MANILA (2nd UPDATE) - The Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) did not push through with its voting on the shortlist of Chief Justice candidates and instead reset the deliberations and voting on Wednesday.
The JBC granted the request of its two representatives from Congress, Sen. Chiz Escudero and Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas, Jr., for more time to study the qualifications of all 20 CJ hopefuls.
Escudero was not present during the public interviews of the candidates on July 24-27 because of a Supreme Court ruling limiting the legislature's representation in the JBC from two to one.
Tupas, on the other hand, was not present during the last day of the interviews after both the Senate and House of Representatives decided to pull out of the process.
Speaking to reporters, Escudero said the decision of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) junking Justice Sec. Leila De Lima's motion for reconsideration on its Board of Governors' decision to proceed with a full-blown investigation into her disbarment cases was not discussed. An ABS-CBN source, however, bared De Lima's predicament was brought up.
The pendency of a criminal or regular administrative case automatically disqualifies a candidate from any judicial post according to Sec. 5, Rule 4 of the Rules of the JBC.
De Lima has requested the JBC not to disqualify her from the race.
Escudero said the matter will be put to a vote also on Wednesday.
Tupas moves for amendment of rule
Tupas, for his part, bared he is pushing for an amendment to the rule on disqualification. Should he get the other members' support, De Lima still has a shot at landing in the shortlist.
"May pending akong amendment to the rules para maging equitable naman at maging fair sa mga applicants but it would depend on the decision ng members ng council kung anuman ang mangyayari on Wednesday," he said.
De Lima is "definitely disqualified" based on the existing rules, he added.
De Lima is believed to be the top pick of Pres. Aquino for the top judicial post.
Pres. Aquino has to appoint the new Chief Justice on Aug. 27. Incidentally, De Lima turns 53 on the same day.