JBC defers voting anew; Carpio, De Lima still in the running
(Updated 4:14 p.m.) The Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) on Friday deferred for the fifth time its voting on who will be included in the shortlist of nominees for the chief justice post, Rep. Niel Tupas Jr., a member of the JBC, said.
The JBC made the decision after the Supreme Court dismissed the disbarment case filed against acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio, leaving him still in the running for the top high court post.
At the same time, the development came after the decision of the JBC to disqualify Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Securities and Exchange Commission chairperson Teresita Javier Herbosa, and Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza due to pending cases against them was blocked by one of its members.
In an interview with reporters, Tupas said they discussed during Friday's meeting the pending cases against the four aspirants for the chief justice post and its effect on their respective bids.
"Sino ba ang disqualifed under the rules and we all reached a consensus: the acting chief justice [is] no longer disqualifed because of the decision of the Supreme Court this morning dismissing the [disbarment] case, but yung tatlong applicants are disqualified," he said.
But he quickly added that there was a motion to suspend the rules so that those with pending cases would also not be disqualified.
Although refusing to identify the member who made the motion, Tupas said the move came from "the executive." The Executive Department's representative in the CJ selection is Undersecretary Michael Frederick Musngi.
Tupas said the motion to suspend the rules was likewise opposed by another JBC member. He also refused to identify the JBC member.
He then explained that the JBC has to decide such matters unanimously because these were questions of "integrity" and that each member has a veto power.
"No consensus was reached [so] we decided that it is time to reset," he said.
Final voting on August 13
The JBC voting has been reset to Monday, August 13.
"Monday should be the last resetting," said Tupas, noting that the deadline to appoint the next chief justice was nearing.
Under the 1987 Constitution, the President has 90 days—or until August 27—to fill the post left vacant with the conviction of former Chief Justice Renato Corona. But the President must appoint the country's 24th chief justice based on the shortlist provided by the JBC.
The JBC concluded last month its four days of public interviews with the 20 candidates for the chief justice post.
But the voting has been postponed four times before, initially because of the problem with Congress' representation in the JBC and just recently, because of the inclement weather in Metro Manila.
De Lima's pending cases
On Thursday, De Lima had accused the high tribunal of deliberately sitting on her disbarment cases.
“Why did they have to really sit on those disbarment complaints, which they could have easily disposed of several months ago? Now that I am nominee (for chief justice), ‘yun na ngayon ang pinaka magiging block,” De Lima told reporters at the House of Representatives.
She also questioned the timing of the high court’s referral of her disbarment cases to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP).
The IBP has twice rejected De Lima’s appeal to junk the disbarment cases filed against her. The DOJ chief asked the IBP to “summarily dismiss” the complaint citing lack of merit.
The IBP, however, said that it could not grant De Lima’s request, since the SC asked the body to pursue its probe on the Cabinet official’s cases.
During Friday's press briefing, Guerra likewise that the high court could not simply have junked the disbarment cases against De Lima since there was "preliminary finding of merit" in the complaint.
De Lima’s pending disbarment cases include one filed by Attorney Agustin Sundiam and the other by Attorney Ricardo Rivera.
De Lima was accused by Sundiam of publicly bashing former Chief Justice Renato Corona. On the other hand, Rivera wanted De Lima disbarred following the Justice chief's defiance to a temporary restraining order issued by the high court that allowed former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to travel abroad late last year. — RSJ, GMA News
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