Manila, Philippines – As of this writing 38 names is nominated to the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) as contenders vice the last Chief Justice (CJ) Renato Corona for eventual appointment by Malacanang. Incumbent senior members of the Supreme Court (e.g. Carpio, Brion etc.) are included in the long list, BIR Commissioner Kim Henares, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, former Cory Aquino speechwriter & Makati Congressman Teddy Boy Locsin, presidential candidate (cousin) & former Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro among others.
Members of the JBC are composed of the CJ as ex officio Chair, DOJ Secretary, a representative of the Congress as ex-officio Members, a representative of the IBP, a professor of law, a retired Member of the SC, & a representative of the private sector. The Council’s principal function is recommending appointees to the Judiciary to include the High Court.
Of current, two constitutional schools of thought are in collision over the effect of the absence of a presiding Chief Justice over the Highest Bench of the land. One thought cites Art. 8 Judicial Department Sec. 8 1987 Constitution as basis. Because of said provision, some legal eagles claim that the JBC cannot convene, and hold business – accept nominees, interview/review them and recommend names to the Palace, sans a CJ as ex officio Chair. No acting CJ is provided in said section & hence a violation of the Constitution. A second thinking of constitutionalists using the same article but Section 9 asserts the simplicity of the language of the provision and therefore the need for no construction of statutory interpretation stating the limitation of the presidential appointment only to Members of the Supreme Court and not specifically naming a CJ. Legal minds mention the present practice of an acting CJ as the key to creating a more independent and co-equal Judiciary vis-à-vis the Executive & Legislative Department, by allowing instead the 15 SC Members to decide/vote among themselves the next CJ.
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