Judge sues Sereno, JBC before high court

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A judge in Compostela Valley has sued Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Aranal-Sereno and the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) before the Supreme Court (SC).

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The judge questioned the longstanding JBC requirement of five years’ experience for incumbent judges in lower courts to qualify as applicants for second-level tribunals, a practice which he believed to be unconstitutional.

In his petition for prohibition, mandamus and certiorari, Judge Ferdinand Villanueva, presiding judge of the Metropolitan Circuit Trial Court-Compostela-New Bataan averred that the practice in addition to the constitutional and statutory requirements of 10 years of law practice was in violation of the Constitution and should likewise be stricken down.

“It is fervently prayed that this court will issue a mandatory injunction and order the JBC to implement fully [Republic Act] 8557 and to order the JBC to scrap the long standing policy of five years experience over and above the ten (10) years practice of law,” the petition read.

RA 8557 is an act establishing the Philippine Judicial Academy (Philja), defining its powers and functions, and appropriating funds.

Villanueva told the court that his application for RTC position be considered “and all application of judges in lower court[s]who are similarly situated now and in the future.”

The petitioner asked the SC to “declare the unconstitutionality of the policy requiring five (5) 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 that “[i]t 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 [five year policy]while differed the full and mandatory implementation of RA 8557 which was prescribed by Congress [applicants should passed and complete the pre-judicature program].”

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

Sen. Aquilino Pimentel 3rd, who represents the Senate, Justice Sec. Leila de Lima (ex-officio), Jose Mejia (Academe), former Court of Appeals justice Aurora Santiago-Lagman (private sector) and Milagros Fernan-Cayosa (Integrated Bar of the Philippines) are presently the members of the council.

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