MANILA – The Senate on Tuesday passed on third and final reading a bill putting limit to reappointment of a Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) member to only two full terms.
Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, author and sponsor of Senate Bill 2419, said the ban would ensure that no regular JBC member would indefinitely sit in the council and serve the appointing authority’s bidding.
The measure was co-authored by Senators Chiz Escudero, Miriam Defensor Santiago, Jinggoy Estrada and Cynthia Villar.
Under the existing laws, Pimentel said regular members of the JBC may be reappointed without limitation and under different capacities.
He said the practice of perpetual indebtedness diminished and compromised the member’s impartiality, especially in screening applicants who may have close connections or association with the appointing authority.
“The concept of perpetual re-appointment of a regular member may open the possibility of the appointee incurring political indebtedness to the appointing authority such that the more a regular member seeks his or her re-appointment, the deeper the political indebtedness becomes,” Pimentel explained in his sponsorship speech.
“The enactment of the measure into law would prevent political interference in the affairs of the JBC, which is tasked to recommend appointees to the Judiciary,” he added.
Pimentel said the bill would not limit the power of the President to appoint appointees but that would limit the qualification of persons who would sit as regular members of the JBC.
“The bill is not an undue limitation on the prerogative of the President to make appointments and neither does it impose an additional qualification which is not found in the Constitution,” he said.
The essence of the measure, Pimentel stressed, was that no regular member of the JBC would be appointed for more than two full terms and that new blood were introduced in the council.
The Judicial and Bar Council of the Philippines is a constitutionally-created body that recommends appointees for vacancies that may arise in the composition of the Supreme Court and other lower courts.
The JBC is composed of the Supreme Court Chief Justice as ex officio chairperson; the Secretary of Justice, the chairperson of the Committee on Justice of the House of Representatives and the chairperson of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights as ex officio members; a representative of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, a professor of law, a retired member of the Supreme Court, and a representative of the private sector as regular members.
The council is the only government body that has members from all three branches of the government, excluding ad hoc and advisory bodies.