SC sets oral arguments on JBC; Joker to defend Senate
The oral arguments could set back the timetable of the Judicial and Bar Council for its shortlist of chief justice nominees

SENATE DEFENDER. Senator Joker Arroyo will represent the Senate during Supreme Court oral arguments on Congress' representation in the JBC. File photo by Emil Sarmiento

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) – The Supreme Court on Tuesday, July 31, decided to hold oral arguments on the plea of lawmakers to reconsider an earlier verdict reducing their representation in the Judicial and Bar Council to one.

In an en banc decision, the High Tribunal scheduled the oral arguments on Thursday, Aug 2.

This could set back the timetable of the JBC for its shortlist of chief justice nominees for President Benigno Aquino III. JBC member Jose Mejia said the council will now hold its final deliberations, originally scheduled for Thursday, on Monday, Aug 6.

The SC tackled the petition of the Senate and the House asking it to reconsider its earlier decision declaring that both houses should only have one representative in the council. Under the Arroyo administration, they had two representatives in the council, but none of them attended past JBC interviews during that period.

Former Solicitor General Francisco Chavez questioned the composition before the SC, saying it violated the Constitution.

Both houses however said a bicameral legislature should have two representatives. On Monday, July 30, the Senate also passed a resolution calling for the holding of oral arguments on the matter.

Last Friday, July 27, both houses pulled out of the council pending a final decision by the Court on their appeal.

The House of Representatives is scheduled to deliberate on the SC budget on Aug 8. President Aquino, on the other hand, has until Aug 29 to name a replacement for dismissed Chief Justice Renato Corona.

Joker to argue for Senate 

After the press conference, the Senate announced that Sen Joker Arroyo will represent the chamber in the oral arguments.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile explained, “He is a seasoned lawyer who can face the Supreme Court.”

Arroyo will defend the Senate position that each House of Congress must be represented in the JBC. 

Enrile told reporters, “Not that we want to defy the Supreme Court, but I think it’s our duty to point out our position.”

Arroyo, a former Makati representative, is one of the legal heavyweights of the Senate. The human rights lawyer was the lead prosecutor in the impeachment trial of former President Joseph Estrada in 2000 to 2001. –


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