HALO-HALO: My Gossip Column
By Raïssa Robles
The last few months have been draining. I felt very, very tired after the impeachment trial of ex-CJ Renato Corona. So I’m taking a short break to recharge, and to think what direction to take this blog, together with Our Cyber Plaza Miranda – the growing community of readers who congregate in this site.
I decided to go on a short trip to the most relaxing, non-happening place I could think of – Singapore – which is safe and quiet and the opposite of Manila. The first week of July is also the best time for a political junkie like me to be away: Congress is in recess, the President is preparing his State of the Nation Address and politicians are on vacation.
Before I go, here are some political tidbits I’ve gathered.
Ridiculous” is how Senator-judge Joke Arroyo calls the ongoing process to appoint the replacement of Renato Corona to the Supreme Court. The 85-year-old senator told the Philippine Daily Inquirer recently:
This bid to be Chief Justice is getting to be ridiculous. Imagine 50 (nominees) already? Every Tom, Dick and Harry wants to be Chief Justice.
Personally, I disagree with Arroyo who had branded Corona’s sacking as a “political assassination.”
Even if there are more than 50 nominees, only a baker’s dozen – or 13 – have actually accepted their nomination, which is a prerequisite to being considered. The number may be further whittled down as the 13 go through several hoops that consist of the following:
- Lengthy documentary requirements;
- A medical AND a psychiatric/psychological exam;
- A very exhaustive disclosure of assets, liabilities and net worth that would include a waiver on the examination of all bank deposits in local and foreign currencies;
- A background check on their private lives;
- A televised interview where any question can be asked on their public and private lives; and
- Any letters of complaints from the general public that they would be made to answer.
To see the requirements, please click on this link.
In other words, the next Chief Justice will go through the wringer – similar to what those who run for the office the Philippine President goes through.
Joker Arroyo said this “devalues” the post of the Chief Justice.
I believe it REVALUES the post.
It is the first time Filipino citizens will get a close-up of what a Chief Justice is all about. It is the first time Filipino citizens will take part in choosing the next one – for better or for worse. It is the first time we will get to understand more intimately what it means to have three co-equal branches of government. It is the first time the people will OWN a Chief Justice. And the Chief Justice will OWE his office to the people who will be listening in on the appointment process.
Speaking of the Senate, did you hear about this esteemed senator who was chanced upon in the darkened session hall with a young female – a staff member of another senator – sitting on his august lap? No, silly. It wasn’t Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.
Back to the search for the new Chief Justice – as of June 25, 2012 only the following have accepted their nomination and are therefore in the running:
- SC Justice Arturo Brion
- SC Associate Justice Roberto Abad
- Former UP law dean Raul Pangalangan
- De La Salle University law founding dean Jose Manuel Diokno
- Former Ateneo law dean Cesar Villanueva
- Election commissioner Rene Sarmiento
- Retired Judge Manuel Siayngco Jr.
- Former executive secretary Ronaldo Zamora
- Lawyer Katrina Legarda
- Lawyer Soledad Cagampang-de Castro
- Lawyer Rafael Morales
- Lawyer Vicente Velasquez
- Lawyer Ferdinand Jose Pijao
Earlier, I had come up with a “tentative list of names that I thought could be looked into.” See my story – Looking for the New Supreme Court Chief Justice
Three of the names I mentioned on my “tentative list” have since been nominated and have accepted their nominations. They are:
- Jose Manuel “Chel” Diokno, founding Dean of De La Salle University College of Law and chairman of the Free Legal Assistance Group
- Raul Pangalangan – former Dean of the University of the Philippines College of Law
- Katrina Legarda – lawyer of the victim of former Congressman Romeo Jalosjos
Since I wrote that piece earlier this month, people have contacted me. Because of what they told me and what I have confirmed on my own, I am now expressing some reservations over two of the names I placed on my “tentative list”. They are: Former Dean Raul Pangalangan and private lawyer Katrina Legarda.
The information given me had nothing to do with their qualifications, which remain impeccable, but with something else. I hope to ask both nominees about these soon.
And oh, by the way, some commenters have been nagging me to find out what had happened to the kiss-kiss-hug-hug that took place so dramatically between ex-CJ Corona’s family and the Basa-Guidote family during the impeachment trial.
“Nothing” – was the reply of my source.
There has been no follow-up get-together and no phone call from Cristina Corona. Nothing, my source confirmed.
Maybe they’re on vacation too. Just a guess.
Tomorrow I’m off to Kinokuniya bookstore.