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Call to P-Noy: Choose chief justice wisely

/ 10:45 PM June 08, 2012

We commend the conviction of Chief Justice Renato Corona by the senator-judges. We hope this would lead to a new paradigm of transparency and accountability in governance, as Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano said.

The conviction has already snowballed into an en banc order by the Supreme Court to release the statements of assets, liabilities and net worth of all members of the judiciary, and a number of legislators and government officials volunteering to waive confidentiality of their bank accounts.

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Partido Lakas ng Masa believes that for justice to endure, the government should now “open the book” of the top echelon of its bureaucracy to the scrutiny of the public. But disclosing the assets and properties of government officials is also not enough. Public accountability requires public scrutiny on how the wealth was acquired.

In this regard, we ask the Aquino administration to review and reintroduce the idea of the Truth Commission that was rejected by the Corona-led Supreme Court last year. This time around, the commission can be tasked to look into the irregularities committed not only by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo but also by all the top officials of the land, whether pro-Gloria or pro-Noynoy. The commission and the Ombudsman can assist each other in ferreting out the anomalies and prosecuting all those involved in wrongdoings.

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We should not stop at just the waivers. We should audit all these accounts and assets, and confiscate whatever is ill-gotten or simply unexplainable. The government can use these properties to finance more welfare services for the people. Perhaps, the government would then have enough funds to get rid of the value-added tax (VAT) which has become an onerous burden to the poor since its implementation.

Once again, we ask that President Aquino be circumspect in choosing the new chief justice. We believe that one of the main reasons why we have a factionalized Supreme Court is that the power to appoint Supreme Court justices is in the hands of the president.

President Aquino should adopt a transparent approach in choosing the new justices. This can be done in a process that integrates public nomination, consultation and hearings. Independent people’s organizations, including human rights groups, civil society groups and others should be allowed to nominate members of the Supreme Court based on constitutional requirements. We should refrain from choosing Supreme Court justices who have merely served corporate interests, as there are more laudable lawyers doing meritorious services to the people.

—SONNY MELENCIO,

chair, Partido Lakas ng Masa,

[email protected]

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TAGS: Aquino, chief justice, letters, public accountability, Supreme Court, Truth Commission
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