Arroyo bent on ignoring JBC

Arroyo bent on ignoring JBC
GOTCHA By Jarius Bondoc
The Philippine Star

“The Constitution mandates President Arroyo to appoint a new Chief Justice with or without nominees from the Judicial and Bar Council.” So says now Executive Sec. Ed Ermita. It’s a U-turn from Malacañang’s past position in the debate on whether Arroyo can make appointments during the constitutional ban. Earlier the ploy was to rush the JBC into submitting a shortlist of nominees well before CJ Reynato Puno retires May 17. That was why admin Rep. Matias Defensor, as JBC member, wrote the body last Dec. to start screening candidates for Arroyo’s consideration.

Ermita’s new line is significant. It reveals that Malacañang is unsure of getting majority of the eight-man panel to suggest this early a CJ loyal to Arroyo. This is despite the fact that six of the eight are either Arroyo vassals or personal choices to the JBC.

The Chief Justice (Puno) heads the JBC. Members are the chairmen of the Senate and House committees on justice (Francis Escudero, Defensor), the Secretary of Justice (Agnes Devanadera), a rep from the Integrated Bar (J. Conrado Castro), a law professor (Amado Dimayuga), a retired justice (Regino Hermosisima), and a private sector rep (Aurora Lagman). Given any President’s control of the House, the justice committee head from that chamber, as in Defensor, is usually a yes-man. So is the justice secretary. And a crafty President would want the last four to be beholden to the appointer. But there’s such a thing as growing into the job and becoming independent of the appointing President’s personal wishes. This is perhaps what’s bugging Malacañang.

Ermita’s new line is also treacherous. By saying that Arroyo will appoint a CJ with or without a shortlist from the JBC, she’s in effect bent on ignoring any contrary position from the constitutional body. This means she will break not one but two constitutional provisions just to suit her political future. The first is the prohibition on a departing President from making appointments starting two months before a presidential election up to end of term on June 30 (Article VII, Section 15). The other is that members of the judiciary shall be appointed by the President from a JBC list of at least three nominees (Article VIII, Section 9).

To ignore that second provision is to abolish the JBC, something Arroyo clearly has no power to do.

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Of late the Supreme Court has been flip-flopping on its decisions. Two recent major reversals of stand were on the creation of new cities that don’t meet the income requirement, and the loose definition of premature campaigning. Litigants eagerly are watching if the Court will also overturn decisions on corruption deals. Again among its recent rulings was to junk the “grossly disadvantageous” transfer of P6 billion worth of foreclosed PNCC assets to a British Virgin Islands shell company.

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Last Wed. I wrote about Filipino airlines beginning to suffer from the government’s poor aviation rating by international agencies. Foreign USec. Franklin Ebdalin had informed Civil Aviation Authority chief Ruben Ciron of rejections of the carriers’ new routes by other countries. All this stems from the CAAP’s failure to recover from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s Category-2 downgrade, and the International Civil Aviation Organization’s “significant safety concerns”. Ciron reacts:

“It appears that a compendium of document, one of which we prepared a week ago, and the most recent entitled ‘The CAAP’s Situationer and Action Plan’, had not reached USec. Ebdalin in time. He is a member of the CAAP board of directors. In those documents we explained in detail the reasons why we remain under Category-2 status, among other things.

“We are aware of the letter of USec. Ebdalin, which was followed up with us by Executive Sec. Ermita. We answered both concerns directly.

“We are almost there, as the saying goes, prepared to provide the appropriate position and title to deserving technical personnel, in cooperation with the Civil Service Commission and the Dept. of Budget and Management. Like you we are deeply concerned about the need to restore Philippine aviation to Category-1, especially at this time when the economy needs all the boost it can get.”

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Musically inclined persons tend to excel in Math. So it’s best to teach children music appreciation early — from infancy or pre-school years. Michelle Nikki Junia has launched a school that can help do just that. At Musikgarten (www.musikgartenmanila.com) enrollees, parents and nannies are taught to interact through music. Michelle, who trained in Chicago in early-childhood music education, says the Math excellence is the bonus. For, at the very least, children’s listening, expression and social skills are honed, aside from sense of beat and physical movement.

All year round enrollment of newborns to five-year-olds can be made at: 162 EDSA corner Reliance St., Paragon Plaza Unit 2-A, Mandaluyong City. Tels. (02) 4706277, (02) 9801506, (0918) 9069395.

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“You prepare for the marathon of life by the pains you endure today. You cannot endure what you run away from.” Shafts of Light, Fr. Guido Arguelles, SJ

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E-mail: [email protected]

The ProPinoy Project