Thursday, November 23, 2006

Chief Justice Applicants To Undergo Public Interviews

For the first time in the history of the Supreme Court, the six candidates for the position of Chief Justice will have to undergo a public interview, Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez is a member of the 8-member Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) which screens applicants to vacancies in the judiciary.

He said the interviews will start on November 29 at 1:30 pm, and the candidates will be grilled by the JBC for 30 minutes each.

The six candidates for Chief Justice include Senior Associate Justice Reynato Puno, Associate Justices Leonardo Quisumbing, Angelina Sandoval-Gutierrez, Consuelo Ynares-Santiago, Antonio Carpio and Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago.

They will be called on in alphabetical order.

This is the first time that the JBC will interview the applicants for Chief Justice. Last year, the scheduled public interview was cancelled after 12 associate justices of the court wrote to then Chief Justice Hilario Davide and said they were not in favor of the interview.

Gonzalez said the applicants may decline the interview but could not say whether it could be a ground for disqualification.

Meanwhile, lawyers group Supreme Court Appointments Watch (SCAW) said public interviews are necessary to scrutize members of the highest court of the land.

Atty. Marlon Manuel of the Alternative Law Groups wants to find out, for example, if Santiago is physically fit for the position.

"She has said in public that she has anorexia nervosa. We want to find out if she can perform the job given her situation," Marlon said.

Marlon clarified however that his group is not singling out Santiago and said all the other candidates must be interviewed as well.

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