Live coverage of Chief Justice interviews approved-A A +A
Monday, June 18, 2012
MANILA -- Members of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) reconsidered Monday their stance disallowing live media coverage of interviews for the position of Chief Justice, ending years of near secrecy.
The JBC is a constitutional body tasked to screen and vet nominees to vacant judicial posts as well as the position of Ombudsman.
Senator Francis Escudero, a member of the eight-man panel, said the body adopted the proposal for the sake of transparency and accountability in the selection process.
The council will have to amend the 10-year-old Rule No. JBC-10, which bars live broadcast of interviews on the nominees to any judicial post. The provision states that while the interviews are conducted in public, cameras and tape recorders are not allowed inside the room.
The JBC’s Executive Committee will still craft the guidelines for the new rule, but cameras and tape recorders in the room where interviews of the candidates are being held are already welcome, said acting Supreme Court spokesperson Gleoresty Guerra.
Also approved during the meeting at the High Court was the extension of deadline for accepting applications/nominations for Chief Justice to July 2.
The application period should have ended Monday but the JBC decided to stretch it for another two weeks to give the public more time to nominate their bets, Escudero said.
The move to extend the nomination period was pursuant to the call of various sectors led by the Transparency and Accountability Network (TAN).
TAN executive director Vincent Lazatin’s proposal was also echoed by Senator Francis Pangilinan, a former JBC member himself, and lawyer Hans Santos in separate letters sent to JBC.
JBC members Milagros Cayosa, the representative of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines to the JBC, and Jose Mejia, representing the academe, agreed that the extension of the nomination period will give the nominees more time to decide whether they would accept or decline their nominations.
Cayosa said the live media coverage would only cover the public interviews and not yet the actual voting for the shortlist and other deliberations of the JBC.
She said the proposal to also have a live coverage of their voting has been referred to JBC's executive committee for further study and recommendations.
"We welcome the decision of the JBC to extend the period for accepting nominations for Chief Justice. This is a time when restoring faith in the judiciary and the courts is a cause that calls for the broadest participation and the widest possible pool of candidates," presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said.
Escudero said the long list, which is a roster of names of applicants and nominees for the post, will be released on July 7. After the public interview sometime next month, the JBC can submit at least three nominees to President Benigno Aquino III by July 30.
The President is required to name the new top magistrate 90 days or until August 28 after Renato Corona was removed by the Senate impeachment court for betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution for not declaring multi-million peso cash deposits in his asset statement.
The nominees have ballooned to 40, with Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe, an Aquino appointee, being the ninth magistrate endorsed for the top job.
The other magistrates are acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio and Justices Presbitero Velasco Jr., Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Arturo Brion, Diosdado Peralta, Jose Perez, Roberto Abad and Maria Lourdes Sereno.
Former presidential candidate Gilberto Teodoro Jr., ex-San Juan City Representative Ronaldo Zamora, lawyer Soledad Cagampang De Castro and Ormoc Assistant City Prosecutor Jose Terre Jr. completed the list.
Teodoro, a former defense secretary and Bar topnotcher, is the second cousin of President Aquino. Teodoro, standard-bearer of the former administration’s Team Unity party, ran against Aquino in the May 2010 presidential polls.
In a document obtained from the JBC, there were 38 persons nominated for the Chief Justice post, while two have applied – nurse Jocelyn Esquivel and former Malabon Regional Trial Court Judge Florentino Floro.
Other Cabinet officials who have been nominated were Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Jacinto-Henares, Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza and former Department of Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla.
Also nominated are Commission on Elections Commissioner Rene Sarmiento, former Makati City representative Teodoro “Teddy Boy” Locsin Jr., former Solicitor General Francisco Chavez, retired Judge Manuel Siayngco Jr., Laguna Assistant State Prosecutor Cesar Sasondoncillo, Integrated Bar of the Philippines President Roan Libarios and lawyers Rodolfo Robles, Pedro Aquino, Hilarion Aquino, Nepomuceno Aparis, Katrina Legarda, Teresita Herbosa, Jose Renante Jr., Vicente Velasquez, Alexander Padilla, Antonio Villamor and Rey Oliver Alejandrino.
Members of the academe who were nominated include Ateneo De Manila University College of Law Dean Cesar Villanueva, University of the Philippines (UP) College of Law Dean Raul Pangalangan, University of the East (UE) College of Law Dean Amado Valdez, law professor Rafael Morales and former UP law dean Marvic Leonen.
Justices Brion and Abad, Dean Pangalangan, Commissioner Sarmiento and Legarda have accepted their nomination, while Sasondoncillo and Libarios have declined. (Virgil Lopez/JCV/Sunnex)