The first-ever JBC public interview for the nominees for Supreme Court Chief Justice

Last April 19, 2010,the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) held the first ever public interview for the nominees to the post of Supreme Court Chief Justice. These are raw notes and may not be used for publication. Some of the quotes are complete, some are not. These should be checked with other sources — news articles, etc — for the proper context and the correct quotes.

(thoughts on –gasoline- if become cj) I inhibited myself from that case because I was born, raised and still live under the shadow of one of the gas tanks. I had my thoughts…but inhibited…have clear ideas but because of my preformed conclusions already I have to inhibit and because of my personal interest…I would like to respectfully beg off from answering the question.

Matias and agra don’t ask questions.

Agra: believe in your competence and integrity if chosen sincerely believe you will be able to bring sc forward.

May I ask some of the questions sent to us by some organizations watching the proceedings of the appointment of a new chief justice. Some of the questions coming from the sc appointments watch.

Do you think the jbc process is effective? If not, what improvements would you propose?

Brion: I would say that the jbc process is effective but can be improved and the improvement I would suggest..and this is a matter of constitution reform, is for jbc to have sufficient manpower for real investigative work. That is very very necessary. Right now the jbc is reacting, you wait for comments, wait for answers, rely on nbi and the concern of the nbi is not much in terms of comparison with kind of concern your own investigative people can muster and the second point is the relationship bet sc and the jbc should perhaps be reexamined by constitutional convention in terms of that supervision that present constitution provides.

To say high court has supervision over jbc. What is meant by this word supervision?

In the usual legal sense supervision is to see to it that the jbc…but at the same time given specific mandate by the constitution which is to choose and recommend the appointees to judicial…that is the supervisory aspect. At the same time constitution says you may be assigned to other duties or responsibilities. That colors somehow relationship bet jbc and sc. I do not believe the court as suggested by dean dimayuga can go into or intrude who jbc recommends. Court may not even set standards that jbc should use in choosing the nominees. For the jbc to do that. but to the extent that there are constitutional and legal standards, then I think the court should be able to at least guide the jbc into what should be done. I used the word guide not without reason because my view is the court cannot compel you to act one way or another but the court can tell you how the court feels as interpreter of our constitution and laws what is the correct way to do things as far as…

There is world of difference bet supervision and control.

Yes your honor a very big difference.

You will agree jbc not under control of high court

With respect to constitution mandate jbc not under control of sc.

With respect to constitution mandate, would jbc be under supervision of high court?

To the extent of the standards and limits set by the constitution.

Please put more in black and white.

The sc says pres has 90 days from occurrence of vacancy within which president appoints but pres cannot appoint without benefit of list coming from jbc…court can tell jbc…proper to submit list without intruding into president’s own 90 day period. Parameter that the court can legitimately tell the jbc.

Question of how to properly interpret a particular provision of constitution…the court needs interpretation of that provision, it is in no way controlling or supervising the discretion of jbc.

No it is not. It is not controlling the discretion of jbc..

Nor supervising. Because that is mandate of constitution.

That is why I used word guide. If jbc can be reminded that this is interpretation of sc…at the level of law.

But guide is also amorphous term…during term of sukarno he used the word guided democracy but we all know it was no democracy in Indonesia at that time. What is meant when you say that the court can guide the jbc the performance of its constitution mandated functions. How will this guide come into particular shape

To the extent as I said that there are parameters and …then the court will not be out of line when it tells the jbc that this is how the court interprets this.

If the sc makes an interpretation of a particular provision of the constitution, that interpretation is part of the law of the land isn’t it and that interpretation should guide not only jbc but entire gov’t and the entire citizenry.

I completely agree

But when you say the high court can supervise the jbc in performance of its functions, just where will you define, how will you define…may not the degree of supervision…curtail the independence of the jbc

Not at all if what the court is doing is along the lines of its own competence, simply reminding the jbc that if you are properly to do your duty and this is the aspect of supervision, then this is…when you supervise, you have the authority to make sure the one supervised performs its duty.

Does the 1987 constitution use the word supervision in the matter of relation of high court and jbc

Sec 8 I believe of art 8 specifically says the jbc is hereby created under the supervision of the sc composed of the chief justice…and then…then the emoluments as may be determined by sc and the budget of jbc forms part of budget of sc…and the council shall exercise other functions and duties as the sc may assign to it. If you read it literally, the jbc is part and parcel of sc with that certain distance because you have your own constitution mandate and with respect to that constitution mandate it’s out of bounds…

Jbc…unlike the PET and the sc…since they’re not identical, it should follow there is a sphere where the jbc will be independent in pursuit of its…

Constitutional duties.

That provision you read does not give us idea of parameters of supervision which the high court may exercise over jbc. That provision speaks about the budget of the jbc. Does that not give us an inkling of the boundaries of the supervisory powers of the high court over the jbc

To my mind it really does and what comes to my mind is that it is a kind of supervision that goes beyond the ordinary meaning of supervision now established under the law. It’s not a total in the sense that you have your own constitution assigned tasks, with respect to that the sc cannot in anyway intrude but in terms of operations and other duties and functions the jbc is practically part and parcel of sc.

May sc prohibit jbc from interviewing candidates to sc or position of c sc

It depends on the court, view of the court, positions of the court…in petition of tolentino and Soriano where the petitioners sought to prevent you from doing this type of activity, I came out with my own opinion that the jbc should be allowed to continue because at the end my opinion is the jbc should be able to submit list to pres within time frame given by the constitution and we know that the process of coming out with list is not simple process, according to your comment …process that really takes time.

From strictly constitution perspective, considering power of supervision of high court over the jbc, would that power of supervision include that power to prohibit the jbc from conducting interview of candidate for any position in judiciary, vacancies in lower courts, appellate courts, high court?

Taking off from my views about the authority to appoint, then the court may not prohibit you from continuing. The court can remind you that you ought to continue but when you continue against the advice of court you do it at own risk. If court is minded to say that you should not do it. In this case my view is the court should really support you rather than prohibit you.

When the jbc decides to conduct interview of candidates to vacant positions in the judiciary, the purpose of that particular…to enable jbc to make an…of the qualifications of the candidate, is it not? Since at least…the main purpose, would that not go to the discretion, the exercise of discretion of the jbc? And which discretion is granted to them, then the constitution gives…the council that power to nominate to the president, these more qualified candidates to vacant position. Does that not go to the wisdom of the jbc when in choosing the candidates whose names will be submitted to the president and if it goes to the wisdom, necessarily cannot be interfered with cannot be tampered even by the high court?

Can the sc survive without a chief justice within a limited period of time?

If it’s a question of mere survival of sc, the sc can survive. I have no doubts about that. if it’s survival of court. But my concern is the court exists as a specific part of gov’t to serve the nation. My question is can the nation afford to have a sc that is incomplete for an extended period of time? It may be situational. In this situation where questions have been raised about failure of elections, would it be wise for the court to allow, or for the jbc to allow, a single day to pass without that opportunity on the part of the pres to make an appointment? I don’t think it is wise. there may be an acting chief justice but still acting cj. Still one member less, problem is if that member is a cj makes a whlae of a difference. Perspective, to me I will not take the chance.

Pambansang koalisyon ng kababaihan sa kanayunan.

How do you intend to make the laws more accessible to the people, particularly the minorities?

The better question if I may say so is how do we make our justice system, not simply the court because the court is again…but the justice system I would say there are many ways of doing that. you have started the access to justice system, and my comment there is this is something the sc…have to partner with the other branches of gov’t. we have our program…when I was very new to the court…made suggestion to you..started when I was secretary of labor…told you in letter that there should be…arbitration system in many areas…in sense that there is a construction industry arbitration board for construction business. I found that very effective…came to the court broached the idea…apparently lukewarm to idea because question of turf. Might have thought that we would like to intrude into their turf. The question arose because of lack of communication. We can do a lot to help our dispute resolution process…aside from what we have already done in the court now.but these are efforts that the court does alone, on its own.

Last question. Bundle of questions…but all related to one another. The questions are, do you believe there is still gender bias in the supreme court? If so how do you intend to address it? How will having a female chief justice be relevant to the women’s movement in the phils?

On the matter of naming a female justice i…have no objection to having a female chief justice except that gender should not be a major consideration. It should be considerations across the board…except gender. Is the court now doing something along gender lines? Justice conchita morales-carpio…effective…have had many active debates on rules…whether encourage…because some of have really started using he or she. On the whole don’t see any gender bias…what we can do perhaps is improvement…probably question of doing some systemic initiatives so what we have…our ideas…should cascade down to the lower courts.

Give us your thoughts on whether the muslim population in phils should always be represented in the high court.

Don’t think that we should have a muslim in court simply because he or she muslim. Should be Filipinos irrespective of where we came from. What perhaps should be encouraged is for muslim applicants to rise up in judiciary…the way we have justice abdulwahid in court of appeals…the way we had presiding justice in court of appeals. On their own without identity of being a muslim they should be able to reach the supreme court. The impact is some kind of…like if you are a minority in north America and you achieve a certain position…what happens eventually is you become second class citizen of that office simply because you arrived in that office because you are a minority. Nobody should reach the sc simply because he or she is muslim…because of strict qualifications.

Assuming that the executive department enters into agreement with some rebel groups in Mindanao…representing the muslims and assume that part of the agreement is preserving to the muslims a seat in the high court. Would you say that is violative of the constitution

Essentially it boils down to what the constitution says, because the constitution is our only guide. What I will say is something very tentative because this is a surprise question to me. It goes against the spirit intent and perhaps even words of constitution. To think that the sc is a national court…find it hard to accept that there are considerations in a national court based on regional and ethnic considerations.


Dean dimayuga:

If a new president appoints him, will be beholden to the new president…

from the appellate court…you are now acting pj of sandiganbayan. You have been acting pj not only once, not only twice, but as you said, five times. As pj you are expected to lead the court…

will do my best…I think I have led the sandiganbayan whenever I am acting justice to some position where the public will continue to respect the sandiganbayan. We continue to convict congressmen, governors, to the approval of the public.

The supreme court, the highest court of the land, is the major adjudicator in the judiciary. Aside from the duty or function of adjudication, can the sc play also the role of a policy maker?

If the sc has to participate in sustaining the support of the people and if the sc would fully exercise and do acts that would prevent social economic or political instability of the nation, the sc should be a policy…

If you agree that the sc can be a policy maker, when does the sc become a policy maker?

I feel my answer would be when the situation arises. There could be no concrete situation but the situation may arise when the sc has to assert that it is a policy maker.

Mr. justice Sandoval, if we allow the higest court to become a policy maker, will this not run counter to the very grain of a democratic society which is basically predicated on a principle of governance by the majority? Allow a group of 15 persons…

If that is for the best interest of the nation…the 15 members making the policy of the nation.

Remember mr justice under the constitution what we have is a republican form of gov’t and policy making is given to the executive and the legislative. But in a way the sc also becomes a policy maker in the continual interpretation of the values of constitutional provisions, the constitution ones, the sc becomes a policy maker.

Yes. And the law is what the sc says it is.

Justice hermosisima:

May I just correct your impression that sen miriam defensor santiago was disqualified? She was not.

That was what I heard she was saying. I’m sorry I stand corrected.

You do not come here and state rumors, you state facts. The fact is that when sen Santiago was scheduled for interview, she found out that the incumbent justices who were aspiring to be chief justice…were not supposed to be interviewed. And so she said if that is the case I refuse to be interviewed also. But she was voted upon. She was not disqualified.

I was only saying what I heard.

During the time when sen miriam defensor santiago was…applying for the chief justice of the sc, I made a statement that when president Eisenhower campaigned in California, he saw gov earl warren and promised that he would be appointed to the sc during the first vacancy of the sc. It turned out that the vacancy was the chief justice and so earl warren approached Eisenhower and said you promised to appoint me and there is that vacancy, please appoint me. Eisenhower at first refused and said I promised you to be justice of sc not chief justice. If you have any word of honor you will appoint me because this is the vacancy. And so earl warren was appointed chief justice. It turned out that the accomplishments of earl warren was one of the best accomplishment of the sc…so I agree with you that it’s not really necessary that a chief justice of the sc should come from the ranks of the supreme court.

Thank you your honor.

But the problem is, an earl warren you’re not. But what changes or improvements will you make if you become chief justice, over the work and achievements of narvasa, davide, panganiban and now the achievements of chief justice renato puno? What can you do to improve on them?

Actually no substantial change can be made but in some instances where there were some partial failure, that should be the area where the chief justice should enter into the picture. But no substantial change is necessary particularly where the cj has been doing everything for the…service of the nation.

We have interviewed the pj several times, that will be all.

Defensor has no questions.

Agra: 69 in june. What would be the legacy you intend to leave as presiding justice of sandiganbayan and if so appointed, chief of justice?

For lack of sufficient time, although chief justice panganiban I understand acted…for only 11 months and we can cite the reforms he has instituted and it had some effects on the judges, probably I would do the same line.

Priorities? Top three?

I think the priority is the protection of the judges against malicious prosecution. The funds, especially in the provinces, should be protected. Let us eliminate the complaints of some…


What is jurisdiction of sandigan on matter of cases to be tried? Principally anchored on personality of accused; if no salary grade of 27 or above…

The jurisdiction ivnvolves the commission of criminal offenses of these officials. For 14 years you have been deciding only on criminal cases. Not decided on case involving…

Deciding cases in sandiganbayan…don’t you think you…

You lamented lack of pay of some judges. You have data?

Not data but payment made by court on the retirement of judges…

Before you came here, did you check the data?

No justice acted…

Next month all these will be paid. Before you include this in your proposed program.

You were saying because of importance of coming elections, sc should order the comelec to make its rules or regulations or update whatever rules and regulations are existing at present. Under what authority or power of the sc can we order the comelec to make their rules or to upgrade the rules on election?

My point is, a suggestion in the form of a directive to the comelec of revising some rules because of the new system.

A what? What will the sc do?

Through a letter of…the sc may refer to the comelec the propriety of…

What is the constitution basis of that, the sc ordering the comelec to promulgate their rules of procedure on election cases?

It should not be an order your honor but a suggestion in some form of directive…

There is no constitutional basis for that is there even a historical basis

No your honor but what cannot be done directly for the sake of the people could be done indirectly.

I think the proper idiom is what cannot be done directly you cannot do indirectly. Is not the comelec an independent body? Even suggest?

My humble view is through suggestion it may make things happen.

Where is that power of sc to make suggestions from 1935 to 1987 constitution

I concede there is no power

So this is a very novel idea.

Lastly you were saying in response to the questions of dean dimayuga that the sc is a policy maker. Did I get the flavor of your answer

In some instances it could be a policy maker

May I know the constitution basis for that answer

I cannot cite any specific provision of the constitution

As a matter of fact this gov’t is not a gov’t by judiciary so the judiciary cannot be policy maker because policies set by executive and legislative. Otherwise you wil have tyranny of judiciary.

That is correct but still when cases arise there may be some instance when the sc can perform a task as policy maker.

What circumstances

I have nothing in mind your honor. Just saying there may be some instances in the future.

Anyway thank you very much mr pj for answering the questions of the members of the jbc.

De castro:


When did you join the sc…

Right now no.7.

Powers and functions of cj

Enormous. Known to be first among equals, should be leader of court, being first among justices, he acts as chief exec of judiciary, implements the policies laid down by the court, the sc grants…the constitution grants the sc the authority and the judicial functions and it is not present in the…except when he is granted…by express provision of the constitution otherwise he is leader in the sense that he should be able to gain the cooperation and support of all the associate justices in the court in going towards his vision for the judiciary.

Based on your statement, one of themost desirable qualities is he should be able to assert moral ascendancy over the members of the court

Yes moral ascendancy but I should say it should be more of respect from his colleagues in the supreme court

Being no.7 in the ranking of the court, do you think you can assert moral ascendancy over all members of the court most especially those more senior than you are

I hope I will be able to do that. I think the way to gain the respect or the way to be able to exercise moral ascendancy over other members of court is to be able to show you are capable of accomplishing what you are expected to do, have character to be able to command respect, credible leader they should support. Not so much the ranking, how you perform your official duties. There may be someone much lower in seniority but have support or respect of colleagues. Not determined by sneriority alone though that may be one of factors. But not most decisive factor.

With your present status in court, you can assert moral ascendancy and command respect from among members of court

Hope to be able to do that like I have done in sandiganbayan. Able to gain cooperation of colleagues because able to show each one matters, each one important, gave credit where credit is due…

If appointed intend to do same in high court

Yes I hope to be able to enlist support of colleagues by showing each one matters, if able to help court credit given to each one of them, they are valued, opinion matters.

Qualities cj of sc possess

Must be true leader in sense has capacity and will to rally men and women of judiciary towards common goal, credible leader, character that will inspire confidence among members of judiciary.

Admin, a national symbol of justice. If you’ll be appointed as cj, how address budgetary concerns of court as administrator?

The budgetary problem, concerns of court? Yes I know judiciary has least share in national budget. Cj should be able to motivate entire judiciary to convince congress..dept of budget…to give court bigger share which is commensurate with responsibilities that judiciary performs in our system of gov’t…

Can you tell us some of the major problems confronting judiciary and how intend to solve same

The perennial problem is corruption, incompetence and inefficiency that cause delay in backlog of cases. For past 10 years, action program for judicial reform which addresses all of these concerns and sc has made great progress in implementation…still need much to do to achieve objectives of action program for judicial reform. Groundwork has been made and initial steps taken. Already been much success. Hope to be able to continue all of these. There are four components of action program, improving case adjudication, access to justice, second, enhancing institutional integrity of judiciary, court component is strengthening institutional capacity of judiciary. The fourth component is ensuring stakeholder support for judicial reforms. Each of these compnents specific programs and projects already in place…never stop studying as to how we can better implement all of these reforms.

On your own, if appointed cj, what major reforms and policies do you propose for a more efficient and effective judiciary?

Would like to say…need to be humble and acknowledge much has been done. But room for improvement. Recently amending the rules, not something that can be done in short period of time, still lot of provision in rules that can be improved. One area where we can devote our attention in order that workings of judiciary can be efficient and effective. Also lot of changes going on in our society not only internally but internationally…should be able to bring court to modern age. Need to see to it that automation which is the trend of the day is fully implemented in judiciary but from what I know even the basic requirements of our courts like computers, fax machines, printers are not being met. Ratio of 5 computers per sala not reached as yet. I think aside from these innovations in the improvement of our justice system, should see to it that basic needs of courts are addressed liked computers and enough personnel.

Independence of court?

Decisions should be well written well understood by public. Pio to see to it that decisions of court are brought to people but in every case there is winner and loser. Difficult for judge and even court to see to it that everyone accepts decision of court. People may have certain sympathies in their minds or certain biases and whatever we do we cannot please everyone, just have to be strong and courageous enough to decide a case the way we think it is right and forget about the clamor of the people to do one thing or another. Our ultimate judge is the constitution as written not the views of everyone. We are not able to explain decision because pore through thick volume of records, go through so much research to be able to reach decision. How can we explain to everyone these are the..brought to our mind by our background, experience…this is the way we believe a case should be decided. So difficult to explain all these to the public and the public will sometimes hear opinion of one person who may not have even read volume of case or testimonial or documentary evidence and all free to say what they want about decision of court but it’s not a simple matter.

What do you think should be done

The decision should be able to speak for itself. Good or bad sometimes decided by history. What we do now may not be acceptable to some but tomorrow…but difficult to make everyone accept our decision but we live not in a homogenous society, we have our interests, experience that guides us.

Independence? Being able to decide on own without outside influence. May come from book, people from all walks of life, a news article…all of these are bearing pressure upon court, and we cannot avoid it, have to have courage to do our jobs well…

You are saying never succumb to outside pressure?

Yes your honor.

Assuming we can change constitution should midnight appointments of sc be prohibited?

Don’t think so midnight appointments should apply only to officials and employees of executive dept. members of court are appointed only after tedious screening of jbc which is an independent body. If the jbc chooses the nominees we can assume there is a presumption that whom we have chosen are persons of competence, of integrity…immaterial who appoints nominees…because you have chosen well, the nominees and the justices of sc must be independent of appointing power. Immaterial whether the incumbent or succeeding president appoints members of sc or for that matter any member of judiciary…

It was father bernas who suggested…that was the trend of discussion in deliberation of constitution commission…considering rule of nepotism in executive department…provision as worded at that time during the deliberation mentioned the proposal of cj davide that the following be included in prohibition on nepotism: the office of ombudsman, constitution commissions, and the judiciary. The provision on nepotism states the pres shall not appoint any of his or her relatives within fourth degree whether by consanguinity or affinity…and cj davide recommended that the prohibition on nepotism should include the office of ombudsman…and the judiciary. So the pres cannot appoint relatives to judiciary but fr bernas argued why should we include constitution commission, the judiciary. Members pass through ca confirmation and members of judiciary pass through jbc so there are independent bodies that determine qualification of these public officers. The discussions went on and on until we put it to a vote…excluded from prohibition on nepotism…if the president can appoint his or her relatives to judiciary even within prohibited degree, why shouldn’t they can also be appointed during election ban? It would seem that because of this independence by judiciary which is brought about by quality of screening…thought not fit to include judiciary on rule on nepotism…

Can sc survive without a cj even within a limited period of time

Not a question of whether sc can survive without permanent cj we are just going by mandate embodied by constitution.

Within a limited period of time. Will the vacancy of position of cj affect day to day operation of sc in absence of

Yes I think so


When one holds temporary appointment, prevented from taking action which will have far reaching effect. Only act on matters which are …something which will just address urgent matters. The temporary cj may not have confidence and mandate to be able to do this significant task so perhaps some day to day duties but if there are significant matters that will come up before court which will require action has to defer it until regular chief is appointed. Like now our action reform program is hanging because we are waiting for appointment of next cj. There may be policies that we cannot do right away because it might not be acceptable to noe who will take place of our incumbent chief. Much different if one who holds position holds permanent or temporary appointment. If matters affecting position of next president comes up before court…it will be I think more problematic…

Cj has only one vote

Yes only one vote but he has control over the course of the discussion. Does things like put items on agenda, or matters are included or deferred. There are many things a cj can do.

Acting cj cannot perform those tasks

The acting cj can do that but what I’m saying is that one who holds a temporary position may not have same confidence and same determination to do work of cj because knows only there for short period of time.

Another thing also received set of questions from pambansang koalisyon ng kababaihan sa kanayunan

How intend to cure negative view of people of sc

As I mentioned before every case that we decide would have winner and loser. Not everyone will accept counteract this, we should be very careful in our decision. We should be able to state clearly and in understable language the basis, the legal and factual basis for our decision, and we should have courge to do what we believe is right regardless of any criticism

So decisions of sc must be in accordance with law constitution and existing juris

Yes there must be predictability stability in decision of court. If done based on personalities, if we decide based on personalities now in power but who may be out of power soon there will be many…there will be public officers come and go but constitution will be there and so we should be guided by constitution and not our personal feelings or personal views about anybody.

So you’re saying must not be affected by personalities involved in case

Because same question may crop up again under another admin so be careful…same interpretation must apply in future when there is another pres in power. Based in law and not based on personalities.


How is it

This is a more challenging job. Wide array of legal issues that confront the court, difficult in a different way…

Cases…considering sandigan antigraft. How able to adjust

Have drawn upon experience of 20 years in doj where involved in drafting of opinions for sec of gen who is attorney general of entire national gov’t. during 20 years encountered wide diversity of legal problems brought to doj by national gov’t offices on difficult questions of law that confronted them in performance of official duties…assist in drafting of rules and regulations…congress with respect to bills that are to be enacted…

As presiding justice of sandiganbayan…drew lot of experience and learning from that position…if appointed, what specific things you learned could help you discharge duties as cj of sc

When I was occupying position of presiding justice had opportunity to take lead in instituting reforms in sandigan…able to…complete…ability to enlist the support of associate justices that spelled the success of…every project that we do made aware of things that we do for the court…insofar as projects that you had as presiding judges…made sure aware…made sure any help they give is acknowledged…if there is any help…is acknowledged…when I talk about success of project, not my success alone but success of each one of us.

You mentioned about budget…perennial problem of judiciary…how do you think you can address this particular concern?

…envision judiciary effective independent and worthy of public trust.

How accomplish if appointed cj

I think it is by getting full support not only of members of sc but all men and women of judiciary in pursuit of action program for judicial reform which should not go to waste because we have already spent so much…must be continued and further developed. The commitment to pursue the four components…which up to…has been pursued with vigor…

What makes better aspirant

Not compare with colleagues…better if not equally qualified…especially senior colleagues whom respect and have high regard for.

Automation of sandiganbayan. How done

It was by being committed with what we have set to do. Seeing to it that I spend time beyond office hours just to be able to do what I am supposed to do, meet with devt partners, see to it that we have studied formally way to put in place computerization, after study, we made a plan with definite timeframe, saw to it that all justices and concerned officials of court are involved in implementation of project, always working beyond what we are required to do as members of the court.


Do you think this is opportune time for you to be candidate for position of cj considering the controversy that has affected…relative to the nominating process of jbc which has become too contentious and divisive so much so that it has affected to a certain degree the integrity of court. Do you want to become cj under conditions presently obtaining

I accepted recommendation because I believe in rule of law. Even if there is much controversy there should be a final arbiter. If finally decided against then I will comply. Follow what is decided by duly constituted authorities under constitution. If decided otherwise believe no legal obstacle to appointment of cj under incumbent president. Would not have accepted if five more senior, would have deferred to five more senior colleagues. Considering that two of them declined, would be in circle of five senior justices. When cj retires in may I’ll be no.6, after nachura and morales retire in 2011, will be no4 in court.

If ever you are appointed as cj you will be serving as cj for 7 or 8 years. In your watch…what is your vision for de castro court

Would like court which is anchor of stability and progress in our nation under supremacy of constitution. That is how I would like to leave the court. It should be the stabilizing force. A judiciary where the men and women are united towards common goal vision must be defined not by cj alone but by entire court which has constitution mandate. Although cj may lead…

Under republican system of gov’t which we have under present constitution, there are 3 separate branches of gov’t…executive, legislative, judiciary. There should be harmonious relations…for good point is this, is it necessary, the kind of court that you are going to head if you are appointed..the court may be conservative or liberal. Passivist or activist court. To attain harmonious relationship among and between the three branches, there should be proper blending of philosophy obtaining in each dept. is it impt that for example you are cj, impt that your juridical philosophy, that you brought to high court should jibe with philosophy of next admin? In US for example…when Roosevelt was elected, major program was new deal…might meet opposition on grounds of constitutionality. Roosevelt needed a liberal court. To promote program of admin…should political philo in judiciary blend with admin

That can only be possible if judicial philosophy of pres is within framework of constitution. Important for justice not to be narrow minded, must be enlightened thinker, progressive thinker and being conservative is not oftentimes good especially with our fast changing society. Impt that cj has right discernment to know whether or not the philosophy of incumbent pres jibes with spirit and letter of constitution. Not only the language of constitution but also moved by spirit of const.

The constitution provision like a piece of clay, can be molded depending upon philosophical thinking of justice interpreting it. No hard and fast rule with respect to interpretation of constitution

Constitution meant to last for long period of time. If framers could not have anticipated every situation, so a member of the court must have that enlightened discernment that he’ll be able to know what is within mandate of constitution but which will move us towards progress and devt.

Example: with respect to econ provisions of constitution…there is…what reforms do you intend to introduce in the judiciary if you are appointed as cj? Like for example there are more than 6,000 cases pending in sc, how will you declog the docket?

If now by mandate of cj we have been working on the internal rules of sc and this is one of the problems that confronts us and I think that is one of the problem that we should address right away, how to limit cases elevated to sc. From what I know in the us only 75 cases a year are entertained but here we entertain thousands of cases…by limiting number of appeal cases, interlocutory orders…should not be brought up to higher courts, maybe we can prevent such appeals or petitions for certioarari on interlocutory orders. Many other areas in our court procedure where we can address this problem of backlog of cases.

We have interviewed you several times already, but this is a different position. Chief justice. May we know from you insofar as position of cj concerned, in what areas consider yourself strong and weak? No candidate that will perfectly fit a position.there are certain areas where he or she is strong, and weak.

My strong points will be in my commitment to and interest in performing administrative tasks. I have the patience and the passion to pursue administrative work that will enhance the implementation of reforms in the judiciary, courage to do what I am supposed to do, enjoy dealing with people, from all walks of life. Asset to do job that cj required to do.

Areas where you feel you are a little bit weak (laughs)

As of the moment I cannot think of any.


Important to show I am a credible leader of court, can depend on me to address matters that affect sandiganbayan, that each one of them can find a way or will be able to contibute to whatever projects we plan to undertake. Important they feel they have a stake in projects of the court….if there are conflicts, see to it…explain well why I take a certain position. If my position is well understood or explained I always get the support of my colleagues.

How do your colleagues…your application for position of cj? Inkling of what your colleagues feel about it

My colleagues are the epitome of propriety and decency. Not heard any opposition or bad remarks from any of them. Not felt any opposition to my application. As a joke or as a comment

Have you consulted any of your colleagues esp those higher in rank

No. they encouraged me except…not all of them because you know two are not…to be nominated at this time. But those who believed that the position of cj can be filled up at this time have not expressed opposition to my acceptance of the recommendation.

Art 2 sec 26 of 1987 constitution prohibits political dynasties. Now you can see that in the political field wives children parents even collateral relatives are succeeding public officials who are prohibited from running again. Why is this provision of constitution being violated?

Problem is absence of legislation prohibiting occurrence of political dynasty which is very rampant nowadays.

Believe provision is not self executory?

…to establish relationship with devt partners…made visible…had a chance to know what is going on, resources can be made use of by sandiganbayan…simple cases…don’t know what happened to this project…one of projects initiated during incumbency as presiding justice. Dev’t projects geared towards justices…

that you are a woman not detract from the success you would otherwise have made if you were a man

I think it was a plus factor.filipinos are known to be gentleman and have high regard for women…

Not what we think of presidency of cory and gma. People saying she’s only a woman, as compared to the men.


Where do you draw your strength?

Believe my upbringing, my father brought me up to be courageous person, to stand up for what I believe is right and not run away from any fight. Also I think it was my college education.


All the candidates have been asked question how the independence of judiciary should be protected. And this ought to be so because indeed independence is the soul of any judiciary. If a judiciary loses its independence then it loses its credibility and credibility is the only capital of any judiciary. And this is the reason why the word independence has been the subject of a lot of analysis during conferences of judges and justices…subject of so much legal literature…and secondly you have the institutional independence of the courts. More specifically the aspect of indepence…could subvert this personal independence? What are these sources?
No.1, politicians. Do you agree that a lot of times politicians unduly diminish the personal independence of justices? Do you think that is a factor when we talk about protecting enhancing the independence of judges?

Judges should really free from influence of politicians but think will be free from such influence if you have developed reputation…shown to be susceptible…

I cite as no2 factor vested interests, especially economic interests. Do you agree vested economic interests also play important part in eroding interest of judge

Vested interests may attempt to do that it may be indirectly trying to influence member of court, some other way through media or some other informal ways but depends on member of court to resist such kind of pressure because ultimately we should be guided by what is good for majority of people. Redound to common good and not interest of individuals.

Threat to independence

They do only if judge allows himself to be subject to pressure

Threat coming from media

Agree that media has been very vocal in matters pending litigation. See it as pressure on court because sometimes tend to scare the court to do what they want. It is a real threat to the independence of judiciary.

Another threat cited by some writers is the threat coming from the judges’ colleagues, their own colleagues. And a judge can diminish…a justice can do the same.

Yes that can happen but again it can be resisted. Or it can be avoided if your colleagues know you are not subject to such pressure or influence.

Finally some of these studies say that another threat to personal independence of judges is themselves. Meaning their own prejudices their own predilections, own biases. They say that you know these biases and prejudices threaten the way the mindset of a judge in the way he or she decides case. Agree

Agree so it’s important for a judge to have a discernment to know….to try to eliminate from decision making process any such bias or prejudices.

If you are appointed cj you will not be first lady cj in the world. Isn’t it.

I do not know

The cj of Canada is a lady, new Zealand is lady. Israel is a lady. So do you think it’s high time we should also have cj who is a lady

It would be presumptuous for me to think this is now the time considering that I said I have high respects for the other candidates and I cannot say I am the best.

Historically we almost had lady cj in the person of ameurfina Herrera. Unfortunately edsa1 came, reorg of court and her seniority was not respected in process of reorg.


delivers prepared speech.

Summarize vision…roadmap…what are we committed to uphold. How do we intend to deliver services, strategies to adopt, programs to implement?…in his hands lies challenge to chart course of judicial history…who are we responsible…ensure public interest in common good. Protect human rights…victims of injustice. Protect envt as well as serve as partner in…earn public trust and confidence…spirit of genuine service…provide fair accountable efficient…these are biggest challenges and biggest problems confronting judiciary today. To achieve this vision strengthen integrity for officials and employees…develop effective system for selection to attract best and brightest…justices and judges of proven competence probity and integrity…public service as public trust…effective partnership bet bench and bar in dispensation of justice. This is what you can expect me to do.

Prioritize following to make vision reality: continued support and emphasis…sustain action program for judicial reform. Speedy disposition of cases, computerization, access to justice by poor…training and education of personnel. Review of curriculum of phil judicial academy….minimize entry of cases by strengthening barangay justice and arbitration. Expand justice on wheels programs. Computerize courts. Enhance communication channels bet bench and bar…bravely explore new and untested avenues to declog court dockets. Delineates parameters of responsible…of sc…I am a simple man with simple lifestyle with no ambition other than to serve good country and people. Do not even wish to be remembered for anything except that I lived my life according to dictates of conscience as good wanted me to. There is no justice without truth, no liberty without justice and no democracy without liberty.


Statement, sufficiently and clearly laid out plans for sc and judiciary

Yes madam I have thought about it very well

Justice you know one of reasons for the jbc public interviews… give nominees to air side in connection with opposition or complaints filed against them. So will concentrate on this. Application being opposed by Fernando…joaquino borromeo, maria…lardizabal. In the letter of mr campos he alleged you committed undue haste and irregularity in dismissing gr no ..borromeo in his letter feb15 2010 alleged you committed violations of constitution and grave miscarriage of justice. Antonio ang in his letter questioning involvement 144476 and 144629 as well as letter of ma darryl lardizabal leyesa alleged unwittingly admitted violating new code of judicial conduct by allowing yourself to be approached by persons you knew were trying to persuade you in particular case. Wish to add to written comment already submitted

Not really add anything except to say that meat of complaint of campos is I allegedly dismissed case hastily without giving opportunity to comment, without reason or basis in exchange for plane ticket to las vegas I have sufficiently explained that, I furnished the jbc, I paid for my way, ticket and ticket of my wife. I presented receipt to you, did on my own time because we were on vacation as we always go to states on vacation time, like this may. That is a yearly thing we go to, visit my daughter. I see her only once a year, my youngest, my baby my favorite I will not pass the chance to see her once a year I paid my way did it on my own time. Concerning the hasty disposition of case without waiting for opponent to file…that day there were 30 other cases similarly situated, defective on its case the first division dismissed without waiting for opposition to file comment. That was defective on case. From sec he did not even file mr…how can we give…if we give due course to his complaint.

Justice, aside from these letters, there are other letters sent to council which I think I do not know if you were already furnished with copies of letter but nothing in record showing…letter from manuel cruz…alleged committed injustice…

Did not say what injustice in particular I committed, just said I committed injustice.

Not given copy of letter?

Not really sure. Read that complaint, think I did not answer because on its face there’s nothing to answer, did not say what unfairness I committed.

Allan paguia…accused you of misrepresentation..

He was one misrepresenting, not me. I pointed it out in my letter to you. Paguia was suspendend indefinitely by this court for I don’t recall what he did, he must have done something very serious to be given such punishment. Not connected to petitioner or respondent on those cases he was complaining about. From out of the blue he would just appear and complain about me.

Asking just for record to give you chance to complain

Joaquin sequia…voting pattern has consistently sided with arroyo admin in politically significant cases, anomalies involving pres, violated code of judicial conduct by boldly admitting to jbc that various persons were able to communicate with you in connection with case pending before you and allowing wife to be appointed as pres and member of board of directors of john hay…

Seems that according to mr sequia…deny completely everything he said there, not true, not true. Let’s go one by one.

First allegation is voting pattern.

Madam, I have almost 900 ponencias and resolutions in my 8 years in the court. Just wondering why there are some people who picked out only 18 out of these 900 and they’re throwing mud at me because of the 18. What about 14 or 16 petitions on amparo in which I voted against gov’t and gma? They never mentioned that.

Alleging violating code of judicial conduct by boldly admitting…various persons able to communicate with you in connection with case pending before you.

What cases? I recall only one case…campos case…the word was pakitulungan. That is the only case I remember where anybody approached or called me. What was I supposed to do?file a case against justice Gutierrez for writing me a letter? On what basis? I voted against campos, did not listen to justice Gutierrez.

You are allowing wife to be appointed by pres…

I would like to have little more time to answer that. need more time to answer that. 73 of family code says spouse can engage in any legitimate business, occupation..without concern of other spouse. Don’t have right to stop her from doing what she wants. My wife appointed to john hay…long before I joined the sc. Not case where I was appointed, I was appointed, appointed my wife thereafter. She was appointed way way before me. My wife is a very intelligent woman, the most intelligent woman I’ve met in my life…just relieving the tension…but seriously…she’s there…because of her environmental advocacy. Not because wife of corona. Helping out during time of fvr, when I was in malacanang. Already a consultant there. Another proof not connected to my job as justice of sc, from 2003-07, john hay had no president. Already in sc two years and for 4 years jhhc had no president…until in 2007 it was the chair of parent company bcda who recommended my wife to become president. It was not the pres who chose my wife, it was the chair of bcda who recommended to malacanang. I would be proud to say that john hay management corp one of few without any audit exceptions and I’m proud to say that of my wife….substantial salaries, allowances, etc. I think the informant is confused, terribly confused. There are two john hay, devt corporation and management corporation. Maybe informant referring to jhdc…devt corporation…leased by fvr to sobrepena group and that is a private corp where you have manor, manor suites, beautiful housing estate…my wife not connected with that. john hay management corporation. Her constituency there are pine trees. What substantial emoluments and salaries are they talking about? Hope I have sufficiently explained my wife’s participation there.

Certain students of UP college of law who in their letter dated mar 9 2010 alleged you lack the required…suffer from reputation of impropriety and hastily…moral character…

No my wife was appointed in 2007. As far as…ongpin was opponent of campos in interpetal case. One and same case. Fernando campos and Roberto ongpin fighting each other. It’s a one-two punch they’re giving me. What improper conduct did I commit? I totally reject that accusation, that’s not true. As far as attending socials, I don’t normally attend parties. I don’t really like parties, the few times I’m seen outside the house, almost always with my family and you can ask the people who have seen me outside the house. Quite a few instances attended socials but never businessmen etc with pending cases with me. Never.

Jbc also received letter from pambansang koalisyon ng kababaihan sa kanayunan…

I’m not aware of any case pending against me. I know there was complaint by Fernando campos…same thing pinakot ikot lang nila. Not aware of any case pending against me.

In same letter, she is also proposing some questions during this interview. How assure public act independently and not vote in favor of incumbent pres despite being chief of staff…

Was about to answer it. The previous statement and this one are actually related. I have never…aside from that fact stated earlier from 900 ponencias picked out 18 to suit a political agenda they are now hurling against me. I want to assure you and I say this in good conscience, have never voted not according to my consciency. Never was I influenced, no one has dared call me to influence my decision…into voting one way or another.


Have impressive academic record which you failed to state earlier. Elementary as gold medalist in ateneo, silver medalist, secondary…25th in bar exams that you passed. Tried to list down the vision you had for the judiciary. And it answers a lot of questions I wish to ask. How invite best and brightest to judiciary?

Started program already…everytime I talk to students in law schools…around very busy past few months…integrity of judiciary program, in so many cities and localities in phils…I have been telling them that the best retirement package in gov’t I believe is that in judiciary today. You can’t go wrong in package. Thank davide panganiban and now puno they had the vision to help augment the income of members of judiciary. That is one way. Because you have to compete with…cannot always be love of country…have to give them respectability…no.2, philja has very good program on that…towards master of laws program with san beda college. Believe more and more people applying…judicial and bar council consultant, never fails to amaze me how many people now want to become judges. Think we are right track. Just have to go extra mile and convince more people. Have good program in my own staff, since joined court in 2002, if not mistaken about 9 court attorneys who have been appointed as judges. Encourage despite fact I know more difficult for me to train more lawyers. Think lawyers in sc are best materials for judiciary. Continue to do that, encourage lawyers to go into lifetime judiciary…

Noticed aspirants not much in terms of numbers. When increased salaries, not only number but quality of aspirants as well increased.

Agenda of jbc…amazed at no. of people holding masteral degrees…even bar topnotchers applying.

Occasion when vacancy first level court in qc, one vacancy, there were about 80 aspirants for that position. Tough also on part of council to shortlist but increase in number and attributable to increase in benefits can receive if become members of judiciary.

Concurrent, not simply recruiting good people but make sure we don’t become employment agency, people simply wanting jobs…tighten disciplinary control over those already appointed.

Being sought in terms of employment by members of bar.

That is indispensable first step getting good people.

So what will be your program

Good compensation, good retirement, good prestigious life, good academic credential, there has to be continuous training of judges to make sure not dead end job. Understand that after few years in judiciary, still life after that in terms of people who are going to get them as consultant, they can teach, go into academe, because prepared all their lives. A whole package, not simply financial package have to prepare minds pockets attitude…no one correct way of doing it.

Agree total approach in terms of achieving goal…

When we finally reach that point in our judicial history where we have a lot of very respectable people in judiciary that itself will be the come on to the young people to join us.

If you are child of bgy captain, entitled to free college education…if extend privilege to children of members of judiciary. Also trying to find ways to strengthen judiciary being representative of ibp. Any program insofar as integrated bar is concerned?

Yes, I think the ibp has to be examined. Think the fiasco in 1989 almost happened again last year, and that is because of the natural Filipino penchant for politics. We just love winning elections, people just love to run in elections and they will not accept any verdict other than the fact they won and that’s when the problem starts. The lawyers have to be put on track once more. The ibp behaved after the sc cracked the whip in 1989 think the sc will have to crack the whip once again to make everybody tow the line.

First time jbc conducting interview for cj position…clarified lot of positions…interview for position right…gives opportunity to explain…

Sign of humility to come and appear. Humbly submit to your mandate under the constitution and that is why I am here.


You are now candidate for position of cj. If ever appointed to that position, cj for 7 or 8 years. This will be known as corona court. In your open statement you enumerated the reforms that you intend to pursue if ever appointed to position. There are certain areas which I feel you failed to touch. For example, with respect to bar exams, this is under the sc. The bar exams we have now the system we have adopted has been subject of criticism for two reasons: first of all for lack of transparency and lack of professionalism.

Bar examinations sir?

Transparency and professionalism. Would like to cite…other professions, like engineering…you know the examiners are, announced. Board of examiner appointed for term or period. Candidates know who the examiners are. Bar exams this is kept secret. (laughs). Don’t see any reason why they do not disclose the names of examiners. Might be approached by candidates? Show they doubt the integrity of examiners. No offense meant…when chairman who handle bar operation is appointed, who are the prospective appointees a former law partner, friend, kumpadre, classmate, no professionalism. You might be summa cum laude, but if you have not taught…might be good practicing lawyer but if lack academic credentials find it difficult to formulate good questions, even in matter of correction. That is why percentage of passing in bar exams is erratic. No standard. Pity for candiates. In some areas, in some countries there is a pool of questions, say 1000 questions for one particular subject, and you pick questions for that pool. The candidates may know in advance what those questions are. If they know the answer to the 1000 questions they are entitled to become lawyers. I think there should be complete transparency, there should be a board administering the bar. What do you think about this? The last bar exam, there were complainants.

Hope remembered everything you said, it was quite a long discourse. 1000 questions: no perfect solution to a human problem. Anything you do there’s always going to be something wrong with it. This is my personal opinion: find nothing wrong with system as it is now, chairman being known, getting own examiners without divulging identities, without revealing what questions they will ask. Maybe reform should be not in admin aspect but in way questions are formulated, drawn up and asked. Really the chair’s call what questions to ask…

I think this is one area that should be addressed.

Definitely. It’s always a continuing thing, we should never be satisfied with what we have…I think we should never stop thinking of ways to improve and doing things. There should always be attempts to invent a better mousetrap.

Another thing is…I understand that the docket of the sc is heavily congested. Around 6,000 cases. I made mention also some time ago the system they have in US the federal sc, for every turn limit no.of cases…there are 9 justices and they select only the most important cases. I think that should be given food for thought.

When I was appointed by pres ramos as asst exec sec for legal affairs in 1992 to head malacanang legal office, there were 4,700 cases pending there. In several months that was down to zero because that was the very first time in history that there was no backlog under my stewardship. That is not empty boast, I have commendation of pres ramos to prove it. How was I able to do it? Going to office 7 days a week even Sunday, but that was work ethic of pres ramos and we all followed him. Stay in office for 12 hours a day. But on side of cases, we asked and this is not an original idea, practiced in Scandinavian countries, both parties to submit draft decisions. The delay was in writing decision. So many excuses for not writing it. But when I asked pres ramos for memo order authorizing submission…when it’s correct, just have it typed and that’s it. Sign it.

If that’s how you are going to approach…another is the publication of the decisions. All decisions are published. In the US, they choose only the landmark decisions for publication. The court and the bar prohibited from citing unpublished decisions. Can cite in pleadings and decisions only published decisions, landmark cases. Another food for thought for you.

When joined in 2002, case load of 1,000 plus cases. Down to 400. Short resolutions, those that did not establish new jurisprudence, like what juris can you say about bouncing check? This was how I was able to get rid of my case load.

From time to time we come across in newspaper news items about ponencias written by justices…decision…you think it is advisable to make such publication? If decision is made, let it be known that this is decision of court. No need to state ponente. Loses mystique. That is being done in US they do not mention ponente.

Worth considering.

When you study, history, rationale…reason…made comparative study…when I found out…when you become chief justice, that’s food for thought.

The power of judicial review. I would like to quote the cj here in case of tolentino v sec of finance…1987 constitution transformed court from passivity to activism since grant of expanded judicial power, not mere power which can decline to exercise. Constitution imposed as duty. Can high court be activist court even in absence of that provision in constitution regarding expanded jurisdiction

I believe so the power of judicial review

Because that’s a novel provision the power of the court to annul decision made by the executive, legislative if they found abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction. Something novel introduced by 1987 constitution.

Because the sc power to interpret the constitution is supreme. The sc does not have power over money, funds, the power of the sword, to use the usual examples, not the power of the sword or power of purse but power to interpret the constitution.

Even without that provision


Because it’s matter of interpretation, how you interpret constitution whether as liberal or conservative jurist.


I admire the way you answered the questions of justice lagman

When your conscience is clear you have nothing to fear

For that reason I have no question

Defensor: no questions to ask


just one question from paid ad which appeared in phil star apr 18. Let me read portion of that question. Do you think you will have moral ascendancy to effectively lead judiciary as primus inter pares of sc?

Before I answer that question I believe you are referring to paid ad that came out in phil star yesterday by sagip korte suprema. I’d like to say that if I recally correctly, sagip is org led by atty simeon marcelo, partner of carpio villaraza cruz law office…he was one who appeared on tv after sc decision came out saying kalokohan yan or words to that effect. Also part of that group that demonstrated several times in front of sc, even burning pics of justice of sc and defacing walls…with bastard…in general reply to this advertisment, nothing but innuendo. Very very clevery and insidiously worded and crafted. Timing suspect ran out on Sunday for maximum damage to reputation. Just good thing…don’t know to whom they’re addressing this 10 questions. Just surprised that there is a statement there at the end, after asking 10 questions, sagip says you have been weighed measured and found wanting. Who is the you they are referring to mean? When ad came out jbc not even conducted interview yet there is already indictment, accusation, in fact judgment that you have been found wanting. That said may I ask for you question again.

Let me read the whole question…considering the public outrage…

Let me ask, what public outrage, or is it the “public outrage” of just a few? I’d like to ask myself that question. Secondly, there is of course a group that is against the sc decision…a very wise group…that has gone beyond clearly beyond the limits of decent behaviour. Doing things not normally expect decent people to do. Just one group, respect that. not agree with what they say but defend to death right to say it. Such antics do not mean there is public outrage. Such antics are not public outrage. There are also people who liked the decision and agree with it. As far as that thing about moral ascendancy and primus inter pares, to my mind moral ascendancy is like ceasar’s wife beyond reproach. I agree, cj has to be like cesar’s wife, beyond reproach because he is going to be leader of court, of branch of gov’t, of 15 justices of sc. If you are asking me if I have that moral ascendancy I don’t think I should be the one to answer that. maybe you should be the one to answer that. and let the appointing authority answer that, not me.

Judicial independence

My definition is being able to do what your conscience tells you without fear or favor. All I have to do is what cj has done, resisting all pressures from all quarters. If we discuss academic side of this term sc is not island, just one of three branches. Exercises judicial and non judicial functions. Judicial function independence is non negotiable. But non judicial, porous, dependent on other branches…budget…appointment to judiciary subject to civil service commission approval. As far as judicial function, non negotiable. If gov’t right 100% vote for gov’t 100% if wrong 100 percent, vote against gov’t 100%.


let me add by saying, I do not find you wanting.


Just a few follow up questions.

On questions by sec of justice. Heard you say or deny this so called public outrage against sc. Would like to link observation to one of questions given to members of jbc to be asked of the candidates. This question states, how would you combat the negative view of the public against the sc? My first question, do you concede there is this negative view which is the predicate of this question?

Let me ask a rhetorical question. They use the term negative perception. My question is, negative perception from whose point of view? Are we talking of small, ruckus, rowdy undisciplined group that have been defacing walls of padre faura and sending me death threats on my cell phone even my wife’s cell phone, death threats to my office and house? Is this group’s negative perception.

I disagree there is negative perception of sc. Not with you at the helm mr cj.

In other words you are not aware of any scientifically conducted study about this so called negative view of court. On the other hand you remember that one such survey was conducted which polled trust rating of three branches of gov’t and the result of this survey is that judiciary enjoyed higher trust of people vis a vis the two other branches of gov’t.


two things mr cj as you yourself said and heard also from cj davide. The judiciary is not in the business of popularity. For every decision we make we make one person happy and one person unhappy. If you ask me about negative perceptions, it depends who you ask. If you ask the loser, for instance mr campos who lost his case, sc is meanest, most evil most corrupt org. on the other hand if you ask somebody, the small farmers we have given justice to and 2513 detainees we have released through program as of dec 17 2009 then sc is best org in country. It depends. To me I will not be bothered by surveys and ratings. What is impt for me is I know I am doing right by my conscience and given each person what is due him. If still don’t like me because of that, fine thank you…always believed mr cj that two greatest gifts god can give a man in his lifetime..sorry getting a little emotional…faithful, dedicated wife, no.2, happy family. I have both I don’t really need anymore, not even to become cj. Seek no riches or glory only for what’s good in this country and the love of my wife and family. I have both.

You said you won’t be bothered by this alleged negative perceptions of the court perhaps as result of one two or three decisions. There are studies that say that the public perception of a judiciary anywhere in the world should neither be too positive or too negative. Should be neutral. If overly positive, you have a judiciary that is too much populist. They say that the function of a court is not to be popular because you look at all these democratic constitutions, you have bill of rights, and it is the duty of the courts to protect those individual rights guaranteed in bill of rights against assaults by majority. And when the courts do that, necessarily they become unpopular. But that is a duty to be performed. On the other hand they also say that courts should not be too unpopular also. If courts are too unpopular, then they surmise that there is also something wrong with that court, that that court is not aligned with the perception of the public on whether it is doing its duty in accord with the constitution. But do you agree the public perception of a court should be neutral?

Approach in another way cj. While there are surveys that indicate unpopularity of sc, borders more on political popularity of our decisions. If you notice no one has ever accused you or I or the court as whole of being corrupt. I am happy. It is integrity that gives us moral right to judge others. As long as people recognize that…individually or as court then I think we are doing all right.

Puno: your program in event you will be chosen, named as next cj of the high court. You will be cj for about 7 years. What do you see in the next seven years happening in the phils? In light especially of the fact that we are going through initial stages of 21st century when so many changes are happening all over the world? What do you see happening in the next decade in the political landscape of the country? What problems do you see and how will you position the court?

Corona: a little at a loss to answer that question because I don’t really understand the way politicians work but to the best of my ability venture a guess that I think the phils will be all this hullaballoo and noise that we are seeing today is just connected with elections and nobody need be apprehensive of what is going to happen. After the elections judging from elections I’ve seen since I became aware in high school…with elections new chapter and new hope among people. Up to political leadership to take advantage of that new hope of people for better life, more opportunities, more income, more taxes and so on. I see that mr cj that when the new president takes over after june 30 there’s going to be peace and quiet again and people can work again because there’s no election fever until the next election. We should be a partner for peace and devt…partner of exec and legislative branches of gov’t and move forward to a better phils.

Do you perceive radical changes happening in econ landscape? How will the court grapple with these changes?

Inevitable mr cj because transnational barriers are breaking up don’t have to look far to see this. In asean now we had distinguished lecture series in sc recently, speakers saying econ barriers falling one by one. Tariffs being done away with, import restriction being lifted…I think we are moving in that direction and that’s the correct way, correct march to progress.

Do you see in the changes more exploitation of the poor and the marginalized people?

Not exploitation mr cj I think when the economy is good everybody profits. That’s what I mean by being partner in sustainable devt, court being part of that. we have our traditional role, protecting those being cheated, treated unfairly…

How view nationalist provisions in present constitution? How stand in light of what you perceive as changes?

Of course there are restrictions imposed by const, utilization of natural resources, mass media…enumerated in constitution…but that doesn’t prevent fil corporations from entering into joint ventures, and technical cooperation even with foreign companies. I saw this because I was once with sgv and at one time another head of sgv tax division in Vietnam. We were ones who drafted code of investment policies, tax laws, I was part of team. And look where Vietnam is now. There were also nationalistic provisions in their laws in Vietnam but they have taken off magnificently..

Invite you to look at religious ethnic landscape of phils in next 7 or 8 or 9 or 10 years. Do you see acceleration of religious or ethnic conflicts in rp and positioning of court

There shouldn’t be any such conflict. We have the ipra law, the indigenous people’s law, and the cordillera people’s autonomous region…assurances and agreements entered into by gov’t which are meant to help them. What is wrong is implementation of agreements where unscrupulous people get into and exploit…but the court is there to protect them. If we go into spirit of law it will be okay.

Social landscape of phils in next 10 years or so. At family as institution, morals, customs and traditions…you have all these changing forces not only in phils but in whole world, about women rights, gender equality, the rights of gays.

Seriously seriously concerned about drug problem and I think the court should do something about it. You started it…quite strict…that will continue…

Puno: my only point…the next cj would be able to visualize all these changes…and adjust his or her program for judiciary to meet these challenges. Agree with that proposition

Yes agree wholeheartedly and I will take that to heart.

Puno: we have no more questions from members of the council. In behalf of council may I thank justice corona for honoring us with his appearance. This is historic occasion, first time jbc conducted an interview of candidates to the position of cj. And we thank you for your wholehearted cooperation.


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