Ex-SolGen Chavez wants TRO vs JBC
Former Solicitor General Francisco “Frank” Chavez, who was recommended as nominee for the position of chief justice, on Monday filed a petition with the Supreme Court requesting to impose a temporary restraining order against the Judicial and Bar Council.
Chavez insisted that the JBC, which screens and vets applications for judiciary positions, should only have seven members against the council’s current eight-member set-up.
“Today, we filed a petition for declaration of the present composition of the Judicial and Bar Council as unconstitutional,” Chavez told reporters moments after filing the petition.
“We have done our research… There is no doubt in my mind that the contemplation of the frameworks of the Constitution was to have a JBC only with 7 members. How it became 8 in the course of time is a mystery that all of us should resolve,” he added.
He cited that from the creation of JBC in 1987 until 1994, the Congress had only one representative in the council. From 1994 to 2001, Chavez added that the council had two representatives from Congress, but only accounting for half a vote each.
Currently, the two representatives of Congress [Senate and House of Representatives] have two separate votes counted as one vote each.
“Petitioner likewise also prays... for a Temporary Restraining Order also enjoining the JBC from exercising any of its functions while having eight members — two of whom are representatives of Congress,” the 54-paged petition read.
Named as respondents in Chavez's petition were the JBC, Senator Francis Escudero and Rep. Niel Tupas Jr.
The petition said that under Section 8, paragraph (1), Article VIII of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, it provides that the JBC shall only have seven members and that Congress shall have only one representative in the body.
“Anong purpose ng batas na yan? Para ma-equalize ang representation sa three branches of government? Ang judiciary ay being represented by the chief justice, the executive is represented by the Justice secretary then Congress should also be represented by one, otherwise, dalawa ang nasa Kongreso at nag-iisa ang ibang branches of government. And that is were the imbalance lies,” Chavez explained.
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, Escudero, Tupas 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.
Likewise, the petition requested the respondents to submit their comment “within a reasonable, non-extendible period due to time constraints” adding that the President has only until August 27 to appoint the next chief justice.”
Chavezsaid the JBC’s inaction to his letter dated June 22 prompted his action of filing a petition over the High Court.
“I was waiting for the JBC to answer the five points that I have raised in my letter. The JBC unfortunately simply gloss over this queries and in fact even challenge me to file this petition over the Supreme Court… And that is precisely what I am doing today,” he said.
“I hope the Supreme Court will resolve this issue early... This is a petition of extreme public importance… This is about time to end this erroneous practice. This is wrong. We can’t allow this wrong to jell into perpetuity.” he added.
On June 14, Chavez was recommended by Manuel Baviera, organizer and founding member of the Whistle Blowers' Association of the Philippines, as a nominee in the chief justice post.
Asked whether he will accept the recommendation, Chavez did not give a categorical answer, merely saying: “I do not care [about the nomination] because I am not seeking the position. What is important to me is the law: the rule of law and the Constitution.”
Those who were recommended or applied for as nominees to the fifth highest position have until 5 p.m. Monday, July 2, to accept or decline their recommendations. — RSJ, GMA News
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