June 20, 2012
ANC Transcript of Interview
DAVILA: Joining us on Hot Copy, JBC member Senator Francis "Chiz" Escudero. Good day to you, Senator.
FGE: Good morning, Karen. Good morning to the televiewers.
DAVILA: So, iconic. Do you have any iconic nominees?
FGE: Ang ibig sabihin ng iconic 'yung malapit lang sa lupa?
DAVILA: Hindi. Rock star status. Iconic.
FGE: Mahirap yata 'yun. For example, if you would ask Marites, can she give us three names at the top of her head who would qualify as iconic? Mahirap. Pressure is on us. Pressure is on the president, Karen because matapos 'yung mahaba at masakit na proseso ng impeachment ilalagay mo kung sino lang? Napakataas nung bar at nung standard.. away, gulo at kaliwa't kanang kritisismo ang tatanggapin namin pati ni Pangulong Aquino.
DAVILA: Alright, question number one, how many names can the JBC recommend to the president? Is it three or six?
FGE: A minimum of three.
FGE: Minimum. It can be as many as 15,20,30.
DAVILA: Are you serious?
FGE: It hasn't happened yet, Karen. Ang pinakamarami na yata na-submit naming pangalan for one vacancy in the Supreme Court was at one point seven or eight. Because there are eight members in the JBC, a nominee must get at least five votes before he or she can be included in the list.
DAVILA: Okay. Because 'yung lima na senior justices ngayon sa Supreme Court, are they automatically included in the list of the JBC?
FGE: They are automatically considered by the JBC even without applying but they have to manifest their intention to be included in the selection process.
DAVILA: Of the five Supreme Court justices, how many have... I think two 'noh, have intended, I mean, have manifested their intentions?
FGE: Let's do the reverse. I think two have said that they are not interested. If I'm not mistaken, Justices Velasco and Peralta. But the rest... Justice Brion, I think indicated his interest.
DAVILA: Yes, and Abad?
FGE: Hindi siya kasama dun sa top five. Si Justice Abad, Justice Sereno, Justice Perez are not one of the top five senior justices. So they were nominated separately. Justices Carpio and De Castro, who both sit at the JBC have inhibited themselves in the proceedings, so I guess that means they will be accepting any nomination.
DAVILA: Now, when the three, let's say Brion, De Castro adn Carpio accept the nomination, they are automatically in the JBC's recommendations?
FGE: No. They're automatically part of the process. Meaning they would have to go through the same process as the rest with some exceptions, Karen. Example, hindi na namin sila pakukunan ng NBI clearance.
DAVILA: Oo. Ang weird naman. 'Yun nga 'yung tanong ko parang...
FGE: 'Yun lang siguro. 'Yung mga Ombudsman clearance, NBI clearance, hindi na siguro. But with the interview, they would have to go through it. The psychological test, it's only good for one year. They would have to go through it, too. Don't ask me why one year, why not two, why not three, why not five years. Kasi baka mamaya within one year nagkasayad ka, hindi ko alam, actually. But when you are interviewed by the JBC, if you undergo psychological examinations by the doctors of the JBC, and you applied but not accepted, valid for one year 'yung result ng test na 'yun. So you can continue applying without going through the same process again.
DAVILA: But isn't it odd and illogical, senator, if the senior, most senior justices of the Supreme Court will not get recommended by the JBC and you have a practicing private lawyer that gets in your list for chief justice?
FGE: It's not weird, Karen. It may be new. It may be violating tradition but it's not necessarily prohibited. In fact, the Constitution simply states that we should recommend, and the qualifications for chief justice are the same as justice. Forty years old, fifteen years experience in the practice of law, natural-born citizen, a member of the Philippine Bar and of proven probity, competence, independence and integrity.
DAVILA: Okay. Alright, but what would be a logical reason why a sitting senior Supreme Court justice would be recommended by the JBC over a practicing lawyer? I mean, the Supreme Court justice that has handled the cases, sitting in the Supreme Court, what would make, I'm asking you a question, they are all qualified, but what would make the JBC choose a private practicing lawyer over a sitting Supreme Court justice?
FGE: Unquestionable integrity, unquesitonable probity, competence, Karen is assumed.
DAVILA: With all the Supreme Court justices?
FGE: Not necessarily.
DAVILA: That's weird. See? I got scared.
FGE: Not necessarily, too, Karen.
DAVILA: Because if a Supreme Court justice not recommended by JBC, that's weird. Why is he sitting in the Supreme Court?
FGE: Because you're prima inter pares CJ and it's not automatic. For example, Karen, do you know that no CA justice has applied, no, to my recollection of my knowledge, even in the past, walang nag-apply na Sandiganbayan, walang nag-apply na MTC, walang nag-apply na RTC judge for the position of chief justice. Essentially with the whole organization of the judiciary, ang nag-a-apply for the chief justice lang, within the organization puro incumbent and sitting magistrates lang. Kasi tatalunan nga naman nila 'yung mga bossing nila dun sa Supreme Court. But to me, even that is not sacred. Eh kung may magaling bang judge eh na talagang... di ba? Why inhibit himself? Why do you think he is being arrogant stepping on the shoes of his bosses in the Supreme Court? It should not be a disqualification. Sandiganbayan justice ka man, CTA judge, CTA justice, Court of Appeals justice, eh kung nandun 'yung materyal eh. Wala naman distortion dito. Wala namang wage distortion dito, organizational distortion..
DAVILA: Yeah, I agree.
FGE: Na aangat siya bigla. But on my practice, nobody usually do. They apply for magistrate, a member of the Supreme Court but not chief justice.
DAVILA: Okay. Alright. But not chief justice.
FGE: But they should be qualified, too. They've been in the practice of law for 15 years. They are above forty years. They are natural-born citizen. I don't see a disqualification, but none of them do usually.
DAVILA: Okay. Alright. Now the requirements in the search for a chief justice or a Supreme Court justice is quite simple. You just said what they were, which actually has been bothering me for the last few days which is I mean, I interviewed some sources for a documentary and it turns out you have justices in the Supreme Court that have never, of course, let's say have never been a judge, never written a decision. They have never handled a court room. They've never heard witnesses, decide on a case and they've never asked their staff. Anong pananaw mo dun? What do you think of that? And they have staff writing the decisions or penning it for them.
DAVILA: No, I know what you mean but there are still idealists like myself, ha.
FGE: No, I'm not saying that you are an idealist. That's perfect, that's good.
DAVILA: No I am really.
FGE: Pero babato ko lang, ilalagay ko lang sa ibang sitwasyon, what about senators and congressmen..
DAVILA: That's a Supreme Court justice asking a staff di ba?
FGE: Iniinterpret lang nila 'yung batas. Paano 'yung congressmen at senador na sinasabi sa staff gawin mo at kung natatakot ka sa qualification ng justice, ng chief justice, at least may nakapalagay pa nga nun eh, obligadong, without diminishing those who did not have formal education, obligado na member ng Philippine Bar. But if you're talking about the President, a senator, a member of Congress, the only requirement is registered voter, natural-born citizen, able to read and write, 35 in the case of the senator, 40 in the case of the president and that's it.
DAVILA: Yes but that does not mean anyone can be a president.
FGE: Yes, it does.
DAVILA: I refuse to accept this logic.
FGE: Yes it does.
DAVILA: I know what you mean.
FGE: If you enjoy the votes, the support and the confidence of the people.
DAVILA: Yes. Now, but since the JBC is choosing a chief justice, this is my question, I've noticed that there are many, right now in the Supreme Court there are five sitting Supreme Court justices that have never been a judge at all.
DAVILA: Five of them.
FGE: Yes. In the private sector.
DAVILA: Exactly. Now, you have an incoming chief justice from the private sector. You know a chief justice in our country, we all know that. They handled funds, they run administrative, I mean, they run other judges in the Supreme Court and other lower court judges.
FGE: Ang pinagkaiba, Karen, ang chief justice, ordinaryong justice, they all write decisions. But the difference is, he is the administrative head of the Supreme Court.
FGE: So if you want, you're looking for heavier qualifications perhaps, we should be asking them their administrative experience, if they even know how to run an office. If they've ever run an office. Because this is the biggest office in the judiciary handling all the judges in the court.
DAVILA: Exactly. You need a chief justice that the judges themselves respect and the justices respect.
FGE: Yes and no.
FGE: No, because sometimes the position carries with the respect, which if he is unknown, he would have to earn. But initially it will be given to him by virtue of the position he is holding. Syempre hindi naman siguro lahat kilala agad kung sino man 'yun. He has to prove himself to his organization, to his people, to those working for and under him.
DAVILA: Okay. Alright, you have 29 or 30 nominees right now.
FGE: I think we have about 42 already as of last count yesterday.
DAVILA: Forty two and they still have to accept the nomination?
FGE: I think, several of them have declined already. In fact some have requested that their names not even to be announced. 'Yun 'yung reservation ng ilan naming mga kasamahan na we should be open, we should be transparent but what if you nominate...
FGE: Na hindi niya alam. Ta's parang ano 'to parang laruan, parang nilalaro ako, parang niloloko ako. So some people are requesting that unless they accept it, 'wag munang i-publish muna o banggitin 'yung pangalan. The mere fact that you're nominated does not necessarily mean that you're fair game and you're public property. No. So some of them have requested in our discussions 'wag muna ilabas 'yung listahan hangga't hindi pa tinatanggap. Kasi baka mamaya may kaklase ka lang na nagbibiro ba.
DAVILA: That's true.
FGE: Ginagawang laruan 'tong proseso tapos magtatawanan sila 'pag nagiinuman sila. O ninominate ko 'yan, lumabas 'yung pangalan niyan sa TV oh.
FGE: It's not a game. It's not a game and we would like to be more prudent and respectful.
DAVILA: So what you want to announce are only the names who've accepted the nominations.
FGE: Who have accepted and who are not outrightly disqualified.
DAVILA: Okay. Attorney Katrina Legarda? She accepted it?
FGE: I think so. She has indicated her acceptancy.
DAVILA: Now, that would be someone, I mean in private practice who is qualified in terms also of experience but how does it affect the Supreme Court when you have a lawyer that was once fighting a case in the Supreme Court and then starts to rule over you?
FGE: He would have, she would have to inhibit herself from the proceedings. Ganun lang naman 'yun.
DAVILA: What do you mean? Example.
FGE: Let's say if she was handling a case in the lower court which is appeal to the Supreme Court and all of a sudden should becomes justice or chief justice....
DAVILA: That's a tricky part.
FGE: No Karen, if you are engaged in the practice of law, usually, more often than not, you will encounter the case that would reach the appellate level that you handled when you were a young lawyer. You would just simply have to inhibit yourself. It's in fact even more complicated with lawyers working for a firm, even if they did not handle the case personally, if his law firm is appearring in that case, he or she should inhibit himself or herself from that case.
FGE: Labing-lima naman 'yan. May maiiwan pa namang labing-apat. Maliban na lang kung nanggaling sa isang law firm 'yung walo, na 'ni walang majority 'yung Supreme Court but that would be a rare occurrence. In fact, we're trying to come up with statistics and you might want to do this also on your end.
DAVILA: In my report.
FGE: We're trying to get a good mix.
DAVILA: I so agree.
FGE: I've been fighting for that. For example, I mean, it can be relevant, irrelevant, a heavy factor, not so heavy factor like...
DAVILA: Like of the 15.
FGE: Saang school ba nanggaling 'yan? So we'd get a picture. Hindi 'yun galing lang sa isa dalawang eskwelahan na parang sila lang ang kayang magproduce ng justice. Saang region ba ng bansa natin galing 'yan? Just to able to see the mix. What was their core competence? What was their expertise when they're practicing? Tax law ba 'to? Constitutional law ba 'to? So that, the court will always have a complete package. When they're deliberating on the case, you'll have the tax aspect, the labor aspect, the criminal aspect, the corporate aspect, the constitutional aspect. And someone would be an authority with respect to these issues and these topics.
DAVILA: Alright, what about, I was thinking that, we're thinking of the same thing. Is it possible Senator, that of the 15 justices from this day forward, let's say, 8 that's appointed have to be former judges. 7 they can be anythin, from the academe, they can be a constitutionalist. They can be a private practicing lawyer. But you need 8 coming from the ranks, because alam mo I'm for professionals e.
FGE: That can be a mix Karen, but we've been drafting a bill.
DAVILA: Can't that be?
FGE: It's facing tough resistance, that ladderized ang judiciary. That is actually my personal position.
DAVILA: I'm partly for that.
FGE: Ang kukunin mo lang na, ang entry level ng lahat ng judge ay MTC. Wala nang lateral entry. So, the pool of judges from where you will appoint RTC judges would come from the MTC and MTCCs. The pool of judges from where you will get a CA, CTA or Sandiganbayan justice would be the RTC judges only.
DAVILA: I agree.
FGE: And ladderized s'ya. But in some of our hearings, sinasabi nila, "parang masyadong nakastraight jacket naman 'yung husgado at korte," but what I was saying was, "you have to inspire these judges that one day, soon they might be..."
DAVILA: Supreme Court justices.
FGE: "Baka tumaya, kasi kapag hindi sila tumaya, hanggang MTC judge na lang ako, edi lahat na lang ng milagro gagawin ko. Hindi naman ako aangat dyan e. Wag na."
FGE: But you're correct. We have compromised a bit and softened up we bit on it na may percentage na lang. X percentage which is more than a majority should come from the career system of the judiciary.
FGE: And a smaller percentage of the private sector. Ang problema lang Karen, which we haven't been able to resolve, you might be able to help them.
DAVILA: Yeah, I know, what's that?
FGE: When we submit a list to the president we don't know who he will appoint.
DAVILA: I agree.
FGE: So, hindi naman namin pwedeng ilagay doon sa listahan puro career. For this round, puro career. For that round, so may mahahalo doong galing sa private sector, may mahahalong, so the president... The buck stops with the president. Kapag ang inappoint nya 'yung career na dapat sana hindi career..
DAVILA: O kaibigan n'ya? Which is, I'm not saying that's what President Aquino will do, but that's the dilemma of former presidents.
FGE: But we might not be able to follow that formula Karen na may representation maski na papaano ang kada region. When we submit a list, it will come from various persuations. Hindi naman pwedeng, "oh ang kulang natin tax experts, pwede ba ito'ng round na 'to puro tax lang?"
FGE: Hindi pwede e.
DAVILA: Yeah, maybe not that exact.
FGE: But still even with respect to private and government may sisingit pa rin doon na pangalan na baka 'yun ang piliin ng pangulo na hindi namin kontrolado. It's a bit complicated. So, it's a moving target. It's a slippery slope with respect to making a complete mix of the Supreme Court with various persuations, various schools, various backgrounds, various beginnings.
DAVILA: Yeah, there must be, I mean, I know that qualifications for chief justice and Supreme Court justice are one and the same. But there must be something more that the JBC is looking for. Elepaño who was a former court administrator said, former Justice Elepaño said, "Karen, the one thing lacking, they all have knowledge but wisdom is one factor that a chief justice would need."
FGE: Or an ordinary justice too or even a judge Karen.
DAVILA: Even a judge. Puno at one point had said, "kailangan ng healing justice." Someone that they would all respect to unite.
FGE: I agree. I agree with former Chief Justice Puno, but Karen the closest definition of wisdom I can look or find or get would be Solomon.
DAVILA: I agree.
FGE: That's, I mean, but how do you put these applicants to a test? Buti kung may anak 'yan na hindi naman mga nanay lahat 'yan? Hahatiin mo 'yung bata para lang patunayan kung sino talaga ang nagmamahal sa bata. But it's something that's difficult to gauge actually. It's something that will manifest itself once a situation was presented before him. How exactly do you gauge? How do you identify whether or not the person has wisdom?
DAVILA: Is track record a factor for the JBC?
FGE: Yes, they're required to submit everything and narinig ko Karen sinabi mo na hindi pwedeng magtanong ang media. Parang sa Senate hearing lang naman, hindi pwedeng magtanong ang media pero pwede kayong magtext doon sa mga miyembro 'di ba?
FGE: Pwede naman 'yun. There's nothing wrong with that. So, as much as possible, we would want questions to be given to us actually.
DAVILA: Okay, now, do you think that Secretary Leila De Lima and Kim Henares should be part of the nominees?
FGE: Without pre-judging. Without pre-judging Karen, I'm going to speak for myself. I took part in the process that removed this chief justice. I find it awkward to stay in the list, on my part. I'm speaking for myself, to be even interested in that position na nakilahok, sumali ako para maging bakante. Again, but I cannot speak for them and either might pre-judging their qualifications or their inclusion in the list.
DAVILA: Alright, now, let's first take a break. Noel Alamara has breaking news.
DAVILA: Thank you very much Noel Alamar. Quick question here coming from my twitter account I wanna ask, have you verbalized at some point that you wanted Senior Associate Tony Carpio?
FGE: That I did not want him. 'Yun ang lumabas sa isang pahayagan Karen but that's not true.
DAVILA: Tell me what it is.
FGE: That's not true. I didn't say any such thing.
DAVILA: Oo, that you did not want him to be a part of the nominees?
FGE: Yes, hindi totoo 'yun, in fact we corrected it at kinlarify naman ng news paper na naglabas noon.
DAVILA: Yeah, because, do you think, I mean, after former Chief Justice Renato Corona mentioned Tony Carpio in the impeachment trial, I interviewed Tony Carpio in an ambush interview in the Supreme Court. I had asked if he will not join the race? And he said he's coming out with an explanation, which for me seems he will join the race.
FGE: He is, Karen. I think for all intents and purposes, he is and he has joined the race. The mere fact that he has inhibited himself from chairing would clearly reveal the intention that he is indeed interested on it.
DAVILA: Okay, now, someone like Tony Carpio was mentioned repeatedly by Corona, what do you make of that candidate?
FGE: That's an allegation Karen, compared to, for example me actually participating in the process.
FGE: That's an accusation hurled by Corona against Justice Carpio.
FGE: Which was not validated, which was not tested via the rules of evidence or in any proceeding, unlike,as I said, my situation or the situation of the prosecutors, witnesses or judges. We clearly took part in that process that ended up with removing the chief justice.
DAVILA: Alright, welcome back to Hot Copy. We are joined by JBC member Sen. Francis "Chiz" Escudero. Before we ask your questions, let's call in first, this is the list right now. It doesn't mean they've accepted. This is the list for the nominees of the SC chief justice they've been nominated: Leila de Lima; Kim Henares; Francis Jardeleza, that's the solicitor-general; Marvic Leonen, the chief negotiator for the MILF; Andres Bautista, PCGG chair, ok, I know Andy Bautista...
FGE: Ito 'yung galing sa gobyerno lahat. (Laughs)
DAVILA: Yes, from government. Teresita Herbosa, SEC chair; and the government negotiator for the NPA AlexanderPadilla. Now, of the nominees, those who have accepted the nominations already: Sitting in the Supreme Court, Justice Abad, Justice Brion, you have Professor De Castro, Atty. Manuel Diokno, is this Ben Diokno?
FGE: No, the younger one.
DAVILA: Ok. Of course Atty. Katrina Legarda, very famous practicing lawyer. Is Katrina retired?
FGE: I think she's still practicing.
DAVILA: Practicing. And Atty. Rafael Morales, not familiar; Dean Raul Pangalangan, of course one of the sources; Comelec Comm. Jose Sarmiento, sitting?
FGE: Uhm, yes. Incumbent Comelec commissioner.
DAVILA: Ret. Judge Siayngco, there you go, you have a retired judge.
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