May 31, 2012
The Judicial Bar Council (JBC) meetings, deliberations, and voting on the final list of nominees for the next Chief Justice should be open to the public.
Following the decision of the Supreme Court to publicly disclose the SALNs of the justices and judges, the acting Chief Justice should now move to open up the JBC proceedings to public scrutiny by holding its meetings and deliberations in full view of the public.
Transparency will make the process more accountable and will make the JBC members more careful.
There is a wave of reforms now sweeping the Supreme Court and the justice system in the aftermath of the conviction of former Chief Justice Renato Corona. The JBC must ride this wave and institute no-nonsense reforms that will assure greater transparency and accountability in its proceedings.
Just as the sessions of both the Senate and the House of Representatives are open to the public, so, too, should the proceedings of the JBC made public.
We have seen how critical it is to have a Chief Justice with integrity and independence. We cannot have a selection process for the next Chief Justice that is shrouded in secrecy and mystery. If there is any lesson to be learned in the non-disclosure to the public of the SALNs of the justices, it is that it becomes open to abuse. The right of the people to information on matters of public interest is mandated by the Constitution. The selection process for all judges and justices begins with the JBC; hence, the reforms should start there.