President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III has 10 days left to pick a Chief Justice but he is not thrilled by his options.
He said he felt the selection process that the Judicial and Bar Council used was not fair. "Sabi nila doon sa rules nila, (kung) may disbarment, hindi pwedeng i-consider. Naging iba may kaso na na-abswelto, merong iba naman wala pang kaso talaga kung tutuusin ay biglang disqualified. So paano naging fair iyon?," he told reporters on Friday.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, a close Aquino ally, was disqualified by the JBC over disbarment cases filed against her for allegedly referring to ex-chief justice Renato Corona as a "walking Constitutional crisis" and for allegedly defying a temporary restraining order issued by the Supreme Court. Under JBC rules, nominees with criminal and administrative cases cannot be considered for posts in the judiciary.
Two other nominees, Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza and Securities and Exchange Commission Teresita Herbosa, were initially disqualified from consideration because of pending cases. But the administrative case against Herbosa was later dismissed, while Jardeleza's case was not considered a "regular" administrative case.
"Am I satisfied? Personally, hindi," Aquino said.
Despite his personal opinion, the President said he is bound to choose from the candidates vetted by the JBC: Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio, Associate Justices Roberto Abad, Arturo Brion, Maria Lourdes Sereno, and Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, and Solicitor-General Francis Jardeleza, former executive secretary Ronaldo Zamora, and Ateneo De Manila University Law Dean Cesar Villanueva.
"The Constitution says I am supposed to choose from the list. What can we do? We'll choose from that list before the 27th of this month," he said.
The Chief Justice post was vacated May 29, when the Senate convicted Corona for betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Philippine Constitution. The Constitution requires the appointment of a replacement within 90 days.
Fourteen early winners in the party-list race have been named Friday even as the protracted count of votes continues.