September 11, 2012
Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan, former chairman of the Senate Committee on Justice and former ex-oficio member of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), says that a re-tooling of the process in filling up court vacancies by the JBC is hardly needed. "All that the JBC needs to do is to look at the process implemented by the council under the leadership of then-Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban."
"Under his leadership, the JBC was able to reduce the vacancy in the judiciary to 16 percent from a high of 32 percent," he explains.
According to Pangilinan, the JBC then was able to reduce court vacancies to half through an "aggressive recruitment effort and an even more aggressive interview process so that all vacancies will have the necessary list of nominees submitted to Malacanang and that there are no backlog of nominations pending in the JBC."
The current vacancy is now back to 25 percent. Pangilinan says that the process regressed under succeeding Chief Justices, causing the vacancy rate to balloon back to what he calls "unacceptable levels."
Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno has called for a workshop to review the JBC process.
"The workshop should review the minutes of previous JBC meetings held during CJ Panganiban's time," Pangilinan suggests. "Here they will discover that at one point the JBC interviewed up to 30 applicants daily for a period of four months, thereby speeding up the nomination process tremendously. If we in the JBC were able to reduce the vacancy rates from 32 percent to 16 percent then, there is no reason why the JBC cannot do it now. We slashed the vacancies in half. The JBC today should be able to accomplish this and more. The target should be to reduce the vacancy rate to single digits in a year's time. This will require an aggressive recruitment effort where the JBC goes to the provinces to urge lawyers to take on the challenge of public service."
"Chief Justice Sereno, who is young and energetic, should lead the charge and undertake an all encompassing search for the best and the brightest to join the judiciary and help in putting in place the reforms it so urgently needs," Pangilinan stresses.
Image Source: Official website of CJ Artemio Panganiban (Ret.)