MANILA, Philippines – The Judicial and Bar Council will not disqualify Justice Secretary Leila de Lima as a nominee for Chief Justice despite a pending disbarment case against her.
Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. said the JBC has decided to keep all nominees with pending disbarment cases until the council makes its final vote on the shortlist to be submitted to the President.
He said that if the Supreme Court fails to rule on the disbarment case before July 30, the nominee will be disqualified.
"If one has a disqualification, we will not disqualify until before the voting kasi baka lumabas. But if it does not come out, then we will disqualify,” he told radio dzMM.
Under Rule 4, Sec.5 of the JBC, a regular disbarment complaint is considered grounds for disqualification.
De Lima is facing a disbarment case filed by lawyer Agustin Sundiam for supposedly calling then Chief Justice Renato Corona a "lawless tyrant" on national television.
De Lima later testified against Corona in his impeachment trial.
In the interview, Tupas said the JBC will vote on July 30 on the shortlist of nominees to be submitted to President Aquino.
Meanwhile, the Iloilo congressman also said the Supreme Court will need to decide on the case filed by former Solicitor General Frank Chavez questioning the current composition of the JBC.
Chavez earlier said only one representative from Congress should sit in the JBC, instead of 2.
Tupas said the framers of the 1987 Constitution made a mistake when they assigned only a representative from Congress to the JBC. He said his own stand is that a bicameral Congress should have 2 votes in the JBC.
“Nagkamali yung nagdraft ng Constitution because they thought Congress is unicameral,” he said.
The Supreme Court has given the JBC until July 11 to reply to Chavez’s petition urging the court to prohibit the council from conducting the selection process for the new Chief Justice.