JBC to vote on Chief Justice shortlist-A A +A
Sunday, August 5, 2012
MANILA -- The Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) is expected to take a vote Monday on who should be shortlisted for the position of Chief Justice after conducting a four-day public interview of 20 nominees.
It is from the JBC shortlist where President Benigno Aquino III will choose on who will be appointed to head the judiciary following the ouster of Chief Justice Renato Corona last May 29 following 42 days of impeachment trial.
Under the Constitution, the President has 90 days or until August 27 to fill up a vacancy in the Supreme Court (SC).
Eight members of the JBC will convene at 11 a.m. at the SC to vote for at least three candidates among the 20 aspirants, six of them are sitting justices of the High Court, namely Antonio Carpio, who is acting SC chief justice; Presbitero Velasco Jr.; Teresita Leonardo-de Castro; Arturo Brion; Roberto Abad and Maria Lourdes Sereno.
Four members of the Aquino Cabinet likewise joined the search for the next Chief Justice -- PCGG chairman Andres Bautista, Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and Securities and Exchange Commission chair Teresita Herbosa.
Nominees from the academe include University of the East law dean Amado Valdez, former law deans Raul Pangalangan of the University of the Philippines (UP), Cesar Villanueva of Ateneo, UP law professor Teresita Cagampang-de Castro and De La Salle school of law founder and human rights lawyer Jose Manuel Diokno.
Completing the roster are Elections commissioner Rene Sarmiento, private lawyers Katrina Legarda and Rafael Morales, former Regional Trial Court judge Manuel Siayngco Jr., and former executive secretary and San Juan Representative Ronaldo Zamora.
While the JBC already allowed live media coverage of the public interview, it has yet to shred the mantle of secrecy in its voting process.
Last Friday, the High Court allowed two representations from Congress in the JBC panel for the meantime while it decides with finality on the case.
Lawyer Jose Mejia, JBC member representing the academe, said before voting, the JBC will first decide on whether de Lima should be disqualified in view of the disbarment complaints against her pending before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP).
"We need to first decide whether she is qualified or not. If she is, then we can keep her in the long list of nominees," said Mejia.
The IBP, during its meeting Saturday, dismissed de Lima's last-ditch effort to have the complaints of lawyers Agustin Sundiam, Ricardo Rivera and Fernando Perito dismissed, saying these were not the regular administrative complaints contemplated in the JBC rules as grounds for disqualification.
De Lima anchored her arguments on the fact that other nominees – Carpio and Sereno - also had similar disbarment complaints pending against them. The charges against the two justices were filed by Pulupandan, Negros Occidental Mayor Magdaleno Peña.
Senator Francis Escudero, whose membership in the JBC has been allowed for now by the SC, said de Lima may not be included in the shortlist because their rules clearly provide for disqualification of candidates with pending criminal or administrative cases.
"We won't even put it to a vote. The rule will simply be applied unless by some stroke of luck or miracle, the case will be dismissed by the IBP. It will be unfair if we make an exception to the rule because we have disqualified countless applicants who were similarly situated," he said.
Aside from Mejia and Escudero, other JBC members who will vote are acting JBC chair SC Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta, Iloilo Representative Niel Tupas Jr., retired SC Justice Regino Hermosisima from retired justices, lawyer Milagros Fernan-Cayosa from the IBP, retired Court of Appeals Justice Aurora Lagman from the private sector, and Undersecretary for special concerns Michael Frederick Musngi who substituted for de Lima.
IBP president Roan Libarios said the next Chief Justice should be able to inspire the court and steer it from "backwaters of clogged court dockets and corruption," which he said are two of the most pressing problems of the judiciary.
He said these "twin evils" render the justice system inefficient, unreliable and unjust, and which may be the root causes behind the low level of public trust and confidence in the judiciary.
"The search for the new CJ has brought to the fore not only the ills of our justice system but also the pressing need for solutions and reforms. Coming on the heels of a cathartic impeachment trial, the historic search for the next Chief Magistrate may prove to be a real game-changer, the spark that could bring the Philippine justice system into a new era of renewal and renaissance," Libarios said in a statement. (ECV/Sunnex)