Sen. Pimentel wants JBC members’ powers clipped
MANILA—Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III is open to diluting the power of a Judicial and Bar Council member to effectively veto the inclusion of a nominee on the short list of candidates for court positions, and believes no single member should be given this capability.
Instead, Pimentel said that if a JBC member has questions about the integrity of a nominee, a greater majority vote could be required for his or her inclusion on the list of nominees to be submitted to the President.
Pimentel, a member of the JBC, made the statements following the Supreme Court’s order to include then Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza’s name on the final list of nominees from which President Aquino subsequently picked out the name of Jardeleza to fill the vacancy in the Supreme Court, and to review and adopt rules relevant to the observance of due process in its proceedings.
The court issued the order upon a petition of Jardeleza, who protested being left off the list after Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno raised an integrity issue against him. Sereno invoked a JBC rule stating that in cases where questions are raised about the integrity of an otherwise qualified nominee, the affirmative vote of all council members must be obtained for his nomination to be favorably considered.
This means that if a JBC member raises the integrity question, it effectively gives the member the power to veto a nominee’s inclusion on the list.
Jardeleza had contended that he was not accorded due process since he was not informed about the nature and basis of the accusations, which were not raised during the JBC’s public interview of the nominees.
After the Supreme Court granted Jardeleza’s plea and ordered his inclusion on the list, President Aquino appointed him associate justice.
Pimentel said that even before, he had been studying the particular rule that serves as a veto and had asked his staff to review it.
“Maybe we are wielding too much power,” he said in a recent interview.
According to him, he was considering a compromise under which a nominee against whom integrity issues are raised would need to get the vote of the majority, or even a greater number of votes of council members for inclusion on the list.
Requiring the greater majority vote would mean the nominee would have to get two-thirds or three-fourths of the vote of JBC members.
“It’s ok with me to increase the majority, the threshold vote required for a nominee,” he said. “Veto power is too powerful.”
The JBC is a constitutional body tasked with scrtuinizing nominees to vacancies in the judiciary and recommending potential appointees to the President.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.