SC junks JBC clustering scheme
The Supreme Court affirmed with finality its November 2016 decision that struck down the Judicial and Bar Council’s (JBC) scheme of clustering nominees for multiple vacancies in the judiciary.
In a decision written by Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo De Castro, the high court maintained that the appointing power of the President cannot be clipped by such a scheme.
The case was about the petition filed by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) which sought to nullify the Sandiganbayan appointment made by then President Benigno Aquino III. IBP told the high court that the constitution was violated when he appointed Associate Justices Geraldine Faith Econg and Michael Frederick Musngi from the same shortlist submitted by the JBC.
The IBP specifically cited Section 9, Article VIII of the Constitution, which provides that “members of the Supreme Court and judges of the lower courts shall be appointed by the President from a list of at least three nominees prepared by the Judicial and Bar Council for every vacancy.”
“While the Constitution grants the President leeway to exercise his discretion in appointments to the judiciary by requiring the JBC to submit a list of at least three nominees for every vacancy, this discretion is necessarily restricted by requiring him to select only from the list submitted and to select only a single nominee considering the vacancy is similarly solitary,” IBP said.
“President Aquino is not bound by such clustering in making his appointments to the vacant Sandiganbayan Associate Justice posts,” the high court said. IDL
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