(UPDATE) The Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) on Monday submitted to President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino a list of eight nominees for the next Supreme Court chief justice as the Aug. 27 deadline to fill the vacant position draws near.
The list, based on the letter sent to Aquino and posted on the Supreme Court Web site, does not include Justice Secretary Leila De Lima, who was expected to be on list, and was seen as the administration's choice for chief magistrate.
Five Supreme Court "insiders" were on the shortlist, including acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio (7 votes) as well as Associate Justices Roberto Abad (6 votes), Arturo Brion (6 votes) and Maria Lourdes Sereno (6 votes), and Teresita Leonardo-De Castro (5 votes).
Also on the shortlist are Solicitor-General Francis Jardeleza (6 votes), former Executive Secretary Ronaldo Zamora (6 votes) and Ateneo De Manila University Law Dean Cesar Villanueva (5 votes).
The eight candidates, who placed on the top 3, were chosen from a total of 20 nominees, who have all been subjected to a selection process including public interviews.
The JBC also earlier on Monday voted to disqualify De Lima, who is facing a two disbarment cases before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.
This, even as the shortlist the JBC submitted to Malacañang included Jardeleza, who has earlier been identified as one of the nominees that may be disqualified due to pending cases, along with De Lima and Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Teresita Herbosa.
Herbosa was also not disqualified from the selection process, although she did not make it to the shortlist after the JBC vote.
Sought for comment, Iloilo Representative Nathaniel Tupas, an ex-officio member of the JBC said in a text message that Jardeleza's case was "not a regular administrative case" due to the absence of prima facie evidence while Herbosa's case had already been dismissted by the Supreme Court.
"Only the case against Secretary De Lima is pending under JBC rules. There was no consensus on the members to suspend or relax the rules. Hence, she was disqualified," Tupas said.
The President is mandated under the Constitution to appoint from the shortlist a new head of the high tribunal until 90 days after the Senate impeached former Chief Justice Renato Corona on May 29.
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