Friday, January 8, 2010

Malacañang's plan to appoint a new Chief Justice is contrary to the Constitution

We have been informed by our sources in the judiciary that Malacañang wants to appoint a new Chief Justice to replace Chief Justice Puno, who retires on May 17, 2010 when he turns 70 years old.

The Constitution prohibits appointments two months before the May 10 election. The vacancy has yet to occur after the May 10 elections, therefore, the power to appoint the new Chief Justice should be left to the next President.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is prohibited by no less than the Constitution to appoint the next Chief Justice. Article VII Section 15 of the Constitution states that 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 public service or endanger public safety.

We call on the JBC to resist any effort by Malacañang to have it fast-track the nomination process. The JBC must assert its independence by ignoring the Malacañang request to begin the nomination process for the vacancy for the post of Chief Justice. Both the Constitution and delicadeza dictate that PGMA leave the choice to the incoming Chief Executive considering that the retirement of CJ Puno happens after the May 2010 elections.

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