Palace chides 'Noynoy' for threat to SC justices

January 15, 2010 10:50 pm 

MANILA, Jan. 15 — It is irresponsible of Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III to threaten members of the judiciary.

In a media briefing Friday afternoon, Presidential Political Adviser Prospero Pichay Jr. reminded the Senator that the Executive Department, granting that Aquino gets to head it, has no right to impose its will on the Judicial Department, a co-equal branch of the government.

Under Article 8, Section 4 of the 1987 Constitution, Pichay pointed out the incumbent President is duty-bound to appoint a chief justice within 90 days from the time of the vacancy.

Aquino has been quoted as saying that if elected president, he will not recognize a new Chief Justice of the Supreme Court appointed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. He was also reported to have said that the associate justice who accepts appointment risks his or her membership in the high tribunal.

In any case, Pichay said it is ironic that Aquino chooses to disregard Articles 7 and 8 of the 1987 Constitution approved under the presidency of his mother, the late Corazon Aquino.

For his part, Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said in the same briefing the issue has been debated at length by legal experts, specifically on the filling up of vacancies in the High Court.

He pointed out that Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, a former Secretary of Justice, is of the opinion that President Arroyo can appoint the new Chief Justice, even without the nomination of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), as long as she makes the appointment from among the 14 associate justices.

According to Remonde, Enrile warned there should not be any delay in the appointment because the Supreme Court will have to compose itself into an electoral tribunal to settle election disputes, if there are any, in the results of this year’s elections.

“Senator Enrile, in one stroke like Alexander the Great, cut the Gorgian knot,” Remonde said. “This is an open-and-shut case."

“You do not threaten a co-equal branch of government,” Pichay told Aquino. “If you become the President, you have to respect the judiciary.” (PNA)

scs/OPS/ssc

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