The selection process for the next chief justice is shaping just as what was expected, that the next chief magistrate would act as the gatekeeper of the Aquino Supreme Court (SC) with Noynoy and his allies making sure that the candidates all come from within the yellow society circle.
Thus the haste in dispatching with the disbarment complaint filed against acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio and the likely bending of the rules in the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) to accommodate Justice Secretary Leila de Lima in the shortlist.
De Lima has written the JBC for something like five times to appeal that she be considered in the CJ shortlist despite a host of disbarment cases filed against her and it seems that the JBC may just relent on its rules requiring that nominees should be cleared of court cases to be considered in the shortlist.
The argument of De Lima was that a disbarment case is different from an administrative case and that it should not be an obstacle for her being a candidate to the top SC post.
Common sense, however, dictates that the disbarment cases against De Lima be resolved prior to her being considered as CJ candidate to prevent the prospect of the SC being headed by an incompetent lawyer.
Noynoy and his lackeys in the JBC, however, are prepared to throw reason out of the window just to make sure that their success in ousting former Chief Justice Renato Corona receives a fitting crown jewel in an SC head utterly servile to Noynoy.
The high court now is coopted with Carpio as head and the swift dismissal of any challenges to the new status quo would certainly head for the trash bin.
There were no discussions on the merit of the disbarment case on Carpio, including the allegations of anti-crime advocate Lauro Vizconde that, as senior associate justice, he exerted influence in the SC decision that cleared suspects who are members of rich families in the massacre of Vizconde’s family in 1991.
Vizconde’s allegations already surfaced during the impeachment trial of Corona, and was supposedly the basis of one of the eight Articles of Impeachment, or Article 3 in which obliquely the House prosecutors accused Corona of serious breach of the rule of confidentiality in revealing to Vizconde the purported efforts of Carpio to pressure other SC justices to acquit Hubert Webb, one of the primary accused in the massacre.
The prosecutors earlier indicated plans of calling Vizconde to the witness stand of the Senate impeachment court but later on dropped that particular article apparently realizing that pursuing the allegations would be more damaging to Carpio rather than on Corona.
Noynoy and his allies were ready to believe Vizconde then but now his allegations against Carpio are being consigned to the effects of emotional strain on Vizconde as a result of the SC decision unfavorable to his deceased family.
But what was an even more serious allegation made against Carpio was that, as legal presidential counsel of then President Fidel Ramos, he was accused of having filled positions for judges and justices who were said to be Firm-friendly.
The SC decision junking the disbarment case on Carpio merely stated that it lacked jurisdiction on the complaint since Carpio can be made accountable only through an impeachment proceeding.
This also means that even a lawyer deemed incompetent through disbarment charges, such as De Lima, would head the high court and cannot be removed except through impeachment.
The nation would then be stuck with one who faced disbarment charges. She should thus not even be considered at all, before that tragedy strikes.
The eventual shortlist will definitely be a choice among potential Noynoy stooges.
Judicial independence will likely be no more when the next CJ sits.