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ARTURO M. DE CASTRO vs. JUDICIAL AND BAR COUNCIL (JBC) G. R. No. 191002. March 17, 2010.

FACTS: This case is based on multiple cases field with dealt with the controversy that has arisen from the forthcoming compulsory requirement of Chief Justice Puno on May 17, 2010 or seven days after the presidential election. On December 22, 2009, Congressman Matias V. Defensor, an ex officio member of the JBC, addressed a letter to the JBC, requesting that the process for nominations to the office of the Chief Justice be commenced immediately. In its January 18, 2010 meeting en banc, the JBC passed a resolution which stated that they have unanimously agreed to start the process of filling up the position of Chief Justice to be vacated on May 17, 2010 upon the retirement of the incumbent Chief Justice. As a result, the JBC opened the position of Chief Justice for application or recommendation, and published for that purpose its announcement in the Philippine Daily Inquirer and the Philippine Star. In its meeting of February 8, 2010, the JBC resolved to proceed to the next step of announcing the names of the following candidates to invite to the public to file their sworn complaint, written report, or opposition, if any, not later than February 22, 2010. Although it has already begun the process for the filling of the position of Chief Justice Puno in accordance with its rules, the JBC is not yet decided on when to submit to the President its list of nominees for the position due to the controversy in this case being unresolved. The compiled cases which led to this case and the petitions of intervenors called for either the prohibition of the JBC to pass the shortlist, mandamus for the JBC to pass the shortlist, or that the act of appointing the next Chief Justice by GMA is a midnight appointment. A precedent frequently cited by the parties is the In Re Appointments Dated March 30, 1998 of Hon. Mateo A. Valenzuela and Hon. Placido B. Vallarta as Judges of the RTC of Branch 62, Bago City and of Branch 24, Cabanatuan City, respectively, shortly referred to here as the Valenzuela case, by which the Court held that Section 15, Article VII prohibited the exercise by the President of the power to appoint to judicial positions during the period therein fixed. ISSUE/S: 1. Whether or not the petitioners have legal standing. 2. Whether or not there is justiciable controversy that is ripe for judicial determination. 3. Whether or not the incumbent President can appoint the next Chief Justice. 4. Whether or not mandamus and prohibition will lie to compel the submission of the shortlist of nominees by the JBC. HELD: 1. Petitioners have legal standing because such requirement for this case was waived by the Court. Legal standing is a peculiar concept in constitutional law because in some cases, suits are not brought by parties who have been personally injured by the operation of a law or any other government act but by concerned citizens, taxpayers or voters who actually sue in the public interest. But even if, strictly speaking, the petitioners are not covered by the definition, it is still within the wide discretion of the Court to waive the requirement and so remove the impediment to its addressing and resolving the serious constitutional questions raised. 2. There is a justiciable issue. The court holds that the petitions set forth an actual case or controversy that is ripe for judicial determination. The reality is that the JBC already commenced the proceedings for the selection of the nominees to be included in a short list to be submitted to the President for consideration of which of them will succeed Chief Justice Puno as the next Chief Justice. Although the position is not yet vacant, the fact that the JBC began the process of nomination pursuant to its rules and practices, although it has yet to decide whether to submit the list of nominees to the incumbent outgoing President or to the next President, makes the situation ripe for judicial determination, because the next steps are the public interview of the candidates, the preparation of the short list of candidates, and the interview of constitutional experts, as may be needed. The resolution of the controversy will surely settle with finality the nagging questions that are preventing the JBC from moving on with the process that it already began, or that are reasons persuading the JBC to desist from the rest of the process. 3.Prohibition under section 15, Article VII does not apply to appointments to fill a vacancy in the Supreme Court or to other appointments to the judiciary. The records of the deliberations of the Constitutional Commission reveal that the framers devoted time to meticulously drafting, styling, and arranging the Constitution. Such meticulousness indicates that the organization and arrangement of the provisions of the Constitution were not arbitrarily or whimsically done by the framers, but purposely made to reflect their intention and manifest their vision of what the Constitution should contain. As can be seen, Article VII is devoted to the Executive Department, and, among others, it lists the powers vested by the Constitution in the President. The presidential power of appointment is dealt with in Sections 14, 15 and 16 of the Article. Had the framers intended to extend the prohibition contained in Section 15, Article VII to the appointment of Members of the Supreme Court, they could have explicitly done so. They could not have ignored the meticulous ordering of the provisions. They would have easily and surely written the prohibition made explicit in Section 15, Article VII as being equally applicable to the appointment of Members of the Supreme Court in Article VIII itself, most likely in Section 4 (1), Article VIII. 4.Writ of mandamus does not lie against the JBC. Mandamus shall issue when any tribunal, corporation, board, officer or person unlawfully neglects the performance of an act that the law specifically enjoins as a duty resulting from an office, trust, or station. It is proper when the act against which it is directed is one addressed to the discretion of the tribunal or officer. Mandamus is not available to direct the exercise of a judgment or discretion in a particular way. For mandamus to lie, the following requisites must be complied with: (a) the plaintiff has a clear legal right to the act demanded; (b) it must be the duty of the defendant to perform the act, because it is mandated by law; (c) the defendant unlawfully neglects the performance of the duty enjoined by law; (d) the act to be performed is ministerial, not discretionary; and (e) there is no appeal or any other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law.