Friday, January 15, 2010

On Aquino’s threat not to recognize new CJ: "Noynoy ignorant, arrogant"—Palace

By Aytch S. de la Cruz,
Charlie V. Manalo and
Gerry Baldo

Original Story:

Ignorance plus arrogance makes for a dangerous president.

Liberal Party standard bearer Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino’s threat not to recognize any chief justice (CJ) appointed by President Arroyo and his pledge to fire any associate justice who will recognize the new CJ not appointed by him has succeeded in kicking up a storm of protests, with Malacañang yesterday saying Aquino has all the makings of a “dangerous” President if he wins Malacañang in 2010 after showing himself up to be “arrogant” and “ignorant” by issuing such threats to the high court.

Presidential Adviser for Political Affairs Prospero

Pichay said Aquino’s warning to the hight court justices is “irresponsible and dangerous” because it does show that he does not have any high regard for the judiciary, a co-equal branch of government.

“If you combine arrogance with ignorance, it is very, very dangerous,” Pichay said during a briefing in Malacañang. You have to respect a co-equal branch of government, you don’t threaten it.”

In a statement released to media, 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,” said Aquino of the Liberal Party, the current front-runner in the presidential surveys.

Going by Aquino’s statement, Pichay pointed to this as a testament of his combined “arrogance” and “ignorance” that certainly does not speak well of the kind of leadership Aquino would be demonstrating if he gets to sit in Malacañang.

“I think this (Aquino’s remarks) is really an irresponsible and dangerous statement. I think as a presidential candidate you have to respect the President’s dispensation. He is not yet the President of the Republic of the Philippines,” Pichay stated in a a press conference yesterday.

“It is to me irresponsible because you have to respect another branch of government. Our Constitution has three branches of government: the legislative, the executive, and the judiciary. You do not threaten a co-equal branch of government by telling them that you are not going to recognize the recommendee of the President. That is already threatening another branch of government. That is indeed the highest form of irresponsibility because if you become the President, you have to respect the judiciary. If you can threaten the judiciary then you will not be able to come up with the dream of every Filipino to have justice in our country,” he added.

Pichay implied that this latest remark of Aquino and his camp was a huge blunder that might just incite a potential slump from the comfortable position he is currently enjoying in the surveys.

“I think it is really a big blunder because people will start realizing he will become a dangerous president. Nobody has threatened the Supreme Court, not even the late PresidentMarcos. No one should threaten the Supreme Court. I believe it is a big blunder on the part of Sen. Noynoy Aquino and I guess he has to change his legal advisers because even his legal adviser don’t know what they are talking about,” Pichay said.

Press Secretary Cerge Remonde, for his part, expressed serious doubts over the intentions of Aquino’s legal advisers in giving him advice, being uncertain whether they are using him to promote their vested interests.

Aquino’s present legal advisers are reportedly composed of the lawyers that come from the FIRM.

Remonde in a prepared statement branded Aquino as the “president-in-waiting” who ironically disrespects the Constitution established under his own late mother’s administration. “I am not a lawyer myself, much like the presumed President-in-waiting, but, based on his quotes Friday, clearly he is not getting sound advice on the matter. I would advice his advisers, and their President-in-waiting himself, that the sound thing to do on the matter is to read the provision in the 1987 Constitution...The soundness of these provisions have been debated at length by Law Deans and legal experts, and I should leave that matter to them,” Remonde said in his statement.

“Let me just note, however, that the Judiciary Act of 1948 was recently cited to define the role of a so-called most senior justice in the Court, presumably to suit a senatorial aspirant’s Chief-Justice-In-Waiting. That concept in the Judiciary Act of 1948, I’m afraid, is superseded by the 1987 Constitution, specifically on the provision on filling vacancies in the high court. Ironic and sad, that the Cory Constitution is being savaged by her own party, now led by her own son,”he added.

Speaker Prospero Nograles weighed in and said Aquino should not undermine the SC, no matter who its members are. “That’s a dangerous statement (Aquino made).The final legal arbiter in any legal 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,” said Nograles.

Quezon Rep. Lorenzo “Erin” Tañada, LP spokesman, in a bid at damage control, claimed there was nothing wrong qith Aquino’s statement.

“He was just stating a fact that the Constitution should be followed and that there should be no midnight appointments. The appointment of a Chief Justice in waiting is a midnight appointment since Chief Justice Puno has not yet retired from the SC,” Tañada said yesterday. “There is no vacancy in the position of Chief Justice. Senator Noynoy recognizes that the SC has its processes once a Chief Justice retires — who among the Associate Justices will be Acting Chief Justice until one is appointed. Sen. Noynoy respects this process and this should be followed,” he added.

The LP spokesman, however, did not touch on the clear warning and vow of Aquino not to recognize the CJ and to fire whover accepts the appointment from Arroyo.

Aquino’s statement immediately drew adverse reaction from members of the House of Representatives, most of them legal luminaries.

“That is a slap on the Supreme Court as institution!” committee on justice chairman, Rep. Mat Defensor told the Tribune in a telephone interview. “The issue whether the President can appoint the next chief justice is for the Supreme Court to decide.”

Defensor pointed out that any “President, in this case, Aquino as he already is assuming he is winning, refusing to recognize a co-equal body such as the Supreme Court, will trigger a constitutional crisis. Not only will that trigger a constitutional crisis but the President who refuses to recognize the Supreme Court also could be liable for culpable violation of the Constitution!” Defensor said.

In another telephone interview, Cavite Rep. Juan Crispin Remulla said Aquino’s statement smacks of arrogance and ignorance.

“Not only is his statement as if he had already won the presidency presumptuous, but arrogant as well,” said Remulla. “A person of proper stature will not issue that kind of statement.”

Remulla said the statement of the LP presidential bet is tantamount to preempting the legally-accepted processes of the government. “There is utter lack of intellectual discipline. He should have consulted some legal experts before coming up with that statement. That is what I call intellectual indolence,” Remulla said.

“Better still, he should go to a law school first.” Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga also too

k a dig at Aquino saying the LP standard bearer cannot question the validity or legality of the appointment of the next chief justice as that is something for the SC to decide.

Other administration lawmakers also slammed Aquino for his threat not to recognize a new SC CJ named by Arroyo if he is elected president, warning that such move would be in gross violation of the Constitution.

“The Arroyo-appointed SC chief is an exercise of the President’s constitutional mandate; to go against the mandate of GMA is to go against the Constitution,” said Marikina Rep. Marcelino Teodoro.

Teodoro described Aquino’s statement as irresponsible as it could cast doubt on the integrity of the next Chief Justice, especially if he is an Arroyo appointee.

At the same time, Defensor also argued that a constitutional crisis will likely occur if the appointment of the next Chief Justice is deferred until the next president has taken office as the JBC cannot convene and recommend the shortlist for the next Chief Justice since there will only be three active JBC members by July of 2010.

Defensor said that if the present JBC will allow the next president to choose the next Chief Justice, there will be a big legal problem since JBC will not be functioning by July and the 90-day period for the President to choose the next Chief Justice shall lapse and expire.

Defensor said that if they will allow the next president to make the appointment, there will only be three active members of the JBC namely: retired SC Justice Regino Hermosisima, Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) representative, lawyer J. Conrado Castro and private sector representative Justice Aurora Santiago-Lagman.

Defensor said that his term ends on June 30, 2010 and as a result there will be no representative in the JBC for the House of Representatives.

Defensor added that Puno will be retired by the time the next president comes in and the next Department of Justice Secretary will be very new in office to sit in the JBC.

In addition, JBC member and representative from the academe Dean Amado Dimayuga will be retired by July 9, 2010.

“There will only be three JBC members comes next administration (July 2010). How can the JBC function with its three members?”, Defensor said. He argued that the Senate and the House will open its session on mid-July and the JBC representative, due to Committee reorganizations, will be distributed and assigned only by late July 2010.

As such, Defensor stressed that it will be violative of the 1987 Constitution not to appoint the next Chief Justice within the 90-day period.

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