THE Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) violated its own rules after Justice Secretary Leila de Lima lobbied for her own candidate for associate justice in the Court of Appeals (CA).
The Manila Times has learned that the JBC railroaded the nomination of Martin Tirador Menez, who has a pending criminal case before the Department of Justice (DOJ). De Lima is an ex-officio member of the council.
Menez is de Lima’s head executive assistant and the program director of the DOJ’s Witness Protection Program.
JBC’s Internal Rules -009, Rule 4, Section 5 provides that a candidate with pending criminal or regular administrative cases and criminal cases in foreign courts or tribunal are automatically disqualified “from being nominated or appointed to any judicial, Ombudsman or deputy ombudsman position.
Rule 4 specifically eliminates candidates with pending criminal or regular administrative cases; those with pending criminal cases in foreign courts or tribunals; and those who have been convicted in any criminal or administrative case where the penalty imposed is at least a fine of more than P10,000, unless he has been grated judicial clemency.
Menez got a perfect 6 votes from the JBC when he applied as associate justice in the Court of Appeals, to fill up the position vacated by Justice Angelita Gacutan.
The Manila Times found that Menez is a respondent in the case docketed under IS XVI-INV-IBF-00200, and titled Jorge G. Cruz vs. Rufo Colayco, Martin T. Menez, et. al., which involves fake titles.
A well-placed source in the judiciary said de Lima lobbied to fellow JBC members for Menez.
The source said the council took into account the case against Menez, but in the end de Lima’s choice prevailed.
The source said Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, who chairs the JBC, “ignored the pending case of Menez to make de Lima happy.”
De Lima did not even inhibit herself from the voting of the JBC, the judiciary insider said.
“Delicadeza dictates that de Lima should have inhibited from the voting,” the source said.
The council rejected de Lima when she applied for the position of chief justice because she has several pending disbarment cases in the Supreme Court.
The members of the council are Sen. Aquilino Pimentel 3rd, representing the Senate, de Lima (Ex-Officio), Jose Mejia (Academe), former CA Justice Aurora Santiago-Lagman (Private Sector) and Milagros Fernan-Cayosa (Integrated Bar of the Philippines).
Under Article VIII, Section 9 of the Constitution, the JBC screens applications for vacant positions in the judiciary.