President Duterte’s first appointment of a justice to the Supreme Court (SC) will have to be chosen from a list consisting of four justices from the Court of Appeals (CA) and one justice from the Sandiganbayan anti- graft court who made it to the shortlist of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC).
The JBC gave top votes of seven votes to CA Justice Jose Reyes.
Five votes each were received by CA Justices Japar Dimaampao, Apolinario Bruselas and Sandiganbayan Justice Samuel Martires.
CA Presiding Justice Andres Reyes came in fifth with four votes.
The SC post will be vacated by Associate Justice Jose Perez in December 14 when he reaches mandatory retirement. The chosen nominee from the list will become the first appointment of President Rodrigo Duterte to the High Court.
The JBC decided to separate the voting in the incoming vacancy of SC Justice Arturo Brion on December 9, next Friday.
Brion is scheduled to formally retire on December 29.
The seven-man council, which is constitutionally mandated to screen and vet nominees to the President for vacant posts in the judiciary and the Offices of the Ombudsman and Deputy Ombudsman, is chaired by Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno, with ex-officio members, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre, along with the legislative branch namely Sen. Richard Gordon and Mindoro Oriental Rep. Reynaldo Umali, who shall have a term sharing seat in the JBC.
Retired SC Justice Angelina Sandoval-Gutierrez is the head of the Executive Committee, Lawyer Jose Mejia representing the Academe, Milagros Fernan-Cayosa representing the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and the newest member Ret. Judge Toribio Ilao, representing the private sector as the other regular members of the JBC.
JBC has single list after SC
scrapped CJ’s ‘clustered list’
An earlier media report stated that the SC en banc had overruled Chief Justice Sereno and the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) on the issue of appointments to the judiciary, declaring that the President (Aquino) has the prerogative to appoint any nominee from short lists submitted by the JBC.
The SC voted unanimously to declare the JBC’s “clustering” scheme unconstitutional and illegal, in a landmark decision that sets the precedent for future vacancies in the SC and the rest of the judiciary.
Sereno, who sits as the chairman of the JBC and the JBC itself allowed then president Noynoy Aquino to appoint six new justices to the expanded Sandiganbayan anti-graft court through Sereno’s clustering scheme screening applicants and recommending nominees to posts in the judiciary,with six shortlists containing different sets of names Aquino, to choose the 16th to 21st Sandiganbayan associate justices.
The unconstitutionality and illegality of the move came when Aquino, ignored the first shortlist containing nominees for the 16th post, and instead chose two names from the sixth list for the 21st post.
The President can only choose one SC nominee from JBC’s single list with at least three nominees.
Earlier, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) and several lower court judges questioned the appointments of Geraldine Faith Econg and Michael Frederick Musngi, claiming Aquino violated the Constitution when he picked the two from the sixth short list and dropped the first one.
Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, the ponente of the decision, held that the appointing powers of the President are plenary in nature and cannot be clipped or limited by the JBC through a “clustering” scheme.
It appears that Sereno and Aquino must have known earlier that the first list of candidates to be submitted to Aquino would not please Aquino, which must be the reason Sereno came up with the clustering scheme, to provide Aquino with six lists with several names. This way, he could easily pick the candidate he wants appointed. It is not known whether the two earlier appointed justices to the Sandiganbayan will also be voided.