MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino admitted Thursday that Malacañang's legal team is helping Justice Secretary Leila de Lima overcome legal obstacles to her nomination for Chief Justice.
Aquino would not say if he wants de Lima for the position of Chief Justice, saying he is still waiting for the final shortlist from the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC).
"Tinatrabaho ng ating legal staff. Tinutulungan siya. Siguro hintayin na lang natin matapos ang processes ng JBC before I make a comment. Kasi I have to wait for their list before I can decide," he told reporters.
De Lima, a former human rights commission chief, is a known ally of President Aquino and is considered the frontrunner for the position of Chief Justice.
Her nomination, however, hit a snag after the Integrated Bar of the Philippines denied de Lima's petition to summarily dismiss 2 disbarment complaints against her.
The JBC will now have to decide whether to disqualify de Lima from the chief justice position because of the disbarment cases she is facing.
Under Rule 4, Section 5 of the JBC rules, those with pending criminal or regular administrative cases are disqualified from "appointment to any judicial post or as Ombudsman or Deputy Ombudsman."
During her JBC interview on July 24, de Lima claimed that the disbarment complaints filed against her have yet to become "administrative proceedings" that will result in her automatic disqualification from the chief justice selection process.
However, Associate Justice Disodado Peralta, who is sitting as ex-officio chairman of the JBC, opposed de Lima's stand, explaining that the high court has unanimously approved her disbarment cases to the IBP.
Peralta said the Supreme Court already found probable cause to merit a full investigation into the complaints. With a report from Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News