SC rules: Only one congressional representative in JBC

July 20, 2012 9:36 pm 

By Perfecto T. Raymundo, Jr.

MANILA, July 20 — The Supreme Court (SC) has ruled that Congress should have only one representative to the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC).

In a press conference on Friday, SC Acting Public Information Office (PIO) Chief and Spokesperson Atty. Maria Victoria Gleoresty Guerra said that the Acting Chief Justice is the representative of the Chief Justice to the JBC.

Guerra said that the prior actions of the eight-member JBC prior to the declaration of "unconstitutionality" remained valid.

She said that the JBC screened nominees to the Judiciary as well as to the Ombudsman and the Deputy Ombudsmen.

"The Court just went into the merits of the case," Guerra said.

She said that the SC granted the petition of former Solicitor General Francisco Chavez, who questioned the "voting powers" of the representatives of Congress in the JBC.

"The Court will let the Congress to determine who shall be its sole representative in the JBC," Guerra said.

Guerra said that the SC ruled that it was not within its "province to determine on who shall be the sole representative of Congress in the JBC," adding that, Congress should have only one representative.

She said that the sole representative of Congress would be the ex-officio representative of the Legislature in the JBC and with only one vote in the seven-member JBC.

Guerra said that Associate Justice Roberto Abad, in his dissenting opinion, also took into consideration that previously, the Congress was then a "Unicameral" body.

She said that it did not necessary lead to the domination of the Legislature of the JBC because the six other members of the JBC were appointed by the President.

The majority decision was written by Associate Justice Jose Mendoza.

The SC en banc ruled that it is now up to Iloilo City (5th District) Rep. Niel Tupas, Jr. and Senator Francis "Chiz" Escudero if they shall enjoy a half vote each or one of them shall vote in the JBC.

It was cited that it is the framers of the 1987 Constitution that each sector shall have an equal distribution of vote. One for the judiciary, one for the legislative, one for the executive, one for the IBP, one for the private sector, one for the academe and one retired magistrate of the High Court.

Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta presided in the SC deliberations for the JBC in the sense that six justices were nominees for the position of the chief justice.

The six justices who accepted the nomination for chief justice were Associate Justices Antonio Carpio, Presbitero Velasco, Teresita Leornardo-De Castro, Arturo Brion, Roberto Abad and Maria Lourdes Aranal-Sereno.

Chavez has asked the SC to restrain the JBC from further functioning.

In his petition, Chavez said that the composition of the JBC should not be eight but only seven.

He asked the SC to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) to stop the JBC from taking further actions.

Chavez cited a phrase in Section 8, Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution which states "a representative of the Congress".

He said that there should only be one JBC member from the Congress. (PNA) RMA/PTR

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