JBC votes Monday for top CJ nomineesBy Christine O. Avendaño
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The search for three nominees to succeed ousted Chief Justice Renato Corona ends Monday.
With a challenge to its membership temporarily set aside, the eight-member Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) votes today on the top nominees for Chief Justice. The council will recommend at least three nominees to President Benigno Aquino, who has until August 27 to appoint a new Chief Justice.
The JBC has interviewed 20 nominees, six of them Supreme Court justices led by acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio.
Monday’s vote comes exactly two months after the JBC, which vets nominees for positions in the judiciary, as well as for Ombudsman, started the selection process on June 6.
Preceding Monday’s vote by the JBC was a week of interviews with the 20 nominees for Chief Justice.
But before voting, the JBC will first decide whether Justice Secretary Leila de Lima qualifies as a nominee for Chief Justice.
Aside from Carpio and De Lima, the other nominees are Presidential Commission on Good Government Chair Andres Bautista, lawyer Soledad Cagampang-de Castro, De La Salle University law dean Jose Manuel Diokno, Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza, lawyer Ma. Carolina Legarda, Supreme Court Associate Justice Roberto Abad, lawyer Rafael Morales, former University of the Philippines law dean Raul Pangalangan, Supreme Court Associate Justice Arturo Brion, Commission on Elections Commissioner Rene Sarmiento, retired Judge Manuel Siayngco Jr., University of the East law dean Amado Valdez, Supreme Court Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, former Ateneo law dean Cesar Villanueva, Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Teresita Herbosa, former Executive Secretary Ronaldo Zamora, Supreme Court Associate Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, and Supreme Court Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr.
JBC member Jose Mejia, who represents the academic community, said Sunday that the council was expected to abide with the Supreme Court’s ruling last week for Senator Francis Escudero and Iloilo Representative Nathaniel Tupas to continue representing Congress in the JBC pending final decision on the question of how many representatives the legislative branch should have in the council, one or two.
The JBC was supposed to pick the top nominees last week, but deferred the vote for Monday while waiting for the Supreme Court to resolve the question raised by former Solicitor General Francisco Chavez.
Earlier, the court ruled, in favor of Chavez, that there should be only one member of Congress in the JBC as provided in the 1987 Constitution.
But an appeal by both the Senate and the House prompted the court to order oral arguments, which led to a decision to suspend enforcement of the ruling to give the JBC an opportunity to complete the search for a new Chief Justice.
Mejia said the council would tackle first De Lima’s fifth appeal.
Participating in today’s JBC vote are Mejia, Escudero, Tupas, Supreme Court Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta (presiding officer), Undersecretary Michael Frederick Musngi (replacing De Lima as ex-oficio member representing the executive branch), retired Supreme Court Justice Regino Hermosisima (representing retired Supreme Court justices), lawyer Ma. Milagros Nolasco Fernan-Cayosa (Integrated Bar of the Philippines), and retired Court of Appeals Associate Justice Aurora Lagman (private sector).