• High Court justices’ powers clipped

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    Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Aranal-Sereno has clipped the voting powers of the associate justices of the Supreme Court (SC) by doing away with the traditional deliberation on the selection of the top candidates for the post vacated by Associate Justice Robert Abad.

    Sereno said she made the decision purportedly upon the request of “several justices.”

    But some SC justices were stunned when they read Sereno’s letter saying that there will no longer be any voting on the candidates for the vacant post.
    The Manila Times has obtained a copy of the letter.

    At least five magistrates reacted strongly to Sereno’s letter, saying they wanted to exercise their voting rights in choosing a new member of the tribunal.

    They said that they were “tricked” because the Chief Justice did not mention in her letter who among them requested that the High Court should forego the voting process. A number of justices said they consulted each other and none admitted to having made such a request.

    A source at the tribunal said Sereno issued the letter in order to manipulate the shortlist of candidates for the SC post. The source added that the Chief Justice is pushing Commission on Audit (COA) Chairman Grace Pulido-Tan as Abad’s replacement. The other candidates are Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza; Court of Appeals Associate Justices Nina Antonio Valenzuela, Apolinario Bruselas, Rosmari Carandang, Ramon Paul Hernando, Jose Reyes and Noel Tijam; Court of Appeals Presiding Justice Andres Reyes Jr.; Sandiganbayan Associate Justices Maria Cristina Cornejo and Rafael Lagos; Quezon City Regional Trial Court Presiding Judge Reynaldo Daway; Dean of Dela Salle University College of Law and chairman of the Free Legal Assistance Group Jose Manuel Diokno; and COA Commissioner Rowena Guanzon.

    The Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) is set to vote on June 30 for three top candidates who will be on the shortlist that will be submitted to Malacanang.

    President Benigno Aquino 3rd will choose Abad’s replacement from the list.
    But the source said the Chief Justice violated the internal rules of the JBC when she circumvented them.

    Granting justices’ request
    In her letter, however, Sereno said “several justices” requested that they do away with the SC voting.

    “To accommodate the request of several justices that voting no longer be conducted among the candidates, the members of the court with respect to the candidates for associate justice (vice Justice Roberto A. Abad), please be informed that I have decided to favorably consider such request,” she noted in her letter dated May 29, 2014.

    “I am open, however, to any input you might have regarding any particular candidate,” Sereno said in her letter.

    According to the unimpeachable source of The Manila Times, however, Sereno “defrauded” the justices by not telling them who were these “several justices” who are not in favor of the votation.

    “Sereno just wanted to weaken the JBC list in order for PNoy (President Benigno Aquino 3rd) to have limited choices for the SC post because her bet is COA Chairman Pulido-Tan,” the source said.

    The source added that the Chief Justice made the decision that there will be no more voting without the formal concurrence of the associate justices of the High Court.

    “Hindi alam ng mga justices kung sino ang pasimuno na huwag na magbotohan. Eh majority sa mga justices gustong bumoto. Gusto lang kasi i-manipulate ni Meilou (Sereno) ang listahan ng JBC [Justices do not have any idea who really do not want to hold the voting. But majority of the justices want to vote. Perhaps Meilou only wants to manipulate the JBC list],” another source told The Times.

    Violation of JBC rules
    The sources said Sereno violated the Internal Rules of the JBC that requires her to give weight to the “shortlist” made by the SC justices through their voting.

    Rule 8, Section 1 of the Internal Rules of the JBC states: “Due weight and regard to the recommendees of the Supreme Court. In every case involving an appointment to a seat in the Supreme Court, the council shall give due weight and regard to the recommendees of the Supreme Court. For this purpose, the council shall submit to the court a list of candidates for any vacancy in the court with an executive summary of its evaluation and assessment of each of them, together with all relevant records concerning candidates from whom the court may base the selection of recommendees.”

    Since the time of Chief Justices Andres Narvasa, Hilario Davide Jr., Artemio Panganiban, Reynato Puno and Renato Corona, the SC justices have voted on their choice of candidates for SC justice.

    The Chief Justice is mandated to adopt the three candidates who garner the highest number of votes.

    The source said Sereno is afraid that if the SC held its own vote, Pulido-Tan would not get sufficient votes to make it to the top three list.

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    29 Comments

    1. 1.) The Associate Justices have no right to vote anyway. Under the Constitution, it is the JBC which determines the list to be given to the President. Of the incumbent members of the Supreme Court, it is only the Chief Justice who is concurrently a member of the JBC. Thus, this matter should not be the concern of any Associate Justice. Using the words of this article, no power was clipped – for such power never existed.

      2.) The rule allegedly broken is an internal rule of the JBC. As an internal rule, it only governs matters internal to the JBC. It creates no rights, and it cannot prejudice rights. Hence, it cannot give Associate Justices any right to vote. Neither does it prejudice any right since, as already stated, the Associate Justices have no such voting rights.

      3.) The JBC rule, by giving due regard to the opinions of the incumbent justices, merely considers such opinions as factors in determining the competence, integrity, probity, and independence (the constitutional requirements for members of the judiciary) of candidates. Such opinions are not binding on the JBC. In fact, such opinions can be disregarded by the JBC because the candidates contained in the shortlist is a matter purely within the discretion of the JBC. Thus, even if the said rule is followed, the opinions or votes of the Assiociate Justices are not, and should not be, determinative of the shortlist to be produced by the JBC.

      4.) The tradition of Associate Justices being included in the deliberation for determining who shall be part of the shorlist started during the time of CJ Narvasa. It must be noted that prior to Narvasa, there were 3 Chief Justices who served under the 1987 Constitution. These are CJ Teehankee, CJ Yap, and CJ Fernan. During the time of the said Chief Justices, no such rule or tradition was followed – and rightly so because it is the JBC which determines the names in the shortlist. What CJ Sereno is doing is merely going back to how things were prior to CJ Narvasa.

      5.) If the Associate Justices want to have a say as to who shall be included in the shortlist, they may participate in the the JBC’s process either by nominating a candidate who they think is qualified, or by filing oppositions against the qualifications of candidates. If they choose to do such actions, they are not doing so as Associate Justices, but as citizens who are interested in the proper administration of justice.

      6.) I hope the author of this article tried to get the side of CJ Sereno. Whether or not any efforts were made is not apparent in the article. I will find it disconcerting if the author never even tried to get the side of Sereno – that would show irresponsibility as a journalist, a lack of due fairness in the treatment of one’s neighbor, and a reckless disregard for the truth.

      • I don’t think many of the forum contributors here will even care to understand what you said. It looks to me that these people are bent on just opposing this government. Nothing less. Sad.

    2. Julian Tulay on

      I do respect women, especially older one, but for what’s happening right now, I have a second thought.

    3. haha. i think the justices are the ones tricking sereno. they want her to commit one blunder after another so they can simply get rid of her once her political benefactor is out.

      well, i don’t like her so i don’t mind.

    4. Ano ba talaga mga kuya, ayon sa baba malinaw naman na si Chief Justice Sereno lang ang boboto, ano po ang pinuputok ng butse nyo?

      1987 PHILIPPINE CONSTITUTION

      JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT

      Section 8. (1) A Judicial and Bar Council is hereby created under the supervision of the Supreme Court composed of the Chief Justice as ex officio Chairman, the Secretary of Justice, and a representative of the Congress as ex officio Members, a representative of the Integrated Bar, a professor of law, a retired Member of the Supreme Court, and a representative of the private sector.

    5. Roldan Guerrero on

      It seems Sereno will be co-terminous with her boss the PORK BARREL KING. The PBK did it to Corona and same thing will happen.

    6. eltee mulawin on

      >>>Kahit saan bahagi ng pamahalaan ( executive, legislative,judiciary , ombudsman, sandiganbayan at supreme court) ay naglilitawan at lumulutang na ang mga tunay na kulay ng namumuno.

      >>>anong uri mayroon ang mga nanunungkulan sa bansa?
      1) Nguyngoy Aquino3rd =naging kandidato bilang pangulo nang hindi inaasahan ng kanyang sarili DAHIL NA RIN SA SIMPATYA NG MGA TAO SA PAGKAMATAY NG KANYANG INA.
      2) Ma.L.A.Sereno= PANGHULI SA LISTAHAN NG JBC AT MAY PINAKAMABABANG GRADO, PERO PINILI NI NGUYNGOY NA MAGING SC CJ.
      3) L. DE LIMA = HALOS 4 YEARS WALANG CONFIRMATION NG CONGRESS CA.
      4) FLORENCIO ABAD = MENTOR O NAGTURO KAY JANET NAPOLES KUNG PAANO AT ANO ANG S.A.R.O. AT PDAF, AT KUNG PAANO MAGKAROON NG TRANSAKSYON KAHIT WALANG TUNAY NA NGOs. AT FLORENCIO ABAD ANG MAY PINAKAMARAMING KAMAG-ANAK SA MALAKANYANG AT GOVT AGENCY/DEPT.
      4) MORALES AT GRACE P.TAN = GUMAWA NG SELECTIVE AUDIT REPORT AT NAGFILE NG PLUNDER SA 3 SENATORS OPPOSITION.

      >>> AT NGAYON NILALAAN NI SERENO ANG ISANG PWESTO SA SC PARA KAY GRACE P. TAN NA QUESTIONABLE ANG MGA AUDIT REPORT NA GINAMIT PDAF SCAM NA LANTARAN SUMUSUNOD LAMANG SA UTOS AT NAIS NG MALAKANYANG.

      >>>ANO YAN LANTARAN AT SAMA-SAMA NG PINATUTUNAYAN NI NGUYNGOY AQUINO NA KUNG ANO NAIS NIYA ANG SIYANG MASUSUNOD AT KAILANGAN MATUPAD. NASAAN ANG SINASABI NI LEILA DE LIMA NA ” DELICADEZA” ????

    7. …a am delighted and overwhelm by all these comments for manila times… may mga sense at may matutuhan ka talaga…it shows what kind of newspaper MANILA TIMES is…to the admin..KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK…gat may mga taong gaya ninyo na di natatakot ipahayag ang dapat malaman…may pag asa pa tayo…

    8. Where’s the due process here? People are too quick to judge. Let’s get the both sides of the story first before complaining. It seems that the writer forgot to get the CJ’s side regarding the issue.

    9. As I commented few days ago will die trying to save Abad and Pnoy , since it is already leaked in the media that DAP is declare unconstitutional by majority of the SC justices, Sereno keeps on looking a way to reverse the decision, what a typical lap dog attitude being displayed by a woman who should be on the neutral side.

    10. 1987 PHILIPPINE CONSTITUTION

      Article 8: JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT said:

      Section 8. (1) A Judicial and Bar Council is hereby created under the supervision of the Supreme Court composed of the Chief Justice as ex officio Chairman, the Secretary of Justice, and a representative of the Congress as ex officio Members, a representative of the Integrated Bar, a professor of law, a retired Member of the Supreme Court, and a representative of the private sector.

      (2) The regular members of the Council shall be appointed by the President for a term of four years with the consent of the Commission on Appointments. Of the Members first appointed, the representative of the Integrated Bar shall serve for four years, the professor of law for three years, the retired Justice for two years, and the representative of the private sector for one year.

      (3) The Clerk of the Supreme Court shall be the Secretary ex officio of the Council and shall keep a record of its proceedings.

      (4) The regular Members of the Council shall receive such emoluments as may be determined by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court shall provide in its annual budget the appropriations for the Council.

      (5) The Council shall have the principal function of recommending appointees to the Judiciary. It may exercise such other functions and duties as the Supreme Court may assign to it.

      So it means there are only 7 members who have the power to vote in the JBC currently:

      Ex officio chairman:

      1. Maria Lourdes Sereno, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court

      Ex officio members:

      2. Leila de Lima – Secretary of Justice

      3. Niel Tupas, Jr. – incumbent Congressman and Chairman, House Committee on Justice

      Regular members

      4. Ma. Milagros Fernan-Cayosa – Integrated Bar representative, a private practitioner

      5. Jose Mejia – representative from the academe

      6. Regino C. Hermosisima, Jr. – retired Associate Justice of the Supreme Court

      7. Aurora Santiago-Lagman – representative from the private sector

      • its the jbc internal rules, praticed by the previous CJs, are being violated by ms. sereno this time. the intent is a suspect…

    11. Sana ay patuloy na manindigan ang ating mga associate justices na ang pagpili ng papalit sa magreretirong associate justice ay hindi mababahiran ng politika at hindi mamanipulate ng kahit sinong tao na may masamang layunin. Ang pagmamanipula ng pinuno ng ating kataastaasang hukuman at ang iba pang kaalyado nito ay tanda na naghahanda na ang kasalukuyang administrasyon na sigurihuhin na kaalyado nila ang mga matitirang associate justices para maabsuwelto sila sa patong patong na kahaharapin nilang mga posibleng kaso sa korte pag tapos ng kanilang termino. Mamulat tayo at manindigan at patuloy nating suportahan ang mga non-political associate justices para mapanatili ang independensiya ng ating kataastaasang hukuman sa ibang sangay ng ating gobyerno upang makamit natin ang hustisyang makatao at makatarungan.

    12. Lord Chimera on

      And people thought Corona was bad…Sereno is even worse and her underhanded tactics is too obvious.

    13. This is another pr spin by the writer. The Constitution is very clear that only the Chief Justice can vote in the JBC. She is not beholden to any of that so called “votation” by the Justices. Regardless of whom these justices prefer, what matters is the vote of the Chief Justice in the JBC deliberation. Nice try Mr. Canlas. Till next time.

      • Hey yellow fanatic, tell us where in the constitution does it say that only the Chief Justice can vote in the JBC.

      • Nice try in defending those who thinks they are above the law. Enough is enough. Thanks to the writer whose dedication is very vital in preserving our freedom.

      • bakiro-sakurani on

        under Article 8 section 8 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution po. Basa basa lang po ha pag may time!

    14. Anima A. Agrava on

      This an impeachable offense.
      The majority of the SC justices who feel oppressed by CJ Sereno’s fraudulent claim should sign a common or joint letter stating that they do not want their voting power to disappear.

      • that’s basically what they want her to do. she has to commit more mistakes so the older justices can finally get rid of that jaundiced undeserving CJ.

        i also dislike corona but i just can’t like sereno.

    15. mikhail hieronymus on

      Another “Lutong Macao” in the Supreme Court. Will there be no end to the corruption of the Aquino government. Even the SC is not following the so called: “Matuwid na Landas”, but the Crocked Road. I do not think there is a decent official in the Aquino government now!

    16. May we all pray for the over-all strength and independence of all Supreme Court Justices on behalf of all Filipinos to be free from any undue influence coming from executive and legislative branch who may attempt to circumvent the law in favor of the few interested parties.

    17. In the face of this development in the Supreme Court, are we just going to sit by and allow this to happen? Are not the SC justices of equal powers and that the CJ cannot just order them around?

    18. Alejo Rosete on

      What a criminal “modus-operandi” to insure that their choice will get the job.

    19. He, he. What Justice Sereno is doing is the King PNoy style of leadership, that is, decisions done with tricks. This useless PNoy administration is really a contagious one, the psycho CJ is following the psycho Pork and Bribe King. Another garbage unit in government.

    20. Big problems start with small ones. This is a classic example of what may be considered ‘trivial’ at this time, but it will ‘grow’ big to have tremendous negative effect in the system in the future. The government officials seem not to think of the effects of such seemingly ‘minor’ violation’ of an internal rule by CJ Sereno. How did the DAP and PDAF start, in the first place?

      • I agree with you. Big things start from the small ones, just like a small amount of corruption will become so big, there is no more stopping. Why because of GREED. Apparently the DAP was just an “usap-usapan” of PNoy, Abad, Drillon, Belmonte, Alcala, Mar and the rest of the LP and yellow allies. They could have started with small amounts of bribes and SARO’s via NGO’s and when they found out that it is a huge success, they gradually increased the scam until it was blown out to bribe all legislators according to the whims of PNoy.