“Let us do away with all the ‘BS’ in the selection of the new Chief Justice. ‘BS’ stands for ‘bantay-salakay.’”

?*Statement from Atty. Rico Paolo Quicho, former impeachment defense lawyer and spokesperson, on the selection of the next Chief Justice*

“Let us do away with all the ‘BS’ in the selection of the new Chief Justice. ‘BS’ stands for ‘bantay-salakay.’”

I said these very words at an interview with government station, PTV 4, alongside former Senator Rene Saguisag, former Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel, and some notables in the legal profession. The topic was the selection process for the new Chief Justice as being undertaken by the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC).

I do not regret having uttered these words. In fact, within the next few days, I will be filing my formal opposition to the nomination of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima for the position. I will also seek to have Cong. Niel Tupas inhibit from the proceedings of the Council.

I will present my arguments at the proper time and forum. For now, however, I contend that it is patently flawed and morally questionable that the process allows for those who are involved in effecting reforms to,
themselves, benefit from these reforms.

Sec. de Lima was a witness for the impeachment’s prosecution team. Cong. Tupas was the chief prosecutor. Upon the former Chief Justice’s removal from office, one of these personalities now participate in choosing the
replacement; the other presents herself as the “worthy” replacement. Bantay-salakay. BS.

Sec. de Lima has a pending disbarment case for disregarding a Supreme Court order. Now she wishes to lead the institution which she had wantonly disrespected in the past.

The impeachment taught us valuable lessons. It taught us accountability and transparency. Both go well beyond the simple truthful filing of the SALN. Accountability and transparency, more importantly, are about intentions and motives. It is basic that those who seek and implement reforms should not bestow upon themselves – directly and personally – benefits from these reforms.

This has got nothing to do with political persuasions as it does with moral obligations. The last thing we need are people who preach upon the pulpits, about morality and other noble ideals, and then, just as quickly as they finish their sermon, shed the preacher’s cloak to don the chief justice’s robe.

There is no direct translation for it in the English language, but the vernacular eloquently captures the meaning of such deplorable behavior: Bantay-salakay.

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