Noynoy vows to void all unlawful appointments
By Delon Porcalla
The Philippine Star
MANILA, Philippines – Liberal Party standard-bearer Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III vowed yesterday to nullify all the illegal appointments made by President Arroyo during the election ban.
Aquino said the so-called “midnight appointments” of Mrs. Arroyo could be invalidated since most of them are in the executive department.
He cited Article VII Section 14 of the Constitution, which provides that an incoming president, in this case the successor of Mrs. Arroyo, has up to three months or 90 days or until August to invalidate all the unlawful acts of his predecessor.
“I intend to exercise that prerogative under Article VII Section 14 of the Constitution where we have up to 90 days to void all of those illegal appointments,” he told The STAR, when asked whether he will void the unlawful or whimsical appointments of Mrs. Arroyo.
“We intend to govern in the opposite manner of President Arroyo’s governance. People who will serve with us should have that philosophy of good governance. They (GMA appointees) have to subscribe to our good governance policy,” he added.
“We will also study and judge her appointments on a case-to-case basis, it will be done fairly and purely on the merits,” he explained.
He said that if elected, he will create a commission that will investigate and “put closure” on all of Mrs. Arroyo’s deals for the last nine years, or until the end of her term on June 30.
Aquino earlier cautioned the Supreme Court against standing by its March 17 decision allowing the President to appoint the next chief justice despite the election ban, saying Congress could provide a check and balance to its abuses.
He pointed out that initiating an impeachment proceeding is an option of any chief executive, including himself if he wins the presidency, and that this is a legal recourse that could somehow correct erroneous rulings.
“We have a check and balance on cases like this. The legislature has the power of impeachment, if they (lawmakers) feel there are grounds to impeach an official from a constitutional body. That is open to any president,” he told newsmen.
“I think we have adequate checks and balances. We have to be governed by our system of laws. Here, the SC made a 180-degree turn from its established doctrine. Nothing to my mind had changed through 1998 to the present that would warrant a 180-degree shift.”
An impeachment proceeding can be initiated against officials of a constitutional body, like the SC, especially if its members committed a “culpable” violation of the 1987 Constitution, in this case amending a provision despite an appointments ban two months before the polls.
A culpable violation of the Constitution is one of the main grounds for impeachment. SC justices could only be removed from office through impeachment or they will have to serve until they reach the mandatory retirement age of 70.
“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,” Aquino, a former three-term Tarlac congressman, explained further.
Impeachment of the chief justice who will accept the appointment from Mrs. Arroyo, including the nine justices who voted to allow the appointment despite a constitutional ban, would not be far-fetched, especially if it can be proven that they violated the law.
“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,” he said, referring to an Arroyo appointment.
Aquino joined the critics of the SC, which allowed the President to appoint the Chief Justice despite an election ban, saying amending the 1987 Constitution is not one of the SC’s mandates.
“The last time I checked, amending the Constitution is not among its (SC) functions. They have no business amending the Charter,” he said, referring to the SC ruling giving the JBC authority to submit its shortlist of nominees to Mrs. Arroyo.
He said it was a “180-degree turn” to the Vallarta doctrine that the SC ruled in 1998, when it nullified the midnight appointment of former President Fidel Ramos to the judiciary, but which former Chief Justice Andres Narvasa rebuffed, citing the constitutional prohibition.
Aquino said that while they will have to respect the SC verdict, no matter how unacceptable it is, the recourse at this point is to file a motion for reconsideration and possibly seek clarification regarding the prevailing jurisprudence.
Noynoy resumes campaign
Aquino said he would continue to solicit the support of voters after the Holy Week.
He was with El Shaddai leader Bro. Mike Velarde for the Easter celebration yesterday.
“We discussed concerns regarding the (poll) automation,” he said.
Aquino will return to Bulacan as he resumes his campaign sorties after taking a Lenten break.
LP vice presidential bet Sen. Manuel Roxas II expects their rivals to do all they could, including an increase in dirty tricks to be able to cut their lead in the surveys.
LP campaign manager Florencio Abad said the party could not wait for the real administration candidate to come out so that the people could decide more wisely in the coming elections.
Abad stressed they were not panicking over the reported alliance between President Arroyo and Nacionalista Party standard-bearer Sen. Manuel Villar Jr. even if this would mean the administration’s machinery could be used for the NP bet.
“In fact, we already want the (battle lines) to be drawn clearly because we want the fight to be man-to-man already. Opposition versus the administration. I think the natural gravitation of a presidential race is a bipolar race, we already know who the real opposition candidate is, so we’re just waiting for the real administration bet to come out,” Abad said.
Abad said Mrs. Arroyo would not want Aquino to win because he was already planning to put up a commission to look into the allegations of anomalies against the outgoing president.
He was also expecting that allies of the President would desert Lakas-Kampi-CMD to join Villar’s NP. With Aurea Calica