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Only 2 senior justices may be in shortlist for Chief Justice


Only 2 senior justices may be in shortlist for Chief Justice

The controversy spun by the proposal for
the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) to draw up this early the shortlist
for Chief Justice Reynato Puno’s successor has become too hot to handle
for some of the potential nominees.

Following the steps of a colleague, another senior justice has begged off from being nominated in the race for Chief Justice.

Justice Eduardo Nachura has informed the JBC, the body that screens
nominees to the judiciary and the office of the Ombudsman, that he is
declining a possible nomination for Puno’s replacement when he retires
on May 17.

JBC member and Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera told justice
reporters that Nachura wanted to give way to the top two most senior
justices—Antonio Carpio and Renato Corona.

Earlier, Justice Presbitero Velasco also declined from being
nominated, saying the shortlist should be limited to the top 3 most
justices. Nachura and Velasco are fourth and fifth in seniority in the

Usually, the top five most senior justices automatically get nominated for the Chief Justice position.

Nachura and Velasco deftly avoided touching the issue on whether the JBC should start the nomination process.

Morales to accept if….

Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales, who is third in precedence in the
SC, said she would accept the nomination provided that it will be the
next President who will make the appointment.

In indicating her condition for nomination, Carpio-Morales also expressed the view that the ban on appointment is absolute.

The JBC has begun the nomination and appointment process for the
next Chief Justice, a move that has drawn criticism from the legal

Quezon City Rep. and JBC member Matias Defensor, who made the
proposal, had said that a regular Chief Justice appointed by the
President could help avert a constitutional crisis in case of a massive
failure of elections where no President, Vice President, Senate
President and House Speaker get to assume office on June 30.

Defensor’s proposal, however, clashes with the Constitutional
provision barring the President from making appointments two months
before a presidential election and until her terms ends in June 30.
Puno’s retirement falls within the period of the ban on appointments.

Political insurance

Critics have said the early nomination process is meant to avoid the
ban on appointments and allow President Arroyo to appoint a friendlier
Chief Justice who will help protect her after she steps down from
office.  She is expected to face corruption cases after June 30.

While the JBC has started the process, it has yet to decide when to
submit its shortlist to the President. The JBC said it would invite
legal experts to shed light on the issue.

Carpio and Corona have yet to issue their respective positions on
the legal controversy. They have also not indicated any sign that they
are accepting or rejecting their nominations from the JBC. contacted the justices’ offices, but their
respective staff said there is no word yet from the magistrates.

But Devanadera said that "by tradition, they’re (Carpio and Corona)
considered applicants already.”  She added: "If there is no word
they’re not declining, they’re already considered."

Meanwhile, sources in the legal community said Puno would first get
the consensus of the SC before he takes a position on the controversial

Puno is also the ex-officio chair of the JBC. (

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