The Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) bombarded Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) Chief Persida Rueda-Acosta with questions about her stance on controversial Supreme Court (SC) rulings during her interview on Wednesday, November 16, and was told to “read more” after the PAO chief admitted that she had only read about these cases in the newspapers.
A public interview for Acosta is being conducted as part of her application to the post SC associate justice to replace retiring Associate Justice Jose Perez.
Controversial issues such as the ruling of the burial of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, the bail plea of Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, and the dismissal of the plunder case against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo were brought up in the interview by JBC executive committee chairperson Angelina Sandoval-Gutierrez and she asked Acosta whether she would have concurred or dissented in these cases.
Firstly, Acosta said that she would have concurred to the ruling of the burial case of Marcos. She backed this up by explaining that a republic act (RA) allows a president to be buried at the cemetery, but she was immediately cut off by Gutierrez.
“There is no RA, compañera,” the JBC chairperson said.
Acosta, then, cited the Pantheon Law or Republic Act 289 but she was again told by Gutierrez that it was the guidelines of the Armed Forces of the Philippines that was used as basis for the burial proposal and not the said law.
Acosta then later admitted that she had only read the news about the decision on the newspaper and not the case itself. She was reprimanded by Gutierrez that she should have read up on it since she is applying for a Supreme Court position.
Gutierrez laid the facts of the case to Acosta and also cited the petitioners’ arguments why Marcos should not be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. Acosta was asked again whether she would have concurred or dissented but Acosta said that she should have thorough research before she decides. In this, Gutierrez pressured her, saying that justices should be able to think quickly.
Acosta answered by saying that it is a political question and that she believes it is “time for the nation to be healed.”
The PAO chief underwent the same line of questioning for the other two cases—Senator Juan Ponce Enrile’s bail plea and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s dismissed plunder case—and was then advised to read more.
“I advise you to read more, just in case you are nominated and appointed,” Gutierrez said.
“As justice of the Supreme Court, you should be knowledgeable on the aspects of the law,” she added.
Acosta was also asked why she is qualified to be the next SC justice and she answered by citing her public service through PAO and her credibility.
“Ang kredibilidad ko hindi nabibili ng pera, ang kredibilidad ko ay sinasabi ng taumbayan at ng aking boss sa judiciary. Kredibilidad ang aking baon at aking karanasan bilang tagapamahala ng Public Attorney’s Office,” Acosta said.
Acosta is said to be one of the strong contenders for the Associate Justice position in the Supreme Court.