TO LIGHT A FIRE! 61-020410
I have always believed that a “NO BRAINER” in any profession or work is basically a “NO BRAINER” too for ordinary persons gifted with common-sense, even if they are in some OTHER field or discipline.
Thus for us ordinary non-lawyers who have an adequate understanding of the English language and a College-level grasp of basic logic, a provision of our Constitution which states that the appointment of a successor-in-office to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court SHOULD be made by our President within ninety days after that judicial office becomes vacant, is NOT CONTRADICTED but merely QUALIFIED by another provision which mandates an EXCEPTION to the prior rule. And so such appointments are EXPLICITLY prohibited by our Constitution from being made, starting two (2) months prior to a Presidential election and until the end of the incumbent President’s term of office. Besides, as in the case of the incumbent Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno who will retire on 17 May 2010, the mandatory period for making his successor’s appointment extends 90 days after May 17 or until August 14, 2010. And since by EXCEPTION the prohibited period will end much earlier on June 30, 2010 therefore, there will still remain some 45 days for the next elected President to fulfill the mandate of the law.
For most basic it is in LOGIC that an EXCEPTION is NOT a CONTRADICTION! Thus my Merriam Webster Collegiate Dictionary (10th Edition) defines “EXCEPTION” as an “exclusion: a case to which a rule does not apply”; whereas “CONTRADICTION” is defined as a situation wherein two related propositions, statements or rules CANNOT BE TRUE OR POSSIBLE, BOTH AT THE SAME TIME. Thus if one of the two is true or possible, the other one must be false or impossible. And conversely, if one of the two is false, the other one must be true. As an example, the Christian proposition that “God exists” is contradictory to atheists’ belief that “There is NO God!” But such is NOT the case in the abovecited provisions of our Constitution! And so in contrast, the statement “All souls will be eternally saved EXCEPT those who refuse to be saved!” just like those Constitutional provisions, do NOT contain a contradiction at all. Indeed a NO BRAINER…
And so in order to “cure the contradiction” (sic!), or more precisely, to FELONIOUSLY circumvent thus KNOWINGLY VIOLATE the law, PGMA wants to make the appointment prior to March 12, 2010 when the 2-month prohibitory period kicks in, even if there is still NO VACANCY in the position of SC Chief Justice at that time obviously because Chief Justice Puno would NOT YET have retired prior to May 17, 2010!
Thus the public statement issued by the past (covering the last 10 years) National Presidents of the Integrated Bar of the
v The proposal… to circumvent (the) Constitution… is sheer arrogance of power.
v It is preposterous (and) ludicrous… to claim… the proposition is necessary…
v It is sheer sophistry to say now that this rule of succession (Section 2 of the Judiciary Act of 1948) has been repealed by the 1987 Constitution… (considering that the latter) provides that “all existing laws not inconsistent with this Constitution shall remain operative until amended, repealed or revoked”.
v It insults the intelligence of even the most puerile mind for anyone to argue that the Chief Justice is not a member of the Supreme Court. (For if so according to PGMA and her mouthpieces, the successor to Chief Justice Puno is NOT covered by the pre-election ban KUNO!)
But the Attorneys/Past IBP Presidents Raoul R. Angangco, Jose Aguila Grapilon, Arthur D. Lim, Teofilo S. Pilando and Feliciano M. Bautista saved what was best, for the last, when they cited Section 261 of the Omnibus Election Code and Section 3(a) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (R.A. 3019) both of which “impose the penalty of imprisonment and permanent disqualification from public office” on violators thereof. Thus by inference, on the basis of those statements from our courageous and clearheaded IBP Past Presidents, those harsh provisions of existing CRIMINAL laws would clearly be applicable in particular to Supreme Court Associate Justice Renato Corona or to anyone else “who succumbs to the temptation of power and accepts an illegal appointment to become the next Chief Justice (because he/she) benefits from the proceeds of the crime and shall stand criminal prosecution.” (emphasis added)
For the benefit of those who may disagree, the abovecited statements are reproduced here below in FULL together with the relevant Constitutional provisions involved.
But the most vexing question remains: why would the President of the Philippines and her would-be accomplices to such an obviously NO BRAINER criminal act with CONSPIRACY to boot, take such a GREAT RISK of becoming convicted felons incarcerated behind PRISON BARS? What’s behind it all? Are they that desperate?
EDUARDO B. OLAGUER
Catholic Xybrspace Apostolate
February 04, 2010
Relevant Provisions of our Constitution
Article VIII Sec 4. (1) The Supreme Court shall be composed of a Chief Justice and fourteen Associate Justices. It may sit en banc or in its discretion, in divisions of three, five, or seven Members. Any vacancy shall be filled within ninety days from the occurrence thereof.
Article VII Sec. 15. 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 when continued vacancies therein will prejudice public service or endanger public safety.
Article VIII Sec. 9. The Members of the Supreme Court and judges of lower courts shall be appointed by the President from a list of at least three nominees prepared by the Judicial and Bar Council for every vacancy. Such appointments need no confirmation.
Article XVIII Sec 3. All existing laws, decrees, executive orders, proclamations, letters of instructions, and other executive issuances not inconsistent with this Constitution shall remain operative until amended, repealed or revoked.
STATEMENT OF PAST NATIONAL PRESIDENTS
OF THE INTEGRATED BAR OF THE
We, the undersigned past National Presidents of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, strongly condemn the actions of a powerful yet subservient few who are proposing to commence the procedure in nominating applicants for the vacancy to be left by Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno prior to his mandatory retirement on May 17, 2010.
Under Section 15, Article VII of the Constitution, the President is prohibited from making any appointments at least two (2) months prior to the next Presidential Elections. In fact, the Supreme Court categorically declared in the case of In Re Appointments, 298 SCRA 408 (1998), “that this ban not only applies to the Executive but also to the Judiciary.”
The proposal to appoint a Chief Justice is obviously intended to circumvent this Constitutional prohibition against midnight appointments and lay the basis for the outgoing President to appoint a Chief Justice of her choice despite the absence of a vacancy. This is sheer arrogance of power.
It is preposterous for those behind this ludicrous proposal to claim that the proposition is necessary in order for the Supreme Court to function unhampered by the “hiatus” occasioned by a vacancy in the High Tribunal. At present, the Supreme Court is composed of Chief Justice Puno and 14 Justices. Upon the retirement of Chief Justice Puno, 14 Associate Justices will be more than enough to constitute a quorum.
At that point in time, by operation of law, the most senior Associate Justice will then take the place of Chief Justice Puno as Acting Chief Justice pursuant to Section 2 of the Judiciary Act of 1948. This is a time-honored tradition observed for more than half a century in the history of the Supreme Court.
It is sheer sophistry to say now that this rule of succession has been repealed by the 1987 Constitution. Section 3 Article XVIII of the 1987 Constitution provides that “all existing laws not inconsistent with this Constitution shall remain operative until amended, repealed or revoked.” The framers of the 1987 Constitutional Commission are clear in their deliberations that in the event of the inability of the Chief Justice to act in any capacity, for any reason, including his retirement, the most senior Associate Justice shall assume the position as Acting Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
In fact, the same rule of succession was followed in 1992 at the end of the term of Chief Justice Marcelo B. Fernan where then Associate Justice Andres R. Narvasa assumed the position as Acting Chief Justice prior to his official appointment as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. To argue an implied repeal is disingenuous.
It is also a misrepresentation of the letter and intent of the law to say that the President can appoint the next Chief Justice even in the absence of a nomination from the JBC. The flimsy justification advanced in support of this position is that Section 9, Article VIII of the Constitution on the power of the JBC to submit nominations refers only to “members of the Supreme Court.”
It insults the intelligence of even the most puerile mind for anyone to argue that the Chief Justice is not a member of the Supreme Court. Section 4(1), Article VIII of the Constitution clearly states that the Supreme Court is composed of a Chief Justice and fourteen Associate Justices. Since the ratification of the 1987 constitution and the establishment of the JBC, all appointments of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, including the appointment of Chief Justice Puno by the incumbent President, were issued on the basis of the list of nominees submitted by the JBC. It taxes credulity how such a misinterpretation of the Constitution can be foisted upon our people.
What is clear is that anyone taking part in this shameful conspiracy to trample upon the Constitution in blind obedience to the whims of today’s wielders of power will have to contend with penal laws that punish their actions.
Section 261 of the Omnibus Election Code defines the issuance of midnight appointments and promotions during an election ban as an election offense and punishes with imprisonment and permanent disqualification from office all principals, accomplices and accessories in this illegal act.
Section 3 (a) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act also punishes with imprisonment and disqualification from public office anyone “persuading, inducing or influencing another public officer to perform an act constituting a violation of rules and regulations duly promulgated by competent authority or an offense in connection with the official duties of the latter, or allowing himself to be persuaded, induced, or influenced to commit such violation or offense.”
That both penal laws impose the penalty of disqualification from public office emphasize that these acts constitute a clear betrayal of public trust. Let it be known that apart from individuals now obviously complicit in this attack against our fundamental law, anyone who succumbs to the temptation of power and accepts an illegal appointment to become the next Chief Justice benefits from the proceeds of the crime and shall stand criminal prosecution.
When the powerful begin to misinterpret clear provisions of law to suit their selfish ends, the law becomes a tool for the mighty when it was meant as protection for the weak.
We implore the Judicial and Bar Council to stand in defense of the rule of law and to restore decency in the process of succession to the highest office in our judicial establishment. We ask them not to bow down to the blatant abuse of power by a partisan few.
We simply ask people in whom we have reposed our trust to serve our nation, to follow the Constitution, to act with a modicum of decency, and to stand on the right side of history as we join hands in defeating the machinations of those betraying the public trust.
RAOUL R. ANGANGCO
JOSE AGUILA GRAPILON
ARTHUR D. LIM
TEOFILO S. PILANDO
FELICIANO M. BAUTISTA