Ex-SolGen Chavez insists JBC should have only 7 members
A lawyer endorsed to be the next chief justice on Friday questioned the composition of the current Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), saying it should only have seven and not eight members.
Lawyer and former Solicitor General Francisco "Frank" Chavez cited Article VIII, Section 8 (1) of the Philippine Constitution which stated that there should only be "a representative of the Congress" to act as one of the JBC's ex-officio members.
"It is clear to me that, as mandated by the Constitution, there should only be seven members of the JBC. Three of these members sit in the Council in an ex-officio capacity. The four others are regular members who are appointed by the President."
Under the current set-up, the JBC is composed of eight members, namely: Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio as ex-officio chairman, and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Sen. Francis Escudero, Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr as ex-officio members; lawyer Ma. Milagros Fernan-Cayosa, representing the Integrated Bar of the Philippines; lawyer Jose Mejia representing the academe; retired SC Associate Justice Regino Hermosisima Jr; and Aurora Santiago-Lagman representing the private sector, as regular members.
But Chavez insisted that Congress, which is composed of two houses—the Senate and the House of Representatives—should only have one representative for both and not one for each. He argued there would be a "possibility of an impasse" in case of a tie because there would be no one to break it.
"In such a case, who will be the tie-breaker?" Chavez asked.
The Senate and the House of Representatives used to have only one representative to the JBC since 1987, when the Constitution was ratified. Both houses alternately represented Congress in the council and shared one vote, until 2001 when they were given one vote each.
Chavez wrote a letter to the JBC for clarification of his question. He acknowledged, however, that his letter could hurt his chances of becoming the next chief justice.
"I know this letter-query may earn the ire or provoke the adverse reaction from the JBC. It does not bother me a bit, as I am not seeking the position," he said.
Chavez said that until now, he has not yet decided whether he would be accepting the recommendation made by Melchor Magdamo and Manuel Baviera. –AE, GMA News
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