Henares, Chavez decline nomination for SC chiefBy Tetch Torres
MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang’s purported favorite bet for Chief Justice, Bureau of Internal Commission (BIR) chief Kim Jacinto-Henares, and former Solicitor-General Francisco Chavez have bowed out of the race.
In explaining her decision to decline the nomination for the top Supreme Court post, Henares said reforms at the BIR “is as significant as that of judicial reform.”
Meanwhile, Chavez backed out of the derby as he questioned the composition of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC).
While tax efficiency has increased after posting a double digit growth since 2010, Henares said much revenue was still needed.
She said that in 2011, the BIR was able to collect P924 billion and is expected to collect P1.066 trillion and P1.2 trillion in 2012 and 2013, respectively.
Important BIR reforms
“I feel that at this time, the reform we are undertaking in the BIR is as significant as the judicial reform that needs to be undertaken in the Supreme Court,” Henares said in a statement on Monday.
“In as much as revenues are needed by the Government to sustain economic progress, it is important to sustain the reforms we are undertaking in the BIR as these changes provide the backbone for reforms in the BIR, and are among the major milestones to be achieved to prepare the revenue agency for the future,” she said.
“Although I am honored by the faith and confidence reposed upon me by the people who nominated me to the Chief Justice position, I regret I could not accept the nomination,” the BIR chief added.
At present, Henares said the BIR was in the midst of crucial reforms.
Among the reforms Henares cited include the evaluation of the various core processes, such as those of registration, filing and payment, auditing and collection which are nearing completion.
In addition, Henares said they are enhancing the Information Taxpayer Systems, built during the 1990s, with the assistance of the grant from the Compact Program of the Millennium Challenge Corporation.
“These major efforts are being undertaken to enable us to meet the ever-increasing challenge of reaching revenue collection targets given to us annually. The government’s tax collection efforts provide the government with the funds needed to spur economic development and fund social programs to ensure that the benefit of economic growth will trickle down to the less fortunate members of our society,” Henares said.
JBC is unconstitutional
Chavez has asked the Supreme Court to stop current selection for the next chief justice and declare as unconstitutional the composition of the JBC.
“I am not seeking the position. What is important to me is the law, the rule of law and the Constitution which should be over and above anything else, over and above everyone else including myself,” Chavez told reporters.
“I cannot submit myself to the jurisdiction and proceedings of the body whose composition is unconstitutional,” Chavez said.
Chavez, in his petition, asked the high court to issue a temporary restraining order to stop the JBC from further functioning.
The JBC is constitutionally mandated to screen aspirants for the Judiciary and the Office of the Ombudsman. Then, they submit a short list of nominees to the President who then will make the appointment.
Chavez said the current JBC composition violates the 1987 Constitution with two representatives from Congress, namely: Sen. Francis Escudero (chairman, Senate Committee on Justice) and Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas, Jr. (chairman, House of Representatives Justice Committee).
Chavez pointed out that the composition of the JBC, the body tasked to screen applicants and nominees for judicial posts and the post of Ombudsman and Deputy Ombudsmen, should only be 7, not 8.
He stressed that the phrase “a representative of the Congress” used by the Constitution in Sec. 8, Art. VIII is “all to clear” to mean only one JBC member should come from the legislature.
State of chaos
“The said JBC is now in the process of preparing the final list of possible appointee for the position of Chief Justice. However, if the composition of constitutional body that screens their appointment is illegal and unconstitutional—then the appointment of the Chief Justice will be tainted with unconstitutionality,” Chavez said in his petition.
“This will affect not only the Supreme Court but the entire judicial system, which will definitely be in a state of utter chaos,” Chavez added.
Currently, the JBC is composed of Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio (in place of the Chief Justice), Justice Sec. Leila De Lima, Escudero, Tupas, Justice Regino Hermosisima (representing retired justices of the Supreme Court), retired Court of Appeals Justice Aurora Lagman (private sector), Atty. Milagros Fernan-Cayosa (Integrated Bar of the Philippines), Atty. Jose Mejia (academe), SC Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco, Jr. (consultant), SC Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro (consultant), and SC Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez (consultant).
Constitutionalist Fr. Joaquin Bernas last week said that following the provision of the Constitution, the JBC members should be composed of seven only with one representative from Congress. But he admitted that it has been a practice that there are two representatives from Congress who have half a vote each or take turns in voting.
But recent JBC members from Congress have one vote each as confirmed by Tupas.
Originally posted at 12:15 pm | Monday, July 2, 2012