JBC scraps public interviews of SC nominees for chief justice post
The Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) has decided to scrap the conduct of public interviews of the senior members of the Supreme Court aspiring for the chief justice position, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said on Monday.
JBC made the decision following the Supreme Court ruling unanimously agreeing to bypass public interviews of senior magistrates seeking the top post in the judiciary, saying their judicial philosophy could readily be known through the decisions they had written.
“The JBC thoroughly discussed the SC resolution in its last two en banc meetings,” Guevarra said. “In the end by a majority vote, the JBC agreed to dispense with the public interview of senior SC justices vying for the CJ position, without prejudiced to closed-door interviews by the members of the JBC.”
“It is significant to note that the SC justices who were recently subjected to public interviews for the CJ position also concurred in the resolution,” Guevarra said, referring to Associate Justices Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin and Andres Reyes Jr.
“The JBC agreed to dispense with the public interviews of senior SC justices vying for CJ positions without prejudice to closed-door interviews by the members of the JBC,” Guevarra said.
The closed-door interviews would be conducted only if there would a need to ask about their statement of assets, liabilities and networth (SALN) and to discuss other personal matters.
The scrapping of the public interview, in effect, amended Rule 7 of the JBC Rules, which provides that interviews should be conducted in public by the JBC en banc for positions in the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, Sandiganbayan, Court of Tax Appeals, and Shari’a Appellate Court; Ombudsman, Deputy Ombudsman, and Special Prosecutor; and Chairperson and Regular Members of the Legal Education Board.
The five most senior associate justices of the SC are automatically nominated for the CJ post that was left vacant following the retirement of Chief Justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro. They are Associate Justices Antonio Carpio, Diosado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Mariano del Castillo and Estela Perlas-Bernabe.
Del Castillo has already declined his nomination, paving the way to his assumption as acting chairman of the JBC.
Associate Justice Andres Reyes Jr. has also applied for the post.
With the scrapping of public interview, Carpio and Bernabe will be spared because Reyes, Peralta and Bersamin have been previously interviewed when they accepted the nomination to replace Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and their interview is valid for one year.
Guevarra clarified that the exemption from public interview would only cover senior associate justices who were automatically nominated and accepted their nomination and associate justices who have served the SC for at least five years.
The rest of the candidates will be subjected to a public interview.
“For non-SC justices applying for the CJ, the public interview is mandatory because they’re not even part of the SC yet. For junior SC associate justices, they have yet to prove themselves worthy of aspiring to become ‘primus inter pares’ [first among equals],” Guevara said. /atm
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