JBC: Initial evaluation of 5 CJ bets set August 3

MANILA The Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) is set to convene on Aug. 3 for the initial evaluation on the five candidates vying for the position of Chief Justice (CJ), Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said on Monday.

The five candidates who managed to beat the July 26 deadline for the submission of requirements for the top magistrate post are SC Justices Teresita Leonardo de Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin and Andres Reyes Jr., and Tagum City, Davao del Norte Regional Trial Court Branch 1 Judge Virginia Tejano-Ang.

The JBC will convene on August 3 to do an initial evaluation of the nominees/ applicants for the SC CJ position, Guevarra, an ex-officio member of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), said in a text message sent to Philippine News Agency (PNA).

Guevarra believes any one of the Supreme Court (SC) magistrates vying for the job as chief justice is qualified for the role.

Any one of the four SC associate justice nominees is capable of filling the position of CJ, he said.

Among the candidates, de Castro will be retiring on October 8.

Should she be chosen, de Castro has only around two months to serve as Chief Justice.

It's up to the President. If I were in Justice De Castro's shoes, I will surely not mind, he pointed out.

De Castro, an appointee of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the third most senior magistrate of the High Court, was among those who testified against ousted Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno during the impeachment proceedings in the House of Representatives.

Prior to her appointment to the SC, de Castro served as a law clerk at the High Court, state counsel for the Department of Justice (DOJ), and presiding justice of the Sandiganbayan. She penned the ruling convicting former president Joseph Estrada of plunder.

Bersamin, meanwhile, was the first to submit his acceptance of the nomination for the top judiciary post.

Bersamin, a former Court of Appeals (CA) justice, was appointed by Arroyo to the High Court on April 2, 2009.

Prior to being a CA magistrate, he was the Presiding Judge of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court, Branch 96.

He will reach the mandatory retirement age of 70 in October 2019.

Peralta, former Sandiganbayan presiding justice, was also appointed by Arroyo to the SC on Jan. 13, 2009. He penned the ruling allowing the burial of the late president Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. He will retire in March 2022.

Reyes penned a ruling declaring as unconstitutional then justice secretary Leila de Lima's Department Order 41, which authorizes the Secretary of Justice to issue Hold Departure Orders (HDO), Watch List Orders (WLO), or Allow Departure Orders (ADO).

The circular was used as basis for imposing a travel ban against Arroyo and her husband Jose Miguel Arroyo, pending the resolution of the plunder and electoral sabotage charges filed against them.

Reyes, former CA Presiding Justice, was appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte to the SC in July 2017.

It can be recalled that retired Sandiganbayan justice and former JBC member Raoul Victorino nominated all incumbent SC justices for the top magistrate post.

Tejano-Ang, meanwhile, was the judge who issued an arrest warrant against a suspect in the killing of a local radio anchor in September 2014.

The JBC, which is tasked under the Constitution to screen applicants in the judiciary, will be meeting this August 3 to evaluation of the nominees.

Guevarra had already vowed not to repeat the mistake of JBC regarding the selection of ousted SC Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno who got removed for failing to meet the requirement of the JBC over the submission of Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN).

There is no new substantial requirement but there will be more careful screening this time, Guevarra said.

The 1987 Constitution requires that the Chief Justice position must be filled within 90 days from vacancy, which means that President Duterte needs to appoint ousted top magistrate Sereno's replacement by September 16.

Back in 2012, Sereno was included in the shortlist of eight candidates for the post submitted by the JBC to then President Benigno Noynoy Aquino III.

At that time, there were 22 aspirants for the top judiciary post following the impeachment of the late Chief Justice Renato Corona. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency