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Only one member from Congress in JBC, SC affirms

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines – Only one member of Congress can sit in the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), the Supreme Court (SC) has ruled.

The SC affirmed yesterday its ruling last year to remove one of two members of Congress in the JBC.

It declared unconstitutional the JBC setup in which a senator and a member of the House of Representatives have separate seats and votes in deliberations.

“The Judicial and Bar Council is hereby enjoined to reconstitute itself so that only one member of Congress will sit as repre- sentative in its proceedings, in accordance with Section 8(1), Article VIII of the Con- stitution,” read the SC decision.

The SC has left to Congress to determine who between Sen. Francis Escudero and Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. should remain in the JBC.

It dismissed the claim of Escudero and Tupas that framers of the Constitution made an oversight in assigning just one represen-tative for the bicameral Congress in the JBC.

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“No mechanism is required between the Senate and the House of Representa- tives in the screening and nomination of“Hence, the term ‘Congress’ must be taken to mean the entire legislative de- partment. A pretext of oversight cannot prevail over the more pragmatic scheme which the Constitution laid with firmness; that is, that the JBC has a seat for a single representative of Congress, as one of the coequal branches of government.”

Associate Justice Jose Mendoza wrote the decision.

SC spokesman Theodore Te said nine justices – Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Martin Villarama Jr., Jose Mendoza, Jose Perez, Bienvenido Reyes and Estela Perlas-Bernabe – joined the majority opinion.

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