JBC dispenses with public interviews for senior justices vying for Chief Justice

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 22) — Senior Supreme Court (SC) justices no longer need to go through public interviews in their bid to become the next Chief Justice, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Monday.

Guevarra, an ex-officio member of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) that screens applicants to the judiciary, said justices--including those who previously underwent public interviews for the position--unanimously approved a resolution calling for the policy.

The JBC, for its part, has "agreed to dispense with the public interviews of senior SC justices vying for the position, without prejudice to closed-door interviews by the members of the JBC," he added.

"The majority of the JBC members took the view that sitting members of the Supreme Court had already been publicly interviewed when they originally applied for their SC positions, and any public inquiry anew on matters pertaining to their SALNs (statement of assets, liablities and net worth) and other personal matters in full view of the public thru live media coverage would not serve any substantially useful purpose," Guevarra said.

"In any event, the CJ (chif justice) nominees will still be thoroughly interviewed by the JBC, though not in full glare of the public, and if any formal amendment to the JBC rules is necessary, the same will be so done," he added.

JBC is screening nominees to replace Teresita Leonardo de Castro who retired on October 10.

According to JBC rules, the five most senior associate justices are automatically nominated for chief justice, but they have to formally accept their nomination. 

Senior Associate Justices Antonio Carpio, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, and Estela Perlas-Bernabe accepted their automatic nomination, while Mariano Del Castillo declined. Peralta and Bersamin had previously undergone public interviews.