MANILA, Philippines – Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Deputy Commissioner Lanee David echoed the policies of President Rodrigo Duterte during her interview with the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) for her application to be a justice of the Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday, June 25.
Prior to her BIR appoitnment, David represented Jeane Napoles in her tax evasion cases before the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA), which were later dismissed. Lanee’s husband Stephen still represents Jeane's mother, alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Napoles.
During her JBC interview, David supported the Duterte government's fuzzy friendship with China, and echoed the President’s usual narrative of being cautious not to go to war with the regional giant.
Retired SC justice Noel Tijam asked David how she would educate the public on the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) and Philippine sovereignty.
“Definitely, your honor, that is a very long issue and I believe that we have to maintain our relationship with our neighboring countries, because honestly, your honor, we are not in a position to fight a giant like China,” David told the JBC.
Tijam asked further how she would protect Philippine sovereignty.
“I believe that the government has to consider some factors, because right now we are not in the position to quarrel with China,” David said, adding that the government shall have to adopt a “wait-and-see” attitude.
Tijam then asked David how the Data Privacy Act can be invoked by a person who is included in the administration’s narcolist.
“An individual has the right to information. He also has the right to know the source of the information so he can invoke that right.... But the Data Privacy Act also has exceptions. If the matter involves national interest then that is an exception; you cannot invoke your right to data privacy,” David said, again echoing the line of the Duterte government.
The government’s war on drugs, including its compilation of narcolists without going through prosecution and trial, are being questioned before the SC. The last action from the Court was to order the public release of tens of thousands of police documents related to killings in the war on drugs.
Human rights lawyers and advocates have condemend the government's arbitrary narcolists as a blatant violation of due process.
In the same interview, David said she was against same-sex marriage.
The JBC is screening David and 23 other applicants for a vacancy at the SC as Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo is set to retire on July 29.
Ties to Duterte admin
The Davids come from the influential network of San Beda lawyers, a circle that has come to enjoy close ties with the administration of Duterte, a San Beda law alumnus.
Stephen David had easy access to the Department of Justice under then-secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II – a fellow San Beda alumnus. During that time, the administration raised the possibility of tapping Janet Napoles as a state witness in the pork barrel scam.