By Ellen Tordesillas
Based on Justice Secretary Leila de Lima's account of how she transitioned from being a "reluctant" nominee for Supreme Court chief justice to one who will be a "unifying force" in the judiciary, it happened after her meeting with President Aquino.
It is presumed that unlike Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares who decided to stay put at the Bureau of Internal Revenue after she was told that it is important that the reforms she has introduced in the agency have to sustained, De Lima was encouraged by the President.
Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said De Lima told him that the President's encouragement consisted of "It's up to you, you make your decision."
Lacierda also said whatever decision De Lima makes, the President will respect it.
That's enough for De Lima to declare that there is a need for a unifying force in the judiciary and she's it. "What the judiciary needs right now is a trusted and effective leader," she said.
"Maybe a fresh face is welcome," she said.
Based on De Lima's two-year performance as justice secretary, what kind of trusted and effective leadership would she provide the Supreme Court?
It would be recalled that De Lima's won the admiration of Aquino when she stopped Gloria Arroyo from leaving the country even without a hold departure order that only a court can issue. The Constitution's Bill of Rights states that a citizen's right to travel should not be impaired except upon lawful order of the court except in the interest of national security, public safety, or public health as may be provided by law.
De Lima defied the Supreme Court's temporary restraining order on her Watch List Order. Yes, this cabinet member who thinks her order is higher than that of the Supreme Court wants to be the chief magistrate, the chief interpreter of the country's laws.
What was not questioned by those who applauded De Lima's bulldozer tactic on Arroyo was, why was there no case filed by De Lima almost two years that she was on the job?
A case was finally filed three days after that airport incident : electoral sabotage in connection with the 2007 election. The case was haphazardly done, it was so weak . It was as if the case was meant to be dismissed.
Reliable sources said Pasay RTC Judge Jesus Mupas initially declined to issue a warrant of arrest to justify the continued detention of Arroyo. Some arm twisting had to be done. A member of the judiciary who "convinced" Mupas to issue the warrant of arrest was promoted to the Court of Appeals shortly after .
Aquino's choice of the successor of the disgraced Renato Corona will show the kind of "reform" that he wants in the judiciary. Will it be a genuine and lasting reform for good governance? Or will it be another era of legal shortcuts, of the end justifying the means which would be no different from Arroyo's.
For Aquino to appoint De Lima chief justice, her name has to be included in the short list that the Judicial and Bar Council will sent to Malacañang.
The JBC is supposedly an independent body but as a VERA Files report on the judiciary said "Several lawyers, judges and members of civil society interviewed …questioned the independence of the JBC, whose members are often alter egos of the President appointed to make sure his choices end up in the council's list."
One reporter sees an advantage of De Lima as chief justice:,"Kung si Leila ma-appoint na CJ, ia-appoint niya sarili nya as spokesperson of the SC. Lol! If De Lima is appointed CJ, she will appoint herself spokesperson of SC. Lol!"
LOL is short for Hahaha! Laughing out Loud!.