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Search for next Chief Justice not like ‘American Idol’

Senator Ralph Recto. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

There’s nothing wrong with opening the selection of the next Chief Justice to the public, but Senator Ralph Recto says it should not be turned into a popularity contest, like “American Idol” or Mutya ng Pilipinas.

“We’re not choosing another Jessica Sanchez but the best and the brightest to lead the judiciary,” the senator explained in an interview Tuesday.

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Recto expressed fears that some sectors would aggressively root for a certain candidate and undermine the critical process to be conducted by the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) of screening ousted Chief Justice Renato Corona’s successor.

The JBC has allowed full media coverage of the screening previously open to reporters using only pens and notebooks.

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“My only concern is that you don’t want it to be a Mutya ng Pilipinas or The Next CJ Idol.  That’s all I’m talking about. We don’t want lobbying that is too excessive,” the senator explained. “But if (the JBC) decides to do it that way, then it’s fine with me. I am in favor of transparency.”

Recto said it was possible that JBC members would be “guarded” and “not speak their mind under the glare of the cameras” given the open environment of the deliberations.

11 accept nominations

The JBC on Tuesday said that 11 of the 39 nominated for Corona’s post had submitted their acceptance letters, including Associate Justices Roberto Abad and Arturo Brion, women’s rights lawyer Katrina Legarda, former Ateneo de Manila and University of the Philippines law dean Cesar Villanueva, former UP law dean Raul Pangalangan, Election Commissioner Rene Sarmiento, former San Juan Representative Ronaldo Zamora, retired Judge Manuel Siayngco Jr. and human rights lawyer Jose Manuel Diokno.

Ma. Victoria Gleoresty Guerra, acting spokesperson of the Supreme Court, told reporters Tuesday that the JBC decision to open its screening to full media coverage would henceforth apply to interviews of applicants for other vacancies in the judiciary. “This is not a one-off,” she said.

For all judicial posts

Jose Mejia, the academe’s representative in the JBC, said it was “only reasonable” that the ruling should apply to all judicial positions, except in the lower courts.

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The Constitution grants the JBC the authority to vet candidates for the seats in the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, Court of Tax Appeals, Sandiganbayan, Office of the Ombudsman and all the first- and second-level courts.

Mejia said the JBC executive committee would meet on Thursday to discuss the request of some individuals to open its voting and deliberations to the public.

“I think the possibility is not that great because that’s a major (issue)… I don’t think it will happen soon,” he said.

Mejia said the JBC would release guidelines for live media coverage within two weeks.

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TAGS: American idol, chief justice, Corona Impeachment, Government, JBC, Judiciary, Ralph Recto, Senate, Supreme Court
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