Saturday, January 16, 2010

Noynoy’s attack on High Court ‘irresponsible...'

Saturday, 16 January 2010 00:00

Original Story:

MALACAÑANG described on Friday as “irresponsible and dangerous” the statement of Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino 3rd that if he became president, he would not recognize the next chief justice appointed by President Gloria Arroyo.

Presidential political adviser Prospero Pichay said Aquino’s statement revealed his “true character and weakness” because a member of the Senate should not attack the judiciary, a co-equal branch of government.

“You have to respect a co-equal branch of government. You don’t threaten it!” he said in a press briefing in Malacañang. He said that Aquino’s “very big blunder” would make him a dangerous president.

“Even Marcos did not threaten the judiciary,” Pichay said, referring to the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

In a statement issued on Thursday, Aquino said: “If elected president, I will not recognize a chief justice appointed by the outgoing President, contrary to the constitutional ban on appointments during the wee hours of her presidency, and contrary to propriety and delicadeza and long standing precedence of prohibition against appointments two months before the outgoing President’s term expires.”

“Let me forewarn any member of the Supreme Court who shall accept to be chief justice by appointment of the outgoing President, that not only shall he not be recognized, but he risks even his presence in the Court as an associate member,” Aquino added.

Aquino, the presidential candidate of the Liberal Party, said that it is the next president who should appoint the successor of Chief Justice Reynato Puno who will retire on May 17, 2010.

Pichay said Aquino was not only arrogant but also ignorant in declaring that he would not recognize the appointee of Mrs. Arroyo as chief justice.

“If you combine arrogance with ignorance, it is very, very dangerous,” he said.

Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera urged Aquino to respect the constitutional power vested on the President to appoint the next chief justice of the Supreme Court even as she stressed that she respects the senator’s opinion.

Devanadera, a member of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), said that the JBC is not covered by any ban, contrary to the opinion of some critics of the administration, including Aquino.

“It [nomination to the judiciary] is a mandate of the JBC. There were no instances that the process started after the vacancy occurs,” the Justice secretary pointed out.

She cited the opinion of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile that the JBC nomination is not actually a requirement when it comes to the appointment of the chief justice. On the other hand, former Senate President Franklin Drilon maintained that the President is prohibited by the Constitution from appointing a new chief justice within two months before an election up to the end of his term.

“It’s not an issue of PGMA [President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo] making the appointment, it’s an issue of completing the court especially so if the person to be chosen as chief justice is already a member of the court,” Devanadera said.

Speaker Prospero Nograles echoed Pichay’s description of Aquino’s threat as dangerous, and uncalled for in a leader. “It is tantamount to a call not to obey the High Court, the final arbiter that dispenses justice in the country,” he said.

“The final arbiter in any conflict or issue is still the Supreme Court itself. The Chief executive only implements. This will cause chaos when the chief executive refuses to recognize a co-equal body,” Nograles said, while adding that Aquino’s threat was tantamount to a call to disobey the High Court.

Aquino, however, stood pat on his stand that President Arroyo should not appoint the next chief justice. He recalled that the President’s father, former President Diosdado Macapagal, refused to honor a midnight appointment for a new Central Bank governor issued by outgoing President Carlos P. Garcia “because it violated the constitutional ban on midnight appointments.”

“This is what happens if the children do not emulate the example of proper conduct set by their parents,” he said.

Earlier this week, Enrile said the President could legally appoint Puno’s successor and that the appointee need not undergo review by the Judicial and Bar Council if the next chief justice comes from the ranks of the sitting justices.

With Report From Jomar Canlas

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