By Raïssa Robles
To look for the new Ombudsman, why has the Judicial and Bar Council set a 10-day “non-extendible” deadline and imposed a stupendous amount of paperwork for all the applicants? Why is it doing this when the Constitution specifies such a vacancy can be filled in 90 days’ time?
And why can’t the JBC use a two-step process instead, utilizing Facebook for the first step?
The post of the Office of the Ombudsman only became vacant last Friday or May 6.
And yet 10 days after May 6 – or by this Monday May 16 – all candidates for the position have to obtain and submit to JBC, among others, the following:
- Transcript of school records
- 2011 NBI clearance
- 2011 Ombudsman clearance
- 2011 Police clearance from place of residence
- Proof of age
- Proof of Filipino citizenship
- Results of medical examination in the last two months
- Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth for the past two years
Ok, granted that all those applying are lawyers, it should not be difficult for them to also obtain an affidavit showing they were not candidates in the immediate past election – a constitutional requirement that bars Gilbert Teodoro from applying, contrary to what Senator Miriam Santiago suggested.
But requiring a candidate to obtain an Ombudsman clearance — from the very office whose officials are under attack on various serious allegations and whose top official, who had a hand in picking those remaining in office — is ironic in this case.
My paramount question, however, is –
Why is the Judicial and Bar Council in such a hurry to CLOSE the application period for the new Ombudsman?
What JBC rules say
According to JBC’s own rules, a new Ombudsman should be in place within 90 days from a vacancy:
SEC. 2. Vacancies in the Office of the Ombudsman. – Vacancies in the Office of the Ombudsman or his deputies shall be filled within ninety days from the occurrence thereof. (CONST., Art. XI, Sec. 9).
However, the JBC can “fix the deadline” for the filing of applications:
SEC. 8. Deadline for filing of application. – The Council may fix the deadline for the filing of applications or recommendations for appointment, or may extend it for justifiable reasons. In case of recommendations, the acceptance by the recommendee must be made before the deadline. Applications or recommendations filed beyond the deadline will not be honored.[My underlining]
So why is the JBC in such tremendous hurry to fill up this office when the Constitution specifies that vacancies in the Office of the Ombudsman or deputies “shall be filled within three months after they occur?”
JBC can get public involved more
Finally, I was thinking that perhaps a two-step process can be used by the JBC – that is, if it really wants the public to get involved in picking out future members of the judiciary.
First, the JBC can throw the nomination wide open to the public and accept ALL NAMES.
Then the JBC can publish these names and then invite all those nominees to tell the JBC whether they are interested and give them a three or four week deadline to respond and submit all the requirements.
I am proposing this because there are just some men out there who will not apply on their own even if they are very good and very well qualified for the post. But if someone nominates them, then they will apply.
I speak from experience. My father was such a man. Colleagues at the University of Philippines College of Law kept telling him he was good enough to sit on the bench. But his attitude was – if they want me, then they will ask me.
Seriously, why not use Facebook?
And please, JBC, you can even do the first step for gathering nomines for the post of Ombudsman by using Facebook where millions of Filipinos are members. Ask your children how to set up such a page. You’ll be surprised at the response.
This is also in answer to Justice Scretary Leila de Lima’s appeal yesterday for the public to get involved. She said in yesterday’s press conference:
May I urge concerned sectors, groups, organizations and individuals to participate in the process of nominating who they think is fit for the job. Everyone has a stake in this issue of appointing the new Ombudsman.
My take on this issue – make it EASY for the many to participate. Don’t tie down the initial process with so much paperwork.
Here’s a portion of the notice from the JBC opening the nomination for Ombudsman:
To read the rest, go to this link.