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Philippines judicial selection oversight group formed

[JURIST] Philippines bar leaders, retired judges, attorneys, law schools and business leaders Monday formed [Philippine Daily Inquirer report] an unofficial judicial oversight group dedicated to providing transparency in the selection of seven justices to the Supreme Court of the Philippines in 2009, when current justices retire. The name of the group, Bantay Korte Suprema (BKS), translates to "Watch the Supreme Court." Candidates for the court are traditionally screened by the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), which then submits a list of recommendations to the President. Former Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban [official profile] has called for reforms in the JBC’s confidential deliberation process, expressing concerns that the court will soon be dominated by appointees of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo [official website].

Concerns about corruption in the Philippines judiciary [AFP report] have exacerbated calls for an open, impartial selection process. International watchdog groups and political opponents are especially wary of a court controlled by Arroyo’s partisans. Arroyo was accused of rigging her 2004 re-election bid [GMA report] and was implicated in a 2007 broadband scandal [The Philippine Daily Inquirer report]. She was also the target of coup plots in 2003 and 2006 [JURIST reports], and has been criticized for 800 alleged extra-judicial killings [JURIST report] that have occurred in the country since she came to power.

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