Aug 092013
The Supreme Court has agreed to the appointment of a Sharia consultant for the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), the body tasked to screen and vet nominees for vacant judicial posts.

In a one-page resolution, the high court sitting en banc approved a letter made by one of its members, Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, requesting that a jurisconsult in Islamic Law be tapped for the JBC.

“The Court Resolved to Approve in principle the appointment of a Shari’a consultant for the JBC and a Jurisconsult in Islamic Law,” the SC said in its resolution.

Court Administrator Midas Marquez was tasked to recommend within 30 days an Islamic law expert who could take on the role as Sharia consultant.

Currently, the JBC has two consultants: SC Senior Associate Justices Antonio Carpio and Presbitero Velasco Jr.

So far, there are only two high ranking Muslim magistrates in the Philippine judiciary, namely Court of Appeals Justices Japar Dimaampao and Hakim Abdulwahid.

In his four-page letter addressed to the en banc, Leonen emphasized the importance of putting a Sharia consult for the JBC.

“I have been informed that despite the presence of so many qualified experts on Shari’a Law, the court still does not have a Shari’a consultant for the JBC nor a jurisconsult. May I respectfully suggest that the Secretariat of the JBC and the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) be tasked immediately to look into this matter,” Leonen said.

Leonen said that under Article VIII of Republic Act 9054 or “An Act Strengthening and Expanding the Organic Act for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM),” the President can “appoint a qualified person as a consultant to the [JBC] recommended by the Regional Governor in consultation with concerned sectors of the autonomous region.”

Before being appointed to the SC, Leonen was head of the government panel that successfully negotiated a peace pact with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Mark D. Merueñas/KBK, GMA News

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