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House sets one-term rule for JBC members

The House of Representatives has approved on second reading a measure banning the reappointment of a regular member of the Judicial and Bar Council who has already served the full term.

Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr., chair of the House committee on justice, said House Bill 6040 disqualifies a regular member of the JBC from being reappointed to the same position in any capacity once  that  member has served the full term of office.

Tupas said he is hopeful that the Senate will give due consideration to the measure which shall be passed soon on third and final reading at the Lower House.

Tupas explained the disqualification shall also apply to any person who has been appointed and has served the unexpired portion of at least two years of the term of office of a regular member who has ceased to become one by reason of death, incapacity or resignation.

The measure, authored by Cavite Rep. Francis Gerald Abaya, seeks to ban the re-appointments to the JBC to avoid the possibility of instances where its members, in their desire to be reappointed to the Council, succumb to pressure from the executive to nominate individuals based on political considerations instead of their actual merits and qualifications, seriously undermining the quality of judicial appointments and the independence of the judiciary as a whole.

“The measure shall enhance the independence of the Judiciary by insulating it from political pressure,” Abaya said.

One of the key provisions of the bill enumerates the regular members of the JBC as provided under Art. VIII, Section 8 (2) of the 1987 Constitution, who shall be appointed by the President for a term of four (4) years with the consent of the Commission on Appointments.

The regular members are as follows: (a) representative of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP); (b) professor of Law; (c) a retired Member of the Supreme Court, and (d) representative of the Private Sector.

Tupas, meanwhile, said the House is expected to approve HB 6040 on third and final reading before Congress adjourns in October.

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