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.

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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.

20 Replies to “Politicizing the Judiciary: Campaigning for Chief Justice”

  1. 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 like a run for high school class president… which is probably the only job either of them is qualified to hold.

  2. 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 and 19th president of the Republic of the Philippines.

    There is a reason why the most senior justice traditionally gets the appointment. (1) Because by tradition, we Filipinos believe that the older you get, the wiser you become. (2) So there will be constant change in leadership in the SC giving it a breath of fresh air from time to time, so to speak.

    Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion. And Henares is too close to Aquino that even as being BIR chief she has the stench of politics.

  3. 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.

    1. Same as mine, because GMA is an example of what a leader should have been: learning to
      shut up and just do your job.

      Of course, many Yellows will whine about it, saying that she’s ‘corrupt’ yet Noynoy’s incompetence is a-ok for them since he somewhat ‘clean’. How pathetic.

  4. 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?

  5. 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…



    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 with the coup plotters.

  6. 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 Chief Justice (CJ) Renato Corona.

    Justifying her statement, Henares claimed she had personally experienced the complaints of people about the adjudication system, from arbitration in the National Labor Relations Commission, all the way to fighting for her rights as she had the unenviable chance of “bumping against big establishments.”

    Henares further said that she had fought against illegal termination giving the chance to “see the hardships, the process and to fight the large law firm that does not even appear as lawyers but are doing all the back-channeling.”

    “And I mean, what can be a better teacher than experiencing the judicial system yourself,” the BIR chief stressed. And with that statement, she bragged that she holds an advantage over all the other people because she personally experienced all in the system itself.

    Well said. But unfortunately, her records could not collaborate her statements. In fact, contrary to her statement that her “bitter” experience with the judicial system that had taught her well to deal in dispensing justice, it could have somehow strengthened her resolve to take vengeance against those whom she believes are powerful as they could be part of a larger group that has wronged her. Sounds familiar? Didn’t her boss in Malacañang also allegedly state in his supposed psychiatric test he wants to achieve power so he could exact vengeance against those who have wronged him and his family?

    While Henares continues to claim she was illegally terminated by her former employer, the ING Barings Bank, she could not give exact details on the issue. But even with the scarcity of information, it would be very difficult just to take her word on this, if indeed she was illegally terminated, then how come Makati Regional Trial Court Judge Oscar Pimentel, acting on a replevin case filed by the ING Baring, in 2007, ordered the 1996 BMW 318 issued to her by the company seized and had it returned to the company?

    According to sources Henares reportedly was formerly employed and fired by ING Barings Bank as head of the Dutch Bank’s compliance and legal department and that she was fired by the bank in 2000.

    Refusing to give details on the issue, it would be much safer to rely on these bits of information and surmise her termination might not be illegal as she claims.

    And with her “bitter” experience on the judicial system, Henares on at least two occasions, very much like her shooting buddy at Malacañang, had betrayed her own vindictive tendency against the people she sees as powerful as that of the company which effected her termination.

    Last year, Henares sent a notice of audit dated April 5, 2011 to former presidential son, Ang Galing Pinoy Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo, which the lawmaker received on the same day, asking him to submit some documents within 10 days as there were reportedly some discrepancies in his income tax return.

    However, an apparently eager-beaver Henares ignored the deadline she herself set and decided to push with the filing of case against Mikey and his wife two days later on April 7.

    How does one reconcile her acts? Filing a case against someone even before her self-imposed deadline had elapsed?

    And just recently, Henares again hogged the limelight by testifying against the person whom she wants to replace as Chief Justice.

    In her testimony she made under oath for the prosecution, Henares testified before the impeachment court that Corona did not file his ITRs from 2002 to 2005 as she stressed she had checked all the alpha lists in connection with Corona’s tax remittance but found none for the said years.

    When a senator-judge asked Henares during her testimony if it was possible that the regional office which accepted the documents pertaining to the CJ’s tax payments, Henares, who is a law school batchmate of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino’s allies that include Paquito Ochoa Jr., Sen. Teofisto Guingona III , Florencio Abad and former Aquino chief of staff and classmate since grade school days, Eulalio Diaz III who heads the Land Registration Authority, answered in the negative saying all records to that effect had already been forwarded to her office.

    However, Henares was found to have lied after the SC judicial staff officer for cash collection and fiscal division Araceli Bayuga belied her claim in her testimony before the same court as Bayuga presented before the court, the BIR’s the so-called “alpha list” of the judiciary for submission.

    In fact, with her prevarication, the spokesman of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Trixie Angeles said Henares could face possible disbarment.

    And now she claims she has the edge over other contenders for the post of the CJ? By proffering such, Henares has not only given us a preview of what to expect from the judiciary but has also betrayed her narcissistic side.

    Unfortunately, the mouthpiece of her shooting buddy also agrees with her. Last Monday, Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said that Noynoy had personally expressed “his preference toward the nomination of Commissioner Kim Henares.”

    In the event that materializes, we will have another narcissistic and vindictive head of a branch of government aside from the one holding the PSP remote control at the Palace.”


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

    1. It’s like Mirror Mirror on the wall…they will only see themselves as the fairest of them all…and when the mirror says that there is someone fairer than them, they will ask the mirror to use black magic to get rid of the fairer one.
      Oh yeah, they have done that with the depose CJ Corona.

    2. Well the opinion most quoted is Fishball’s Kuya Noy. He has neither competence or integrity. Yet we are supposed to believe that he has even if his track record is zero. Really the whole Pinoy pakisama ran amok. Competence, track record all mean nothing. Brand name counts.

  8. 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).

    1. “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”

      Yeah right, any president can effing rob the living daylights out of everyone of us, our money and our institutions then mechanically apologize as long as there is “progress”.

      Any inquiries into her doings can not be disclosed by any government official unless she gives her consent.

      And that’s not being stupefied, huh?

      Maybe because someone is stupid already to begin in the first place?

      1. There will always be corruption. Heck even in private offices. Go on and check barangay level-land grabbing is being ptacticed, SK projects are overpriced, mini-dynasties established. Unfortunately we have to live with that as we are not vigilant and we do not hold our leaders accountable.
        However, an economy can still be prosperous even if there is corruption-as long as there are cash inflows or investment of the corrupted money is being put in the economy.
        You blame Gloria solely for the state of the economy? Do tell me what had our current government done for us to date?
        Continued price inflation-oh please do not talk about gas price decline, that is affected by the market price OUTSIDE the country, lack of empathy to our affected brothers in CDO, too proud to say sorry about what happened to the Chinese tourist in Manila, worsening brain drain, etc. Oh yeah. That is progress for you.
        The reason why many still put Gloria high in that pedestal is she worked hard for our country. Took hard decisions to keep the economy afloat during the time of econimic crisis. Maintained good relations with those outside MM by facilitating road improvements. Yes, we Manileños did not feel as much progress as we wanted, but she made sure that farm-to-market roads were developed. That is progress! Making sure that the ratio of the rich and poor are lowered.
        This government has not done crap but say corruptuon has been overcome. That is a pack of lies because our barangay captain still get to grab lands and sell it like pancakes.

        1. Not to mention the whole “steering the country through an economic crash that affected even the US” thing.

      2. Nah, it seems that you are stupid in the first place. Here are my reasons:

        People like you go EMO over PGMA, claiming she stole millions of YOUR money (when its the governments money to begin with. Taxation money ain’t yours son! You aren’t down with that? Complain about taxation without representation!) when she also was an efficient leader that kept the Philippines economy afloat, invested on its economic side and did what she could to keep the government from going astray as she wasn’t going to get any legitimacy as the transitional leader after Estrada. So in this system, she had to what she can to gain allies, even if it meant throwing money at them.

        What you and people are getting mad about is a small deal. There are things we should leave the past alone about because it won’t haunt the future of the country. The constitution still haunts the country in the past, certainly the present and most definitely the future and so is the system of the government if we don’t change it for the better. Much like how we should change how we think about mythical concepts like crab mentality and colonial mentality, like you do. Because people cannot progress if they keep thinking like that and playing the constant victim when things get messed up.

      3. You said “any president.” That includes all presidents BEFORE and AFTER GMA. And besides, I’d go for “robber presidents” who bring “progress” than “non-robbers” who don’t bring any “progress” at all.

  9. 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).

  10. 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?”

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