Do you have another family?
This was one of the questions asked of some aspirants to the Supreme Court by the vetting body, the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC). (All those who want to be justices of the highest court of the land pass through a public interview.) Here are imagined answers to real questions, thanks to Wikileaks of the mind.
Q: If appointed to the Supreme Court, are you the type who will be threatened or pressured by impeachment?
A: Oh, yes, especially if I’m guilty. For example, if I plagiarized major, major parts of a decision and I was found out–I’d be so embarrassed! I wouldn’t wait for an impeachment complaint. Why torture myself?
Or if I’ve been caught meeting with a litigant, who loves to tell all because he’s taken victimhood to heart, feeling down and out because of the decade-plus-old murder of his family. That would tarnish one’s name. After all, justices of the Supreme Court are supposed to be the most ethical of the pack and lead by example. If those grandstanding congressmen endorse an impeachment complaint because of this little meeting that happened in the chambers—if I were in that person’s shoes—I’d be so
worried and threatened.
Q: What do you do in your spare time?
A: I love this question, your honors. I watch concerts. Justin Bieber is too young for my taste. But Janet Jackson, she was awesome! Also, I like to attend socials, even if
it’s just the opening of a new car store. I get to rub elbows with
the new rich, the power brokers, all kinds. I know that justices are not supposed to socialize—some describe the judiciary as a monastery—but that’s not who I am, deep inside. I like to feel others’ approval, be seen as an acceptable member of high society.
Q: Do you belong to any association?
A: A number, your honors. Homeowners association, parent-teachers association, alumni association, and the Philippine Judiciary Golf Club. The last one is my favorite. We organize golf tournaments for judges and justices. You are most welcome to join.
Actually, some select outsiders join us, like lawyers and a few businessmen. They pick up the tab, sometimes, and also pay for the trophies.
Q: Do you have another family?
A: Hmm. Can I request, your honors, for an executive session? Some members of the media are here. I don’t want to lie but I’d rather that I answer you in private.
Q: Do you have good interpersonal skills?
A: As I told you earlier, your honors, I socialize a lot. During cocktail parties, as you know, we have to do small talk, and I’ve become adept at that. I also entertain guests in my chambers, it’s sort of an open house, haha. I don’t want to be seen as a snob.
Q: Has someone offered you a bribe to decide a case in one’s favor?
A: Wow! This is heavy. Confession time. It’s not really a bribe, your honors. It’s more cultural, it’s the invocation of utang na loob. Someone who recommended me to this post, he had the ear of our former president, called me about a case. What can I say? I am loyal to those who put me here.
But, your honors, I know of others who accept money. Like in the military, I hear there is also pabaon, for justices who retire. Not only among my colleagues but even in…Oops, I may be talking too much.
Q: What do you understand by the word gravitas?
A: This is an easy one, your honors. If I may be candid, it’s something that a number of justices lack.
Q: What, to you, is wisdom?
A: Another easy ball, your honors. Again, if I may be honest, this is hard to find in a number of decisions of Supreme Court justices, especially those who flip-flop.
you have any close friends or relatives practicing law?
A: Yes, your honors. They’re the ones who visit me in my chambers—and they bring their friends, too.
Q: What is the latest book you’ve read?
A: Uh, ah, hmm. I’ve been so busy, your honors, that my reading is limited to the decisions in the Supreme Court Website. As I’ve said, my spare time is pretty much taken up.
Q: If appointed to the Supreme Court, how will you help improve the image of the judiciary?
A: If I make it, I will be only one among 15 justices. I can take care of my image—I can perhaps hire someone like Midas Marquez to package me. As for the rest, I think the Court spokesman and PIO [public information office] head should prepare a ten-year PR plan. It won’t be that easy.
TAGS: Judicial and Bar Council public interviews, Supreme Court of the Philippines