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MANILA, Philippines – The Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), which recommends to the President appointees to the Supreme Court and lower courts, will now require aspirants to the chief justice position to submit a waiver on bank accounts, copy of income tax return (ITR) and statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth (SALN), according to Sen. Francis "Chiz" Escudero.
The council came up with the requirements after JBC members agreed to Escuedro's motion on Monday to require aspirants to presents the said documents. Escudero, chairman of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, is an ex-officio member of the council.
Aspirants who are from the government will be asked to provide copies of their SALNs. Those from the private sector will be required to submit copies of their ITRs from two previous years.
“The new requirement covers applicants and nominees from both the private and government sectors. The waiver includes bank deposits on local and foreign currencies and the opening of their SALNs and ITRs in favor of the JBC. This will allow the council to check if indeed their bank accounts are reflected in their SALNs or ITRs,” Escudero said.
Under the existing JBC requirements, all court applicants must be Filipino citizens; possess proven competence, integrity, probity and independence and a member of the Philippine bar; at least 40 years old; and have served 15 years or more as a judge of a lower court or in the practice of law in the Philippines.
“The body’s approval of my motion is just being consistent to the general sentiment of the people during and after the tedious impeachment process: that is to set the highest bar for transparency and accountability among those who are in and those who wish to join government service," said Escudero.
"We just removed a chief justice because of his deficient bank accounts, and the last thing we want is to choose another CJ whose bank accounts are not reflected in his SALN,” he added.
Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas, chairman of the House Committee on Justice and also an ex-officio member of the JBC said that, "We now have a very high standard for the chief justice post."
He said that any aspirant who fails to submit a bank account waiver would be automatically disqualified.
In the coming days, the JBC will publish notices of vacancy and acceptance of application and nomination for the chief justice post, which will include the three new requirements. The nomination will be from June 6 to 18, 2012.