The Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) will now require aspirants for the chief justice position to submit a waiver on bank deposits, income tax return (ITR) and the opening of the statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN), Senator Chiz Escudero said.
Escudero, the Senate representative to the JBC, made the motion in today’s deliberation of the council, the first since former Chief Justice Renato Corona was removed from office last week. The senator’s proposal was unanimously carried by the collegial body.
Since the conclusion of the five-month-long impeachment of Corona, Escudero has been pushing for the inclusion of waiver as additional requirement for all seeking to become the next top magistrate.
Aspirants who are from the government will be asked to provide their SALNs and those from the private sector will be required to submit the income tax returns (ITR) 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. We just removed a CJ 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,” Escudero said.
In the next few days, the JBC will publish notices of vacancy and acceptance of application and nomination for the highest magistrate position which will now include the newly imposed waiver requirement.