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MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang said Tuesday it will respect the prerogative of the Judicial and Bar Council if it decides to exclude Justice Secretary Leila de Lima from the short list for the next Chief Justice because of a pending disbarment case against her.
"We will leave that up to the JBC," deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said after the Integrated Bar of the Philippines dismissed de Lima's petition to set aside the disbarment case.
Asked if the Palace will be disappointed if de Lima is not one of the three candidates to be nominated by the JBC, Valte said "we will just wait as to who will make it to the short list."
Valte noted that de Lima has already sent an appeal letter to the JBC, saying she should not automatically be excluded from the short list because of the disbarment case.
IBP spokesperson Trixie Reyes-Angeles said the IBP board of governors had "resolved to deny" de Lima’s petition to summarily dismiss the disbarment case filed against her for calling ousted Chief Justice Renato Corona a "lawless tyrant."
Earlier, Senator Francis Escudero said a JBC rule disqualifying applicants with pending cases before the Supreme Court, Office of the Ombudsman, or the IBP will apply to de Lima.
Escudero said there will be "conflict of interest" in the event that de Lima is picked to replace Corona.
The IBP recommendation on the disbarment case against de Lima would eventually be decided on by the high tribunal, of which she might be part of.
In the past, former Solicitor General and Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera was disqualified because of an unresolved complaint before the Ombudsman.