Leonen: JBC not a mere technical committee

The Judicial and Bar Council was created under the 1987 Constitution. It was intended to be a fully independent constitutional body functioning as a check-and-balance on the President's power of appointment.[1]Before the existence of the Judicial and Bar Council, the executive and legislative branches had the exclusive prerogative of appointing members of the judiciary, subject only to confirmation by the Commission on Appointments. However, this appointment process was highly susceptible to political pressure and partisan activities and eventually prompted the need for a separate, competent, and independent body to recommend to the President nominees to the Judiciary.[2]

The Judicial and Bar Council is not merely a technical committee that evaluates the fitness and integrity of applicants in the Judiciary. It is a constitutional organ participating in the process that guides the direction of the Judiciary. Its composition represents a cross section of the legal profession, retired judges and Justices, and the Chief Justice. More than a technical committee, it has the power to examine the judicial philosophies of the applicants and make selections, which it submits to the President. The President may have the final discretion to choose, but he or she chooses only from that list.[3]

This is the complex relationship mandated by the sovereign through the Constitution. It ensures judicial independence, checks and balances on the Judiciary, and assurance for the rule of law.[3]

[1] CONST., art. VIII, sec. 8.

[2] Chavez v. Judicial and Bar Council, 691 Phil.173, 188 (2012) [Per J. Mendoza, En Banc].

[3] J. Leonen, concurring in Aguinaldo, et al. v. Aquino, III et al., G.R. No. 224302, February 21, 2017.

[4] Id.