By Jaime Pilapil
Next SC Chief Justice
Whether we like it or not, the President is mandated by law to appoint the new Supreme Court Chief Justice. I don’t want to discuss as to who has the legal right (Is it President Arroyo or the 2010 May 14 President-Elect?) to appoint the successor of Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno, who is retiring in May 17.
Based on tradition the President picks the most senior in terms of career in the Supreme Court and in terms of age among the candidates.
I think the President’s choice is between Antonio T. Carpio (born Oct. 26, 1949), who was appointed Oct. 26, 2001 and Renato C. Corona (born Oct. 15, 1948), who was appointed April 9, 2002.
If Arroyo will be allowed by the Judicial Bar Council to appoint the successor to Puno, I believe that she will pick Corona who will retire in 2018, a year before Carpio reaches his mandatory retirement age.
I first met Corona during the 2001 EDSA 2 Uprising. I was then writing for Manila Times, which was then owned by Mark Jimenez.
Corona was then the Chief of Staff and Spokesman of Vice President Arroyo. I once asked him at Linden Suites, which was then tapped as headquarters of Arroyo and her minions, as to what position in the Cabinet he was interested. He just gave a wide grin. I attempted several times but he gave me the same answer, a sweet smile. I could recall he was just using one cellular phone and shuffled batteries so his line would be available all the time.
When Arroyo was sworn in as the new President in Jan. 20, Corona played a crucial role in the new administration as Presidential Chief of Staff, Presidential Spokesman and later as Acting Executive Secretary.
Without me realizing it, to be an SC justice is every lawyer’s dream, much more of becoming an SC Chief Justice.
Corona’s professional record is sterling. It was former President Fidel V. Ramos who recruited him to Malacanang in 1992. A native of Tanauan, fellow Batangueneo, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, this early may compose his appointment paper as the new SC Chief Justice to be signed by Arroyo, of course.
Allow me to give you a backgrounder of Corona.
He is a full-bloodied Atenean, graduating at Ateneo de Manila grade school in 1962, high school in 1966, Bachelor of Arts in 1970, with honors, and Bachelor of Laws, attending night classes, in 1974. He took and passed the bar exams the same year, placing 25th. As an untiring Atenean, he pursued Masters in Business Administration at Ateneo Professional School. In 1981, he went to Harvard Law School to specialize in investment, financial and corporate policies.
Armed with scholarly credentials, he served as legal counsel to various financial institutions, including a stint with Sycip Gorres and Velayo (SGV & Co.) as tax specialist.
In 1992, then President Ramos took him as Asst. Executive Secretary until he was appointed Presidential Legal Counsel, a Cabinet post. Since, then he held various confidential positions, mostly on legal matters.
Seeing his astute character, then Vice President Arroyo took him as Chief of Staff and Spokesman.
Corona received various recognitions but his most treasured affiliations were as member of the board of trustees of the Harvard Law School Association of the Philippines and the Ateneo Law Alumni Association of which he was once a chairman.
Corona is married to Cristina Roco to whom he has three children who are now professionals.
The JBC is now accepting applications or recommendations for the position of Chief Justice and the deadline for submission of applications or recommendations is set in February 4. Believe me, Corona will be the next SC Chief Justice! Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org -30-