Carpio, de Lima can be chief justice: Enrile

Posted at 06/07/2012 1:51 AM | Updated as of 06/07/2012 2:11 PM

MANILA, Philippines – Either Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima can be the next Supreme Court chief justice, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said Wednesday.

Enrile told reporters that even if Vice President Jejomar Binay may oppose Carpio's selection as chief justice, he and all of the current associate justices in the high tribunal are qualified for the position.

"'Yon ang position ni Vice President sa nabasa ko pero si Tony naman ay qualified like 'yung 13 na kasama niya. Qualified din 'yon. Si Peralta, Brion, De Castro, Bersamin. Magagaling 'yan. Mauutak 'yan sa Bar. Si Reyes, Velasco, Del Castillo. Lahat pwede naman. Si Villarama," he said.

Between reported Palace bets de Lima and Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares, Enrile chose the current justice secretary as fit for the position.

"Si Leila kaya," he said.

Enrile believes that even Senators Franklin Drilon and Francis Escudero can be chief justice, if they want.

"Kung gusto nila, pwede rin. Bakit si Franklin mataas ang grade sa Bar, mataas din ang ranggo niya sa UP," he said.

The 88-year-old Enrile, who presided over the impeachment trial of now ousted Chief Justice Renato Corona, said he will not seek the chief justice position because of his age.

"Ako ay disqualified na. Gurang na ako. Too far from the retirement age already. Seventy ang retirement age. Immediately disqualified. Alam mo, kahit na ako hindi disqualified, hindi ko trip 'yun," he said.

"Matrabaho 'yung justice ng Korte Suprema. Wala kang ginagawa doon kung hindi nakaupo sa silya mo sa loob ng kwarto mo at pinag-aaralan mo 'yung mga kaso. Gusto ko 'yung nandoon ako sa husgado na nakikipag-away sa ibang abogado at testigo," he added.

SC 'outsider' OK with Enrile

He sees nothing wrong if President Benigno Aquino chooses an outsider to head the Supreme Court.

"Kung magagawan nila ng paraan na kumuha ng mga outsiders, marami naman magagaling diyan. Magagaling sa academe, may mga ‘di ka ano diyan na magagaling, mga deans, mga professors, marami," Enrile said.

He said seniority in rank is not necessary to become the country's top magistrate.

"Not necessarily. Ganoon din sa military. Noong panahon namin hindi namin kino-consider 'yon. Of course, it's a point 'yung seniority but sa military, we have to uphold the vacancy rule. You can select the best and the brightest in the organization. Ganoon din sa Korte Suprema. Ngayon, kahit na politician pwede," he said.

"Kung magagawa nila 'yun, okay lang sa akin. Subukan natin naman mga outsider pero 'yung basa ko kasi sa Saligang Batas iba pero hindi ko na sasabihin para hindi na magkakagulo," he added.

Waiver for nominees

He said the Judicial and Bar Council can ask screen nominees and applicants for the chief justice position to sign waivers on the full disclosure of their assets.

"Okay lang siguro 'yun. Gusto nila 'yun. Pero kung ako ang masusunod, hindi ko na huhusguhan 'yung tao na magiging chief justice para bagang hindi mo pinagkakatiwalaan," he said.

"There is a presumption of innocence and honesty in favor of people unless you can prove na wala. ‘Di kung masama naman ugali niya at gagawa ng kabaluktutan, nandiyan naman 'yung sistema natin," he added. "Sa ginamit natin, sinubukan natin na epektibo ‘yung sinaad ng taong-bayan sa kanilang Saligang Batas na gamitin upang ayusin ang sistema kung nangangailangan lang."

Enrile said he won't also oppose televised proceedings in the JBC's screening process.

"Okay lang 'yon kung gusto nilang i-televise," he said. "Gusto lang nilang ipakita na ang publiko malaman kung sinu-sino ang mga kandidato parang manok. Makilatis nila kung maganda ang mga senyales sa kanilang mga paa."

He compared it to a cockfight.

"Hindi ba sa sabong tinitingnan ang kaliskis ng mga manok kung may krus, doble. Akala ninyo hindi ako marunong niyan? Noong araw, topador ako. Noong bata ako, mayroon akong manok. Pupunta ako sa tupada at kung nanalo 'yung manok ko, mayroon akong isisigang o iaadobo o tinola. Noong araw, manok sa manok," he said.