One major component of the Hustisya Natin project is the Expanded Supreme Courts Appointments Watch (SCAW). This component aims to enable civil society organizations to to contribute to the appointments process for justices and trial court judges in their respective areas.


 

MANILA, Philippines – Six magistrates of the Court of Appeals (CA) and a law school vice dean made up the Judicial and Bar Council’s (JBC) shortlist for the vacancy of an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court (SC).

 

The SC released the shortlist on Friday, June 23, and will be submitted to President Rodrigo Duterte who will appoint the replacement for retiring Associate Justice Bienvenido Reyes.

 

CA Presiding Justice Andres Reyes Jr topped the shortlist with 7 votes. Other CA justices who made the shortlist are Rosmari Carandang (6 votes), Jose Reyes Jr (6 votes), Apolinario Bruselas Jr (5 votes), Japar Dimaampao (5 votes) and Amy Lazaro-Javier (4 votes).

 

Centro Escolar University (CEU) Law Vice Dean Rita Linda Ventura Jimeno made the shortlist with 5 votes.

 

Justice Jose Reyes Jr is Duterte’s fellow Bedan, from San Beda Law Batch 1977. Reyes has been nominated to the SC thrice, in 2012, 2014, and 2016 but was bypassed on all occasions.

 

Court Administrator Midas Marquez did not make the shortlist.

 

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Issues in the SC

 

The changes in the High Court come amid highly controversial issues pending their decision. The SC is yet to decide on the petition of detained Senator Leila de Lima.

 

Sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, they will also rule on the electoral protest for the vice presidency filed by former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

 

Whoever is selected from this shortlist will be Duterte’s 3rd appointee to the SC. After this, he will get to appoint another one as Associate Justice Jose Mendoza is set to retire on August 13.

 

Duterte will have 4 appointees to the SC in the next few months, adding to previous appointments of fellow Bedans Associate Justices Noel Tijam and Samuel Martires.

 

During his term, Duterte will get to appoint 8 more or a total of 12, which means that by 2022, only 3 SC justices will not be his apppointees – Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, Associate Justices Marvic Leonen and Benjamin Caguioa.

 

Stance on issues

 

Of the 7 shortlisted nominees, the two Reyeses believe Duterte has sufficient factual basis to declare martial law in Mindanao. Presiding Justice Andres Reyes even said Congress need not convene on martial law now, only when it intends to revoke the declaration. (READ: JBC interviews: SC applicants’ stance on current issues)

 

This is opposed to Carandang’s view that the two chambers must vote in a joint session to ratify martial law. Bruselas backed the SC’s power to review the declaration.

 

Carandang also opposed the SC decision allowing a hero’s burial for the late president Ferdinand Marcos, a move consistent with the wishes of Duterte. Carandang said the burial should not have been allowed “on a moral ground” but recognized there is no law prohibiting it.

 

Bruselas acknowledged the Marcos burial was an “exercise of the prerogative of the executive branch.”

 

Dimaampao, Lazaro-Javier, and Ventura-Jimeno were not interviewed by the JBC on Monday due to the validity of their previous interviews in November.

 

There, Dimaampao said Duterte must adhere to his constitutional limits should he decide to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. Dimaampao said he favors the death penalty, but only for heinous crimes.

 

Lazaro-Javier also opposed the Marcos burial. When asked about extrajudicial killings, Lazaro-Javier said then that the situation has not reached a point where it is widespread and systemic.

 

Ventura-Jimeno favored the Marcos burial because of “respect for the rule of law which tells me that the Supreme Court’s decision should be respected.”Rappler.com

 

Text by Lian Buan, Rappler, June 23, 2017

Photo by LeAnne Jazul, Rappler