Guevarra backs ConCom proposal on JBC revamp

MANILA Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Tuesday backed the proposal of the Consultative Committee (ConCom) tasked to review the 1987 Constitution to expand the composition of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC).

Guevarra, an ex-officio member of the constitutional body, said the reforms proposed by the ConCom chaired by retired Chief Justice Reynato Puno appear to be "a good idea."

Sounds like a good idea to me. That would mean more work for the JBC, but with an expanded membership the council can do it, Guevarra told reporters in text message when sought for a comment on the ConCom's proposal to reorganize the JBC in its draft for a new constitution with a federal form of government.

"A pro-active search will improve the quality of the men and women who will join our judiciary," the DOJ chief stressed.

Under the 1987 Philippine Constitution, the JBC is mandated to have the principal function of nominating appointments to the judiciary and the Ombudsman.

Puno bared plans to add more ex officio members in the JBC and would include the Ombudsman and the chairpersons of the Civil Service Commission (CSC) and the Commission on Audit (COA) so as to have a wider screening of candidates.

The retired chief magistrate explained the inclusion of these officials to the JBC could help better screen candidates, particularly, on such questions on qualification and integrity.

The JBC, in the proposed new constitution, would only have three regular members representative of IBP, a law academic appointed by association of law professors and a representative from the private sector.

Apart from reorganization, the ConCom also wants a more pro-active mechanism of JBC in its search and screening process.

It proposed that the mandate of JBC be expanded to include the "conduct of a thorough search program in order to find the best and the brightest most qualified for the vacant positions for justices and judges in the judiciary."

The Concom's sub-committee on judiciary led by retired SC Justice Eduardo Nachura wanted the council to have an active duty of searching for the most qualified candidates for judicial posts instead of its passive role at present where it just accepts nominations and applications.

At the moment, the JBC is composed of seven members including the SC chief justice; the Justice Secretary and a representative from Congress as ex officio members; and a representative each from retired SC justices, academe, Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and the private sector as regular members.

It is currently chaired by Senior Associate Justice, now acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio, with ex-officio members Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, Senator Richard Gordon, and Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali.

Its regular members include retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Jose Catral Mendoza, representing the justices and chairperson of the JBC Executive Committee, Atty. Jose Mejia, representing the Academe, Atty. Milagros Fernan-Cayosa, representing the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and retired Judge Toribio Ilao, representing the private sector. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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