THE Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) has been criticized for flip-flopping in nominating candidates for the judiciary.
According to associate justices who refused to be identified, the JBC was biased and selective in its nominations.
This came about after the JBC, chaired by Aranal-Sereno violated its own rules after Justice Secretary Leila de Lima lobbied for her own head executive assistant (HEA) and program director of the Department of Justice-Witness Protection Program (DOJ-WPP).
Lawyer Martin Tirador Menez has a pending falsification before the DOJ where his boss, de Lima, is also an ex-officio member of the Council.
One justice said that the JBC employs prejudices during nominations.
“The JBC finds ways for its favored nominees. It makes excuses for non-favored candidates,” the magistrate said.
Another justice said in a text to The Manila Times: “What do you expect from the JBC? They can do magic.”
The Times has compared the two pending criminal cases of two applicants for the JBC.
In one case, Sandiganbayan Associate Justice Teresita Diaz-Baldos was immediately disqualified when she applied for the promotion as presiding justice of the Sandiganbayan in June 2011.
The JBC junked her because she had a pending criminal case, an alleged violation of the Revised Penal Code for Rendering an Unjust Judgment where she, Associate Justice Samuel Martires and then Presiding Justice Edilberto Sandoval, approved the plea bargaining agreement in the plunder case of Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia.
Baldos was not nominated because of the complaint filed by the Akbayan partylist. The lady justice was not even asked by the DOJ to file her counter-affidavit or be issued a subpoena but it prejudiced her application in the JBC.
In the end, the cases of Baldos, Martirez and Sandoval were dismissed by the DOJ saying that the Supreme Court has jurisdiction over them as members of the judiciary.
In contrast, Menez also has a pending criminal case at the DOJ where Menez was subpoenaed by State Prosecutor Merba Waga. He has already filed his counter-affidavit.
Both Baldos and Menez have pending criminal cases at the DOJ, which underwent preliminary investigation. Baldos was disqualified but Menez was shortlisted.
In defense of the JBC, lawyer Jose Mejia, regular member for the academe, said that the case of Menez was thoroughly deliberated upon by the Council and Menez was not the main respondent to the case.
“There was a thorough deliberation in the case of Menez. It went through a long deliberation,” he said.
The Times tried to reach Menez, but he was not available for interview.
JBC’s Internal Rules -009, Rule 4, Section 5 says that candidates with pending criminal or regular administrative cases and criminal cases in foreign courts or tribunal are automatically disqualified.
Candidates are “disqualified from being nominated or appointed to any judicial, Ombudsman or deputy ombudsman position include those with pending criminal or regular administrative cases and with pending criminal cases in foreign courts or tribunals; those convicted in any criminal case or in an administrative case where the penalty imposed is at least a fine of more than P10,000 unless granted judicial clemency.”
Menez notched a perfect 6 votes from the JBC after he applied for the position of Court of Appeals associate justice vacated by Justice Angelita Gacutan.
Menez’s case docket is IS No. XVI-INV-IBF-00200 entitled Jorge G. Cruz vs. Rufo Colayco, Martin T. Menez et al. involving fake land titles where he was named one of the several respondents.
The JBC is chaired by Sereno with members include Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III (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 is mandated to screen and shortlist for the vacant positions in the judiciary.