While the search for missing Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Jesse Robredo continues, the esteemed President Noynoy Aquino seems to have another dilemma to ponder on; having to choose the next Chief Justice from the Judicial and Bar Councilâ€™s shortlist after his most trusted sidekick, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, got booted out due to her pending administrative cases in what seemed to be a stroke of karma.
The presidentâ€™s agony was so obvious that he himself publicly declared that heâ€™s dissatisfied with how things turned out in the Chief Justice selection process.
On Friday, Aquino had said he was dissatisfied with the shortlist of eight names for the next Chief Justice submitted to him by the Judicial and Bar Council. Five of the names are sitting associate justices of the Supreme Court, and three are outsiders.
Still, in an attempt to emit an aura of integrity, the president emphasized that he will still choose the chief magistrate from the said shortlist.
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Despite his disappointment, the President said he will choose from the list given to him by the JBC.
Aquino has until August 27 to choose a new Chief Justice to replace Renato Corona.
To beef up this public image he tries to project, Palace officials keep saying this one thing; PNoy will choose the candidate who will spearhead reforms in the judicial system.
President Benigno Aquino III will appoint a new Chief Justice who can be “at the forefront of judicial reforms,” Palace officials said Sunday.
“Aside from the Constitutional requirements of independence and probity, the next Chief Justice is expected to lead way for judicial reforms,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said.
Forefront of judicial reforms… so deep and thought-provoking, wouldnâ€™t you say? It just screams optimism all over, something many Filipinos can anchor their hopes on without holding anything back. It just gives you an image of a better, cleaner justice system, where there are no rich or poor in the face of the law, where anyone receives the just penalty regardless of his social standing…
Well, theoretically, thatâ€™s what should happen. Only I have no idea what PNoyâ€™s judicial reform actually means.
What does PNoy want to reform? What does he want to change? Ever since he started his hate-campaign against ex-Chief Justice Renato Corona, he just kept babbling allusions to this â€œjudicial reformâ€ thingy. Now that Coronaâ€™s out of the game, PNoy is still into this â€œjudicial reformâ€ concept. This inevitably begs the question: what is the methodology of this… judicial reform?
I need no refresher course on PNoyâ€™s so-called objectives in trying to change (whatever it is heâ€™s trying to change) in the judiciary; transparency, accountability, a more effective justice system, bacon and eggs, so on and so forth; typical demagoguery. However, I have yet to hear an actual game plan, an explicit explanation on how his administration will carry out such reforms.
So as not to sacrifice objectivity in defining terms, I searched for a good definition of judicial reform.
Wikipedia says: Judicial reform is the complete or partial political reform of a country’s judiciary.
This leads to another question: what does political reform mean?
Â Political reform means improving the laws and constitutions in accordance with expectations of the public.Â Requirements of all the segments of the society are included in â€˜public expectationsâ€™.
It would seem that judicial reforms are more structural in nature, which is kind of predictable, if I do say so myself. Judicial reforms usually involve amending the laws or the constitution that defines a particular political system.
Well, is this what PNoy really wants? Amend the structure of the courts to supposedly promote good governance? How should anyone know? He never told us anything, other than he will choose a Chief Justice who can carry out this task. Several conundrums beg to be addressed.
- Really, what kind of judicial reform is PNoy talking about?
- Does he intend to amend laws concerning the judiciary through the next CJ?
- Will this entail the notion of a cooperative CJ, perhaps even subservient to the demands of the president?
- If yes, wonâ€™t this be a bad move, since the Executive, Legislative and Judicial systems are supposed to be independent bodies?
- If no, wonâ€™t this bring us back to the first question?
- Does he think selecting his preferred CJ is a reform in itself?
- If yes, I have a problem; that canâ€™t be a reform, since judicial reform is structural in nature. Besides, choosing a Chief Justice is a normal function of the President. There’s nothing revolutionary about that.
- If no, number five.
- Is he talking about his own brand of judicial reform or a judicial reform based on the future CJâ€™s initiative?
- If the former, we go back to number three.
- If no, why mention judicial reform in the first place? Why not just mention the constitutional requirements? Wonâ€™t it look like PNoy is merely inflating his criteria?
And I must admit; Iâ€™m more inclined to this idea; itâ€™s the daang matuwid rhetoric all over again. If you would but recall PNoyâ€™s campaign videos prior to his presidency, weâ€™d know that he had little to no platform to back up his daang matuwid initiative. What exactly are the tools to be employed to achieve this? What are parameters, the determinants to confirm whether we have achieved the goal or not? What is the time frame for this initiative?
Now, we have PNoy trumpeting the arrival of so-called judicial reforms… but what kind of judicial reforms? What is the methodology? How exactly will it be executed?
The fact that PNoy casually leaves us with these unanswered questions might be a hint to his possible lack of standards in choosing the next Chief Justice, but thatâ€™s just me.
Sigh, empty, platform-less agendas… indeed, old habits die hard.