It would have been very difficult for the Supreme Court (SC) to justify the vote of two members of Congress who today sit in the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), as the Constitution clearly states that a representative, not two, from Congress is eligible for one vote.
The JBC members affected are Sen. Chiz Escudero amd Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. It could be one or the other who would be representing Congress, or both, but with the vote divided into half.
It all depends on how the two members decide between themselves, or how the SC has decided on this issue of the retention of both congressional members.
Chances are, however, that the SC will leave this division of the vote to the JBC, or the two members themselves, for sorting out.
To reject former Solgen Frank Chavez’s petition on this constitutional proviso may prove fatal to the high court, if it continues to dump constitutional provisions.
The word is out that the SC has ruled on the unconstitutionality of the JBC having two members of Congress sitting in the JBC, although strangely enough, it did not want the voting made known after its decision, which is the usual style under the Corona court.
Even stranger was the statement of the acting SC spokesman, who said she was not allowed to disclose the votes of the justices, since the votes can still change.
Why should there still be changes — unless lobbying is awaited by some — when the justices had already cast their vote, for or against?
In this case brought before the SC by Chavez, it was fairly easy for the SC justices to deem this unconstitutional — if the sources are right. That issue hardly affects the high court justices, since the JBC, even with just seven votes from its members, would still be able to vote on their choices to fill the position of chief justice, which will no doubt be the same choice as that of Noynoy’s, considering the fact that, apart from a vote from a substitute chief justice, along with yet another substitute for the Noy’s Justice chief, it is almost certain that the JBC will give in to Noynoy’s choice, since he has the majority of the JBC members eating out of his hand, as most of them are all his appointees.
But while the high court justices may have upheld the Constitution on the JBC membership and vote, they didn’t do so in the case that involved themselves, when they ruled that an acting CJ can convene and preside over the JBC proceedings in the absence of the chief magistrate, or, if the acting CJ, for one reason or another, prefers not to preside over the same body, the most senior justice next to the acting CJ takes over — all the way to whicheer justice can sit as the representative of the SC.
This was justified by the high court by its digging up a 1948 law known as the Judiciary Act and applied its provisions to today’s JBC’s SC representation.
The logical question is: How is it possible that a 1948 Judiciary Act on judicial succession be applied by the SC on the constitutional issue of even a lower-ranking justice presiding over the body and voting membership in the JBC when there was no JBC at the time of the passage of the Judiciary Act, especially when the Charter is very clear in stating that it is the CJ that convenes and presides over the JBC in such instances?
In the same clear tones, the Charter also says a representative of Congress — not two, and the Charter was followed, but not in the case involving the proviso of the CJ presiding over matters in the JBC. The Constitution, as often stated, is higher than any law. That proviso is certainly higher than the old Judiciary Act.
Obviously, the SC came up with another hometown decision and spurned the Constitution — to serve its interests.
And now, even the entire JBC has become a body that panders to the wishes of the Malacañang tenant, who insists on having an undersecretary representing the executive, which is violative of what the Constitution says.
But in the era of Noynoy Aquino and his presidency, who expects anyone of them to uphold and defend the Constitution?