Aquino has 16 days to pick chief justice
- Published on Monday, 13 August 2012 00:10
- Written by EVANGELINE DE VERA
By A Web design Company
COME hell or high water, the Judicial and Bar Council yesterday said would hold final deliberations and come up today with a shortlist of its nominees to the position of chief justice.
The voting has been delayed five times in the past two weeks because of issues involving the council’s composition, qualification of three candidates who have pending administrative cases, and bad weather.
Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. who represents the House of Representatives, said he and other panel members agreed not to further delay the voting.
“We decided it should be the last reset considering the deadline for the chief executive to appoint the chief justice,” he said.
Under the Constitution, the President has 90 days within which to fill up the vacancy in the Supreme Court. For this vacancy, which was created last May 29 when impeached Renato Corona was meted a guilty verdict by the Senate impeachment court, President Aquino will have until August 29 to appoint a new chief justice.
If the JBC submits its shortlist today, Aquino has a little over two weeks to decide. The shortlist will have at least three names. There are 20 aspirants.
Tupas said before panel members vote, they will first decide on a motion of Palace’s representative, undersecretary for special concerns Michael Frederick Musngi, to relax JBC rules on disqualification.
Specifically, the JBC will first rule on whether the issue on pending cases involves question on a nominee’s integrity.
Under Section 5, Rule 4 of JBC rules, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza and Securities and Exchange Commission chair Teresita Herbosa are disqualified because they have pending cases.
Last Friday, the council unanimously agreed that the three aspirants are automatically disqualified based on JBC rules. But Musngi sought the suspension of such rule, which Tupas supported.
Musngi is a temporary replacement in the JBC for De Lima.
The JBC has deferred its voting five times in the last two weeks.
The panel first set the voting last July 30 but opted to reset to August 2 to await a final ruling from the Supreme Court on the petition questioning the constitutionality of the JBC’s eight-member composition, particularly the two representatives from Congress.
Last July 17, the high court ruled that there should only be seven members, with just one representative from Congress. After oral arguments, the high court last August 3 suspended implementation of its order pending resolution of the appeal of the Senate and the House of Representatives.
The JBC then reset the voting to August 6 to accommodate the request of Sen. Francis Escudero, who represents the Senate in the JBC, for more time to look into the qualification of the 20 candidates because he was not able to join the oral interviews because of the SC ruling.
The August 8 schedule was moved again because of massive floods in Metro Manila, brought about by rains from the strengthened southwest monsoon.
Aside from Tupas, Escudero and Musngi, other members of the JBC are SC Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta, as acting chairman; retired SC Justice Regino Hermosisima representing retired justices; Milagros Fernan-Cayosa from the Integrated Bar of the Philippines; retired Court of Appeals Justice Aurora Lagman from the private sector; and lawyer Jose Mejia from the academe.
The 17 other aspirants are acting chief justice Antonio Carpio and Associate Justices Presbitero Velasco Jr.; Justices Teresita Leonardo de Castro, Arturo Brion, Roberto Abad and Ma. Lourdes Sereno;
Andres Bautista, chairman of the Presidential Commission on Good Government; Elections Commissioner Rene Sarmiento; Ronaldo Zamora, former executive secretary; retired Judge Manuel Siayngco Jr.; and lawyers Soledad Cagampang-De Castro, Katrina Legarda, Rafael Morales, De La Salle University law founding dean Jose Manuel Diokno, University of the East law dean Amado Valdez, former University of the Philippines law dean Raul Pangalangan, and former Ateneo law dean Cesar Villanueva.