Next Chief Justice faces impeachment—Aquino
By Maila Ager
BAGUIO CITY, Philippines – The next Chief Justice could be impeached by the next Congress if it would be proven that the appointment was illegal, Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III said on Friday.
“If it can be proven the decision was not done based on sound legal principles, that might be a ground for impeaching an impeachable officer,” Aquino said in an interview here with reporters.
“Kailangan diyan tinanggap niya [Chief Justice] through someone who is not authorized. Unfortunately, sa ngayon ang lumalabas authorized siya unless the SC reverses itself [It should be that he accepted the position through someone who is not authorized. Unfortunately, for now it appears that she’s authorized unless the SC reverses itself],” he said.
The senator was referring to the Supreme Court’s decision, allowing President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to appoint the new Chief Justice despite the 60-day prohibition against any appointment by the President before the elections.
But despite strong opposition, Aquino expressed doubts that the high tribunal would reverse its own decision.
“Alam ninyo, kung saka-sakali itatanong natin ang constitutionality ng decision na ito, sino huhusga?…Medyo
mapanganib yan [You know, if ever we will question the constitutionality of this decision, who will be the judge? That is quite dangerous],” he said.
“This current decision really boggles the mind as to how we can comply with it, given the fact that even a cursory reading, with all due respect again to the justices of the SC, seems to be the opposite of what yesterday’s decision embodied,” he said.
Asked then if the filing of a motion for reconsideration would be an exercise in futility, the senator answered, “Not really an exercise in futility pero sa tradition bihira pag nag-decision en banc an nire-reverse ang sarili nila [but by tradition when the en banc decides, it doesn’t reverse itself].”
But if the decision becomes final, Aquino said those who opposed the appointment of the new Chief Justice could pursue an impeachment case against those responsible for it.
“The legislature has the power of impeachment if they feel there are grounds to impeach an impeachable constitutional body. That is open to any president,” he said.
“Ang dulo nito [In the end], we have I think adequate checks and balances there. We have to be governed by our system of laws,” said the senator.
“At this point in time, Congress has yet to be elected…We need the new Congress having to organize itself to determine whether or not there is a need for the impeachment process. That is one of the avenues,” he further said.