2 justices who said ‘no’ to Arroyo appointment

2 justices who said ‘no’ to Arroyo appointment
By Dona Pazzibugan
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—Now that the Supreme Court has ruled that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo may appoint the next Chief Justice, what happens to the two justices who said they would not accept an appointment from her?

Of the candidates for the Chief Justice post, it was only Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and Associate Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales who accepted the nomination of the JBC on the condition that the appointment of the next Chief Justice would be made by the next President.

The other candidates—Associate Justices Renato Corona, Teresita Leonardo-de Castro and Arturo Brion and Sandiganbayan Senior Associate Justice Edilberto Sandoval—made no such condition.

“Perhaps the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) will tackle that. I would like to think the JBC will go over the decision and decide on its own to include or exclude those who gave conditions,” Supreme Court spokesperson Midas Marquez told reporters Wednesday.

“I don’t want to preempt the JBC. The only order was to submit a short list on or before May 17,” he said.

Acting Chief Justice

Chief Justice Reynato Puno retires on May 17, a week after the presidential election.

His retirement will leave the Supreme Court entirely made up of Ms Arroyo’s appointees.

He is due to go on a two-week leave, and has designated Carpio as acting Chief Justice “effective March 18” until he “reports back to work.”

In naming Carpio, Puno followed the tradition of appointing the most senior member of the court as acting Chief Justice whenever the Chief Justice goes on leave.

Carpio, who had served as former President Fidel Ramos’ chief legal counsel, is a founding partner of what is now the Villaraza Cruz Marcelo and Angangco law firm.

Known as “The Firm,” it was once closely identified with the First Couple until a falling out some years ago.

Corona served as Ms Arroyo’s chief of staff before he was appointed to the Supreme Court, and is largely viewed as her choice for chief justice.

Letters to the JBC

Carpio was appointed on Oct. 22, 2001, and was Ms Arroyo’s first appointment to the high court.

Morales, appointed on Aug. 26, 2002, is the third most senior associate justice. If chosen, she would be the country’s first woman chief justice.

In her Jan. 24 letter to the JBC, Morales referred to Section 15 Article VII of the Constitution which states: “Two months immediately before the next presidential election and up to the end of his or her 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.”

Carpio wrote the JBC on Jan. 26 and said he was interested in being considered for nomination, but “on the understanding” that the JBC submits his nomination as Chief Justice only to the next president.

He also cited the constitutional ban against the President making appointments two months before a presidential election.

The special order dated March 16 that Puno issued Wednesday night reads: “In view of the wellness and sabbatical leave of the undersigned from March 18 to 30, 2010, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio is hereby designated as acting Chief Justice, with authority to exercise the powers and prerogatives of and pertaining to the position of Chief Justice on matters that cannot wait for the Chief Justice.” With a report from Eliza Victoria, Inquirer Research

Karen Ang

A plebeian who is trying to make small changes in this world.