PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — SENATOR Loren Legarda yesterday lauded a number of legal luminaries for forming the group “Bantay Korte Suprema” to scrutinize the qualifications and moral ascendancy of candidates to the Supreme Court.
Legarda said Supreme Court members should uphold their integrity and must not be beholden to anyone as this is the “court of last resort” in the country.
“I express solidarity with Bantay members in not wanting seats to the SC to be given away at the whim of the appointing power in Malacañang,” she said.
Among the members of Bantay are former Senate President Jovito Salonga, former Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban, former Associate Justice Vicente Mendoza, and anti-corruption advocates and lawyers.
The eight-man Judicial Bar Council (JBC) is presently screening 14 aspirants for upcoming SC vacancies. Among those being considered are former revenue commissioner Jose Mario Buñag, Court of Appeals Justice Mariano del Castillo and Solicitor General Agnes Devanadera.
“While it is not our intention to cast doubts on the selection process, we must exercise vigilance as the integrity of the judiciary is at stake here,” Loren said.
“It’s not enough for a candidate to be brilliant in matters of law and jurisprudence. More importantly, he must be seen as being above suspicion,” the senator said.
Likewise, Loren said those to be chosen to serve as SC members must have the independence to go against even against the one who appointed them.
Loren emphasized that a Supreme Court with unquestioned impartiality serves as a pillar of justice and a vanguard of the concept of checks and balance in government.
The lawmaker said it is time for Filipinos to discard the stereotypical notion that all justices are, to some extent, almost always beholden to those who appointed them.
“Otherwise, we’ll always be coloring the decisions of members of the judiciary on account of perceived bias,” she said.