Sunday, February 28, 2010

Erap to GMA: Allow next leader to pick Supreme Court chief

By Jose Rodel Clapano
The Philippine Star
Updated February 28,
2010 12:00 AM

Original Story:

MANILA, Philippines - Former President Joseph Estrada advised President Arroyo against appointing the next chief justice of the Supreme Court (SC) and allow the next president to appoint the chief magistrate.

Estrada also advised Mrs. Arroyo to follow the example set by her father, the late President Diosdado Macapagal, in dismissing the midnight appointments made by his predecessor.

“Out of respect for her father, (Mrs. Arroyo) should not appoint the next chief justice. She should allow the next president to do that,” Estrada told The STAR.

Estrada said Macapagal did not honor the appointment made by former President Carlos Garcia of Dominador Aytona as governor of the then Central Bank of the Philippines (now Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas).

He said Macapagal instead appointed Andres Castillo as the new CB governor.

Estrada said the SC ruled in favor of Macapagal and nullified the midnight appointment of Aytona as ad interim CB governor.

Estrada said if Macapagal did not recognize the legality of the appointment of Aytona, there is more reason for his daughter to do the same in the case of the next chief justice.

“In my opinion, once the election is held, automatically the incumbent president will be a caretaker president. She cannot appoint or dismiss anyone,” Estrada said.

Estrada said he prevented influence peddling in the appointment of members of the judiciary during his presidency by ignoring even the sentiments of his supporters and campaign contributors.

According to Estrada, a big-time campaign fund contributor and a business
tycoon he did not identify got angry with him for turning down his requests to help him in a pending case before the high court.

Estrada said the Filipino trait of utang na loob (paying a debt of gratitude) should not compromise the interest of the greater majority.

Estrada joined the increasing public clamor against Mrs. Arroyo appointing the next chief justice during the remaining months of her term of office.

The Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), for its part, has opted to wait for the SC to rule on the proposals to appoint the replacement of Chief Justice Reynato Puno before submitting the shortlist of nominees to MalacaƱang.

The JBC said it would push through with the ongoing selection process pending resolution by the high court of the consolidated petitions of the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa) and lawyers Jaime Soriano, Arturo de Castro and former solicitor general Estelito Mendoza that sought answers to the issue of whether Mrs. Arroyo can appoint the next chief justice.

Under the Constitution, the incumbent President is banned from making appointments two months before the elections until the end of her term. Puno retires on May 17, which falls within the period of the ban.

But some sectors claim that Mrs. Arroyo could still name the next chief justice since the constitutional ban applies to appointments made in the executive department.

Original Story:

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