A group of corporate lawyers is blocking the nomination of a former senior partner of the Villaraza Cruz Marcelo law office, otherwise known as “The Firm”, to the Sandiganbayan following the nominee’s admission that his application has the “blessing” of his boss.
The Legal Management Council of the Philippines (LMCP) on Wednesday said the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) must not let politics dictate the selection of the next chief of the anti-graft court.
The group scored Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecretary Rafael Santos who openly admitted that he had obtained the nod of a powerful political patron.
Maribert Q. Pagente, an official of LMCP, said Santos was “clearly not suited for the role” because of his political ties.
“More so if that same nominee was previously a Senior Partner in a ‘big law firm’ known for its political ties,” Pagente said.
She was referring to the law office that enjoyed vast influence in government since the time of former President Fidel Ramos.
In his letter, Pagente called on the JBC to be careful in selecting the next highest magistrate of the anti-graft court upon learning of Santos’ nomination.
The JBC screens aspirants for positions in the judiciary and the Office of the Ombudsman.
Pagente explained that she has nothing personal against any of the nominees for the position of Sandiganbayan chief but said she believes that “great care should be taken in the selection of the next Presiding Justice of the Sandiganbayan to preserve the credibility of the institution.”
“The Sandiganbayan’s mission is to give life and meaning to the constitutional precept that a public office is a public trust and to impress upon the public offices and employees that they are at all times accountable to the people,” she said.
“It is a basic precept of judicial ethics that a judge, like Caesar’s wife, must be above suspicion. He must not only be impartial but should also appear impartial,” Pagente said.