Congress to have 2 votes in JBC for now

Posted at 08/03/2012 12:26 PM | Updated as of 08/03/2012 5:19 PM

MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) - Congress will have 2 representatives in the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) for now after the Supreme Court suspended the immediate execution of its July 17 ruling that allows only 1 representative from the legislature in the JBC.

In a 3-page resolution, the SC said it will maintain the status quo in the JBC for now until it rules on the motion for reconsideration on its July 17 ruling.

It noted that the Court will tackle the JBC composition once a new Chief Justice has been appointed and justices are sitting in full court.

This means Senator Francis Escudero and Rep. Niel Tupas will again be able to represent the Senate and the House of Representatives, respectively, instead of sharing one seat and having only 1 vote in the JBC.

At least 5 SC justices have inhibited from the deliberations on Congress' motion after they were included in the list of nominees for the position of Chief Justice.

The 5 are Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and magistrates Teresita Leonardo de Castro, Maria Lourdes Sereno, Arturo Brion and Presbitero Velasco Jr.

Escudero, meanwhile, noted that the SC decision was made in the interim just to accommodate 2 Congress representatives in the JBC vote on Monday.

"All they did was lift the immediately executory portion of their initial decision. We will be allowed to participate in the coming voting on Monday," he said.

In a statement, Tupas said the ruling paves the way for the JBC to take a vote on its short list for Chief Justice.

"With the Supreme Court decision allowing the 2 representatives of Congress to participate and vote in the JBC nomination process, there is  no more reason to delay the selection and nomination of the new chief justice. With this ruling, the House wil now participate and vote in the JBC proceedings," he said.

JBC won't budge for De Lima

Meanwhile, Escudero said he does not expect the JBC to include Justice Secretary Leila de Lima in the candidates to be considered for the final shortlist for Chief Justice.

He explained that under JBC rules,under JBC rules, any person with a pending administrative case including a disbarment case is disqualified.

"We won't even put it to a vote. The rule will simply be applied unless by some stroke of luck or miracle, the case will be dismissed by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines," he told ANC.

He added: "It will be unfair if we make an exception to the rule because we have disqualified countless applicants who were similarly situated."

The IBP earlier rejected de Lima's petition to dismiss 2 disbarment cases filed against her. -- Reports from Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News; ANC; David Dizon, ABS-CBNnews.com