Senate asks JBC to stop Chief Justice selectionBy Cathy C. Yamsuan
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The Senate unanimously passed a resolution on Monday calling on the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) to suspend its selection process for ousted Chief Justice Renato Corona’s successor until the Supreme Court has made a final ruling on the Congress representation in the screening panel.
Meeting in a caucus, the chamber approved Senator Joker Arroyo’s resolution urging the JBC to defer the vetting of the nominees and the preparation of a short list of three candidates for the consideration of President Benigno Aquino until the court decides on a motion for reconsideration on the legislature’s representation in the council.
The court earlier upheld a petition by former Solicitor General Francisco Chavez that the Constitution allowed only one representative for both the Senate and the House of Representative in the JBC deliberations and not two as practiced previously. The two chambers have appealed the decision.
The caucus also agreed to request the Supreme Court to set oral arguments so that the Senate can defend its position that each of the chambers be given a representative in the JBC, warning that a repudiation of this stand would have “serious consequences.”
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile has warned that the selection process was “flawed” without representation from the two chambers.
Enrile and House Speaker Sonny Belmonte earlier announced the withdrawal of Congress from the JBC deliberations following the court’s ruling—a move Arroyo said was tantamount to disobeying the high tribunal.
“We are asking for a deference of the JBC’s decision to vote on the short list on Thursday until this matter is resolved by the Supreme Court. Obviously, we recognize that the Supreme Court has the final say in this controversy and we are proceeding with that in mind,” Senator Francis Pangilinan said in an ambush interview Monday.
Colleagues said it was likely that Arroyo, who was said to have been enlightened on the Senate position, would be assigned to argue its case in the Supreme Court. Arroyo was evasive when asked by reporters about this.