SC gives JBC et al till Monday to answer Chavez

By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 03 2012 04:56 PM | Updated as of Jul 04 2012 04:08 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court (SC) en banc has directed the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) and its representatives from Congress to submit on Monday their comment on the petition filed by former Solicitor Frank Chavez questioning the council's composition of 8.

The JBC, Senate Justice Committee chairman Francis Escudero, and House Justice Committee chairman Niel Tupas, Jr. were named respondents in the petition filed by Chavez yesterday.

The high court usually gives respondent parties 10 days to submit their comment, but due to the urgency of the matter raised by Chavez, the respondents in this case are given less than that period.   The high court said this is non-extendable.

Chavez specifically asked the high court to require respondents to file their reply "within a reasonable, non-extendible period due to time constraints" since the JBC has to come up with its shortlist of candidates for the top judicial post on or before July 30.

In his 54-page petition, Chavez urged the high court to restrain the JBC from proceeding with its selection process for Chief Justice.

His petition claims that the current composition of the council, with two of its voting members coming from Congress, should be declared null and void for being "patently unconstitutional."

Chavez argues that Sec. 8, Art. VIII of the 1987 Constitution specifically provides that the JBC shall be composed of 7 members, with only one representative from Congress.

The JBC is currently composed of Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio (in place of the Chief Justice), Justice Sec. Leila De Lima, Escudero, Tupas, Justice Regino Hermosisima (representing retired justices of the Supreme Court), retired Court of Appeals Justice Aurora Lagman (private sector), Atty. Milagros Fernan-Cayosa (Integrated Bar of the Philippines), Atty. Jose Mejia (academe), SC Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco, Jr. (consultant), SC Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro (consultant), and SC Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez (consultant).