Appoint competent lawyers to SC, ex CJ urges
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - August 21, 2014 - 4:57pm
MANILA, Philippines - Amid the issues surrounding the appointment of Solicitor-General Francis Jardeleza to the Supreme Court, former Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban offered an unsolicited advice to presidents.
“If I can give pieces of advice to the president, not necessarily to PNoy, please appoint truly qualified lawyers to the Supreme Court. Never mind if they are for you or against you,” Panganiban said in a forum organized by the Far Eastern University Public Policy Center last Wednesday.
“Anyway, they will be independent,” he added.
Panganiban, who served as Chief Justice during the Arroyo administration, said people who are appointed to the high court undergo a transformation.
“Once you are in the Supreme Court, you transform. You become a different person,” he said, noting that the appointment requires cutting off ties from one’s acquaintances.
“I will have to be true to my pledge to uphold the constitution at all times. Other justices should feel the same way.”
Panganiban made the comments on the same day President Aquino named Jardeleza as Supreme Court Associate Justice, replacing Roberto Abad who retired on May 20.
Panganiban, however, clarified that his advice is not directed to anyone. 
Jardeleza’s appointment was initially opposed by Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno due to questions on his integrity. As Solicitor-General, Jardeleza defended the legality of the Disbursement Acceleration Program before the Supreme Court, which later on declared some acts under it as unconstitutional.
Panganiban said presidents should also get the advice of lawyers “who understand how the court decides” and not just from those “who want to polish their back and say it can be done.”
“Sometimes, we do not like the bearers of bad news but sometimes, it’s necessary to hear the bearers of bad news. After all, nobody is perfect,” Panganiban said. 
“It is a good policy to listen to the other side and to find out and test one’s conviction, one’s beliefs. It’s a matter of weighing alternatives,” he added.
Panganiban said the advice is applicable to everybody and not just to Aquino.
“It applies as well to vice presidents, senators, cabinet members, even to me,” he said.
“I do not mind admitting that I may have overlooked something or that I may be wrong. As I said, nobody’s perfect. I always, in my particular case, make allowance for that. Same is true with PNoy and same is true with everybody.” 

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