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JBC starts search for Sereno replacement: New CJ to be named by September


The Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) on Monday officially opened the application for the Chief Justice position, which is now vacant following the ouster of Maria Lourdes Sereno through a quo warranto petition filed by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG).

“The application for the position of Chief Justice was opened. The deadline for filing and completing all requirements is on July 26, 2018,” a statement released by Supreme Court (SC) Public Information Office on Monday said.

The SC also said that the five most senior Associate Justices of the SC are automatically nominated, subject to the submission of a written acceptance of nomination to be submitted on or before July 26.

The five most senior magistrates are Antonio Carpio, Presbitero Velasco, Jr., Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, Diosdado Peralta, and Lucas Bersamin.

But since Velasco is retiring on Aug. 8, he will no longer be vying for the top judicial post.

To qualify for a position in the judiciary, one has to be a natural-born citizen of the Philippines and should possess “proven competence, integrity, probity and independence”.

Those applying to the 15-member SC should also be at least 40 years old, a judge of a lower court or had been engaged in the practice of law in the country.

Applications may be made by the applicants themselves or through the recommendation of another person, association, or organization. Endorsements or recommendations have to be formally accepted by the person being recommended.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, who also sits in the seven-member JBC, said there were no new or additional requirements for aspirants vying for the top magistrate post.

Asked if the JBC would exclude women from applying for the highest judicial office, Guevarra said: “The JBC will submit to the President a shortlist of applicants, men and women alike.”

“Once on the President’s desk, it’s completely up to him (to choose the next Chief Justice),” he added.

The justice secretary said the selection for Sereno’s successor will be “based on merits and qualifications, and in accordance with the JBC rules.”

President Rodrigo Duterte needs to appoint Sereno’s replacement by September.

The High Court denied with finality the motion for reconsideration filed by Sereno, who is the first top magistrate to be removed from office through quo warranto proceedings.

Applications should be accompanied by two complete sets of duly accomplished and notarized Personal Data Sheet and all other documentary requirements, including Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALNs) for those in government service.

Applicants are also required to submit certifications or testimonials from reputable government officials and non-governmental organizations, and clearances from the courts, National Bureau of Investigation, Office of the Ombudsman, Office of the Bar Confidant, Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and Philippine National Police in their places of residence.

Magistrates of the high court must be of proven competent, integrity, probity, and independence and members of the Philippine Bar, which is why the JBC “shall take every possible step to verify the applicants’ record of and reputation for honesty, integrity, probity, incorruptibility, irreproachable conduct, and fidelity to sound moral and ethical standards.”

The following are disqualified from the post:

-Applicants with criminal cases

-Those with pending criminal cases in the Philippines even if they are still under preliminary investigation;

-Those with pending criminal cases in foreign courts or tribunals; and

-Those who have been convicted in any criminal case;

-Applicants with administrative cases

-Those with pending administrative cases or complaints in the Office of the Ombudsman which are either under fact-finding stage and the applicants were not issued a clearance, or still under administrative adjudication.

-Those with pending administrative cases or complaints before any court, office, tribunal, any government office, agency, or instrumentality, or before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines or any association, disciplinary committee or body when, in the determination of the Council, the complaints are serious or grave as to affect their fitness for nomination;

-Those who have been found guilty in an administrative case where the penalty imposed is suspension for a period at least ten days or a fine of at least PHP10,000 unless they have been granted judicial clemency;

-Applicants who have been found to have made false statements, misrepresentations, or concealments of material information in their personal data sheet.

The JBC is constitutionally mandated to screen applicants to the judiciary and top Ombudsman positions.

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

Its regular members include retired SC 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)

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