Press Release
December 3, 2006


Judicial and Bar Council Ex-Officio member Senator Kiko Pangilinan announced that the JBC would vote Monday, December 4, 2006 at 11am in the Supreme Court on the non-appearance of SC Justices Puno, Quisumbing, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Ynares-Santiago and Carpio in the recently held public interviews for nominees to the position of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. The position becomes vacant on December 7, 2006 when Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban retires on his 70th birthday. Held last November 29 at the Supreme Court, only Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago appeared before the collegial body and the public that were present there.

"I will push for the declaration of a failure of the nomination process and ask that a new nomination process be undertaken considering that only 1 nominee complied with the requirement on Public Interviews. I may be outvoted and if this happens I will respect and abide by the decision of the majority in the JBC," Kiko declared.

"I had pushed for the public interviews since I became a member of the JBC in 2001 and moved to amend Rule 7 of the Rules of the JBC to make room for the public to be part of a process that remains exclusive. The rule was in part amended as a response to criticisms that the JBC had become an 'exclusive old boys club' and that its actions and decisions, done behind closed doors, were perceived to be based not on merit nor qualifications but on 'palakasan' and 'connections'."

"Upon my entry as Senate Rep to the JBC in 2001, the JBC was under fire as to the manner in which its affairs were being conducted and its decisions arrived at. In the eyes of the general public, who until that time had been denied access to all JBC proceedings, the decision-making process of the JBC was, at best, a mystery. As such this was anathema to a democratic setting and open to attack and criticism. Hence, the urgent and pressing need then was to push for greater transparency in our proceedings and to open up the JBC processes so that the public was free to participate to see for themselves the going on in the Council even as observers," Kiko explained.

"We pushed for public interviews because we believe that it is important for the public not only to understand the judicial philosophy of a potential chief justice, but also to see his vision, leadership and management style as an administrator and as a manager of the courts. How does he or she intend to deal with huge vacancies in the courts and the undue delay in the disposition of cases? How can we use technology in the management of information and cases? How can we better deliver justice to far flung areas, to our barrios? What to their minds are the 3 biggest challenges to the Judiciary today and how do they hope to overcome these challenges as Chief Justice? These cannot be understood by reading their decisions or rulings alone," he furthered.

"I view this development as a temporary setback. We may lose this battle, this round, but the war for greater transparency will continue. Reforming the screening and selection process of the JBC will not happened overnight and so we will continue to push for reforms. I remain convinced that a public interview can and should be conducted in a manner that will ensure that the process does not turn into a circus as feared by some of our respected justices. Or as political theater, as some even have come to believe. While I disagree with the position taken by the 5 Justices, I reiterate that I continue to hold our justices in high esteem and that I have the highest respect for them," Kiko stressed.

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