Statement of Secretary Leila M. de Lima on resignation challenges

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DOJ Secretary Leila de Lima. Photo by WN.COM
DOJ Secretary Leila de Lima. Photo by WN.COM

Republika ng Pilipinas
KAGAWARAN NG KATARUNGAN
Department of Justice
Manila

12 October 2010

SECRETARY LEILA M. DE LIMA’S STATEMENT ON RESIGNATION CHALLENGES

The President has substantially adopted the IIRC recommendations and has drawn up a realistic action plan for their implementation. I and the IIRC members have been briefed by the President’s legal team regarding some recommendations which were not adopted en toto. The President’s concerns and reasons for the modifications on the recommendations are well-taken. The difference in position is not basis for any stark divergence in the IIRC’s and Malacañang’s approach on the culpability of the officials involved. There are more commonalities and consensus than differences.

The divergence in the IIRC Recommendations and Palace review are not even differences in policies, but are issue-specific. They relate to differences in perspective of the realistic application of the laws in public officer accountability given the facts considered. The President has determined that for certain IIRC recommendations, it was better to start with a realistic action plan of meting out punishment. That is a clear prerogative of the President.

Resignations from positions of trust and confidence are usually based on irreconcilable differences on questions of policy. There is no such difference between me and the President. The differences in opinion on specific recommendations raised in the IIRC Report are far from policy differences. They are issue-specific. If any Cabinet member or alter ego of the President is asked to resign based on differences of opinion on specific-issues, the President will always be left without a Cabinet. There will be no end to resignations as there will always be differences in opinion on specific issues between the President and the members of his Cabinet.

It is the nature of the Executive Department’s system that the best and brightest of the nation’s managers and administrators are taken into the trust and confidence of the President to help him execute the nation’s laws. These managers and administrators thus become the President’s official family. In taking on this privilege, we, as Cabinet members, are always mindful of our position in the hierarchy of governance. We serve at the pleasure of the President. As the Chief Executive, he may or may not adopt our advice or perspective on certain issues. In the end, it is the President who determines the best course of action. His alter egos are only expected to support him in those actions he deems best.

In arriving at the best courses of action, full debate and discussion between the President, his Cabinet and advisers is not only expected, it is in fact encouraged. And precisely because of the nature of a debate, certain positions are bound to differ, even oppose each other. This is the spirit of democratic debates and the essence of a well-managed democracy. To derive only conflict and disharmony from this exercise, and imply resignation every time a Cabinet member’s perspective or opinion is not adopted, is to misunderstand the nature of how debate and deliberation in government works, and how it is essential in the determination of policy formulation and implementation. We cannot be so onion-skinned as to contemplate resignation every time our perspective is not adopted in its entirety by the President.

As the alter ego of the President in the Department of Justice, I basically serve as the primary legal adviser of the President. But I am just one of his many advisers. In the end, it is the President who determines which advice or combination or variety of advices is most appropriate under the given set of circumstances. When I accepted his offer to serve his administration, I did so knowing fully well that this came with the conditions of the job.

I continue to fully support and remain dedicated to the President and to the fulfillment of his dreams for this country.

(Sgd.) LEILA M. DE LIMA

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