GMA TO DO SCREENING FOR CHIEF JUSTICE POST IF JBC FAILS TO SUBMIT LIST
MANILA, FEBRUARY 19, 2010 (STAR) President Arroyo is likely to do her own screening for the post of chief justice if the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) fails to submit a shortlist on time, Malacañang said yesterday.
Speaking to reporters, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said Mrs. Arroyo has not spoken to him on the matter and he could not second-guess her on who would be her choice to replace Chief Justice Reynato Puno, who retires on May 17.
“It is prudent to be thinking of some names (candidates for chief justice) already, she is doing that or may have done that already,” he said.
“But she has not communicated that to us, we just have to respect the President for keeping her cards close to her chest as far as appointments are concerned.
“I’m not in a position to second-guess the President on who might be her choice... all I can say is that she can appoint the next chief justice I suppose, as covered by provisions in the Constitution.”
Ermita said when Mrs. Arroyo makes such an appointment, the move can be questioned before the Supreme Court, the final interpreter of the Constitution.
“I can imagine that when the time comes that she will be confronted with the issue of having to make the final move as called for by the Constitution, she’ll do that, especially with the news that JBC already started deliberating on the shortlist to be submitted (to her),” he said.
The JBC has begun deliberations on the possible replacement for Puno amid continued public debate on whether Mrs. Arroyo is allowed to appoint a chief justice before her term ends on June 30.
Malacañang has insisted that the Constitution mandates Mrs. Arroyo to appoint a new chief justice with or without a shortlist from the JBC.
Saguisag: GMA must not name next CJ
Former senator Rene Saguisag opposed yesterday a proposal for President Arroyo to name the next chief justice, saying there is no need to hurry.
“The Constitution gave the Palace 60 days to choose among the nominees,” he said.
“That means it accepts that a vacancy in the post is acceptable or something we can live with.”
In a letter to the JBC, Saguisag said in the past the SC effectively performed its mandate without a duly appointed chief justice.
“The Constitution does not say that midnight appointments are all right when it concerns the Supreme Court,” he said.
Saguisag asked the JBC “not to tempt the Palace” to appoint the next chief justice.
“Self restraint seems indicated, to land on the right side of history,” he said.
“We don’t need a midnight chief justice.”
Saguisag also sought an end to a “seeming open tiff between the two most senior justices in the SC.”
“This should be brought out in the sunlight,” he said.
“Let attorney Fernando Campos, who seems to be the son-in-law of President Garcia, be heard, along with Justice Rene Corona, together with Justice Antonio Carpio.
“Transparency is a desideratum even as we cannot see any urgency or any justification to add to our division.”
Corona and Carpio are top contenders for the post of chief justice. – Paolo Romero, Edu Punay
Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi
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