JBC defers vote on Chief Justice short list anewBy Jerome Aning
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—The Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) has rescheduled for Monday its final voting for nominees to the Chief Justice post after it failed to reach a consensus on Friday on a proposal to suspend the rules for disqualification in favor of three nominees, including Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.
Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas, the JBC member representing the Congress, said the body was unable to vote on whether to suspend the rules on the disqualification of candidates who have pending regular or administrative cases.
The council, Tupas added, also failed to reach a consensus on whether the issues affecting the disqualified candidates involved a question of integrity, which may be resolved only by a unanimous vote in accordance with the JBC’s rules.
The voting was reset for 11 a.m. on Monday, after the pending issues are threshed out, he said.
Tupas said it was also decided that this would be that last postponement considering that the deadline for President Aquino to appoint the next Chief Justice is Aug. 27.
Friday’s meeting tackled four issues: who of the candidates have pending cases, who are disqualified under the rules, what is the decision of the council regarding those disqualified, and if the issues affecting those disqualified pertained to the candidates’ integrity.
The council members agreed that three of the aspirants—Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza, and Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Teresita Herbosa—have pending cases and were therefore disqualified under the JBC’s rules.
“Yes, under the JBC rules, they are disqualified. We’ve agreed on that,” Tupas said.
De Lima has petitioned the JBC several times asking that she not be disqualified as she claimed the disbarment cases against her were politically motivated.
Tupas said the council also agreed that there was no impediment to the possible nomination of Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio as the disbarment case against him was junked by the Supreme Court earlier Friday.
It was the issue of whether to suspend the rules on disqualification in the case of the three nominees—De Lima, Jardeleza and Herbosa that a consensus could not be arrived at.
He said the JBC member “from the executive [branch]”—referring to Michael Frederick Musngi of the Office of Special Concerns of the the Office of the President—had proposed to suspend the rules on disqualification, which Tupas seconded.
However, there were objections from other members, hence the failure to reach a consensus. The proposal remained on the table at the end of the meeting, Tupas said.
One JBC member, whom Tupas declined to name, objected to the proposal to suspend the disqualification rule and asked whether the pending complaints against those disqualified involved questions of the candidates’ integrity.
“This was where we argued. There was no consensus. We moved for a break. There was a long break. Despite that, there was [still] no consensus. I moved that since there was no consensus, those issues should be tackled in the next meeting. We decided it was time to reset these issue to Monday,” Tupas said.
Under the JBC rules, a candidate whose integrity is challenged must obtain the vote of all members for the favorable consideration of his or her nomination.
The vote has to be unanimous so if just one member raises a question of integrity, the motion to suspend the rules would be defeated.