Sereno seeks review of JBC selection processBy Christine O. Avendaño
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines — Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno has sought a review of the process and procedures of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), including the psychological evaluation, in screening applicants to vacant positions in the judiciary.
Emerging from the JBC meeting at the Supreme Court on Monday, Senator Francis Escudero, one of two members of Congress in the council, said a retreat and workshop would be held to discuss “everything” with the advent of a new JBC chairman, in this case Sereno.
As the new Chief Justice, Sereno automatically chairs the eight-member JBC which is under the Supreme Court and in charge of selecting nominees for judicial positions for the approval of the President.
Escudero said this kind of review was normal with the entry of a new chairperson into the JBC, adding that it would only be right to conduct such a review.
“If I were in the same position as (Sereno), you have to look at the efficacy and effectiveness of the policy process and procedure,” he told reporters.
He said this was part of the inventory that Sereno has been undertaking.
The psychological exam requirement figured recently in reports that Sereno got a low score on her psychological evaluation, prompting the JBC to call for an investigation.
Sereno and other nominees for Chief Justice were required to take the psychological examinations as part of the screening process of the JBC.
On Monday, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said the National Bureau of Investigation would be ready to assist the JBC to determine who was behind the leakage of the alleged psychological report on Sereno.
“Because we are concerned about the integrity of the processes of the JBC when matters like that of psychological exams are supposed to be confidential… The fact that it was leaked, there is something wrong,” de Lima said.
But she said she did not want to confirm whether the leaked report was accurate.
De Lima said the investigation would determine “what really happened, who leaked it, to whom it was leaked to.”
She said that if a government personnel was found to have leaked the report to the media, he would be liable for “unauthorized disclosure of confidential matters,” which would draw an administrative case.
On whether the JBC would furnish Associate Justice Arturo Brion, who was also a Chief Justice nominee, a copy of his own psychological test results, De Lima said she believed the JBC would stick to its policy to keep the confidential.
This was echoed by Escudero who said it would be better for the JBC to wait for the decision of the Supreme Court because Brion had taken up this issue with fellow justices during their recent en banc session.
“We should wait for the feedback of the Supreme Court before we move as an institution as JBC,” he said.
The upcoming retreat and workshop will see the JBC members making recommendations, according to Escudero.
He said the JBC executive committee would review the psychological evaluation requirement for applicants
But Escudero said that psychological tests would only serve to “gauge the tendency of an applicant” and that no one should be considered here as having passed or failed.
“You need a biography to gauge the psychological status of a person rather than only one interview,” he added.