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MANILA, Philippines – Former senator and human-rights lawyer Rene Saguisag is beating Monday’s deadline for submitting nominations to the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) for the next Chief Justice, by nominating former executive secretary and congressman Ronaldo B. Zamora, whom he thinks fits the bill of his notion for a “transitional CJ” to calm national nerves until 2014.
After 2014, Saguisag says, someone like InterAksyon.com columnist Teodoro “Teddyboy” L. Locsin Jr., Harvard-trained lawyer and presidential legal counsel and speech writer, could shoot for the post of Chief Justice and serve for much longer.
Locsin, also a veteran multi-media journalist, was nominated last week by lawyer Brigido Dulay Jr. and party-list Rep. Jonathan dela Cruz.
Saguisag emailed the JBC on Sunday to convey his intent to nominate Zamora, a Bar topnotcher whom Saguisag said will perfectly combine scholarliness in the law, experience in a wide range of public service and crucial personal virtues like tact, ability to build consensus, and empathy for public welfare.
In his letter to the JBC, Saguisag said he read “with some anxiety the names of the nominees to be the next Chief Justice. Many names arouse concern that they will, willy-nilly, as qualified as they may be, only exacerbate the divisions and tensions that mark the nation today. Of course tension can be creative but I submit we have to eliminate or reduce it now. Perceptual problems can be serious.”
After the bruising effect of the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona, “healing is indicated,” said Saguisag. “We need a calmative cooling-off period, by naming as CJ one who will preside during the interregnum.”
In a note to Interaksyon.com, Saguisag said he is “for an interim CJ now. Maybe TeddyBoy can shoot for AJ [associate justice] now and then maybe, just maybe, CJ in 2014.”
“I have repeatedly suggested Associate Justice Roberto Abad, to retire in less than two years. I have not spoken with him and could not tell if he is interested. But, I read yesterday that UST Law Dean Nilo
Divina had nominated him, which I support.”
Saguisag said he met the other day with “some patriotic, caring lawyers who agree with me on the need to bring down the temperature and let the sunshine in . . . given that tomorrow, June 18, 2012,
Monday, is the reported deadline.
“They told me Ronaldo B. Zamora won't be 70 until December, 2014, which fits into my interim idea. I was told he will submit separately his updated resume (Personal Data Sheet - JBC Form 1) and other
requirements as enumerated in the pertinent rules.
“Please include him in the list of nominees for the position of Chief Justice,” said Saguisag, serving notice he will submit the hard copy of his nomination of Zamora on Monday.
He recalled how he met Zamora: “As an obscure lawyer who had just returned to the country, in January 1971 or so, I, as chief of the San Beda Free Legal Aid Clinic, wrote to then Executive Secretary Ronaldo "Ronnie" Zamora (he may have been an Assistant ES). I then headed the
Legal Aid Clinic, which I had helped establish, and was acting Dean, as a practical matter; our Dean Feliciano Jover Ledesma was busy in the Constitutional Convention.”
Zamora, No. 1 in the 1969 bar examinations (magna in political science and again in law, had held “various positions in the executive and legislative departments, helping run huge bureaucracies.” Despite his lofty positions, Zamora “took the trouble to call me one afternoon in early 1971 in San Beda to ask what he could do to help! A high public servant who saw the obscure ordinary individual as a particle of popular sovereignty!”
Zamora’s work ethic is “admirable. The soul of tact, he probably has not met anyone he could not get along well with, vital in a collegial body described in the U.S. as nine scorpions in a bottle. He has shown competence, integrity, probity and Independence,” said Saguisag.
As a transitional CJ, or someone steering the court through the healing interregnum, Zamora is not expected to countermand “the admirable position taken by the revitalized Supreme Court headed by
Acting CJ Antonio Carpio in announcing SALN transparency and the disclosure of the status of the Judiciary Development Fund, which a CJ controls, and the Special Assessment Fund, secrets for far too long.”
“Bobby [Justice Roberto Abad] or Ronnie can help the judiciary survive its crises, mend the ruptures of its discords, and continue to live and function as a unit in our institutional arrangements, more vibrant
and professional than ever under a new primus inter pares. The estimable others can stay their dreams until 2014, in the national interest. Every nominee may be praised and shafted but I most
respectfully submit that one or the other, Bobby or Ronnie, is the least blameworthy or most deserving for 2012-14, after which we can pick a longer-serving successor in a calmer time.”