The Supreme Court (SC) tried to sound Solomonic in its resolution of the impasse on the Congress representation in the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), but in the end it was an admission of its abject inability to rule independently and stick to its position.
The acting Carpio Court’s decision to suspend its “executory” decision that Congress is only entitled to one seat in the JBC was clearly a co-opting to the whims of both the Palace and Congress on the issue.
While the decision was not entirely a reversal of the earlier ruling, it exposed the Carpio Court’s lack of resolve in defending what the SC justices had already interpreted as what was contained in the Constitution which was the expressed limit of only one representative for Congress in the body.
The decision resulted in both legislative chambers to order their representatives to withdraw from the nominating body which is tasked to draft the shortlist for the SC chief justice candidates from which Noynoy will choose the head of his reclaimed and pliant high court.
It appeared to be a decision meant merely to prevent a confrontation with Congress and at the same time cheer Malacañang which is coming under increasing criticisms for the extended period that the country does not have an SC head and has transformed the court into a subservient body to his power and control.
The nomination process was injected with a huge show of allowing a wide array of candidates evidently on the prodding of the Palace that made the JBC process assume the circus-like character of Philippine elections where even lunatics are given a shot at becoming candidates.
And it wasn’t just a question of a string of unconstitutional acts, both by Noynoy and his SC justices, as the JBC was convened illegally, then even ruled that a junior associate justice is to preside over the JBC.
Noynoy was not to be outdone. He, too, named an undersecretary who is certainly not an ex-officio member of the JBC. Neither is the current presiding justice, SC Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta.
Now, even Congress has demanded, and was given by the SC, the right to have two more ex-officio members. And all of these individuals believe that the JBC shortlist and Noynoy’s new CJ, whoever he or she is, will be cloaked with constitutionality?
Such a show, bordering on theatrics, is necessary as part of the process to justify the ouster of former Chief Justice Renato Corona which was carried out from the Palace that in turn compromised the independence of the high tribunal.
The process of coming up with the shortlist has been running for more than two months now and a deadlock between Congress and the SC on the JBC membership would have extended the wait indefinitely but for the SC to give way too easily robbed it of any claim of acting independently from the other branches of government.
The decision will apparently lead to Congress interpreting the Charter’s provision based on its intent in accordance with the argument supporting two representatives of the legislature in the JBC.
The Corona court indicated that it finds it “more equitable for the present members of the JBC to resume their task” pending the final resolution of the petition seeking the reconsideration of the SC ruling.
With the ruling, Sen. Francis Escudero and Rep. Neil Tupas Jr. resume their posts in the JBC as if there was no decision on the challenge raised by former Solicitor General Frank Chavez.
It was as if the SC did not exist at all since it was left for Congress to decide the final makeup of the JBC.
If indeed SC cops out from its decision, it will be worse than a flip-flop since it was a total abandonment of the SC’s primary function of interpreting the Constitution.
And that’s a mere preview of what is in store under a Noynoy court.