MANILA (Updated 3:15 p.m.) -- The Supreme Court on Friday decided not to immediately implement a decision barring two representatives from Congress to take part in the selection of the next Chief Justice.
This paved the way for Senator Francis Escudero and Iloilo Representative Niel Tupas Jr. to sit again in the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), which will hold a final deliberation on the 20 candidates vying for the post on August 6.
In a briefing, acting SC spokesperson Gleoresty Guerra said the justices did not issue a ruling on the appeal of Congress insisting that single representation runs contrary to the bicameral nature of the legislative department.
The High Court's directive came a day after it heard in oral arguments the motion for reconsideration of its July 17 decision filed by the Office of the Solicitor General representing Escudero and Tupas.
"The Court finds it more equitable for the present members of the JBC to resume their task of selecting nominees for the vacant position of the Chief Justice. Accordingly, pending the final resolution of this petition, Senator Escudero and Congressman Tupas Jr., in their capacities as representatives of Congress, may simultaneously sit as ex officio members of the JBC and exercise the functions flowing therefrom," held the Court.
Both lawmakers, who earlier pulled out of the JBC pending the resolution of the case, were also given 10 days from notice within which to file a memorandum. Covered by the resolution as well is former Solicitor General Francisco Chavez, who filed a petition declaring the dual representation of Congress in the JBC as unconstitutional.
"I stand firm on my belief that the decision on July 17 can withstand the grounds raised in the motion for reconsideraiton. I am confident too that it will weather this temporary storm even if the matter is submitted to the full court," Chavez said.
On Thursday's debate, Senator Joker Arroyo said Section 8, Article 8 of the 1987 Constitution was an oversight of those who drafted it. He said the JBC will not be complete with just one branch of Congress – either Senate or the House of Representatives – represented.
Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta, who presided the JBC panel interview of the candidates, led the oral arguments.
He was joined by Justices Bienvenido Reyes, Jose Perez, Roberto Abad, Lucas Bersamin, Mariano Del Castillo, Martin Villarama, Jr., Jose Mendoza, and Estela Perlas-Bernabe.
Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and Justices Presbitero Velasco, Jr., Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, Arturo Brion, and Maria Lourdes Sereno inhibited from the debates because they are gunning for the post left by deposed Renato Corona last May 29. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)