Court officials to release 2011 asset statements

MANILA -- The Supreme Court (SC) approved on Wednesday the public disclosure of assets statements of judges and justices, but guidelines for such release will have to be discussed in a special en banc session on June 13.

All SC justices, except for Lucas Bersamin and Diosdado Peralta who were both in Baguio City for a pre-scheduled lecture, approved the move to disclose their statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) for 2011.

The decision to disclose their SALN effectively nullifies the SC's May 2, 1989 resolution during the time of then Chief Justice Andres Narvasa, who was appointed to the High Court by the late President Corazon Aquino.

The 1992 resolution required court officials to submit their respective SALN before the Office of the Clerk of Court, and which made it unlawful for any person to obtain or use any statement filed under Republic Act 6713, the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, for (a) any purpose contrary to morals or public policy, or (b) any commercial purpose other than by news and communications media for dissemination to the general public.

"Let's not forget, precedent-setting ang ginawa ni CJ Corona to issue a waiver (Corona's signing of the waiver was a precedent setting)," acting SC spokesperson Gleo Guerra said when asked whether the court's decision to release the SALN of justices had anything to do with ousted Chief Justice Renato Corona's call for other top government officials to also issue a waiver on the confidentiality of their bank accounts, which was an issue raised during his impeachment trial.

Guerra said disclosure of justices' full SALN was a "collective decision" of the court and not just an initiative of Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, who is acting Chief Justice since Wednesday following Corona's ouster by a majority vote of the 23-member Senate.

She said, meanwhile, that the justices also resolved to take up during the June 19 session the issue of whether Corona is entitled to get his benefits despite his impeachment.

Corona was convicted by the Senate impeachment court for failure to declare in his SALN his $2.4 million worth of dollar deposits and P80-million peso deposits, which he said were co-mingled funds of his family and his wife’s family-owned Basa-Guidote Enterprises Inc. (BGEI) funds.

A highly placed court source, who declined to be named, said that among the issues to be discussed during the special en banc was whether to give Corona 30 days to pack up and turn over official documents, considering the final and executory nature of the Senate impeachment court's ruling on his removal from office.

The source also said there was a suggestion for SC justices and court employees to draft a manifesto asking President Benigno Aquino III to appoint someone from among the present 14 justices the next head of the judiciary and not an outsider as some sectors suggested.

Senator Francis Escudero, a close associate of the President, said Aquino is inclined to appoint an outsider as top magistrate.

"By tradition or by practice, it's always an incumbent justice that is chosen as Chief Justice but there is no limitation for the JBC (Judicial and Bar Council) or the President to appoint someone from the outside," he said in a chance interview.

The JBC vets the nominees to all positions such as judges and justices and it has to submit a shortlist to the President for his consideration.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said Aquino cannot appoint a new Chief Justice because the JBC is headless owing to Corona's conviction.

"Since there is no JBC, so to speak, because the Chief Justice is the chairman of the JBC, the President, by force of necessity, must appoint a Chief Justice among those incumbent justices of the Supreme Court, the 14 remaining justices. Acting Chief Justice is not authorized under the 1987 Constitution unlike under the 1935 Constitution," he said in a television interview.

President Aquino said Wednesday evening that the next Chief Justice must be honest, aside from being credible, independent, and knowledgeable to run the judiciary.

Aquino said he will make the most out of the mandated 90 days to choose the most suitable person for the highest position in the Supreme Court.

"Hindi po natin mamadaliin ang pagpili, dahil ayaw nating magkamali at bumalik na naman sa dating sitwasyon (I will not rush as we might end up committing the same mistake again)," Aquino said.

He reiterated that his battle against Corona is not personal and he only wanted to fix the system.

A newspaper report on Wednesday said that Senator Franklin Drilon was also among the three public officials eyed by President Aquino to replace Corona.

But the senator, who is the closest ally of the President, said cutting his term as senator to give way for a possible appointment to the Supreme Court is certainly off his radar.

"To set the fact straight, I am not interested in the position of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. I believe I can serve our country better as a senator. I intend to finish my term as a senator and fulfill the mandate that was given to me by the 15.8 million Filipinos who voted for me last election," Drilon said.

Drilon, who placed third in the 1969 Bar Examinations, won a third term in the Senate in 2010.

Besides Drilon, Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares and Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza are supposedly being considered for the post. (JCV/Virgil Lopez/Jill Beltran/Sunnex)


Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Philippines, China trade accusations over sea threats

    MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippines accused China of aggressive maneuvers against its reconnaissance plane and fishermen in disputed seas where Beijing has stepped up construction of artificial islands, but China reiterated its claim on the strategic waterways. …

  • Indonesia orders execution of Mary Jane, 9 others
    Indonesia orders execution of Mary Jane, 9 others

    Indonesia has ordered preparations for the execution of 10 drug convicts, including Filipina Mary Jane Veloso, as the Philippine government filed yesterday a second appeal for judicial review of the case to save the maid from death by firing squad. The Attorney General’s Office (AGO) of Indonesia released an official letter dated April 23, instructing prosecutors to prepare for the execution of 10 convicts, the Jakarta Post reported yesterday. The execution would be conducted after the …

  • Noy to visit Canada, Japan
    Noy to visit Canada, Japan

    President Aquino will embark on a state visit to Canada in May and Japan in June to meet with his counterparts and promote Philippine interests. Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said Aquino accepted the invitation from Canadian Governor General David Johnston to make a state visit to Canada from May 7 to 9. Tied to this trip is the President’s one-day working visit to the United States to meet with potential investors and with the local Filipino community in Chicago, Valte …

  • Business groups back K to 12 program
    Business groups back K to 12 program

    The government’s K to 12 program adding two more years to basic education received support from various business groups yesterday. However, they urged relevant government agencies to deal with issues regarding the implementation of Republic Act 10533, the Enhanced Basic Education Act or K-12 Law. In a statement, business groups led by the Philippine Business for Education (PBEd) said RA 10533 is a milestone piece of legislation that intends to bring the Philippines up to par with the rest of …

  • Happiest nations: Phl ranks 90th
    Happiest nations: Phl ranks 90th

    Switzerland is the happiest country in the world, while the Philippines placed 90th, according to a global ranking of happiness unveiled in New York on Thursday. Switzerland was followed closely by Iceland, Denmark, Norway and Canada. The 2015 World Happiness Report is the third annual report seeking to quantify happiness as a means of influencing government policy. The United Nations published the first study in 2012. …

  • Asean leaders want binding sea code with China
    Asean leaders want binding sea code with China

    Southeast Asian leaders will seek to speed up plans for a binding code of conduct with China governing behavior in the disputed South China Sea at a summit next week, Malaysia’s foreign minister said Friday. Foreign Minister Anifah Aman said a massive flow of Muslim Rohingya refugees from Myanmar to neighboring countries will also be discussed at the two-day summit of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which starts Monday. Anifah said leaders are expected to raise concerns …

  • S&P keeps Phl investment grade rating
    S&P keeps Phl investment grade rating

    Standard & Poor’s yesterday kept its credit rating on the Philippines on expectations the country would be able to further improve its debt metrics. The country enjoys a “BBB” rating from the debt watcher with a stable outlook. The grade, awarded to the Philippines in May last year, is a notch above the minimum investment grade (BBB-). S&P said the Philippines’ external position should remain strong with increasing foreign exchange reserves and low external debt burden. …

  • GMA takes bail plea to SC
    GMA takes bail plea to SC

    Detained former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has elevated to the Supreme Court (SC) her plea to be allowed to post bail in her remaining plunder case that was rejected by the Sandiganbayan. In a 38-page petition filed last Thursday afternoon, Arroyo cited her deteriorating health in asking the high court to reverse the rulings of the Sandiganbayan’s first division in October last year and last February denying her bail motion in the case involving the P366-million Philippine Charity …


Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Poll Choice Options