Congressional members of JBC seek extension on Chavez comment
The Judicial and Bar Council’s members representing Congress asked the Supreme Court to extend to Friday its deadline for comments regarding a petition filed by former Solicitor General Francisco “Frank” Chavez. Chavez is questioning the current composition of the eight-man JBC.
“It is respectfully prayed that the Honorable Court reconsider its Resolution dated July 3, 2012 and that respondents be granted until Friday, July 13, 2012 within which to submit required document,” reads the JBC’s three-page ‘very urgent and most respectful motion for reconsideration’ filed at the Supreme Court on Monday.
The High Court had asked the JBC to comment by Monday, July 9.
Representing the JBC congress members were Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza, Assistant Solicitor General Amparo Cabotaje-Tang, Associate Solicitor Jason T. Lorenzo, and Associate Solicitor Perfecto Adelfo Chua Cheng.
Chavez had filed a petition for a temporary restraining order, or TRO, against the JBC and its congressional members Sen. Francis Escudero and Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. saying that the council should only have seven members and not eight.
He cited Section 8, paragraph (1), Article VIII of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, which states that the JBC shall only have seven members and that Congress shall have only one representative in the body.
Currently, the legislative branch has two representatives in the council namely Senator Francis Escudero and Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. who are the justice committee chairmen of their respective houses of Congress.
Chavez cited that from the creation of JBC in 1987 until 1994, Congress had only one representative in the council. From 1994 to 2001, Chavez said the council had two representatives from Congress, but they had half a vote each.
Currently, the two representatives of Congress have a full vote each.
JBC refused to comment on its composition
Meanwhile, a separate comment filed Monday with the SC by the rest of the JBC refused to make a categorical decision as to whether the two representatives from the bicameral legislative branch of government should have one or half a vote each.
“The respondent JBC be exempt from offering an opinion on the issue of how many officials must represent Congress, as it defers to the wise decision of the Honorable Court,” the 13-page comment read.
Retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Regino Hermosisima signed the motion.
It explained that in 2001, the two members of the JBC representing Congress each got a full vote.
“At the JBC en banc meeting on May 30, 2001, Senator Cayetano pointed out that his vote and that of Congressman Henry P. Lanot be “counted as one vote each…” the council agreed,” the JBC said in its motion.
The JBC underscored the need for the Supreme Court to expedite the petition’s resolution.
“Indeed, there is a compelling need to dispel any 'great doubt' about the composition of the JBC, especially with respect to the representative(s) of Congress… at this time when the Judiciary has just recently been pilloried by adverse public opinion,” the motion read.
“The honorable Court must immediately address the issue if only to preserve the integrity of the selection process prescribed by the Constitution,” it added. — DVM, GMA News
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