JBC to comment on plea vs. ‘illegal’ rules

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The Supreme Court (SC) has ordered the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC)  to comment on a petition seeking to strike down the rule requiring municipal trial court judges to have at least five years of experience in the cited lower tribunals in order to be qualified for appointment to second level courts.

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The said Petition for Prohibition, Mandamus and Certiorari earlier filed by Judge Ferdinand Villanueva of the Municipal Circuit Trial Court of Compostela Valley and New Bataan argues that the cited requirement allegedly imposed by the JBC violates the Constitution.

Villanueva, in his petition, impleaded as respondents Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Aranal-Sereno and the JBC.

Thus, in an SC En Banc Resolution dated April 22, 2014, the High Court ordered the JBC, headed by Sereno, to comment on the petition within 10 days from notice of the said order.

“The Court Resolved, without giving due course to the petition, to require the respondent to Comment thereon within 10 days from notice hereof,” the resolution reads.

Villanueva, who is applying for a post as a Regional Trial Court (RTC) judge, pleaded: “It is fervently prayed that this court will issue a mandatory injunction and order the JBC to implement fully RA 8557 and to order the JBC to scrap the long standing policy of five years experience over and above the 10 years practice of law.”

RA 8557 is the law that established the Philippine Judicial Academy (Philja).

Villanueva asked the SC to consider his application for an RTC position “and all application of judges in lower court[s]who are similarly situated now and in the future.”

The petitioner, therefore, asked the SC to “declare the unconstitutionality of the policy requiring five years’ experience as lower court judge and those that are not prescribed in the constitution and the statutes (the so called unwritten rules).”

Villanueva argued: “It is a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess in jurisdiction, with all due respect for the JBC to implement what is not required by law while differed the full and mandatory implementation of RA 8557 which was prescribed by Congress.”

Under Article VIII, Section 9 of the Constitution, the JBC screens applications for vacant positions in the judiciary.

Sen. Aquilino Pimentel 3rd, representing the Senate, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima (Ex-Officio member), Jose Mejia (Academe), former Court of Appeals Justice Aurora Santiago-Lagman (Private Sector) and Milagros Fernan-Cayosa (Integrated Bar of the Philippines) are the current members of the JBC.

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