JBC to finally carry out twice-delayed vote on SC shortlist
Barring any further delay, the Judicial and Bar Council will take a vote this Monday to determine who should be shortlisted for the position of chief justice. The vote was twice postponed by the JBC after conducting a four-day public interview of 20 nominees.
It is from the JBC shortlist that President Benigno Aquino III will appoint a replacement for ousted former Chief Justice Renato Corona, who was impeached last May 29 following 42 days of trial.
Under the Constitution, the President has 90 days or until August 29 to fill up the vacancy in the SC.
The JBC will convene at 11 a.m. at the SC to vote for at least three candidates among the 20 aspirants, six of which 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 are likewise CJ candidates – 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 and 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 RTC judge Manuel Siayngco Jr., and former Executive Secretary and San Juan congressman Ronaldo Zamora.
Furthermore, Monday’s vote will feature an eight-man JBC as the SC last Friday temporarily allowed Congress to have two representatives in the JBC panel while it decides with finality on whether Congress should have one or two members in the JBC.
Atty. Jose Mejia, JBC member representing the academe, said that before voting, the JBC will first decide on whether or not de Lima should be disqualified in view of the disbarment complaints against. The complaints are currently being investigated by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.
“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.
JBC ex officio member Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero 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.
Meanwhile, IBP president Roan Libarios said in a statement that the next chief justice should be able to inspire the court and steer it from the “backwaters of clogged court dockets and corruption,” which he said are two of the most pressing problems of the judiciary.
He said that 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. — DVM, GMA News
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