'Next CJ must be intellectually, morally superior'

Posted at 06/15/2012 11:18 AM | Updated as of 06/15/2012 5:17 PM

MANILA, Philippines – Age and seniority should not be deciding factors in choosing the next Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, according to former Chief Justice Reynato Puno.

Puno said it does not matter if the next chief magistrate comes from inside or outside the Supreme Court as long as he or she is “intellectually and morally superior.”

“If the new Chief Justice is someone intellectually superior and morally superior, even if he comes from outside, he will be respected,” he told radio dzMM.

In the interview, Puno said age should not be a decisive factor in choosing the next Chief Justice. He said the current Chief Justice of the United States, John Roberts, is still young but is outstanding. Roberts was only 50 when he became Chief Justice.

He also said he does not believe that seniority should be the deciding factor in choosing the next Chief Justice.

Puno cited the importance of choosing a “healing” Chief Justice that will harmonize the interdependence of the judiciary with the two other branches of government.

He said the people’s trust in the judiciary has suffered after the impeachment trial of former Chief Justice Renato Corona as shown in recent Pulse Asia and Social Weather Stations surveys.

“Sa aking pananaw yung bagong Chief Justice dapat talagang maging isang lider na titingalain ng kanyang kapwa justices, titingalain ng publiko at titingalain din ng ibang branches ng gobyerno. Siya ay dapat isang healing Chief Justice. Isang harmonizer,” he said.

Closure on dollar accounts

Puno said the controversy over the disclosure of Corona’s dollar accounts should be resolved by the Supreme Court even after Corona’s conviction in the impeachment trial. In the trial, the Senate voted 20-3 to convict Corona for his failure to disclose all his assets in his statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN).

“Though we can say this is moot and academic, there are cases that even when moot and academic, the Supreme Court still issues decisions because it could happen again so that there is a right interpretation,” he said.