Amita O. Legaspi and JV
January 9, 2010
An opposition senator on Friday urged President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to let the next president appoint the replacement of Chief Justice Reynato Puno, who is set to retire on May 17.
Senator Francis Pangilinan said he had been informed by his sources in the judiciary that Malacañang wants to appoint a new Chief Justice to replace Puno who will turn 70 seven days after the elections.
He said the move would be against the Constitution, which prohibits appointments two months before the election.
“The power to appoint the new Chief Justice should be left to the next president. PGMA (Arroyo’s initials) is prohibited by no less than the Constitution to appoint the next Chief Justice,” the senator said in a text message to reporters.
Article VII Section 15 of the Constitution states that two months immediately before the next presidential elections and up to the end of his term, a president or acting president shall not make appointments, except temporary appointments to executive positions wherein vacancies affect public service or endanger public safety.
“We call on the Judicial Bar Council (JBC) to resist any effort by Malacañang to have it fast-track the nomination process,” Pangilinan said.
The JBC must assert its independence by ignoring Malacañang’s request to begin the nomination process for the post that will be vacated by Chief Justice Puno, he added.
“Both the Constitution and delicadeza (propriety) dictate that PGMA leave the choice to the incoming chief executive, considering the retirement of Chief Justice Puno happens after the May 2010 elections,” Pangilinan reiterated.
Press Secretary Cerge Remonde is yet to issue a comment on the matter.
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