Supreme Court orders JBC to comment on Chavez’s petition
The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) to comment on the petition by former Solicitor General Francisco Chavez seeking to stop the search for the next Chief Justice.
In an en banc resolution, the court gave the JBC until July 11 to reply to Chavez’s petition, which urged the court to issue a temporary restraining order to prohibit the council from conducting the selection process for the replacement of ousted Chief Justice Renato Corona.
The court also ordered Iloilo Representative Niel Tupas Jr., Senator Francis Escudero and the Office of the Solicitor General to submit their own comments.
Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio and Associate Justices Presbitero Velasco Jr., Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Arturo Brion, Roberto Abad and Ma. Lourdes Sereno inhibited themselves from the deliberations because they had accepted their nomination to the Chief Justice post.
In his petition, Chavez said the JBC’s practice of allowing a senator and a congressman to sit in the council at the same time was “patently unconstitutional” and an “antipodean departure” from the constitutional provision on its composition.
Lawyer Jose Mejia, a regular JBC member who represents the academe, welcomed Chavez’s move.
“It might be for the benefit of everybody to clarify that once and for all. I think it’s a valid concern,” Mejia said over the phone. “We, in the JBC, just follow what the existing rules are and what our practice is. Now that Chavez brought that up to the Supreme Court, maybe it will clear the air with respect to that issue.”
He said the JBC was set to release the long list of nominees on July 9. Individuals who want to file their opposition to the nomination of any of the aspirants may submit their letter to the JBC until July 19.
Mejia said the JBC would exclude the names of nurse Jocelyn Esquivel and dismissed Malabon Regional Trial Court Judge Florentino Floro from the list for their failure to meet the minimum requirements set by the Constitution for members of the bench.
He said 24 of the 71 nominees had confirmed their intention to join the screening process.
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