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Chavez vs. JBC Facts: Chavez seeks judicial intervention with regard to JBC composition. Article VIII, Sec.

8 of the 1987 Constitution provides that: A Judicial and Bar Council is hereby created under the supervision of the Supreme Court composed of the Chief Justice as ex officio Chairman, the Secretary of Justice, and a representative of the Congress as ex officio Members, a representative of the Integrated Bar, a professor of law, a retired Member of the Supreme Court, and a representative of the private sector. In compliance, Congress, from the moment of JBC creation, had only 1 representative (the HR and Senate would send alternate representatives to the JBC). Subsequently, in 1994, the composition of the JBC was substantially altered. Instead of having only 7 members, an 8th member was added to the JBC as two (2) representatives from Congress began sitting in the JBC one from the House of Representatives and one from the Senate, with each having one-half (1/2) of a vote. Then, curiously, the JBC En Banc decided to allow the representatives from the Senate and the House of Representatives one full vote each. Issue: Whether or not the current practice of the JBC to perform its functions with eight (8) members, two (2) of whom are members of Congress, runs counter to the letter and spirit of the 1987 Constitution. Ruling: Yes. The use of the singular letter "a" preceding "representative of Congress" is unequivocal and leaves no room for any other construction. Congress may designate only one (1) representative to the JBC. Had it been the intention that more than one (1) representative from the legislature would sit in the JBC, the Framers of the Constitution could have, in no uncertain terms, so provided. The seven-member composition of the JBC serves a practical purpose, that is, to provide a solution should there be a stalemate in voting. This underlying reason leads the Court to conclude that

a single vote may not be divided into half (1/2), between two representatives of Congress, or among any of the sitting members of the JBC for that matter. This unsanctioned practice can possibly cause disorder and eventually muddle the JBCs voting process, especially in the event a tie is reached. The respondents insist that owing to the bicameral nature of Congress, the word "Congress" in Section 8(1), Article VIII of the Constitution should be read as including both the Senate and the House of Representatives. They theorize that it was so worded because at the time the said provision was being drafted, the Framers initially intended a unicameral form of Congress. A perusal of the records of the Constitutional Commission reveals that the composition of the JBC reflects the Commissions desire "to have in the Council a representation for the major elements of the community." xxx The ex-officiomembers of the Council consist of representatives from the three main branches of government while the regular members are composed of various stakeholders in the judiciary. The unmistakeable tenor of Article VIII, Section 8(1) was to treat each ex-officio member as representing one co-equal branch of government. xxx Thus, the JBC was designed to have seven voting members with the three ex-officio members having equal say in the choice of judicial nominees. To ensure judicial independence, the framers of the Constitution adopted a holistic approach and hoped that, in creating a JBC, the private sector and the three branches of government would have an active role and equal voice in the selection of the members of the Judiciary. Therefore, to allow the Legislature to have more quantitative influence in the JBC by having more than one voice speak, whether with one full vote or one-half (1/2) a vote each, would, as one former congressman and member of the JBC put it, "negate the principle of equality among the three branches of government which is enshrined in the Constitution." 53