JOKER ARROYO: ENRILE, BELMONTE GOING AGAINST TRIBUNAL

[PHOTO - SENATOR JOKER ARROYO]

MANILA, JULY 30, 2012 (INQUIRER) By Norman Bordadora - 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.

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.

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.

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

FROM THE TRIBUNE

JBC caught in crisis after Congress pullout Written by Angie M. Rosales Saturday, 28 July 2012 22:09

The decision of the two chambers of Congress to pull out their representatives in the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) following a Supreme Court (SC) decision that limits the legislature to one representative in the nomination body for the judiciary had apparently placed the JBC in a tight fix as the body moved a self-imposed July 30 deadline on the submission of a shortlist of candidates for the post of chief justice to be submitted to President Aquino to a later date.

To make matters worse, the inclusion of Undersecretary Michael Frederick of the Office of the President needed to be resolved after the JBC received a letter questioning the legality of Musngi’s designation as replacement of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima in the body.

De Lima, one of the candidates for the Chief Justice post, inhibited from the proceedings but the Constitution specifically provided the justice secretary and not a presidential nominee is alloted a seat in the JBC.

Last Friday, the last day of the interview process for the CJ nominees, the Senate and the House announced the withdrawal of their representatives in the JBC, Sen. Francis Escudero and Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas, as a result of the SC ruling that Congress is entitled to one seat in the body. Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said the joint decision of both chambers was warranted since neither the House nor the Senate can represent Congress as a whole.

The JBC initially said the voting scheduled on Monday will continue despite the pullout but later on announced, after a meeting, that “final deliberations” will be made on Aug. 2 without mentioning when the actual vote for the shortlist will be held.
Congress’ decision to withdraw from the body came along with the filing of a motion for reconsideration of the SC decision.
The turnaround apparently came about after the body was warned that the validity of the entire proceedings may be jeopardized without the participation of the legislature.

“Without the participation of the legislature it would cast a cloud of doubt on the validity of the entire proceeding. This must be avoided at all costs, considering no less than the position of Chief Justice is at stake here. All JBC members must pause and think this through and work towards a win-win solution in the current impasse,” the Sen. Francisco Pangilinan said.

Pangilinan, who is a former JBC member, said the JBC needed to resolve first the current impasse pointing out that it’s more important than meeting the deadline on the submission of the shortlist to Aquino.

Unless the mandate of the Judicial and Bar Council to screen and select nominees for the Chief Justice is changed, the body should take the necessary steps to try and resolve first the current conflict before proceeding with voting, he said.

The JBC earlier said that it will postpone the voting scheduled on Monday as Congress pulled out of the process.
“They should try to take all the necessary steps to try and resolve the current conflict,” Pangilinan said.

With Congress withdrawing from the body, the JBC members were reduced to six who are presiding officer Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta, academe representative Jose Mejia, Milagros Fernan-Cayosa of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Musngi from the Office of the President, retired Court of Appeals Justice Aurora Lagman from the private sector, and retired Supreme Court Justice Regino Hermosisima.

Enrile said he and Speaker Feliciano Belmonte aalong with Escudero and Tupas agreed during a dialog last Friday to pull out of the JBC.

”We talked about the SC decision and representation of Congress. With due respect to SC, the Senate cannot represent the position of the House and neither can the House represent the position of the Senate in the JBC,” Enrile said.

Enrile added he and Belmonte agreed to consult first their respective chambers and present the problem to them on Monday.

”In the meantime, we instructed the members of the Senate and House, the reps of the Senate and House in the JBC not to participate in the proceedings first because of this representation issue. We will await until it is clearly and correctly decided,” Enrile said.

Enrile said they also questioned the composition of the JBC which he said is “flawed”.

”It is because the JBC cannot, in our humble view, could not function as JBC unless an SC chief justice presides over it because the Constitution is very clear that the CJ of the SC, not any justice of SC or not even an acting CJ, must (be)just an officio chairman of the JBC,” he said.

Enrile said the President would have to appoint “as a matter of necessity” for former CJ Renato Corona’s replacement who should act as chairman of the JBC.

”He (President Benigno Aquino III) is the appointing power, nobody else. The SC cannot appoint a CJ. No one can appoint CJ, only the President. There is a hiatus if there is flaw. We cannot allow hiatus to take place. We cannot allow also a violation of the Constitution,” Enrile said.

”They can appoint internally an acting presiding officer of the court but you cannot perform the act of a CJ when that duty is established in the Constitution,” he further explained.

Still in the composition of the JBC, Enrile said Secretary of Justice was also an ex officio member of the JBC based on the Constitution.

”Why is she being represented by someone else. It is not authorized under the Constitution,” Enrile said, referring to DOJ Secretary Leila de Lima who is one of the nominees for CJ.

Acting on a petition filed by former Solicitor General Francisco Chavez, the SC has recently ruled that under the Constitution, Congress should only have one representative in the JBC.

Tupas said they had to wait first for the result of the motion for reconsideration.

In a media interview, Senator Gregorio ‘Gringo’ Honasan III said he supported the decision of Enrile and Belmonte.

”Now they have determined that the JBC flawed process has defect because Constitution provides there’s only one official who can preside and that is the CJ and because of SC ruling there is one representative from Congress,” Honasan said.

FROM THE JUDICIAL BAR COUNCIL WEB PAGE

JBC Ex Officio Chairman

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JBC Ex Officio Members

Hon. LEILA M. DE LIMA Secretary of Justice Ex Officio Member

Hon. FRANCIS JOSEPH G. ESCUDERO Senator Ex Officio Member

Hon. NIEL C. TUPAS JR. Congressman Ex Officio Member

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JBC Regular Members 

Hon. REGINO C. HERMOSISIMA JR. Retired SC Justice Representative

Hon. JOSE V. MEJIA Academe Representative

Hon. AURORA SANTIAGO LAGMAN Private Sector Representative

Hon. MARIA MILAGROS N. FERNAN-CAYOSA Integrated Bar of the Philippines Representative

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JBC Consultant

Hon. JOSE MIDAS P. MARQUEZ Court Administrator

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JBC Ex Officio Secretary

Hon. ENRIQUETA ESGUERRA VIDAL Clerk of Court Ex Officio Secretary

Mission of the JBC1

* To recommend appointees to the Judiciary only persons of proper competence, integrity, probity and independence;

* To enhance the quality of the search, screening and selection processes of the Council;

* To speed up the processing of applications for vacancies especially for salas with heavy caseload;

* To promote transparency and public awareness of matters involving the nomination process in the Council;

* To insulate the nomination process from undue influence of any kind.

1 Formulated during the 2007 JBC Strategic and Operations Planning Workshop.

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Vision of the JBC

“ A JBC that is independent, efficient and a proactive sentinel of judicial service, guided only by the principles of integrity, excellence and competence; unfettered by the shackles of friendship, relationship, or other considerations, thus vesting the cloak of Magistracy on those who will best dispense justice for all. ”


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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