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Joker Arroyo: Enrile, Belmonte going against tribunal

Sen. Joker Arroyo on Saturday said he was “ill at ease” over Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile’s and Speaker Feliciano Belmonte’s decision to pull out Congress’ representation in the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), calling the move “tantamount to defying the Supreme Court.”

Arroyo said that just as the Supreme Court accepted Congress’ removal through impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona in May, the legislative branch should similarly take in stride the high tribunal’s decision in the course of its constitutional duty to interpret the Constitution.

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This developed as a former representative of the Senate to the JBC, Sen. Francis Pangilinan, called on the constitutional body to “take the necessary steps to try and resolve first the current conflict before proceeding with the voting.”

“This is tantamount to defying the Supreme Court,” Arroyo said in a telephone interview.

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Arroyo said that whenever a resource person invited to a congressional inquiry refused to attend, there was always the threat of being cited for contempt by the chamber.

“What’s sauce for the goose must be sauce for the gander,” Arroyo said.

The JBC on Friday announced that there would be no voting scheduled on Monday after Enrile and Belmonte announced Congress’ boycott of the JBC deliberations.

“Without the participation of the legislature it would cast a cloud of doubt on the validity of the entire proceeding,” Pangilinan said.

“This must be avoided at all costs, considering that no less than the position of Chief Justice is at stake here. All JBC members must pause and think this through and work toward a win-win solution to the current impasse,” he said.

Arroyo’s remarks came in the wake of Enrile’s and Belmonte’s order to Sen. Francis Escudero and Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas to skip the JBC deliberations to choose the nominees to the short list for Chief Justice.

Escudero and Tupas are the representatives of the Senate and the House, respectively, in the JBC.

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They are the chairs of the committees on justice in their respective chambers.

The Supreme Court recently decided that there should only be one representative of the legislative branch in the JBC.

Congress filed a motion for reconsideration but the Supreme Court ruling also drew the harsh reaction of the congressional representatives to pull out of the discussions.

The JBC wrapped up its interviews of nominees on Friday and is expected to start deliberations on Monday. This was until the congressional leaders decided to pull out Escudero and Tupas out.

“A motion for reconsideration by the Senate of the high court’s decision is certainly in order. Likewise, it is in order for the Senate to ask the JBC to suspend proceedings until the Supreme Court resolves the issue,” Arroyo said.

“But a boycott is not the remedy. It is even improper,” he added.

Arroyo said Congress should set the example in obeying the Supreme Court’s decisions and “adherence to the time-honored principle of separation of powers.” With a report from Tarra Quismundo

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TAGS: chief justice, JBC, Judicial and Bar Council, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, Senator Joker Arroyo, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Supreme Court
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