Only 7 JBC members to screen next CJ

by Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 23 2012 08:53 PM | Updated as of Jul 24 2012 04:54 AM

MANILA, Philippines - There will be only 7 seats at the Supreme Court (SC) Division Hearing Room on Tuesday intended for members of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) at the start of public interviews of chief justice nominees.

This, as the high tribunal stands pat on the immediate execution of its decision to clip Congress' powers in the powerful council.

In a ruling dated July 17 granting the petition of former Solicitor General Frank Chavez that questioned the 2 representatives from Congress in the council, the high court directed the 8-member JBC to reconstitute into a council of 7 members with only 1 representative from Congress.

"We have the ruling which says that Congress is entitled to only 1 seat; it is immediately executory so the filing of a motion for reconsideration will not stay the implementation of that decision," SC acting spokesperson Atty. Maria Victoria Gleoresty Guerra told reporters.

It is now up to the Senate and the House of Representatives to decide on who, between Sen. Chiz Escudero (Senate Justice Committee chairman) and Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas, to send as its representative.

No secret society

The high court defended itself from a statement issued by Tupas who likened the court to a "secret society" that has kept much of its work away from the public.

Guerra said all actions taken by the Supreme Court on cases raised before it are made known to the public and its decisions and the votes cast by its magistrates published. These, she said, showed that the court is transparent.

"It's the only institution where the Constitution requires that the basis of its decisions will be made explicit, and its decisions [are not] effective unless made known to the public... the decision, the voting, [are] made public. We know the reasons for the decisions, it is clearly stated, as well as the dissent," she pointed out.

Tupas also called the decision "absurd" in an interview with the ABS-CBN News Channel last week.

Asked if these pronouncements warrant the filing of a disbarment case against the lawmaker, Guerra said: "I don't want to speculate or preempt the Supreme Court."