Should President Aquino choose an outsider for Chief Justice or someone from the Supreme Court?
As long as he follows the recommendation of the Judicial and Bar Council, he can choose anyone he wants whether inside the Supreme Court or outside the Supreme Court. He cannot dispense with the recommendation of the JBC because that is a constitutional provision. But the rule about picking only from incumbent members of the Supreme Court is an internal rule. In other words, it is a self-serving rule, which the Supreme Court invented to prevent the others from infiltrating their ranks, but I feel that is invalid. It is an invalid limitation on the constitutional power to appoint possessed only by the President of the Philippines, and that therefore is not effective. His hands are completely free as long as he chooses from the shortlist of the JBC.
What about Ombudsman Morales and Secretary De Lima, can they be nominated for the position of Chief Justice?
It’s not necessarily a disqualification to be a member of the cabinet. But if they participated in the impeachment trial, it cannot be helped but raise doubts in the minds of the public that they were testifying so they can get rid of the incumbent and replace him. I’m afraid they have disqualified themselves morally from that vantage point. I think that they should just inform the JBC that on their own volition they are not accepting the JBC nomination.