Monday, July 30, 2012

On JBC impasse: Exhaust all efforts to de-escalate tension

The Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) should not hurry to vote for the selection of shortlisted candidates for the next Chief Justice. We have ample time to wait for the resolution of the motion for reconsideration regarding the legality of having representatives to the JBC from the House and the Senate. The JBC should wait for the court's ruling on this motion. We have four weeks. Let us wait for the court's decision to resolve this and not rush into voting. Let us not have any issues hanging over the selection process.

The issues, including questions raised by having replacements for the Chief Justice and Secretary of Justice to sit in as ex-oficio in the JBC, must be properly ventilated.

We are talking about the power to select from nominees and about submitting a shortlist to the President for the appointment of the next Chief Justice. It is but normal that tensions will rise. We need to de-escalate the tension. After all, we do not want the next CJ to be appointed in a process wherein there are questions that have remained unresolved. We need to ease the tensions. Let us de-politicize and remove all issues.

Perhaps the JBC should initiate moves on how to proceed. Even without the ex-oficio members—the Chief Justice, the DOJ Secretary, and members of House and Congress—they would still have quorum with just its regular members. Let the body rule on resolving the issues and move on with the process. Perhaps all ex-oficio members should just inhibit themselves on the process so that there would be no cloud of doubt in the shortlisting of candidates to be submitted to the President.

No less than Fr. Joaquin Bernas has admitted that they made a mistake in not amending provisions that will accommodate a bicameral Congress. It was a mere inadvertence on the part of those in the Constitutional Convention. The question is: do you perpetuate the mistake, or correct it? I say it's about time we correct this inadvertence.

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