Congress should have one, not two representatives to JBCBy Tetch Torres
MANILA, Philippines—Former Solicitor-General Francisco Chavez, one of the nominees to the chief justice post, questioned the Judicial and Bar Council’s composition, saying Congress should only have one representative.
In a letter dated June 21, 2012, former Solicitor-General Francisco Chavez said “it is clear to me that, as mandated by the Constitution, there should only be seven members of the JBC. Three of these members sit in the council in an ex-officio capacity (Chief Justice as ex-officio chairman and the Secretary of Justice and “a representative of the Congress” as ex-officio members).”
“The four others are regular members who are appointed by the President with the confirmation of the Commission on Appointments. It is clear to me also, based on the language of the Constitution, that there should only be one representative from Congress,” he added.
Currently, Senator Francis Escudero, chairman of the Senate Committee on Justice, and Iloilo Representative Niel Tupas Jr., chairman of the House Committee on Justice, are members of the JBC.
JBC is constitutionally tasked to screen applicants to the Judiciary and Ombudsman post and submit a shortlist to the President.
“When the Constitution uses the phrase ‘a representative of the Congress,’ it is all too clear to require interpretation that there should only be one representative from Congress. Under the present set up, why do we have two representatives from Congress? Are the two representatives of Congress entitled to case one vote each,” Chavez asked in his letter.
Chavez said with the current JBC composition of eight members, in case of a tie, “who will be the tie breaker?”
“Clarification/resolution of these queries would augur well for public information,” he said.
Chavez said his inquiry might “earn the ire or provoke adverse reaction from the JBC itself or its members affected by it.”
“It may in fact jeopardize and pare down my chances for inclusion in the ‘final list.’ But that is not important to me. It does not bother me a bit, as I am not seeking the position,” he said. “What matters most to me are the Constitution and our laws-above everyone and everything else. I am simply a nominee but before I act on such nomination, it is my humble submission that the foregoing queries imperatively present themselves for resolution/clarification.”