Shortlisted: The JBC interviews with the CJ nominees – Minda News

Posted: October 23, 2019 at 2:45 pm


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By the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalismand the Court Appointments Watch Network

ONE sweated profusely and even teared up, another confessed to having a talent for dancing, and the third said he would want to have canned goods and a can opener if he were trapped on a deserted island. At the very least, the interviews conducted by the Judicial and Bar Council provided glimpses, though very brief, of the personality of each nominee for the post of Supreme Court chief justice.

Four associate justices of the Supreme Court were interviewed by the JBC last Oct. 2 as possible successor to Chief Justice Lucas P. Bersamin. Thirteen days later, the JBC shortlisted three of the four for President Rodrigo Duterte to choose from.

To be sure, the justices performance at the interviews must have had considerable weight in the JBCs selection of the final three. But perhaps because some of the applicants had already been interviewed in previous rounds, the questions asked were uneven in tone, content, and relevance.

The following are excerpts from those interviews, which ran for more than an hour each. Both questions and replies were edited for brevity and readability.

Q: What is your vision for the judiciary? What are your plans for the court?

ASSOCIATE JUSTICE DIOSDADO M. PERALTA

ASSOCIATE JUSTICE ESTELA M. PERLAS-BERNABE

ASSOCIATE JUSTICE ANDRES B. REYES JR.

Q: On clogged dockets: One of the reasons for backlog is the failure of courts to continue hearing regularly (Monday to Friday), also because of lack of PAO lawyers and prosecutors. Does your program include coordination with the DOJ?

PERALTA:

PERLAS-BERNABE:

The first thing I would do is to set dialogues with various stakeholders and key officials of the institutions and the purpose of this dialogue is to lay down the framework or the groundwork of my vision. I will seek their cooperation and ask them to participate in my vision thereby espousing a culture of inclusivity and empowerment. I will hear from them their problems and I will give them the group work of my vision in such a way that we can hear both sides and all sides of the problem and find a concrete solution.

REYES:

Was not asked

Q: On judicial marshals for judges: At least 35 lawyers and judges were killed in the line of duty. PJA sought the creation of the Marshal system as a result of the killings. Establishing this may help prevent further killings. Is this a good solution to the problem?

PERALTA:

It is an excellent solution; when one life is in danger, what we do is to seek help from the police agencies, which are not within our control and supervision. If we have the marshals then, they will be reporting to us, then judges lives will be safer; but the problem is: can the SC open positions for marshals without violating the rule that only the Congress can open offices? There was a proposal during the budget hearing to help SC for a bill proposing such because of too many deaths and threats. Some problems include budget, administration, judges not used to supervising armed men and so on.

PERLAS-BERNABE:

I do not know the reason why they are being killed but there should be a reason behind it; but the judges should be secured considering they are the one handling cases involving drugs and other heinous crimes.

I would opt more for more security to them than the marshals (the ones who feel that they are in danger).

I do not know how much expenses will be incurred to have these special marshals but I can check on the possibility on this plan of action.

There are many projects and plans that we can think of but sometimes there are budgetary and logistical concerns.

REYES:

Was not asked

Q: On the lack of court stenographers and backlog in cases. How will you address this problem to avoid accumulation of cases in lower courts?

PERALTA:

We are employing contractual stenographers to resolve the problem in the meantime; but there is another problem on compensation (SG14) v. Private firm (2x)

Work has been lightened in first level courts because all direct testimonies of witnesses are in affidavit form instead of oral testimonies. They will only be taking cross examination Qs propounded.

There is also a bill pending in the Senate exempting the judiciary from the Salary Standardization Law. This may entice stenographers from the private sector, may be enticed to join the judiciary.

PERLAS-BERNABE:

They are now in the process of hiring contractual stenographers.

The reason that many stenographers are retiring or getting out of the office is because of the continuous trial; they are so much loaded with having to prepare stenographic notes.

Q: Is it possible that it is because of the pay?

A: Probably but they also charge a particular rate for every stenographic note made aside from what they receive from the court.

It is mostly because of the heavy workload that they get out of government.

Post applications on the website and raise pay grade to make it more attractive.

REYES:

Was not asked

Q: Failure to act on survivorship in SC en banc (CJ Sereno), how do you prioritize and ensure that the matter be expedited?

PERALTA:

Was not asked

PERLAS-BERNABE:

Q: There have been complaints on the retirement pay for judges and justices, how will you speed it up? (IBP)

The benefits are now being taken care of more speedily because applications for survivorship directly go through the Court and will not pass through another committee, unlike before.

If there is a need to streamline the process, we could just coordinate with the OCA (Office of Court Administrator)

REYES:

A: As PJ (ex-presiding justice of Court of Appeals), these petitions needed signatures, processes (explained process); I dont see any delay.

There was some delay because that happened in the RTC and MTC; CA does not have enough funds.

Q: On integrity and publics continued perception that the judiciary is corrupt, justice for sale?

PERALTA:

Perception is greater than reality but reality is that there are only few corrupt. We publish discipline of judges; but we are passive, we cannot go the media and explain ourselves, our voice is limited; but we can continue informing the public about what we do about the misfits.

PERLAS-BERNABE:

Everything plays when there is an opportunity but this perception may be erased through visible results like speedy and consistent ruling on cases.

REYES:

No idea about how public perceive SC, but I am always of the theory that justice delayed is justice denied.

The foundation of reform is that there is no delay.

Q: On dispensing speedy justice

PERALTA:

The lower courts have been performing well. Before we revised the guidelines for continuous trial, the dockets went down. For the 2nd level courts, they are drowned in drug cases but we are trying our best; some solutions are legislative but we are trying to develop tools and skills of the judges for plea bargaining, and implement continuous trial, which has considerably reduced the dockets of the court.

We are proposing to amend BP 129 on the jurisdiction of the RTC reflecting changes in amount threshold

PERLAS-BERNABE:

We have a problem on congestion of cases. I would prioritize the implementing rule on the Judges-at-Large act as well as the full implementation of the Family Court Act because right now we have only implemented the 1st tranche of the Family Court Act and theres so many designated FC judges who are hindered from performing general jurisdiction cases

(inaudible) such that the OCJ and the OCA will have access to the management system (inaudible)

Training materials to be used for specialized courts

We can also codify the various rules of procedure contained on administrative issuances into ordinary procedure for the guidance of the bench, the bar, and the public.

REYES:

Talk to judges individually and discuss how they can help with problem; raise to en banc so they can realize that these things have to be done.

Make en banc realize passion to help the public.

Q: What makes you say that you are better qualified now than before?

PERALTA:

A: I always practice the principle. I live by example.

PERLAS-BERNABE;

Was not asked

REYES:

Q: You will be staying in the court for eight months, what concrete reforms do you intend to implement within the next four months and what other concrete reforms will you implement before you end your term?

Good working computer system; it can be installed within the year/ populate data. Once you populate the data, you can update status of the cases.

Q: What reforms will you prioritize?

PERALTA:

Was not asked

PERLAS-BERNABE:

On the decongestion of dockets, I will prioritize the implementing rules on the judge-at-large act as well as the family court act.

Seek codification of rules of procedure.

Urge the PhilJA (Philippine Judicial Academy) to create a template for courts not only for orders for specialized courts, but also for decisions and resolutions of the lower court judges.

Corruption and accountability activate Judicial Integrity Board so that complaints against judges and court personnel/admin can be heard and investigated and seek the creation of the Committee on Ethics so that we can investigate on cases of graft and corruption and other ethical standards.

REYES:

Q: All CJs have promised reforms but mindset of people in the SC is preserving the conservative side/tradition/ not fixing when its not broken. Court can only move in a collegial manner, are you confident that you are able to institute reforms considering that you need clearance or en banc?

Talk to judges individually and discuss how they can help with problem; raise to en banc so they can realize that these things have to be done.

Make en banc realize passion.

Q: On dealing with the news media

PERALTA:

Was not asked

PERLAS-BERNABE:

Q: Would be you be comfortable talking in media on matters that you feel are of public interest or paramount importance?

No, my first duty is to the Court. I will feel uncomfortable speaking about issues because these may come to court and its a way that I may really voice out my opinion.

REYES:

I dont bring cell phone. Refrain from making announcement.

I would not know but I will not talk on any subject at all but if I need to talk, about backlog, but not on issues.

Q: How can you effectively promptly initiate reform if you have to go through the en banc to secure the approval? (Reforms may be stymied because of this)

PERALTA:

See the rest here:
Shortlisted: The JBC interviews with the CJ nominees - Minda News

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October 23rd, 2019 at 2:45 pm