After 4 days of interviews to 20 out of 22 Chief Justice nominees (2 were disqualified, Vicente Velasquez for Tax Evation Case and Rufus Rodriguez for failing to take the Psychological Test), the Judicial and Bar council concluded its interview process for the selection of the next Chief Justice today. Last batch of CJ nominees that were interviewed includes SEC Chairwoman Teresita J. Herbosa, former San Juan Rep. Ronaldo Zamora and SC Associate Justices Ma. Lourdes Sereno and Presbitero Velasco.
First to face the panel was SEC Chair Herbosa. Having the chance to be appointed as the next Chief Justice she said her goals are, to give every Filipino access to courts, no delay of justice, and all cases will be decided on basis of merits. She was also asked why she choose to be unmarried and she answered “I am used to being alone.”. Regarding her beliefs she said personal beliefs should not interfere in deciding matters especially in evaluating facts and evidences of the case.
Next to Herbosa was former San Juan Rep. Ronaldo Zamora. Being former Congressman and Executive Secretary to then President Joseph Estrada he said his political skills can be a good qualification to have a better sense of how to supply the solution to the current problems of the judiciary. With regards also to SC problems he said the problem is not only with the judges but also with the people on how they react to the court decisions. As his vision he wants to see more people getting involved in the law as part of their daily lives. To give the poor more in law because they are already less in life.
During the afternoon session it was Justice Sereno who started the interview. She said the warm reception of the people with her appointment to SC made her believe that she should accept her CJ nomination. Sereno was perceived as an upbeat and passionate judge and she said everyone has his/her own passion which comes from God and that she was really born with it, an energetic and passionate person. She also proposed that the SC should have a body of experts that will advise if there will be conflicts with their decisions. On the possibility to be the 1st Lady Chief Justice, she said lady justices have strong intuition and they can take in so much work and burden. Ask about her opinion on outsiders being the next Chief Justice, she said if an outsider will be appointed its like appointing civilian to lead a war instead of a general.
Last to be interviewed today and last from all the nominees was Justice Presbitero Velasco. One of his goals is for SC to have bigger budget for the construction of more courtrooms in the country and to buy more equipments for the judiciary. Asked if there’s a need for a cooling period in the SC following the impeachment and conviction of former Chief Justice Renato Corona, he said there’s no need for that since they have their duty under the constitution. It may be a sad moment in the SC’s history but they have to move on and continue with their work.
Initially, after concluding the interviews of the CJ nominees, JBC is supposed to vote on Monday for the shortlist of candidates for the next Chief Justice. But because there is a pending motion on SC from the congress regarding the number of their representatives in JBC panel, it was postponed until the motion is resolve. So instead of voting on July 20, 2012, it was re-scheduled to August 2, 2012.
Based on all the interviews I think there are strong chances for the Associate Justices to be shortlisted and a couple of Deans from the Law Schools will also have the chance.