Vote on shortlist of nominees for next Chief Justice

By Jelly F. Musico

The Senate adopted on Monday three resolutions asking the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) to hold in abeyance any final vote on the shortlist of nominees for next Chief Justice.

In the first resolution, the senators requested the JBC “to defer the consideration of all nominees in the preparation of the shortlist to be submitted to the President until that issue is resolved by the Supreme Court.”

Senator Joker Arroyo read the resolution at the plenary late Monday afternoon after an almost two-hour caucus where the senators also reiterated their previous position on the representation of Congress to the JBC.

”The resolution No. 2 is to reiterate the position of the Senate that representation to the JBC by Congress must be one from the House of Representatives with one vote and one from the Senate with one vote also,” Senator and former JBC member Francis ‘Kiko’ Pangilinan read the second resolution.

Pangilinan also read the third and final resolution which states: “Given the gravity of the issues concerning the composition of the JBC and the fact that there are serious consequences, the position taken in the Senate is that there should be oral argument on the issue of the composition and representation by both houses of Congress in the JBC.”

The SC recently ruled that Congress, composed of House of Representatives and the Senate, should have only one representation and one vote in the JBC selection process of the next chief magistrate.

With the SC ruling, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and House Speaker Sonny Belmonte agreed not to back out in the selection process.

Pangilinan said the three resolutions will be submitted to the Senate legal team for necessary representation.

Pangilinan said he would personally endorse Senator Arroyo to represent the Senate in the oral argument for their motion for reconsideration on the SC’s ruling on Congress representation to the JBC.

”The resolution will also be forwarded to the JBC. This issue is very important. It is unprecedented because it’s the position of the chief justice that is involved. We don’t want (the) question hanging and remain unresolved without the benefit or oral argument,” Pangilinan said.

Aside from Congress representation, the Senate and the House also questioned the appointment of of Department of Justice (DOJ) Undersecretary Michael Frederick Musngi as representative of DOJ Secretary Leila de Lima in the selection process. De Lima is one of the nominees.

Enrile questioned also the constitutionality of the SC’s appointment of Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta to chair the JBC. Peralta replaced Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio, who is also one of the nominees.

Pangilinan said there should be no rush in coming out with the shortlist of nominees for next chief justice, saying “we still have four more weeks to decide on this matter.”

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