Press Release
June 7, 2012

Selection of next Chief Justice not an "Idol" talent search

Sen. Ralph G. Recto yesterday said a televised public selection of the next Supreme Court chief justice would only distract the Judicial Bar Council (JBC) from completing its task with each nominee and even JBC members having to contend with daily barrage of adverse opinions and "expert comments."

Recto stressed the JBC must be allowed to do its work with little distraction and away from too much klieg lights.

"Let us not, please, turn the search for the next CJ as if the applicants are candidates vying for the title of the next 'American Idol' or the new Ms. Universe," Recto said.

Recto said the search is not akin to discovering the next "Jessica Sanchez" who needs to dazzle the discriminating crowd with his or her "good diction, fancy wardrobe and cerebral exhibition."

"We created the JBC to do the work that the more than 100 million Filipinos could not do. We should trust them to give us a short list of nominees that are worthy of becoming the next CJ," Recto said.

He added: "At the end of the day, we must trust the better judgment of the President to deliver to us a chief justice that is beyond suspicion and reproach."

Recto said the search for the next chief magistrate of the high tribunal must be bereft of glitz and fanfare to preserve the integrity and sanctity of the selection process.

"I have also full confidence in the media to sift through information from the JBC proceedings as to how the selection process is going and alert us with any sign of lutong macao," he stressed, adding that public records related to the CJ search could be readily accessed by the media.

"Let's not bring in the cameras inside the JBC, one televised impeachment drama should be enough for one year," the senator added.

Recto likewise said requiring CJ nominees to sign bank waivers "is self- limiting and might drive away differently opinionated but very much qualified would-be nominees."

"We might be limiting the field of choices and miss out the best and the brightest just, maybe because they see it as a built-in but absurd trap," he said.

Recto issued the statement in reaction to proposals to open up to the public the JBC proceedings through full television and radio broadcast and require all nominees to sign bank waivers.

The JBC is the body created under the 1987 Constitution to come up with three nominees each for every vacant judicial position in all courts. The President can only appoint judges and justices from the short list of nominees submitted by the JBC.

It is composed of the Supreme Court chief justice as ex-officio chair, with the secretary of Justice, and the chairs of the House and Senate justice committees as ex-officio members. The other four regular members come from the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the academe, the private sector, and a retired member of the Supreme Court.

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