Judicial and Bar Council to have a Muslim rep

The Supreme Court has approved the plea of Justice Marvic Leonen to appoint an Islamic law expert to the body that vets court nominees

MANILA, Philippines – As Filipino Muslim were preparing to celebrate Eidl Fitr this week, the Supreme Court (SC) approved a justice’s plea to have a sharia consultant for the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC).

In a one-page resolution, the SC en banc granted the letter of Associate Justice Marvic Leonen for the appointment of an expert in Islamic law to the body that vets court nominees.

“The Court resolved to approve in principle the appointment of a sharia consultant for the JBC and a jurisconsult in Islamic Law,” the resolution reads.

The High Court has also ordered Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez to make recommendations within a period of 30 days.

At present, there are only two high-ranking Muslim magistrtes in the Philippines. They are Court of Appeals Justice Japar Dimaampao and Justice Hakim Abdulwahid.

In a 4-page letter, Leonen had asked Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno and his colleagues to pave the way for the appointment of a sharia consultant to the JBC.

“I have been informed that despite the presence of so many qualified experts on Shari’a Law, the court still does not have a Shari’a consultant for the JBC nor a jurisconsult. May I respectfully suggest that the Secretariat of the JBC and the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) be tasked immediately to look into this matter,” the letter reads.

Leonen cited certain provisions of Republic Act 9054 relating to the appointment of a consultant by the Regional Assembly of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to the JBC and the enabling of the jurisconsult.

The justice explained that Article VIII of RA  9054 allows the President of the Philippines to “appoint a qualified person as a consultant to the [JBC] recommended by the Regional Governor in consultation with concerned sectors of the autonomous region.”

The JBC has currently two consultants: Senior Justice Antonio Carpio and Senior Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr. – Rappler.com


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