a beauty pageant.

“I’ve experienced the complaints of people about the adjudication system, from arbitration in the National Labor Relations Commission, all the way to fighting for your rights, you’re bumping against big establishments,” said Henares, an accountant and lawyer.

“So, I would say that I have an advantage over all the other people because I personally experienced all in the system itself,” she added.

Henares not only wants the job, but also supposedly has the necessary experience for the job; she wants to reform the way the judicial system works, and she has the “best teacher” to guide her. This might be received by others as nothing more than a naked hubris, but to many Filipinos, Henares might just appear to be the perfect woman for the job.

Indeed, a testimony from a private lawyer who nominated Henares speaks well of this claim.

“I believe in her competence and her integrity is beyond question,” lawyer Elpidio Jamora Jr. told INQUIRER.net over the phone on Friday, quoting from his nomination letter he submitted to the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) on Thursday.

(Source: Link)

What about the other nominees for the position of Chief Justice?

Before De Lima’s nomination, different groups and individuals had recommended the appointment of Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza, Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares and prominent lawyer and women’s rights advocate Katrina Legarda as Corona’s successor.

Also nominated were former Ateneo de Manila University law school dean Cesar Villanueva, Inquirer columnist and former University of the Philippines’ College of Law dean Raul Pangalangan and former Laguna Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Marianito Sasondocillo.

The five most senior justices of the Supreme Court—acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio and Associate Justices Presbitero Velasco Jr., Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Arturo Brion and Diosdado Peralta —had also been automatically nominated for the post of Chief Justice.

We haven’t heard much about the other nominees other than the two mentioned above (possibly except Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio’s public denial of the allegations pertaining to a looming Aquino dictatorship, as well as his refusal to the Palace’s invitation to a vin d’honneur). How come they’re not making themselves known? That’s because it makes sense. The selection of Chief Justice is not like your typical senatorial or presidential elections, where your television is bombarded with jingles and credentials. The selection of the Chief Justice is not supposed to be politicized through media—wait.

Then what about the way those two nominees I’ve mentioned used the media to play a silly cat-and-mouse game, or to brag your figurative battle scars?

The logical thing for de Lima to do is abstain from being a nominee, and yet she didn’t, and chose to keep the country in suspense. Meanwhile, Henares is already showcasing her experience that serves as her “edge.” Could these nominees actually be promoting themselves to the Filipino people? Could they actually be campaigning in a way?

Indeed, the way things currently go, the supposedly independent nature of the judicial system is eroding, given by how our CJ nominees tend to politicize the process by showcasing themselves to the public through mainstream media, with the backing of the president supportive of their endeavor. Is it possible that we’ll be seeing promotional ads for judicial nominees in the future? Who knows?

The way I see it, there are at least two ways if the government is really keen on preserving the autonomy of the Supreme Court. The first one would be to put a moratorium on what the media could cover. But that would be silly. After all, it’s the innate function of journalism to inform the public on what’s currently happening in society; such a measure would be tantamount to depriving the people of information. We are then left with the other option, and this has to do with the nominees. Perhaps, like the other candidates who seem to know how things work, perhaps the nominees highlighted in this article can stop treating this nomination as some sort of a showbiz political arena and start respecting the selection process. In other words:

They can just shut up.


About Arche

I'm just throwing ideas around. I also love coffee.

Post Author: Arche

I'm just throwing ideas around. I also love coffee.

Leave a Reply

20 Comments on "Politicizing the Judiciary: Campaigning for Chief Justice"

newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Matthew Parkes
Only in the Philippines would either of these two intellectual voids be considered for the Supreme Court. They are voids – their lack of respect for the rule of law in the recent Corona debacle only proved that they are pawns for BS to move around the board. Of course, it won’t be BS doing the moving because he is too lazy and stupid to be president, but his family will be able to move either of these two non-entities with ease. Further proof of the unsuitability of these two stooges is the fact that they are treating the job… Read more »
Last week, de Lima said she will be HONEST to say she is interested if nominated. Just one week later, she’s now broadcasting her disnterest adding that in the past she has never been interested in the positions she got. Interpret the inconsistencies. As for Henares, she is only 52 years old. Which means if she will not resign, retire early, get impeached, or die before the mandatory age of 70 years, she will be the CJ of SC up to 2030 or for 18 years. Long enough to outlive four presidents (including Noynoy) and swear-in the 16th, 17th, 18th… Read more »

A distasteful attitude for women. Nakakahiya.
Women are known to blab a lot. But you know why Gloria still has my respect, she knows when to shut up.
These two, so-called high esteemed official of this BS Admin is a complete idiotic epitome of women.
BTW, I am biologically female.

Daido Katsumi

If De Lima wil be CJ then we are all finished. Why would you trust a stanuch leftist, huh? 😛

Der Fuhrer

Justice Secretary Juliet De Lima is a major security risk. She is related to Juliet De Lima-Sison, the wife of communist leader Jose Maria Sison. Recall that it was former President Corazon C. Aquino who freed Joma Sison. Sison was responsible for the ruthless communist purges. In recent memory, it was her son BS Aquino who also freed the Morong 43. His father Ninoy had an informal alliance with Joma Sison. Ninoy was instrumental in supporting the communist NPA. He gave them arms, money, medical attention, sanctuary and did not hinder their presence within Hacienda Luisita. See the pattern?

Der Fuhrer
BS Aquino is another fake political icon as the yellow media would like him to appear. He is neither hero or saint. His parents are of the same mold. His lack of scruples, his resort to political expediency and opportunism in trying to install a puppet Chief Justice does not bode well for democracy. In the interest of truth I am re-posting their treason and opportunism. You be the judge… http://www.josemariasison.org/?p=5114 http://www.josemariasison.org/?p=3225 Another piece of the pattern. BS Aquino granted amnesty to the communist red allied magdalo leader Trillanes. Remember Lt. San Juan and the document showing the communist alliance… Read more »
All the while I thought Penoy’s fake original or the original fake Lady Gaga is Dinky Soliman. Now here comes these two other driftwood. (Get the drift – driftwood! They pretend they “still” have it!) This one best describes Henares – From Daily Tribune: “OMG! She thinks she has the edge! INSIDE CONGRESS by Charlie Manalo The other day, while the nation was commemorating its 114th declaration of independence, Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Commissioner Kim Henares was giving interviews to the media claiming she has the edge over other possible contenders to the post vacated by former Supreme Court… Read more »
Hyden Toro

Do these people have competence and integrity? I doubt they have….they should take a good look at themselves. On what they’ve done…


Yeah, I was never swayed into hating Gloria even when the whole country was already at the height of being duped by media (Maguindanao Massacre I think that was, surpassing the “I am sorry” sabotage and “ZTE Scandal”) because I knew that there was progress going on. She just did her job and now the BS president is reaping the harvest to his credit. *Buwiseeet!*
(Please GRP, let my cussing pass. I just can’t help it na how we’re all being stupefied by this whole zarzuela between malacanang and the yellow media).

Der Fuhrer

They who believe that there is no more corruption in the yellow administration are living in a Nutzi cuckoo clock world!


I wonder if silence is now a lost virtue. I know that our freedom of expression is a very good method to express ourselves but does that merits spouting everything? I think that these two ladies have their own merits and accomplishments of their own and in respect that. However, I think discretion is now being sacrificed for the sake of publicity and just making unnecessary noise. I wonder how many chicks will ever hatch for these ladies (particularly for Henares).


Both Henares and De Lima are shooting buddings of Aquino. De Lima has a disbarment case pending while Henares was fired by her former employer. So integrity means, “people with cases?”