Looking for the new Chief Justice

Posted at 06/09/2012 12:39 PM

(Editor's intro: Raissa, foreign correspondent for South China Morning Post and Radio Netherlands, is an independent blogger.)

This is just a wish list on my part. But here goes.

The following are NOT on my list for the post of Chief Justice: Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.

It is not because they are not good in the law or unqualified. Far from it. It is because the Filipino people and the Philippine Supreme Court need a new start. Considering what just happened, appointing any of the three would be like lighting a match beside a gas tank.

It would instantly draw criticism and give the disgraced, sacked Renato Corona all the more reason to bleat that he was right all along. His impeachment was meant to place the judiciary under the dictatorial hold of the President.
When I asked myself offhand who I would like to see as Chief Justice, only one name instantly came up in my mind – former Senator Rene Saguisag.

Unfortunately, Saguisag is three years beyond 70 – the retirement age for a justice.

I wondered why I had thought of Saguisag. And I came up with the following reasons. I wanted the next Chief Justice to be independent-minded. I wanted someone who had experienced personal pain. I did not want someone with a corporate law background or who has risen from the ranks of the judges or in government service like many of the present associate justices have.

I want someone who has litigated for the poor, for the down-trodden, or for those whose human rights have been violated and for whom luxury penthouses at The Fort are not a priority buy.

And so I came up with a tentative list of names that I thought could be looked into. I have talked at one time or another to each one of them as a source: