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Home Columns Sen. Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. Members JBC Should Disclose Their Votes for Nominees to Supreme and Lower Courts
Members JBC Should Disclose Their Votes for Nominees to Supreme and Lower Courts PDF Print E-mail
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Columns - This Week With Nene Pimentel
Saturday, 08 March 2008 17:49
          
Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Nene” Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today urged members of the seven-man Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) to make public their individual votes for nominees to the Supreme Court, the Sandiganbayan and other inferior courts in keeping with the principle of transparency enshrined by the Constitution. Senator Pimentel said he saw no reason for the JBC members to impose secrecy on their votes in choosing and recommending members of the judiciary, asserting that this erroneous practice should be discontinued.

“I suggest that JBC members should publicly release their individual votes for nominees to the Supreme Court, the Sandiganbayan and other inferior courts. Transparency demands that the people be informed of how they voted,” he said.

The JBC is a constitutional collegial body tasked with reviewing the qualifications of nominees to the Supreme Court and lower courts and recommending a shortlist of nominees to the President. It is composed of the Supreme Court chief justice (as ex-officio chairman), the secretary of justice, a representative of Congress as ex-officio member, a representative of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, a professor of law, a retired member of the Supreme Court and a representative of the private sector.

Senator Pimentel, who once served as a JBC member, said that the JBC should follow the practice in the Commission on Appointments where the public has the means to know how the Commission members voted for heads of executive departments, ambassadors, senior military officers and other presidential appointees as part of the confirmation process.

Confirmation hearings and plenary sessions of the CA when presidential appointments are voted upon by Commission members, are open to the public and are regularly covered by the media.

He said that the public disclosure of how JBC members cast their votes on nominees to the judiciary will enhance their impartiality and objectivity in passing judgment on the nominees.

Mr. Pimentel said it is also important to give the JBC members a means to explain their votes.

The minority leader said the JBC took a significant step in making the selection and appointment process for justices and judges transparent when it allowed the interviews of nominees open to the media and the general public.

Pimentel said the public disclosure of the votes of JBC members will help ensure that the selection and appointment process is free from any manipulation and, therefore, enhance the integrity of the exercise.

He observed that the long-held suspicion that the selection and appointment process within the JBC is vulnerable to manipulation to serve the agenda of the powers-that-be, has sparked calls from various sectors for drastic reforms in the system. # # #

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