JBC ordered to answer appeal seeking to restore two slots for Congress

Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 17 2017 06:19 PM

MANILA - The Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) was directed by the Supreme Court (SC) to respond to a petition filed by the Justice Committee chairman of the House of Representatives, Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, that seeks to reverse the high court's ruling in 2012 on Congress' lone representation in the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC).

Umali's petition aims to restore the congressional representative in the JBC to two, one each from the Senate and House of Representatives. This would mean that the petition intends to bring back the JBC's composition to 8 from the current 7.

The JBC was given 10 days to file its comment. 

Also directed to file their respective comments are the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), Senate, and House of Representatives, who were not originally impleaded in the case.

In his petition, Umali stressed that each chamber of Congress must have its own representation so as not to disenfranchise the other. 

He lamented that during his term as JBC ex-officio member, he will only be voting for 2 of the 8 vacancies in the SC; the rest of the 6 will be voted by Senate Justice Committee chairman Richard Gordon because of the arranged "term-sharing" between the two chambers.

In its decision in Francisco Chavez vs. the JBC, the high court ruled that the 1987 Constitution speaks of a lone representative from Congress, and that it is not the role of the SC to amend the Constitution nor resort to judicial legislation.

The JBC is the body mandated by the Constitution to screen applicants to the judiciary, as well as to the Ombudsman and Deputy Ombudsmen posts.