IBP questions Aquino appointment of 2 Sandiganbayan justices

Katerina Francisco
IBP questions Aquino appointment of 2 Sandiganbayan justices

Photo by Mark Z. Saludes

(UPDATED) The lawyers' organization says the President violated the Constitution by disregarding one of the shortlists submitted by the Judicial and Bar Council. Malacañang maintains the legality of the appointments.

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) asked the Supreme Court (SC) to nullify the appointments of two Sandiganbayan justices chosen by President Benigno Aquino III.

In a petition filed on Tuesday, May 17, the lawyers’ organization questioned Aquino’s appointment of Judge Geraldine Faith Econg and Malacañang Undersecretary for Special Concerns Michael Frederick Musngi.

The two were appointed Sandiganbayan associate justices in January this year.

The IBP said Aquino violated Section 9, Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution when he did not select any of the nominees on the shortlist submitted by the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) for the post of 16th associate justice.

The JBC is the body tasked to vet and recommend nominees to judiciary posts. It had submitted 6 shortlists – one each for the posts of 16th to 21st associate justice.

The IBP said Aquino disregarded the shortlist for the 16th associate justice and instead chose Musngi and Econg, who were both on the shortlist for 21st associate justice.

In its petition, the IBP and 5 judges who were in the shortlist for the 16th associate justice – Philip Aguinaldo, Reynaldo Alhambra, Danilo Cruz, Benjamin Pozon, and Salvador Timbang Jr – asked the SC to prohibit Econg and Musngi from exercising their duties as Sandiganbayan associate justices.

In January 2016, Aquino appointed 6 new Sandiganbayan associate justices to fill the positions created under Republic Act 10660, which added two Sandiganbayan divisions to the original 5 divisions. (READ: FAST FACTS: Who are the new 6 Sandiganbayan justices?)

Malacañang maintained that the appointments did not violate the Constitution.

 

“Although we have yet to see the reported petition of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines questioning the appointment to the Sandiganbayan of two justices, we wish to emphasize that the appointments complied with the Constitution and existing laws, as well as the requirements of the Judicial and Bar Council,” Palace Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr said in a news briefing.

“In fact, the justices who were appointed took their oaths office before justices of the Supreme Court, including Chief Justice [Maria Lourdes] Sereno who is also the chair of the JBC,” Coloma added. – Rappler.com

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