Is RP A Pseudo-Monarchy Now?
First the report:
In a letter dated December 22, Quezon City Rep. Matias Defensor urged his fellow members of the JBC to “commence the procedure in nominating the applicants and immediately submit to the President the list of at least 3 nominees for the position of Chief Justice.”
In a phone interview, Defensor said he proposed the move “to avoid the possibility of vacancy in the Chief Justice post for 43 days.”
“The Chief Justice post is very important—he heads the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, chairs the JBC, and [is] 5th in [the order of] succession. You cannot leave it vacant even for a day,” Defensor said.
In his letter, Defensor stressed that the position of the Chief Justice “is the most important appointment vested by the Constitution to the President.”
Without mentioning the appointment ban, Defensor argued that “to avoid a vacancy of even a single day in the position, it is imperative that we give the President ample time before May 17, 2010, to scrutinize and critically consider our 3 nominees for this highest of judicial positions.”
In his letter, Defensor argued that, traditionally, from the time of retirement of Chief Justice Claudio Teehankee—the first Chief Justice under the 1987 Constitution—to the appointment of Puno, the Chief Justice post has never been vacant, not even for a day.
Citing the enormous responsibility vested in the Chief Justice, Defensor said the “prompt filling up of the position is paramount.”
He added: “The filling up of the vacancy in said office either by substitution or by temporary appointment is not sanctioned by the Constitution.”
Defensor, in the interview, said the existing members of the Tribunal could not select among themselves an acting Chief Justice during the interim period that the next President has yet to make the new appointment. “There is no such thing as acting Chief Justice.”
As trial balloons go, this idea propounded by the congressman-lawyer (unabashed lackey of Mrs. Arroyo) is as harebrained as anyone affiliated with the outgoing regime can get.
No mincing words here.
The Arroyo regime truly wants to turn the Supreme Court into its rubberstamp and is not content at having already appointed 14 of the fifteen sitting magistrates.
“His jurisprudential acrobatics notwithstanding,” Rep. Defensor is “obviously hallucinating,” an eminent law professor told this writer.
More to the point, Defensor thinks his outgoing boss can and should wittingly usurp the prerogatives of the Republic’s next duly-elected Chief Executive.
He also ignores the fact tht Mrs. Arroyo cannot make any new appointments during the election period
I’d rather not quote the expletives my friend shared.
It appears Pres. Arroyo and her lapdogs think they are running a monarchy with this shameless proposal for a CJ-in-waiting.
Let’s have it from former \Senate President Franklin Drilon.
Here’s a key excerpt of his analysis as it appears on ABS-CBN News On Line:
The paramount question is: Under the 1987 Constitution, can an outgoing President Arroyo still appoint the successor of Chief Justice Puno?
Article VIII, Section 4(1) of the Constitution provides that any vacancy in the Supreme Court shall be filled within ninety days from the occurrence thereof.
On the other hand, Article VII, Section 15 of the same Constitution provides that after two months immediately before the next presidential elections and up to the end of his term, a President or Acting President shall not make appointments except temporary appointments to executive positions when continued vacancies therein will prejudice or endanger public safety.
A precedent case in this situation would be the 1998 Supreme Court case entitled In Re Appointments of Valenzuela and Vallarta, wherein the high tribunal was confronted with the question of whether, during the period when appointments are banned, the President was required to appoint a Regional Trial Court judge in view of Article VIII, Section 9, which mandates that the President shall issue the appointments within 90 days from the submission of the list by the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC).
In that case, the Supreme Court ruled that during the period of the ban under Section 15, Article VII, or the prohibition against midnight appointments, the President cannot make such appointments. The Court said that the President was neither required to make appointments to the courts, nor allowed to do so during the last 90 days of the President’s term.
The court noted that the exception in Article VII, Section 15 — allowing appointments to be made during the period of the ban therein provided — was much narrower than that recognized in the 1962 case of Aytona vs Castillo.
In this case, the Supreme Court struck down as illegal the so-called midnight appointments by then outgoing President Carlos Garcia, who issued 350 appointments in one day in December 1961 and set the induction of the new officers a few hours before the inauguration of his successor, President Diosdado Macapagal.
Read Sen. Drilon’s full piece here: