JBC allows Palace to name De Lima's replacement in council



MANILA, Philippines - The Judicial and Bar Council allowed Malacañang on July 16, Monday, to name someone who will take over the JBC seat alloted for Justice Secretary Leila de Lima. De Lima has inhibited from the council's proceedings because she is a contender for chief justice. 

Iloilo Rep Niel Tupas, a JBC member, said  the body granted the Palace's request to name De Lima's replacement because they also allowed Supreme Court Justice Diosdado Peralta to sit as presiding officer in lieu of Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio, also a nominee for the post.

Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda confirmed that Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. sent the JBC a request on July 13. 

In the letter, Ochoa said the Palace wanted to designate De Lima's replacement to ensure the "equal representation, effective participation of the Executive in the selection process of the members of the judiciary." 

"While it may be true that the President appoints the other members of the Council, that is, the rest the representatives of the academe, the Integrated Bar, the retired justices and the private sector, these are not alteregos of the President and do not represent the Executive branch. The Executive branch is assured of representation only through the Secretary of Justice," Ochoa wrote.

During the time of then Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera, however, then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo did not replace her in the JBC even if she vied for the post of SC justice. Lacierda said, however, that if the JBC allowed Peralta to replace Carpio as ex-oficio chairman, then the Palace was "asking the same courtesy from the JBC."   

Tupas said De Lima's replacement "should be a top-level official... at least a Usec [undersecretary] position."

The JBC is the constitutionally-mandated body that screens and vets aspirants for the judiciary. It has 8 members and is chaired by the Chief Justice. Since De Lima and Carpio have inhibited from the proceedings, the body has only 6 members now:  Tupas, Sen. Francis Escudero, retired Court of Appeals Justice Aurora Lagman, retired SC Justice Regino Hermosisima, lawyer Jose Mejia and Integrated Bar of the Philippines officer Milagros Fernan-Cayosa. Rappler.com

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