JBC requirements for new SC chief unconstitutional – poll lawyerBy Tetch Torres
MANILA, Philippines—Chief Justice aspirants should oppose the many requirements imposed by the Judicial and Bar Council for being “clearly unconstitutional,” lawyer Romulo Macalintal said Monday.
In an email sent to reporters, Macalintal said the requirement that aspirants to the Chief Justice post should undergo psychological testing and sign a bank waiver “is unconstitutional because such requirements are not provided for by the Constitution.”
He added that the requirement is also discriminatory because “the same have not been required of applicants for positions in the lower courts, and even for other government officials, both elective and appointive.”
Macalintal likened the additional requirements for Chief Justice hopefuls to the requirement imposed by then President Ronald Reagan in 1985 that all federal employees including cabinet members undergo polygraph testing or lie detector test which then Secretary of State George Shultz opposed.
The psychological testing has been included as a requirement to “ascertain the character and thinking” of the candidates while the bank waiver has been added as a requirement following the impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona who admitted excluding his dollar accounts in his statement of assets, liabilities and networth.
“These aspirants should take a stand on this constitutional issue even to the extent of jeopardizing their chances of being appointed to the said position to prove that they are ready to set aside personal interests in defense of our Constitution,” Macalintal said.
Under Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution, a member of the Supreme Court must be:
- Natural born citizen of the Philippines;
- At least 40 years of age;
- Must have been engaged in the practice of law for 15 years;
- A person of proven competence, integrity, probity and independence.
“These aspirants should tell the JBC that the time they submit all such unconstitutional requirements shall be the day that they should decline their nominations to stress and emphasize that the JBC cannot prescribe what the constitution does not provide,” Macalintal said.