JBC composition not a problem, says constitutionalist Joaquin BernasBy Tetch Torres
MANILA, Philippines–The composition of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) should be really seven but constitutionalist Fr. Joaquin Bernas does not see a problem if the present JBC is composed of eight members.
JBC, under the 1987 Constitution is tasked to screen nominees for the judicial and the Ombudsman post and submit the shortlist of nominees to the President who will make the appointment.
Last week, former Solicitor General Francisco Chavez questioned the current composition of the JBC with Senator Francis Escudero, chairman of the Senate Committee on Justice and Iloilo Representative Niel Tupas Jr., chairman of the House Committee on Justice, both sit as ex-officio JBC member.
Chavez, in his letter dated June 21, 2012 sent to JBC, said the constitution provides that “A Judicial and Bar Council is hereby created under the supervision of the Supreme Court composed of the Chief Justice as ex-officio chairman, the Secretary of Justice, and a representative of the Congress as ex-officio members, a representative of the Integrated Bar, a professor of law, a retired member of the Supreme Court and a representative of the private sector.”.
“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,” Chavez said.
But Bernas said while the composition should be seven, it has been a practice that both members of the House sit as ex-officio members.
“It (JBC composition) is really seven 7 but in the practice before it really was 8,” Bernas told INQUIRER.net. .
He added that it is also not likely that there could be a tie vote.
“The members of Congress are half a vote each or they alternated,” Bernas said.