SC upholds Aquino on Chief Justice appointmentBy Marlon Ramos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
ONE DOWN, two to go.
The Supreme Court has sustained the authority of President Aquino to name the next Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, throwing out one of the three petitions seeking to stop the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) from the screening process for the highest judicial post.
In an en banc ruling, the high tribunal dismissed the petition of a certain Famela Dulay who claimed that the Constitution allowed the President to appoint only the members of the Supreme Court and not the Chief Justice.
The court also dismissed Dulay’s argument that the JBC cannot validly carry out its function to vet nominees to the top judicial offices since it is currently headed by a retired Supreme Court justice.
“We… do not agree with (Dulay) that the JBC can only be headed by the incumbent Chief Justice and no other. Petitioner, in effect, argues that the JBC cannot perform its task without an incumbent Chief Justice,” the court said.
“To follow this logic would lead to an eventuality where a vacancy in the judiciary will not be filled if a vacancy occurs in the JBC. We can likewise infer from this argument that if the Office of the Chief Justice is vacated, the same will not be filled because there will be no ‘incumbent Chief Justice,’” it added.
The court said the Judiciary Act of 1948 clearly stated that the most senior member of the tribunal “who is not an applicant for the position of Chief Justice” may preside over the proceedings of the JBC as ex-officio chair of the council.