JBC holds off Chief Justice search pending final Sereno ouster ruling

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 18) — The Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) will wait for the Supreme Court's final ruling on the ouster of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno before beginning the search for her replacement.

Members of the JBC, which screens appointments to the judiciary, reached a consensus Friday not to act on the Supreme Court's directive for them to open the nomination and application for Chief Justice. This was confirmed by Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, a member of the council, to CNN Philippines.

"There is no permanent vacancy to speak of till the QW (quo warranto) decision attains finality." Guevarra said in a text message.

Sereno was removed on May 11 after the High Court granted Solicitor General Jose Calida's quo warranto petition against Sereno. This is a legal proceeding where a person's right to hold office is challenged.

The Supreme Court invalidated Sereno's 2012 appointment as Chief Justice for failing to meet the requirement of submitting her Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALNs) from 2002 to 2006.

The Supreme Court also ordered the JBC to begin the search for Sereno's successor, saying its ruling to remove Sereno from her post is "immediately executory." The Rules of Court states Sereno has 15 days to file an appeal.

"It makes sense for the JBC to wait until all legal remedies are exhausted by CJ Sereno to contest the grant by the Supreme Court of the petition for quo warranto against her last May 11," said Sereno's spokesperson Jojo Lacanilao.

He added that Sereno intends to file a motion for reconsideration within the prescribed period. Sereno's camp urged the public to let the JBC fulfill their functions, while stressing that the process of selection for vacancies in the court is an internal matter within the jurisdiction of the JBC.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday said he does not want a woman to be the next Chief Justice.

"Gusto ko 'yung bilib ang tao sa integrity niya [I want someone with integrity]. Of course it could not be a politician, lalo na hindi babae [especially not a woman]," Duterte told reporters in Malacañang on May 15.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque was quick to defend the President, saying that what he heard was a question regarding the next Ombudsman.

Sereno is the first impeachable official to be ousted without a Senate trial.