President Duterte has been urged to carefully examine aspirants for the Supreme Court where he would be able to appoint 12 justices within his term, and to maintain the tribunal’s independence.


Also, the Hustisya Natin, Alliance of SC Appointments Watch, Alternative Law Groups (ALG), and Transparency and Accountability Network (TAN) called on Duterte to appoint independent magistrates to the high court to ensure balance of power between the co-equal branches of government.
Vincent Lazatin of TAN and lawyer Marlon Manuel of ALG also asked the public to closely monitor and participate in the selection process for the SC appointments by the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC).
The JBC already started the screening process for the first two appointments of Duterte to the high tribunal after the retirement of Associate Justice Jose Perez and Arturo Brion next month.
They made the call in a press conference at the recent conclusion of the public interviews of aspirants to the two upcoming SC vacancies.
Lazatin considers the Duterte appointments as very crucial as they would constitute a clear majority in the high court.
He believes that an independent judiciary is more needed now that “the President appears to be pushing the limits of the executive powers and only the Supreme Court can provide a balance.”


Text by Hector Lawas, Journal Online, November 27, 2016