Groups launch 'Bantay Korte Suprema'

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 17 2008 07:50 PM | Updated as of Feb 23 2009 07:44 PM

A movement was launched on Monday morning to help ensure that the appointment of new Supreme Court (SC) justices will be transparent and free from political influence.

According to a report by ABS-CBN correspondent Marieton Pacheco, organizers launched “Bantay Korte Suprema” in preparation for the seven vacancies which will happen at the High Court by next year.

Leading the group is Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, with former Sen. Jovito Salonga, former SC Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban, and University of the Philippines College of Law, Dean Marvic Leonen, among others.

The newly-launched movement aims to ensure that the nomination, evaluation, recommendation and appointment of the seven incoming SC justices is transparent and public and not influenced by parochial and political considerations.

Organizers plan to do this by focusing on the Judicial and Bar Council’s (JBC) screening processes. Pacheco explained that the JBC is mandated by the Constitution to submit a short list of candidates to the President to choose her appointment.

Pacheco added that some JBC members have confirmed reports that Solicitor General Agnes Devadanera is being pushed by certain sectors in the Palace for the next appointment at the High Court when Justice Ruben Reyes retires this January.

"Sa akin, there have been representations so of course, that's up to me to decide....and precisely, ang sagot ko sa kanila magtatayo tayo ng Bantay Korte Suprema so tingnan natin kung ano ang magiging proseso at doon natin ibabato itong mga nominations na ito," Sen. Pangilinan said.

Bantay Korte Suprema has come up with various proposals to make the process transparent. Aside from making the JBC interview public, the public is also encouraged to give information about candidates to the post.

They also plan to float other names for the JBC's screening.  According to them, most of the candidates usually come from the judiciary and they believe that there are also competent candidates that will come from the academe and the legal profession.

Also, they are pushing for an open voting among JBC members on the names that will make it to the short list.

Furthermore, with almost half of the high court justices retiring next year, the group believes this will change the complexity of the court and will have an effect on how the court decides on issues that will be brought to the SC. The issue of Charter Change is one of them.

This early, the group said it’s important for the public to be vigilant to ensure that the SC remains independent.

"Hindi naman natin sinasabi na por que inappoint ni GMA ay magiging partisan na. Hindi tama yung attitude na ganun. Ang atin lang na sinasabi na ang ating mga miyermbro ng korte suprema, hindi lang utang nila sa presidente ang kanilang pagkaka-appoint kung hindi sa JBC din at sa mga mamamayan," Panganiban said.