JBC to tackle automatic inclusion of 5 senior justices in CJ shortlist

MANILA -- The Judicial Bar and Council (JBC) is set to deliberate on the inclusion of the five most senior Supreme Court (SC) justices in the shortlist of candidates for the Chief Justice post on July 20.

This, according to Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, an ex officio member of the JBC, in a text message sent to Philippine News Agency (PNA).

The JBC will still decide whether to reconsider the rule on automatic inclusion of the five most senior associate justices in the shortlist for the Chief Justice position, that is, whether or not they consent to the nomination, Guevarra said.

Also on Friday, Guevarra said the JBC members will vote on the shortlist of candidates for the country's next Ombudsman.

These five justices are Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio and Justices Presbitero Velasco Jr., Teresita Leonardo de Castro, Diosdado Peralta, and Lucas Bersamin.

They all have yet to formally accept or decline their automatic nomination.

Under the rules, while the five most senior justices are automatically nominated for the chief justice post, they still have to formally accept the nomination to be officially considered as nominee or applicant.

The SC formally opened last June 26 the search for the post of Chief Justice after it affirmed last June 19 its ruling which granted the quo warranto petition against Sereno. It has set the deadline for nomination and application for July 26.

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

The failure of Sereno to meet this 10-SALN requirement was among the grounds cited by the SC in granting the quo warranto petition against her.

The petition sought to void Sereno's appointment as Chief Justice in 2012 due to her failure to submit before the JBC her SALNs she was supposed to have filed during her tenure as law professor of the University of the Philippines.

Last June 19, the High Court denied with finality the motion for reconsideration filed by Sereno, who is the first top magistrate to be removed from office through quo warranto proceedings.

Guevarra, meanwhile, surmised that the lack of applicants and nominees can be attributed to the delay in the release of new application forms on account of the issue regarding waiver of the confidentiality rule on bank deposits for judiciary applicants.

"There has been a delay in the release of new forms on account of the issue regarding waiver of the confidentiality rule on bank deposits for judiciary applicants," he told PNA.

The DOJ chief expressed optimism that the JBC would be receiving applicants and nominees for the Chief Justice post considering that the deadline is still far.

Lawyer Jose Mejia, regular member of the JBC representing the academe, revealed that no applications or nominations have been submitted to them so far since the Supreme Court (SC) has made final its ruling that ousted Sereno last June 19.

"Under the rules, while the five most senior justices ate automatically nominated for the Chief Justice post, they still have to formally accept the nomination to be officially considered as nominee or applicant," Mejia said. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency