PGMA has the prerogative to appoint next SC Chief Justice — Gonzalez

January 18, 2010 2:23 pm 

By Perfecto T. Raymundo Jr.

MANILA, Jan. 18 — Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Raul M. Gonzalez Sr. said on Monday President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo can appoint the replacement or successor of Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Reynato Puno who will reach the mandatory retirement age of 70 on May 17, 2010.

"For me, the President (PGMA) has the prerogative to appoint the Chief Justice once Justice Puno retires," Gonzalez stressed.

The retirement of Puno comes a week after the scheduled May 10, 2010 presidential elections and 45 days before the end of President Arroyo's term on June 30.

"There are instances that the submission of a list of nominees is delayed due to certain requirements and processing," Gonzalez noted.

The Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), a constitutional body, submits its short list of nominees, at least three or four aspirants, to the Office of the President (OP) once vacancy exists in the Judiciary.

"President Arroyo can appoint, but the list of nominees cannot be made in advance," Gonzalez pointed out.

Likewise, the Chief Presidential Legal Counsel negated the statement of Liberal Party (LP) standard bearer Senator Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III that he will not recognize whoever President Arroyo will appoint as the next SC Chief Justice.

"Noynoy Aquino is very arrogant in this issue and presumptioning that he will be the next President," Gonzalez stressed.

Aquino has stated that once he is elected president, he will not recognize the appointment of the new SC Chief Justice by President Arroyo, adding that such appointment is covered by the "prohibitive period" such that the President cannot make appointments, except temporary appointments to executive positions, 60 days prior to the next succeeding presidential elections until his/her term expires.

"I don't think Noynoy knows the integrity of the Constitution," Gonzalez said. (PNA)

scs/PTR

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