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Eight-man JBC is not a problem -- Fr. Bernas

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The composition of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) should really be seven. However, constitutionalist Fr. Joaquin Bernas does not see a problem if the present JBC is composed of eight members.

Under the 1987 Constitution, the JBC is mandated to screen the nominees for the judicial and the Ombudsman posts and submit the shortlist of nominees of at least three names to the President who will make the appointment within a period of 90 days from the time the vacancy occurs.

Former Solicitor General Francisco Chavez questioned the current composition of the JBC with Senator Francis "Chiz" Escudero, chairman of the Senate Committee on Justice; and Iloilo (5th District) Rep. Niel Tupas Jr., chairman of the House Committee on Justice, both sitting as ex-officio members of the JBC.

In his letter dated June 21, 2012 sent to JBC, Chavez said that the Constitution provides that "A Judicial and Bar Council is hereby created under the supervision of the Supreme Court composed of the Chief Justice as ex-officio chairman, the Secretary of Justice, and a representative of the Congress as ex-officio members, a representative of the Integrated Bar, a professor of law, a retired member of the Supreme Court and a representative of the private sector."

"When the Constitution uses the phrase 'a representative of the Congress,' it is all too clear to require interpretation that there should only be one representative from Congress," Chavez said.

However, Bernas said that while the composition should be seven, it has been a practice that both members of the House and the Senate sit as ex-officio members.

"It (JBC composition) is really 7 but in the practice before it really was 8," Bernas told reporters in an ambush interview.

Bernas added that it is also not likely that there could be a tie vote.

"The members of Congress are half a vote each or they alternated," Bernas said.

by: PNA




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