Gibo declines nomination for chief justice post


MANILA, Philippines -  The cousin of President Benigno Aquino III on Tuesday, June 19, declined his nomination to replace dismissed chief justice Renato Corona. 

A source from the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), the body that vets aspirants to the post to the president, confirmed that Gilberto Teodoro, who ran but lost against Aquino in the 2010 presidential elections, turned down his nomination.

Had he accepted it, Teodoro would have been one of the youngest nominees at 47.  

Another nominee, Landphil president Rodolfo Robles, also declined his nomination. Robles, a family friend of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, had been nominated to the Supreme Court twice and also for the position of Ombudsman but was not appointed. 

Meanwhile, new nominees for the chief justice post include Dean Jose Manuel Diokno, former Senator Rene Saguisag, Presidential Commission on Good Government chairman Andres Bautista, Court of Appeals Justice Japar Dimaampao, Malabon University president Ramon Maronilla and Manila regional trial court Judge Amelia Tria-Infante. 

Diokno accepted his nomination on June 18. He was previously nominated for the post of ombudsman in 2011 but was not appointed. Diokno is the chairman of the Free Legal Assistance Group.

Aside from Diokno, 8 other SC "outsiders" have accepted their nominations. These are Commission on Elections official Rene Sarmiento, former executive secretary Ronaldo Zamora, retired Judge Manuel Siyangco Jr, former Ateneo law dean Cesar Villanueva, UP Professors Katrina Legarda and Rafael Morales, and former UP law dean Raul Pangalangan.

Two SC magistrates -- Justices Roberto Abad and Arturo Brion -- have also accepted their nominations. Abad, who was appointed in 2009, will step down in 2014 when he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 70. Saguisag endorsed him, citing the need for an "interim chief justice." 

Brion (retiring in March 2016), along with the 4 other most senior justices -- Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio (October 2019), Teresita Leonardo De Castro (December 2018), Presbitero Velasco (March 2018), Diosdado Peralta (January 2022) -- are automatically nominated for the post vacated by Corona on May 29. 

The Senate, sitting as an impeachment court, found Corona guilty of violating the Constitution and betraying public trust after he failed to disclose P183-M in peso and dollar accounts in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth.

There are now 46 nominees and applicants for the highest position in the judiciary: 9 SC justices and 37 SC "outsiders." Out of these 46, 4 have officially declined their nominations -- Teodoro, Robles, former assistant provincial prosecutor Marianito Sasodoncillo and Integrated Bar of the Philippines president Roan Libarios.

Former energy Secretary Raphael "Popo" Lotilla also declined his nomination, but has yet to formally inform the JBC.

The other SC magistrates who were nominated are Justices Lourdes Sereno, Estela Perlas-Bernabe and Jose Perez. 

Other SC "outsiders" who were recommended for the post include lawyers Rey Alejandrino, Alexander Padilla, Vicente Velasquez, Renante Terre, Soledad Cagampang de Castro, Securities and Exchange Commission chairperson Teresita Herbosa, Dean Amado Valdez of the University of the East College of Law, lawyer Pedro Aquino, government peace panel chair Marvic Leonen, former congressman Teodoro "Teddy Boy" Locsin Jr, former Solicitor-General Francisco "Frank" Chavez, Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares, Justice Sec. Leila De Lima, incumbent Solicitor-General Francis Jardeleza and dismissed Judge Florentino Floro.

Retired Court of Appeals Justice Hilarion Aquino was previously disqualified because he is already 80 years old.

The sole applicant, Jocelyn Esquivel, could not also be considered for the post because she is not a lawyer. Esquivel is a teacher and a nurse. JBC member Jose Mejia said though that while the two have been disqualified, their names remain in the list pending the finalization of the set of nominees and applicants.

The list is expected to grow following the decision of the JBC to extend the application and nomination period to July 2.

President Aquino has 90 days from May 29, when Corona was removed, to name the next chief justice.