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Kim Henares, Leila de Lima – Chief Justice until year 2030?

The Philippines may soon have a chief justice who will stay on the job until year 2030. This possibility was raised last week by Senator Francis Escudero, chair of the Senate justice committee. Escudero, a member of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), was referring to Bureau of Internal Revenue commissioner Kim Henares and justice secretary Leila De Lima.

The two appointees of President Benigno Aquino III are considered strong contenders for the post vacated by impeached chief magistrate Renato Corona. De Lima is 52 while Henares is 51, and with the retirement age set at 70, both of them can stay on the job for at least 18 years if appointed. This time period covers four presidents, if the current six-year term for chief executives remains unchanged and if all of them finish their respective tenures (whoever they are).

Kim Jacinto-Henares, BIR Commissioner, has emerged as a likely Chief Justice nominee (credits: www.bir.gov.ph)

De Lima and Henares are also widely perceived as Aquino “toadies” (in the words of Inquirer columnist Amando Doronila). Both De Lima and Henares testified during Corona’s impeachment trial. While De Lima’s testimony was ultimately dismissed as hearsay, Henares’ statements proved to be very damning against Corona. She revealed that Corona did not file income tax returns from 2002 to 2010. The BIR chief also said that the declared income of the Corona couple did not match records of their asset acquisitions.

Henares has said that she still hasn’t decided whether to accept the nomination as chief justice or not. Nevertheless, she unabashedly claimed having “an advantage over all the other people (likely nominees)” because of her work in BIR and in the National Labor Relations Commission. Aquino III seems to agree with Henares’ assertions; with Palace spokesperson Edwin Lacierda saying that president “had expressed preference” toward her nomination.

Escudero pointed out that while having a young chief justice would mean “stability and predictability of decisions of the court that will last a long time,” he added that it is also important to “have a new perspective every once in a while” and “to not tie the hands of the next President and be bound by the choice of (President Aquino).” Among the charges raised against Corona is that the SC has reversed itself on long list of cases under his watch.

Cayetano Arellano is the longest serving Philippine Supreme Court Chief Justice

The constitution does not set any age requirement for nominees to the Supreme Court. Cayetano Arellano, the Philippines’ first chief justice, holds the record for having the longest tenure, from 1901 to 1920. No chief justice for more than seven years since 1961. Artemio Panganiban, for one, was chief magistrate for less than a year (2005 to 2006).

The United States is no stranger to having long-serving Supreme Court Chief Justices. When then-President George W. Bush tapped appellate judge John G. Roberts as chief justice in 2005, the latter is only 50 years old (making him the third youngest American top judge in history).  And since there is no such thing as a mandatory retirement for members of the US High Court, Roberts can stay on the job for 20 more years. On the other hand, his predecessor William Rehnquist held the post for 19 years, from 1986 until he died of thyroid cancer in 2005. He served as associate justice for 14 years before that.

Will the Philippines soon have a chief justice with an extraordinarily long tenure? It is up to the JBC, and ultimately, President Aquino.

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2 thoughts on “Kim Henares, Leila de Lima – Chief Justice until year 2030?”

  1. Kimmy H says:

    We’re ordinary citizens trying to help the Bureau of Internal Revenue reach its P1 Trillion Revenue target.

    We recently came across data showing that Cosmetique Asia Silka Papaya has deceptively hidden its real net sales since 2008.

    The data has been culled from Silka Papaya’s own financial statements as well as from a reputable market research firm.

    The first red flags indicating Silka Papaya was evading taxes were clearly visible in its financial statements where it recorded unusually high net sales growth.

    Silka Papaya’s Net Sales Growth was far above and weirdly consistent when compared to the sales growth of other firms — with no evidence showing market expansion or market share contraction in other firms.

    Its cost of sales was also suspect as it was suspiciously high.

    This especially evident when compared with the sales growth of other firms.

    Moreover, we compared Silka Papaya’s sales as stated in its Financial Statements and its sales as reflected in data from a market research firm. This comparison revealed that Silka Papaya has cheated the government out of more than P700 million to possibly P2 Billion in unpaid taxes.

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