The Judicial and Bar Council received a total of 12 applicants for the seat vacated by now-retired Chief Justice Teresita De Castro, and on Thursday, two of the SC aspirants faced the panel for a public interview.
Miguel de Guzman/File
Where two SC aspirants stand on issues
(philstar.com) - October 18, 2018 - 4:09pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Judicial and Bar Council received a total of 12 applicants for the seat vacated by former Chief Justice Teresita De Castro, and on Thursday, two of the SC aspirants faced the panel for a public interview.

The JBC grilled law school associate dean Rita Linda Jimeno and Sandiganbayan Associate Justice Alex Quiroz on their personal capacities and on pressing issues in the Judiciary. They are vying for the seat against 10 other members of the Bar.

Others who also applied for the associate justice post but whose interviews were deemed valid are:

  • CA Justice Oscar Badelles
  • CA Justice Manuel Barrios
  • CA Justice Apolinario Bruselas Jr
  • CA Justice Rosmari Carandang
  • CA Justice Stephen Cruz
  • CA Justice Edgardo Delos Santos
  • CA Justice Japar Dimaampao
  • CA Justice Ramon Garcia
  • CA Justice Amy Lazaro-Javier
  • Former Ateneo law dean Cesar Villanueva

Here are some of the issues the two SC justice aspirants were asked about, and their answers.

Rita Linda Jimeno

Jimeno has faced the JBC for a public interview a couple of times before.

She is currently the associate dean of the Centro Escolar University law school, a professional lecturer, a mediator of the Court of Appeals and Regional Trial Courts and an arbitrator of the International Chamber of Commerce.

Jimeno is also the mother of former Presidential Management Staff executive Karen Jimeno, who was spokesperson for the defense team during the impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona. She was most recently an official for disaster risk and reduction management at the Presidential Management Staff. 

On pending case, regarding her involvement with Pacific Plans:

Jimeno explained that she was linked to the case due to having “one nominal share” of the company that later acquired Pacific Plans. She said that the questionable pre-need plans were not sold by the company she is affiliated with.

The criminal complaint remains pending before the Department of Justice—and pendency of a case is a ground for disqualification—but Jimeno argued that the DOJ has yet to determine probable cause in the case.

JBC member Maria Milagrosa Fernan-Cayosa, representing the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, said: “There is still a possibility of getting a judgement in your favor. We will not consider it as ground for disqualification.”

On what she can contribute to the SC:

In vying for the SC justice seat, Jimeno is facing off with other members of the Judiciary—some of whom have spent decades as judges or justices.

Jimeno said she could bring to the court “a breath of fresh air” and stressed that she is a hard worker. She added that working in the academe has allowed her to keep abreast with laws and jurisprudence.

On how she perceives the SC after the ousters of Chief Justices Renato Corona and Maria Lourdes Sereno:

The SC, Jimeno said, seems “more stable, more calm in the eyes of the public.”

She added: “There are no longer any disputes questioning the propriety of one justice sitting [in] the SC.”

Jimeno also said that one of the strengths of the SC is that it is resilient. “Even if even if this crises have come...it was able to maintain its integrity, ability to complete its work and do what has to be done in the most sober manner.”

On whether a husband’s consent is needed for abortion:

"I believe so, your honor, because the unborn child belongs to the two of them. Husband’s consent important."

Asked whether that would intrude on a woman’s right to privacy, Jimeno replied: “I don’t think so, because they are married committed to be as one, because they are spouses.”

Abortion is, in any case, illegal in the Philippines.

Sandiganbayan Justice Alex Quiroz

Quiroz is the chair of the Fourth Division of the Sandiganbayan. He was appointed to the anti-graft court in 2008.

Prior to being a Sandiganbayan justice, Quiroz was a local court judge in Marikina, Pasig and Makati.

On inhibiting from the P50-M Bureau of Immigration plunder case:

The JBC pointed out that Quiroz inhibited from the plunder case filed against former Bureau of Immigration executives Al Argosino and Michael Robles.

Quiroz said that he recused from the case as Wally Sombero—one of the accused—is an “acquaintance” who visited his siblings in the USA, who have also visited him at his house.

On the opposition to his application:

The JBC raised that an application from a certain Luis Martinez was filed against Quiroz’s application last July 25. The oppositor accused Quiroz of being a “habitual drunkard” and of being “not morally and intellectually fit.” Martinez also said that the justice was fined by the SC.

Quiroz said that Martinez may have been his colleague at the Pasig Metropolitan Trial Court. But he stressed that the claims against him are only based on the oppositor’s “imagination.” He said: “The [SC] record will bear me out.”

On new ideas for the SC:

Quiroz said that he is pushing for electronic courts. He would also propose to have a camera or a CCTV for court rooms, “to monitor the conduct and norms of the trial.” A CCTV would be “a deterrent to all presiding judges that the SC, through the [Office of the Court Administrator], is watching them.”

He also said that he would like to define the parameters of the  “inordinate delay” doctrine that has caused the dismissal of some cases at the Office of the Ombudsman. — Kristine Joy Patag

JUDICIAL AND BAR COUNCIL SUPREME COURT
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