Out of the darkCebu Daily News
Dr. Jose Rizal, the national hero whose 151st birth anniversary we commemorated yesterday, would not have taken delight in a country freed from the dominion of foreigners yet enslaved by its own aristocrats.
By the same token the hero would have found recent actions by members of Philippine officialdom and society in accordance with the principle of open governance praiseworthy.
The first that stands out is the decision of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) to open to the public the proceeding of screening candidates for the post of Supreme Court Chief Justice.
Before this decision, the council also required nominees to sign a waiver to open their bank accounts, especially foreign deposits, to scrutiny.
These decisions signal that the days of an opaque High Court, whose mysterious workings needed to be exposed by investigative journalists like Marites Danguilan-Vitug in her 2009 book “Shadow of Doubt: Probing the Supreme Court,” may see an end.
Public viewing of the selection of the Chief Justice is a novel way of acknowledging the people’s sovereignty.
The successful removal of Renato Corona last month through a televised impeachment trial at the Senate owed much to the pressure brought to bear on senator-judges by a vigilant audience of ordinary citizens.
The same effect is likely to play out and ensure that JBC members consider the common good above all in cutting down the number of contenders to succeed Corona from at least 25 to three.
Truly the bar has been raised after Corona earned his post as chief justice through a midnight appointment.
Members of the JBC can demonstrate probity, even-handedness and judiciousness in coming up with a shortlist for the vacant post and in so doing restore the people’s trust.
We hope this transparency will further tame an aggressive Malacañang from trying to shape its outcome to favor President Benigno Aquino III’s prized contenders.
For so long, the JBC has played elite and unreachable in choosing a Chief Justice.
Such cautiousness deprived the people of the right to ensure that they have the right man for the job. Now is the JBC’s golden opportunity to do the people justice.
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